These characters were created based on photos of actual people. They thought art would serve a better purpose on their website than photos. I have to agree. I used a slightly different comic book looking style with solid blacks and simpler shadows.
Another group caricature, this time 21 faces. Lots of revisions, on and off over a couple months. Client was very pleased in the end. Whew! Each person is on a layer, early on each face was also a separate layer. After a while, there's so many layers, I have to just simplify and collapse many layers. Corel Painter has so many tools and options, making these kinds of changes is a breeze compared to decades ago. Even 10 years ago was a challenge because the speed of the computer really lagged under the load of 70 layers with 5000 x 3500 pixels.
My son, Justin has always been a bowler since a little boy. This week we spent in Indianapolis with the best junior bowlers in the country. Here, at the USBC Junior Gold Championships, 1000 boys and about 700 girls competed all week for scholarship money and trophies. Some truly amazing bowlers. I've learned much about bowling because of my son's involvement... I've always been fascinated at any sport played at advanced levels. The competition, the way the athletes handle themselves under stress and the emotions running wild in the fanbase. This week was no different. Most people don't realize that bowling at advanced levels is much more difficult than what you do on the weekend with your friends. The lanes are oiled in many difficult patterns which force the bowler to quickly adjust his/her game. Oil means spin has little effect, the ball won't "grab" the lane. I saw several bowlers who probably kick butt on their home bowling center with easy oil. But they come here and are completely lost. These bowlers show up with no less than 6 balls for all conditions, not to mention tapes for adjusting holes, different soles for shoes, special papers that take the gloss out of a ball, wire brushes, etc. It goes on and on.
I watched the final today where the 16 finalists bowl 16 games for the title. An 18 year old boy from Maryland missed the title by 2 pins... His father was crushed. I know how emotional the parents get. I watch my Justin win a Florida tournament last year where they bowled 24 games in two days. It came down to Justin and one other for the title.. My son bowled a 290 and I thought I was going to bust. Bowlers don't make the kind of money that, say, golfers do, but I am thrilled he's passionate about something in his life. I will be attending many more matches, I can guarantee.
Ahhh... The life of a cartoonist. This week I'm in the beautiful Westin La Paloma resort near Tucson, AZ. I'm working for another great client who were excited about having a digital caricaturist in the booth. Trade shows come in all sizes, the massively large where you can spend the better part of the day walking from one end of the floor to the other.... and then there is this type, very small, very intimate, with just a couple dozen companies manning their booths. Still, attending these small shows is as important to an up and coming company as the Coca Cola booth is to an international restaurant convention. I have been drawing many hours, making potential clients happy... and that is what it's all about. I lived in Phoenix when very young and I still am mesmerized by the desert. And the desert is particularly beautiful in the spring. Cacti have flowers, the deadly heat has not arrived and wild animals are abundant. A beautiful resort doesn't hurt the experience either.
Last week I had the pleasure of working with famous MAD artist Tom Richmond. Tom doesn't normally draw at gigs but agreed to join me at a college in Iowa I have appeared at before. I have been on a quest to improve me drawing skills lately and what better way than to sit next to Tom Richmond for 4 hours cranking out students' faces. A great time was had by all. Great comments from the staff at the college and great stories from Tom's travels last year around the world. Hope to do it again soon. Thanks, Tom!
Another financial group pic... this time a carnival theme. This one took some doing, lots going on with 15 faces, all had to be at the correct booth with more prominent faces towards the front. Quite a bit of back and forth with the client. But in the end, everyone was happy. I'm also happy the financial investment firms are giving me orders again. I didn't hear much from them in 2009, (which I pretty much expected). Client ordered 15 poster sized copies of this art.
Group art for a financial firm. Many of the larger firms got turned upsidedown and many went off to other smaller offices. Luckily, they still manage to find me. THis one was fairly complicated, especially the modified tractor, which I created partially in 3D.
This Thanksgiving was a cooking funfest. I brined a turkey this time before roasting, which is basically putting the large bird in a bucket with spices, vegetable broth, herbs and salt. Added enough water to cover the bird and a pile of ice. Cover and leave overnight. The flavors and salt pentrate the fowl through osmosis, but because of some science trickery, the turkey won't take on too much of the salt. Then, the day of cooking (Thursday) I take out the bird, rinse well and pat dry. Then I microwave some apple slices, onion, cinnamon stick, rosemary and sage for 5 minutes. Took it out and stuffed inside the bird. Flavors hitting this guy from all angles! Then rubbed the outside with canola oil, put into a roasting pan with a wire rack inside (or old veggies if you like). Need to put a half inch of water on the bottom (important to prevent smoking) because then I cook on the bottom rack at 500 degrees for 1/2 hour. Covered the breast with foil, and lowered the temp to 350 and used a instant thermometer inserted in the breastmeat until it reached 161 (about an hour for a 12 lb bird).
Also, Robin made incredible garlic mashed potatoes while I worked on string beans with orange zest and sliced almonds, dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuffing made with cubes of sour dough bread, yum. Can't eat without cranberry chutney. Fresh cranberries, sugar, nuts, raisins, orange wedges and juice cooked in a pot for about 10 minutes till the berries start to burst. Stick in a frig and WOW, incredible. Topped it all off with a Dutch Apple Pie.
BEst of all, next day I took the turkey carcass, rest of the stuffing and all the other turkey parts and made a turkey soup. Added some chopped dill and parsley, but the flavors of the brine really made it incredible. I cut the sour dough an inch thick and toasted, it made the perfect companion for the soup. Everything seems to taste better the second day around. Just ask my girlfriend...
This year is so politically charged. Some of my work comes from passionate activists who want to sell something at a rally or who knows what else. This is a piece representing the main Republican radio talking heads charging up to the Capitol. Client needed specific details which were all on a separate layer. I'm working on another one involving Democrats.
I love those clients who are excited about their business and in turn, excited about the art I create to represent their business. And when they are easy to work with too, I'm a happy artist...
This guy has a Jet Ski rental business in Hawaii, and needed a piece of art he could use in a number of ways. He wears a pirate hat while he works and so I included that as well. He asked for it in layers so he could use it without the water if needed.
I pretty much have to attribute much of my career and life as an artist to my first real job... in Ocean City, MD. These were some of the happiest times in my life. It was a "coming of age" story, when I first learned to sustain myself, find independence, discover the power of drawing portraits and meeting girls, and most importantly, supporting myself and my life by drawing.
I worked alongside about 20 artists in a business called "Face Place". It is where I met lifelong friend, Rick Wright. We sat directly on the boardwalk, staring at the Atlantic Ocean each and every day, sketching tourists at lightning speed.. sometimes charcoal portraits, mostly caricatures. I believe we charged $4.50 for a color caricature profile in 1977, the year I started. To net $100 in one night was a major accomplishment, and a lot of money for an 18 year old kid in those times. (Oh how I wish that I sunk that money in just beginning technology companies.)
I did draw since an early age, but it was during these times hanging with all the artists, I realized that an artist was who I was and who I'd always be. This photo was taken in 1977 of our special little shop. It was nothing more than an alley way turned into our studio. I've lost contact with the artists pictured, but it seems like it was only yesterday. Today, 32 years later, I can honestly say I enjoy drawing more than ever... and I realize how lucky I am to never have had a real job.
My girlfriend, who is quite accomplished at decorative painting & murals, now creates beautiful handpainted wine bottles and glassware for special occasions. Weddings, Anniversaries, birthdays, etc. They are truly a unique and personalized treasure to display in your home.
My son, Justin has become quite the bowler, an activity he has been involved with since he was very young. These days, at 16, he competes in teen tournaments around the country and bowls for varsity at high school. A few days ago, Justin won his first title at a tournament in Ocala, Florida. He was in first place after 10 games on Saturday and stayed in first all day (12 games) on Sunday. It came down to a final game with the number 2 bowler. Justin has always performed under pressure. He seems to rise to the occasion. WHen other are getting tired and falling off, he just seems to get mentally tougher. Here's a video if you're interested in the results.
This illustration is from a California company that wanted the office in an ocean theme involving a whale. First, I drew the staff inside Moby Dick's stomach and underwater. They were worried if it visually translated to the viewer so I took them out of the water and put Moby in the background. Success!
Another oil industry retirement picture. I love the layers in Corel Painter, it gives me so much control in creating the art. Heads and shoulders over the last version I was using, I went from 5.5 to 10.6, huge jump. The truck is a 3D creation in Google's Sketchup.
Lately, I get many calls for group caricatures that will be displayed at a wedding. Most of the time, they involve all the friends of the groom. The art ends up on table tents, invitations, sign-in posters, you name it. This one required an island theme, the wedding was in the Bahamas I suppose.
The recent passing of George Carlin reminded me of a story from my teen years. It was about 1975 and I was about 17. I was drawing caricatures here and there but I had yet realized this art as my future career. But once in a while a supreme encouragement would come my way and I would feel a whole new sense of purpose and direction. My father was the first who encouraged me to draw. Jack Davis, master carooninst, was a major influence on my career, first in studying his published works and then from the many times I visited him in his home. (More on that in another post.)
I lived in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD and there was a theatre nearby called Valley Fair. They would have stage productions, comedians and an assortment of acts. I had started drawing caricatures in the lobby before show start times on weekends. One day the manager told me George Carlin was coming to perform and he wanted me to draw a "special caricature" that we would give to him after his performance. I came up with a piece that was poster sized and finally the day came when George was to appear. The manager took me to his dressing room and next thing I know I entered the room, the door closed behind me and it was just me and George alone for about 20 minutes. He was most appreciative. I can't imagine the art was very good at that early point of my career but I'll never forget how encouraging and gracious Mr. Carlin was to me that day. A genuinely nice man. It has always been moments like these that keep the motivation coming, reinvigorate your creative being. I was just another of a million people taking up George Carlin's time and he made me feel like for those 20 minutes I was the most important person in his life. That feeling will take a young aspiring artist a long, long way...
The newspaper called back for another cover illustration, this time for the Superbowl. They wanted a generic cartoon, not any specific caricatures of the athletes. I tried coming up with a bit of a different style this time, Strangest thing about this job?... As I was painting the art of the cardinal, trying to capture a likeness of the bird, an actual cardinal lands outside my window by my computer!
I painted this in Painter 10 as usual, but I started with an ochre colored background and built up from there. I ended up using a strong blue background to build contrast and make the whole thing more intimidating.
Another Sports Section illustration job. The Tampa Bay Rays had an amazing season, last place last year, AL East Champs this year... what a turnaround! I had the pleasure of coming up with a drawing with a "Bandwagon" theme. I included the Manager and one of the players, Evan Longoria (hard to locate good photos of Evan). I spent about 3 days on and off on this one, once again I do the entire thing in Corel Painter 10 with my 12x12 tablet. This year I upgraded to the Imac 24 inch, it makes work like this very enjoyable. I will post the printed version when it's published.
These days one industry you can be sure is profitable are the oil companies. I've been doing work for them for about 3 years and this was the latest. I believe the guy was retiring and I had to get it out in one day. I did my part and shipped it off but there was a problem with the shipping, out of my control. The client received it in time after I stayed up all night with the printer and Fedex. Whew!
It's that time of season to be politically incorrect! A client wanted a caricature of Barack Obama but a little more painted style than what I usually do. I think he's making bumper stickers but I'm not sure if he's FOR or AGAINST Obama. I'll keep my eye out for it.
I painted this in Corel Painter, as usual, using oil pastel and a little watercolor and pencil thrown in. I started it on grey paper. It took a couple of days to complete, maybe 4-5 hours.