Friday, June 24, 2011

Postcards from Lyon...

Vacation season has arrived. This inspired me to share some of my hand-drawn postcards. Every year I visit my daughters and their mother in Lyon, France. I love to explore the streets of this beautiful city. I sketch my observations onto blank postcards. Once I've compiled a variety of drawings, I send them to family, friends, and clients. This is one of my favorite rituals. It's gratifying to mail original artwork to the people in my life.  I hope your summer adventures are picture-perfect!

 the view from my bedroom window...

 Outdoor markets are an integral part of French culture.

This park has a nice view overlooking the city

 Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon.

Lunch hour traffic at Place Saint-Jean.

This man on the park bench perfectly echoed the sitting statue.

The Rhône region has beautiful rolling countryside.

You can see more fun sketchbook scenes here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Take the 10% Challenge!


I was thrilled to contribute drawings to a local organization, Red Hook 10% Challenge. Their mission is to educate citizens about simple ways we can reduce personal energy consumption. In this program, home-owners sign a pledge to to reduce energy usage by 10% in a year's time. Participants are encouraged to take 10 steps to help achieve this goal. Examples include carpooling, hanging a clothes-line, or using a bicycle for local transportation. Consumers benefit from these actions by saving money, and putting less strain on our shared environment.

Group coordinator, Laurie Husted, initially asked me to create 10  B & W spots to illustrate these steps.  The spot illustrations appeared on the organization's website, brochures and t-shirts. They were also the genesis for the drawings on display here.

To help publicize this program, a fabulous local cafe called Taste Budd's offered to exhibit larger color versions of these drawings. I liked the idea of working on a bigger scale, and for the opportunity to display my drawings in a great setting. 

I  tend to rely on digital tools when I put together illustrations, so this was a healthy challenge to step away from my computer. It was fun to utilize papers of various colors and textures to convey each theme. Creating these pictures reminded me how rewarding the pure physicality of drawing is. There's no substitute for the joys of connecting hand to pencil to paper!

There has been discussion about utilizing these drawings in a calender. I can imagine each image acting as a monthly reminder of  little things we can do to save money and reduce our energy dependence.

Here are examples of the original B & W drawings:

Every illustration starts with a simple thumbnail sketch...

 Every year, more towns across the United States take part in the 10% Challenge. You can find out more about my local program by visiting

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The King's Speech

Ever since President Obama entered office, much has been said about his reliance on teleprompters. So I was thrilled when John Van Cleaf at Rutgers Magazine asked me to create a drawing relating to this timely topic. The article was about  teleprompter technician, Jeff Sult,  and his experiences in this unique line of work. I was asked to come up with a witty representation of his job. It was a fun challenge to visualize a concept that's more about words than images. Of the six ideas submitted, the winning sketch set the stage (both figuratively and literally) for a drawing which gives the teleprompter an opportunity to shine.  This technician deserves an Oscar for best supporting role!

For illustrators, the idea process can be just as interesting as creating the final art. I like looking back at submitted sketches to see what worked, and what didn't. Here are a few examples:

I still get a thrill out of seeing my work on the printed page. Thanks to John for creating such a nice layout for my drawing! You can view my new illustration website here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Bill of Flights!

If summer travel plans are in the works, then you might relate to these drawings, commissioned by Derrick Gonzalez for the Wall Street Journal. He asked me to create spot illustrations about frustrating situations many airline passengers confront. The story is about how our government is addressing these problems.

This assignment resonated on a very personal level.  I was one of those unlucky travelers grounded due to one volatile volcano's recent activities. (In Iceland, this ash-spewing beast goes by the name of Eyjafjallajökull.)

The spots were to be circular and  have basic themes addressing issues such as cancellations, delays and lost baggage .  I decided to create the finals on a parchment paper that I've been experimenting with. This earthy paper helps create a unique pallet. Also, I find that adding the color white helps set off each image.  In any case, I hope these capture the frustration we feel when our travel plans go kablooey!

PS. I love brainstorming, so I always supply a healthy number of concepts for editors to choose from. Below are some examples of those choices:

Here's to a season of smooth, safe & relaxing travels! 

Take a Kripalu Yoga Break!

Intuition tells me that yoga would be beneficial in managing the stress of daily life. If only I could motivate myself to attend an actual class. Well, this assignment helped to bring instruction right into my studio!

Elena Erber, a fabulous client for over 15 years, is the creative director at Kripalu, a premier yoga center in the Berkshires. She approached me about illustrating a new feature on their website, 'Take a Kripalu Yoga Break'. It's a series of 5 minute recordings, by expert instructors, who guide you through an entire exercise right in front of your computer.

 These exercises give a taste of what Kripalu offers; a retreat from our stressed out professional lives. The drawings would be a visual aid to go along with the recordings. For novices such as myself, this is helpful to know you're posing properly. So far I've drawn over 130 frames for this enlightening project. These drawings have done wonders for my downward doodle!

You can take a yoga break right here:

I went through numerous rounds of  sketches to achieve the right look for this project. I played with the palette which Kripalu uses for identity and publishing materials. Below are some examples.

I found it invaluable to have photo references of all the exercises. My yoga-instructor friends, Alice & Teresa, were so helpful in modeling these poses for me. Putting the photos into order helped me see the flow of each exercise:


Go Green!

I've always been a geek for unique t-shirt designs. When my former agent, Gerald & Cullen Rapp, approached their stable of illustrators to submit ideas for their annual tee-shirt promotion, I jumped at the chance. They wanted a positive/optimistic image that coincided with the fresh start of a new year. I focused  my thought process on something near and dear to my heart, environmental themes.

Sam Scali, who handled this assignment, really liked the flower-bike idea, for it's sunny disposition. This image resonates with me because it gives new meaning to that old hippie adage, Flower Power!

PS. Here are a few New Year's t-shirt concepts that I started with:

Welcome... my blog. I was trying to think of an appropriate drawing to start off with, but was 'drawing' a blank. This may be due to the fact that it's 'hot and humid as heck' outside my window today! After a solid month of rain, the trees & flowers are bursting with color. Bees and assorted bugs are busily buzzing though the air! All this activity jarred my memory of the image above, "Summer Symphony", which attempts to capture the composition of our warmest season.  Hopefully this picture starts my blog off on an upbeat musical note.

My goal going forward is to shed light on the creative process behind various illustration projects. I'll draw upon over 20 years of publishing experience to share my knowledge of picture making. I hope that you'll gain some useful insights, get a few laughs, or at the very least, enjoy some of my quirky drawings. Here we go!