Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So I've been working on a commercial in my spare time. It's what I get paid to do. Myself and my friend Steve Glauser are doing it through BYU Independent Study, and it has to deal with the caveman genius who made the first wheel.

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She Came From Outer Space

Another class I'm taking is an Intro to Drawing Class for Animators with Joe Olson (Joe's Website). We are learning the basics of line, shape, balance, rhythyththym, and other artistic fundamentals. Odd as it may sound to some, I haven't learned about this stuff since middle school so a lot of it is news to me.

One great thing about Joe is he requires you to draw a lot and to ink your drawings. I really, really like inking. I'm surprised I never realized how much I liked it before. This image comes from an assignment called "She Came From Outer Space."


Finally got to do some real designs in Ryan's class. I love people and their stories. We had an assignment to make silhouettes of Japanese Geisha, Native Americans 400 C.E., Army Soldiers 2084 C.E., and Victorian Women. I finally figured out what I was doing for the geisha page, I think.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Character Design with Ryan Woodward

Ryan Woodward ( teaches character design. Ryan is the best and most spiritual instructor I've ever had. These are my first designs for his class.

We get judged by our peers whether our work is "good" "medium" or "Reno (bad)". This was a medium. He has a poor silhouette (a tear drop) and his colors and interior shapes are fuzzy.

I had another image of a French maid with a gas mask and a giant plunger that got put on the bad wall. I don't have a final of the image, but here is an early draft of the idea:

More Ogres!

I was just going for a cool silhouette with this ogre. Not sure where the rest of the design comes from.

I thought this body style was best for an ogre that would get chosen by the game company--pretty much I was thinking "they'll want something totally typical." I painted this ogre to look like the one below:

I really hate the horns, but I've moved on with my life, so he'll just have to deal with them. I think they are really, really bad design. Take them off and wala! You have a cool character.

This was the final one chosen and painted up. I was actually fairly pleased with it.

In July a local game company was looking for artists to develop their game in anticipation of possible investors. They wanted me to create an ogre with Roman armor. So Here are some sketches I came up with.

This ogre was based on a goat. Definitive feature: eyes on the side of his head and a little goatee.

This ogre was based on a hippo. Not very Roman-looking. He is probably my least favorite of the bunch.

Everyone liked one.

Based on a toad. This one was actually my favorite. I just liked the different "ogre" feel than what you typically see. Ogres, by the way, are still fantastic creatures, and are totally open to interpretation.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


This blog is a brief record of the artistic history of Michael Mercer starting at age 10. It takes you on the visual journey of his development as an artist, the major influences to his artwork, and explains the inspiration behind many of the pieces involved. It is recommended that you use the sidebar at right to navigate to the last post and then move forward chronologically (bottom to top).

I have recently felt (for the first time in my life) that I'm actually an artist and not just a hobbyist. As such, I felt it important to document in whatever small way I could the journey that has brought me here in a clear and concise manner. I plan on updating it in the future as I think of more appropriate things to say at each critical juncture in my artistic history. Hopefully this blog will provide insight into how a person discovers or chooses what their role in life is to be.

In general terms, this blog is a composite and abridgment of information found at my other two blogs 500,000 Bad Drawings and Getting Fancy With The Spices. 500,000 Bad Drawings is the place I dump a good amount of my bad drawings and Getting Fancy With The Spices is my general use and painting blog. It chronicles my painting history quite accurately, as it contains nearly every painting I've ever created.

I hope these websites provide you with interesting (and clean!) pictures to look at, a few laughs, and a better understanding of artists and their place in the world.


The Portrait Society of Atlanta

While in school at GPC I joined the Portrait Society of Atlanta and promptly spammed everyone on the list--some 260 artists. I was seeking tutelage. Of the 260 artists one man invited me to his studio--Walter Peterson. I visited him a few times and got into a few Portrait Society shows (not winning anything), but I was eventually disfellowshipped or something for not picking up my artwork on time from the shows. They also got mad at me for the spam. So ironic. Anyway, they left a bitter taste in my mouth and I just continued to do my own personal work, not sure exactly where I was going with it, except that I felt I wanted to be a portraitist. Walt Peterson made a good living from it, and having seen how he works I was certain I could do it, too.

But deep down I knew there was something more for me to do with my artwork. I still don't know exactly what it is, but I knew I would have to take it further than portraiture.

Shortly thereafter I felt inspired to start writing about Rain, that fictional role-playing character I made about 15 years ago. I started writing and I couldn't stop. Not for the whole summer. I typed until my fingers and wrists ached. The first month I hit over 300 pages of material typed (not all story--about half was freewriting). The second month was less, but better quality. And by the third I knew I was in trouble--I knew I didn't have the skills, didn't have the knowledge, and didn't have the willpower to complete what I had started. The story became really big, and really, really cool. I think it is, anyway.

And that's when I got accepted to BYU. I was a linguistics major at first, but discovered they had an Animation program, and I knew I had to get into it, no matter the cost. So that's what I worked towards. Fall turned to Winter and I moved to Utah to pursue my dreams of writing and illustrating a book, or perhaps designing for someone else's stories.

As of this post I've been at BYU for a year and a half and have been in the Animation program for a year. It has been the best experience of my life (outside of the mission of course) and I am really excited at what the future holds for me and for my classmates. I have discovered many new artists that I seek to be like, the top name on the list being Craig Mullins. So I'm moving in that direction. I hope you've enjoyed seeing my artistic history and hopefully it will help you make decisions concerning your own life and artistic pursuits.

The top portrait is myself at age 22. Follwing are my nephew Isaac, a random magazine bride, and a coworker, Andrea Schaeffer.

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After the mission - age 21 - 22

So the story goes that after my mission I had changed a lot. Not sure I wanted to do artwork. I came home in August and the only schools accepting students was the local tech school. So I went. It might sound crazy after having viewed all my artwork, but you know, my father had an influence on me, and to be honest I was trying to stay open minded. I still had my artistic goals--but I was just trying things out. So I went to tech school for a quarter. Then I got a job as a salesman. Then I started my own pressure washing business. And then I decided to move out with my good friend Matt to the University of Georgia and pursue my dreams as an artist. I was going to be a portraitist, and the month I spent at UGA was one of the best of my life. I was still working the pressure washing business at the time and inbetween that I was taking Matt's camera, walking around campus, and getting some photos of random students. Above is my sister (not a random student). Below are the students.

I was seeking to imrove my art so I went to the local bookstore and bought the book with the best artwork in it (in my opinion). It was Tony Ryder's Figure drawing book. (Just google Anthony Ryder if you're interested.) I pretty much learned my technique from reading that book and was able to make a number improvements on my own. Although my life as an artist was short-lived (no one wants to pay money for graphite portraits...imagine that) I continued to realize I wanted art to be a part of my life forever. So I went back to school to get my grades up. I didn't study art, however. I was at a community college and I studied Spanish. Why not art? Because that school's version of "art" and the way they taught it went against my morales and also against my personal understanding of what art is. I didn't want to be taught by more Mrs. V's. So for the next year and a half I worked full time and went to school full time and got my Associates Degree in Spanish from Georgia Perimeter College.
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

My last drawings before leaving on my mission - age 18 - 19

Drawn from same NG photographer's book. I loved that little thing.

Same here.

My friend Lucas Mink started this drawing and classically didn't finish it. So I took over. It was from some cologne add I think. Maybe perfume. Not sure. But it turned out nice, except that her face is like a kabuki mask. Oh well.

This poor little girl doesn't like bathing in a bucket. Neither do I. I did it for two years in the Philippines on my mission. It wasn't exactly in a bucket, though, just with one.
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Portraits - age 18

These are portraits copied from a National Geographic photographer's book. Sorry I can't remember his name. It's Michael something...Csomething.

After graduation I started thinking about religion a lot and eventually decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before I left I really enjoyed looking at pictures of non-Americans. I like seeing God's children and their various states. I think many individuals in our country forget to do that too often.

Notice the improved linework and more confident drawing abilities. I spent a lot of time just doodling at this stage in my life. I knew I wanted to do art, but I also knew I wanted to serve a mission--the mission meant a 2 year reprieve from art. But I had faith on a friend's advice that "There is nothing you won't do better after having served a mission." Whether that's true or not I'll let you determine.

I love this drawing. It was out of my head.

I used to like Thomas Kinkade until I met him at the Mall of Georgia once. He is the most egotistical and selfish artist I've ever seen. I will never buy his work, or his designer bed sheets.
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Beyond high school

After high school I worked at an art store and did nothing with my life for awhile. A few works were created during this time period. The above, however, is just a copy of a D&D illustration.

I love dancers, and this is one of my favorite. I think it was stolen from something. In fact, I'm sure of it.

This, however, was not stolen. It was my first pastel painting ever. I think I went over it with Prismacolor after using fixative on the pastels. While at the art store I was influenced by a muralist who's name I can't remember. But she was the one that inspired me to use pastels and expand my horizons. I painted a few murals with her, but mostly just did gopher boy stuff.

This is stolen from a Matthew Sweet album cover, Girlfriend. Also Prismacolor. It's quite large and took a number of pencils and a lot of grinding to finish. I suggest wisely choosing your media. I'm not sure why I stopped doing "creative" works (meaning all my images are copies) but this is a trend that is seen from the time I graduated to the time I went to BYU (a period of about 6 years). There are some creative aspects to them, mostly in color or design, but nothing outstanding. And to be honest, when comparing these works with that of my peers (and of professionals) it makes you wonder why I continued to wan to be an artist.

But I did keep coming back to art. That and to writing, or storytelling. It has always been in my blood and only when I got into BYU's Animation program have I been able to really push my skills to the next level. I hope to maintain this effort consistently for the rest of my life.
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Some of my more creative works...

Art skills regress the minute the sound of music is mentioned. It's true. I'm the black pen. My friend Luke Hoagland, now studying at Duke Medical in NC, is blue.

Luke drew this, but I really liked it. Sorry to all you moms out there. I promise you your kids get a lot worse on the bus, and the cafeteria is living hell for people that like clean jokes. That's a big reason why I played Magic cards during lunch--the talk was clean. It made lunch much more enjoyable. But this image makes me smile... :)

Kind of sad to think a girl with wings is "creative". She's sitting in a pool of water.

My friend Matt Adams really liked this image, and I do too!
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Using Photo Reference

I learned from Andrea Harris that using photo reference improved my artistic ability immensley. Here is an image of Jewel.

Got paid $25 for this portrait of James and Amber. Not worth it. I think I ended up working for like $2 an hour or something. James ended up marrying Amber's best friend's litte sister. Go figure.

Just a girl from a magazine.

Leonardo DeCrapio's Romeo and Juliet movie thing. I never saw it. From what I have deducted I'm not missing much (although some people continue to say it was a great film). I just couldn't get past the first scene. Even I could be a better gangsta than that.

Another lessoned learned from this: if at first it doesn't fit--make it.
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