Scratchboards in Color

ChronicleHE, Consumer Reports, Legal Times, Newsday


One of my color scratchboard assignments this month allowed me the chance to draw not one, but two presidents in the same illustration. I forget the gist of the story, but it seems to me that the president mentioned somewhere that he was reading this particular book. This was for an east coast legal newspaper.

For many years, I’ve done a fair amount of work for a children’s version of a large national magazine, which eventually went out of business. This trio of ‘computer laptop’ spots was the last assignment I would receive from this client, this one actually for the ‘grown up’ version of the magazine. A lot of fun assignments came from this client, and I was sorry to see them go.

The above illustration was another for the legal newspaper, and concerned ‘military tribunals’.
The illustration below, was for an educational publication. The figure is supposed to look like she is getting ready to pole vault over the college gates, but I don’t think I pulled it off.

The illustration below was for my east coast newspaper client, and was a caricature of the governor of NY. I’ve done this guy a couple times in the past, and he is always a tricky subject. This is probably my best likeness, but I wasn’t crazy about the colors that I chose for his outfit. (again with the purple – what is it with my use of purple around this time? I seemed to use it for everything)

The illustration at left was another piece for the educational publication. I don’t remember much about the story, except that it had something to do with Harvard, so I needed to do a little research on their cap and gown designs.

Spot Series

Christian Home & School, Consumer Reports

For a consumer advice magazine, I had a series of three ‘bear’ spots in June. I used to do a lot of work for this magazine’s ‘kid version’, but once that went out of business, I had a few assignments for the grown up version of the magazine for a short while, before the work gradually petered out.

Another ‘series of spots’ this month was for a local christian parenting magazine. These I finished in a little different style, usuing oil pastels to achieve a sort of ‘painterly quality’. I see I’m still overusing that same purple background color that I seem to be stuck on all during 2001, but here it seems to work a little better.

January Cartoon Assignments

Carus Publishing, Consumer Reports, Gemini Publications, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday


One thing I have been amazed to discover as I dig deeper in the archives, is how much of my workload was made up of the ‘cartoon’ style back around this time. These days (around ’08 is when I’m writing this) I work almost exclusively in scratchboard, aside from the occasional exception. One positive aspect of this, is that I’ve gotten much better at the scratchboard than I was in 2000, but I wonder if I’ve lost a bit of the spontenaety and fun that I’d picked up from working so much in a lighter style.

The illustration above was for my east coast newspaper client, an illustration on ‘busy working mothers’. The black and white illustration to the left was part of a larger ‘text heavy’ illustration that I did for my agent this month, for a michigan regional parenting magazine (the rest of the illustration covered a lot of space, and was mostly made up of rather dull hand lettering).
Another hand lettering assignment for the same client is pictured below, and was a bit more interesting, trying to make letters out of various ‘school projects’. I don’t do lettering very often, but this one was kind of fun and challenging.

The tutorial on ‘how to use chopsticks’ pictured to the left was for a children’s publication client this month.

Below are a few more cartoon illustrations for my east coast newspaper client. Most of the ‘cartoon assignments’ were for the ‘ladies lifestyle’ section, as the lighter, less serious style seemed to fit the tone of the articles a little better than the heavy handed dark scratchboard technique.

The ‘woman giving flowers to herself’ illustration was for an article about being single on Valentine’s Day, and consequently, being nice to yourself. Below that, was a larger illustration about safety issues for work at home Moms, with an imaginary inspector pointing out what’s wrong (labelled ‘inspector’ on his helmet in case you missed the point).



Above is a ‘puzzle’ assignment for one of my children’s magazine clients (a kids version of a well known consumer advocate magazine, which unfortunately ceased publication the following year). This puzzle had something to do with twins and finding similar shapes hidden through the room.

To the left and below were a few more black and white assignments for my agent (same client as the other two black and white assignments above), both having to do with valentine’s day presumably.

Cartoons in July

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Consumer Reports, Gemini Publications, Interpreter


The above cartoon was for a new client in July, an east coast magazine, and concerned the ‘health care burden’ weighing down the U.S. citizenry. A bit time consuming, but I usually like the challenge of trying to fit in a lot of elements into an illustration.

The ‘church spots’ to the left and below were all for a midwest evangelical publication. The ‘checkup’ illustration was a bit larger than the rest, but I’ve made them all the same size here for this posting.


I also had a caricature this month for the newsletter of a local christian musician. I had done another one for a previous issue, and also had done some artwork for a cd cover for this same client. I wasn’t crazy about how this one turned out. I’m never very comfortable working in this extreme ‘big head’ style of caricature. It seems cliched and goofy to me, and always feels very awkward while I’m working on it.

Below is a ‘puzzle illustration’ that I did this month for one of my children’s magazine clients. This one probably had a series of garbled communications going into the ‘speech balloons’ that the reader is supposed to decifer.


The above illustration was another ‘pueblo’ drawing for the same issue of a children’s magazine that featured some other illustrations pictured in other postings this month. They were all done in different styles since they would appear in various places throughout the magazine and they didn’t want it to look like they used the same illustrator for all the assignments.

To the right and below are a few cartoons for a local regional magazine (I believe my wife was still working at this publication around this time). I was regularly contributing to a humor column in the ‘city magazine’ and assorted columns in the same company’s ‘parenting’ magazine.


Above is another ‘puzzle page’ illustration for the same children’s magazine as the ‘phone conversation’ puzzle. This one you were supposed to figure out who the folders belonged to based on clues pasted to each. I’ll be darned if I can remember the answers to any of them.

The Incredible Lightness of Drawing

Carus Publishing, Cobblestone, Consumer Reports, Newsday


As I work my way backwards through my art archives, I’ve noticed fluctuations in style, and in color palatte and have commented on them from time to time as it seems necessary. Over the past 6 months of the chronology, I’ve noticed the colors getting lighter and lighter, and have let it pass without comment until I got to these three illustrations for May, and I feel I must say something about it. Fortunately the black and white work doesn’t seem to have suffered in any way, but the color tones are getting much lighter and I’m not sure why that was. It could be perhaps that I was using an older computer at this time (I think I upgraded to my current computer sometime around 2002-03), perhaps I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the brightness settings with regards to how the illustrations were printing. At this point I was rather new to ‘computer illustration’ having only started the previous year, and I’m still apparently working out the bugs in the system.

Anyhow, the illustration above was for a ‘recipe’ article for an east coast newspaper client. The dish this time was a light and fluffy white cake (but I think I went overboard on the ‘light and fluffy’). Below was an illustration for one of my children’s magazine clients, and showed how light breaks up into a color spectrum. (and again, ‘light’ being the operative term).


The above ATM illustration was for a ‘puzzle page’ in another children’s magazine this month. Another victim of the light color tonality problem of this era.