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Just got back from a healthy break away from computers, to do lists, and stressful work. It's my first time to the beach for a vacation since 2008, which is really insane when I think about it. I only live ten minutes from the coast. And just as last time I took way too many drawing pads and pencils, which sat alone and neatly packaged most of the time as I enjoyed the view and went swimming. This picture, however, had to be done!
I woke up the third morning at the condo and stepped out on the balcony just in time for my sleepy eyes to focus on a fox running through the dunes below. He was a terribly scrawny little fox, and he scampered along like he knew where he was going. It didn't take him long to find a rat that was hiding safely in the sea oats directly below me. The rodent darted to one dune, and then doubled back running about seventy yards to the east, escaping the scruffy red hunter. It was fun over the next few days glancing down at the tracks in the sand which told the whole story, and also seeing old ones that seemed to indicate the fox was a regular to that spot.
I did think too, that this would make a better drawing than the spinner sharks that were swimming in waist deep water around a beachgoer from Minnesota, later the same day. It's a wild world. Just ask a fox.
This portrait of Father James E. Coyle was commissioned by the Archbishop of Mobile, Thomas J. Rodi, as a gift from the Archdiocese to McGill-Toolen High School, where Father Coyle was first rector. Father Coyle was shot and killed in 1921 by Klansmen Edwin Stephenson.
I had only black and white photos for reference, so research had to be done to determine certain details, particularly Father Coyle's eye color. It was discovered that his great-niece had eyes similar to his, a bright clear blue, and it is apparent in photos of Father Coyle that his eyes were particularly bright.
You can read more in this article
at AL.com, or at the website
dedicated to Father Coyle.
Here's a preliminary drawing for a portrait I'll be working on next month. I referenced several images of the Pope to sketch this since I didn't have a photo of him in the pose I was going for.
I remember working on this drawing, adding some additional touches to the garrison cap, leaving for a steakhouse with family, and never finding it in me to fit this one back into the schedule. That was a few months ago, and Abandoned
seems like a fitting title - at least for now.
Things like this happen to me a lot. I'll work on something for awhile, get pulled away, and when I have the opportunity to pick it up again, I have an idea for something else I like better. I may forget about it entirely. Not much unlike my teenage self (there were triple the number of unfinished paintings to finished).
Anyway, I'm putting in a little more time to complete a few project before going away for a week. I hope all goes well. It's been too long!
Many of my free-time sketches have been of a historical nature - if not a colonial period sketch for Men of Bounty, than usually a medieval one. It has been an escape of sorts to think of times gone by as I work on other things, and so it comes out in my drawings on the side.
I've recently worked on two new releases for The Boxcar Children series - The Return of the Graveyard Ghost and The Mystery of the Fallen Treasure. They were a blast to illustrate and I'll be working on some more coming up. Here are a few of my favorite illustrations. (The cover art was created by the awesome Tim Jessell.)
Check them out this September!
Duchess is a trusty crew member of The Balance
and good friend of Captain McQuaid. She keeps her knives as sharp as her wit, and always pays close attention to detail. She sometimes strays however, if she feels she has a better plan.
Not exactly a fellow you would want to meet. Captain Byrnes can be as rough as they come. Frequently he corrects some of the slower men of his crew who falsely think his name is "Burns" due to the rope marks on his neck, which (on special occasions) are covered by a vibrant blue scarf. When things are going his way he can be too sure of himself, believing that his plans are working and you don't know it. See how he smiles? He thinks you don't see that dirk in his hand.
A darn cool story is coming together with these characters, so I'll probably be posting this kind of stuff for the next couple weeks. I hope you like the Age of Sail.
Slow and steady. The studio has been at a standstill for a few months due to other work I had lined up. Sadly one of the projects was a large oil portrait that left me cramped in my current painting space. I need a good photo before I deliver it later this month, but for this post I'll give a shot of the studio in progress.
I need to be posting more, so here is a quick sketch from yesterday.
Just don't call them Pirates!
I've been a zombie these past few days, just getting over a head cold and adjusting to this allergy season. I wanted to write a little something about working in the illustration field and what my experiences have been. If you're new to the industry, or are wanting to break in, you may have some questions. One being can you support yourself full-time with the illustration work? It is possible but the artists that do are in very high demand. In most cases it takes much time and talent to achieve. I myself am doing several things, as you can probably tell by this blog - portraits, t-shirt art, and the like. It's all art related so although at times it can be hard it is in enjoyable.
Another question may be about the role of an agent, and if it's right for you. This is where a little back-story might come it handy. Back when I was in college, the instructors had Illustration Source Books for reference and inspiration. I noticed how many of the illustrators were categorized within their agent's section, and I began to research them. Due to my location far from the publishing houses in the east, I sought out an agent to help put my work in front of the right people. I chose Shannon Associates, my current illustration rep. Now it is important to note that when I first submitted my portfolio (I believe this was before 2006), it was not quite what they were looking for. I bring this up because patience is important. If things don't work out than it's not time. I began to study more what clients want to see, and made the subject matter of my portfolio more focused in a specific direction. In this case book publishing, and that took some time. I had to figure out what it was I wanted to do.
This leads to the next question. What should be in your portfolio? This is tough since illustration styles can be so diverse, but when you get down to it, you will want to present to a client you're ability to do for them the finished product they would like. It depends on the client and what that client produces. So what are your goals? A more precise example of what I mean can be found in some of my first books. I spent about eight months preparing my portfolio back in 2007 (most of the watercolors you see at the beginning of this blog and in my portfolio - fairies and mermaids, those sort of things). My first real book was The Last of the Mohicans I did for ABDO. The client saw a drawing I had done of my brother back in 2006 and said that's what they wanted for their book. Later, another client saw the illustrations I did for The Last of the Mohicans, and requested that style for their book. So the ball was rolling. I'm getting work and my portfolio is building around what I know clients want to see. Of course it's different for different artists, but this is how things have transpired for me.
Draw what you enjoy, and have it fit in such a way as to please your future client. Make sure it is your own creation. If you have work you've done copying another character or imitating another style, that is the work you will get.
If you are researching agents, check their websites for more information on what they do. There are many articles out there that illustrate much better what I am trying to describe here.
The Spyglass - Oil on Canvas
Alexandria - Oil on Gessoed Board
I'm happy to announce that two of my paintings were chosen for the figurative category in the 2012/2013 Art Renewal Salon Competition. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists.
I'll be finishing up with a couple book projects in the next two weeks. Then I can get back to a few portraits that have been collecting dust... literally. There are about three things that I've worked on since the middle of last year that I still can't talk about here. Publishing can take some time, and I've just finished a painting that has yet to be unveiled.
I do have a creative and useful accomplishment to mention however. For years my dad has wanted to build a bookcase and just recently we purchased the right tools. We got together a few weekends ago and built the bookcase you see here. I was in serious need of this thing as I was constantly moving books and paper from desk, to chair, to desk, and couldn't do several things at once because of the clutter.
The wood was cheep pine and probably not worth what I paid so I can't brag about that. I painted a faux finish to give an aged look. On the edges I added a bronze enamel, which gave the feel of old wood peeking through.
I saw the film "John Carter" a few weekends ago. It was a cool movie despite what critics say. Not long after watching it, I started to wonder what would have happened if the movie had a different protagonist? What if another Civil War veteran had been transported to Barsoom instead of John Carter? Someone like...
How would the characters relate to his somewhat erratic and "fiery" disposition? How would the warring Tharks have received him?
Above is a notebook drawing I worked on this weekend. I was studying some examples of medieval clothing and did a mix of various fashions. Hope you like it.
If you're interested in purchasing the original, you can click the buy button to the right. The price is $75. I put a few watercolor washes over the graphite to help blend the darker tones. It's roughly 8" by 10" (image size) on 70 pound sketch paper.
I missed the opportunity for a Saint Patrick's day post, which is just dandy. No Leprechaun or cool picture of St. Patrick as I would have liked.
So here's a Raptor in a uniform. He claims to be a professor whose experiments went terribly wrong. For all we know he could have always been a dinosaur. Sometimes all you've got is a person's word but I wouldn't trust him. Not this guy...
There were other sketches with this one, but they've got guns
. Just think Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!!!
If you're attacked by a bulletproof, fire generating, electromagnetic, rock man from outer-space, chances are you can knock him out with a whack on the back of the neck using your trusty pistol.
In other news, I've been busy at work on the studio in-between books. The windows are in and the place looks completely different. Next comes electricity and plumbing. Pictures as soon as it looks presentable!
Here are a few character sketches for some generic heroes I'll be building (low polly) in the 3d program Blender. I've been playing with it the last few weeks and I've made some progress in the sculpting department. Still need a better grasp on rigging and some of the detail aspects of UV mapping.
A few exaggerated sketches of Hollywood hero types.
Just so these last two posts make some sense, this is another small pencil study done for later reference. These were drawn smaller than they are probably previewing on your monitor, which is bad in the publishing industry! So stand waaay far away!!
I ran out of paper, so she get's a short-spear.
A couple weeks ago I watched the performance from the Met of Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung
, or some of it anyway. It's very long, and some nights went to one in the morning. I got to see some of the cool parts, like when Siegmund told Brünnhilde (paraphrasing), "I'd rather go to Hell in a hand-basket, than to Valhalla in a saddlebag!" They had this amazing state of the art set with large rotating panels. You can see it in the trailer
. They made all sorts of backgrounds with it by rotating them and projecting images onto the surface.
When reading the story (click on the four opera names
), I wondered how much it influenced Tolkien when writing Lord of the Rings? Also if you haven't seen Arthur Rackam's illustrations of the Ring Cycle, check it out! Some of them are on the Wikipedia page.
The Spyglass - oil on canvas 16" x 20"
Not many posts for 2012. It was quite a busy year and I'll have to write more about it later. Some of you may remember the above painting in it's pencil stage earlier this year. Below, just for fun, an acrylic painting experiment done for a blog background. I believe it's a castle in Ireland. Happy New Year everyone!
Been trying to get a spark back in my recreational drawing. It hasn't been there these last few months it seems, possibly because I'm expanding my studio and it's made things a mess. Maybe it's this yucky winter weather and short days, I don't know. Anyway... Don't stop drawing!
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...says I don't update my blog enough... and unfortunately he's right. However this does give me an opportunity to share with you a Hatke original I purchased a few months back.
I haven't framed it yet since it often finds it's way onto my easel. The brush work is particularly good, and when I paint, I like to have examples close by of how it's supposed to be done!
Check out Ben's blog here