Monday, November 23, 2009

The Pearl

This piece is an illustration for the cover of The Pearl, a novel by John Steinbeck.

The story revolves around a poor Mexican family. The father earns his meager income by diving for pearls. When his son is stung by a scorpion he searches for a pearl to pay for a doctor to heal his child. He finds a perfect pearl in the ocean that brings optimism and joy to the family but it also places a burden on the family they don't know how to deal with.

This painting is available as a limited edition print in my Etsy shop.

[Note: I'm in the process of moving my blog to a different address. If you currently subscribe to my blog, please switch your RSS feed to this address:

If you have my blog bookmarked, you can replace the current URL with this one:] Thanks!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday Shopping

If you're looking for some gifts for your friends or family this Christmas I have prints, t-shirts, comic books and books for sale.

There are new limited edition prints in my print shop on Etsy. All of my prints are limited edition prints (once they sell out, that's it!) and are signed and numbered. And they're affordable!

My clothing shop also has lots of good stuff at low prices in time for the holidays. There are hoodies too, just in time to bundle up and keep warm.

My LeBron James comic book is still for sale at the price that you decide! It's relatively small in size (5.5" x 8.5") so it makes a great stocking stuffer, and each issue is signed.

And finally, my NBA portrait book, Portraits in the Paint, is available with limited quantities remaining. To ensure your copy arrives by Christmas, order by November 30th at the latest. Each issue is signed and numbered and comes with a 5" x 7" print of your choice from one of the portraits in the book (as seen in SLAM magazine). Get yours today as quantities are very limited.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Buckets and Tanks

As in my last post (see it here) where I painted a buried car, here is another painting of one of my fascinations - water towers. I've painted tons of these things in the last few years, but usually of the city variety. This is really my first time painting the good ol' rural variety (aside from my drawing of the Sudbury water tower) so I decided to go all out and paint 12 of them in one piece.

I love the water towers in the city because of their old, wooden plank siding, and for their appearance in comic books. I love this type of tank because they come in so many different shapes and colors- and sometimes they look like spaceships.

Prints of this piece are available in my Etsy shop.

[Note: I'm in the process of moving my blog to a different address. If you currently subscribe to my blog, please switch your RSS feed to this address:

If you have my blog bookmarked, you can replace the current URL with this one:]

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I love old, buried cars. I've drawn and painted a few before. They have a lot of mystery to them.

The fascination stems from a childhood experience from when I was about 7 years old and living in Deep River. I lived just outside the town on a street surrounded by forest. One day I went exploring the woods across the street from my house with my brother and Sam.

The trees were tall and skinny and planted in rows and it was dark, with only some light shining through the leaves. Towards the back of this wooded area we came across a half buried Volkswagon Beetle, rusted and probably containing the body of its owner (or so we thought). I remember us running away as fast as we could. I never went back to the car and there's a house built on that land now, so I sometimes wonder if it's still there.

Driving through Northern Ontario you see a lot of farms and decrepit barns. Those things are good indications for me to keep my eyes peeled for a half buried car to photograph for potential paintings.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now On Twitter!

You can now find me on Twitter!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

1970 NBA Champion New York Knicks

I received an email recently from someone who had followed my basketball player portrait work on SLAMonline. He was looking to commission a painting for his father's 50th birthday and wanted the piece to celebrate the New York Knicks' first NBA Championship in 1970 (prints available here).

I wanted to paint this piece like an old boxing poster and feature the two Knicks stars, Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. Willis was hobbled with a torn muscle in his leg and sat out the previous game against the Lakers but made a surprising and inspirational return to the court in Game 7, helping to elevate the Knicks to the victory and their first championship.

Above are a few process shots from start to finish. I stained the paper after masking out the area where the figures would be. I wanted the whites of the jerseys to really pop and didn't want them to match the tonal background color.

Getting the ellipses of Madison Square Garden's famous ceiling was tricky. It involved a lot of measuring and compass work.

I added the text by using a photocopy transfer method. I scanned the painting and arranged the text digitally in Photoshop to get the size and placement how I wanted it.

I then reversed the text, printed it on my desktop printer and then used a photocopier to make a copy of the printout. That step is important because the printer ink doesn't transfer with this method, you need to have a printout with photocopy toner in it.

I used a lightbox to place the printout exactly on the painting and taped it down with masking tape.

Then I used a Chartpak blender marker (after opening some windows first, that thing stinks) to go over each letter, one at a time, and used a burnishing tool to rub the toner off the copy and transfer the letters onto the painting. It takes a bit of practice to figure out how wet the paper needs to be from the marker. Too much of it will give the letters fuzzy edges.

I watched this Finals game on DVD to get an idea of how the game went to see if there was anything I could use for the painting. I was really impressed with some of the players (especially Walt Frazier), and watching the old game shows how different it is from today.

This NBA season marks the 40th anniversary since the Knicks' first championship. You can buy a print of this painting in my shop!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Letterpress Promotional Cards

I just sent out a batch of new promotional postcards and decided to include a letterpressed card of my drawing of the Sudbury water tower. I drew this piece a few months ago (you can read about it here) and thought it would look great printed with the press.

The first step was to scan the drawing at about 1200 dpi and clean up the lines a bit. I then sent the drawing off to Boxcar Press for them to create the photopolymer plate (above) needed to make the print on the press. The amount of detail in the plate is really amazing. The small crosshatched lines are almost invisible on the plate unless you tilt it into the proper light.

I made a print without any ink (called blind printing) and it gives a really nice appearance. Once I had the press set up with ink, the gauge pins set and the paper registered, (some pure black mixed with a bit of red) I was ready to start printing.

I printed 200 cards but about 7 of them were over-inked or fell under the press into the oily puddles below (a lot of oil is required to keep Claudette, our press, running smoothly). With those cards lost, I ended up with a limited edition of 193 cards. I signed and numbered them all, but the most time consuming part of all was laying down washes on each card to give them a colorful sky to contrast with the black ink. Here's a shot (above) of a bunch of them laying out to dry. 193 of these things, that took a while.

I really put down a lot of water on these cards and the colors bled over the tops to give an appearance of edge painting. I used Crane Lettra 110 lb paper for this project and they turned out great, even though it's not the best paper for watercolor painting. I'm looking forward to doing more promo cards on the letterpress.

I also letterpressed the envelopes. I figure I have this giant machine in the basement I may as well use it. Sure, I could have printed labels on my ink jet, but where's the fun in that. The fox illustration is from the cover I did for Las Vegas City Life (see post).

For some more fun letterpress stuff, visit Papillon Press.

Also, if you're an illustrator and want your postcards printed on a letterpress, we can do that for you. Contact Papillon Press for more info.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Maisonneuve - Blogger Portraits

I've always wanted to do a series of portraits for a publication and got my chance for the current issue of Maisonneuve. These guys are prominent in the online media/blogging world.

The portraits are a mixture of watercolor, India ink and technical pen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Maisonneuve - Cover Illustrations Part 2

The current issue of Maisonneuve has a few of my illustrations on their cover (see previous post). The new issue deals with the publishing industry - the death of newspapers and the emergence of web media, blogging, etc...

These small characters were added to the cover design to appear as though they're looking down towards the keyboard from the broken surface of a newspaper.

I had a great time drawing these figures. They were originally meant to be black and white, but a late change required them to be in color. I like how both sets of figures turned out and I hope to do more of this sort of thing again sometime.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maisonneuve - Cover Illustrations Part 1

The current issue of Maisonneuve magazine has a really cool and very different cover design (by Anna Minzhulina). The cover story is about the death of newspapers and the rise of citizen media. I was asked to do an illustration of a crowd breaking through the main frame and spilling onto the newspaper page to see what this new media is all about.

After my sketch was approved by the art director I took a bunch of ridiculous looking photos to overlay on my sketch with similar poses. Chantal and I spent some time running around yelling and screaming, stumbling and rolling around to get the right expressions and movements.

I transferred this image to watercolor paper, made a few adjustments, added some more people and started painting. The flying newspapers in the final illustration were added digitally from photos I took.

This issue is on newsstands now. Check back tomorrow to see some more work I did on the cover.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Treasure Map - TimeOut Chicago

I love painting maps and was happy to get the chance to do this treasure map for Time Out Chicago. This piece accompanies an article about finding certain Jewish foods during 0ff-holiday times.
The foods I was asked to include are: Challah bread, chicken soup with matzoh balls, an apple and a bagel.
To push the Jewish angle of the piece I thought it would be fun to mark each food with the Star of David, and Chicago, Il. is written in the top right with a Hebrew script.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Papillons Letterpress Invitation

Here's another illustration I worked on recently for a letterpress wedding invitation set. The illustration was printed with a really nice purple while the text was printed with silver ink on 110 lb Crane Lettra paper.

The invitations were printed by letterpress stationers, Papillon Press.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seashore Letterpress Invitation

Here's a seashore scene I drew a while back for a letterpress wedding invitation that took place in New Brunswick. The invitations turned out great - all those little crosshatch details showed up really nicely.

These cards were printed on 110 lb Crane Lettra by Papillon Press.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fahrenheit 451

I recently read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and thought it would be fun to work on a cover for the book. I decided early on that I wanted to letterpress the title and author's name into my illustration. When we bought our letterpress we also acquired over 100 cases of lead type with a lot of it being from the 1950's.

That older style seemed appropriate for the book, and letterpressing the type instead of placing it digitally was a good challenge (you can see in the photo below that I had the D placed the wrong way, thankfully I caught that in the proofing stage).

The title of the book was placed with 48 point Kabel and the author's name was placed with a type I haven't identified yet (if you know the name, please contact me!). Of our 100-and-some type cases there are probably half of them that aren't properly labeled.

After roughing out some thumbnails on cheap sketchbook paper I chose a composition, enlarged it to the size I was going to paint it, and penciled it in with more detail (below). I then took that drawing and traced it onto watercolor paper using a light box. I've only recently started using a light box and it's made life much easier.

It's a handmade box, so it gets a bit toasty on the surface but it works wonders for transferring drawings.

There are more book covers to come in the next little while, including something by Steinbeck I'm working on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pastoral Field with Birds

Here is another drawing from the series of black and white pieces I've been working on for the letterpress. Another image inspired by Northern Ontario, it turned out to be a great piece for a wedding announcement when I combined it with my bird drawing from a couple posts back.

I have another couple of paintings on the go with cattails in them (coming soon). There's something about them that makes them fun to draw.

Above is a photo of the final letterpressed announcement, a two color job, printed by Papillon Press. Send an email to: contact [at] if you are interested in custom illustrated letterpress invitations or other printing needs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deer in the Woods

Here's another drawing I worked on recently for some letterpress stationery. Living in Northern Ontario is really having an affect on my subject matter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two Birds

These two birds are part of a larger design I worked on recently for a custom letterpress wedding invitation.
Drawing for the letterpress has been great as it's given me the opportunity to really get back to straight black and white work. I have a few more drawings for letterpress work I've done that I'll post soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Papillon Press

Chantal and I are proud owners of a Chandler and Price letterpress (circa 1953). It is an amazing machine. For the last few months we've been working on illustrated designs to offer on invitations and stationery.

We hope to eventually offer art prints as well, and printing services for artists and illustrators who don't have access to a letterpress (we can print your promo cards, business cards, etc...).

The image above is something I drew for one of our logos. I will post more drawings and info about the company, Papillon Press, in the coming months.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Copper Cliff

Copper Cliff is a pretty interesting neighborhood in Sudbury, Ontario. It is home to the Superstack, the tallest chimney in the Western Hemisphere, which towers over one of the largest nickel smelting operations in the world.

Surrounding all of the industrial centers, smelters, stacks and mining facilities is the residential neighborhood with quiet, curving streets and old homes.

Imagine this was your backyard? I hope to be back to Copper Cliff for more sketching again soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheating Politicians - Las Vegas City Life

I was recently contacted to paint a spot illustration for a Las Vegas City Life story about cheating politicians. I sent in a couple of sketches and the art director liked them so much that she wanted one of the sketches to be used for the cover, the other for the spot. This news made my day since I especially love painting covers.

I decided to try a different technical approach to these illustrations. I inked the drawings first on very smooth Bristol paper (above) and then traced the inked drawing onto watercolor paper using a light box. This was no easy task, as I had to ensure that the areas I painted lined up perfectly with the ink drawings. I had to be very careful to color within the lines.

After I finished the paintings I scanned them and the ink drawings and combined them in Photoshop. It was tricky to register the color layers within the ink layers, but with a bit of patience it worked out.
I love how the cover was designed around my illustration. Thanks to Maureen for a great assignment.