Map Making

A recent illustration assignment had me creating two maps of the Hartford and New Haven areas of Connecticut. They were to showcase special places of interest and not really to be used for travel, Google maps and Siri are good for that. I don’t think it would be good advice to make a left at the big onion, go past Mark Twain and make a right to get to the fishing hole. That was part of the fun, not having to be exact with placement, close enough was good enough. The other fun part was using the limited palette of color. Once again making it easier but harder at the same time. The use of the white of the paper is always challenging and my early use of watercolor helps with this. This area of the country is steeped with history. In Avon,CT the oldest continuously active mounted calvary in the U.S. is the First Company Governors Horse Guards. Organized in 1778, they escorted Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary War.  Simsbury, CT is home to largest tree in Connecticut, the Pinchot Sycamore, gathering place for the town. In Ansonia, the longest high school football rivalry has been going on since 1895 between Ansonia and Naugatuck High School. The game is played every Thanksgiving Day and is attended by crowds of up to 10,000 fans. The record stands at 68-34-10 with Ansonia in the lead.

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Growing family bonds.

Just finished a few spots for a newspaper about family, how the structure has changed over the years, living arrangements and one short story about family activities and specifically having a family garden. So this what I came up with. We had a garden when I was a kid, I hated working in it, felt like I was in a chain gang, pulling weeds, picking rocks and fighting bugs under a sweltering sun, but I decided not to go in that direction for the illustration. This was done in Illustrator and then brought in to Photoshop to finish it up.

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Play Ball!!

Baseball has come again and we will see how our beloved Pittsburgh Pirates do this season. Go Bucs!  But I thought this was a good time to post a photo of the only signed baseball in my collection. It’s very rare, could be the rarest signed baseball ever. The idea for this came to me one day and I just cracked up thinking about it, so I had to create one. The fact that baseball was not even invented yet makes it so funny. The most recognized signature juxtaposed on an object it has no relevance to. I love it! I am personally signing these and would be happy to sell them. Just contact me.

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Sleeping on the job.

Early in my career I did a lot of self promotion mailers. With the help of my lovely wife and sometimes the kids, we would fold, stamp and address thousands of pieces. Whenever I would put on an address I would look at the Art Directors name and the publication and hope to work with someone so notable. One of these reoccurring names was Pamela Budz at Barron’s magazine. Every time I did a mailing I would see her name.  Nothing.  But you have to keep putting your work out there and never give up, never surrender. A few years of this went by and one day the phone rang, “Hello, this is Pamela Budz from Barron’s.” and of course I reply, “I’ve been waiting for your call.” I don’t think that was what she thought I would say, but it turned out to be a nice illustration job that turned into a few more, and to this day I still work with Barron’s and always enjoy getting their call. Recently I was asked to illustrate a story that was about a government financial security agency who was not doing their job in protecting people. The idea of a sleeping watchdog was agreed upon and I did a few sketches. The first one was a go, so I finished it up and sent it in, and right now it is being printed and distributed all over the world. The whole process for this assignment was about 16 hours. Maybe that’s why they have continued to call me all these years. Thanks Barron’s and thanks Pamela for that first phone call.

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What you don’t draw is just as important.

I have been enjoying the process of silk screening for the past few years. And I love the results. But thinking in layers and using limited colors has helped with my illustrations. Another thing that has evolved in my work is the line work, or lack of. Instead of drawing everything, I try to use color shapes and negative space to create the image.Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.31.50 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.48.52 AM

Here is a nice example of that. The arm that cuts across her top is not drawn at all, besides the lines for her fingers, nothing is there except the red on either side, creating the illusion of an arm, then your mind finishes the rest. Having fewer colors and lines makes it somewhat easier, but at the same time much more difficult. Finding the right puzzle piece and placing it the right place, when there is no picture to look at, except for the one in my head.

Henry. The best dog ever.

March 3,2015. This morning we lost our beloved Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.44.36 AM A gentle soul that enriched our lives so much. Patricia and I and our family were so lucky to have him in our pack. I’ve often told the story of how Henry came to be with us. January 2005, Lucy was 4 and not willing to give up her binky. We asked what it would take and she said a puppy. I started looking and saw an ad in the Pennysaver. I called the number and the kind woman said she drives to West Virginia and saves puppies from being put down, brings them here and finds homes for them. She had a litter of 15 puppies on this trip. I told the family I was going to the grocery store but instead went to see them. In her basement was a penned area where all 15 puppies were huddled together in a heap of fur. How do you choose one? Then it came to me, I merely whistled, like you would call a dog. This little bundle of black and white fur popped out from the group and ran towards me. “That’s the one.” I said. So small, maybe 6 weeks old. I brought him home and everyone was so excited. Lucy promptly kept her promise, took her binky out and gave it to our new little baby, Henry. He grew and grew and grew, and with all the love we had for him he then grew a little more. He was such a wonderful dog, so handsome, we often referred to him as ‘regal’, and always by our side, always. Thank you Henry for being part of our lives. We love you Henry, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Handmade Through Technology

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I love silk screening and the look of uneven coverage of color and texture. I have been working in Adobe Illustrator and enjoy the shapes I can create but was always looking for another dimension to it. With a few tips from some artist friends I was able to get the look I was searching for. Utilizing Illustrator and then bringing it into Photoshop and with the use of layers and brushes and opacity I am now bringing my work closer to what I see in my head. I tried it out with a great client, The Hartford Courant. The story was about bad bosses and how your health is actually affected by it. Thanks George.

Art Cat To Get Facelift.

About 15 years ago, The Carnegie Museum of Art and the wonderful Creative Director of the design firm of Red House Communications asked me to help create a mascot for the museum that could help communicate to the kids as well as bring some fun throughout the museums publications and programs. Art Cat was created and has done his job well all this time. Kids have grown to love him, and with a wonderful puppet that was made, were able to interact with him. Here I am getting a selfie with Art Cat himself.Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.24.54 PM

One of the main features of his look was the letter C around his eye, mimicking the museums logo at that time. Well the logo has changed, and artist look of Art Cat has become a little too stereotypical. So I was called in again to help with a new look and personality of Art Cat. I am very excited to be associated with such a beloved character and am looking forward to the next generation. I will keep this post updated as it proceeds.

After many sketches and tweaks, the new and improved Carnegie Museum ArtCat is here!

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1969 Sonor Teardrop Restoration

The Sonor drum company of Germany has been making some of the best looking and sounding drums in the world since the late 1800′s. My favorite era is from the 1960′s where they used a beautiful lug design referred to as teardrops. I was fortunate enough to find a neglected kit for a very nice price consisting of a 20″ bass, 13″ and 16″ toms, also in the deal was a snare, a 1950′s WFL Speed King pedal and some assorted cheap cymbals and hardware.

The kit seemed to have its wrap taken off and then painted with a dull brown enamel. I have no idea what wrap it could have been, they had some very cool ones though. Luckily it was a thin layer of paint and should be easy to remove. The hardware was all there, except for replacement hoops on bottoms of the toms and the bass. Re-wrapping it would have been costly and probably not see a return in value for that, so I opted to remove the paint , stain it with a darker richer color and seal it. Sonor is known for some wonderful wood veneer drums, especially their Rosewood. So I was still keeping with the time period.

The process proceeded as most of my projects. Take all the hardware off each drum, making sure to keep parts organized. I then started sanding them down, they are thin shells made of beech, so I had to be careful and not put too much pressure on them. After they were free of most of the paint I wiped them clean with mineral spirits and got ready to stain them. I created small crosses of cardboard to keep them elevated and using a foam brush applied one thin but generous coat. Making sure it was consistent all around. I actually used a rosewood stain, but the deepest hue I could find. They didn’t look like much when raw, but after the stain went on the grain of the wood just popped. The pattern on the floor tom is just exquisite. Let them dry for a day, and applied a satin polyurethane. After drying for another day I sanded them with 000 sandpaper and applied another thin coat, this happened 3 times. I used a brush and was not thoroughly happy with it, next time i will try a foam roller. In the drying time the hardware was polished and ready. The drums were put back together and new heads put on. This drum kit is wonderful! They look sharp and they are the best sounding drums I have. I recently added the Aquarin head to the front of the bass drum with a port hole for easier micing of the drum. The logo is for The Chalk Outlines, just put on with electrical tape, easy to remove.

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Art Institute of Pittsburgh

As an alumna of A.I.P., I was thrilled to recieve a call to work on a marketing project highlighting all the great talented alumni they have produced since 1921. Going back to Howard Miller (1939) and his Rosie the Riveter, We Can Do It poster to Mark Stutzman who created the Elvis postage stamp and Frank Kelly Freas who was credited for the final design of MAD magazines Alfred E. Neuman.

The current curriculum has a wide range, from Culinary to Fashion, Interior Design, Photography, Web Design, Animation, Special Effects and so much more. They have a fantastic state of the art building with everything a creative type person can use to learn and flourish. The piece showed how the different disciplines actually work together and overlap in many instances. This was a huge amount of work, from numerous pencil sketches, changing compositions and the final art created in Adobe Illustrator had over 50 layers.

Here are some images, first the entire piece (typography not yet added), and details of some of the scenes throughout, including a portrait of a good friend and alumna Phil Wilson, who has worked on so much for Disney, numerous books and even animating a Tom Petty video.

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