Sunday, November 10, 2013

CNYWS Herkimer Show 2013

I just wanted to post some feedback I got about my painting "All About Us" shown in Herkimer this past month.

I really appreciated this particular feedback, as it was from a group of children on a school visit to the exhibit. Exactly the type of audience this painting was created for. Clearly these kids have been given some good instruction as to what to look for in a gallery visit, as their comments were quite thorough. And also adorable!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

CNYWS Annual Meeting 2013

I met some really great people at the recent Central New York Watercolor Society annual meeting. This is such a friendly group, I really wish I was closer so I could participate more often. But I made the trek down, and had a good time.

Here is guest artist Mark De Mos giving us a painting presentation:

And here is my painting, during the critique:

Anyway, I hope to meet up again at another CNYWS event!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NCAC Fall Juried Show 2013

Got some pictures from the 2013 North Country Arts Council Fall Juried Show last Friday night. Once again, it was an awesome showing, with some great music and food and, of course, art. And surprise surprise, my oil painting "Prayer" won first prize in the painting category! I was quite shocked as there was a very good spread of work by many talented artists.

A view of "Prayer" in the middle:

I was also drawn to an artist whose work I've seen around lately, and I really admire it. It's more modern than much of what is seen around the "North Country", many of the nights pieces featuring a comic book type of style. Really nice stuff, I'll have to take a closer look at Tim Clary. 

Another of mine, "Iron Works"

The cover band was quite nice. 

"The Masque"

This guy was doing a painting demo, really liked the sky

"The Performance"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Community Art Walk, October 2013

Friday saw the opening of the Community Gallery Project in Potsdam for the second time this year. Local businesses all around Potsdam NY hosted local artists, courtesy of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council.

My only wish is for other organizations to get involved as well, and make this really a town-wide event. There could be musical features, restaurant tastings, historical tours, you name it. Potsdam can have a talent for coming together and celebrating the seasons. 

 Stop by Plumley Real Estate on Rt. 56 near Big Lots if you'd like to see some of my children's book art. Sadly, you've missed the cheese and cookies, but the art is still quite nice ;) It will be up for about a month, and paintings can be purchased by contacting the SLC Arts Council.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Those Who Are About To Rock...

To those who have recently joined up, either following me on Twitter or Facebook, or my RSS feed: Ciao! And I wish you all luck on my Garden Marker giveaway. Stick around, I'll be offering more giveaways and coupon codes to my Etsy shop very shortly.

To introduce myself, I am a freelance illustrator and designer, working out of upstate New York (the REAL upstate!) along with my day job in tech support. I do a variety of work, ranging from book covers, to garden markers, to children's illustrations, to logos and advertisements, to painted sneakers and shoes for weddings. And I love it all! I'd he hard-pressed to choose a favorite.

In keeping with this theme of variety, I like to keep my followers updated with all things art-related, whether that be interesting articles I find, funny cartoons, inspiration, local events, international news, and my own personal projects. I like to switch it up. If this is the kind of thing you're interested, then stick around, and we'll make it an interesting journey!

And of course, there are a variety of ways you can keep in touch:

Etsy shop
My Website
RSS Feed

See you around!

Monday, September 23, 2013

2nd Etsy Giveaway- Hand-Painted Garden Markers

Stop by my Facebook page and enter a giveaway to win these 5 hand-painted garden markers on wooden spoons. I know it's getting a little late in the year, but if you don't keep any indoor pots, they'll get you ready for next year!

Click THIS LINK to enter. No catch, just a simple Facebook like or twitter retweet will do.

Giveaway ends October 4th!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interview with Ben Norland

Ben Norland is the Executive Art Director at Walker Books, "Britain's leading independent publisher".

Interview with Ben Norland

Here are a couple of snippets I found particularly interesting.

How he came to work with Walker Books: 

"Whilst I was studying I had been freelancing on and off at Walker Books, doing a little basic design work and getting what amounted to an apprenticeship in book design under the tutelage of Walker's Art Director, Amelia Edwards." 

How lucky! I wish I could have found some kind of opportunity like this while I was in school, or even in the years after. Maybe some people are just in the right place at the right time near the right people.

How should a great dummy book be presented?

If the potential of the book is great, then frankly the dummy doesn’t need to be especially amazing. I would be impressed by a black and white sketch dummy (that wasn't too fancy or finished), one sample piece of finished art, and a sheet or two or really well developed character studies for the folks in the story. That last item is something you don’t see so often, but it really does make an enormous difference in getting an understanding of what an illustrator’s potential might be.

I think the character studies are a great idea. I would never think to put anything less than finished artwork in my portfolio- but then again, dummy books aren't finished artwork. I should get to work!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jung Test- Updated

(I find that knowing who you are helps explain your working process)

Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging 
by Marina Margaret Heiss
Profile: INTJ
Revision: 3.1
Date of Revision: 17 Oct 2009

To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.
INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.
INTJs are known as the "Systems Builders" of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play, as INTJs can be unsparing of both themselves and the others on the project. Anyone considered to be "slacking," including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this; INTJs have also been known to take it upon themselves to implement critical decisions without consulting their supervisors or co-workers. On the other hand, they do tend to be scrupulous and even-handed about recognizing the individual contributions that have gone into a project, and have a gift for seizing opportunities which others might not even notice.
In the broadest terms, what INTJs "do" tends to be what they "know". Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering, but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.
Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.
This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. :-) This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete', paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.
Probably the strongest INTJ assets in the interpersonal area are their intuitive abilities and their willingness to "work at" a relationship. Although as Ts they do not always have the kind of natural empathy that many Fs do, the Intuitive function can often act as a good substitute by synthesizing the probable meanings behind such things as tone of voice, turn of phrase, and facial expression. This ability can then be honed and directed by consistent, repeated efforts to understand and support those they care about, and those relationships which ultimately do become established with an INTJ tend to be characterized by their robustness, stability, and good communications.

Functional Analysis
by Joe Butt

Introverted iNtuition

INTJs are idea people. Anything is possible; everything is negotiable. Whatever the outer circumstances, INTJs are ever perceiving inner pattern-forms and using real-world materials to operationalize them. Others may see what is and wonder why; INTJs see what might be and say "Why not?!" Paradoxes, antinomies, and other contradictory phenomena aptly express these intuitors' amusement at those whom they feel may be taking a particular view of reality too seriously. INTJs enjoy developing unique solutions to complex problems.

Extraverted Thinking

Thinking in this auxiliary role is a workhorse. Closure is the payoff for efforts expended. Evaluation begs diagnosis; product drives process. As they come to light, Thinking tends, protects, affirms and directs iNtuition's offspring, fully equipping them for fulfilling and useful lives. A faithful pedagogue, Thinking argues not so much on its own behalf, but in defense of its charges. And through this process these impressionable ideas take on the likeness of their master.

Introverted Feeling

Feeling has a modest inner room, two doors down from the Most Imminent iNtuition. It doesn't get out much, but lends its influence on behalf of causes which are Good and Worthy and Humane. We may catch a glimpse of it in the unspoken attitude of good will, or the gracious smile or nod. Some question the existence of Feeling in this type, yet its unseen balance to Thinking is a cardinal dimension in the full measure of the INTJ's soul.

Extraverted Sensing

Sensing serves with a good will, or not at all. As other inferior functions, it has only a rudimentary awareness of context, amount or degree. Thus INTJs sweat the details or, at times, omit them. "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts" could well have been said by an INTJ on a mission. Sensing's extraverted attitude is evident in this type's bent to savor sensations rather than to merely categorize them. Indiscretions of indulgence are likely an expression of the unconscious vengeance of the inferior.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sergio Toppi, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Sergio Toppi, where have you been all my life?

This is what popped into my head when I saw one of my Facebook friends post an image of his. I immediately had to scrounge around for more.

In Italy, the answer happens to be. Unfortunately Mr. Toppi passed away last year, but there is still a smattering of delicious comic book art that I can go discover.

I shall be ordering "Sharaz-de: Tales from the Arabian Nights" as soon as it's back in stock!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

CNYWS Signature Exhibit, August 2013

I attended my first ever Central New York Watercolor Society's Signature art exhibit opening this past Friday. The show was put on in Old Forge, NY, quite the drive for me in an evening. I think it was worth it, however. The show was in a beautiful venue, and the show itself was wonderful. There are many extremely talented artists in central New York.  I wish I lived closer and could connect with them more. The artists and attendees were all extremely friendly as well, which I appreciated as I didn't drag anyone out of work early to come with me. From there I went to another art opening that same night with some of the artists I met at the first show. I love how artists support each other. That show was beautiful as well.

Of course, I forgot to bring my camera again, because I always forget one thing whenever I take a trip of any length. So unfortunately you'll get to see some blurry or low-res pictures from my phone camera. But I wanted to share some of these great images, for those of you who won't be able to make it down to Old Forge before September.

And this last image is actually a pastel by the lovely Loretta Lepkowski, at the Old Forge library. She was also a talented watercolorist, but I just fell in love with her pastels. I am blown away by anyone who can master a stick of chalk!

So thanks again to everyone I met, and I hope to see you again soon!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interview With Kristen Nobles

Kristen Nobles is the Art Director at Candlewick Press, based in Somerville, MA. One of my favorite publishers, just based on the beautiful children's and middle grade books I see them putting out.

Interview With Kristen Nobles

Describe a project you have worked on recently, taking us through the key stages.

Recently I designed and art directed The Flint Heart by Katherine and John Patterson, and illustrated by John Rocco... After several discussions with the editor, we came across some promotional pieces for John Rocco’s Fu Finds the way and, with further research, his Percy Jackson series jackets. When Katherine and John agreed he was the man for the job I designed pages and estimated an art count. John was enthusiastic from the start, thrilled by the challenge of so many characters and the historical relevance of the book. He provided a list of possible illustrations that he would be excited about creating. We discussed these editorially for content and logistically for pacing. Meanwhile John was researching steampunk and art nouveau aesthetics to inform the three worlds he was creating – the human world, the animal world, and the fairy world. We discussed palettes for each world and looked at early character sketches. We worked closely to develop a framing device for chapter openers and debated how to render them differently from the main scenes. John created over 60 exquisitely luminous illustrations, working digitally to colorize after scanning in approved pencil sketches. 

After reading a manuscript, do you instantly have a sense of the illustration style which would bring it to life?

I do, though it’s not necessarily a style but rather a quality. Generally I write down three or so adjectives when reading a manuscript and I’m looking for those same qualities in the artist’s work.

Who has been your greatest mentor in the world of children's publishing  to date and what pearls of wisdom have they imparted?

Kristine Brogno... taught me the importance of page turns, the consideration of composition as well as perspective, and the craft of a writing a persuasive art directional letter. She also taught me a lot about having a vision and being able to back up that vision with reason. 

At Candlewick, Creative Director Chris Paul... has instilled in me her nuanced affection for typography and the ability to work on a project with gravitas.

What general advice would you give an illustrator looking to improve  their children's portfolio - what should they include/not include?

First and foremost unique characters with a variety of emotions – children, adults, animals. Some example of environment, either indoor or outdoor. Unusual perspectives. A range of color samples and palettes and black and white work. Give yourself an assignment each day and share it with others. These days blogs (such as those featured on are a wonderful way for art directors to get a sense of an illustrators range, working style, and personality. Most importantly, imbue your work with what drives you – illuminate your passions. Don’t draw a preconceived notion of what you think children’s book art looks like.

Love this last reply! Of course, most art directors and professionals will tell you some of the same things: draw a variety of characters. Show multiple environments and perspectives. Use color well. Draw good. Etc.   But I really like the comment of making work that inspires you, of doing things in just your own way. Sure, not everyone will love your work if you have a very different style than what they expect, but it's pretty likely that no one will love your work if you don't. Deep thoughts.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Giveaway- Herb Spoon Markers

I finally found the widget I was looking for, and am now sponsoring my first ever giveaway for my Etsy products! Submissions go live tomorrow, Jul 22, and end Jul 28, so get your entries in! You may enter more than once, in different ways.

Enter the Giveaway

Here is a picture of the prize:

All you have to do is click to enter! The winner will be randomly chosen from all the entries.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Weekend at Potsdam Summerfest 2013

I set up a vendor booth for the first time this year at Potsdam's SummerFest. I always love going to what is probably the biggest event in Potsdam all year. This time I only got a little bit of time to walk around and see everything, because I decided to have a go at selling my wares. I think my final setup actually looked pretty decent.

There was a great crowd all day long, as this event is very popular. Much better turnout than the last show I attended the misnamed "Really Big Show" at Clarkson University this past spring. Still, mostly browsers, not a lot of people buying. The vendors to each side of me seemed to be having the same kind of day.

Still, I sold a drawing to one couple who happily said they tried to support the local arts as much as possible, which I thought was very nice of them. I had a lot of interest in my shoe display as well, messy as it is. I always underestimate how much space I'll need for all this stuff!

I gave away a ton of cards though, so hopefully I'll get some orders coming in through my shop some time later. And now I have a ton more garden markers to either send back to the Arts Council gallery, or sell on Etsy! Getting a little late in the year, I might start listing some clearance lots.

It was a hot but beautiful day, and I went swimming later that day, and had fresh raspberry pie, so all was well!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Things That Move You: Relator

My #5 strength, according to "StrengthsFinder 2.0" is as a "Relator". I'm not really sure what that means. Oh, this is what it means: "The Relator theme pulls you towards people you already know."

"Instinctively, you find it easier to befriend people when they tell you what they
want to accomplish. When you meet people who value education as much as you do, you are
eager to hear about their personal or professional ambitions, intentions, or goals. Understanding what others aim to accomplish in the coming weeks, months, or years can be the beginning of a practical partnership or an enduring friendship."

Ok, that sounds less touchy-feeling than I was expecting, and more in line with the previous descriptions. Not that I'm calling myself unfriendly or anything...

"Chances are good that you might notice that people regularly ask you the question “What do you
think? This might be because they value your views about particular people, situations, rules, news
events, or decisions. People whom you have befriended turn to you for guidance. Often you help them see a situation or problem from a different perspective because of something you discovered..."

Everyone, come to me, as I am a fount of knowledge! Just don't ask me anything about physics. Or sports. Or to do any math. But I've got that Harry Potter trivia ready and waiting.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Things That Move You: Intellection

Ok, my top 3 "strengths" were dead-on in describing me. The last 2 still apply, but in a more general way, kind of like when you read your horoscope and you think, "yeah, that sounds like me!" And then you read the horoscopes for the next three months and you think, "yeah, that sounds like me too!" But anyway, here they are.

#4 describes me as having the habit of "Intellection". "Chances are good that you put yourself in the middle of mentally stimulating conversations. You want to gather new ideas, discover new approaches, hear about new theories, consider new concepts, or apply new technologies. Often you are one of the early discoverers of innovations."

I can see how this applies in my day job, in tech support, as I enjoy learning about computers and reading tech blogs. A little unusual for someone in a creative field.

"You exhibit little need to know precisely where all this information ultimately will lead you. By nature, you probably acquired a fascination for reading as a child."

I think my mother can attest to this one.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Mandela Project

I recently did a spur-of-the-moment project for The Mandela Project, a project developed "to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday and his life’s contribution to humanity" by spurring artists to create "95 exceptional posters from around the world and collate them into an online publication and travelling exhibition."

The Mandela Project

No, there is no "prize" for the 95 artists selected, and there is no payment, but even if I am not chosen as one of the 95 I still felt it was a worthy project to try my hand at. Plus I had the idea to do the poster in quite a different style than I am used to working in these days, and a rare opportunity to do a close-up portrait, so it was a nice break for routine.

Without further ado, here is the final finished image:

Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela.

The Things That Move You: Focus

I believe my #3 skill, according to Gallup's "Strengths Finder 2.0", is closely behind my #1 and #2 slots. The name of this theme is "Focus". "People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act."

I think this description nicely complements the traits I've already gone through, strategically focusing my efforts on getting s**t done. These could be the new buzzwords for my resume. Well, maybe I could leave one of those words out.

"You are driven to accomplish a great deal each day. Instinctively, you have little difficulty giving intense effort to projects, problems, or opportunities that capture and keep your attention. By nature, you may have an actual blueprint — that is, a detailed outline — for what you want to accomplish in the coming weeks, months, years, or decades."

And that explains all the post-it "to do" lists cluttering my desk.

"Your Focus is powerful because it forces you to filter; you instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help you move toward your goal. Those that don't are ignored. In the end, then, your Focus forces you to be efficient. Naturally, the flip side of this is that it causes you to be impatient with delays, obstacles, and even tangents, no matter how intriguing they appear to be. This makes you an extremely valuable team member. You keep everyone on point."

As I said, 100% efficient. I'm like the Terminator. And that explains why I get so aggravated when you don't put your laundry away immediately! You know who you are!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Things That Move You: Achievement

Up next on my list of strengths (according to the brains at Gallup) is that I am an "Achiever". "People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive." I have always said I am an accomplishment junkie. Some people indulge on drugs, food, or adrenaline. I like to get s**t done.

"Your acheiver theme helps explain your drive. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by 'every day' you mean every single day- workdays, weekends, vacation. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you."

Doesn't everyone? I swear, I thought everyone felt that way.

"It’s very likely that you periodically document goals that can lead you to a future of your own choosing. Perhaps you leave less to chance when you outline your aims and push yourself to reach each one. Because of your strengths, you channel your energy into your work or studies. You seldom count the hours you work. Feeling fully engaged in what you do is a major source of satisfaction. You believe there is always something more challenging you can pursue. Given your ability to withstand hardship, adversity, and stress, it is no surprise you love what you do. You strive to do more and more of it each day."

And I plan on never retiring, because I do love what I do. As long as I can continue to paint, to create, to make images and stories appear out of thin air, I'll be happy. I can only imagine I'd be horribly bored without the ability and drive to create.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Things That Move You: Strategy

My coworkers and I recently took a "strengths" assessment to find the 5 strongest qualities that influence the way we work. These, for the most part, seem spot-on, and also influence my freelance work. I thought I'd post the rundown here.

My #1 trait was found to be "strategic". This theme "enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, 'What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?' This recurring question helps you see around the next corner.

You entertain ideas about the best ways to reach a goal, increase productivity, or solve a problem. First, you think of alternatives. Then you choose the best option. Driven by your talents, you may see solutions before other people know there is a problem. You might start formulating answers before your teammates, coworkers, or classmates understand the question. Sometimes you generate numerous ideas before sorting to the one that makes the most sense in a particular situation. Instinctively, you are a self-reliant person who needs time alone to think and work. You generate innovative ideas and propose systematic programs of action."

I'm 100% efficient, folks!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interview With Emily Bannister

Emily Bannister is/was the Art Director at Caterpillar Books.

Read the full interview here

Q: In your experience, how do publishing houses differ regarding their approach to making picture books?

A: After working at several companies now on picture books, I would say the approach is always the same...a great text or idea is always needed as a starting point! Different publishers perhaps do have distinct “house styles” however I believe that all publishers always want to try to something new and develop artists so that their list keep evolving.

Q: What or who influences your decision when it comes to selecting an illustrator for a project?

A: When we are looking for artists to use on a project, the novelty will often dictate the type of illustration we select. If we are creating a very young baby book, we would be looking for a bright, graphic style of artwork compared to something like “ By Lantern Light” which is a cosy bedtime book and required a more picture book feel. All of the artists that we select for projects are discussed together in the Caterpillar Studio with the Publisher and editors before we commission anything.

Q: Do you have a particular 'house style' when it comes to illustration and what will Caterpillar Books be looking for from illustrators over the coming year?

A: Over the next year for Caterpillar, we intend to grow the types of books that we are doing therefore the styles of artwork that we will be looking for will be much broader than in previous years. However, we are always looking for someone that has a real warmth and personality to their artwork, be it for a very simple board book or much older non-fiction novelty. Colour pallet is always very important to us and the characterisation.