November Greasy Kid Stuff

Adventure House, Carus Publishing, Cobblestone

Above was another of my ‘puzzle page’ assignments for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone). This looks quite complex, but it was actually a lot of fun to put together; an arial view of a bunch of city buildings and streets, numbered for some reason that had to do with the accompanying story problem.
It sort of reminds me of a computer game I designed for my son to play back in the early nineties where you had to drive a little yellow vw bug around town, making stops at various locations in order to ‘do your errands’. It was called ‘Bugsy Goes to Town’ and I’m not sure if you can still find it in the freeware libraries of AOL, but it was a very crude attempt on my part to learn the ‘C’ programming language.
The spots sprinkled around are from a series of 20 or so spots that I was asked to do for Adventure House Publishers to go in a textbook of some sort. Most were quite small (the examples here are actually increased in size from the originals), and had to do with various activities and story problems.

Also this month, I had a small illustration for Footsteps magazine (Cobblestone). This magazine specialized in African American history, and this was a story about a slave who would go around spreading news to farm workers through coded songs and verse.

The Children’s Hour

Carus Publishing, Christian Home & School, Cobblestone, personal

Another favorite piece that I did in ’03 was this pair of illustrations for Cricket magazine. This was a story about a female native american scout who rescues another woman and her child (from what, I don’t quite remember). I used a technique that I don’t quite remember where I picked up from (probably saw it being used by another illustrator in a book somewhere), where I put a subtle yellow glow around the outside of the scratchboard boundary (when the background is ‘white’) as a way of helping ‘pop’ the illustration out of the page. I particularly liked how the horse turned out in this opening illustration. Horses are not my strong suit, and I always consider them a challenge whenever I’m asked to draw them. I’m not quite as familiar with their anatomy, and it takes a bit more research than normal to get them to turn out right.

I also had a chance to pull the ‘digital pastels’ out of mothballs this month for an assignment for Christian Home & School magazine. This story was about a ‘guitar’ given as a gift at christmas (I don’t remember why there is another one hidden under the couch). This was a fun one to do, on a personal level, because my favorite gift I received when I was a kid, was a ‘harmony sovereign’ guitar from my Uncle that was a big influence on my life. So I used that guitar as the model for the guitar in the picture, and also included some other personal touches, like the color of the couch and shag carpeting, which was the color scheme in our 1970s ranch house living room where I grew up (the living room/dining room layout that we see is also quite similar to how our house was arranged). Looking back at this illustration now, however, I am struck by how much love and attention I paid to the guitar, and probably skimped a little on the shadows underneath the case and wrapping paper, and the background details.

And then, for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone), I had my regular ‘puzzle page’ assignment. This was a story problem involving a mouse detective.


Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Newsday

August of ’03 was the last significant month of ‘map making’ on a large scale. Cobblesone, a children’s educational magazine publishing company that I had been working for since the early to mid nineties underwent a corporate merger, and the parent company started cutting corners every which way they could. I guess my maps were part of those cut corners. The map below was the last of the ‘middle east’ assignments for this year for Faces magazine (Cobblestone’s geography publication). The map above was a piece on Long Island dining, for Newsday.

For the same children’s publisher, but a different publication (don’t remember exactly), I had the map below, showing different concentrations of Islam around the globe.

And then, while not a map, the piece below was another ‘puzzle page’ assignment for the same company’s ‘science magazine’, Oddysey. This was more in the line of a ‘story problem’, as opposed to the more ‘puzzle’ or ‘mazelike’ illustrations I sometimes do for this feature.

US Timeline Project

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone

The spots in this posting were all for a ‘US Timeline’ poster project for one of my long time children’s publication clients. This would be a classroom teaching aid, showing various significant events in US History. I was to provide small spot illustrations for many of the highlighted events and important historical figures. I don’t remember if it was my idea, or the editors, but I finished these in a wide variety of styles, hoping to give the page a bit of variety and pizazz. Some I did in black and white, others in color, some in ‘paints’, some in ‘watercolors’, some in scratchboard, some realistic and others stylized. A fun project, but very time consuming. I had done a similar project the month before for the same client, but as a ‘world history’ poster. I won’t label these, but leave it as a quiz, see how many you can name/recognize:

Hmm. Not sure why, but I think a few spots from the ‘world history’ project ended up in this file. I’ll clean house later when I go through the other collection.

Playing with Paints

America, Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Newsday

For the third year in a row, I was handed a full page ‘automobile’ illustration assignment from my long time east coast newspaper client. Cars are not my strong point, but I’ll dive right in, if for any other reason, just to get better at my weak areas. Used a vw beetle as my ‘car’ this time, as this was focusing on ‘stylish money saving vehicles’. I used to own a ’74 yellow bug, and have had my eye on these new beetles for quite a few years (we eventually got one a couple years later, yellow, just like this one). I chose to finish this piece in a ‘painterly style’, and it turned out quite nice. The hardest part was getting the ‘skid marks’ to look right.

Another piece for the same client, was this illustration on ‘bug migration’. The story focused in on how bugs get confused by all the new cell phone towers and the lights from airports, and change their migratory patterns. I used a combination of techniques and mediums for this one, plus also cheated a bit, copying and pasting bugs to make a ‘swarm (although drawing in many of the wings individually so that it didn’t look so much like I copied them). Not too crazy about the dark color I chose for the background, but I didn’t want to use black. Perhaps I should have gradiated the background a bit more, maybe darker at the top and lighter at the bottom, and perhaps a beam of light across the thing so that some of the bugs could be sillouetted. Hindsight is a great thing.

I also had a rather strange assignment from the same paper this month where I also dipped into the virtual ‘paintbucket’. It was requested that I do a piece for an article about ‘spying’, where it would look as if a person were peeking around behind the newspaper at the reader. Probably the closest thing to a painted self portrait I’ve ever done of myself ‘on assignment’. Hope it didn’t creep out too many Long Islanders to see my face peeking out at them from the daily paper.

The above illustration was for a jesuit publication, this article being about that famous conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate about the nature of ‘truth’. I wanted to do something a little different than the usual ‘scratchboard’ that I had been doing for this client, so I tried something a little looser and experimental.

Below is another map for my children’s publication client. This one having to do with different types of forests/trees and their locations around the world. The map was pretty straightforward, but the trees along the bottom were quite detailed and time consuming both in rendering and in research.