Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IF: Pioneer (142-143)

Pioneer...Last night on the Kennedy Center Awards, Carl Reiner referred to Mel Brooks as a pioneer. He also referred to his "genius mind and unsensorable mouth." I have a tough time deciding whether I like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein more, but for this Illustration Friday theme, it seemed that the Western was more pioneerlike. "Work, work, work, hello boys, I miss you."

I try to make light of this theme because every subject that I could think of as a pioneer was really not true. Although we credit the pioneers for their western surge in this country, they were closely observed by the people who were already living there. There were other examples where the history book that we read as children called people pioneers in this or that when in fact they were following in some other person's footprints. So Mel Brooks as a pioneer seems to work for me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Latest Painting--Swan (144-156)

A very hectic week and a half trying to move two daughters in and out and out and in; getting ready for the holidays; and trying to be somewhat creative. This is my latest painting, which seems to have lost something in the photograph. It is from a picture of a swan that I took about a month ago.

Oil 18 x 22

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

House Portrait Done at Last (157-158)

I have been working on this drawing on and off for about two weeks. Typically, it takes me about 8 hours to complete a house portrait. This one took longer for a couple of reasons. First it is much larger than my usual 8 x 10 image (17 x 22). Second, it is a fairly complicated image with lots of shifts in tone. It is a white stone and white clapboard surface, which can be difficult to get in light and shade. Finally, I wanted this to be special because it is a gift for some people who have lots of great artwork in their home and I didn't want to pale by comparison.

I am pleased with the result, although it probably isn't the best photo here. I hope they enjoy it. Click on the picture to see more detail.

Monday, December 14, 2009

IF: Hatch (159-165)

This is General Edward Hatch. For the sake of this drawing, I used a great deal of crossHATCHING.

"Edward Hatch (December 22, 1832 – April 11, 1889) was a career American soldier who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. After the war he became the first commander of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, a Buffalo soldier regiment with African-American troops commanded by white officers." (

His biography on that site continued, "Hatch was born in Bangor, Maine, and educated at the Norwich Military Academy in Vermont. He volunteered for service as a private in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. He assisted in raising the 2nd Iowa Cavalry, of which he became colonel in June, 1862. He served under General Ulysses S. Grant in the South. After commanding the entire cavalry division in the Army of the Tennessee, he was made brigadier general in early 1864. His gallantry in the field caused his further promotion to the rank of brevet Major General (1864)
After the war, he transferred from the volunteer to the Regular Army as colonel of the 9th Cavalry Regiment (1866). He succeeded General Gordon Granger as commander of the Department of Arizona (which included New Mexico Territory) in 1876, negotiated a treaty with the Ute Indians in 1880, and became widely known as an Indian fighter.
He died in Fort Robinson, Nebraska April 11, 1889 and is buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery Fort Leavenworth Kansas. "

Monday, December 7, 2009

IF: Crunchy (166-171)

The Illustration Friday theme for the week is Crunchy. I thought about things that are crunchy and saw that most of them were being rendered already. I thought of my dog when she has a bone or cookie. She makes a lot of noise and crunchy sounds. There is nothing that makes her life better than a steak bone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Card(172-173)

Each year I get the opportunity to create a holiday card for our company. This is the background illustration I created this year. It was created in Photoshop.

This prompted an interesting conversation with my creative partner Dwayne. I posed to him the issue that the term "digital painting" is not an accurate description of this medium. There isn't any paint and I have long had a problem with that characterization of this type of artwork. Guru of Glib that Dwayne is, he resolved the issue with a new term--pixeling. I like it!

So this is a Photoshop pixeling. I am happy with the outcome and have to manipulate the image to work for the various elements (name tags, invitations, electronic, and print cards).

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 30, 2009

IF: Entangled (174-179)

Here's my Illustration Friday submission for Entangled. Every once in a while I get to go fishing and I think anyone who has fished from an embankment has either been victim to this or seen the evidence of someone else's misfortune.

In my drawing, the limbs are entangled and the lure has found its way into the mess.

I've been working on a new painting and continue to work on a very large house drawing. Hope everyone had a great thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

IF: Music--Chinese Violin (180-186)

When they say, "you don't really know what you've lost 'til it's gone", I imagine they were not talking about computer technology. But it is just as true.

Last Thursday we began a move to a new office building that needed to happen before the fiber optic connection could be made. We are currently running a full office of 5 people on one cable internet connection. I waited for an hour to download one graphic file yesterday afternoon.

This had a good and bad outcome. The good is that it gave me an opportunity to work on this week's IF: Music. The bad is that I was done on Monday and could only get the scanner to operate this morning. So here it is...

This is a drawing of an old gentleman that my daughter an I encountered on the streets of San Francisco a couple of years ago. I love SF! Talk about a town that gets it from a design sense. We spent the day at the DeYoung museum, the Japanese Garden, Lucas Films, and just enjoying the beautiful city. We also visited the SFMoMA. My daughter will be heading out to California in a month to USC for graduate film study. I'm sure she will visit the City by the Bay again.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chevy Truck (187-188)

Started working on a big house drawing that is a gift for some very generous people we know yesterday. It will take a couple of days to get through.

In the mean time, I did a sketch of a 1948 Chevy Pickup Truck that is parked near my Mom's house in town.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More from today (189)

Here are some photos I took this weekend when I was setting up for a house drawing I will be doing this week. Local fall color.

IF: Unbalanced "Eating It" (189-195)

When thinking about Un-balanced, I went to one of the sports that hinges on precise balance--surfing. When hanging-ten on the edge, a moment of un-balance becomes disasterous. Had some fun doing this little sketch. Hope you enjoy it.

Spent a few hours wandering around the Waterfowl Festival this weekend. Saw many different levels of skill and a wide variety of approaches to wildlife carving, sculpture, and painting. The weather was spectactular. I also looked into studio space. I am considering the cost vs. the amount of time I would actually spend in the space. It does offer a high level of interaction with other artists and the public and the price is reasonable. We'll see.

Monday, November 9, 2009

IF: Blur (196-202)

A couple of weeks ago Illustration Friday was about "Fast" and I didn't post because of time. Here, I thought that the Cheetah theme could be worked into "Blur" very easily. So that's what I did.

I hope to get going on some artwork now that Field Hockey refereeing is over. I have a stack of freelance work to get through too and would like to get back to the gym at least every other day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

IF:"Skinny" Dipper (203-205)

Illustration Friday word "Skinny"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Last of the Homes Drawings (206-208)

Finally, I have finished the house drawings for the Festival of Trees Tour of Homes. This last one was a bit of a struggle since the homeowner provided a picture that was very small. I am sure they will be somewhat disappointed because they think they provided something else.

I have been trying to find all of the scans of the past years. I became religous about them only in the past 5 or 6 years, so it is difficult to assemble them back together. I am trying to put together a booklet with as many of the 75 donated drawings as I can find. I might try to convince them to put the booklet on display with the current drawings thinking it might generate some business.

Funny, I need the work, but I really didn't enjoy doing these drawings as much. I've been spending more time working on Illustration Friday sketches and paintings and found this a bit tedious. Oh, well. They turned out pretty nice and I will go into the past of the Tour of Homes knowing that I did something well and meaningful.

Move on.

I didn't get a drawing done for IF this week. The Fast theme was ok. I first thought about several ideas only to quickly see them done by others. Then I thought I would just go ahead and do my take of a Cheetah, but didn't get around to it until there were about 10 images dealing with that. I finally settled on a surfing image, but couldn't manage it with all the other things this past week. I look forward to the new theme and will definitely get something in this week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four of Five Festival Homes (209-218)

I have only one remaining for this donation. A very busy week since last post meant that I could only work on this one in small portions. I've done a lot of graphic design projects in the week, but nothing particularly creative or original, so I chose not to post it here. This is the fourth of the five donation drawings. The last one will be a challenge, but it will be the last for sure.

Monday, October 19, 2009

IF: Frozen (219)

It won't be long...

Once or maybe twice a year it snows to amount to anything around this part of the United States. I live in the Tidewater region of Maryland on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. These blackbirds are very tough and scavange for whatever they can find. Here they came in behind the squirrels who usually leave very little.

More Festival of Trees Drawings (219-222)

Not too much other than these two drawings for Festival of Trees Tour of Homes. Two more to go. No time to paint and weather is crappy for getting in the shed. I'll have to decide where to paint for the winter--heater in the shed or paint smell in the house.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Version 2 of Napoleon (224-223)

A while back, I created a handwashing poster that featured Napoleon Bonaparte. The customer wanted to use a work for hire piece that a gaming company had as it's brand. I created a take off on Napoleon's portrait for the poster. I posted the illustration here and I thought it was pretty good.

The customer wanted changes. I can never get over how people seem to think that they can change a photo or illustration as an "edit." I think they think that there is a magic change button on the computer or something. Anyway, it was very hard to get them to tell me what they liked because they wanted the other illustration. Of course it was, first inappropriate for the message and audience, and second, looked like Lord Farquar from Shrek.

So here's my most recent take. I hope they accept because it makes a good image. But I don't really care, since each time they change I get to draw and paint! (on their dime)
Top image is new bottom is the older version.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IF: Flying--This Little Guy Caught the Wrong Flyer (225)

I tried to reach outside the box for this week's IF illustration. Nothing is actually flying, but both the Radio Flyer and the bird have the potential for flight. We'll see if this idea flies with the audience!

Working on Festival of Trees (226-230)

I've been working on some house portraits for the Hospice Festival of Trees. For 15 years I have donated 5 illustrations as gifts to the people who open their houses to a tour of homes. This helps raise money for Talbot Hospice. Several years ago, I was ready to move on from this project, but my Dad used a very limited hospice service when he died and I felt obligated to continue. That has been more than 10 years ago, so I will be concluding this donation this year with my 75th rendering. Here is the first of the last 5.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Foggy morning (232-231)

Photoshop sketch...foggy morning light.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A gallery event (236-233)

Friday I toyed with the idea of attending First Friday gallery walk in town. I was distracted by an issue with the car dealer, so I opted not to go. I also knew that Saturday my friend Greg's gallery 447 was having an event and I would go to that.

I went and was interested in the interaction. I thought that several of the artists were very good and the others were good enough. I think I could participate at that level. I need to get busy creating more work. One of the artists , Mary Ann Schindler was very modern and good. We chatted for a bit. It seems that you almost have to wait until you are retired to do this full time.

Greg wants me to take space in one of the studios, but I can't afford $350 a month and get the most out of it. Perhaps one day.

IF: Germs -- She doesn't feel well

I've been considering this Illustration Friday subject for a couple of days. It appears that most folks are approaching it from a cartooning or abstract point of view. I wanted to take a different tact and went with this illustration of a little girl not feeling well. The germs are attacking her from in the air.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Peacock (239-237)

This is from a picture my wife took on Maui last summer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

IF: Pattern—Splinter in a Window (243-240)

Illustration Friday's theme for the week is pattern. I made this drawing of Erin's cat Splinter looking out of the window (one of her favorite pastimes). The theme is played out in the pattern of the curtain, the pattern of her fur, and her repetitious pattern of moving from window to window each day to see what is going on outside.

From this window she sees birds in the trees of our yard and is able to annoy the squirrels that attempt to eat our trash cans. She often falls asleep when the warm sun is visible on this side of the house. From this perch she also looks over my shoulder while I work and sometimes will climb down to nap in my lap. Things must be taken on Splinter's terms—also a pattern.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finished the new painting (246-244)

I have been working for a week on this painting. When I retrieved the old paintings and canvases from Mom's house, this canvas had a shape that I thought matched the subject in my mind. I liked the long horizontal shape. I added the channel marker and boat today.

Today I am taking a "mental health day." I was up most of the night after my dog woke and I had things on my mind. I knew I couldn't function on 4 hours of sleep today, so I had to take a day of sick leave. After sleeping in, I felt better and my eyes work, so I went out to finish the painting.

I will study the image for a while, but I like it for the most part.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Illustration Friday: Infinite (249-247)

I came across this website that posts a phrase or word each week for illustrators as a theme for an illustration. I thought I would dabble in this for a while. This week's word is infinite. The illustration is "Infinite—The Depth of a Beagle's Appetite."

Worked on a new painting this weekend. Nothing to show yet. I retrieved a bunch of canvases from my Mom's attic that desperately need gessoing and repainting. What was I thinking! These are images that need to be erased from existance. Hopefully some good will come from the canvas with new work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I hope this daily gets back on track (250-256)

I am a little disappointed in myself for not pushing through with drawing at least in the past week. The work schedule was grueling last week and I found that resting and getting house work done took up most of my time. I have been working for the past three days on this illustration for a poster.

The picture provided as reference was comical. It was done for a game and the hand in vest gesture looked more like a hand in pants gesture. My Napoleon ended up a little chunky, but I intended that so that he would look smaller without other reference. I am hoping that this sees the light of day, but at least I had an exercise in illustration.

The original PS4 file is 12 x 18 at 150 dpi.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two paintings since last I posted (257-261)

I started painting last Saturday and spent a decent amount of time in my new makeshift studio (the shed). It wasn't quite as hot, although it was still pretty warm in there. I have to find a fan somewhere in the attic or storage.

The first was an oil rendering of the digital file I created a couple of months ago. It is really blue and dark. I painted it over another painting and unfortunately part of that painting is showing through. It ruins the painting, but I might try to either repaint it or turn it into a abstract and paint over it again. Greg would like that.

The second is a scene that I have had in my mind for a couple of years. The Indian River Inlet in Delaware is an interesting place. It forms a venturi and the current is incredibly strong. Lisa and I went there a couple of years ago in the winter and the rushing water was cold and dark. There were people surfing at the beach and I took many pictures. This is a painting of a marker that sits on top of a rock jetty at the mouth. I hopefully captured the cold rushing water and the flashes of bright foam. I have been looking at some Winslow Homer paintings and I think that I was inspired by them for the water.

Proposals and heaped up work have resulted in 15 hour days, so no artwork right now. I will draw or paint when the pattern breaks.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New drawing (268-264)

Since last week, I've been busy with other things. I purchased a canvas, so now I need to plan for the next painting. This is another in the series of drawings of people with developmental disabilities. It turns out that the customer left out some crucial information about who the brochure audience actually is. I need to include more support people and providers. As I said to her, "it doesn't bother me, I get to draw more."

Spent most of the weekend running around, literally.

Hope to be better about drawing and painting as I move forward. I need to plan time for it. The weather has made it difficult for me to use my "new" studio, but I still hold out hope that it will work out for the next few months.

Had to relearn CSS coding for building websites in order to help with the Bright Minds Design website for Mom, Amy, and Cristy. As soon as I get the password/access information, I can upload the new site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Web work and some visual research (269)

No time on Wednesday for drawing. I am trying to get back to the YMCA for exercise and begin refereeing field hockey tomorrow so my after-work schedule still needs some adjusting. I had to spend my evening hours getting some last minute things done for Jackie for her grand opening Thursday and working on a rush website for my Mom/Sister/Sister-in-Law at where they hand-make items for kids. That link is to the old site. I need to develop a new one quickly for an event they have this weekend.

I've been watching several movies and tv shows lately on artists including Jasper Johns (his flag pictured above) and Jackson Pollack. There was a show that I was watching Wed night on Ovation about several painters exhibiting in a competition that was really good--too late to remember who though.

Today on LinkedIn, I saw a discussion from a photographer who wanted marketing advise for a site where they are promoting this painter Nick Schlee. is the site There are two clips, on is dialog the other a gallery set to some nice jazz.

Just had a continued discussion with someone in Flordia regarding my drawings of the DD people. It was a good discussion that provided some insight and allowed me to express my feelings. Very touchy feely of me, don't you think.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another portrait and an interesting critique (270)

Last week I posted two portraits that I created for a brochure on developmental disabilities. Here's another face that I drew today. These illustrations were done in an effort to avoid two things. First, the cost of stock photography. The program doesn't have a great deal of money and they need to stretch their dollars. So this was an economical way to solve the art problem. Second was a need to stay somewhat ambiguous. The drawing takes it out of the specific and realistic and puts the figure in the context of fiction.

The reason that I get to draw another image is that the customer rejected one of the images. Not unusual. Illustration is a tricky effort. The customer gave little instruction other than asking for photos that were "dignified." After several years of working in this market, I have a sense of what she meant, but it still is very open for interpretation. So I expected that one or all might be out of line.

I have some first-hand experience with meeting and getting to know people with developmental disabilities. I took on this challenge because I thought it would be tough and would offer a great reward at the end if I was able to capture the essence of what I see in those people that I have met. My drawings reflected that emotion and, I feel, were beautiful and successful expressions of the unihibited joy that I always see in them.

I bow to the expertise of the customer--knowing what will work and what won't. But I was bruised by the words chosen to critique the drawing. I think that the customer wasn't aware that I drew these. She perhaps thought that they were clip art placed by John, and was commenting in a way that she thought was educational.

The critique said that the image looked like a charactature of "black face" and perhaps we could find something more "dignified." Again with that vague term. I am not so concerned with the latter, because I doubt she could define that word for me if she tried (not a criticism, just the way it is). But the term "black face" registered sour with me.

I thought I was representing the face as beautiful, animated, and joyful. The reference had big bright teeth, which were well-used, so I drew them in. It is the reference that insinuates that I was working from a characature of a stereotype that I find repulsive. Email does this. Take out the non-verbal, tone, and volume and the misinterpretation begins.

Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to draw this guy. Hopefully they will find him dignified. I hold my head high that the sending of the messages in terms of the drawings were dignified, beautiful, joyous, and well-intended. I can't account for the mind and vision of the viewer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Then life gets in the way (275-271)

I did this sketch of a vegetable to show a style for a future task on Thursday. After that, as the title says--life got in the way.

We drove to Frostburg by way of Baltimore to help Erin move houses. It took from 7 am till 12:30 am the next day to get that done and get home. So no drawing then. Saturday was a recovery day and very rainy. Perhaps Bill made a detour.

Sunday we had to catch up on house work and the girls both returned home for a brief stay. Lex arrived with the Fiesta decorated with sticky notes from her cross country trip. I'm sure there's a video coming soon to a blog near you.

Hopefully I will get on track with something today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When it rains it pours

I've had a drought for so long and worked pretty much on the gull painting that I was really not doing enough. Now, I've been working on some projects that give me an excuse for drawing. Of course that could come to an end abruptly (he writes as he is given a two-sided flyer with a dense design to add even more copy).

This is a third drawing for this Developmental Disabilities flyer that John is creating.

Two in one day!

I posted about the painting this morning before I went out for the day. I took this picture which inspired me to write this poem.

Same Grass, Same Trees
By Dave Morrell

Each day I walk out in the morning,
Ignoring the repetitive view.
The same grass,
The same trees,
The same buildings, and sky,
Not looking for something new.

So often I gaze without seeing,
Leave without pause or a clue.
The same grass,
The same trees,
The same buildings, and sky,
Not taking the time for review.

Today I walked out in the morning,
And for some reason was struck by the view.
The same grass,
The same trees,
The same buildings, and sky,
But something caused me to break through.

Through the routine,
And the drone,
Through the worries of the day,
True value was for a moment made clear.
By the light through the trees
Made clear by the fog,
Each day is itself something new.

Summer must be over--the painting is done (276)

I'm not sure why this took so long to finish. I really enjoyed painting it and am happy with the results.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illustration for a brochure (278-277)

I continue to work on my latest painting. Got a little sidetracked yesterday by a trip to Wilmington.

I have enjoyed some summer help at work for the past month. A young designer named John Reid has been working temporarily for us. He has secured a permanent job in Baltimore at the end of the month, so I'll be back on my own.

For the past two days I've had John searching for free pictures of people with developmenal disabilities for a comp brochure that I have to create. After extensive searching, he has only been able to find two pictures for free. He found several Royalty Free image as well. So I told him to pick a few of those and I would use them as reference to draw illustrations.

I made three drawings. Threw one away, scanned two, and liked this one. I have to do at least one more. But I'm going to save that for tomorrow.

I need to get on one of my other projects while he is still here--4 big posters.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Still working on the painting (281-279)

I am getting pretty close to wrapping up my latest work. Maybe a few more days. I will try to do a sketch tomorrow just to fill in the page.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Continuing on with the painting (282)

Back in the shed last night to work on my seagull painting. It's coming along. I almost have everything blocked in. Then I can start working on the details. I tried a technique that I saw on the web for the wave, but think I will just go back to my own way of getting that done.

This morning I was thinking about the texture and realized that I was making it too sharp. I'll hit it again this afternoon. The rain and high humidity make the paint hard to work with, but I'll keep pushing through.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

working on a painting (283)

I started the painting on the seagull that I sketched the day before yesterday. I set up in the shed and it was 97 degrees yesterday. I got a lot done, but was drenched. I have to figure out a way to cool that space down, but I like being able to move around without worrying about spilling paint, turps, or brushes.

I did some YouTube surfing of painting techniques. It's amazing how much is out on that website. I think you could learn brain surgery if you put the right search words in.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Planning for a painting (285-284)

On Sunday, we went to see Julie & Julia (an excellent movie). In the movie, one of the main characters has a daily blog. I was interested to see how they portrayed the task of writing a daily blog as a record of some daily creation. She seemed to have a much simpler time of it than me.

I came across some old pictures I took of seagulls at the beach. I think I might do a painting of them. When I was in the Outer Banks, I came across a seagull on the beach painting that I liked. Perhaps I'll try to do something similar.

I also read an interesting article in Artist magazine about composition. It's like being on a roller coaster when switching from objective to non-objective, then back again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Abstraction (286)

Yesterday afternoon I invited myself to Greg's studio for a little painting session. I grabbed up my canvas and paints and drove the half hour to his house. Greg has extended me an invitation for some time now and I was finally able to take him up on it. Yesterday's results was pretty good. If anything, he got me to extend myself and take some risk. I should have taken a picture of yesterday's result, but I forgot.

Anyway, I worked on it some more today after setting up in the shed. And this is the result. I like it. I am still uncomfortable with the process of destroying what you do in order to build up layers. I had at least three stages that I thought were pretty good. But I kept rubbing it out and ended up here. I'm stopping it for now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Germs (287)

I did some cartooning for this poster today. I sketched them out then drew them in Illustrator.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sketchbook (288)

I have been trying to use a sketchbook so that I am not trying to create full pieces of art each night. I still try to fill the page, but perhaps I will make it more managable by using smaller pages. This is a sketch of Sadie sitting in one of her many "sunny-spots."

Hey where did we go,

days when the rains came?

Down in the hollow,

playin' a new game.

Laughin' and a runnin',

hey hey

Skippin' and a jumpin',

In the misty morning fog,

And you, ...

my brown eyed girl.

--Van Morrison