Thursday, October 29, 2009

More AI shots...

I got a few more production shots of the American Illustration annual today- and had to share them. This is torture not being able to look at it up close! But I'll give you my full review once I get an actual copy in hand.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Tour

I spent the last two weeks on a mini 'book-tour' for my John Brown book. I was in Harpers Ferry for the 150th Anniversary of the John Brown Raid (John Brown Palooza '09), did some readings, a workshop, attended the JB Academic Symposium, met Danny Glover and (best part) walked the raid route from the infamous Kennedy Farmhouse to Harpers Ferry on the night of the anniversary in a moving reenactment of the raid itself. Over the week, I was able to get off a few rounds in my sketchbook as well.

Here is my book in the Harpers Ferry National Park Bookstore- see the John Brown plushy there next to it? Had to get one.

Also, did a book signing with Evan Carton, the superstar who wrote "Patriotic Treason"- a great John Brown Biography.

After that, we left for Lawrence, Kansas for a reading, signing and short lecture on illustrating difficult subject matter for children at Signs of Life Gallery on beautiful downtown Massachusetts Street. I ran into a few former students, a handful of people I had seen in Harpers Ferry the week before, the relatives of John H. Cagy (one of John Brown's Raiders) not to mention many people who were eager to talk about the book and John Brown's legacy in Kansas.

...the astonishing geography of 'the Ferry'- looking east down the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Media Blitz, Part II

After the tragic game two loss of the Cardinals last week in rhe NLDS, I returned to my computer to several messages wondering if my drawing from the LA Times was on the broadcast! (Of course, I had deleted it from my DVR in protest right after Matt Holliday's fateful non-catch.) Well, thanks to archiving hero Andy Kerckhoff, here it is- in beautiful LD (Low-Def). I don't get a shout out by name, but a slight bit of research would have told them the illustrator was from St. Louis, the game they are covering! (sound is low- still working on it-i'll post one with better sound tomorrow)


With the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, there have been many new reviews of the new book, including two new Starred Reviews!

From Publishers Weekly:

A small highlight- "... Hand-hewn, period-fashion fonts spell out Brown's pronouncements and biblical quotations, underlining his convictions. A strong introduction to Brown's controversial legacy."

A starred review from BookList:

Hendrix, who illustrated the terrific Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek (2008), now tries his hand as both author and artist in this account of one of America’s more controversial figures. He traces how John Brown went from conducting slaves along the Underground Railroad to espousing violent insurrection as a means to end slavery. Unflinchingly, he recounts the sometimes brutal lengths to which Brown was driven by his abolitionist furor, walking the line between lauding and condemning the man while making the case for his ideals, if not all his actions. At times, especially evident in the account of the doomed raid on Harpers Ferry, Hendrix loses the reins of the story and reveals his inexperience as a writer, but his inspired ink and- watercolor illustrations help smooth over the rough patches. Reinforcing Brown as a larger-than-life folk hero, the pictures are exhilarating as he twists into Kansas as a righteous tornado in one scene, harrowing as a noose tightens around the battered, unrepentant man in another. While the intense and complicated subject matter reserves this picture book for older readers, the attention-commanding artwork (and indeed, the entire book design) is so magnificently rendered that students who might be resistant to reading about historical figures, especially in a picture–book format, will be drawn in. By embracing Brown’s complexity, especially in the well-argued afterword, Hendrix sows acres of fertile ground for discussion about motivations and repercussions, and the direness of the conflict over slavery that would soon plunge the nation into civil war.
— Ian Chipman

From Horn Book Review:

Let’s face it: when John Brown stormed Harpers Ferry, he earned the historical reputation as a crazed zealot sacrificing his rag-tag army for his own fanaticism. Hendrix shifts his biography away from this view, showing how Brown’s growing militarism began with a wish for all races to be treated equally, exploded in violence as Kansas bled with slavers and free-staters fighting on the border, and concluded with his stand at Harpers Ferry in 1859 and subsequent hanging. Brown is presented as a larger-than-life figure, a rough-hewn man whose physical features and quoted statements become visually more emphatic as the book progresses. But the rock-solid landscape compositions, all earth tones and cool blues, set the stage for Hendrix to argue his premise in a concluding author’s note: that a sensible concern for hostages, rather than ineptness or zeal, led to Brown’s capture and trial. Still, the debate about the ends justifying the means is timely—the jacket art showing Brown marching on with two small black children could well be captioned “Onward Christian Soldiers.” An author’s note, bibliography, and index conclude the book. -B.C.

And a nice review from the book blog 100 Scope Notes:

A highlight: "Vivid, detailed, bold, memorable – Hendrix works wonders here with pen & ink and acrylic washes. Earth tones are rendered in crystal-clarity, providing a crispness that makes some other books seem out-of-focus in comparison. Hand-lettered passages pop up intermittently, highlighting important elements of the story. The result is a book that feels like a statement..."


Moving to audio/visual-

David Weinberg, an independent radio producer also did a nice story on the book, that aired on The St. Louis Beacon's website. Hoping it will find its way to NPR sometime soon. It is found here and also on the Beacon's homepage for now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Princess Leia, slightly older

A quick portrait for an interview with Carrie Fisher about her new book and one-person show "Wishful Drinking"- for More Magazine.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I was asked with a bunch of other great illustrators to design a custom lampshade as part of a benefit for Inner-City Arts in LA. It was fun to combine some of my drawings with the problem of projecting light through the back of them.

Here is a 3-D comp of the lamp they are selling with my drawings on it. It is a limited edition of only three... and here is the full art below. $200 bucks each, and you get the lamp too!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

American Illustration 28

Over the summer, I was given the extreme honor of working with Matthew Lenning on the art for this years American Illustration annual, number 28. Truly, I've never had a project that produced as much emotional anxiety as this did over the three months we worked on it together. I would often wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas, forced to go to the studio and get them down before I could sleep again. A few shots of the final book, from the vendor.

I've made a long and detailed post on the process over at my corner of the illustration blog Drawger. Head over there for much more on how this came together.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Freeway Series

Growing up in St. Louis, I love baseball- so I'm always up to take any work diamond-related illustration. This cover for the Playoff Preview for The Los Angeles Times represents the hope of greater So-Cal for a 'freeway-series' between the Dodgers and the Angels. (No chance.) With the team colors, it seemed an opportunity to draw the fans and players connected to the quintessential LA architectural feature- the overpass. Thanks to Derek Simmons for the great gig.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


I'm revealing my dark secret- all my work is actually paint-by-number! I discovered a vast catalog of unused P-B-# illustration at a rummage sale and have fabricated an entire career out of my lucky find!

Actually, this is the upcoming cover of Hemispheres, the United Airlines in-flight magazine. I did one for them a few months back (giant panda with cute sailboats, etc.) The topic was awesome, the revitalization of New Orleans. But, I had to put the tendency to draw disasters in my back pocket. You may not be aware of this, but in-flight magazines are mandated to be incredibly perky.

My favorite two ideas above.
The first a play on 'Re-NEW ORLEANS' (probably a trite play on words by now) with colorful parade behind French Quarter porch row. The second a paint-by-number, with the uncolored part being destroyed by the hurricane and the colored in part being restored back to glory. I thought this was a nice nod to the events of August 2005, without being too gloomy. But, even that amount of gloom was too much. So, I revised the sketch to show the band coloring the town with their music (or something.)

A shot of the pile of reference I had to track down. One hard task: create a true sense of an environment you really aren't able to see first hand. For something as iconic as the French Quarter, you really have to know what you are drawing.

It was something of at trick to get the image to appear like it was being colored in when the way I work involves black lines (not blobs of color shapes like a traditional P-B-#). I was really concerned it wasn't working about halfway through the inking... then started using more black and it popped out. Without all the solid blacks, the blue lines just looked like they were turning into black.