Sunday, June 8, 2014

New Blog Location!

I'm excited to announce that I just launched my new website:

I'm moving all future blog posts to that location, but I'll leave these here and a link to these few posts on the site in case you want to ever read back this far.

The new website will also display my portfolio and other ways to contact me. The site is also going to be linked to my social media accounts in case you're interested in that, too. C'mon, who doesn't check Facebook on the shitter?

Why are you still here!?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Healthy Lifestyles

This is a post about fitness. I'll be taking a step backward into my previous career for the sake of artists who have no clue when it comes to fitness or where to start. Having a healthier lifestyle can reduce stress and improve your daily function, which also leads to a smoother workflow and maybe that improves your artwork. Healthier bodies, healthier minds, and healthier lives benefit everyone.

I know, I know. You probably haven't looked in the mirror for a while and felt entirely satisfied with what you saw. Believe me, I've been there. It's one of those things people know they should be doing, but taking that first step can be so difficult at times. Hell, I even know some artists who have such hectic work schedules that the idea of a 30-60 minute workout 3-5 times a week is pretty absurd. Now, I don't mean to toot my own dick boast, but I do have a number of years under my belt in the fitness industry, and with a background in Exercise Science and sport-specific training, I do feel more qualified than most others to talk about fitness and how you can make it a part of your lifestyle regardless of your schedule.

I'm not gonna pitch workout programs, DVD's, debate whether I think P90X or Insanity are worth your hard-earned dollar, or tell you what bullshit form of 'paleo' diet you should be on. Those are all questions you can ask me personally and I'd be more than happy to answer them without charge.* I'm just gonna give you some simple tips for you to start doing and hopefully you can make them a primer for your later research. Caveat: I am of the philosophy that doing anything is better than doing nothing. These tips aren't going to have you looking like a Golden Era bodybuilder, but they're good for your general health & wellness.

1. Do a little extra. Instead of walking around the house, try power walking around the house. Instead of finding that parking spot closer to the store entrance, park further away and walk the distance to the storefront (assuming you're not handicapped). Instead of sitting in a chair all day while you paint, stand and paint. Standing will help to correct postural deficiencies that are created by sitting for long periods of time. Basically, whatever shortcuts you're taking to make your day seem more efficient, quit taking them and do that little bit to keep your body more active.

2. Drink water. Are you drinking lots of water throughout the day? Why not!? It's fat-free!!! If you don't like the taste of tap water, add a few drops of lemon or lime juice (any fruit will do) to the water to conceal the mineral taste that typically turns people away. Citric acid also stimulates bile production in the stomach, which improves digestion. Also, try sparkling water. The minerals in sparkling water help to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, ladies, that one is for you. The colder seasons are the worst for people when it comes to remaining hydrated. I've encountered more dehydrated bodies during this time, because people don't feel the need to consume as much water. It's a important to maintain adequate levels of hydration all the time, not just when you're hot and sweaty.

3. Healthy snacks. If you know me, you know I love food. I maintain a health eating habit of three to four meals a day, but I also snack like no other. Eating small granola bars, a cup of almonds, some fruits and vegetables, maybe a hardboiled egg or two, is a good way to keep your metabolism active. Higher metabolisms result in leaner bodies. Plus, these little snacks are wonderful for keeping your body supplied with nutrients your body needs to function. Snacks generally don't take long to prepare and you can keep them by your table or canvas while you work.

There you have it. Three easy steps to start changing the way you go about your day. They seem pretty obvious, and really easy, right? So why isn't everyone already doing it? Starting small is essential to finishing big. Too often do I see people jump right in to new workout programs and diets without preparing themselves, and shortly after give up and go back to binge eating (or not eating regularly). Your body is an adaptive, survival machine and should be eased into changes you make. You'll thank me when you take the time to do it right.

In regards to workouts, research programs that fit your goals. In other words, what do you want to accomplish? Now find a program that gets you to that end--safely! I emphasize 'safely' because too many people want it NOW and unfortunately, that doesn't always mean well. If you're taking shortcuts to improve the appearance of your body at the expense of your health then you're wasting your time, literally. I look and feel damn good, but that took years of proper research, dieting, and training--in that order--to be able to say that. You'll feel much better about yourself and your accomplishment to know you put in the sweat equity for your goals. Hiring a personal trainer or consultant is also a good idea, but be sure to research them as well. There are too many 'gurus' running around the fitness industry that'll tell you whatever the fuck you wanna hear and run off with your money. Talk to their previous clients, affiliations, and check their credentials. Your money was earned and your body is your own. You don't want to be another sucker to some schmuck.

I avoided getting technical with my information for the sake of the general audience. Like I mentioned above, if you have any questions just feel free to ask me. I can do my best to help inform you or help point you in the right direction for your research.

In other news, my friend, Cynthia Sheppard, did a painting for the cover of the new issue for ImagineFX magazine. Yours truly even makes an appearance as a marble statue, hehe.

Check out the image here.

Also, in case you missed my sneak peek yesterday this is for you: click

* I believe in the free sharing of knowledge and I'll continue to promote that ideal for as long as I can.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Deep End

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend was the annual Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (SFAL) convention in Kansas City, MO. Cathy and Arnie Fenner are the creators behind the Spectrum annual, and this is their third year hosting the live event. I have a ton of things to say about the experience, but I'll keep it short and say that it was absolutely amazing!

I started off the weekend meeting up with Cynthia Sheppard, with whom I'd spend my time during the event and subsequently became her booth babe. I also got to meet Iain McCaig, Jeff Miracola, Peter and Anna Mohrbacher, Aaron Miller, Noah Bradley, Marc Scheff, John Brassell, Steve Argyle, Dan Dos Santos, Eric Deschamps, John Schindehette, Karla Ortiz, and a bunch of other great illustrators I admire. I also met a lot of other artists who are budding in the industry just like me, and it was wonderful to start building relationships with these people that I will most certainly see over and over again in the future.

One of the highlights of my weekend was meeting a huge idol of mine, Iain McCaig. I literally ran into him on my way out of the hotel and got to spend a few minutes hanging out with him, chatting about Star Wars and Barbecue. I attended one of his workshops and even managed to fight my way through hordes of art students to get my copy of Shadowline autographed and sketched. Shortly after that moment, the convention hall closed down and everyone gathered at the Midland Theatre for the awards ceremony. I witnessed Iain McCaig win the Grandmaster title and it was a surreal experience. He was given a standing ovation and it was just incredible to see him take his place among other Grandmasters such as Frank Frazetta, Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie and James Gurney.

I can't get into every detail about every experience I'd be here for fucking days, but what I can say is this is absolutely the place for you if you're looking to network, or if you're a fan, a collector, a new artist, a professional artist, or whatever you consider yourself. There's so much to take in and I'm still trying to process it all. Cynthia told me she was 'throwing me into the deep end,' I'm just glad I can doggy-paddle.

Iain McCaig sketching in my copy of Shadowline moments before winning 2014 Spectrum Grandmaster.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” -Anais Nin

I decided to open with that wonderful quote so that I could apply it to the context of what this post is going to be about: studies. Spheres, cubes, cylinders, pyramids: the bane of my early art studies. I remember loathing art class in middle school and high school simply because of the sheer amount of still life studies we had to do, many of which included the basic objects I mentioned. I couldn't wrap my head around why it was so important to study from life--I wanted to draw battle mages and dragons, not vases and apples!

Of course, as I began my journey on this path to becoming an artist, I realized I was going to need to go back to the fundamentals and that meant drawing/painting from life. "Hello, studies, my old friend." I remember the chuckle that escaped me as I set up my first still life study when I started, and I'm glad I'm not so stubborn that I refused to return to this method of learning.

Studies are so important for anyone of any art skill level. It's not just about learning how to draw what you see, but understanding other important aspects such as, how light interacts with objects, the reflectivity of various surface textures, how forms interact with one another, depth, scale, how the environment interacts with the objects, the list goes on and on. 

Anatomy is another big monster artists have to tackle. I remember Jeff Miracola, a popular fantasy artist, talking about how it took him several years of intense study to really get good at anatomy. That's not mastered, but just good. Also, master studies are a great way to get inside the head of the artist(s) who painted the original, and even a great way for enhancing your personal skills.

So the point I'm trying to make here is to study, and study often! You don't want to get into the habit of doing something a certain way and get stuck in a rut that becomes increasingly difficult to break. When in doubt, always return to studies. It has helped me a lot.

This week is SFAL week! It's coming to Kansas City, MO (my backyard) and I'm extremely excited to get to meet a lot of professionals in the industry. I'll be accompanying the lovely Cynthia Sheppard during the event, and I haven't been this excited for something in a long while. I'll have lots of photos to share and stories to tell whenever I return. A lot of professionals have talked about this being the largest event Spectrum has put together and it only adds to the growing levels of anticipation! Anyway, if you happen to be in the area or have already made plans to attend, be sure to swing by and say, hello! There may be lemon cakes waiting if I haven't eaten them all by then.

Here's a recent study of a masquerade mask I did where I added some fantasy elements to give the mask some life and character. This is a wonderful way for me to bring my technical skill and creativity together into one study. I invite you to give it a try!

Mask from the Deep © 2014 Jonathon Reed

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Arid Sentinel

Here's a look at my most recent digital painting. I suck at titling artwork and always have this feeling that I fall short of giving works their appropriate appellation. For what it's worth, I'll just title this one simply, Arid Sentinel. Pretty straightforward. It's my most confidently finished piece of digital artwork and will find its place as my first 'portfolio' item.

I also felt like this was a good follow-up post to my introduction from yesterday. I mentioned having come a long way in just a year from starting out as an artist and I hope this painting helps to demonstrate what a lot of focus and study can do for you. I wouldn't consider it perfectwho am i kidding, this shit is awesome but it definitely is a power-up from what I was originally producing. There's no secret to getting to the next level in any skill, you just have to do the damn thing to get good at it.

No virtue is acquired in a vacuum.

Arid Sentinel © 2014 Jonathon Reed

Monday, April 21, 2014

Never Surrender

It has been one hell of a year for me.


It was on this day one year ago that I decided I wanted to pursue being an artist full-time. Did that mean that I wanted to finally become a full-time freelance artist? Did that mean that I wanted to finally land that sweet in-studio gig? Or did that mean that I finally wanted to give up everything else and start making serious money with my sick art skills? Actually, it meant none of that. It meant that I wanted to drop everything else I was doing in my life and become a student of the game.

At the time, I was training a number of clients as a Health & Wellness Coach--or Personal Trainer--and as a Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach (MMACC). I had been traveling back and forth from Germany and America, and doing everything I could to expand my business as a trainer. But no matter what I did, I just wasn't having fun doing it. Don't get me wrong, training was liberating in the sense that I was helping other people achieve personal goals and helping them pursue a healthier lifestyle, but I wasn't achieving my personal goals and I felt imprisoned by that.

Training was an easy way for me to get on my feet and start running as a civilian again. I was just coming off an Active Duty enlistment and I needed to put my skills to something right away. Training made the most sense to me and it was easy to work my own hours while attending college full-time. However, I never intended training to be a lifetime career for me. My real desires were in finding a way to exploit my creativity.

To back up a little further, I swear I'm not that old I should mention that I actually failed art classes in both middle school and high school. My teacher often told me I showed a lot of potential, but drawing and painting still-life objects, or practicing color theory was a total bore to me. Not to mention I'm also mildly color blind and I didn't want to look like an idiot. I was fascinated with dragons, warriors of great caliber, and creatures that just didn't exist in reality. It was never an unusual sight to see me immersed in the works of Tolkien, Asimov, Howard, Lovecraft, and Gaiman. I wanted to illustrate their magical worlds--not a silly cube with charcoal sticks.

Aside from those basic classes in my early educational career, I have had no traditional art training. I never attended an art school and I've never been taught by an art professor. Cue the internet. I jumped on YouTube, Vimeo, researched various art blogs, paid for video lectures, bought books, and occasionally sat in on artist interviews over Google Hangouts or Livestream. I buckled down and studied everything. Everything.

I cared very little about having my own website, sharing on social media platforms, or developing a 'style'. I wanted to focus on the fundamentals and get the technical ability down as fast as possible. I always compared myself to the most popular professionals and I studied who they studied, so on and so forth. I still do that today, actually.

There's a lot that goes on in this one year story of mine from days to weeks of frustration and nearly giving up and throwing it all away in anger and humility. What I'll do instead of completely disclosing what could easily turn into a novel of success and failure, I'll share what I've done that has accelerated me to the point that I'm at in one year.

Never surrender. When you feel like the world has surrounded you and is ready to strike the killing blow, remember: a hunter's greatest fear is the prey that fights back. To borrow from one of the greatest military Generals, "We're surrounded. That simplifies things." I often see people settling on where they're at, or quitting when they were just that one inch away from being at the next level. Always push yourself and treat everything as though you're going out on your shield. This is how I've treated my art focus in the last year and I've come a long way with an even longer path before me.

So that's the preface to my journey of becoming an artist that I'm excited to share with every one of you. You can expect me to share each of my experiences and lessons learned throughout this adventure and I hope they help some of you who are coming along the same path. 

Coming up is the Spectrum Fantastic Arts Live event in Kansas City, MO. Luckily for me, it's only a 3 hour drive away. It's going to be my first convention of this sort and I hope to have a great time. I can probably expect to ingest copious amounts as if I needed another reason to of caffeine.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post! Monday's suck, but if you managed to survive a sugar-induced coma from yesterday's festivities, then you're already doing better than me!