Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Golden Shadow and Merry Christmas

Well, I guess I can post this now that it is a gift given. For my grandparents I painted a 16"x20" acrylic painting of their baby Shadow. As I didn't have the dog here in person, I drew the underlying sketch based on reference photos and painted the background from imagination. The title "Golden Shadow" is a nod to Michael Whelan's similarly golden painting for the Otherland books ;)

Merry Christmas everyone! I know mine was a merry and satisfying day. I am currently tired and full but happy... as is fitting after such a day of presents, food, and family.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Wishes and Covey Awards

Apologies for the lack of updates. Like many people around the holidays, I've been busy with all sorts of things both art and not. I've been doing commissions, painting a really nice gift for a certain relative, buying and wrapping presents and getting together a business winter mailing (among other things).

I also saw The Golden Compass a couple days ago. The verdict is like but not love. Visually it was beautiful. Plot-wise I feel like they lost a good deal of the book's depth. A fun and enjoyable movie all the same :)

I got e-mails from the author and publisher on a contest my cover art has been nominated for. Please vote for my cover painting on The Fireborn Chronicles at the Covey Cover Awards. [There are polls vertically along either side of the blog, one for Most Eye-Catching Cover and one for Most Relevant Cover. My cover is #18 for both.] If you have a couple seconds please vote. Let's show up those photo manipulators! ;) Thank you so much.

Oh yes, I also updated my site with the image below... check out the full version in the Children's Illustration Gallery at

Warm Winter Wishes!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Enchanted and Tides

I finished the mock cover image for The Tides of Avarice by John Dahlgren and added it to my site!

On a random note, I saw Disney's Enchanted a couple days ago and really enjoyed it. :) It made me giggle about as much as the 10 year old girls sitting nearby.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fox Pirates and Post 80

My 80th post wow! It's been practically a month since I last posted too... er. What can I say? I've been super busy with a variety of projects. Below is the progress for one I'm currently working on. Besides other people's stuff, I'm again stirring the waters of the River of Dreams. I'd like to have it in submittable from for the Red Cygnet Press contest (ie December 31).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fireborn Finished!

I finished up the Fireborn cover today. I also updated my website with both the Lachlei and the Fireborn cover artwork. I'm toying with the idea of doing "mock" up covers in Photoshop for all of the book covers I've done, that would be an easy way to show them "in action" as book covers along side the artwork.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fireborn Cover Progress

Further work on the girl's hands and such. Also, I did a page of potential title text choices.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fireborn Painting

More work on the main girl. A lot of fiddling with her face... Next up is a re-visit of her hands and that darn bowl.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lachlei Final

Just tweaking a bit more. This is 99.9% done now, I swear!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Still far to go on the main girl. I do think it is starting to get somewhere though...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lachlei Getting Closer to Done

This is nearing the finish line. In the past couple of days I've done a considerable amount of tweaking of the composition, as well as the positioning and poses of the wolves. I've also done a bit of selective blurring, as I wanted a greater sense of motion.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lachlei Painting

I think I'm finally starting to get the Yeth to work. The initial sketches for most of them were far too stiff and as this is supposed to be an action scene that had to change. Still a way to go yet... but after many many hours and switching from ArtRage to Painter and back to Photoshop, I'm ready to give this a rest for a day or two.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Let There Be Color!

The "colorful" beginnings of the two current covers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fireborn Line Art

It looks so flat as just lines. I can't wait to start with color and get that atmosphere back.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lachlei Line Art

Today I finished up the line art for Lachlei.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fireborn and Lachlei

I split my time between two projects today. I worked first on the thumbnails for a book called The Fireborn Chronicles by Mary Andrews, to be published by Swimming Kangaroo Press.

I spent the second half of the day working on the Lachlei cover, mostly on cleaning up the wolves. I also shrunk the whole sketch a bit to make sure I had good title text room...I've thrown some text in there, It'll probably change when I really get into doing the title, but for now it works well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lachlei Rough Sketch

I did more work on one of my current book cover projects (hint: it is the same one I did the concepts below for). The book is titled Lachlei and is a fantasy novel by Margaret H. Bonham, to be published by Dragon Moon Press. Today, I worked on the rough sketch, trying to find a good layout based on the thumbnails we liked best. At the moment there are still a great deal of items that need to be refined, but I do think I like the way it is coming along.

The Author's Website
The Author's Blog
Publisher's Website

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Demon Hounds

Working on the look of the demon hounds for one of the covers in progress. The author didn't want them to look cute. I don't think they look that cuddly, though I could be wrong... Maybe they are a little...Okay, where can I get one for a pet? Done mostly in Art Rage 2 (the first time I've used layers in that program or tried something a little more complicated) in a few hours, with "touch-ups" in Photoshop.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Celtic Music and ConceptArt.Org Workshops

Wow, after watching THIS video I really want to attend a Massive Black Workshop. Seattle Washington this December, too bad it beat out DC...

So I worked on thumbnails for the current book cover this morning. I worked on one of my own picture book illustrations this afternoon. I also got an e-mail about another cover from a different publisher. Right up my alley too. I'm psyched!

Oh yes, and I must mention a wickedly cool CD that arrived in the mail today. It's called Window to a World by Aeone. She's sort of a crossover artist, part pop, part cetlic, part bluegrass, a very world feel. I love it. I'm jammin' to it even now. Speaking of celtic, I watched a really lovely live concert recorded at Slane Castle by Celtic Woman last night (courtesy netflix ;). Great stuff.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nectarine Study

After struggling with a certain painting yesterday, I decided that it might be good to paint something that wasn't complicated or frustrating. Partially inspired by the awesome daily paintings of Duane Keiser. The study below was done in ArtRage 2, from life, in about 2 hours.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Clouds and Books

I spent the day painting another variation of clouds for the current children's book illustration. I think, dare I say it, I have a sky that will work. Finally! Other than that I've been waiting for feedback on my text "proposals" for the cover of a small press fantasy manuscript. Publishing really is a hurry up and wait business.

I've got a load of neat books at the library this past week. I'm currently reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. It is interesting to be reading them in tandem, as they are at times conflicting and at other times uncannily similar. Walking is turning out to be a book I'd like to buy, despite the tacked-on paragraphs of religious references invariably at the end of each chapter. There are a number of passages I'd like to have at hand to read again and again. For the most part it is an honest, plain, and truthful exploration of the creative life. It has a very "been there done that feel," an authenticity that could only come from personal experience. Creative Habit is good too, just not quite as applicable to 2d visual art as performance art. I like the emphasis on routine, ritual, and work.

I'm off to walk the 7 pound poodle of terror. Then a quick nap (naps mmmmmm rock) and off to my sister's place for dinner. Lasagna and Peaches and Cream pie (which has been chilling in our fridge since I made it yesterday) :)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Rest in Peace Madeleine L'Engle

I was sent a link to this article by a friend.

Madeleine L'Engle died this past Thursday at the age of 88. She has been one of my most admired authors for at least a decade. My favorite of her books are A Winkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light. Both contain such a wonderful blend of sadness, beauty, truth and mysticism. Her book Madeleine L'Engle {Herself} is one of the most inspirational that I own. I always wanted to meet her, but now I'll never get the chance. I feel like I know her through her works, which live on. Farewell Ms. L'Engle.

"Infinity is present in each part. A loving smile contains all art. The motes of starlight spark and dart. A grain of sand holds power and might."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Skyscape and L-24

Been working on some G-14 classified (or maybe L-24?) artwork. Yep, my children's book. I finally decided to dust off the book dummy and get those remaining two finished "sample" paintings done. I spent a good deal of yesterday and today paining and repainting and re-repainting a certain 'scape of ocean and clouds. Urrggggg! I now have the utmost respect for those artists who are good at such things. I do think I've found a solution to my problem though, but it calls for one killer skyscape.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Adding Light

Yesterday I received my copy of the 2008 Children's Writers & Illustrators Market in the mail. I've been reading the articles in the front whenever I need a break from painting. The ones I've read so-far are really quite informative and helpful. They even have a nice review of the basic rights that might appear in a contract.

In other news, my sister stopped by for lunch which resulted in what can best be described as a flurry of ideas for the graphic novel project. We solidified a good bit more of the plot to our liking.

More work on the Snow Queen. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do about the lighting design.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Snow Queen Returns

Today I took a break from characters designs and worked a bit more on the Snow Queen piece. As I was not pleased with the painting step I ended on last time, I scrapped it and started from the rough sketch. From there I made multiple layers of clean line art for each part of the image. After that I blocked in solid colors for each object (each on their own layer). The next step is going to be to get more local color into each part and to start on shading and adding dimension.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Web Comics and Foxprints

Another discovery made today. Perusing DeviantArt I came across the gallery of tracyjb and shortly thereafter her website. Ooogling at her wonderful character sketches and web comic got me thinking. And we all know how dangerous that can be... I in the space of the last few hours I've come up with an exciting idea for a graphic novel of my own that I am bouncing up and down about. Not to mention beginning sketches of the main character and a couple possible titles for the whole series. I think it will be the perfect way to get more practice drawing and less painting (and get my butt in gear), all while actually creating something worthwhile. There is nothing like standing on the edge of something new to make you want to leap.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Love the Work

There are things I blog about so that I can let others know, and there are things I put in my blog so I can help myself remember. Yesterday I discovered the site of Keri Smith via a post on that linked to her "Artist's Survival Kit." The kit itself is a delightful five PDF pages for the artist who is feeling down. I liked it so much I got to looking around the rest of her site. In my exploration I discovered "Seven Steps to Getting Published" and "How to Make a Living Doing What you Love." The point she makes about loving your work spoke to me most deeply. And this:

why is it that so many times we have difficulty seeing our own light?

I also found two of her books on Amazon that I'd sorely like to buy, the non-planner datebook especially.

I was playing around with the an online version of the Myers Briggs personality test (here). Looks like I'm an INFJ, which appears to be one of the rarest types. This nifty link on explains it pretty well.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First Sketches for The Snow Queen

A bit of beginning work for the Fairytale Thunderdome competition. I still think I'm happier with the sketch than I am with the next step. Hmmm...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Interior Illustrations and Beliefs

Just finished up an interior illustration project for a client. For something so off my beaten path, it was surprisingly fun -owning much to how easy the client was to work with.

As I don't have any other projects lined up at the moment, I hope to get some work done on my Thunderdome entry. I think I arrived at a composition I liked in my sketching last night.

This is completely random, but I picked up a slew of poetry books a while back and am just getting around to reading them. The choice of the moment is a thick book of poetry by Robert Frost. It's actually quite fun to read (in moderation before bed). Anyway, I came upon a passage in one of his poems last night that really jumped out at me:

For, dear me, why abandon a belief
Merely because it ceases to be true.
Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt
It will turn true again, for so it goes.
Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favor.

Seems odd at first, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Aren't most things in this world periodic? Fashion, art, politics, hmmm...

In other news my Under the Raspberry Canes entry to cypherx's "Best Friends" contest has made it to the Finalists Round!

Here are the new interior illustrations I spoke of:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stardust in My Eye

I just came home from the local theater where I saw Stardust. I loved it! I think it shines best (he he) in the relationship between Yvaine (Claire Danes) and Tristan (Charlie Cox). Tristan's character was just so boyishly cute and hilarious. Hugable, very hugable. And Claire as Yvaine is just awesome. Such chemistry between them. I'll admit at the very beginning I was a little apprehensive, but by the end I had been charmed completely. The humor throughout was quite lovely, especially the whole dead princes thing and the tough-guy *cough* Captain. One of the most sophisticatedly humorous movies I've seen in a looong time. I love the way that they did the whole star thing. Awww...

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Work and Best Friends

Site update. Wooh! I just finished up a "personal" painting for a contest Cypherx is holding on Deviant Art. The theme is "Best Friends." I did a painting inspired by one of my favorite childhood stories: The Velveteen Rabbit.

See this Deviant Art link for the image.

And this one for the required WIP.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Book 7 and a Daily Sketch

I finished Harry Potter Book 7 today! I actually had only just started reading it yesterday. I swore to myself that I wouldn't read more than an hour a day, but, well, that didn't quite work out... I won't spoil anything for those who've yet to read it, but I can say that it was gripping and enjoyable -even if it wasn't quite the way I envisioned.

The image below is inspired by that book and also done for the topic "Harry Potter" on the CG Talk Daily Sketch Forum. Done in ArtRage 2 again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Moon Garden for Illustration Friday

Moon Garden

Moon Garden is now in my Concept Art portfolio.

This morning I decided to participate in Illustration Friday for the first time ever (something I have been meaning to do for a looong while). The topic this week is "moon." I did the above image in the space of a few hours in ArtRage 2.

In other news: the huge site update is finished! The biggest change is that I finally broke the portfolio down into different sections, deciding what they should be was a struggle unto itself. In the end I decided on: Children's Fantasy, General Fantasy and Science Fiction, Concept Art, and Process (which houses images like image step-by-steps and thumbnail sketches). Oh yeah, I also added good deal of new art. ;)

I finally decided to break out of the vertical rectangle thumbnails I had been using, as I've been doing more and more images that are horizontal in nature and having to crop them to the opposite format is just weird. Rather than make square thumbnails, I though I'd just keep the aspect ratio as is and then fill in around the image with background (so as not to mess up my tables).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Apples, Pizza, and NetMail

A long day spent battling my website, it seems that even fairly minor updates, if they involve more than a few images or changes, are an ordeal. As a result, I have a rather splitting headache at the moment.

I did manage to finish the Ruby Apple image, which is now in my gallery as well as below. I expect to use it in a self-promotion postcard mailer campaign soon.

Which remains me, I just received my "sample" postcard from the post office today. The US Postal Service has an online mailing service known as NetPost, from which one can create, upload, have printed, and have mailed various sorts of letters, brochures, and postcards. But, I must admit I am rather disappointed in the print quality. Which is a shame because this is such an easy way to do small mailings and so much more convenient than having to do all of that stuff manually. *Sigh*

Well, I'm off to Sarah's for an evening with The Fam: pizza, movies and such. Should be fun.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Toadstool Palace

You know, I don't think that traditional artists (as in non-computer) understand the art rage that comes with suddenly not being able to open a file one has spent much time on.

The painting below it how I amused myself during a frustrating day of wanting to finish the apple image and not being able to open it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Art Rage and The Key

So I discovered a really nifty new computer paint program... It's called Art Rage. One of my favorited artists on CG Portfolios had updated with a new image and listed this little program as one of the softwares. I liked the effect so I googled it. After playing with the free version for a few hours I bought the paid version. This $20 program it has Photoshop and Painter beat for oil painting on the computer. There is such a wonderfully visceral feeling of paint about it. Not to mention it is fast, has a nice interface, and even lets you tack reference images up along the side. And the tool shortcuts are all numbers! (Something I'd wished for in both Photoshop and Painter for years). Below is the product of my playing around with Art Rage 2 for a couple of hours this morning. I love the oil painted look.

I did indeed see Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix in IMAX. It was almost too big. I think part of the problem is that the seats we got were far to low. If you ever go to an IMAX the highest middle seats are best! I have mixed feelings about the film itself: I loved the acting, the effects, the direction, but I hated the way they left so very much out. To say they cut out the plot by 1/2 is being generous... It was also very choppy feeling in parts, like they'd tried so hard to include certain things that they only showed a few seconds of certain scenes, giving the movie itself a trailer-like feel (complete with one-liners) that was unsatisfying. Fun to watch, but certainly not my favorite Potter movie. All four that came before this were better by far. But what was I expecting when the longest book is made into the shortest movie?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Ruby Apple

I'm immensely excited about seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in IMAX tommorrow. It's been years since I've seen anything at an IMAX. The last 20 min of the movie (the battle at the ministry I assume) are going to be IMAX 3D. Wicked!

In other movie news, I saw Ratatouille yesterday. What a cute well-done movie. Eye-candy with a good message. Props to all the artists at Pixar. :)

More work on the ruby apple painting. Mostly Painter though I have cheated a bit and used some Photoshop.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Ruby Apple

I've been working on my first personal piece in a while. The concept/title "Ruby Apple" comes from a neat little bag of fantasy-ish phrases I made up. I've actually done most of this in Painter X (which I just got). I'd say the program has come a ways since Painter 5, which was really the last time I used it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading and Thinking

So it might appear that I've not been up to a whole lot lately, this is an illusion. I've had my pointy nose in more things than I can recall, just not a whole not of new artwork that I can share at the moment. I've been reading a ton. I've downed 3 Barbara Sher books in the past few weeks: Wishcraft, Live the Life You Love, I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What it Was... I've also read a number of books on creativity and writing, among them: Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg, Dreams and Wishes by Susan Cooper. I'm now reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I've been journaling a lot I've been free-writing a bit. Why all of this? Well, I am trying to figure out where I'm heading and what I'm doing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Self-Promotion for Illustrators

No, I'm not dead, I've just been busy. At the moment I'm working on a Middle Eastern Sci-Fi book cover. I'm also working on a couple of my own children's book illustrations, which is kind of an odd combo if I think about it.

Apart from the art, I've been recently thinking a bit more about self-promotion as an illustrator and various promotional strategies. I basically need to come up with a schedule/method of promotion that is effective and, a big one, sustainable (and by that I mean I can afford to do it multiple times a year). I understand that what is sustainable to me as a beginning illustrator may be a fraction of what I can do in a few years, but I've gotta start somewhere. What good is a 500 post card mailing when I can only afford to do it once a year? Exactly.

So chatting with Val (from IotF) via, e-mail has caused me to think about this whole promo thing in a different light, one that I'm rather shocked I didn't see before. See, I'd been thinking about promotional mailings (postcards, to be exact) in terms of quantity, how many publishers, etc, I could find that listed fantasy, science-fiction, or children's books as a genre they handle.

I realize it may be far more effective to think in terms of quality, or who is best suited to using work like mine (and who I most would like to do work for). In line with this, I've been trying to come up with a very short list (half-dozen) of publishers who would be a perfect match. I then want to work hard to get their Art Directors' attentions. At the moment, I'm thinking that a monthly or bi-monthly postcard mailing (a different related image each time) would be a good start. Here, I'm thinking about future submissions of a manuscript + book dummy, and that it would be much more likely to be looked at if they already "knew my name," so to speak.

I still mean to do some sort of mass promotion. At the moment e-mailings seem to be the most attractive option, as they don't cost anything (above finding or otherwise acquiring the e-mail addresses).

We shall see what comes of it all...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feeding the Artist

So, I've been busy improving my artist self as of late. I got the Structure of Man DVDs a little while back, I've been trying to do about 10 lessons a day. I'm also really enjoying watching the Gnomon Series of DVDs on Visual Storytelling by Iain McCaig. Great stuff! I love his idea of drawing each image twice (parts of it three times):

1.) First you draw the sketch with no references, trying to capture all of the passion and vision in your mind.

2.) Then you find references for everything (that you need to) and do studies from these until you've memorized them.

3.) Then you draw the scene again, working in all of your research while keeping the fluidity of the initial sketch.

I'm also in negotiations on a couple possible projects and I just finished picture book manuscript #2. I figure I'd be good to come up with as many stories as I can and write them out, that way for my next illustration project I'll have a lot to chose from.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Desk

The new more neck-friendly set-up is pretty much finished :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shenandoah Valley Artists' Group

I'm in the process of forming a local Shenandoah Valley artists group over at It will be geared toward the practice and study of art fundamentals and be run in a forum-like fashion (where members take turns teaching). More info is available at the thread:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Small Magics Cover Art!

New artwork posted on my site. This is the cover image for Small Magics by Erik Buchanan, to be published by Dragon Moon Press.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Site Design!

New Design for my Fantasy Illustration Portfolio - Help me work out the hiccups!

Like the topic says, I've been slaving away on a new website design for my online fantasy/sci-fi/children's illustration portfolio. After getting a new monitor (long story) I realized that there were quite a few problems with the old one I decided it was time.

It is pretty much done at this point. There shouldn't be any issues. I very much want to know of any funny business you encounter, whether it be a page or image that isn't linked correctly, or a spelling error (not that I ever make any of those ;). I'm also super-curious whether or not my shiny new lytebox image script, the code that brings my portfolio images up, works for you. Oh yes, please tell me your browser and resolution along with any comments :)

Here's the link:


Friday, March 23, 2007

A Startling Realization

So this morning, I checked my e-mail. Nothing. Or rather not the go-ahead I need to take the next step. You see, I'm still waiting for a response from the author to nail out details for the sketch (for my latest cover art project). And I thought: "there goes another day." But then I got to thinking (yes, more thinking!) and I realized something

...something very important that I've been missing.

Ever since graduating I've been focused on getting and doing paying illustration work. Art for other people. I've often gone months without doing anything (art-wise) just for myself. In fact, I did more of what I wanted when I was a student and that was with loads of classwork. And -a confession here- when the inevitable lolls came between jobs I'd would do a bit of illustration "business" work, but mostly I mess around.

But it isn't really the art for other people, the book covers, etc, that will get me to my dream situation, it's the art that I'm always "too busy" for: my own. Because, while I do aim to continue working on book covers, and want to keep getting bigger and better cover projects, what I really would like to do is spend more of my time doing pictures from my imagination. I'd like to write and illustrate my own children's books. In fact, I dare say I'd like to pump most of my effort into this.

So WHY if I want to do my own pictures for my own stories aren't I farther along with it? Why in all of this "down time" have I not completed all 3 of the sample images I planned for River of Dreams? Not sent it off to prospective publishers? If I want to work toward my dream... Why?

A good question.

Luckily, today I found something helpful: Bobby Chiu's YouTube podcasts.

Here's an awesome digital painter/illustrator who has really inspiring philosophies on art & life which he shares as he paints a quick sketch. The man has me pumped. So much so, that instead of doing any goofing off today, I've made awesome progress in one of the aforementioned River of Dreams images. I'll not show it yet, least I jinx myself, but I'm pretty psyched! Thank you Bobby!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Daily Sketch Deluge

CG talk has a nifty sub-form called the Daily Sketch Forum. Each day a new topic is posted at random along with a time limit. I've participated previously, but it's been a looong, long time. As I'm cooling my heals waiting for author approval and choice on the thumbnails, I decided to have a little fun and practice child anatomy at the same time. Here they are from the last three days.

"Rain" 60 min:

"Early Spring" 60 min:

"Pure" 35 min:

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