Dan (18) Kimmo (17) Kelly (16), Blown Covers, etc

Blown Covers, Business North Carolina, Facebook Faces, WSJ


This weekend’s portraits: #17 is of a guitar playing buddy from one of the bands that I’m involved with. We went down to Otsego on Friday night to watch him perform in one of his other groups. I decided to do this one (based on a photo I found on his page), in the same style that I did ‘Gary’ with several days ago, but in color this time. #18 is of a client of mine, Kimmo from Helsinki (from several years back) with whom I did several board game designs. Did this one in a mixture of watercolor, colored pencil and a blending tool. (not much of a stretch, stylewise, but I thought I’d take the approach that I used on several of the games, which seemed fitting).


Today’s portrait is of one of the daughters of our next door neighbor from where we grew up in Durand, Michigan – Kelly. I purposefully gave myself a very limited palette today, in what I hoped to be unusual ‘facial’ colors.

I also had a revision on an illustration from a couple weeks ago. The editors wanted to add a crowd of cowering businessmen to the background of my ‘bomb’ illustration about ‘tax reform’ (pictured below). In addition, I had a small simple spot illustration to accompany the WSJ illustration I completed yesterday.


And here’s my weekly Blown Covers sketch. This week’s theme: “Love in the Big City”.

Sue, Sheila, Mr. Sang & other work

AHMM, Business North Carolina, ChronicleHE, Facebook Faces

(this is a combined post made up of several days worth of postings ranging from April 2 to April 5)

Today I chose to do a pastel portrait, based on a photo by a high school friend of our high school band drum major, Sue. I thought this was an interesting photo, because, as a xylophone player for our marching band, this is the view I usually had of our drum major, down front and right in front of the podium.


Today’s portrait in my ongoing ‘facebook challenge’ is of my Father’s lady friend Sheila (and her loom). Something about the loom must’ve reminded me of all the ‘Amish girl’ illustrations I was doing last month, so the style closely mimics the drawings from that project. Not much going on today, so I may have time to catch back up and do another one later today.


Well, that wasn’t so bad. I got up this morning fully expecting to be at the drawing board all day long today, but here it is 2pm and I’ve got a little free time to spare before I head out for some ‘open mic’ barnstorming with my band mate down in Kalamazoo this evening (the day ain’t over yet, I’ll probably be getting to bed sometime around 2ish, if not later). The illustration above (& immediately below) was for an article on tax reform laws for Business North Carolina, and below that, was a rush illustration project for the Chronicle of Higher Education that I finished up early this morning.


I may still yet have time for a quick portrait this afternoon, but right now, I think I’m going to go out and enjoy this beautiful sunny afternoon.


Haven’t had a chance yet to do my ‘daily portrait’, as I got bogged down in a labor intensive AHMM illustration (pictured above), plus it was a beautiful day, and I took advantage of it by doing some work in the yard, and going on a bike ride (actually thinking of mowing the lawn, on April 2 no less). Tomorrow is looking like another busy one, so I may not get to portraits again until Wednesday.
… Well, later in the evening I managed to steal an hour or so to work up another of the portraits in my ongoing self imposed challenge to draw a portrait of each and every facebook friend this summer. Decided to do a caricature today, and what better subject than what was probably one of my earliest caricature victims, my middle school band director Mr. Sang (isn’t that a great name for a music teacher?). I’m guessing I probably won’t get to one tomorrow, but I’ll be back at it again on Wednesday.

Facebook Faces Challenge

AHMM, Blown Covers, Business North Carolina, Facebook Faces, WSJ

This is a combined post made up of postings originally logged anywhere from March 28 to April 1, marking the very beginning of my Facebook Faces Summer Challenge from 2012.
A quickie today, owing to the fact that I had a lot of mixing to do on the JJHD cd, plus another extended band practice south of town for most of the afternoon. Day five in my ongoing self imposed challenge to draw all 173 ‘facebook friends’ in a variety of portrait styles (of course, now I’ve picked up a few new ones over the weekend, so the tally has increased). Today’s is of a clarinet player named Joel from another band who I met a few months back at a weekend gig at Rocky’s. Rather plain style but still trying to force myself to loosen up (an ongoing struggle with me).


Got up rather early this morning and chose another gal from my ‘friends list’ to tackle today as part of my self imposed ‘facebook challenge’ (doing a portrait of all 173 facebook friends based on pictures of themselves they have posted) This one I struggled with for quite a while and went through a lot of false starts. It was only after I abandoned all my regular methods and started out with a bunch of oddball colors and tried to forget about ‘capturing a likeness’ that it started to gel for me. I never did quite capture a decent likeness of this one (this is a girl who was my next door neighbor in Flint when I was 5 years old), but aside from that I like the feel of it.


Day Three of my self imposed challenge to draw portraits of everyone on my ‘facebook friends’ list Today I felt like a challenge, both to loosen up with color and with drawing materials, and I thought it was time for a girl. I picked one of the more obscure of my facebook pals, someone I barely knew and tried to choose one of the more unflattering pictures as a starting point. I’m kind of pleased with how this one turned out.
I see I just got an email with the go ahead on a ‘same day’ project I’ve been waiting to start, so I guess I better get back to ‘real work’.

No, the above isn’t a ‘New Yorker’ assignment, but a submission to a blog site that I’ve been reading avidly the past few weeks called ‘Blown Covers’ run by Fran├žoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman. They announce a theme at the beginning of the week, with a deadline of Thursday noon, and announce their favorites on Friday. I was a lurker for several weeks, and this was the first time I tried my hand at it. I believe I’ll make a habit of it, as it is a wonderful way of stretching the old concept muscles. And, no idea goes wasted around here, I ended up recycling the ‘fat lady’ concept for today’s WSJ assignment about the ‘end of the current bull market’ (pictured below in two versions, with and without background).


Day two of my self imposed ‘facebook portrait challenge’, and this one is of a friend from high school, Mark from Mississippi, one of my first ‘band buddies’, a bass player and photographer for the school paper and yearbook. Lots of photos to choose from on his page, but I was drawn to his wonderful expression on his current profile picture. For a medium today, I was originally going to do it in my traditional scratchboard style, but at the last moment switched tools and used a pencil instead of the usual scratchboard stylus. While I didn’t stray too far from my usual technique, I did like the pencil’s softer feel, and I think it helped me loosen up just a tiny fraction. I liked both the black and white and color version of this one, so saved a version of each.


Our heat wave has passed, and we are back to more traditional March weather (although with a lot of trees sprouting leaves way too early and wondering what the heck’s going on). Work has slowed down a bit here at the end of march, but I’m plugging away at it one day at a time as usual. The above illustration was a spot for Barrons for the coming week (or next – I think I got it done early). Below are a few sketches for upcoming projects.



Last summer, when I hit a dry spell, I decided to challenge myself with a ‘drawing a day’ goal for myself whether or not I had actual assignments on the docket. This year I thought I’d start something similar, and decided I would try and do a portrait/caricature/drawing of each and every one of my facebook friends based on photos they have posted of themselves (which should be tricky in some cases). I plan on doing these in a variety of styles, depending on my mood/whims and available time schedule. One down and one hundred and seventy three to go. This first one is of my Uncle Lee from Sun City Arizona.

If nothing else, this should give me lots of face practice and beef up my ‘portraits’ archive.

2012 Off and Running

Business North Carolina, Llewellyn


Well, the holidays are finally over, the tree has been taken down and driven down to the recycling center, and we’re back to work here at the Illustration Mines. Above is a cover illustration I finished up this morning for Farm Futures magazine. Nice to hear from them again, it had been about 2 years since the last assignment. Tried a ‘gouache’ technique for this one.
And, once again this year, I’m working on a series of black and white illustrations for a Wiccan Almanac. Below are the first two in that series (with more to come over the next couple of weeks).

Union Boogeymen

AHMM, Business North Carolina, Dover


Taking the day off today for my 28th wedding anniversary, driving down to Chicago to see my son blow his horn at school in their ‘Combo Fest’ (he’ll be graduating this spring). Here are a few more finished illustrations to round out the end of the week. The above illustration was one I wasn’t initially all that excited about, due to the subject matter, but I somehow managed to find a solution that both made both me and the client happy. This was a cover illustration or Business North Carolina about that state’s long standing antipathy towards unions. (at one point, they requested a policeman’s hat on the fellow coming out of the closet, but then it ended up looking like there was something perverse going on in the bed).
Below is an illustration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Been doing work for them since my first year in business back in 1989. Been kind of slow in 2011, I think I only did about 4 of these this year, but from what I can see of the samples they send, it looks like they’ve cut way back on illustration overall, so maybe I should consider myself lucky to have gotten those 4.
Below that is a sample illustration that I did for an upcoming possible book project.