Work in Progress: the Evil Queen

This one ties together the other two work-in-progress sketches. You guessed it, Snow White. Although anyone who's gone through this blog knows I don't need much incentive to do fairy tale art, the TV show Once Upon A Time inspired this one. Her outfit is an homage to the one on the show.

If you're into the fairy tale thing, I recommend the show. Highly. Really a lot of fun.

It appears to be Snow White's time to shine - there are two movies based on her coming out in the not-too-distant future. Mirror, Mirror looks pretty fluffy, but Snow White and the Huntsman is one I'll be at opening night given the chance. Now there's a villain who deserves the evil in her title. In the trailer, the Evil Queen is not just bad, she's Sauron! Gotta see that one.


Making Glad the Heart of a Small Child

This is for my 4-year-old daughter, whose favorite book is Trina Schart Hyman's Saint George and the Dragon. And those who know me know I couldn't be happier about it – get the young dragonslayer started early. Besides, it's a great book with great art.

Anyway, the only downside is the book is a little long for a single night's reading (unless she starts going to bed waaaay early. Hold on a second, that doesn't sound so bad! Let me enjoy that thought for a moment... wait, where was I?). So she asked me to make her a knight bookmark. This is my rough sketch, but a tight one, so I printed these out for her so she could color it herself. And also for her brother and sister, because I know if I come home with one thing for one kid... well, those of you with children know where that one's going.


Work In Progress: Apple Tree

Another part of the larger drawing, to go with the cauldron.


Work In Progress: Cauldron

One part of what is turning out to be a much larger scene. More to come!


The Jungle Explorers - 3

The next page – just a couple of the evil King's cronies.


Solar Compactor Graphic

Whenever I walk around downtown, I always see BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors. They're a really great idea - they smush the trash and use their own energy to do it. The only thing that bugs me about them is the graphic on the sides, which looks like this:

Intellectually, I know that the cut-out is supposed to show the difference between the shirt and the pants. But even so, I can't help seeing it like this:

Maybe it's just me.


My Daughter's First Monster King (snif)

Another one from my daughter's story. And I'm proud that she felt the need to include a Monster King, and even that she made it her own by calling him the "King of the Monsters." I've had two Monster Kings on this blog already, so I'm happy to see her keeping up the family tradition! I... I promised myself I wouldn't cry...

Some of the king's cronies can also be seen on the Dribbble post. They'll be showing up in later pages.


The Jungle Explorers - 2

The first page of my daughter's book. I'm planning on doing all the pages like this - bright, flat colors, to make the characters pop.

When I started, I thought I would have all this wrapped up in a week. It seems she's quite the writer - to do it justice, there will be pages and pages of illustrations. Maybe I should encourage her to write haiku.




Here's a sample screen I did for a hypothetical educational game. The first one is the artwork alone, and the second is how it would look with the questions.


The Jungle Explorers - 1

These are drawings that I'm doing for a story written by my 4-year old. Yes, 4. And writing probably isn't the right word; I was the scribe on this one. But she made it all up.

I had initially intended to illustrate a story I had written for her (it's about time for me to start on the kids' Christmas book, after all). But I was so taken with what she made up that I had to do this one first.

Part of this is also posted on dribbble.com - they like it when people re-link to them, so as more of these go up I'll put links to there as well.

You'll notice that the squirrels and acorns are happy together. My daughter seems to think that the two of them are friends. I don't have the heart to tell her it's more of a one-way relationship.


Rocket for Rocket

My youngest daughter, who dubbed herself Rocket, just turned 4 yesterday. I painted her this as her present. I was afraid she wouldn't be as interested in a picture (compared to things like games), but when I gave it to her, she hugged it! So I guess she liked it.


Birthday Card

Or rather, e-card, since I put this up on the screen for my wife to see when she opened the computer.

We went on a cruise this summer, and it was great. So great, in fact, that we all wish we were back on it. While I couldn't do that, at least I could draw it!


The Big Bad

This is something I did for my daughter's Lunch Notes, but, like the snailephant, I wanted to put it up here as well.

Seems like there's always a Monster King around when I get to telling adventures. For the Piggie story, there was a fuzzy Monster King. For the mermaid story, there's this scaly insectoid one. But every rollicking yarn needs a good Bad Guy.


The Snailephant

My daughter's teacher wanted me to read my lunch note story (well, part anyway – it's pretty long) for her class, and talk about what it's like working as an illustrator. That gave me an excuse to do a finished drawing of the characters, as well as the snailephant in all its glory (or repugnance, depending on your opinion of snails and/or elephants). The story arc for this part starts here.

It went over well in the class. The kids asked a lot of questions about drawing and writing, which is what the teacher was hoping for. Also, I made print-outs of this for the class to hand out, but the kids got so excited about it that the teacher asked if she could pass them out at the end of the day instead.

That's the kind of feedback illustrators love – my art will cause chaos! Totally made my day.


"The Magicians" by Lev Grossman - Again!

A while ago, I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman, and liked the imagery so much that I did a drawing from it. I sent it off to the web site of the books, just to see what would happen, and put it out of my mind.

Later, much to my surprise, Lev Grossman emailed me. He said he liked the Pauline Baynes-inspired style of it, and asked if he could post it on his blog. Naturally, I said yes – I was more than happy for him to do so, especially since I had drawn it just for fun. I didn't think anyone (outside of the wonderful people who read my blog, that is) would ever see it. Here's the link to the page (although it's the exact same image. It's just cool for me to see it on the author's blog).

While you're there, check out the rest of his blog – he's got cover art up for his upcoming sequel The Magician King, both the US and the UK versions. Cool stuff – the art for each is really good.


Heracles and the Sea Serpent: The Rescue of Hesione

This is my second drawing for Mosaic Medley (the subject being anything to do with water this time). I almost didn't get it done in time, and in fact was planning on doing a different drawing. I thought I'd do my first final drawing of Cecilia the mermaid from my Lunch Note Project. But in doodling to come up with a composition, I ended up drawing Prince Jason battling a sea monster, which morphed into Heracles battling a sea serpent instead. Sooner or later my mind always ends up back at mythology.

For those who know about Heracles' Twelve Labors, this is a side story – or rather, a side story from that side story. Before Heracles could finish all his labors (which, incidentally, would make him a god when he finished), he heard about the Quest for the Golden Fleece, and decided there was no way he was passing this up. This was supposed to be lead by Jason, a favorite of the goddess Hera. The same Hera who was busy trying to kill Heracles with the Labors, for the completely understandable reason that he was her husband's son by another woman. So the last thing Hera wanted was Heracles joining her pet project.

Naturally, all the other heroes are delighted to have Heracles on board, and just as naturally Hera wants him dead even more than before. So en route she sabotages her own mission by having giant six-armed monsters come and attack the Argo (the very ship they need to get the Golden Fleece) simply because the rest of the Argonauts left Heracles to defend it.

This, of course, doesn't work – Heracles manages to take out all the giants and look even more amazing than he did before. This amazing streak continues even after Hera finally manages to get Heracles off the Fleece project and back to the regular way she was trying to destroy him.

What relates to this drawing is the fact that Hera's method never worked. Why? Because this is the side story to the Fleece side story. On the way, Heracles learns that Hesione, the daughter of Troy's tightwad King Laomedon, is to be sacrificed to a sea serpent for some particular bit of double-dealing by her father. So as a fun side project, he decides to take on the monster.

If that's his idea of fun, you can see why Hera was totally on the wrong track.

Another person on the wrong track was Laomedon, but more on that in a bit. The monster comes, and Heracles blasts it with arrows. This has absolutely no effect whatsoever. Just when it looks like Heracles is doomed, and the serpent darts in to swallow him whole, he picks up a giant rock and bashes the monster's head in. Just like that.

Where Laomedon goes wrong is by not learning his lesson and continuing to be a cheapskate. The rescue fee was to be some quality horses, to be picked up at a later date. Having been threatened with divine wrath once, and barely getting away with it, you'd think Laomedon would have the horses all packaged up with nice big bows. But no, he decides to cheat Heracles out of them, or, in other words, cheat the guy strong enough to divert divine wrath.

The outcome is hardly a surprise – Troy is sacked by Heracles and his 18 ships (or even, in earlier versions, 6), Laomedon is killed, and Priam is made king in the aftermath. The same Priam that is king during the big Trojan War. In fact, one of Agamemnon's captains is a son of Heracles, who can't help but point out that dear old dad managed to do with 6 ships what Agamemnon hasn't been able to accomplish with 1,000.

On a final note, Hesione stands out for me as one of the smartest people in all of Greek mythology. After her rescue, when asked if she wanted to go with Heracles or back to her family, she immediately opted for Heracles. Sure, she got saved this time, but if her own father is ready to sacrifice her every time he sees a chance to save some cash, she'd be better off high-tailing it out of Troy. And Heracles wed her to one of his heroes, so she got the happy ever after. Unlike just about everyone else in the city of Troy.


The Wholly Inaccurate Valentine

So I discovered the perfect Valentine's Day gift for my wife. When I ordered it, though, the site indicated that I was way late to receive it in time for the holiday. Undaunted, I made that my idea for the holiday card. Inside, I wrote "Cupid: Great at inspiring men to lifelong love. Not so good at getting them to order mail on time."

However, by the time that was all finished, not only had the present come in the mail but she had opened it! Since I wasn't expecting it, I hadn't warned her off any packages. In other words, it not only got there on time, she saw it even earlier. Hence the completely wrong Valentine, without time to draw a different one!


New Sketchbook 3: the other daughter's request

My oldest daughter wanted me to draw a picture of her. I like doing that – she's old enough to sit still, and I get practice doing faces.

With this one, it looks like her – three years ago. I guess parents really do think of their children as little, even when they're still little. Either that, or my ability to shave years off a subject when drawing them means I will have an incredibly lucrative portrait business.


New Sketchbook 2: a son's request

The kids have pillow pets – if you don't have kids, you may not have heard of them. If you do, you've probably heard (like us) the theme song sung repeatedly: "It's a pillow! It's a pet! It's a PILLOW PET!" All three kids have one.

Gavin's is a bee, so he asked me to draw a picture of him as a bee. But then he said to add a beehive. Then honey pots. The guy knows what he wants in a drawing.

I offered to color it for him, but he said he wanted it as a coloring page. So I decided to not only oblige him, but see if I could make a downloadable coloring page for the site. Here it is, and maybe this will be the first in a series of coloring pages – especially if they keep giving me requests!

One other thing – after I drew it, I remembered from a while back that Bee Movie had the main character in a turtleneck. Just to make sure, I looked it up – he does wear one, but they look quite different. I thought about changing it anyway, except that we live in New England. I haven't seen Gavin without a turtleneck in months, so it was only natural to draw him that way.


Mosaic Medley - my entry

A friend of mine is starting a themed illustration site. I'd explain it, but I'd only be reiterating what she already said, so click here to go there. It also has submission info, if anyone's interested!

The theme for this first one is snow. As a person who lives in New England, this is about what I feel the clouds are doing to us. Deliberately. With a smirk on their faces.

On the other hand, though, just driving around makes me feel like I'm in the first Star Wars movie. The plowed snow banks are so high that it looks like I'm flying in the channel to destroy the Death Star. All I need are some Tie Fighters (or, conversely, a better grasp of reality) and I'm all set.


A New Sketchbook, and a Daughter's Request

Been off this blog for a while (although I've been keeping up with the lunch notes). The main reason is that I've been working on something, potentially for a publisher, so I can't post anything yet for copyright reasons – not a bad thing. But, in the meantime, I finally broke in the new sketchbook that Santa dropped off in my stocking this year. While I was sketching, my three-year-old asked me to do a drawing of a ghost. After I did that, she asked for a scared dog. How can you say no to a three-year-old? Well, in a case that doesn't involve running with scissors or playing with Mr. Wall Socket, that is.

After, she asked me to draw the "dog rectangles." It took me a while to figure out what she meant, but I eventually realized she was talking about the thick dashed motion lines from the Frog Prince book I did for her. So the second one is the dog running away, rectangle style.


WooHoo! It's posted!

My Ginger Scallion fish recipe is up on They Draw and Cook! I'd post the image, but it's better to see it in situ. Click here to go there.

Happy New Year, everyone!