Building Writing Skills 2

Instructional Fair



I had two book projects for Instructional Fair in 2001, “Building Writing Skills 1” and “Building Writing Skills 2”. Both were very heavy on the art, with something like 140 spot illustrations each. The challenging part of it was that there were a lot of odd spaces to fill in the layout, and many of the spaces were long horizontals along the bottoms of the pages. I think the challenge was good for my creativity, as I ended up with a lot of cute pieces in this project, especially the long horizontals. In the past I’ve only shared a few samples from this book, but I am going back and reposting each book in its entirety (writing this in 2018). So, anyways, here are the illustrations for “Building Writing Skills 2” for the first time in almost twenty years.

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Tiny Cartoons

Instructional Fair, Oxendine

I got a lot of practice drawing tiny little cartoons in August of ’01. The six illustrations above were for a college lifestyles magazine, and were a regular ‘factoid’ feature that I was contributing to for this magazine for many years.
Also this month I had a huge assignment of tiny black and white spot cartoons for a local children’s publisher. About 170 of these small illustrations would be liberally sprinkled among the text of this ‘writing workshop’ book. The sizes varied, a lot of them were long horizontals, and a few were larger and more intricate. I did so many of these, and so quickly, that I barely even remember drawing many of them, and while I was going through the files, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

These illustrations here are just a sampling of the many illustrations that I did for this project. Unfortunately I don’t remember what kind of contract I signed with these projects, so I doubt if these are available as reprint material, although it wouldn’t be too hard to rework or revise them into something new and different.

I remember these projects as being very time consuming, but they were invaluable practice at refining my cartoon style and in learning to simplify my concepts down to their bare bones.

Change of Pace Time

Carus Publishing, Newsday, Strang Publications, US Catholic

In order to break the monotony of a fairly busy month of cartoons and scratchboard illustrations, I approached a few projects with an attitude of experimentation. I did a few ‘pastel’ illustrations for my east coast newspaper client this month. One of them about a Brooklyn Writers colony (above), and another one about split personality (below). Still using a bit too much purple in my color palatte I see.

The above illustration was for a southern evangelical magazine client. I’d done quite a bit of work for them in the early 90s, but the assignments grew less and less frequent over the years. This was one of the rare digital images I created for them. Working in a ‘oil pastel’ medium to emulate a painting style (the ‘brushes’ were still a bit intimidating to me around this time), I’m still struggling with this style of work, putting too much dark and detail into the background and leaving the foreground character kind of sketchy and indistinct, mistakes I hopefully wouldn’t make in the future.

For my children’s magazine client this month, I had a map of the Dead Sea area. This was one of my favorite maps of the year, having a lot of fun with the desert terrain. I ended up using this one on a ‘compilation postcard’ a couple years later.

I also had a couple color cartoon assignments this month, where I mixed up the usual ‘colorization’ technique a bit to add some special effects. For instance in the ‘chalkboard’ in the ‘teacher’ illustration below for a catholic publication, and in the ‘mona lisa’ images in the ‘puzzle page’ illustration below that.

Golf Poster

Gary Player Group, Legal Times, National Auctioneer, Newsday

I received an unusual assignment this month from a golf tournament organization. This was a combination dual portrait of one of the famous golfers from the tour, and of the South African president who the tournament was named for, and of the setting of the tournament. This one made me very uncomfortable to work on, because I felt I was in way over my head with the assignment. A lot larger than I am used to working, full color, which I don’t quite feel confident at yet, and involving a bit of architectural rendering, which always makes me nervous. Managed to pull it off to the client’s satisfaction, although looking back on it, I dont’ like how much purple I once again used in my color scheme. (seems to be a recurring problem this year).

In contrast to all the wonderfully loose and creative cartoons I was doing for the educational publisher this month, all the scratchboards this month seem rather stiff and lifeless. The illustration above was for a legal newspaper, and I don’t quite remember the story angle. Some unusual treatment for the background on this one, and it does seem to help the foreground characters pop a bit more.

A special interest magazine who I’d been doing a bit of work for lately handed me another color cover illustration, this one involving a ‘house auction’. Architecture is not my strong suit, unless I have some good photo reference to go from, and even then, I haven’t quite worked out the best techniques for showing the different building materials effectively. I once again went to the purple crayon box for this one, and lightened up the background details in order to help with the depth of field. Not bad, but looks a bit stiff and lifeless, as if you can tell how uncomfortable I was in drawing it.

For my east coast newspaper client this month, in addition to the ‘pastels’ mentioned in another entry, I also had a pair of scratchboards depicting the democratic donkey and republican elephant, playing around with oversized abacus’s. No doubt this had something to do with each party’s outlook on either the budget or accounting principals.

Black and White Scratchings

ChronicleHE, Newsday, WSJ

The above small spot illustration was for my national newspaper client, and was probably my favorite black and white scratchboard of the month, oddly enough. Like I mentioned in one of the other entries this month, I felt that the cartoon work I was doing for the educational publishing project this month was much more spontaneous and full of life, while the scratchboards, in contrast, seem rather stiff and too tightly controlled.

The piece above was for my educational publication client, and had something to do with paying for college no doubt. The illustration to the left was for the same client in August, and was probably something to do with online universities, or web access at college, something along those lines.

The above illustration was another for my national newspaper client, although I don’t quite remember what the angle of the story was.

Below is another for the same client. Ug. Not my best piggy bank, to be sure.

Below is an illustration for my east coast newspaper client. I don’t quite remember what this one was about.