Friday, December 4, 2009


Cindy Ann Ganaden started a community group last year for artists and craftsman to exchange ornaments via post. I was excited to get crafty and obtain some cool ornaments. It's a success and a lot of great work is exchanged. Groups consist of five so each artist doesn't get to overloaded with work during the holidays.

I chose to print out an illustration of mine and adhere them to stained wooden discs. I then sprayed it with Triple Thick Krylon Crystal Clear to obtain a glass like surface. I cut up a ribbon, looped it and superglued that to the back. I mail mine out tomorrow.

I'm excited for the holidays. Warm lights and crisp air. I'm looking forward to finishing up classes so I can concentrate on some fun illustrations I have rolling around my head! Sunday=Decorating!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Painting Demo #3

An ear. So exciting, I know. This was a demo I did for a Corel Painter class at PCAD. I had my students create an ear while I was demoing. I started with a white canvas, brown hard pastel. I created a monochromatic underpainting with the pastel. Then I used a real bristle brush to create the overpainting of color. I then moved onto more pastel to give some texture and blend. I finalized it with a little airbrush for a smooth transition in problem areas.

I recommend James Gurney's blog to everyone. This particular entry is worth checking out if your learning ear anatomy. But don't just stop there....check out the whole blog. It's fantastic.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Painting Demo #2

No alphabet sketches last week. Or this week. I'm teaching two weekend workshops and will be unable to complete extra sketches. But no need to worry. Here is a class demo I did for my Saturday morning Painter class. Inspired by Andrew Jones, it was a lesson on creating, saving and using selections and layer modes to create textural backgrounds and abstract images. I didn't really have a plan for this. It just evolved. I grabbed some images that were nature based and took it from there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

M is for Mummy

Graphite on Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper

Here is a sketch in honor of the Halloween season. I wanted to do something familiar but put a little bit of a twist on it. A screaming cat should do the trick. I used reference of a yawning hairless cat. Very frightening. I also put an eye on the left arm....a little homage to Mark Ryden. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Information #1

Glenn Zimmer was gracious enough to stop by and give a demo the other week in his colored pencil techniques. During his discussion he mentioned listening to talk shows while working. He associates certain areas of the artwork with what he was listening to at the time. Rich and I chimed in on some of our own experiences with this phenomenon. Below are some personal favorites of mine...left to right...

-Fat guy in a little coat...scene from "Tommy Boy" and The Preston & Steve Morning Show
-Tori Amos "From the Choirgirl Hotel" cd. (I was just out of college ... okay?!)
-Jack Johnson's "Better Together" and NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!"

Next entry will be M for ???? Oh...the anticipation.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H is for Hygieia think I'm going to challenge myself and create a "Visual Alphabet". Hopefully every week I'll get a letter up. I'd like to say I'm going to stick with mythology and fantasy characters but I might stray into another genre once in a while. So "H" is the first and I'll randomly pick letters here and there.

This is a child portrait of the goddess Hygieia. She was a healer and prevented the spread of disease. She was often depicted as a young woman with one snake and a bowl. The snake represents the delivery of medicine as well as a courier of spirits from the underworld.

Gustav Klimt has a spectacular rendition of Hygieia that I used for inspiration. Go ahead and google that! You know you want to.

New York Visit

Listed from left to right....Stephen Heigh, Glenn Zimmer, Rich Harrington, Walt Reed, Dominick Saponaro, Tegan Bellitta and myself.

Last week we visited the Society of Illustrators in New York during the last days of the stunningly awesome Spectrum Exhibit.  Donato Giancola was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to provide an inspirational lecture and Q&A session for the students.  It was cold and rainy but afterwards we made it to the Illustration House to drool over some more artwork.  Floating about the premises were some Berkeys, De Seve's, Rockwells, Cornwalls, Parrish, a Dr Suess, one Sendack and a stunning Flagg.  Some were color studies, some were rough drawings.  All originals ... All breathtaking.  An experience I recommend to any illustrator.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This is the finished version of the previous sketch I posted. It is going to be printed as a black and white interior. The quote mentioned how mother nature crafts everything with such intricate care even down to each and every snowflake. My idea was to make the snowflake jewel like to emphasize the craft. I researched jewelry and found alot of interesting incorporation of beads and stones laced within silver, brass and gold. I tried to create a glow around the stones to soften the look and give it a fluffy snowy appearance.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drop Caps - Final

This is a follow up to a previous post on drop caps. They will be printed in black and white at probably about 1 inch in height. Keeping the final print size in mind I tried to keep the value somewhat simple. I kept getting carried away with the detail so I had to make sure those little areas were keyed in properly. Below I have a close up of the "A". I particularly enjoyed painting the Queen Ann's Lace as well as the drippy background. Karen Appleton sites a quote from Alfred Sisley that I found appropriate for this little painting..."Every painting shows a spot with which the artist has fallen in love".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Painting Demo

This is a demo I did for my class at the University of the Arts. The class is based on the techniques of Corel Painter...a digital program that mimics traditional medium. I used an image of one of my mom's irises and painted it using the the oil brushes. No matter if you choose to paint digitally or traditionally you have to understand drawing, composition, color and value. The computer will not magically make everything beautiful which is a common misconception when considering digital work.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Graphite on Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper

This is a piece that I am currently working on. The final will be published in black and white but I decided to paint it in a limited palette of blues. Before going to final I did make a few changes from the sketch. I felt the snowflake was too centralized so I moved the whole composition over to the right. This cut off a bit of the ribbon shape on the left but I felt it made a more interesting flow through out the composition. I drew one leg of the snowflake and after scanning I copied and rotated it to create a solid repetitive shape. Traditionally I would do this with tracing paper but photoshop makes it so much faster! I will post the final when I finish it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cardos and Scottish Thistles

This is a combination of two thistle flowers. One from Italy and the other from Scotland. I tried to combine the different elements of leaves and thorns from each one towards the bottom. The first is a pencil sketch (traditional) and the second is a digital painting. I am currently working on several pieces for a client so hopefully I'll have some more fun stuff to post. I have a very long week of painting ahead but plan to take a few breaks here and there to spend some quality time walking my basset hound....preferably with his new banana outfit I bought him. Hmmmm....maybe the next sketch?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Drop Caps

These are some sketches I'm doing for GreenPrints gardening magazine. They are accompanying a touching story involving a mother, daughter with leukemia and their garden. Along with these will be a key and spot. I plan to take them into Painter and work with black and white value. Right now I'm working on a bunch of sketches but I'll post the final when I finish. The deadline is coming up fast so I'll be working it!!

It's a little modern twist on Illumination which is one of my favorite genres of art history. I don't get a lot of chances to work with this style so I like to take advantage of it while I can. Off to paint!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

6"x6" Collaborative

Cover for Fig Magazine

Collaboratives are fun! A few months ago PCAD sent out a call for submission. They supplied a 6"x6" stretched canvas and gave us the theme "Personalities from Lancaster". PCAD will be hanging the submissions of over 30 artists in their permanent collection. In addition, Fig Magazine will be publishing a number of these paintings in their fall edition. The image above is the cover of the up coming issue.
I always find it exciting to see the different interpretations and methods in a collaborative effort.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Personal Challenges

A colleague of mine, Stephen Heigh, has challenged himself to completely fill up a 100 page sketchbook by the beginning of the school year. Stephen started mid July and has created sketches on location as well as from reference. He starts with tonal pencil and then dry brushes with acrylic to create a sepia underpainting quality. Here are some of his excerpts.

This process of multiple studies sharpens your eye and speeds your execution. It can also become extremely therapeutical. I host two online painting groups and am now starting to believe that a "sketch off" might be introduced sometime in the next few months.

Until then....good luck finishing the sketchbook Stephen! Nine days left. No pressure.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plein Air Excursion

Last week we went to Jersey and stood in the middle of tomato fields for the afternoon to do a little plein air painting. For those who are unfamiliar with the term plein air it basically means painting on location.

I started with a grey acrylic tone over gessoed wood panel. I then drew out the composition in raw umber oil with just gamsol as a medium. Then hit with color. I used alkyd white (for fast dry time), rose madder, cad yellow, raw umber, colbalt blue and sap green. It is quite liberating to only use a handful of colors instead of my normal assortment. Next time I'll switch up the colors for a different palette.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just Drawin'

Last night I spent over 6 hours cleaning my studio and felt inspired at 11:30pm to do a little drawing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

IMC '09 - Final

I know....two posts in one day....weird. Anyway I wanted to get the final Illustration Master Class project up. Lady of the Lake in all her glowy glory. Tomorrow, a plein air posting. Yeah, that's right. Oils on location.

History of Design

As an illustration student I found it difficult to juggle the different disciplines assigned. Typography was a course that was mandatory and it was hard to grasp letterforms while simultaneously learning the fluidity of oils, the theory of color and the emotional responses of composition. Nancy Stock-Allen is a design professor at Moore College of Art and Design. I find her integration of typography into the illustration department intuitive and exciting. She posts a website for her students ... ... that goes through the history of design from illuminated manuscripts (my personal favorite) to European poster art to the basic letter forms. The site is chock full of information for artists of all mediums and styles. Check it out and get educated!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Distelfink Girl

As you will see from my previous sketch I made a few changes such as the main circle. I already focused on double distelfinks in the hair I though it was a bit redundant to feature another one. I decided to use the Rosette hex which symbolizes good luck for each month which is represented on the outer ring of the circle. The inner rosette is an added good luck for difficult times of the year. Every symbol represents something positive...from the tulips to the oak leaves.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Women's Work Show on Drawger

I just got a piece (Autumn Garden) accepted into Drawger's Women's Work Show hosted by Nancy Stahl. It's a great show with some beautiful conceptual pieces. Anyone can submit an entry. Well not anyone....girls only.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Distelfink Girl

This is a sketch for a current project involving personalities from Lancaster county. It will be featured in a local magazine and gallery show at PCAD along with several other artists interpretations. I've had the itch to create something with hex sign elements and snagged the opportunity to incorporate these symbols into a profile portrait. Distelfink is Pennsylvania Dutch (German) for Golden Finch. Depending on the number of them and how they are interacting the meaning behind them can vary. The basic idea is good luck and harmony. I'll be sure to post the final when finished.

Graphite on Vellum

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Phillustration '09!

So in all the awesome creative chaos that was IMC09 I want to take a second to step back to a previous event that took place here in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Sketch Club held their bi-annual illustration show featuring such local talent as Joe Devito, Charles Santore, Bob Byrd, Megan Halsey, Stephen Heigh and many others. I was fortunate enough to have my "Autumn Garden" piece chosen for the front of the promotional post card. Dominick's piece "Swashbuckle Dom" graced the back as well as the flyers and awards! He also won 1st prize with a piece from his pirate series. While we were away our good friends visited the exhibit and sent us a picture of the gathering. Thanks guys!!!

A special thanks to our good friend Rich Harrington for putting together yet again another awesome show! I can't wait until the next one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

IMC '09

And we are back from Massachusetts and the 2009 Illustration Master Class. Wow!! I can't begin to tell you how awesome it was. I have pictures, sketches, information and oh yeah, a new painting! But I admit...being in the studio until 3AM with the smell of turp and oils gave me the bug to go back to traditional. I think I may print this puppy out and work over it....Oh, the possibilities! I am about 93% finished (digitally) with it but still need to go through a few more additions.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Illustration Master Class

On Sunday we will be going to Amherst Massachusetts to participate in a week long illustration intensive featuring industry celebrities such as Rebecca Guay, Greg Manchess, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Dan DosSantos, Donato Giancola, Scott Fischer and Irene Gallo, art director from Tor Books. Jon Foster and Michael Wheelan will also be attending as special guests. This is a great opportunity to work in a studio environment with leaders in the industry critiquing and helping you with your work. About two months ago assignments were sent out for us to pick. We completed the sketches beforehand and will start off Monday with a crit. I chose a rendition of King Arthur's "Lady of the Lake". Above you will see my value sketch out of graphite. I scanned it in and worked the glows in photoshop and painter. I'll be sure to post my final when finished! I'm very excited!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Illustration vs. Design

What becomes interesting when your in the process of learning illustration is the crossover between fine art and design. This is a sample piece I did for two of my classes. The flower portion was done in Adobe Illustrator to demonstrate repeats and transparencies. I then used the rounded image (which you can find on my site) by cropping it and adding text in InDesign for a Graphic Tech class I was teaching. One of the benefits of working like this is the easy ability to change the colors in order to fit the clients preference. Not being a usual aesthetic approach to how I work I still found this refreshing and fun to do.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Baby and Mom Memories

This was another double up for the Yow! Experiment. The theme word was "Memory". I doubled up the project to fit a sample project I wanted to complete for a possible job based on babies. I decided to create a dreamy type of feel with another patchwork theme concentrating on the warmth and safety of a quilt. I wanted to keep the palette pastel and soft. I was concerned that I would run too gender specific so I tried to keep away from too many pinks and blues. I think this palette also breaks up my portfolio color wise as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Patchwork Girl

This illustration was created for two purposes. Kind of like shooting two birds with one stone. First, Amy Smith, an old friend of mine, became involved with a charity drive for Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County There was a call for entries for donations which I gladly submitted a few pieces for. This one I created specifically with the event in mind. In addition to the event I had another "paint off" deadline with the "Yow Experiment" on facebook. This is a group of University of the Arts illustration graduates dedicated to creating a piece within a bi-monthly deadline. I used collage elements of natural items as well as fabrics and tapestries in addition to the painting of the face.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shoo-Fly Pie

This is a little ode to home. Growing up in Lancaster County I stuffed myself with whoopie pies, shoo fly pies and chicken pot pie. Here I cut a piece out (the rest went to my students) set it on a white background with a strong light. It's tough trying to give each brown a character of it's own but I think I managed all right for an hour painting. Next time I think I'm going to have to paint some wilbur that's directly from my hometown of Lititz. Mmmmmm.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Whoopie Pies in Thought

This was a quick little demo I did on Alla Prima painting with my students. I wanted to play with some vibrant colors so I found a bright green envelope in the office and set up the pies. The pies took on a reddish glow which complements nicely on canvas. I didn't spend too much time on this so it's pretty rough.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Cookies

These little guys were painted for an in class demo on oil painting. I set up several different combinations with different cookies and chose the one on the top and another one for the bottom. It was slowly turning into a disaster so I wiped the bottom cookie and replaced it with the jelly filled. And I did eat them after.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Some Line Work

Add ImageThese two drawings were started out as an in class demo on line weight.  I guess I was feeling very gourdy that day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In Class Studies

These are two oil demos I did for my pictorial fundamental classes. The first one was on masonite with a thick layer of gesso. I toned the surface with acrylic burnt umber. The second was toned the same but on gessoed illustration board. I didn't get a chance to take the tape off so it still looks like it's in progress. Both took about an hour each to complete.