Friday, December 17, 2010

you've got MAIL!

You've got mail! A Christmas greeting from me to you. I gave the postman the day off and sent this out over the internets. I wish all a very merry Christmas and a new year full of possibilities. As Pedro says, "may your wildest dreams come true."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

feed the dog

I have been too busy lately to feed the dog. Wait, I don't have a dog. But if I did, he would be wearing his bowl on his head and kicking my door like Snoopy.

First our gas range died. We have been cooking with an electric skillet. Our refrigerator is half dead. The freezer doesn't freeze anymore. Then our central heat and air unit died. I think it is a conspiracy. The HVAC was confusing. Too many choices and opinions about brands and sizes paralyzed us for a while. We finally decided on one. I am so thankful to have heat right now.

After the HVAC was taken care of, we then focused on replacing the stove and fridge. The day before they were to be delivered, the water heater in the garage sprung a leak and died. I tell you, it's a conspiracy. So we got the plumber who installed the new water heater to connect the gas stove while he was here. Now we have a stove to cook on, a fridge with a freezer, hot water, and heat in the house. Yay! I have learned to appreciate things I have been taking for granted for so long... like hot water.

Then yesterday, the phone quit working.

Murphey's Law is alive and well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The word for Illustration Friday last week was "afterward." I was thinking of the Dueling Banjo Pigs site and thought I would show what happens AFTER a pig plays a banjo. Unfortunately, I only got this quick sketch done and then was distracted by other things and never got around to making a better image, or posting it on IF. Life happens. Anyhoo, I missed the IF deadline but decided to post this guy anyway.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween countdown 7

Halloween. It's GRRRRRRRRRRRRReat!

Halloween countdown 6

Holy Halloween... it's Batkid! Quick, throw some Bat-treats into the Bat-bag, and fire up the Bat-scooter, Alfred!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween countdown 5

My Spidey Sense is tingling... there must be treats in the area!


A racing wiener dog. This is a painting I did a while back. I like to simplify animals into geometric shapes.

To see my Halloween countdown CLICK HERE

Halloween countdown 4

Halloween can be a MOO-ving experience... or an udder failure.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween countdown 3

Need a quick costume? Just grab a couple of Honey Buns, stick 'em on your ears and you are Princess Leia!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween countdown 2

Count your fingers after you give this little guy a treat...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween countdown 1

I'm counting down to Halloween with a costume or two each day. First up is the classic Chicken costume. This may get the wearer some stale PEEPS leftover from Easter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Southern Festival of Books

Last weekend was the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. Saturday morning I listened to Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca) tell about his journey to become a writer. I didn't know anything about him. He was hilarious.

He grew up with 5 brothers and no sisters. At one point he was studying to become a doctor, but realized that although he liked the science part of medicine, he found that sick people "weirded" him out.

He got a masters degree in fiction writing which, he said, qualified him to paint apartments in New York. After a few years of painting apartments he decided that there had to be something better.

He found a teaching job in an elementary school in NYC and taught second grade along with some other grades for eight years. He decided to write for children and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs was the first book he got published. After many publishers told him it was "too dark, too sophisticated, and don't come back" he finally found a publisher that liked it. It has now sold over 13 million copies.

Jon was so entertaining and fun to listen to. He is the kind of guy you want to have as a buddy and hang out with. I really enjoyed him.

Right after Jon was a talk by Mo Willems. Mo read/performed his new Knuffle Bunny book. He is another crazy person. He and Jon were neighbors in Brooklyn for a few years.

I think that is the problem with my career. I have never lived in Brooklyn. It seems everyone I like has lived there.

I also got to watch a screening of the new documentary "Library of the Early Mind" Click on the link above to see the trailer.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


(pencil and Photoshop - click to enlarge)

If you are an opossum, it's not beneath you to eat garbage.

I only had time to quickly pencil out something and throw on a little Photoshop color. But I did have fun playing with the brushes and layers in Photoshop. Wish I had more time for a little better finish to this picture. Oh, well... Maybe next week I can get something done before Thursday.

Yeah, right.

I did catch a possum in a live trap recently in my yard. I had some leftovers in it as bait. I thought I was going to catch yet another skunk, which are digging up my yard. My count to date is 7 skunks caught and one possum. I let the critter go and he scampered off to find some nice gar-BAHzh at someone else's house.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ABC book cover

Old-Fashioned ABC book. Click to enlarge.

Last weekend I attended the Mid South SCBWI conference. There was a contest that attending illustrators could enter. It got down to the week of the conference before I finally got a little time to put together this book cover. One of the options for the contest was to create a 10x10 cover with the letters ABC as part of the art.

I thought it would be fun to try something a bit different, so I cut all of the shapes for the illustration out of black paper.

I scanned the black shapes, and then assembled and colored them in Photoshop. I liked the results. A square cover is a very boring shape. I ran a little strip down the left side that made the white space a bit less square. I also repeated the vertical strip with the vertical animals and letters. Lots of fun to do.

I seem to gravitate toward making things simple and fun. But alas, simple and fun does not win against incredibly well rendered illustrations. The winning pieces were really nice. Congrats to all.

Now, where did I leave that box of Kleenex?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Fashioned

Gather around children, and let me tell you of the days before everyone walked around with a phone in his pocket. When I was little I read a comic strip in the newspaper (do you remember newspapers?) called Dick Tracy. Dick Tracy would talk on his 2-Way Wrist Radio. You knew it was a 2-Way Wrist Radio because there was a little arrow pointing to it telling you. This was the stuff of science fiction. To think you could communicate with someone with a watch like radio. No way.

Later there was Maxwell Smart. The spy from Control who talked into his shoe phone. A bit awkward for sure, but nevertheless a portable phone. He did have to dial it... but still... this was technology only a spy could have.

Today everyone takes phones for granted. Leave home without your phone and you feel nekkid!

Except for me. I still use tin cans with string.

Just call me old fashioned.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Wow, I have almost missed Illustration Friday again! Tomorrow is Friday and a NEW word will be announced. But just under the wire, here are a couple of acrobats. These were part of a collection of images I created for the Facebook game PackRat. I will have to try to be more timely in posting things in the future. Or... I could just go back in time and post this earlier, if my time machine was not in the shop. Those pesky flux capacitors keep going out on me...


Today's warm up doodle. Micron on copy paper.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fantasy Football

As the proverb says: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

This week marked the first step in the Fantasy Football league I have joined. Before you stop reading... let me tell you about our league. It is AWFFL, which stands for Another Worthless Fantasy Football League. And it IS awful... awful fun! It is a family affair. All the other league members are related to me. There are brothers, nephews, kids... and the wife of a nephew. We run the gamut from those who have followed the NFL for decades... to those who have never watched a game.

Our league has two Divisions. The Bipolar Division and the Dementia Division. I am glad I was assigned to one of the Divisions, because I could have never chosen between the two.

The teams include such fearsome names as the High Plains Drifters, the Wild Weasels, the Phlegm, the Chinese Bandits... and my team... the Poodle Walkin' Sissies. If perchance the planets all align one week, and my hapless team actually wins a game, I want the looser to have to tell their friends that they lost to the Poodle Walkin' Sissies.

AHhhh...THAT will be so GOOOD! Highly unlikely... but it would be so GOOOD!

The first game is now in the record books. The POODLES limped to their locker room with their tails between their legs after a bitter loss. After a round of Purina Poodle Chow, some Perrier water and some hot tubbin', the Poodles are ready for week two.

Next week we meet the PHLEGM. Hope we don't get slimed.

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 03, 2010


I create images for a game on Facebook called PackRat. It is a game of collecting little images. You find them, buy them, steal them from friends. These are a few I did recently for the Ice Cream Shoppe collection. These were really fun to do. Ice cream desserts are my favorite... wait, I like pie too... and cake... and pastries... and...

Thursday, September 02, 2010


A Skunk on a pew is immovable. Would YOU want to tell him to leave?

I think not.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


On a cold winter day you need to feel the sun shining in the window and create a cozy, warm atmosphere.

It's is hard for me to imagine being cold right now. The temperature here has not been out of the nineties since June. The weather man is talking about it getting down to the eighties this week. Woo, I'd better go find my jacket.

This was an assignment I did recently. Maybe it helps you to feel cool if you are drawing cold folks trying to keep warm. That is the crazy part of being an illustrator. You always seem to be six months off. I can't wait till Christmas when I will be drawing people on the beach soaking up the sun.

Monday, August 09, 2010

puzzle time

Here are a couple of things I did recently that look a bit different from the other things I post here. These were done for the preschool set. And for the next group above the preschool set. Them little folks, small fries, crumb crunchers...

This is the old "Spot 10 things that are different in the two pictures" puzzle. Every time I do one of these I sing praises to the computer, Photoshop, and digital art. Otherwise, I would have to completely draw and color two pictures with slight differences. But now... now I can just duplicate one, change a few things, and I'm good to go. One of the few times digital art is actually quicker.

Oh... I didn't post the altered pictures here. I knew it would just be too hard for you to find the differences. I didn't want to get you all frustrated and wreck your day.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Shark Week3

Day three of shark week. I didn't have time to make a great shark image for today, but I have this pencil sketch from doodling around thinking of ideas. The thought here was a shark with oil dripping off him. I just don't know WHAT could have inspired that idea.

What I DID do yesterday was repair my gas oven. A first for me. Thanks to the internets, we were able to diagnose why the oven was not working and then order a replacement part. The part (an ignitor) came yesterday and I put it on. This morning we had muffins to test it out. It really feels great when I can fix something myself.

Temperature today is to hit 100 degrees.... again... sheesh!
Give me a break....

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Shark Week2

Here is a shark that I did recently for an assignment. Not sure I would want a shark to be a lifeguared... but I draw what I am told. Usually.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Shark Week

It's SHARK WEEK on Discovery Channel. For the last three years I have drawn a few sharks during this week. So this year, instead of a pig with a banjo I have a Shark with a banjo. The pig ran away. You know pigs are tasty, but banjos are fun. So fun won out over the awesomeness of bacon this time.

I found some Photoshop brushes online and tried out a chalk brush on this. It did a great job of making that chalky texture, but I need more practice to get a handle on the thing.

Happy Shark Week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Wow, it has been a while since I posted anything. Most of what I have been working on lately has not been that post worthy.
This is an illustration for a magazine that I have just completed. I thought it might be interesting to show the pencil sketch along with the final art.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Harry Porker

So, here is the story so far. Guy Francis bought a banjo and then drew a picture of a pig playing a banjo. He challenged Stacy Curtis to draw a banjo pig too. Now lots of us are drawing banjo pigs. It's a lot more fun than working...

Where did my idea come from? Read on.

I remember reading that when Sparky Schulz was stumped for an idea for Peanuts, he would go back to basics. As he said, cartooning is just making funny pictures. So he would doodle funny pictures of his characters.

With that in mind, I thought a pig riding a banjo would look funny. After a quick sketch, my pig looked like he was on a flying banjo. Hmmm... if witches fly on brooms, a pig could fly on a banjo, right? Makes sense to me. Hey! Harry Potter flew on a broom, too! That would be fun to work into the drawing. But wait! By changing two letters, Harry Potter could become Harry PORKER! So faster than you can say Huggle-Muggle, I had a Harry Porker on a flying banjo... (a Scruggs 2000)

Friday, June 04, 2010


Banjovi, the rockin' superstar pig, is off to play a concert... unaware that his banjo is on "mute"

Thursday, June 03, 2010

banjo pig

I had to get in on the pig playing banjo thing. I mean, I live in Nashville, TN for crying out loud... and at one point I could actually plan"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" on my crummy banjo. So here is my piggy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the Letter

Here is an illustration I did recently. I think it turned out Okay. i tried using a pencil on the drawing instead of my usual pen and ink. I like the softer look, but it was a booger trying to color it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nashville flood poster

My son, Kyle, has designed a great poster that will support flood relief in Nashville. You can click HERE and buy one. Don't be shy... Nashville needs your help.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Angel vs donkey

the sketch

the final art
I recently made this illustration for a magazine article. The segment I illustrated was a brief story about a donkey in a Christmas pageant that saw the spotlit angel in the balcony. The donkey HEE-HAWED and sat down to the delight of the audience.

As I was creating the pink fog in the balcony on a Photoshop layer, I was ever so thankful for digital art. I'm not sure how I would have handled painting the fog with watercolors like I used to do. It took a bit of experimentation to get the effect using the brush tool and low opacity, but the beauty is I could try over and over till I got something I liked. Yay for digital art!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Postcard art

I just finished up some art for a postcard ad and thought I would share it with you.
The assignment was a frazzled teacher with three kids running amuck. Don't you love the word "amuck?" Try to slip it in your conversation today when you are talking with someone. This was the first sketch I submitted. It didn't fly... the teacher looked too old. Oh, well...

Sketch 2wo went over better. So, maybe I should have done this one first. Mental note to self: Send second sketch first next time...

Here is the final image with lots of bright colors as requested, a twist of lime and a dash of Tabasco.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pet Shop

Here are some of the pets I designed that you can collect by playing PackRat on Facebook. It is a challenge for me to make icons that are so small. I try to make the images as simple as I can, and then cross my fingers and hope they look good when they are reduced down to 64x64 pixels. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pet Shop collection

I just completed a set of Pet Shop images for the PackRat game on Facebook. This is the hamster. Sign up and see if you can collect them all.

Friday, April 02, 2010


Here is a sketch of a furry little friend that will be part of a current project. The sketch looks different blown up to this size. Supersize my hamster and give me an order of fries...

printed books

Now that I have told you all about illustrating the little educational books, I will show you the most recent copies I have received. *Drumroll*... aaaand here they are!

And here is a peek inside.

And now my next hurdle is to fight the Federal Taxes battle. Time to fire up TurboTax and chew on a few pencils... sigh...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

book project - color

Well, I'm back from Argentina now and ready to 'splain the rest of this project to you. Argentina is very nice this time of the year and actually resembles my studio. In fact, it is EXACTLY like my studio.

When I took on the assignment of illustrating 3 books at the same time, I vastly underestimated the amount of work that was going to be. OY! So for the last month I have been working 12 hour days (8am-8pm) including weekends. OY, OY!

But the good news is, it is now finished! WOOT! While I am catching my breath, I will complete the process for you.

This is the scan of my inked page. It is scanned in at 300 dpi and 100% actual size.

Here is a detail shot of the mom and baby guppy. You can see my wobbly line work and see that all lines are touching... no gaps anywhere. This is important for me in quickly applying the color. Shapes that are not enclosed can be closed up and colored later, but it takes more time... and time is a very valuable thing on this project.

So, here we are. The finished illustration. The client always wants lots of bright colors for younger kids. So I stick to clean, bright colors and dump them in with the paintbucket in Photoshop. Bam, Bam, Bam! It is so quick. If I had to "paint" in all of the colors it would probably double the amount of time it would take to color these... and I don't have that time.

Once I have applied the flat colors I go back and do some actual painting. Like on the eggs. I think if I do a little bit of this here and there It helps add some variety and keeps everything from being so flat looking. I selected the blue of the water and ran a paint brush through it to give some variety there too. "A little dab will do ya" is my thinking. I don't like illustrations where everything has that airbrushed look, but a bit of softness here and there helps. I also change the black line to color on some things which makes the black lines on the main characters pop out more.

If you are interested in the nitty gritty of how I color in Photoshop, just go over to my sidebar and under LABELS click on Photoshop tutorial. This is a step by step of how I do it. I have a newer version of Photoshop now but the process is basically the same.

Well, that's it! I am glad to finally get this project and my blogging about it all wrapped up.

Oh... and I changed the title on this blog. Did you notice? What do you think of the new improved header?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

book project - inking

I know what you are thinking. You think I forgot all about promising to come back and tell you about the next step of my book project. After all, that was a month ago. You think I am off hiking the Appalachian Trail in Argentina or something... WRONG! The fact is I have three of these books to illustrate and I have been working furiously to get the other two penciled in. I finally did, and now I am able to get to the inking phase of this book.

Here is my editor approved, 100% full size sketch with revisions and extra cheese. I put a sheet of Clearprint Design Vellum over it to do my inking on. In olden days of yesteryear, I used to trace the sketch onto watercolor paper with a lightbox so I could ink it and color it with watercolor. Now I can skip one whole time consuming step by going right to the inking stage on the vellum. At this point I can still make slight adjustments in the placement of things by just moving the vellum a bit to put the object in a slightly different position. The tweaking never ends...

Here are my archaic tools. I found this old ink bottle holder many years ago. It keeps my ink bottle from sliding off my drawing board. I don't like the narrow openings on most ink bottles so I found this little bottle with a wide mouth that I fit into the holder. A few rounds of duct tape helped it to fit in the hole better. Duct tape just makes everything better doesn't it? I have tried different pen points, but seem to just like the basic #102 crowquill available at any art store. And there is the little piece of paper where I test the ink to make sure it is flowing before I put the point on the REAL thing.

Here I am pretending to be inking, but I'm really just holding my pen while I fumble around with my camera in my left hand and try to take a picture. I have spent a large part of my life influenced by and imitating comic strips and editorial cartoons. I love the line work of many artists from Ronald Searle to Walt Kelly to Jeff MacNelly to Bill Watterson to Charles Schulz... the list goes on and on. I seem to be addicted to the black line. And I like the feel of drawing on real paper and inking with a real dip pen. I may end up doing all this digitally someday... SOMEday... but not today. Today I will get actual ink on my actual fingers. And it ain't easy to get that stuff off, believe me!

OK, now I have to get the linework into my computer and my Epson scanner does this for me. 80% of all the illustration I do fits on the basic 8.5 x 11 inch vellum and I can scan it. About 20% of the time I have a larger illustration and have to scan it in sections and stitch it together in Photoshop. Once I have scanned in the inked drawing, I can clean it up in Photoshop with the eraser. I usually end up dragging my finger through the wet ink somewhere and Photoshop has saved me thousands of dollars that I would have spent buying white out paint.

Oh, if you happened to miss out on the first installments of this project, just click on "book project" over on the side bar and you will be up to speed in no time. chop chop

Well, now we are all ready to color this piece. I will post something about that soon. But first... I need to go to Argentina and do some hiking.