Sunday, December 20, 2009

Children's Market Project

Hi everyone,
With New York coming closer, I am moving forward on as many projects as I can. The latest being this piece which I am creating to make me more marketable for childrens' publications. Another inspiration behind this assignment is the absence of action in my work.

I love all these compositions, but I am leaning toward 5. What so you guys think? I'll keep you posted with progress on this and my other illustrations.
I am leaving for Ohio tomorrow, but I will try to post soon.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Projects

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
After posting my first image for the Ingrid Michaelson piece, I decided it needed a complete redo. I originally wanted this to have a simple layout and be done with pen and ink with some ink and gouache washes. Unfortunately, my simple composition was so boring I wanted to throw it out the window. Here is the updated color study. I’m about 60 or 70 percent of the way through the final, which has turned into a full blown acrylic illustration.

I am also concocting a spot illustration portrait of Warren Buffett. I started reading about him after Berkshire Hathaway acquired the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The main concept behind the piece is an abacus imitating a ribcage; I wanted to capture the idea that Buffett is both more traditional in his methods than other investors, and that he follows his… instincts.
I’m still trying to figure out which design I’d like to take to final, any suggestions you guys have would be really helpful.

Another inspiration behind this piece is this illustration by Andrea Wicklund – check out her work at and at

These are the sketches for a new piece. It comes from a suggestion given to me last year in New York by a friend; he challenged me to draw at least five people in an environment interacting in different ways. This forces me to stretch my narratives and the emotions in my work.
I chose to depict a debate because I dislike confrontations, so I figured it would be interesting to play with the tension of the scene and show the reactions of the surrounding customers. Some people are so into their own world that they don’t notice; others try to cover the noise with headphones.
I’m still trying to figure the values for the piece, particularly for the central figure, and would love to get any feedback you guys have.

Thanks everyone,


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sketchbook and other stuff

So here are a few samples from my sketchbook AKA: security blanket. The first two pages feature some more work from England and Italy while the last two are images from Seattle coffee houses. I'm trying to focus more on my line quality and confidence.

Here is a color study for a quick portrait of one of my favorite singers, Ingrid Michaelson. The concept of the piece revolves around the shifting nature of Ingrid's music--her songs range from happy and hopeful to sad and moody. She has a jubilant personality on stage but I wanted to show the more serious side that appears in her songs, which helped generate the idea of a half-umbrella. She uses both the happy and the tragic as the foundations for her music, she does not totally shield herself from the negative things, she uses it for her art.
A funny story inspired this project, I kinda passed out at one of her concerts and she was so nice and accommodating that I would like to send her an illustration as a thank you. This also give a chance for more experimentation, particularly playing with mroe sophisticated color palettes. I'm also hoping to integrate even more of my sketchbook style with the finished painting.

The incredible work of Andrew Hem aided with the selection of the color palette. I highly recommend his work if anyone is not already familiar with it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Work!

Hi everybody, I have FINALLY finished Bernanke (yay!) and the No Doubt piece. I voluntarily became a hermit to finish and tweak the pieces in time for some competition deadlines and because I am ready for some new inspiration. I will let everyone know if anything gets accepted.
Here's Ben. Many thanks to everyone for all their suggestions and support in the creation of this piece. I'm incredibly proud of the finish, particularly since there were so many interruptions while I was working on it. I hope you all like it.
The No Doubt piece also had a stretched out development process but I am really happy with the final product.
I will post some new thumbnails and sketchbook pages soon, as well as a new drawing done in the Florence style.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Hi everyone, I am finally settled in Seattle after ten weeks of nonstop travel. I've been back from Italy for about a week and have spent most of my days in the studio getting back into a groove. Here's the latest:

Florence is almost finished, I'm still considering adding a touch of paint on the wall behind the couple, but I'm not sure. I may look at it in a day or two and decide it's completed.

Bernanke is also near completion, I still have some work on the buildings in the back as well as detail on Bernanke. Every time I look at this piece I notice another thing that I have forgotten or want to change.

Here's the latest piece that's in the works. As a No Doubt fan, I'm really excited that they have reunited and are working on a new album as they tour. The tour has a Clockwork Orange theme and has been labeled a "procrastination tour" since they are using it to inspire them before entering the recording studio.
I've been wanting to do a vignette illustration for so I challenged myself with that as one of my criteria in designing the composition. After choosing this layout and the clock gears as a motif, I created a foam core model of the clock with about 16 gears. I am working on color studies right now and will post those soon.
I'm hoping to have one or two pieces ready to send to the Society of Illustrators for the Annual Show, the deadline is around October 31, so any feedback, critiques or ideas will be a huge help.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More Catch Up

OK, so I have finally reached Seattle, the internet works, the boxes are slowly disappearing, and I may have the studio set up either tonight or tomorrow. August has been hectic with over 6000 miles of travel (over eight time zones) completed in about 16 days. So, I've been a slacker in the studio. Here is a little treat for all you patient readers, some sketches from my time in England and a few favorites from earlier in the summer. Hopefully more to come soon, as I mentioned we're working hard to unpack the studio so I can get back to work before my next international foray later this month.
Here is a collage of some of the regulars at Sweetwaters, my favorite coffeeshop in Ann Arbor.

This page was completed during my time in Boulder. I'm trying to include more white space in some of my compositions. I like the circular arrangement on the page, which plays with the ellipse of the face. Another bit of experimentation I've been trying is using different color lines to show when a person moved from his or her original position which you can see with the girl in the upper left.

Some images from the trains and cafes in England.

I played around with adding some patterning on this page after being inspired by the Bonnards and Vuillards in Paris. You can also see Chris driving on the wrong side of the sketchbook. :)

This became one of my favorite hangouts in Colchester, Caffe Nero, which is a nice coffeeshop chain in the UK. I wanted to experiment with using different colors and media to create levels of depth in the space. I began with dark brown and sepia markers for the foreground and then moved to the orange and ochre colored pencils. I may try to not use such chromatic colors for the background next time I try this, but it was a fun challenge.

I hope you all enjoyed the new images. I will be cranking on Bernanke, Florence, and a new illustration over the next few days so I should have more posts soon. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

England Pictures!!!

Hi everyone, just wanted to quickly share these images from our time here in England. We are still in Colchester but will soon be heading for London and then back to the US. We rented a car and drove around the countryside and stopping in some of the smaller towns around London. We stopped at Cambridge, Bath, and Stonehenge.

Chris and I standing on the upper level of the Roman Bath Spa in the heart of downtown Bath. The city's abbey can be seen behind us and is probably the original spot of a Roman temple.

The bath spa itself, the water is that green and may have been in the earth for about 10,000 years before being pushed to the surface by the natural spring. The Romans believed the water was warmed by the goddess Minerva and contained healing properties.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playing Catch Up

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long delay between posts, July has been extremely busy so I’ll giving you a huge delivery of new stuff and updates on the general craziness. Here’s some of the latest sketchbook work. I’m experimenting with showing more inanimate objects and environments, not just figures. I’m enjoying the switch, but figures are still my favorite subject.

Traffic lights at the corner of Main St and Liberty in Ann Arbor

Plane ride from Detroit to St. Louis en route to Denver

Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, Co with coffee shop patrons

Now for a Bernanke Update, here are a few details from the progressing painting. I’m playing with painting on Gatorboard with has an extremely slick surface, causing the paint to make streaky patterns when it’s applied to fresh board. I like the spontaneity of the strokes right now, but who knows, it may change. I’d love to get feedback on it.

Detail of the figures behind Bernanke

Now here’s the project that pulled me from Bernanke. It’s a wedding present for my friend, Heather, who just got married in Boulder, CO (hence Colorado sketches). Heather studied for a semester in Florence and totally fell in love with the city. I’m still about four or five hours from completion, but I am immensely proud of this piece. I’ve spent about three days on it so far, so it’s moving very quickly. I really feel that it successfully combines my sketchbook style with a painterly approach. At some point, I may offer prints of this on etsy, I’ll keep everyone posted.

The minute Chris and I got back from Colorado, we packed up and flew to Paris. Chris is currently teaching at a program in Colchester, UK but we figured that we’d do a few days in Paris.

We visited as many museums as we could with the Musee D’Orsay being our favorite. The Bonnard painting below is from their collection. Another favorite was the Rodin museum. We spent most of our evenings exploring different neighborhoods and shooting tons of photographs. I’m hoping to create another piece like the Florence for Paris.

So, we are now settled in Colchester and I am trying to work on developing a few personal projects and getting drawings ready for my next big illustration project. I didn’t bring any major art with me due to the difficulty of transporting it safely, but that helps me focus on my sketchbook and more mobile projects. ☺
Hope you enjoyed the update, we will be here until the middle of August and then will begin packing for the move to Seattle. I will do my best to post regularly.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Color Study

Here's the color study for Ben. The suit looks a bit lighter than planned, so please imagine it around a 90% gray if it's not correct on your screen. I wanted to create a feeling of depth with the light background, desaturated medium-medium toned middle ground and bold, dark foreground. Let me know what you think. :)

I am so excited to start on the final for this piece. All the feedback everyone has been kind enough to pass on to me has been a huge help. Thank you so much to everyone!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bernanke Update

Here's an updated drawing for the Bernanke piece. I'm almost ready to transfer it to board though I'm still working on figuring out the colors for the final. The color study should be finished in the next day or so.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bernanke Portrait

Hi everyone, I just finished this comp for my next piece and would love to get any feedback or suggestions any of you may have.

The main concept concerns the challenges that Ben Bernanke faces with the current economic crisis. One of the options is for the Fed to print more money, "dough," which may lead to inflation and a loss of monetary value. I also wanted to show the public frustration with the bailout of Wall St. and the feeling that any Federal money and assistance will go to the men and women on Wall St. as part of the bailout money.
I hope that comes across, I'll be work on color and value studies over the next couple days and will soon post those.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Seattle Sketching

This first piece was actually created in Youngstown, OH and in downtown Chicago. I like the illusion of a person tutoring a cityscape in math. :)

The flight from Detroit to Seattle is about five hours which leaves lots of time for playing in a sketchbook. This piece took a little let than an hour and allowed me to experiment with line quality and perspective. I really like the worm's-eye view in this piece and the usage of color to communicate distance.

The musical duo on this page are part of the Tallboys, a country and bluegrass group. The girl would occasionally stand and step dance to enunciate the beat of the songs. Really cool stuff and nice people.

This is a collage of people I saw while I wandered around the city and hung out at various coffee shops. I wanted to created a seamless collection of people that carried an ambiguous narrative. I've been thinking of creating paintings out of compositions directly from my sketchbook or inspired by the people and places in my sketchbook. We'll see what happens.

Awww, sleepy Chris.

Monday, June 15, 2009


During my trip to New York, I had the chance to talk with the AD of a childrens' publisher. He suggested that I do a few childrens' market samples to make my portfolio more marketable. I decided to focus on penguins from an old CCAD assignment and figured that penguins are cute, huggable animals that all kids like. So, here's a rough look at the process behind my sushi-loving penguins.
After making detailed sketches, compositions and color studies I sculpted the penguin characters for the painting and shot photos.

After transfering the final drawing, I painted transparent glazes of acrylic paint to give the piece a medium tone, next I added the darks and then started glazes of color.

A few friends have encouraged me to flesh out a story and write a childrens' book inspired off this piece. Right now I want to concentrate on other pieces to get more diversity in my portfolio, but I may return to this concept sometime soon. We'll see what happens. I hope you like it, let me know if you have any suggestions. :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

View of the Studio!

I've been self employed for almost a month now. Things are going well but I've been feeling like a slacker since I haven't finished as much art as I thought but my studio is set up and I have two major pieces in the works -- more to come on those soon.

Here's the studio . . . ta da!

It's a wonderful space, I'm surrounded by books, one of my many obsessions, and get plenty of northern light.

Also, I've completed a small media study based on a photo of my friends Cat and Sarah. My main goal for this piece was to incorporate more on the original line work in the finished piece. I'm happy with some aspects of the experiment but want to continue playing around with the possibilities. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Medium Exercises

Hi everyone, Here's a quick look at some quick medium studies I've been doing. One of the major suggestions I received while in New York was to figure out a way to incorporate my sketchbook style with my final illustrations, so this is one of my first steps toward that. I'm trying to do at least one portrait a weekend, preferable in different mediums.
I'm really enjoying the return to working in watercolor, I haven't really created a major watercolor piece since high school. It's nice change from oils and I'm having fun playing with different papers and how they effect the paint.
More to come soon, I have an illustration project in the works so keep you eyes out for some thumbnails and value studies.