Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happy Birthday, St. Louis! is a Best Seller!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Pleased to say that Happy Birthday, St. Louis!, the children’s book celebrating the 250th birthday of our city, is no. 9 on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Publisher’s weekly Best Seller list for Children/Young Adult books. Author Carolyn Mueller and I thank you all very much and hope our book brings much joy. It is an honor to present our fine city to children in this colorful and fun book. 

Happy Birthday, St. Louis!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

This year is the 250th birthday of St. Louis! Our city was founded in 1764 by Auguste Choteau and Pierre Laclede as a French fur trading post on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River. St. Louis grew dramatically during the steamboat era and by 1900 we were the fourth largest city in the United States. In 1904 we hosted The Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, better known as the 1904 World’s Fair and by then St. Louis was leading the nation in brewing, shoemaking, automobile manufacturing, and aviation. We St. Louisans are proud of our heritage and so I was thrilled when Reedy Press contacted me to illustrate their new book Happy Birthday, St. Louis! This delightful children’s book is written by Carolyn E. Mueller, the author of Lily, A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado and Bubbles, The Dwarf Zebu.

Creating the illustrations for Happy Birthday, St. Louis! was great fun. The publisher and author allowed me considerable artistic freedom and the book is the result of a healthy and respectful collaboration. For those who are interested in the process, I began each drawing with a rough thumbnail and evolved into a detailed pencil sketch. I draw all my preliminary sketches with Prismacolor pencils on transparent paper. Once the sketches were approved or modified, I scanned them into  the computer and opened them in Adobe Illustrator. Placing the pencil sketch on a template layer, I drew the scenes on successive layers. Once the Illustrator art was finished, I took it into Photoshop and did the shading and highlights, using my Wacom digital pen and tablet. We hope you enjoy Happy Birthday, St. Louis! and welcome you to our fine city. By the way, Huff Post just did an article about us, raving about what a gem of a city it is and highlighting 26 wonderful things that make St. Louis a great place to visit. Here is the cover of the book and I hope you enjoy.

Ahab

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

From time to time I post a sketch from my “Movie Still Sketchbook”.Here is Gregory Peck as Ahab in Moby Dick. This one was drawn on my MacBook Pro using my little Bamboo tablet and Sketchbook Pro. My studio work is on the professional Wacom Intuos tablet using Corel Painter or the Adobe Suite. But for recreational sketching, the Bamboo is a great little tablet. Even though my contracted work is almost always for children’s books, curriculum, kid’s product and such, these more serious sketches do inform the way I draw, think, and create even the whackiest of my juvenile art. It’s all about observing, making decisions, and loosening up. I’ll post more from the Movie Still Sketchbook from time to time. Enjoy. 

Puzzles, Games, and Rebuses

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

My work for Christian publishing involves everything from full color children’s book illustrations, curriculum, to kid’s activity books. These activity books are fun, colorful, appropriately complex  for specific ages. I may be assigned puzzles, games, mazes, crosswords, hidden pictures and rebuses. In fact, I get to do quite a large number of rebuses as they remain popular. I remember doing them when I was a kid, so I’m glad they have stood the test of time. The one I’ve shown here is just a sample of the dozens I’ve done in recent years. Have you figured it out yet? As always, helping you do what you do. 

Magazine Art

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

As a freelance illustrator I enjoy a variety of assignments. While the vast majority of my art is geared toward children’s books and products, one of my favorite things to do in particular are spot illustrations for magazines. Something about a colorful piece tucked into a page of type excites me. I enjoy making a contribution to the overall design of a magazine. Sometimes type is wrapped around my work, other times it is a stand-alone on a page opposite the text, or a top of the page banner illustration. However it is used, it is always fun for me to work so purposefully  with a designer. Just one more way that I help you do what you do. This particular piece is for the Spanish magazine Iguana, published by Carus Publications. 

Activity Books

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

I recently illustrated an activity book for Group Publishing, Kid’s Travel Guide to the Beatitudes. This a sample of the kind of vector work (Adobe Illustrator) I do for this kind of project. While most of my work is in color, these activity spots are almost always grayscale. These spots are used to quickly show materials needed for an activity, or instructions for a craft. I also illustrate mazes, rebuses, crosswords, and like activities for these books. I enjoy drawing these spots, and they help clarify the lesson or activity for the kids and teachers. One more way that I help you do what you do.

 

 

Go Van Gogh

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Hi again. I’m just about to page 600, which will leave a bit less than 300 to go. I’m reading slowly as I’ve got a bad habit of reading several books at a time. I’m trying to correct that nonsense and limit myself to two. Here’s where things are. Van Gogh has moved to Arles in Provence and has taken up residence in The Yellow House. Now he is writing to Gauguin, asking him to join him. Van Gogh always had these big ideas of success, and prosperous studios with other artists. As you probably know, nothing panned out. At this time, 1888, Monet is the reigning success of the Impressionists, just to give the contemporary scene. By now Vincent is coming into his own and for the next two years he will furiously paint most of the pictures you are probably familiar with. The bright, sunny landscapes, Irises, flowers, more self-portraits. And then some more self-portraits, the Postmaster Roulin and Dr. Gachet and of course Starry Night. But those iconic works are still in the future, book-wise, so I shouldn’t say much about them at this point. Right now he’s been drawing and painting that draw bridge a lot. I’ll keep you posted. 

Still Van Gogh

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I’m moving along through the Van Gogh biography. He has left Paris and is now in Arles. If you know Van Gogh, you know that means he is nearing the end. I’m now in 1888 and Van Gogh died in 1890. More about that later, as there is some dispute as to how he died. In any event, Van Gogh still stirs some controversy. Maybe this book will invite new discussion about his art, its merit (or lack thereof) and his place in history. Most of us have assumed Van Gogh was a troubled genius who was neglected in life and honored in death. I can’t quite tell if this book is going to challenge that story. I had a lively discussion with some friends last week. We are a group of illustrators who meet for lunch and a field trip about once a month. This month found us at the St. Louis Art Museum. All of us are professional illustrators and we range from highly realistic to whimsical children’s art. Our collective appreciation of art admits diverse tastes, but we try, as do so many, to come to grips with what is bonafide good art and what isn’t. Van Gogh is not exempt and we try to sort him as well. I myself grew up with the “troubled genius” narrative of an artist who knew exactly what he was doing, albeit with a bucket full of emotional/psychological challenges. Now I’m not so sure. I’m sensing, from this bio and from closer observation, that he may have truly struggled with draftsmanship. That is a struggle to appreciate since drawing is no easy task, even for the professional (are you with me, guys? Or is that just me?) Mostly I’m seeing that Van Gogh was quite inconsistent, likely due to his incessant drive to mimic others, simultaneously resists and embrace trends, while wooing and rejecting those who could help him improve. Did I mention challenges? Speaking of simultaneously resisting and embracing, I’ll see where I wind up. I find much of Vincent’s work beautiful; much unattractive. I can’t imagine ever rejecting him altogether, if only for his Irises (I’ve got a thing about irises). But maybe I’ll hold my tongue the next time I try to stand up for those paintings of beat up chairs and beds. I’ll be in touch.

Van Gogh

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

My daughter gave me the new Van Gogh biography for Christmas. Van Gogh, The Life is written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Hailed as “Magisterial” by the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani, it is as heavy a bio as any I’ve read since McCullough’s Truman. And almost as long, at about 900 pages. I’m a slow reader so I’m only on page 533, as of this morning. Generously illustrated with both color plates and halftones peppered throughout, this is a nice quality book for a paperback (I don’t think there is a hardcover version). It’s published by Random House, ©2012. Being a Van Gogh fan, more for his florals and landscapes than his dreary bedrooms and chairs or his sporadic portraits, I’m gaining a rather different impression of the man. We’re all familiar with his challenges that led to a partial severing of his ear on to his tragic demise. But I always assumed his drawing and painting style were intentional, advancing a modern technique by choice. It may turn out the man simply struggled with drawing. And painting, and proportions, perspective and everything else fundamental to art. I sheepishly consider this may have been the case. I’m embarrassed, as I’ve spent so much time and energy apologizing for the moderns. Could it be true what my cynical friends have always argued: these folks just couldn’t draw?  I’ll have to see where Naifeh and White Smith arrive with their conclusions, but so far, it seems they are stating what everyone but me and my ilk have consider obvious. In fairness, Van Gogh’s collected works do show progress in all areas. The Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing displays accurate perspective. The Zoave portrait of 1888 is handled nicely, both in drawing and color. I’d be surprised to find the authors dismissive of all his work. They have not been hard on Van Gogh. They distinguish between his successful and less noble attempts. I’ll have to speed up to see where they wind up. So far I’ve not abandoned Van Gogh, but I may reconsider whether I’ve been a victim of propaganda. In any case I’ve no doubt that whether by intent or insanity, Van Gogh worked feverishly and produced striking and iconic images. I’ll let you decide whether for better or worse.

 

Do Feed the Animals

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

For a recent promotional series I invested in livestock. As my work is largely for the juvenile educational market, I created a series of fun animals for my next batch of postcards. For this campaign I opted for minimal vector drawing with simple, primary and secondary color schemes. These are a good fit for workbooks, curriculum pages and magazine spots. This art is infinitely scalable and crisply reproduced on most coated or uncoated paper stock. And they are fun to draw. I think students and teachers will enjoy these. A lifelong student myself (I hope we all are) I strive to make education enjoyable. I hope you enjoy the animals in my portfolio.