Monday, December 22, 2008

Experimenting with Photoshop

Do any of you have tips on buying a Wacom tablet? I painted this sketch with Photoshop brushes and using a mouse (which was a pain!) This is the first digital painting I've done that I've been moderately pleased with.

I was thinking of buying a 9 x 12 Intuos tablet instead of the Cintiq with the display screen. If I get the Intuos I'll have some extra money to buy Corel Painter. My reason for wanting the Intuos is that I use a mouse without looking at the mouse pad, so why buy a pad with a screen? What do you think?

And Merry Christmas everyone! I can't believe it's Christmas time again. Everything seems to be going so fast.

Friday, December 12, 2008


One of the many things keeping me busy these last few weeks. This is for a new steakhouse opening soon.

It is transparent watercolor on Strathmore cold press paper.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trouble in Sector 7 1/2

I've been experimenting lately with color overlays in the computer. Below is a quick unfinished sketch that I scanned and played with. It's a lot of fun, I just need to perfect it.

And below is a gingerbread house I made yesterday. In the foreground to the left you can actually see Adam Rex and his mustache for kids! (note the cool hair)

And that darn Hansel and Gretel pasted the back door with snowballs, trouble making little snips!

Alright enough of this, back to work....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Painted Figurine

Here is the finished king toy:

I'll have to stay on my toes to make sure no one slips him into the Creche this Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family Time For The Holidays

Hello everyone! I've really been neglecting the blog lately. Sorry about that. Many things keeping me busy these last few weeks, but I thought I should post something... so here it is!

Several Christmases ago, I started a little tradition of making toys for my brothers, most often out of clay or wood. Above is this years gift.... Good King Blogworthy!!! Well I don't suppose that's what he will be called, but I thought it fitting as I struggled to collect my thoughts this morning. The boys have already seen him, so there won't be much of a surprise at Christmas. They are very excited though, and that's been fun for me.

The clay I used was Sculpey. It took about three days and he stands about six inches tall.

Now the images below are really interesting! The sly little river otters have found another victim! The guy across the river. I took these about two weeks ago around 7:30 in the morning. When I first saw them, they were climbing up the side of the fish cage so by the time I reached my camera, they were moving on. The owner of the pier put several nice sized speckled trout in the cage the day before. Well as the pics show, he was robbed in broad daylight :)

Friends and family have seen eagles as well. Last winter was the first time in 50 years that any Bald Eagles were seen along the coastal waterways in our area. It's funny... eagles on the beach! If I get any photos of them, I'll be sure to post!

Oh and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Illustration Friday: Wise

"Tain't wise to wear a bustle when break'n a horse. Jus' ask ole Widow-maker."

This watercolor/graphite drawing is of Slue-foot Sue riding Widow-maker from the story of Pecos Bill.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn Weekend

I finished these two this weekend. Some of you might remember the tadpole piece I was working on before. The newer version is a little more dynamic.

The autumn painting was actually going to be another black and white image (since my portfolio is a little short on those) but as I looked at the sketch, it became apparent that it should be in color. The leaves were painted using a transparent watercolor. There are digital elements in the piece as well, but hopefully they're subtle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Artwork... New Direction!

Here is the finished dragon painting. I just put this piece on my website so I thought I might post it here.

Also, there are a few new illustrations over at the second page of my website portfolio. I actually painted these in the spring of this year so I've been sitting on them for quite awhile.

And this sketch is actually NOT a picture of a giant elf chasing little people. (see the finished piece here) The idea came to me while I was still at the conference. There's a lot of action, and the elements of the painting should really bring the viewer into the image. I'm jazzed about this new direction.

I had planned on taking some time off after the conference, but not as long as these ideas are fresh in my head. I feel like I'm shifting gears here, so I can't wait to get these new paintings finished!

The watercolor above is for a local parish priest who is a close friend of mine. I finished this painting last night, and it will be used in a brochure handed out at the dedication of the church in November.

And this is one of fourteen absolutely gorgeous stained glass windows that were restored for the church. I can't get over the beauty of these windows. The photo does not do it justice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

SCBWI Southern Breeze Conference

I just got back yesterday from the SCBWI Southern Breeze Conference in Birmingham, and it was a blast. This was my first conference and I was amazed at how friendly everyone was! I knew I would learn a lot, but wow!!! I'm still reviewing my notes and soaking it in... a truly wonderful experience.

I also had the pleasure of meeting some super illustrators at the conference, one of whom I had spoken with via email but never met. If it had not been for Elizabeth Dulemba, I would not have made it to this conference. She had recommended SCBWI earlier in the year so I really owe her a lot! Thank you Elizabeth! Check out her blog and her wonderful illustrations in the book "Paco and the Giant Chile Bean Plant." Better yet, buy the book! I did and it's one of my favorites!

I also met Liz Conrad, a fabulous illustrator who works using collage (If you read this Liz, I hope I'm defining your work properly) It was so wonderful getting to meet her and see her originals in person! Her work is the kind I could study for hours... such delightful patterns, textures, and expression, all inviting you into the story.

I also had a portfolio critique with Laurent Linn, Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. I'll NEVER forget it. He offered such a clear direction for my work and his passion for the industry shows so much you feel it yourself! It was truly an honor to speak with him.

And as if being in the presence of so many talented people, and learning the secrets of the trade wasn't enough, my entry for the Southern Breeze Illustration contest won first place! As you can imagine, I was really in a state of shock all weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dragon Illustration

Here is the final version of the dragon. I modified him from the original sketch, toned him down a bit by removing the frills on his neck, and made him a little less scaly.

This is a small section of a larger illustration that I finished just last night. The lighting happened somewhat by accident. I had placed the windows in the background for compositional value, and it ended up making a very interesting light source.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally, a new post

It's been a while since I've posted last. A lot to do and little time to do it. The fall SCBWI conference is only two weeks away, so my brain is a bit scattered.

I recently finished my book dummy for the dragon story, which I'm really fired up about, and I'm working on some color illustrations to go with it. What an amazing adventure it's been creating these characters! Tons of fun! I'll try and share some of them soon, but until then I'll show a few older pieces.

The picture above is an acrylic painting I did back in 2007. At the time I intended to sell wildlife paintings of this nature, but it never got off the ground. Besides not fulfilling my desire to draw people in the story telling environment of illustration, I couldn't find any local buyers to make it worthwhile.

I gave this painting to my grandmother who, being from St. Louis, has a fondness for anything pertaining to cardinals (bird or team). I remember getting loads of Ozzie Smith memorabilia when I was a child, so this picture really made her day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Dragon

This is the first color draft of the dragon... I might prefer red scales rather than the green. He would most likely be backdropped by greens or other earth tones, and red I think would have more pizazz. What do you think?

Friday, September 19, 2008

What about the theater?

I've been studying recently the works of William Adolphe Bouguereau. The way he painted the human form and skin is unbelievable. (Click here and here to see two of his works) I've had the idea to do a series of illustrations involving kids and a dragon and I thought it would be interesting if the pictures looked like a theater production. The lighting that Bouguereau chose for most of his work seems to add greatly to that effect, and it inspired me to create these two characters, slightly exaggerating the features for a cartoony look but keep the realism in the skin and clothes.

Don't be tricked by that pitiful look... she's pleading with an art buyer :)

I'm working on the dragon now, but he still hasn't passed the scrutiny of my younger brothers' critique.

One thing that has bothered me in my current job of design and illustration for local companies, is the lack of flexibility. I mean that the work I do now has to be specifically what the buyer wants and I'm not given much creative leverage. As I work on my Children's portfolio, I enjoy experimenting with different techniques, and I hope I can enjoy that freedom in the book industry.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sketches 9/9/08

Some of you may remember this bunny. To my surprise, he's still around. Usually animals as friendly as this rabbit don't last long in the wild, but he comes out of the azalea bushes every so often to munch on sand pears. He must have a lucky rabbit foot or something.

Anyway, I'm making progress on my website, and things look like they'll be in order for the October SCBWI conference... keeping fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

River Otters

My neighbor used to keep a large barrel suspended in the water off the edge of his pier. The barrel, like the one in the picture, had holes in it's side and was perfect for keeping live fish. (bait, or a fresh catch) It just so happened that his ingenuity would come to serve the river otters, who would always slip in and steal the fish. I can remember many times coming across them as they rolled in the barrel, chasing their meal.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Studies

Finally, something new to post! I've been busy with artwork, but nothing neat enough to show just yet.

Here is a small head model I made from Crayola air-dry clay. It's lumpy and unfinished but I wanted to have something for lighting reference when drawing an adult face. This could be used for just about any head but I think I might make a female model as well.

And this is a drawing of the character I did last night. I really wanted to see the results of drawing from the model, so I probably won't take this image beyond the sketch. There are a few issues with it but I think it turned out well.

I intend to have several pieces, a bit more mature than the children's book illustrations, featuring a medieval theme. I've been recently inspired by the paintings of Edmund Blair Leighton, particularly "The Accolade." They just have such a wonderful feel to them... chivalrous... noble... upstanding... And beautiful women in gorgeous flowing dresses!

Anyway... a lot of artwork in the works. As soon as I have some finished pieces I'll share them. (The little girl study, from two posts ago, is in the final stages now)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Out to Lunch

I finally caught up with one of my friends from school yesterday. She had some photos for a competition that she would enter, and wanted my artistic opinion. With this in mind, I expected the usual quiet lunch at the Chinese restaurant, but Kathy wanted to try the new Hibachi across the street.

She bought the lunch, but I think I paid for it. The chef at the grill singled me out when cracking his jokes. One of his favorite lines was, "You very han'some...Harry Potta!" And then he would demand I say thank you. The man was preparing my food and I was hungry, so I complied.

I quickly learned not to hold my soup bowl at the hibachi as well. The chef enjoyed a frequent yell that was impossible to expect. Needless to say, I was wearing some of my soup when I left... but I had a good time.

Now back to watching hurricane Gustav... I think that one might have our name on it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Head Study

Is time moving faster or is it just me? It seems like every aspect of life is picking up speed.

The sketch above is one of several studies for an illustration I plan to use for promotional material. I'm really happy with the direction so far and will share the final illustration later along with the prelim sketches.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Little Monster Day

"A Little Monster Day," written by Wendi Richards, is one of the ten national finalist in the ABC's Children's Book Competition. From Sept. 21 to Oct. 5 this story will be posted at During the contest you can read the stories and vote for your favorite. The story with the most votes will be published.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Picture Book News Coming

This is the homepage illustration as it looks right now. But more importantly I have some picture book news to post in the next few days, so be sure to check back!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Straight at 'em, Mr Mowett

Here's a two year old mock portrait of my debonair brother as Captain Jack Aubrey. I don't think Alex has ever been serious about anything in his life so this picture suits him. The finished portrait was supposed to cover a fusebox in my studio, but it never made it past this stage.

And now I start my weekend early for mum's birthday... Happy Birthday Mom!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Sketchpad

A page from my new sketchpad. These are for a few projects I'm working on. It felt so good to draw!

I can't believe I haven't posted any dinosaurs yet. That used to be the only thing I would draw when I was in high school. I remember drawing them on essay outlines that were supposed to be turned in... of coarse I didn't know they were for a grade at the time...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finding Time

Here is the latest sketch for my future homepage. I added some text to give you an idea where I'm going. I wish this was in color and I could direct you to my site but production work has increased in the shop (7,000 shirts to print) and I haven't had much time to work on my illustrations... frustrating but duty calls!

And below are a few more sketches. The little girl's name is Emma and I'm developing images featuring her with a variety of animals. There is an abundance of wildlife where I live, and I'd like to reflect that in my work through a short story I'm writing.

And this is a small model I made a few weekends ago. It's far from perfect, but it was a real help in drawing the lighting on the face in the homepage sketch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Before the Weekend

I wanted to get a post in before the weekend so here we go!

Below is a quick sketch I did this morning before work. It's watercolor, pencil, and ink on 70lb paper. You'll have to forgive any flaws you see. I wanted to try something a bit more comic book like. There's something attractive to me about the bold lines and shading. I'm much happier with this method of sketching. The watercolors seem to keep me loose and are faster than the many pencil strokes for a regular sketch.

The other night I watched 'North by Northwest' starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason. (Grant and Mason are two of my favorites!) I had never seen it before and now I know why it's a classic. A really great movie! I guess I had beautiful spies on my mind so that must be where this sketch came from. Anyway, see the movie!

Next week I hope to share some cool stuff with you. I've been working steadily on finalizing my portfolio and website before the fall SCBWI conference, and between that and work, there hasn't been much time for blogging.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I just had to post this!

Here's a drawing my nine year old brother did yesterday. I just think it's great! And I'm sure you can guess who it is in the picture.

I've been away from the blogs for a bit. I hope to post some new work soon... it's been very crazy these last few weeks, and it seems that things are only going to get crazier.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leaving my Post for the 4th

I saw a little girl in the grocery store the other day. She was pushing her sister in the shopping cart, and right off the bat I noticed her glorious pigtails! They were almost bigger than she was! I just had to draw them. So here's the pigtail girl with her Fourth of July sparkler. She's being extra cautious with her goggles and gloves.

I'll be away until later next week... Family is coming to visit. (You know I didn't mean that the way it sounds)

Have a Happy - and Safe - Fourth of July! :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cartoons and Sketches

About three years ago, I formed the habit of drawing my two youngest brothers in cartoon form. The style was a bit more simplistic (like the drawings above) and I used the practice to loosen up. It would also keep the little ones more or less entertained. I would sketch them having crazy adventures... being kidnapped by aliens... joining the French Foreign Legion... all sorts of silly things. I also remember how they would slip out of the room to play with their toys or watch a movie, leaving me to sit and draw for hours. (Now I wonder who was baby-sitting who!)

I thought I would try it again this weekend and I put color to one. (by the way, this is unlike my youngest brother to throw a water balloon at an unsuspecting girl - he's not that bad!)

And here’s another pesky siblings idea sketch. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of sharing some of my personal space with a couple of “tadpolts,” so I found this drawing apropos.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drawings and Ducks?

This is a sketch I did last night for practice. (I couldn't get loose to save my life!) And below are some images I didn't think I would be sharing with you today. This morning I spotted some baby ducks in the river. If their mother had not been with them, I would have thought that they were just leaves blowing around in the water. I quickly grabbed my camera and made a dash in my pajamas. Fortunately they came in close for a bite and I got these shots.

Hope you enjoy them!