Happy Belated President’s Day

Barnes & Noble, Barrons, Carus Publishing, Miami Herald, Penguin


In honor of President’s Day (which fell on Monday of this week), I’ve collected every illustration that I could find in my archives in which I’ve portrayed George Washington. 3 of the most recent illustrations are from the ‘What Was the Constitution?’ book which I just completed a few months ago, and the others are from various sources, including the Uncle Goose President Blocks (upper left), Dover Presidential Sticker Book (2nd clockwise from the top), a few early Cobblestone illustrations (more or less center), an illustration from the Miami Herald (bottom left) and a cover illustration for Barnes and Noble (bottom right).



And then, since I found an extra ‘George Washington’ that I did for the Wall Street Journal (the dollar bill portrait with the black eye), I’ve collected all the 2nd and 3rd Presidential portraits that I have in my archives. Again, some from the Presidential Sticker Book from Dover, and from the Uncle Goose Presidential Blocks, plus some others from various sources. Below are the portraits I did of Madison (many from the same ‘Constitution book’ that I recently completed), and the only two times that I’ve drawn James Monroe. The remaining presidents I have on file are rather hit or miss, but I may continue with this series at a future date.



And I almost forgot the paper dolls that I had done just last year for a book on Alexander Hamilton, so here’s Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison one more time.


Books and Newspaper Work

Adventure House, Barnes & Noble, WSJ

The illustrations above and below were all for the Wall Street Journal over the past few weeks. After a slow August, it was nice to get a flurry of illustration assignments to start out the fall season.

I finished up a large batch of illustrations recently for Adventure House. This was another of the ‘large projects’ that I have been mentioning since early in August. This was a set of around 40 spot cartoon illustrations for an upcoming textbook (I’m guessing it has something to do with Language, based on the various situations I was asked to illustrate). It had been a while since I’ve gotten the old ‘cartoon style’ out of mothballs, so it was fun to take a break from the usual scratchboard assignments.

Another quickie illustration that crossed my desk over the past few weeks, was another book cover assignment for Barnes and Noble. This was for a book of ‘founding father quotations’ and needed a trio of portraits (Washington, Jefferson and Adams), done in black and white scratchboard.

Something Nice from the Postman

Barnes & Noble

Received my complimentary copy of ‘A Skeleton at the Helm’ from Barnes and Noble today. Very nice looking book. I also see that it is now available for purchase at their online site (link here). One of the nicest looking books I’ve ever been involved with, with gold foil lettering, and is definitely finding a permanent home on my ‘nautical shelf’ in my library. Below is another look at the original illustration (which loses a little bit in the corners due to the round cropping for the cover usage).

Book Cover

Barnes & Noble

The above book cover assignment was completed in late December for Barnes and Noble Publishing. This was the second assignment for this particular client, the first being a ‘pirate’ image that I did in scratchboard back in the fall. This illustration and my holiday postcard were the first two times that I’ve moved from using the ‘oil pastels’ to using the ‘oil brushes’ in my Painter software. I’d been a little intimidated by them in the past, but was determined to get over the learning curve with this project. This book and the other ‘pirate’ book should be published sometime this spring, and I’ll be sure to put a link up when I get it.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Barnes & Noble, Barrons, Miami Herald, WSJ

An interesting couple of weeks, where I did one of the illustrations that I’ve been the most pleased with in a long time, another illustration that has to be one of the oddest that I’ve done in a long time, and another one that started out nice, but ended up being one in which I was extremely disappointed with myself for letting slip through the cracks.

Aside from the usual bi-monthly WSJ gig for the health column (left), I also picked up a new client, Barnes and Noble Publishing. The assignment was an interesting subject matter, and came about through one of my mailers that I had sent out a couple years ago portraying a sailing vessel set upon by a giant squid. Another nice aspect was the time frame, which was tight by some standards, but when you are used to same day or next day work, like I’ve grown accustomed to, a couple weeks feels like the lap of luxury. Enough time to really devote to a good layout, and the time to really spend making sure the finish is just the way you want it, fix problems that crop up, experiment with different colors. I liked how it turned out, and the client seemed quite happy with it, as it resulted in another assignment a month or so later. One thing I would change, looking at it now a couple months later, is the ‘plume’ on the pirate’s hat, I don’t like how it is flowing up and away, and interferes with the lightning bolt.

Around this time, I also took in a trio of assignments for Barrons. Been doing a lot of work for them this year, and they are always fun and challenging. Got to play around with some new ‘cloud ideas’ I’d been toying with on the illustration above, a piece on ex-pat citizens. The illustration below had something to do with bloated budgets (I think), and below that a piece on federal bailouts. They don’t always appear in the magazine in color, but I usually provide them with both a color and greyscale version depending on whether the story appears on a ‘color page’ that particular issue.

Also during these few weeks, I received an assignment from the Miami Herald, a large full page assignment, with a very short deadline. I’d done a few assignments for this client before, but this was a little tighter than the previous time windows I was provided. The story was about US citizens going abroad to Cuba to get medical attention. It took a couple rounds of sketches to eventually find a suitable idea, and then it was a mad rush to get the thing finished. I spent a lot of time making sure the main thrust of the illustration looked good (the patients in the boat, the outboard motor, the water), but was rushing through the background elements (the trees, island and hospital). I was very disappointed in myself for how the hospital in the background turned out. Perspective was all screwed up, trees were copied and pasted in a rushed fashion. Not incredibly proud of this one. (pictured below).

And then there was this illustration. Got an email out of the blue from a fellow who runs a ‘Kilt’ website who wanted me to do an illustration ‘of a kilt’. Whatever I wanted just based on the theme. I’m never much good at ‘anything I want to do’, I work much better given at least a little bit of direction. Also gave me a pretty open deadline, which is always a mistake. Well, when I eventually got it done (kept putting it off for more pressing assignments), the client seemed happy with it. I think he may be selling it on tee shirts.