Monday, June 17, 2013

Threadless T-shirt Contest

CAUTION:  Shameless self-promotion ahead......

My cat shirt is rated number 4 out of 190 designs on  The contest ends this Friday (the 21st) and I need as many votes as I can get to rise to the number one spot.  If you have a second to vote for me (press #5) I would appreciate it!  I think the girl would look sweet on a tank and onesie.  Plus, there is a cash prize and many other spoils that is helpful as well ;)  Click here to vote.

A onesie....yeah....that's right

Thanks for your support and keep an eye out for my "Animals" update coming soon.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Diversity in Gardening - Process

I'm currently painting a lot for my "Animals" book but I wanted to take a moment and post my process on another piece.  In April I spoke to two illustration groups at Marywood U and Pennsylvania College of A&D.  I got a lot of great feedback regarding the process portion of my lecture so I wanted to take the opportunity to share it with you.

This was created for the summer cover of GreenPrints magazine.  The only perimeters were the dimensions of the cover and it had to be about summer gardening.

Above are the rough sketches.  I usually don't add color but considering that GP is a black and white magazine with ONE color image I feel it's worthy to take the extra time.

I wanted to get the warm summer feeling across and felt the first one showed more about gardening than the others.  Pat, the AD, agreed and he decided to go with the nesting dolls.  On another note, he posted these comps online for reader feedback and the butterfly was first choice.  What does that mean?  It means that I may want to revisit the idea again but with more emphasis on the gardening aspect and not the end product of a garden.  (Many ideas are already churning in this head)

I used nesting dolls because I felt they keep on giving, similar to a summer garden in the height of abundance.  In addition I wanted to add numerous people of all kinds.  This was a way to incorporate the human diversity as well as the garden diversity.  Pat also read it as a connectivity among gardeners which works perfectly with the message he likes to get across to his readership.

I started with scanning the sketch and dropping it into Adobe Illustrator.  I created vector flat shapes in order to figure out basic color and placement.  I then transferred it into Corel Painter where I started to add the features of the main character.

I then had a lot of fun painting flowers and textures.  I sometimes extract a flower like the dahlias and poppies so I can use them in product design on Society6 or sell them as pendants on Etsy.  I'm all about using the illustration to it's full potential and creating several avenues of income from one image.

At the end I added rays but was unsure if I really needed them.  I added directionals in some prior pieces and liked what they did but didn't want all my pieces to depend on that element.  So I sent both off to Pat and let him choose.  He couldn't decide so he posted them on Facebook so he could get some feedback from his readers.  It was almost a tie but he chose to go without the rays.  Some of the comments mentioned that the rays added the additional summer element of sun while other comments pointed out that the focus became more on the spade and not the gardeners as a whole.

Neither is right or wrong.....just depends on what you want the focus to be on.  Considering that Pat wanted to showcase connectivity and diversity it was best to choose the version without rays.

Below is a time lapse of the process showing my files from 00-12.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Visit my new shop on Society6!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Loss of My Muse

Roscoe P. Coltrane  2000-2013

As a freelancer you take comfort in those who understand you.  You live a life of hermitage hunkered over your work all hours, morning, noon and night, sometimes not interacting with people for days on end.  Those who support your lifestyle and goals become immensely valuable.  If your lucky you have someone to share that with on the home front.  A companion to walk through the lonely stretches of time in a one person studio.  Dominick and I are fortunate to have each other and we were blessed to have another to be with us during these past 13 years.

Roscoe, Dominick and I at the Annual Boardwaddle Ocean City, NJ

Roscoe perfected the art of infiltrating photo shoots

"Helping" me pack artwork in the studio

For 13 years Roscoe, our basset hound, was our companion and fur child.  He lived a long spoiled life and was my sole inspiration and muse for many illustrations.  If it wasn't for him I never would have attempted to create a book based on animals.  He gave me so much pure inspiration and sparked a part of my imagination that I wouldn't have found on my own.

Playing dress up with Grandma

Our "Laptime" during morning coffee

This past month has been challenging with his newly diagnosed diabetes.  It was alot of trial with medications, scheduling and timing.  Leading up to the diagnosis was care giving to an unknown illness which took a toll on both his and our sleep.  Last Saturday morning he showed great signs of improvement with the new dosage and was back to his old self again.  For the first time in a long while he mustered enough energy to bark at the mailman so we knew we were on the right track with our administrations.

New Year's day in his new cardigan

His on going battle with our pesky laptop

We didn't expect to be traveling to the ER 6 hours later.  It was brutally fast.  I had done research on the breed and knew that "bloat" was a killer for bassets and was aware that it worked with extreme speed.  He was going into shock while Dom was driving and I knew this was going to be the end.  However, nothing can prepare you for the moment that every pet owner dreads.

Showing his saucy demeanor and spunky personality

His bone that he use to "accidentally" drop down the stairs as we tried to watch movies.

In the end I ran my finger up and down his age whitened snout as he always liked.  He use to close his eyes, head on my lap, and I would lull him to sleep this way until the sound of his snores forced us to turn up the TV.  This time the halting of breath replaced the snores.  Instead of lulling him to sleep I was lulling him into the unknown, letting him know that we were there and always would be there with him.

Roscoe and I napping

Visiting the farm he loved so much

Only time will be able to turn the feeling of monstrosity and guilt for making "that call" into fond memories of lap time and paw shaking.  It will be awhile until I can walk down the stairs and not expect him to be there on his bed.  It will be many months until we will open the front door and not habitually crane our necks to see over the sofa to find his sleepy eyes greeting us.

"Snooping" on the sofa with Dominick

Trolling through the Sunflowers and Blueberry bushes at Marshall's Farm Market

At the farm he would run down a hill into this green grassy mini valley and tear around like a little maniac.  It is a comfort to know that he now rests on the crest of that hill overlooking Dom's parent's house and that valley he loved so much.  His grave holds a yellow lily, irises and forget-me-nots along with a wooden cross kindly made by the Marshall's worker.  We surronded him with stones and placed a cairn on top of his grave.

His last paw print given to us by UPenn Vet Hospital on the night he passed away

Final resting place at the farm

Rest in peace my little man.  You will always be with us....behind our studio chairs, on the couch during morning coffee and waiting in the kitchen while we cook.  You will never leave us and the inspiration and unconditional love you gave us will remain lit forever.  We will miss you greatly.

Obi Wan Coltrain

For more pictures of our boy visit Dom's gallery and blog.

Our Buddy

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mother Earth

You can see a larger version here.

I recently created an illustration for a charity event being held by (no name) Art Group here in Philly.  It is in honor of earth day and the proceeds will be going to charity:water which is a non profit that provides clean drinking water to people in developing countries.  The event will be held on April 20 at B Square Gallery in Philly.  All artwork has been printed and will be available for inserts into a reusable water bottle.  Great fun for a great cause.

For my piece I wanted to focus on Mother Nature as a figure who is nurturing with an element of attitude.  I decided to incorporate a side kick of sorts and placed an otter on her shoulder.  I wanted him to hold something significant for Earth Day and thought of a wind turbine.  But it wasn't working so I decided to transform the turbine into a 3 spoke pinwheel.  Below are some of the stages that I went through and the final product that Sherry posted on the (no name) website.

Thumbnails to hash out some basic ideas.  This batch was just for me so it's more rough than what I would show an AD.

When deciding where to put the spokes of the pinwheel I found it helpful to paint all the lines that have been created from positioning.  This allowed me to see that the lines were converging on the otter and I wanted more direction heading towards the Mother's face.  The spokes of the pinwheel helped with that.  In addition I found that at the end the otter was getting lost in comparison to Mother's face.  Enter the rose colored monocle!  I always compare creating an illustration to dancing.  A constant back and forth until it creates a consistent harmony.

After I sent off my jpg and dropped my print off to Sherry at (no name) I was tickled to see that she chose my piece to represent the event!  Learned lesson.....when in doubt add a monocle!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shame on Me

It's been over 2 months since my last post which is .... well ... silly.  I have been doing a lot and my blog has taken a backseat.  I have updated my website, started a newsletter (you can sign up for it in the panel on the right----->), been working on freelance, teaching college classes and working on my "Animals" book.  It's been a great year so far and I hope the greatness grows.  Here are some images I have been working on just so you realize I'm not a liar!

Drawing in Graphite

 Mixed Media on 16x20 Masonite
Digital Color Studies

Drawing in Graphite

Drawing in Graphite

Drawing in Graphite

The above images are for my "Animals From History" book which is being featured on my kickstarter page.  I have been posting my backers' sponsored animals and some stories that go along with them on my updates page.  I have made some incredible connections with this project and feel that my sponsors' participation keep growing.  The images from Top to Bottom are as follows:

-Mr. Phox as Shakespeare (backer's drawing)
-The San Diego Zoo Snow Leopards as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (original will be on sale at -Spectrum Live in May)
-Fenris as Jizo (color studies for backer's painting)
-Mocha as Audrey Hepburn (original will be on sale at Spectrum Live in May)
-Teddy as Kublai Khan (backer's drawing)
-Trixie as Florence Nightengale (backer's drawing)

There are MANY more that are complete, in progress and still in preliminary stages.  I'll try and keep you updated!  As always, thank you everyone for your interest and support!