Thursday, December 27, 2007


The sourpuss in me understands that January 1st is just another day. But I can't resist making New Year's resolutions and setting lofty goals. One illustration goal involves my people. When I sketch, my people are fun! As I fine-tune a drawing, characters tend to become more realistic (less playful). With this illustration I tried to maintain both the whimsical character design and exaggerated gesture of the original sketch.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Evil Holiday Card 2007 (Updated)

Once again I have an evil Holiday card. I don't set out to be twisted. Sick ideas pop into my head and those are the ideas I like! Last year, I had the idea of two mice shopping for a gingerbread house. Cute! The final card featured a hungry cat lurking in the shadows. I guess I don't do cute.

This year's "card" is actually a postcard. A giant (sumo), 6 x 11 postcard. You've seen the front; here's the back:

I wanted to include sketches on the back because, well, people like my sketches! Heck, I like my sketches! Sketches often have an energy that the finished painting lacks. Also, It's a peek into my process (for those poor people that don't visit my blog!). And the critters will be grinning happily at the name on the mailing address! That should make the recipient feel special.

I had the final acrylic painting professionally scanned (the original doesn't fit on my scanner). I was disappointed with the results. The bulb and shrimp were blown out (too red). The blue scanned too bright. The angler fish (that fades into the darkness in the original painting) glowed like a neon sign. Frustrating. I managed to salvage the scan in Photoshop.

For those familiar with PS I did most of the color correction on the individual CMYK channels. Ex: I reduced the red by editing the magenta and yellow channels. I used a brush (low opacity/color dodge) to lighten the channel without destroying the detail.

And good news! My friends at Harbour Light will be using this as their Holiday card – and they will pick up the cost of printing! If that wasn't cool enough – the card will be printed with a spot gloss varnish on the foreground critters (and bubbles)! The final piece should really POP! Here's a closeup. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Painting Practice

Before tackling this year's Holiday card I've warmed up with a few color studies. The lighting in this image a challenge. It's dark down at the bottom of the ocean with very little local color showing through (local color being the actual color of an object–grass is green, stop sign red). The colors are muted except where the bulb is casting its red light. I work out complicated scenes like this in Photoshop (see previous post). Recreating the digital sketch in acrylic can be a challenge.

Acrylic comes in different consistencies, from thick like butter to thin like ink. I use a product called flow-enhancer to thin the paint further. I can then use acrylic like watercolor (creating washes and glazes). The benefit being that acrylic, once dried, won't lift and leave a hole if an area is overworked later in the painting process. I tend to overwork things.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Wiz: First attempt at digital painting

This was my first project with a Wacom drawing tablet. Digital painting feels like cheating, it's too much fun! The power of Control Z is hard to resist (that's "undo" for you PC users).

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I haven't done much artwork in the last 4 months due to the chaos (and joy) that is getting married. I've done even less painting. Before launching into a big project I decided I needed to stretch my painting muscles. I pulled this character out of my sketchbook (originally drawn from life at my brother's graduation). This was done quickly (1.5 hours) and that spontaneity shows. It's not perfect but the paint and lines have an engaging energy that can be lost in more calculated illustrations. This was done in acrylic.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When is a drawing done?

When I finished the preliminary sketch of my holiday card (see previous post) I thought it looked pretty good. But that drawing came quickly. I didn't trust it. It was too easy! I must suffer for my art.

Was the first sketch good? Or just good enough?

These characters are stylized but are based on real animals. The more inspiration I draw from the actual critters the better. I Googled shrimp. After studying several photos I realized my "shrimp" looked more like a lobster. I narrowed the body and legs. I gave him a pointy head. I rearranged the antanae. I also used this opportunty to exaggerate the gesture and expression.

I moved on to the angler fish. I looked at a dozen angler photos. One photo in particualr caught my eye. It was a freaky looking fish. I would be a fool not to let that image inspire me.

Is the drawing done? I think so. I could spend the rest of my life perfecting these characters but I have other fish to fry.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Holiday Card Sketch

I was channel surfing and stumbled across "Blue Planet" on the Discovery Channel. This particular episode was all about the scary fish that live way down deep. I've always been intrigued by angler fish and this program featured several rarely seen specimens.

The next day I was strolling down the street (cup of coffee in hand), brainstorming for my holiday card. A chameleon on a red Christmas tree bulb?

Done that.

I thought about a glowing Christmas tree bulb. I remembered the phosphorescent lure of the deep sea angler fish. Where do ideas come from? Channel surfing and coffee.

Posted is a sketch colorized in Photoshop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Something Ancient

When I was a kid, the local Recreation Department held a Halloween window painting contest and every year I would enter. I recently found this old negative and scanned it at 2400 dpi. The resulting image is choke full of lost details and memories. Decades later I can read what I wrote on the coffin–"Dracula's Pad". That's my brother David stealing my limelight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Award Winning Illustration!

The New Hampshire Creative Club's 19th Annual Exhibition and Award ceremony was last night (For an explanation of the NHCC see previous post). The festivities were held in the Manchester photography studios of Althea Haropulos. The studio is housed in a beautiful riverside mill building–lots of brick, hard wood and tall windows. An enviable space–sure beats my cluttered studio.

The Exhibition honors design professionals in New Hampshire. Award categories include best design, web, photography, copy writing , student work and of course illustration. The Portsmouth Ballroom logo was entered by Harbour Light Strategic Marketing (they commissioned me to create the logo).

The competition was strong and I didn't think a logo would win. Compared to more detailed and colorful illustrations my logo looked woefully simple. I am happy to win but still fear the judges made a mistake!

The ballroom logo started as brush and ink drawing that was then scanned and manipulated in Adobe Illustrator.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Hampshire Creative Club

The New Hampshire Creative Club is an organization of creative professionals such as graphic designers, photographers and illustrators. Every year they sponsor the "Academy Awards" of New Hampshire creative types–the NH Creative Club Annual Exhibition. This year, I was invited to design the call for entrees brochure. I was happy to oblige–an opportunity to get my work in front of colleagues around the state plus the NHCC gave me free reign.

The NHCC logo features a person having a eureka moment. Staring at the logo I thought of the statues on Easter Island. The idea of bringing the logo to life tickled me–and it would fun to illustrate. The fact NH is the granite state–well, that was just gravy.

Once Jim Roland (NHCC member) assured me that no one had done an Easter Island theme I started brainstorming headlines. "Don't just stand there" and "It's time to show the world what you're made of" seemed clever enough. I'm particularly fond of the bunny.

FYI–The final brochure was a tri-fold, 6x9.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Magazine Illustration

These illustrations appeared in Accent Magazine for a story about concierge services.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Stego Final?

This just might be done. My super critic, John (every one needs a super critic), wants to see the background developed more. I don't want the background to detract from the kids and the stegosaurus (my favorite dino by the way). Perhaps a few more details–bricks on the chimney, shingles on the house. Scroll down to see earlier drafts of this illustration.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Work in Progress– The Fuzzy Stage

It's been a long time! Sadly I've been busy with graphic design work and wedding plans and dishes and–you get the point. The illustration has moved from the digital realm into the physical world of paper and acrylic. It's a little fuzzy now–I build a painting with lots of layers and at this stage it looks washed out. As I progress it will become more defined, more rich and hopefully–less fuzzy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My First Blog Entry

Hello everyone! This is my first blog entry. I intend to use this space to show my most current work– from scary sketches to final illustrations. Along the way I would love feedback, constructive criticism is welcome–as is friendly praise.

For starters, here's a sketch of two girls washing their
Stegosaurus–finish piece coming soon.