Wednesday, January 30, 2008

100 / Wilt Chamberlain

This is my 100th post! To commemorate this I did a drawing of Wilt Chamberlain who is the only NBA player to score 100 points in an NBA game. He scored those 100 points as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately there is no video of this game, only a radio broadcast. Chamberlain scored his 100th point with 46 seconds remaining and hundreds of fans rushed to the court to celebrate. Due to all of the commotion and excitement, it is unknown whether those remaining 46 seconds were played.

As impressive as 100 points in a game is, for Wilt it was almost expected. He averaged 50.4 points that season.

In contrast to Wilt "The Stilt", a 7'1", 275 lb Goliath, my career high is 26 points, which I matched about 4 times (thereby besting Wilt's output by 4 points over four games). There is no video or audio of my career-games, only the captivating lore and jaw-dropping recounts of those memorable Saturday afternoons in the GBA that so many of the crowd members tell their book clubs today.

Check back on Friday for NBA Friday!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Illustration Inspiration: Frank Mullins

One of my favorite illustrators is someone whose work is very hard to find, and is someone whose biography is even harder to find. The artist is Frank Mullins who did a lot of great work throughout the 60's.

I first came across Frank's work while looking for sports illustrations as inspiration for my NBA Friday project. I decided to look through the online catalog of covers for Sports Illustrated and when I got into the covers of the 1960's I started seeing some remarkable illustrated work.

I saved as many of the images as I could find so I could study them. A lot of them were by Frank Mullins, some were by other artists who were doing some great things on the covers of Sports Illustrated at that time. The problem was that I had no idea whose work it was, since the catalog doesn't attribute credit to the illustrated covers, only to the photographed covers.

I took some of the files I had and studied them closely, trying to make out the marks that made up the artist's name, Frank Mullins. The name, hard to read on some covers was clearly legible on a cover featuring Tommy Mason of the Los Angeles Rams from 1967.

The majority of what I know about him has come from my contacting the artist's daughter, Patty, who I found through, the only other source I was able to find.

Mullins was born in 1924 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

After two years in the army in World War II, Mullins returned to the US and attended and graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he majored in art. He would later get his masters in art education at Columbia University in Manhattan.

He began his illustration career while working at Cooper Studios, run by Charles E. Cooper. Cooper Studios had a large roster of some of the most talented illustrators working under its roof, providing illustrations for publication and advertisements. It was the most well-known illustration studio in the country. During the most successful years of its existence (through the 40's and 50's) there were as many as 60 artists on staff creating illustrations that became the trademark style of the time.

Although Frank Mullins was employed by Cooper Studios, he originally only worked there as a "mat-boy," matting illustrations on board for the staff artists before the work was sent to the magazines or advertising agencies.

It was at Cooper Studios where Mullins met the illustrator Robert Meyers (see illustration below), who specialized in Western-themed illustrations, painting cowboys and Wild West landscapes.

Mullins would often stay late to help Meyers who was grateful for the help and offered to tip Mullins. Instead, he asked for painting advice in return and Robert became his mentor, with Frank eventually becoming a staff illustrator at Cooper Studios himself.

Mullins went on to illustrate for various magazines including Sports Illustrated, where he got his first job painting Australian swimmer, Murray Rose (shown below). He also illustrated for Reader's Digest, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post, the U.S. Air Force and books.

Frank also has his work on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Approximately 15 of his paintings are displayed in the Hall of Asian Peoples behind artifacts and dioramas. I haven't seen these yet, but I definitely plan to make a trip to track them down.

Frank's daughter, Patty, told me that Frank's paintings were quite large for magazine illustration work. The original painting of Sonny Liston he painted for Sports Illustrated in July 1963 measures 34" x 26" (shown below).
There isn't much more I know about Frank Mullins. According to he died in 1978, at the age of 54.
All Frank Mullins illustrations shown are from the Sports Illustrated Cover Archive. You can visit that here (I highly recommend searching the covers throughout the 1960's where there are many illustrated covers), and see some more covers by Frank Mullins here, although it is not the extensive list.

Friday, January 25, 2008

NBA Friday: Baron Davis

The team of the week is the Golden State Warriors and I decided to do a portrait of Baron Davis. Golden State plays a run and gun, fast tempo style of basketball that is really exciting and Baron Davis, as the point guard, is one of the leaders of their offense. He has been having a great season so far, currently averaging 22 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists.

I decided to paint Baron Davis as if he was a baron himself who had his portrait painted. From Wikipedia, the word "baron" is described as a specific title of nobility, with the word coming from French, which itself came from a Frankish word meaning "warrior." I thought that was pretty appropriate.

I was inspired to paint it in this style after visiting the Frick Museum here in New York. There were so many amazing classical portraits there (a couple standouts were painted by Hans Holbein and Il Bronzino) and I have always wanted to paint one myself.

I researched some old portraits of barons and the clothing they wore, added some Golden State Warriors details and colors, and came up with this illustration.

You can see this piece larger on the Portraiture page and on SLAMonline.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wooden Kitchen Utensils

Here are three wooden items from a drawer full of cooking supplies and other kitchen utensils.

The first is a spaghetti measuring tool which has been a very useful tool in measuring the quantity of spaghetti I need. You just fit as much spaghetti into each hole as you can to determine how many people you will be cooking for. The largest hole is for 4 servings, then 3, 2, and one lonesome meal.

Or, in the case of my old roommate, you cook 4 servings of spaghetti, apply the spaghetti sauce to a giant mound of cooked spaghetti. You then eat one quarter of it, cover the rest in saran wrap and place the rest in the fridge and eat it over the course of the week. Whatever your methods, this thing is helpful.

The second item is the honey stick. I haven't used one of these in a long time. I usually just use a spoon now. We used to have a really nice honey jar that included a nice ceramic honey stick. Those were the days!

The last item is a typical basting brush. It could easily have been mistaken for one of my watercolor painting hake brushes, they look pretty similar.

There you have it, three wooden items from the kitchen. Object drawing is fun!

Check back on Friday for my weekly NBA Friday portrait.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Floor Plan Illustrations

I was asked to do six floor plan illustrations for the current issue of Canadian House & Home magazine. I had never done floor plans before but it sounded like an interesting opportunity.

I was given some very detailed architectural floor plans for three homes and had to simplify them and create both a 'before' and 'after' image of each plan. The 'after' plans had to be colored to show where the renovations had occurred.
I drew all of the 'after' images on hot press watercolor paper with technical pens and painted them with watercolor. The 'before' images were done on Strathmore drawing paper with technical pens (the walls were painted in with watercolor).

Friday, January 18, 2008

NBA Friday: Charles Barkley

The second player in today's two-part, old school NBA Friday is the one and only, "Sir" Charles Barkley (aka "The Round Mound of Rebound"). For the first part of today's NBA Friday, scroll down to the previous post.

Charles has always been a favorite player of mine since I started watching basketball in the early 90's. I was such a fan of his Phoenix Suns team that went to the NBA Finals in 1993 that I cheered for them over Michael Jordan and the Bulls. I was crushed when Phoenix lost.

Before playing for Phoenix, Barkley was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers from 1984-1992. In contrast to Julius Erving's style of play, he played with more force and was a dominant rebounder and scorer on the court and outspoken persona off the court. He played alongside Erving for a few years before Erving retired in 1987. Barkley was known for his "monster" two-handed, emphatic dunks.

Barkley played on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players.

He is currently working for the TNT network as an NBA analyst and he is also the author of several books.
You can see this piece larger on the portraiture page.

NBA Friday: Julius Erving

This week's NBA Friday is a throwback to the short-shorts era of NBA basketball. First up in this 2-part series we will meet Julius "Dr.J" Erving.

Dr.J played in both the ABA and the NBA for the Virginia Squires, New York Nets, and this week's team of the week, the Philadelphia 76ers (his career spanned from 1971-1987).

He won two ABA Championships with the New York Nets and one with the Sixers in 1983. He was a prolific scorer and helped to bring the game above the rim. He was an incredible dunker with long, sweeping arms. His dunks were acrobatic and graceful, and he finished at the rim with his classic tomahawk jams.

I really enjoy the early stages of planning for a new painting, especially for NBA Friday portraits. I do research on the subject, watch videos, look up photos, game recaps and box scores and I find out as much about each player as possible, especially if I'm unfamiliar with the player.

In preparation of this painting I played a couple video games as the 1970s All-Star team (which included Dr.J) to really get an idea of the kind of player he was. I'm not sure it helped in the creation of this painting, but I'm sure it was necessary.

You can see this piece larger on the Portraiture page or on

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pigeon Typeface

My love/hate relationship with pigeons continues in this drawing of a pigeon typeface. I thought it would be interesting/disgusting to see a type that was based on signage that has been taken over by pigeons. I thought of this while going into a Walgreen's the other day and the sign was full of pigeons and their nests.

The only thing you can do to prevent them from nesting in your signage is to put metal spikes all over every one of the letters. Fake owls don't work!

As disgusting as pigeons are, I find them to be a lot of fun to draw. And yesterday I think I saw the fattest pigeon I've ever seen in Downtown Brooklyn.

You can see this larger on the Black & White page (click the letter J thumbnail and click through the typefaces).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Skyline Typeface

Here is some hand-drawn type forming a city skyline and spelling the word 'skyline.'

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sixth Man Saturday: Greg Oden & LaMarcus Aldridge

This is a small drawing I did of Greg Oden (left) and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers. I was thinking of adding them to the Brandon Roy piece I did yesterday (check it out here on SLAMonline), maybe by placing their heads inside a couple of blooming roses. It didn't really work out, but I thought I'd share the drawings anyway.

I look forward to drawing Oden again and spending a lot more time on his face. He has a great face to draw, full of creases and angles and personality.

Friday, January 11, 2008

NBA Friday: Brandon Roy

This week's team of the week is the Portland Trail Blazers. These guys have been playing incredible basketball lately and had a 13-game winning streak spanning from December into the New Year. They have been led by their second-year star, Brandon Roy, who won the Rookie of the Year award last season.
The Blazers have been a really exciting story this season and it's a great gift to the city of Portland, which has had to painfully watch their team lose games and have their players run into trouble with the law during last few seasons.

Things with the team got so bad that they were nicknamed the Jail Blazers due to the team members who were associated with crimes such as impaired driving, drug use and assault.

The team has had a resurgence in the last year with the acquisition of Brandon Roy and the drafting of Greg Oden, the number one pick in last year's NBA Draft (who is out for the season after knee surgery). The Blazers are playing team ball and winning games.

Portland is known as the City of Roses, and I wanted to portray this rebirth by painting a few broken and wilted roses at the bottom of the piece (representing the past few seasons) and having the roses bloom into a fresh, surging bunch surrounding Brandon Roy as the centerpiece of the team.

It's nice to see a team that plays like a team doing so well. You can see this piece in the new Portraiture section.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mailbox Lock

This is the broken lock to my mailbox. My key got stuck in it last week and when I tried to pull the key out, it yanked the middle cylindrical piece (1) out of the larger cylindrical piece (2) and sent little springs shooting out of it. It just didn't lock properly after that.

It was a long journey trying to find its replacement. I've been to the hardware store four times: The first time I bought one too long, the second time the store was closed, the third time I bought one too wide and the fourth time I went was to return the wide one after my building manager gave me one for free and told me that it's an impossible lock to find.

On the upside this broken lock gave me an opportunity to go for some good walks, especially today when it was abnormally warm. I never imagined I would be wearing a t-shirt outside in early January.

As for the new lock, it's all snug and working fine in the mailbox now. I just hope the neighbors don't get too jealous of my shiny new lock while theirs are all dull and rusted.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Website Update featuring Bobby Orr

I have made a few changes to the website today.

I have decided to add a 'Portraiture' section because of all the NBA Friday portraits I have been doing lately. By the time the NBA season is done and the project is over I will have more than 30 new portraits on my website. This also makes some more room on the newly updated Portfolio pages and the Black & White pages.

With the addition of the Portraiture section, the Shop has been subtracted. I am still selling prints and originals, so please e-mail me with your requests.

I also added a little detail to the BLOG button to make it a bit easier to find.

And to make this post less boring, here is a little drawing I did of Bobby Orr for my Aunt for Christmas.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

NBA Friday: Isiah Thomas

This is a continuation from last week's NBA Friday team of the week, the New York Knicks, when I illustrated Stephon Marbury. You can see that piece on SLAMonline today or on my portfolio page.

For today I illustrated Isiah Thomas - the coach and general manager of the New York Knicks and one-time great for the Detroit Pistons.

Currently the Knicks are one of the worst teams in the league and many feel that Isiah is to blame due to his questionable moves in the front office. He has squandered draft picks, traded for mediocre players and was recently involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit (filed against Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden).

Things are not good with the Knicks. Isiah gets maliciously booed at every game and chants of "Fire Isiah" echo through the arena periodically during games. I don't normally like to boo people, but at the two Knick games I have been to this season, I booed Isiah.

As a player he is known for deliberately not passing the ball to Michael Jordan during Jordan's first All-Star game and for leading his Detroit Pistons team off the bench and to the locker room before a Playoff game against the Bulls was even over. He's just not classy!

Yet I decided to draw him anyway, with Madison Square Garden burning beneath him as he laughs maniacally, delusional and oblivious to the fact that he lit the match.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Hands of Time

For my first post of 2008 I would like to go back, way back to the beginning of human civilization.

This is an illustration of hands throughout time. Mainly my hand, since that is what I used for reference, but let's pretend they are the hands of man.

I drew this for my Dad for Christmas because a couple of months ago he told me about an observation that he had made. He noticed that whenever he took the bus to work or while he was practically anywhere, people seemed to have to have something in their hands. People were either fidgeting with cell phones or cigarettes or MP3 players or Chinese Shiatsu balls.

So as a gift to my Dad I decided to illustrate a few objects throughout history that people either depended on or fidgeted with, or held in their hands on a semi-regular basis.

The evolution of fidgeting perhaps.

From left to right: Stick for making fire, rock as a tool, arrowhead, rosary, quill, pocket watch, cigarette, ballpoint pen, cellphone.

You can see these larger on the Black & White page.