Snails, Roses and the Never Ending Election Cycle

Green Prints, Uncle Goose Toys

The above photo was courtesy of the Uncle Goose Instagram feed. This is a picture of the two portraits I did in anticipation of the coming election, as they will be updating their ‘Presidential Wooden Blocks’ set with whomever wins. Since I had done a Mitt Romney portrait for them four years ago, I had jokingly suggested that they start a collection of ‘Presidential Losers’ (McCain, Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern, Goldwater, etc etc) printed on recycled and reclaimed wood, and it got a laugh, but I don’t think it will be happening anytime soon.

Below we have a recent assignment for GreenPrints, including the rough sketch for each illustration, and the usual dingbats and drop cap letters and small spot illustrations that go with each.



Big Wheels

Main Line Today, Uncle Goose Toys

Started working on a new coloring book project (samples to be posted once the book is published), and in the meantime, had a few short deadline projects. The illustration above was for Main Line Today magazine for an article about super competitive pre-school admissions. The article was more slanted toward a ‘Hunger Games’ parody, but once they mentioned ‘big wheels’, I started picturing something more along the lines of “Mad Max Fury Road”. I posted the sketch for this in the previous post, and here’s how the finish turned out. Below are a few new portraits of Hillary and Donald for a set of Presidential Wooden Blocks that I did several years ago (and have been providing ‘just in case’ portraits in the intervening years). I jokingly said to the client that since we are starting to amass a collection of ‘also rans’ that we perhaps ought to put together a set of ‘Loser Blocks’ with all the candidates who lost the presidential bid (who knows, maybe I’ll just do a series of portraits along this line on my own, just for fun).

Still Here

AHMM, Green Prints, Uncle Goose Toys, US Catholic


Been over a week since my last post. Been keeping fairly busy, but as with a lot of my work this year, I’m unable to share it on the blog until after publication. Last week spent most of my time working on a series of 4 illustrations for a book project I thought had been put to bed months ago, but a few extra illustrations were added to the pile. Still awaiting approval on a batch of 90 illustrations for another project, and have been given the go ahead on starting sketches for the next ‘Amish Girl’ book. But in the meantime, I’m still working on this and that short term project for my magazine clients. Above is another fiction piece for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (24 years working for this digest this month). Below is a spot illustration (and an additional widget of a sprig of parsley) for GreenPrints (a newer client I picked up last fall and for whom I’ve done 3 or 4 previous assignments).

And somewhere in the past couple weeks I also had a pro bono assignment from a friend of mine, which harkens back to my earliest days of freelancing. Back when I was in High School, my very first assignments were from my Mother, who would hire me to draw a caricature poster for various retiring co-workers. I usually would do these on poster board bought from the local drug store using a box of colored markers (I can still recall sitting at the family dining room table late in the evening trying to milk the last bit of color from quickly depleting felt tips). This one was a caricature to decorate a flyer/invite for a friend of a friend’s upcoming retirement party.


Last week, I also received a package from the UPS man, with a box of wooden presidential blocks that I had provided illustrations for about 4 years ago. (Currently working on a new project for this toy manufacturer, and it was brought up in conversation that I hadn’t yet received a sample to see how they turned out)

This morning I also finished up a piece for US Catholic (pictured below) on Urban Sprawl.

In other developments, over the weekend, I started working with a new animation program (starting work on a new music video for my band, as a way of continuing my education in animation in hopes of eventually turning it into another branch of TFI). I’ll be posting some ‘sneak peeks’ in the coming weeks. So far, the program has been a challenge to learn the ins and outs of, but the leap forward in the professionalism of the end product has been very encouraging.

Mary, Sam, Scott, Mitt, Ellen & Scott & Blown Covers

Blown Covers, ChronicleHE, Facebook Faces, Uncle Goose Toys


Another facebook portrait this morning, and will probably do another on Sunday. #86, Mary, another high school classmate I assume, since she’s from Durand. Did this one in a mixture of pastel & watercolor from a rather fuzzy indistinct photograph.
I’m getting very near the halfway point in this summer challenge to draw each and every one of my facebook friends in a variety of styles. It has been an interesting experiment, and when I reach the end, I may find myself moving on to friends of friends and complete strangers, as I find myself with more freedom from the shackles of having to flatter and/or capture a specific likeness the more obscure and tenuous the relationship.

Today’s portrait is of a local singer/songwriter who runs several open mic venues here in Grand Rapids, Sam, done in a black and white pen and ink style.

And later in the day, I also did a portrait of Scott (#85), another high school bandmate, in a mix of colored pencils and watercolors.

And, no, I’m not facebook friends with Mitt Romney, but this was an addition to the ‘presidential blocks’ illustrations I did for Uncle Goose Toys a few years back, and they want to be ahead of the game, should Romney get into office this fall.

This week’s Blown Covers topic was ‘fashion’, and below was my entry for this week.


The above illustration was a small online spot for the Chronicle of Higher Education that I did earlier this week. This month marks the 20 Year Anniversary of working with this magazine (and the same Art Director, Ellen Winkler). Clients have come and gone over the past few decades, but I am grateful every day for the Chronicle, which has been, since the beginning, one of the most pleasant, enjoyable and stimulating working experiences of my career, and Ellen is one of the best ADs I’ve ever worked for, who knows when to let me loose, or reign me in, and has stuck with me while I learned the ropes of this vocation, worked out the kinks in my illustration style, and occasionally fallen flat on my face. Happy Anniversary Ellen and Scott and the rest of the gang at the Chronicle.

Behind the Curtain

Uncle Goose Toys, WSJ


A piece for the weekend edition of the Journal this week, plus I’ve also included the rough concepts for this one below. One of those unusual situations where I think I liked all three of the roughs better than how the finish turned out.



I’ve also been working on some ‘ants’ for the packaging for a wooden block toy, and worked up some samples for the client this week (one a little more ‘cartoony’ than the other).