29 June 2000
This summer I had a rather large labor intensive project for a local religious publisher. A series of 20 'bible story' posters, measuring 18 x 24 each. These were quite similar to projects I've been doing for another local organization, but the style was slightly different, these being for a different audience (most of the other 'bible story' projects I've been doing have been for mentally handicapped adults, and the client requested that the images be kept 'simple' so as not to confuse). I still did these in a semi-cartoon style, mainly for expediency's sake, though I got a bit more detailed than I usually do, and allowed a few of the crowd scenes to get quite busy. Some of these turned out better than others, overall, looking back at them, I wish I'd made use of more large solid black areas to help with the overall contrast.
I had a little subversive fun with these early images, including some 'less than desirable' animals in the 'adam and eve' illustration; a warthog, a skunk, a coral snake, a gorilla (I wonder, did skunks stink in the garden of eden?), and a pair of walruses in the Noah's Ark picture (they must've been interesting to gather), but pretty much played it straight for the rest of them.
These two illustrations above and below could have definitely benefited from more solid blacks in the layout, they both seem a bit flat and washed out.
more to come in 'bible posters part two'...
28 June 2000
(continuted from 'bible posters part one')
The above 'Moses' illustration was one of the better images to come out of this collection of posters. Definitely a Charlton Heston influence on the design of this one. The other three old testament images that follow were less successful, I thought. Joseph's anatomy looks a little off, the lions look positively bored with Daniel, and the Goliath picture probably would have worked better with a different perspective (behind David perhaps looking up at the giant).
to be continued in 'bible posters part three'
27 June 2000
(continued from 'bible posters part two')
Most of these next four posters I was less than pleased with. I used too much purple in the 'wise men' illustration, the anatomy is a little goofy in the 'nativity scene', and the layouts are a little dull and lifeless in the following two scenes.
continued in 'bible posters part four'
26 June 2000
(continued from 'bible posters part three')
I started getting into a groove near the end of the series, and they started looking a bit more interesting. I started populating some of them a bit more heavily, which made a bit more work, but also helped keep things interesting, and less tedious.
This one above and the one below were the most heavily populated illustrations in the bunch, and I managed to hide myself in among the crowd in the 'loaves and fishes' illustration above (wearing a red and blue striped tunic). The hardest part about the 'palm sunday' illustration was in drawing all the palm fronds (which I eventually cheated at and did a lot of copy and pasting).
continued and concluded in 'bible stories part five'
25 June 2000
I was less happy with these last four illustrations. I suppose I was starting to get a little weary of 'guys in robes' (although this wouldn't be the last of them, not by a long shot). I wish I could figure out what made some of these twenty illustrations a joy to work on and others just a chore. I like to be able to turn it on and off like a faucet if I could.
20 June 2000
I continue to experiment with the 'painterly' style, the above illustration for a 'recipe' feature in an east coast newspaper (the author whipping up a microwave dinner for her construction crew), and the illustration below for an evangelical women's magazine.
Similar in style, but for a black and white publication was the illustration below. This was for one of my children's magazine publishers, for their 'teen' poetry/prose magazine, and this one accompanied a poem about a pear tree.
Another 'running' themed illustration for a new client, this one done in a colored pencil medium (but approached as if I was doing my old 'pastel style'). I wasn't too happy about how this turned out, I probably would have benefitted from better reference material, and a stronger layout.
Below is a small spot illustration that I did for one of my children's magazines this month, working in a combination of watercolors and colored pencils, but with a bit more of a 'realistic' style. Always fun to draw dinosaurs, wish I got the chance more often.
19 June 2000
I had a fun assignment for my east coast newspaper client this month for a special section on 'safe travel'. This consisted of one large opening illustration followed by seven small spots on different aspects covered in the article; food safety, unstable governments, lost luggage, street crime, scams, and misc mishaps. I was also asked to do the lettering, which is something I don't do very often. I don't feel I'm very good at lettering, and always approach requests like this with trepidation. I tried for the style of those old 'travel postcard' letters, but with different elements from the story reflected in the repeating patterns. (I did a much better version of this type of lettering later in the summer, but unfortunately ended up being for a deadbeat client) I had a lot of fun with the spots on this one, and was happy with the humor and consistency of the project. The last spot, the 'fire alarm in the middle of the night' is based on something that actually happened to my family the last time we visited Toronto.
15 June 2000
July was not a particularly strong month for Scratchboards, and by that I don't mean I had few assignments, it is just that I was less than pleased with how a lot of them turned out. The above illustration of Bill and Al doing a 'ring a round the rosie' dance with the FCC was an assignment from an east coast legal newspaper. I continue to struggle with caricatures of the Clinton administration after nearly 8 years in office. The 'tug of war' illustration below was for the same client having something to do with women's rights and the generational gap.
I had a couple large two page spreads for one of my children's magazines, this one on the Revolutionary War, and in addition, a pair of small spots to be sprinkled throughout the rest of the magazine. I liked how the spots came out a bit better than the panorama scenes. I'm still not comfortable at this point with large scratchboard assignments, the medium seems to work much better for smaller pieces.
More likely, the fault lies with my approach. I tend to overwork the larger pieces, and muddy the whole thing up with way too much color, not leaving enough white space to help the scratchboard 'pop'. Later on, I would learn that increasing my line size would help in the larger pieces, and avoiding too much tight line work, which just gets lost on the larger scale.
Another piece that I was less than happy with this month, was the illustration below, which was to depict the two sides of the 'work/stay at home dad' choice. This was for my east coast newspaper client, and I would unwittingly do an almost identical concept for the same magazine a few years later (but in cartoon style). A weak concept the first time, and didn't improve much the second time.
I had a 'second assignment' from a fairly new client this month, a small spot having something to do with a restaurant 'under construction' (if memory serves).
And finally, a piece for my educational publication client this month. This being one of the better color scratchboard illustrations this month. It was something to do with the 'Faust' story, but other than that, I don't quite remember what the magnet had to do with it.
05 June 2000
Another series of illustrations for my west coast magazine client. This wasn't one of my stronger efforts for this regular assignment. These regularly consisted of a single larger color image, with 3 or 4 smaller black and white accompanying pieces along a similar theme. The concept this month was in 'giving a helping hand', and I chose to portray a 'helping hand' given in what are usually solitary artistic pursuits (I know, the 'ballet' one was a stretch, and even the 'singing' one isn't particularly apt). I was taking adult cello lessons at the time, which probably nudged me towards the opening image (but I really should have used better reference in the hands).
One of the better black and white scratchboard efforts I had this month, was for a children's magazine client of mine. This was for one of their 'teen' poetry/prose digest magazines, and concerned a story about a stray dog and worker at an animal shelter that befriends him. (above and below) I thought the layouts on each of these spots was particularly good, and I used a nice mixture of solid blacks and white space, along with a mixture of tight rendering and loose expressiveness.
For my east coast newspaper client, I had this rather strange illustration depicting Leonard Nimoy in a pose reminiscent of one of the Laugh-In characters portrayed by Lilly Tomlin. Don't ask me, I'm just the illustrator.
Below and to the right is one of three illustrations I did this month for my educational publication client this month (no, make that four, I had a color piece in another entry this month). This was something to do with an imaginary debate between the article's author and Hobbes.
Additionally, I had a pair of 'beaver' illustrations for the same client. This was a mascot of a particular school mentioned in the article, and I don't quite remember why he is taking a bite out of a mortarboard cap, or hitchhiking down the road.
In addition to these illustrations, I also had a series of 40 or so small black and white spots for another children's workbook for a local book publisher. As a departure from my usual 'cartoon' approach to these projects (which I've done quite a few of in the past few years), I decided to try and do all these in scratchboard. It wasn't quite as successful as the cartoon spots, and I wasn't really happy with how a lot of them turned out, and consequently went back to the cartoon style for later books. One of these illustrations is pictured below by way of example (the tropic fish illustration)
And then I had the usual smattering of black and white spots for my national newspaper client. The above 'snake oil salesman' illustration was an unusual shape that had to wrap around a chart, and the illustration below was a piece on the 'small bond market'. (ha ha get it? small bonds? the bond is small - get it?)
The illustration to the left probably had to do with 'forecasting' in some way or another (looking down the road ahead, etc), and I also had a slightly larger spot this month about the microsoft operating system, portraying the two systems as an old jalopy and a souped up sports car, with users crowding aboard the new version. Definitely not my best 'cars'.
Below that, was another for the same client, something to do with talent going overseas. I'd been working for this newspaper client now for a little over six months, and they've been keeping me pretty busy with steady work, but looking back at some of these early assignments, I'm amazed at how primitive they look to me now, and am very grateful that this client stuck with me long enough for me to work the kinks out of my drawing style.