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.

Sketchin’ and Ridin’

Barrons, xibitz


The pace has relaxed a bit toward the end of this week. Spent the past two days mostly doing preparatory work, rough sketches, tests, etc for upcoming projects. The ‘bicyclist’ above (and the alternate sketch below) are for an upcoming ‘museum display’ project that I’m working on for a local client. A series of life sized cutout figures, which should be challenging both in adjusting my style for readability at that size, and trying to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind while working on whatever portions of the art can fit on my screen at one time. I also did a series of ‘test runs’ for the final art at different line widths so that the client could get an idea of what would work with their printing processes (the picture of the bicyclist’s head, below is from that test batch).


I also did a series of sketches for a Barron’s interior piece for next week (the one they chose, based on the editor’s idea is pictured below), and I’ll post the finish after the weekend. Been beautiful weather here all week in Michigan, so I’ve been lucky enough with my workload that I’ve been able to take a few hours off each day for extended bike rides. Of course, all the trees and flowers are all confused and blooming early. A frost at this point could really wreak havoc with the fruit crops around here.

March Heat Wave

US Catholic


Finished up the above illustration for US Catholic this morning. I’ll be starting on an interesting new assignment this week, for which I may post some sketches and preliminary work later on. More details to come.
In the meantime, I’m going to head out and enjoy this unseasonable heat wave we’ve been experiencing here in Michigan this past week. Middle of March, and I already was forced to turn on the air conditioner in my office last night. Wonder what we’ve got in store for us once summer gets here?
Had a busy musical weekend, drove down to Chicago to hear my son’s college combo and big band play with Benny Golson on Friday night, and Sunday morning, played some Irish music with a small pickup group for a local nondenominational church’s service, and then on Saturday did some recording for the upcoming JJHD cd (and a lot of mixing over Saturday and Sunday), which we are hoping to have completed by the middle of April.

Treading Lightly

Baker Book House, Barrons


Finished up the last of the ‘Amish Girls’ illustrations this week. It has been about 4 solid months where I’ve had one or another book project on the daily docket, so it is with mixed emotions that I face the remainder of March (how appropriate that the ‘ides’ were yesterday). I had a quick turnaround illustration for the Journal this morning, which is a hopeful sign (pictured above), and I’ve got a few future projects in the works, but after last summer, I can’t help but feel a little apprehensive.

More Amish Girls

Baker Book House


Continuing this week to work through the series of ‘Amish Girl’ interior illustrations for a book project. Should have this finished up by tomorrow. I remember what a hard time I had getting started on these, mostly because it felt like a very alien style to me, but once I got through 4 or 5 of them, I managed to find my footing, and I started getting more relaxed about it. It is going to be weird now not having these on the daily docket anymore (at least until book 2).



Got a call yesterday regarding a new and unusual project from a new client. It’s a local firm, so I’ll be putting on the suit and heading out for a ‘face to face meeting’ (first time in probably 15 years I’ve had to do this). Also, they’d like to see ‘printed samples’, so I guess I’ll also be digging some of those out of mothballs as well (I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to show a portfolio). More details later in the week or possibly next week.