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Friday, June 28, 2013

I was asked by a local marketing firm to create a package design for a client who makes automotive cleaners, car washes, etc. This was only to be a comp for a presentation, and there are a couple of other illustrators contributing samples as well. The product will be a bottle of car soap. There was very little art direction, which made me a little nervous, because I have never done package design. Not label design, but actually designing the container. They just want it to be cool, so as to get the end client excited about the idea.

And I am sort of embarrassed to say how long I spent just trying to come up with an idea. But since this was the first time I have ever worked with these folks, I really didn't want to screw this up. Of course, I never want to screw a job up, you understand, but what I mean is that because this is a new…, oh, you know what I mean.

So it was really important to me to make a good first impression, even if it meant spending more time on this thing than the budget would allow for. I didn't know where to start, so I just went on line and looked at a bunch of really cool examples of package design by designers who know what they are doing. And I mean all sorts of packaging. And finally, after what seemed like forever looking at website after website, trying to get some inspiration, I landed on the realization that I was wasting my time.

So, I started thinking. And it occurred to me that there are all sorts of really cool, organic shapes to be found within modern cars and trucks. Shapes that could be quite elegant and ergonomic, if isolated and re-deployed. So what I came up with was a bottle designed to be reminiscent of the shape of a side view mirror. And I took this illustration well past the point of being merely a comp. But like the old deodorant commercial says, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So I hope they will like this. It was done in Photoshop.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This fellow's name is Rudolf Stussi. He is Swiss born, but now lives in Canada, I believe (why would anyone move away from Switzerland?). I had not heard of this fellow, but please don't conclude that I am an  idiot if he's like the most famous artist on earth, and I am the last one to find out about him.

Anyway, Rudolf Stussi isn't his real name, because his real name has two little dots over the "u." But I don't know how to make a "u" with two little dots over it on my keyboard. I don't even know what that's called, so I can't Google it. But his work is very unique. I am quite taken with it. He seems to paint in both oil and watercolor, but his work looks pretty similar from one medium to the other. I think most of the work I have seen is watercolor.

His application of color is broad and planar. There seems to be fairly little purposeful shaping and modeling, instead, he lets his washes wander across the paper either to exhaustion, or to be severed at the shattered, erratic edges he has imagined.

The colors, to me, are fantastical, and almost hallucinatory.Thin and watery, but aggressive. The thready linework seems to swoon under the weight of this bright, young world he has created. In all, very cool.

So come along with me, and soak up some loĆ¼sy paintings by a crappy foreign hack who is stealing work from me!

So, do you get the feeling he's done this a few times?

Monday, June 3, 2013

And now for the latest from the "Oh Great. Another Scary Good Artist!" Department:

This guy's name is Stephen Lee, and his work is fabulous. I believe he is from the UK, but is now living in Thailand.

Here's some new art I did. You will see from earlier postings that I am working on a short series of illustrations involving the characters of two adolescent girls and a talking bird. A raven, in fact. The first painting showed both the children riding on the raven's back as he flew over a quaint village. It's shown below. The second painting is in progress currently, and is also shown below, in it's unfinished state. The third one is this one, which I will eventually execute in oil as well. But for the purpose of a style sample, I went ahead and created it in Photoshop. I know full well that I will need other, complimentary styles such as this digital one, and also perhaps a watercolor style, to go along with the oil style. This was quicker and easier to execute than an oil painting.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Here's another one of my favorite illustrators ( These samples obviously owe a great deal to the Italian Renaissance. Zelinsky has many different styles, but this one is my favorite. Because that's the way I am…

Another one I love is Fred Marcellino. Unfortunately, it is way too difficult to find a single website where you can check out all his work up close. His book 'Ouch!', a retelling of a Grimm fairytale, was my first experience with him. I found it captivating, for the storytelling as well as the artwork.

Here are a few of his works: But it's better to just go to a library and check out some of his books. He was a fantastic illustrator.

Now I want to talk about some other artists. Like all artists blogs, I want to recognize amazing artists when I come across them. The on I am referring to right now is named Eliza Wheeler (  Her work is very different from mine, obviously. I am sort of an old-school teeny-brush oil painter. I like to labor over every square inch of the painting till it's as close to perfect as I can get it. She is very whimsical, and conceptually very strong. Very, very gifted young artist.

I love this illustration of hers:

There's something about the sort of exaggerated three-point perspective in the lower part of this illustration that really turbocharges the layout. And the characters in the boat, so close to the edge, charge right out of the picture, taking you with them to who knows where…

She's getting work and winning awards, and deserves it.
Here's some published work I did. Thought I would include this on my blog, because I read somewhere that it's important to show that you've been published. These were fun. This one was or Charlotte Magazine.

And these next two were for Tabletalk Magazine:

And this one is for Compass Food Group. Scratchboard. Boy, this one was a WHOLE lot quicker than the oil paintings were!

And here is the most recent piece. It was done in scratchboard and Photoshop. The client is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

This will be the third in the series with the young girls and the raven. In contrast to the other two (which you can see below), this one is simpler, and obviously a closeup. I want this one to be an emotional piece, rather than a sweeping landscape. It's solely about the relationship between the two characters, rather than their relation to some larger story. Even if you don't know what the story is! Lighting will be less important, because I don't want it to compete for attention with the expressions on the two faces.
This is the latest piece which will join my new portfolio. It is the second in a series involving two adolescent girls and their friend, a talking raven. The first piece in the series can be seen below.

My goal was to create young characters and try to sort of bring them to life in a series of pictures that would look like a developed story even if there isn't one-yet. Here I have injected them into an old German fairytale about a very spoiled princess who is too good for everybody. She ends up being married off to a pauper as a result of her nasty attitude, and what ensues is a nice tale of redemption. I have reduced the raven and (one of) the girls in this picture to mere observers. But they will add a touch of humor because of their expression, thereby making the viewer realize it's a lighthearted piece. They also anchor the composition.

I would really love to create a number of works that recall old fantasy and fairytales, in a style that hints at the renaissance and baroque periods of art. Like Paul Zelinsky does here Except I prefer northern European artists, rather than the Italian artists that he emulates (and very well!). More like Breughel

I want to consciously bend my style in that direction. I have always loved Breughel particularly, and I think it is a perfect fit, stylistically, for these types of paintings I want to complete.
This is the final art, in progress. I started painting back-to-front, with the sky. I will employ an overall palette of golds and greens, predominantly. The light is going to be late afternoon. The raven and girl in the foreground on the branch will be mostly just silhouettes, with minimal detail, except for maybe a little warm highlighting as the gold light refracts around thier forms. They will just sort of frame the scene.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Let me start by saying that I don't even have cable TV. It's strictly rabbit ears at my house. I don't know what DVR is. Seriously.

But I overheard a family member talking about "The Walking Dead" recently, so I went online to see if there was anywhere I could watch it. You see, the plot sounded intriguing. Years ago, I watched all those zombie takeover flicks like Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, etc. And while those movies were pretty cheesy by modern standards, the plot behind them always fascinated me. Simple, frightening, and inescapable. I mean, vampires and werewolves are bad news, but you can generally avoid them if you use a little common sense. You just wait for some poor, dumb, heroic individual to jump in with a wooden stake and take care of business for you. Problem solved.  But what do you do in a scenario where you are outnumbered 400,000-to-1 by slow, dumb cannibals who have no self-preservation instinct? I mean, you can't keep them at bay by waving a gun at them. Even Dracula wets himself if you're packing a crucifix.

So, needless to say, I got hooked. I'm not proud of it, but there you are. I am all caught up through season three. And I have to say that the plot is pretty much identical to Romero's old "NOTLD" trilogy. But the characters are WAY more developed. It's quite engrossing. And while most of them are varying degrees of annoying, they definitely pull you in. Because even annoying characters can be interesting.

Friday, April 12, 2013

So I did this thing on sort of a whim. There was a call for entries, you might say, from a publisher who was looking for someone to illustrate an upcoming children's book about cats. This woman, who worked at this publisher, wanted to see pictures of cats. Well, I didn't have any pictures of cats. So I decided to make one. And I have always loved Vermeer, and especially his painting of the Girl with the pearl earring. I mean, who doesn't?

I figured I couldn't go wrong with an Old Master in my corner. But I didn't get the job. So maybe they failed to see the humor. Oh well. But I still sort of like the piece. And it has the sort of feel that I really connect with, artistically. I think that if I ever foray into portraiture (which I want to do very much), my work would carry a similar emotionally reserved, cool, hushed aesthetic that some Renaissance and Baroque painters did. No bright toothy grins for me! Um, I mean, unless the client wanted that.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I went to art school with these two guys:

There are, of course, many illustrator/designers out there. Sometimes marketing yourself as being versatile can be very beneficial. If you can pull it all off, that is. You obviously need to be at least decent in both disciplines, but most artists are stronger at one than they are at the other. I know of almost nobody in the world that is both an A+ designer AND an A+ illustrator. And after these two fellows, I can't think of anyone. Unbelievable talents that really do make it look easy.

No, I take that back. They make it look hard. For me, at least, because when I look at their work, I say to myself, "#@&!! How do they DO that!?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Okay, it's finally done. Whew! I am currently having my new site rebuilt, and this will be on it. This was done initially in black and white, then the color was glazed over afterwards. It's not a quick process, but it gives you alot of control over the color. Plus, I just wanted to try it.The family hasn't seen this painting yet, so I have no idea what the reception will be. It wasn't a commissioned painting or anything. I just used one of the sons for a model. But they will be curious to see it, I imagine. Heck, I'm not sire what I even think about it yet. I never am this soon after finishing.

More coming soon. I promise, this time.