Sunday, December 29, 2013

Handmade Holiday Gifts

Haven't posted much on the ole' blog lately as I just finished off a book and have been working on various other random projects over the holiday season. Took some time to wrap up some projects around the house along with making handmade gifts as shown below. The first couple pics show a bread box that I built and painted for my sister in just her style, the second group shows an incense holder I sculpted and painted for my wife which depicts Kirby the moose fishing in the same color kayak as my wives, the third group is of a jewelry cabinet I made for my wife, the fourth is a set of silverwear I made for my dad in the hopes they would make it a bit easier for him to eat (he has parkinsons), and the last couple of images show a bird feeder I built for my dad. Can't wait to get it put up to see how it looks with snow on the roof!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cobblestone Three and book fifteen!!!!

I've been super busy these past few months working on my recent book "Big ol' Striped Silas" which I've figured is now my fifteenth book!!!! Sooo hard to believe. This past month I had the opportunity to work on my third assignment for Cobblestone Magazine. Here are some final art from both projects.

Cobblestone: Civil Rights Leaders you should Know. Bond, Jemison, Murray, Steele



Friday, October 25, 2013

Entangled - IF

This weeks Illustration Friday word is "Entangled". This is a word I'm very familiar with lately as I've taken on a part time job to go with my full time illustration work and have found myself all wound up in various kinds of work.

    For my illustration work I recently moved the digital half of my studio to a part of the house with more foot traffic. Due to limited space in this new area I have my flat screen monitor hung on the wall and a swivel office chair that swivels between digital illustration mode and watching tv mode. The longer I stay in this environment the wires for headphones, wacom tablet, monitors, scanners and printers have multiplied and it has become more difficult to swivel without getting all tangled up.

   For my part time job I'm detailing cars and equally i find myself tangled in the water hose and the vacuum cord and hose while I try to wedge all 6'2" of me into a chevy impala one minute and into a cobalt the next. I can envision either of these situations making great illustrations and wish i had time to sketch them out.

     What i do already have sketched out though is a fellow who works as a veterinarian who finds himself all tangled in his work. This first sketch is the first round drawing for the vet in the book " The Little Boy With  No Name and No Birthday".
While I loved the technical aspects of the drawing and spent lots of time getting the folds and anatomy looking good, Ultimately I had to opt for a friendlier and more playful drawing.
The final art below.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vermont Oil and Watercolor Landscape Paintings

Each year I wait alllll   through the winter to finally have  a chance to go out and do some ala prima landscape paintings in the summer. The same was true of this year but unfortunately I never found a chance so far this summer to go out in the field and paint on location. A few weeks back i did finally take a bit of time to do a quick watercolor on location.
Then finally over the past couple of weeks i carved out some time from my current children's book to do a couple of oil landscape paintings of local vermont scenes. Both are done from photos though. The first is a barn in lyndonville vermont.
 I will have them for sale pretty much as soon as they dry and i can get  a frame on them. I'm not yet sure where i will have them for sale but considering local shops or the hospital, which displays local artists on their walls. This second one is from the top of Burke Mountain in East Burke Vermont looking out over Willoughby Gap and Willoughby Lake in Westmore Vermont. I've hiked Mnt. Hor, Mnt. Pisca and Blad Mnt. all visible in this image.

Friday, August 9, 2013

IF: Fresh

For this weeks illustration Friday I'm posting my very first Vermoosin' Design that i originally illustrated as a valentines card for my wife and later adjusted for various other products. Kirby the moose is seen offering up a FRESH boquette of flowers that he picked himself.*

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Free Vermoosin' Coloring Pages and an Introduction

For the coloring pages go to the end of this post.

      I was looking through the last few blog posts I did and realized I haven't really posted any of the illustrations from my new line of Vermoosin' Products yet. I've also been wanting to post some more free coloring pages for kids and since this bunch of illustrations belong entirely to me and I have good line drawings of them, I have the freedom to do that!

    So far I only have  a handful of illustrations as I rarely have time to work on my own projects. I have big ideas in my mind and am still considering doing a couple of different styles to see if maybe the full line is done in another medium or style than this. Actually the moose on the bottom right was done in watercolor as it was originally a design i made up for my wife for valentines day.  I worked in digital for the rest as I started out thinking of doing screen printed T's and needed to have a limited color pallet, but that route didn't work out and so for now I kept things simple using zazzle as my printer.*

    The illustrations I have so far.

         I'm hoping to eventually kickstart this project so I can actually give it the time and money it deserves. The moose's name is Kirby (my wife's home town) and I've begun to develop an entire back story to his existence which one day may make it into a children's book. He's a young energetic Vermont moose who pretty much enjoys any Vermont sport you can imagine (hiking, yaking, bowling, fishing, biking etc.) and of course his favorite drink is Vermont maple syrup which gives him all the energy he'll ever need for his wacky endeavours! I'm sure I'll reveal more of his story as time goes on but that's the basics.

some of the products you can find on my Vermoosin' store*

        Now for a few free coloring pages for kids to print out and use their own style to color in. These line art drawings were done with fine tip markers and then vectorized with inkscape to create clean crisp bold lines. Feel free to print out as many copies as you would like for students, doctors office, or your own kids. I would also love to see what they come up with so please send me a copy of their finished art to . If I get a handful of submissions or more I would be happy to show them on my blog with your permission. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Still Doing Digital Illustration and Loving it!

About a month ago I finished off my first digitally illustrated book and now I'm headed into a new series of three books that are also planned to be done digitally! I have a feeling once I get enough samples to show clients the possibilities, not many will want traditional mediums. That works out great as I will still be able to have fun doing oil and watercolor paintings for my landscapes while using digital for my books and Vermoosin' stuff.

I've already posted some samples from the first book, " Brave Roger Little Mumps and Me" but here they are again finished.

And heres a series of samples from my new book. These are just rough as we are wrapping up the character design stage. The final art will be more carefully crafted.  I've heard and seen that children's book are headed in the digital direction. In fact some people are saying that there won't be many traditional illustrators left as publishers will head more in the direction of having art that moves and that can be interacted with. So it's time for me to stop being stubborn and either ge ton board or be left behind. The good thing is that I'm loving digital so far so it's been a fun ride.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Frogzilla Digital Illustration Final

After a lot of reading and a few tutorials and some road blocks i finally have my first ever full page digital illustration about 95% done!!!  It took about twenty hours but most of that was just the learning curve and trying to be extra careful so I wouldn't accidentally lose lots of progress. I'm REALLY loving how quick and simple it is to make changes to color and or value. I'm hoping having digital under my belt will make my art more appealing to publishers as i plan to begin a  more vigorous marketing campaign.

I've come a loooong way since my very first digital sketch five years ago.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pigs Making a Splash!

I was happy to find out that this past weekend my newest book "Pigs! Under the Post office?"  was in the Burlington Free Press Newspaper. I was really surprised when I saw not only a couple of the illustrations included but they are actually in color! That's a first for me and already lead to one person who contacted me about my art.

The book is off to a good start so far as we did the WCAX interview a little while back and are looking onto book reading event options. It also already has three favorable reviews online which is hard to achieve in self published children's books. This book means a lot to me as it is a culmination of many of the things I strive to learn and apply in my art over the years. it has the whimsy, the bright color, the characters with differing expressions and movement and an overall fun backdrop.

Friday, May 24, 2013

First Full Page Digital Illustration

I spent the first half of the day doing my last bits of research and study on digital illustration and then finally dove in head first for the second half of the day!  I'm soooo happy with the results so far! This is my first ever  digital full page illustration. It took me over an hour just to figure out how to get the clouds painted over the blue gradient sky among a few other struggles but I can already tell how much faster this medium will be once I get things down pact. I also discovered all sorts of great keyboard commands that save an immense amount of time and will help me in my typical photoshop work. So much faster pressing a button to make brushes smaller rather than having to click the pull down menu. I'm also really enjoying the process of acquiring textures and figuring out which ones work best in the various parts of the illustration. My progress so far shown below.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Finally Going Digital!!!! . . . maybe?

Well, I've put it off long enough. I finally convinced one of my clients to let me go digital! I've committed to doing one full page illustration from my new book as a finished digital painting. Yesterday i finished up some color samples for a few of the full pagers. They are messy and the colors aren't really exactly what I want but they serve their purpose. 

If the first digital illustration doesn't come out as amazing as I'm imagining in my head I will likely end up doing the whole book in watercolor like my last six books. I feel like I have a lot riding on this. Hoping for the best!

In the past I've done various pieces of digital art but always stuff without backgrounds and without any sort of textures. This will be  a whole new experience for me as I plan to introduce textures and at this point I'm not planning to have a bold dark line. to paint inside of. I'm planning to have the line be an important element but more subdued than my past digital work. Their are many reasons I have kept from going digital before now and there are just as many reasons I've wanted to go digital. In the long run I think digital is going to make my work a ton better and will put me in better standing with the publishers. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Maple Tree Watercolor Painting Kirby Vermont

   This past weekend I finally had the opportunity to get my watercolors out for my first ala prima landscape painting of the season! I have to give credit for the inspiration and idea for this piece to my wife.

 I'll likely eventually post this for sale on my etsy store but for now I'm going to get a few more paintings done first so i can photograph them and post them all at the same time. I currently have seventeen items posted to my etsy store, various landscape originals and prints.

A little bit of the process work.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

FROGZILLA!!!! and other stories

Recently I've been working on one book project that has four stories within the book. Rather than illustrating every single page of the story we've decided to give each story one full page illustration and one spot illustration. I've come to believe this is going to make for  a much better book than most of my typical children's books as we have plenty of room for the text and plenty of room for the illustrations. I get to take the main action of the story and make two illustrations rather than trying to make twenty plus illustrations for each story which can sometimes result in a  lot of watered down illustrations. It also allows me to spend a bit more time with each illustration than I might normally be able to. Rather than trying to draw each character twenty times in different poses I can focus on each pose and facial expression until i feel it's right.

I've even found myself doing LOTS more ambitious spot illustrations than I would typically undertake. In the end I'm feeling that lots of things are coming together on this project that will allow me to produce my best work BY FAR to date. That's somewhat ironic as each new week presents challenges and i never really seem to know how much longer I'll be able to keep at this full time. Yet I've wondered about that basically since I started illustrating full time over six years ago! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Recap of Recent work and link to my Recent WCAX Appearance

I haven't posted much for a while as I've been going in all sorts of directions. The coolest bits of news for me are that I was recently on the VT news WCAX: The 30 with Kristin Van Aken to discuss our book " PIGS! Under the Post Office?"  (linked to vid at end of this post) and leading up to that I finally began a project that I'm working on in collaboration with my wife Barb.

      That project is a series of Illustrated products under the title of "Vermoosin'". She's the mastermind behind it really. I mentioned to her that I've been really wanting to do a line of t-shirts and products centered around a crazy VT moose character and she reminded me that she LOVE's Moose and the brain storming began. I think she thought of the name "Vermoosin'" , she also came up with the name "Kirby" for the moose. This project is in the veeeeery beginning stages still and I actually will likely still do lots of character design and maybe move into a different medium or change the look of the character entirely. I really didn't push the character as much as I wanted to yet. We just wanted to get out some initial designs before the news appearance.  I'll do an official launch once we feel everything is where we want it and have  a good series of products started with a good store, website etc. I have tons of marketing ideas waaaay above and beyond anything I've ever done for any children's books so maybe one day this could be something known by name across Vewrmont! There is  a link on the homepage of my website and I'll get one on my blog soon. To purchase some of the initial designs go to*

Other recent work includes, I recently finished my third book in the samantha series.

I did a quick children's portrait.

I did  some new spot illustrations for the samantha book and a logo for a special edition of those books.

I've been working on thumbnail sketches for my newest children's book " Brave Roger, Little Mumps and Me: Four Stories for Grins and Giggles" By James Mee

For those who weren't able to see it live, here's the vid of Kristin and I on the news talking about our book.  It's always bizzare seeing myself on any sort of video but I'm just happy I was able to get words to come out of my mouth! LOL You can get a copy of the book on amazon but the author's preference for buying is through createspace at