Archive for the ‘illustration’ Category


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A few more rescue scans of stuff headed to the recycle bins.

I often really like a small, quick sketches on a page of a sketch book. Sometimes it wasn’t even the focus of what I was doing on that page.



I like ‘rough’ art. The mistakes, the signs of struggle. The coincidence. I’ve always like the improvisational aspects of work in a sketchbook.




Below are rough page layouts and character designs for a counting book I did. This never sold, but I created a dummy from it that I showed in my portfolio until I had published work.


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I’ve been cleaning out my studio. And filling the recycle bin. Filling and refilling the recycle bin. Wow.

Animation timing sheets and countless reams of old drawings have been collecting dust for too long. I saved a few things and scanned a few others. I spent hours going through character designs from old animation projects, odds and ends from sketchbooks (I was keeping way too many old sketchbooks for some reason), life drawings and random pieces that were no doubt the start of something great, 18 years ago…. I pulled out a book dummy or two. But I must have thrown out at least 80 pounds of paper. It will take two or three weeks to get it all in the recycle bin.3

You can’t keep it all. You just can’t. As I finish all my work digitally now the only physically tangible aspects of a project in progress I have are sketches and roughs. These past 10 years I have held onto way too much.


I’ll post a few scans of stuff along the way.

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I’ve backed a few Kickstarters in my time (Can one use it as a verb?). Not a lot. But a few. I’ve never been directly involved or even tangentially involved as a Kickstartee. I don’t think I have the energy to oversee all the aspects of it.

Well, I’m NOT directly involved in this one either, but Noah Hall  & Whiskey Priest’s new album has a Kickstarter and you can get some cool shirts and art in addition to the CD.

I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks now and the songs have dug deep into my mind. Great stuff in the tradition of Elliott Smith or Nick Drake (at least I think so).

And yes, the artwork on the CD is by me. It was a great opportunity to do something different. Some drawing, some painting some collage. Yeah, that’s what I do.  The designer worked wonders with it and I am very pleased.

Head over to the page and give the samples a listen. And if you have been looking for a Kickstarter to get involved with – make it this one. And get a great CD and some cool extras.

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I was recently asked about my ‘career’ by someone interested in writing and illustrating books.

I still have a difficult time saying this is my ‘career’. I have worked as an art director, character designer, UI designer, graphic designer, producer, product manager, creative director…the list is long. I’m not sure how good I was at any of those jobs. And I’m not sure my career path can even be called a career path. It was more off-roadin’ until I got somewhere I wanted to stay awhile. But, I  believe all these professional experiences have helped shape who I am as a writer and artist and created good work habits in me.

But about writing and/or drawing books -

It is not a job where you get promotions and yearly reviews or daily meetings.

It is not a job where you can get ahead by (saying this nicely) becoming involved in someone else’s project.

Response to your work can be fickle. No one knows what will resonate with the public at large. Though some have slightly better luck in guessing.

Working from home takes a lot of focus and I hate to say it, discipline. You must have the ability to push chores aside – or you spend your whole day cleaning and walking the dogs (and posting to your blog) and get no work done.

It is a job for those who like to spend time alone. If you need social contact you will have to cultivate that.

For me it is a job where one day I am happy with my work, the next I want to repaint everything I did.

It’s not for people who can’t take rejection. Maybe it’s just me but I spend more of my time with rejections that acceptance letters.

There is no one path to ‘get there’. And there is no cleared path to where it will take you.

Everyone who manages to be involved in it seems to have come to the work by different means. I know some people who were offered work the first time (yes, the first time!) they showed their portfolio. I know people who were rejected repeadtedly by agents and worked  years to get offered a book.

Writing a a good picture book is as much work as writing any other book. Picture books aren’t ‘easy’ because they have fewer words. The people who make it look easy are just really, really, really good at writing picture books.

It’s the best job in the world when it’s not being the worst job in the world.

But it’s not what most people think it is. And I love it.

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accI joined Adobe’s new Pay Monthly scheme. I had a ‘deal’ that ran out in 2013, it saved me like 20 bucks a month. I’ve put it off for a year and finally decided to try it. I’ll let you know how I like it.

If you’re not familiar with what I am talking about let me tell you about Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Adobe now sells access to ALL their apps for $50.00 a month or $30.00 (for one year) if you had a previous Production Bundle. So you pay a monthly fee for access to ALL of their apps. Which they claim they even update (debug) more often now. It also includes a lot of apps I will never open.

But it’s not a horrible deal, unless of course you get to a point where you don’t want to pay a monthly fee (or can’t afford to), but all your files are in the Adobe formats, then if you don’t keep paying I guess you are out of luck.

On the other hand, if you were buying the production bundle every two years, that was $1,500 or more.

All in all if Adobe actually spends time updating their apps instead of building new installs, I’d be happy I guess. But Adobe has really been nothing but disappointment for the past 15 years or so. Buggy apps, unsupported formats, they were late to support OSX with Photoshop, and generally it’s a company that seems to offer very little to its customers. Now I have no choice but to use Adobe products. I know them, I’ve used them for many, many years. I generally like them. Yet, I have no positive feeling for the company. And I use their software EVERY DAY to do my work. All my books are drawn and painted in Photoshop and sometimes Illustrator. I animate in After Effects. I edit sound in Audition and before that SoundBooth and I use InDesign for all my layout and ebook designs. So what went wrong?

Maybe it was how little effort they seemed to put into upgrades. Maybe it was how Adobe tried to force Flash on everyone, everywhere. Maybe it was how they reacted when Steve Jobs very clearly pointed out the shortcomings of Flash on mobile. Or maybe just how buggy much of what they shipped was.

But here I am shipping some dollars to them every month. I guess they win. You don’t need to like ‘em. Just pay ‘em.

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They say the Inuit have a thousand words for snow. Here in Oregon I’ve learned to draw rain in a thousand different ways.

And ducks. See it bigger by clicking on it. Or not.


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Missed it.

Here’s a quick painting. When we get down, or depressed we tend to miss things. Sometimes big, interesting things. It’s rainy season here in Oregon. Have to be careful not to get down and miss what’s happening out a different window..so to speak.


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I’m fortunate to be taking part in a children’s book illustration show at the Multnomah County Library in December! This is sponsored by The SCBWI an organization I have been a member of since 1932. OK. That’s not true. It was about 1950 I joined…OK, OK not true. But I have been a member since the 20th century. That I can say.

I think there are 11 or 12 illustrators in the show and there is an opening reception where the illustrators fight it out with pencils until there’s only one illustrator left standing. Then we all have tea.

Wait. That’s not right. But there is an opening reception on Saturday, December 21st from noon-2. Stop by and ask if Dr.Seuss is there and say hi to all the local illustrators taking part.

The show looks at the work that goes into making a book. So we will have sketches and development work on display as well as some finished art.

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This is more ‘story-booky’ than I usually do. It’s inspired from less a kids book than a short story I was playing around with. But now I really do need to get back to deadline work. So much for letting my creative side run amok. Click on it to make it bigger.


Not a cat, a bear or a lion. He’s just Mr. Rare to you and I.

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