25 January 2005

Educational Assignments


I've been doing work for the Chronicle of Higher Education since the early 90s, and up until this time in 2005, a majority of the work that I've done for them has been in black and white, with color pieces being a rarity. (not sure if it had something to do with the printing requirements of the publication up until this time, or if it was just an asthetic choice). This piece above, on outsourcing was one of the last pieces from the 'black and white era', and is a personal favorite of mine from this time period. I liked the concept and the camera angle, and I remember doing this completely without reference materials, and the scratchboard approach seems very loose and free flowing. Obviously I was having fun with this one.

Above is another b&w piece for the same client. Not a bad illustration, but is a little stiff and dry. Not sure about that treatment of the upper wall in the background, an experiment that didn't quite work out.
Around this time, for the same client, I was assigned a series of spot illustrations on a variety of topics, but they all had to flow together somehow, so I gave them all similar background treatments. The concepts were a mix of ideas I had, and some that were supplied by the editor/AD. This piece to the left was on global warming, I think. The concept seems a little odd to me looking back at it now.


Then, at the right, is a rather straightforward image of a cadeuceus, probably something to do with medical education, and then below, a piece on journalism and ... well, to be honest, I have no idea what that other illustration is about. I remember this was a rather esoteric article, and the image idea was proposed by the editor, so I just did the best I could to bring it to life. The hat below, is my favorite of the bunch, not because it was an all that earth shattering of a concept, but just because I liked the simplicity of it, and the nice rendering of the hat, and the color combination seemed to work well.

Another black and white piece is below. It looks as if I've just discovered the 'scratchboard rake' tool recently, and I'm starting to experiment with using it a bit more frequently. I'd gradually grow a bit more adept with it over time, but it looks here like I'm still trying out different ways of utilizing it. (random freehanded cross hatching patterns in the background, the highlight patch in the middle of the bottle).

17 January 2005

Newspaper clippings


The illustrations in this posting were all from the Wall Street Journal in January. The piece at the top was about imports (not sure if it had to do with beer and wine imports, or if it was just a general 'cash flow' topic). I was starting to use the 'scratchboard rake' tool a bit more around this time, and it got extensive use on the bottles. Previously, I was just using it to add an overall tone to the background of black and white pieces, and to create interesting cloud patterns.
The piece to the left was another 'beverage' related spot, a trio of investors are using a wine press for some reason or another (I forget the exact topic of this one).



Also, for the same client, was the monthly quota of 'health care' spots for my regular column gig that I do every monday. A couple favorites of mine this month, were the pieces on stuttering (above left), and the boxing ring battle of the olive oils (above right). Both of those pieces were a little different than the usual fare, and it is obvious I was having fun breaking out of the mold. The other topics included lasik surgery, kids bike helmets, and some sort of medical machinery (I forget exactly what it was, but it took a bit of research and was interesting trying to fit that big gizmo into such a tiny space, plus a doctor and a patient)

05 January 2005

Black and White World


The piece above was a same day assignment for Newsday. This editorial piece concerned Germany's efforts to wipe away the stain of anti-semitism from its past.
Another piece for the same client is below, and was about the closing down of a long time NY public access show. I don't know if I am showing my age with this retro television set and cable dial, or if I was trying to nod towards what the sets looked like when this show was first aired in the late 60s/early 70s.

Another piece for the same client, another same day, another editorial. The one below had to do with survey questions where they ask for 'race' and the growing contingent of people in this country who can't neatly fit their heritage into a single category. Kind of a strange concept/layout, and I don't remember if this was my idea or not (probably was, as this client very rarely gives much input other than handing me the text of the story). But I did like the rendering on the face.

The piece below, was another fiction story for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. This was a story about a spurned actress who murders a playwrite. I liked the layout on this one, but I think I goofed up on the perspective of the gun and hand (although it is very subtle).

02 January 2005

Taking Risks and Playing it Safe


The piece above was for US Catholic magazine. This was a rather large two page spread, a memoir of a family member returning to the family farm after a father has passed away in order to sell it (if I remember correctly). This was quite close to the situation my Father and his siblings faced back in the 60s when my Grandfather passed away, so it was a fun project with a bit of personal connection for me. I took a risk and worked in almost an 'oils' feel (actually using 'oil pastels' from my digital toolbox, as the 'oil paints' tools were unfamiliar and a bit intimidating still even though I've been using this program for nearly 7 years at this point). I was quite pleased with how this one turned out. the large expanse of sky was supposed to be open for the text to overlay, and the tractor/house and barn in the background would surround the lower part of the text block.

Another assignment for the same client is below, and was much less of a stretch for me. The article dealt with different faiths and their influence on the voting process. At the time I was heavily immersed in an ongoing 'bible stories' project, and was really sick to death of drawing people in robes, so I probably approached this assignment with a heavy sigh of resignation.


A couple of cartoonish assignments rounded out the month, with a puzzle page piece for Oddysey (Cobblestone's 'science' publication) (above), something to do with one of those 'volcano science projects', and a piece below for Newsday, a lifestyle article about 'getting on the soapbox'. The boy above is obviously influenced by my own son and his usual mode of dress around this time (although he had abandoned the 'baseball cap' the previous summer). The girl is wearing a pair of those colorful 'pajama bottoms' which seemed to be popular dress for girls at the time.


Around this time I also was handed an assignment for Cricket magazine. I was starting to become known as the 'go to' guy for historical and period illustration at this publication. This was a challenging piece that took a bit of research, dealing with a famous 'terrorist' attack in New York in the late 19th century on the Barnum museum. I like drawing horses, but they are challenging and difficult to get right, and the busy 'fire scene' on the inside page illustration (right) was a logistical puzzle. What should have been a difficult and tiresome illustration actually ended up being a lot of fun and I was quite pleased with the end result.

Around this time, in early January, I returned home to live and work, after having spent the past 6 months living in South Haven Michigan, caring for my father who was undergoing chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma, and was severely limited in his mobility. I'm pleased to report that he made a nice recovery and has managed to keep in remission and gain back much of his health and self reliance for the time being (this being written in Dec of '07), and we're keeping our fingers crossed for the future that this particular cancer finds improvements in treatment and care.

01 January 2005

2004 Year in Review

A good year by the numbers, but a rough one personally with a lot of ups and downs.

The year started promisingly, when we purchased a used sailboat in the spring (after getting the bug after our sailing lessons the year before and taking a charter up near Traverse City), and took it out for a few trips on Lake Michigan during the summer when we could make the time.
Halfway through the year, my father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and I worked the second half of the year from a remote location in South Haven Michigan, taking care of my Father as he underwent chemo treatments.

This was the last year that I coached Little League baseball, and my son started high school in the Fall.

Despite everything, business was booming, and only took a slight dip in the second half as my 'change of venue' curtailed some of my 'quick turnaround' clients. At the same time, however, I picked up a few new clients, including Highlights for Children and Home Buyer Publications.

These illustrations are what I consider my best work of 2004:



Passed the 10,000 mark in the illustrations I've completed since starting this in 1989. A big volume year, as I did approximately 653 illustrations bringing the total up to 10,358.