Above are the monthly quota of ‘health care’ spots for the Wall Street Journal, a weekly gig that I’ve been doing for the past few years. The topics were ‘cellulite removal’, ‘bowel pain’, ‘bad breath’ and ‘wart removal’ (a pleasant assortment this month, to be sure). Plus I had the usual assortment of small black and white spots, usually a weekend chart accompaniment illustration, like the piece on ‘building a portfolio’, and the ‘keeping a lid on interest rates’ piece both pictured below.
And for the same client, I also had a few larger spot illustrations, like the piece below on regulating the ‘fat cats’, and the piece below that, which had something to do with the Chinese economy.
For the Chronicle of Higher Education, I had a pair of illustrations that would bookend an article about ‘internet miscommunications’. I don’t normally relish drawing computers and electronic devices, but I try to have fun with them whenever the situation arises, putting in a plug for macs when possible (looks like my old imac that the fellah is using). These two turned out quite fun, both from a simplicity standpoint, and in the colors I chose to use.
Also, for the same client I had another spot illustration in September. This one also featured a computer, a laptop this time, probably a story about ‘ebooks’ or something. I used a technique for the first time here (which I used again on another project this month), where I use a subtle ‘yellow glow’ around the outside of an illustration that has a plain white background. This serves to help ‘pop’ the black linework a little bit against the background. I’ve used it subsequently a few other times since, but not to the point where I’ve overused the effect.
Another favorite piece that I did in ’03 was this pair of illustrations for Cricket magazine. This was a story about a female native american scout who rescues another woman and her child (from what, I don’t quite remember). I used a technique that I don’t quite remember where I picked up from (probably saw it being used by another illustrator in a book somewhere), where I put a subtle yellow glow around the outside of the scratchboard boundary (when the background is ‘white’) as a way of helping ‘pop’ the illustration out of the page. I particularly liked how the horse turned out in this opening illustration. Horses are not my strong suit, and I always consider them a challenge whenever I’m asked to draw them. I’m not quite as familiar with their anatomy, and it takes a bit more research than normal to get them to turn out right.
I also had a chance to pull the ‘digital pastels’ out of mothballs this month for an assignment for Christian Home & School magazine. This story was about a ‘guitar’ given as a gift at christmas (I don’t remember why there is another one hidden under the couch). This was a fun one to do, on a personal level, because my favorite gift I received when I was a kid, was a ‘harmony sovereign’ guitar from my Uncle that was a big influence on my life. So I used that guitar as the model for the guitar in the picture, and also included some other personal touches, like the color of the couch and shag carpeting, which was the color scheme in our 1970s ranch house living room where I grew up (the living room/dining room layout that we see is also quite similar to how our house was arranged). Looking back at this illustration now, however, I am struck by how much love and attention I paid to the guitar, and probably skimped a little on the shadows underneath the case and wrapping paper, and the background details.
And then, for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone), I had my regular ‘puzzle page’ assignment. This was a story problem involving a mouse detective.
A large full color piece for Newsday, that I chose to treat a bit more ‘realistically’ than usual, gave me a chance to work with a ‘faux oils’ technique that I’ve been toying with. I leaned heavily on reference materials for the statue, but used much more liberal color choices in the rendering than the reference material provided. I felt this piece turned out quite nice, and so I tried to apply the same techniques to another assignment for the same client later in the month. This one didn’t turn out quite so well. Looking back, I think it was because I used a much better range of colors above, going from solid blacks to solid whites which really helped the statue pop out of the background, and below I just seem to be using a lot of mid tones and what I end up with, although rendered nicely, is a muddy, flat image. (the piece above was for the upcoming’ emmy nominations, and the piece below was something about retirement)
The two pieces above and below, for the same client during this month, have a similar story. The above was a quick one day illustration, something about the 9/11 memorial. I thought I came up with a rather simple and clean concept, and rendered it well, using nice solid black areas to contrast with the white and offwhite areas of the grass and tarp. The piece below, a lifestyle section piece about siblings, was a longer deadline, and in color, and I thought the concept was weaker (I’ve done these sort of ‘back to back’ ideas before), and the colors, rather than enhancing the design and layout, actually served to muddy the whole thing up. Not exactly a bad illustration, but nothing particularly inspiring either. Some solid white areas, perhaps in the clothing, would have helped give this a bit more ‘umph’.
For the same client (busy month for them in September), I also had a piece on telecommunications developments, where how in the future, your television signal, internet and telephone service may one day all come from the same company. I chose to do this one in more of a ‘cartoon’ style, due to the subject matter (sticking a dog into the picture will usually dictate this), and I notice that I’ve included my old dog ‘Dinky’ in this one (he had passed away the previous spring). Another piece for a different magazine client below, also utilized the cartoon style, but with this one, I went into a bit more detail with the colors and shading.
I also had a few ‘oddball’ assignments from a pair of new clients this month. The caricature to the left was for the University of Missouri, but I’m afraid I don’t remember who the subject was, either an author, or someone who was involved with the University. I believe this was the second similar assignment I had done for this client. I also had a large full page illustration for Strategic Finance magazine, in which I remember using myself as a model, asking my wife to take a few snapshots in this unusual pose. Looking back on it, I really liked the layout, but I think I goofed up as far as color choices for the background ‘tent’ ceiling. (but I’m not sure what would have worked better, maybe something more muted would have helped the character pop out more).