It's that time of the year again! The time to announce Montserrat's College of Art's Annual Illustration Theme Show... CIRCUS! I had a really fun time painting this year's poster. I hadn't done this since 2006 or 2007, so it was a true pleasure. Delving into my many Circus themed books, I started to sketch an idea that subtly showed a playful face. Complete with unicorns of course.
I have not been to MANY circuses, but my all time favorite was in the mid-80s. My mother and father took me to Worcester on chilly night to see a Russian circus. I had no idea that this was an equestrian horse circus, and I nearly lost my eight year old mind. I would love to see it again.
While Halloween is no longer the same holiday as when I was a child, I quickly realized that it is still one of my favorite. How do I know (since I have long since dressed up for candy or tricks)? I have more paintings that deal with Halloween than any other holiday.
This year I had a lot of fun. I had received a recent cover project, and I took one of the rejected sketches and made it for myself, anyways.
While I do not dress up, Lily intends on being a shark this year. Watch out for her ankle bites!
I am proud to share with that I am one of the illustrators who will be contributing to this coming October's We Art Boston fundraiser. We Art Boston is the brainchild of Brookline illustrator and friend Joe McKendry who wanted to do something in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“We realized by the time we mobilized The One Fund would be closed. This was a way of helping,” said McKendry, whose wife, Susan Hass McKendry joined the effort which kicks off with the auction Oct. 11 and ends with a family event Oct. 20 on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I will be there creating stuffed animal portraits, and it'd be great to see you, too! The more than 40 participating artists of We Art Boston honor the role of story time with a fundraiser featuring original works of art from some of the most beloved contemporary children’s books. Proceeds benefit the Emergency and Trauma Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital, providing physical and emotional care to families following sudden events, with the hope of helping every family feel a little safer when they go to sleep tonight. In addition to each illustrators contributions, participating members will be creating a group illustration of the We Art Boston title. I've claimed the E!
Please join us for an online auction starting October 10th and for a family event on October 20th at Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway. Details and times will be announced shortly.
The last few months I've been busily working on the next big adventure for Marvin and James from Masterpiece. It's an independent reader that will be in a series called The Masterpiece Adventure, by Elise Broach. Creating the artwork in ink and spot color has been a really fin way to work and I've enjoyed thinking in flat color. This dynamic duo will be out next February!
While in Japan, I started an archive of the different drinks available at some of the various vending machines. Japan LOVES vending machines, and these things are so well placed. My favorite were the hotel vending machines stocked with beer. Ice cold beer.
Something I haven't done in a long time... draw to goof around! With all of my short term deadlines met this evening, I took a moment to have fun with my small companions: Lily and Mama. Clearly, you can see who dominates the whole house. Shhhhh, don't tell poor Lily.
I am so sad that so much time has passed since posting. Looking back, I feel as though my work production has lessened because of this lack, but indeed it has been a productive spring. We are just a few weeks away from the release of Richard Peck's The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail. I am super excited as this book hits the shelves. I've also been working away on an independent reader featuring the character from Masterpiece! It's a different pace of story I am typically used to, but as predicted my editor Christy Ottaviano has been incredibly helpful.
I've also just returned from another trip to Japan. This time Antoine was a co-instructor with Montserrat College of Art, and I was a mere spectator. I liked that role!! Niigata College of Art hosted the fifteen students and I could not have imagined a more gracious and dedicated group of staff and faculty. As each day passed, my love for the country deepened... so many different facets! Efficiency and cleanliness balanced with a "play" hard approach to leisure. Simplicity of craft matched with complexity of social customs.
Upon return, deadline season is in full swing once again! Here is a recently finished bookcover! I cannot wait to see what Orchard Books does with the title treatment. The mock up looked amazing!
So! Alas! I am back, in action, and ready to get down to some regular posting! School's on break, and I'm ready to get rolling! Hope everyone is slipping into summer rather nicely!
I am wrapping up the illustrations for the latest middle grade novel, and I am really excited to see this one come together. The first few ink painitngs were not quite right, and I had to make a paper change. I started on Arches hot press, which is a lovely paper, but I was more pleased with a change to cold press paper. I think it had a bit more texture that gave the ink a better play with blossoming and staining.
I still think my drawings of cats are a bit stiff, even after working with them for a few months. They have such strange heads, I still need so much reference. On the other hand, I now know more about four masted barques than anyone of the twenty-first century should. I love research!!
In the mail today, wrapped nine ways til Sunday, came a book that Antoine and I were featured in.
Fantasy+ 4: The Best Artwork of Fantastic Art: Fantasy art, like literature, continues to have a growing resurgence as
consumers of popular culture long for a respite from today s forced
reality. For this fourth volume of the highly successful Fantasy+
series, the selected artworks are arranged thematically according to the
focus or manifestation of the work. The international roster of
commercial artists featured offers the very best in imaginative art
created for movies, animation, publications and games. Not limited to
illustrative output, this volume gives voice to the talented sculptors
in the industry, with three-dimensional models and garage kits presented
for the first time. Thoughtful commentary and interviews enhance the
work and inspire, providing rich tips and insights for professionals and
would-be artists alike.
It was very fun to both be featured and interviewed. I loved seeing our names side by side. Although I cannot say my work is the best artwork of the fantasy genre, I was thrilled to join others who are!
After a long time working on projects, I decided to take a break and work again on a project started back in the summertime. It's a painting of my childhood woods, behind my house on Fairbanks Road. Looking back on the time spent there, many amazing and bewildering events occurred.
Most memories are miniscule, and only important to myself, but then other richly bizarre tales: Such as my black cat Magic appearing and disappearing from her grave. Our woods naturally had a pet cemetery, where our beloved pets and sometimes accidental drowned chipmunks were laid to rest. Magic, after suffering an extremely bad broken leg, was put to sleep, and then placed in our family plot. About a year after, my best friend and I were taking a walk through the back woods and noticed that the cat's grave had been... dug up! But, there was no body to be found. We though this must be some strong nosed animal and dirt was filled back into the tiny hole. Well, what followed were several months of the grave being dug up again, and occaisionally the body being seen in other parts of the woods. Each time, we'd quickly rebury the poor creature, pour bleach and other noxious smelling chemicals to deter what we though HAD to be an animal. Me thinks... there was more at play here.
The woods near my old house lies in a very spooky section called the Bridgewater Triangle. Many odd occurances have caused the locals to name this area as a very supernatural swamp. There's quite a lot of documentation about it, so I welcome you to poke around. What I can tell you is I am also a beliver of this area's oddness. My woods were the home to many Wampanoag burial mounds, and I secretly hoped their spirits kept me safe as I played. My brothers and I made bark masks to keep watch of the woods while we were away.
They were very fun days, but incredibly imaginative days. But imagination can conjure up all sorts of playfulness... and wickedness. It was New England after all... a region rich with old lore.
If there is one message I try to get through to students or anyone looking to become an illustrator, it's this: Just draw. Draw all the time. Draw to get excited, draw to get angry, draw to improve, draw to make mistakes. But for God's sake, just draw!
Renata Liwska's sketchbooks take the cake! Check out this really great video made by Mike Kerr.
There are good ships, and there are wood ships, The ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships, and may they always be!
Happy New Year!
Hot Buttered Rum
2 oz Rum 3 tsp Sugar .5 tsp Allspice .5 tsp Cloves 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter Hot Cider
Warm a mug or glass, and then add sugar and about 1.5 oz of hot cider to the mug. Stir sugar and water until sugar is well-dissolved. Add rum and spices and then fill top the mug with hot cider. Add butter and stir until it is completely melted. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and/or orange peel, depending on the flavor you’re looking for.
An 18th century recipe would sometimes call for heating a loggerhead to red hot in an open fire (a fireplace poker knocked clean of ashes will do), which would then be thrust into the drink. Soon after, the concoction would steam and sputter. It was strongly advised to drink immediately after!
Rum, a distillation of sugar cane or a byproduct like molasses, can be made just about anywhere, like other spirits fashioned from ingredients that can be easily imported. Invented in the West Indies in the 17th century, rum caught on in the American colonies, where distillers began importing molasses and quickly created a major industry. At its peak in 1770, the American colonies imported six million gallons of Caribbean molasses, much of which became rum in New England’s 159 distilleries. The style varied widely, but it was said to be thicker and less sweet than its Caribbean cousin.
Another success year Lawn Dandruff Night! Flasks were filled, cars were warmed, cameras were charged, and pizza was consumed. We were a bit nervous with our destination, not too sure if people would be festive enough for our thirst. North Providence did not disappoint ONE bit! Christmas is no longer complete without this ridiculous tradition. Can't wait for next year! As each year passes, the prospect of actually approaching a publisher for a coffee table book of silly Christmas Americana seems more possible.
I was recently contacted by Brown University to help them with their New Year's greeting. I was excited to help the friendly neighbors at the top of the hill (since my school was adjacent to it, down the hill). Because I've called Providence home for maybe a bit too long, being able to paint some of the architecture I know so very well was a pleasure. I was also glad to include a little bit of astronomy! It's also nice to work on seasonal pieces... in the actual season you're painting! Typically I'm painting snow scenes in July for publishing deadlines, so this was a nice change.
So, I regret immensely ignoring my little blog here. It's been a very busy couple of months, and sort of tricky to share what it is that I've been working on lately. Classes have just ended at both RISD and Montserrat, so I have a bit more time on my hands! I've been finishing up all of the art for Mouse With A Question Mark Tail these last few weeks, and I'm very excited to see the book's F&Gs! They're including three color tip ins, which have been a bit complicated to paint. Over 80 mice in one illustration is a bit intense.
Also, I've just finished up the cover for a reprint of Florence Laughlin's Little Leftover Witch. I had a great time painting this cranky little lady, who I related to VERY easily.
Some more projects are finishing up that I can start to share with you! I got an F&G of FACEBUG, a poetry book written by J.Patrick Lewis and featuring photos by Fred Siskund. So... I'll be back real soon. YAY!
It's no secret that winter is my favorite time of year. Oddly enough, I become much more active, looking to go outside for exercise, or an excuse to take a walk to look at the gleaming nighttime sky. Here are a few snowbound images, both personal and professional!