Friday, September 26, 2008

Drawing In Church- 9/23

I've been posting less while I've been on 'book leave' - trying to finish all my art for the John Brown book, "The Oath of Freedom." I'm going to put some more previews up next week. For now, here is a recent one from the pew. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AC/DC & Why I Like Art Directors

SPIN called me to do the drawing that accompanied the album review of AC/DC's new album Black Ice. The lead single from the album, which they have three and a half stars, is called  Rock N' Roll Train. The content of the image was right there in the titles and I gleefully went to work on a sketch.

While I was working on it, I was frustrated with the way the elements were working and couldn't exactly articulate why. Fortunately, the art directors at SPIN asked me to revisit it, considering how I might make it more dynamic. They also said that the way the smoke was drawn reduced the clarity of the image. As a professional image maker, it is hard to hear criticism from others that should have been totally obvious in the first place. But they were right. The train was totally unaffected by gravity and the smoke was in the way. So, I redrew the whole sketch.

The revision is completely superior to the original drawing.  The smoke frames the band and the sky now works as a much more active negative shape...basic 2D design principles. I'm so glad the Art Director, Liz Macfarlane, didn't approve the first one, despite my interior grumbling. I revised the Angus likeness and created the final.

Liz felt that the yellow had the effect of de-emphasizing the band. So, we settled on the solution of desaturating the background. Overall, the final effect is a clearer visual hierarchy and tighter color palate.

No illustrator wants to be 'meddled with' during their process, but I must admit in many cases like this one, my work was made better- perhaps a lot better. The design field is incredibly collaborative, and there are benefits if you are willing to submit to the idea that others might be able to judge your work better than yourself.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Visual Essay: The Riverfront

My students are working on their first Visual Essay, a format pioneered by great illustrator/journalists like Robert Weaver among many others. Their location is the St. Louis riverfront, which at the moment is flooded and full of interesting sights. We took our first trip down there today. A few drawings from my sketchbook...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sambo Sketchbook

Over the weekend, I attended a symposium on 'Little Black Sambo', a racial charged 19th/20th century storybook series. The keynote speaker was legendary illustrator Jerry Pinkney.
Some 'notes'

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The Washington University school paper, The Record, did a nice story and interview with me in their Candenza section yesterday, in connection with the release of the Abe Lincoln book. I'm making buttons for the opening as we speak. Another good review:

"In 1816, seven-year-old Abe and his friend Austin go down to see Knob Creek, swollen and turbulent after heavy rains, and decide to use a log to cross it. When Abe falls into the water, Austin saves his life and Abe promises that he’ll never forget it. Even when he’s the president of a war-torn country, Abe fondly remembers his old friend. That’s the short version of the story, but this unusual and often amusing picture book offers much more than an illustrated reminiscence. Hopkinson sets a folksy tone at the beginning, saying that she liked this old tale so much that she’s asked her friend John “to help out by drawing some pictures.” The accompanying maplike ink-and-watercolor artwork shows the landscape of the Kentucky setting along with several elements of the narrative, even as the hand and brush of the illustrator get caught in the act of creating the scene. Hopkinson’s comments to herself, her audience, and her friend (the artist) will increase children’s awareness of the choices that go into telling a tale, even a supposedly true tale, and illustrating it. On the closing pages, the restatement of the moral is funny as well as thought provoking. Rewarding on many levels, this high-spirited picture book is an engaging example of metafiction for the younger set." — Carolyn Phelan

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Drawing In Church- 8/31

Forgot Time

A colleague at school saw this one in print, which reminded me that I didn't post it last week. A travel article about Orlando for Time Magazine. My first one for the US only version of Time.