Thursday, December 06, 2012

PROJECT: Illustration for 'Lives in the Balance' Conference

One of my clients asked me to do an illustration to be used for poster art, coffee mugs and other media for his upcoming conference. We met and discussed various text items that needed to be included as well as what kind of imagery he was looking for. It was to have a Maine theme focusing on children learning. Here is the result.

It was a really fun project that was completed concept to final art within a week. I used pen and ink for the main part of the illustration, then colored a high resolution scan in photoshop. I then brought the entire piece into Illustrator where I incorporated the text. I'm happy to say, we're already discussing what next year's conference art might look like.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


As summer meandered its way along this year, I decided to try and take a different approach to pushing my creative buttons. My friends at Maine Home Accents suggested I start painting again since I had painted their windows. They provided me with a couple panels to get started. I was excited to try out a new medium to paint on as I had always painted on canvas or linen. Once I primed the wood panel, I had to decide what to paint for the first time in 17 years. I figured, stick with Maine as the theme since it's going to be for sale in a home decor store. I thought about doing something I had never tried before and a fish came to mind. After some image research I really liked the colors and reflective qualities of the Maine Black Crappie (Yes, I know, I did a crappie painting) Anyway, here's what ended up coming off my brush.
Maine Black Crappie

After tackling that topic and being pretty happy that my painting skills hadn't really diminished, aside from my eyesight. (The over 40 curse) I wondered what I could do next. Dinner that night had the answer for me. Since I was trying to gear this work toward summer visitors' interest, I decided to dive whole hog into a Lobster. I wanted to give it a special "Maine" feel, so I added the text of Maine behind it. Aside from the crooked cropping from my iphone photo, this captures the colors pretty accurately
Maine Lobster

I was now in lobster land. I wanted to do another take on it. I felt this should have a rustic appeal that someone might hang in their camp kitchen or dining room. Fortunately my friends at Home Accents had a bunch of well weathered picket fence sections. I grabbed a handful of them with the intention of making a panel out of the pieces. Then I decided this lobster would be red and more of a caricature, rather than trying for anatomical accuracy. I went with essentially the same Maine text theme and voila:
Lobster Picket

I finally started catching my stride. I wanted to keep doing what I hadn't aggressively done in more than 20 years since Art School. It was at this point a few friends on Twitter had noticed these pictures as I began posting them. One friend had asked if I could do something more scenic. We chatted back and forth about the majesty of trees and how the human form could be seen in many of them. I ran with the idea as she gave me the go ahead. I also decided to stretch my own canvas. Again, it all came back to me as I went through the processes. Once I was ready to paint, I recalled all those William Alexander/Bob Ross moments I watched faithfully as a kid and started going at those "happy little trees".
Strength Against the Elements

After completing this one, I realized how much I loved doing trees. I really wanted to understand the different types and how weatherworn they can be, so I decided to do a series of trees as a study. I had a bunch of small 12x8 panels so I collected them all and started trying to capture different elements of Maine coastal trees.
Sun Bleached Sentry
Wind Whipped
Sunset Branches
Hiding in the Rocks

Flailing in the Fog
So now that I had the trees out of my system, I wondered what I could do next. I realized that Autumn was fast approaching, so I remembered some photos I took of leaf textures on the ground in my yard. This would be a good opportunity for me to also work thicker with the paint in my endless effort to get a more 'painterly' technique.

Autumn Palette

At this point I had caught the eye of several other online friends and had been asked by someone to complete a large piece as an anniversary gift for his wife. This was to be a big challenge as the topic was a scene in downtown Portland. Also I had to try and capture the proper time of day and include some other personal elements. Long story short, here's the finished piece. Local Portlanders should be able to recognize its location.

One Longfellow Square
Now, ecstatic that I overcame several challenges with this last piece, I had the opportunity to do another tree piece, in a more muted, monochromatic technique. I got to break out the palette knives for this one because I wanted to capture chunky rock textures. Also, I got to add fog - something that can be very challenging when working with acrylics because of their quick drying time.

Above the Ground Clouds

At this point, I have several others in the works and will share them in subsequent posts. If anyone would be interested in having something done for them, please don't hesitate to contact me about the details. I finally found something I love to do that also brings joy to others. It's funny how life takes you around full circle sometimes and you realize that what made you happy earlier in life is exactly what makes you happy now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's that wonderful time again when I get to create another album (CD) cover for the inimitable Jack Grace. This process and partnership was established as a collaborative process from the very beginning back in 1998. Jock's colorful music has evolved over the years - as has his album artwork. I've been fortunate enough to be an integral part of the whole creative process for every one.

Our first priority was to create a new logo and tagline for the band that could be used as the basis for stickers and t-shirts and other swag. Jack had a great vision as the the feel of this one, so he went and actually drew it. He even used rulers and markers -a very impressive effort - one that was the basis for the final approved artwork here:

This will be used in a variety of ways on a multitude of mediums. Next step will be to create the CD package and the actual disc artwork. I'll be sure to share in not only the finished product, but also the process as it comes along. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 08, 2012

CeNita Vineyards & Cooperage

I got the assignment to develop a log for a vineyard named CeNita that would also have a separate cooperage (barrel making) business as well. After getting the overall story of the family heritage and getting a good sense of the style they were looking for, I went to work on an exploratory.

The client was attracted to the tree/roots combination and asked for further refinement.

I went two routes, one being the more "bendy" iconic vineyard type tree and one that was more native to Northeast Georgia where they're located. After an internal debate among the other shareholders, it was decided to combine several elements from the intial exploratory.

It was at this point I was also asked to illustrate a barrel graphic to incorporate with the Cooperage logo - which would help differentiate it from the vineyard while still staying with the parent brand. Now came time for the final decision based on the 3 options provided. 

This was a fun project because a lot of the brand personality had been firmly established to this point. I look forward to seeing this artwork on bottles, printed material in the not too distant future.

I Made a Mashable Article!!

Good to see that playing in Photoshop can sometimes pay off (at least in traffic)