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The Acuity "Storybook Year" Annual Report has received the honor of being chosen for the 2011 CLIO Awards Shortlist. Incredible feat since only one half of one percent of the 10,000+ world-wide entries made the list. The CLIO Awards also judged it to be the best annual report in the U.S. and one of the top four in the world!

Wunderbar! The Pop Up Book is a hit

Art and Jamaica Article

I still have to upload some images from the trip, but I'll be adding the images and information about my trip soon. As most of you know I was down their for a book festival recently.

So for now I will say a beautiful place filled with beautiful people and I am so grateful to have gone. And for the record, it was a business trip lol. You can read about it on this link.

Sakura - Cherry Blossom

Sakura - Cherry Blossom
Detail of Sakura

Sketching Sakura

Sketching Sakura
Doodling in my sketchbook to get it right

Sakura History

One of the the formats I enjoy painting are covers and puzzles. It's a fun and challenging form in which to tell a story. There is just one page and no type so the image has to say it all. In this one, the story is quite simple in that young children are going to school early one spring morning. Some are just walking, others are distracted by things going on around them and the little girl in the front is grabbing onto her hat as the wind blows. And unknowingly to them they have created a large Koi with their umbrellas as they go through the scene. 
There are a lot of smaller themes going on in this piece as well. The Koi are not only in the pond and the umbrella, but if you look closely, you'll notice the cats black spot is another koi. Since this was for Spider Magazine I always like to hide a spider in my covers for them. They also have many other wonderful magazines (Cricket, Cicada, Ladybug, and Baby Bug) and I also like hide those little bugs in the covers as well. I can't tell you all the things that are hidden in this piece, but one other fun thing that I did was when I signed my name. I usually hide my name in a painting or make it very subtle, but in this one it is vertically written on the bridge. Oh yeah, it's in Japanese. I have many wonderful friends from all over the world and my Japanese friends taught me how to sign my name correctly. 
One can never have too many friends!                                       

urban garden

urban garden

Langston Hughes Poem

Langston Hughes Poem
Fun in the Rain

Boswell Tshirt Detail

Boswell Tshirt Detail
Front of Tshirt design

For pets and pet lovers

For pets and pet lovers

Spider Magazine February 2012

Spider Magazine February 2012
Wizards Love Recipe

Boswell Books Art 2011-12

I was honored to do a piece of art for Boswell Books this holiday season. So when you stop in and buy a book be sure and get one of these bags. I rarely do ink work, but I really enjoyed doing this piece. I hope you all like my homage to The Wind in the Willows. Be well friends

Wind In the Willows Boswell Books

Wind In the Willows Boswell Books
a piece I just finished for Boswell Books

Irie

Irie
watercolor from NYC trip

story book

story book

My Books and Me

As I mentioned before I've done about 15 books to date. My subjects of interest tend to be multicultural themes and animals. As far as multicultural themes I feel it's important to represent the diversity of the world around. Being of mixed race myself, I recall as a kid looking around school, the neighborhood and books for kids that looked like me. One day in first grade we had an assignment to draw a picnic scene or an outdoor celebration. I looked around to see what all the other kids were drawing. I remember be struck by the sight of white children drawing white celebrations, black children drawing black celebrations and so on. Now of course, this wasn't a bad thing. Everyone was drawing from their own experience and what they knew. But this left me with a dilemma. Should I draw a scene with all races or all mixed people? In then end I drew the people I knew, which I must say pleased me greatly because my drawing ( I felt ) had the most colors in the end. Peach was the color that I often used for myself from the Crayola box, my brother was more brown as was dad, grandpa was dark brown and mom was reeeeeeally light peach.
All of that to say that is why I try to represent what we all see in the world in my illustrations. I do have to say I love fantasy themes as well, but those are books that I'm writing and illustrating for myself. As those get closer to completion I'll tell ya more about them.
Panda Goes to School is a four book series by Sterling Books. It is a cute series about a panda who is experiencing various holidays for the first time with Mama Panda. You don't want me to ruin the exciting conclusions do you?
It really is a cute book and the series is wonderful for children. I've been very lucky to work with wonderful editors on all of my books and this one is no exception. My editor for the Panda Series is, Bernette Ford. She is a wonderful young woman who has developed some of the best books series in recent publishing. Her husband George Ford is a wonderful Children's Book illustrator as well. When ever I'm in a book store, I can see one of his books from 50 feet away. Bernette understands kids so well that I'm convinced she leads a double life as a school teacher. If you want to know more about her work, check out Color Bridge Books online. Let me also give a shout out to two other publishers who have been phenomenal as well: Lee and Low and Little Brown. They both do wonderful work in showing worlds that kids will want to explore. Oh, and thank you Jen for the nice lunch last time I was in NYC.

Panda Goes to School

Panda Goes to School
Guess who doesn't want to go to school

Juicy Peach

Juicy Peach
The First Book

Bad Day and Bath

Bad Day and Bath
It's never a bad day for a bath

Pandas Gifts

Pandas Gifts

Mr. Moles Market

Mr. Moles Market
Help me find what I'm looking for please

Moles Market Sketch

Moles Market Sketch

ahoy

ahoy

Log Home (Snack Time)

Log Home (Snack Time)

St. Basils Kitty

St. Basils Kitty
One of my first Activity Pieces

Gaming and Games

Believe it or not, people who are into gaming are usually referring to a specific genre of games. As and illustrator of Children's book and related markets (games, magazines, posters, ect) I often try and represent this distinction between "activities" and "gaming" which I will try and explain. 

Gaming often refers to games with cards, role playing or board games that are more related to fantasy themes and are often a lot more involved. If you thing Monopoly is a long game try playing Dungeons and Dragons. "Gaming" type games often involve deep plots and many characters that often can evolve during play. These games are often played by teens and adults, but not exclusively, like Pokemon. When Gen Con use to take place in my home city of Milwaukee, I use to love watching these people play. The focus and dedication that fans of these game have is incredible. As an artist, ironically, though we often did art for the games, we didn't make the best players (lol). I love games and have tried to learn a few of these games, like Magic and Rage, but I really came to respect gamers after seeing how much depth and twists and turns live in these games. For now, I'll have to stick with the old school games like Scrabble and computer games.

Now when I say activity games I am more or less referring to children's games like puzzles, mazes and more traditional board games like Candy Land. I love illustrating for all types of games, but I have to admit, I will always have a special place in my heart for those games I played as a child. Games are great for the mind and has shown to have a positive effect on certain types of thinking. Of course, I just like to play. The learning is just a bonus. It's also a great way to make friends too!

From time to time, I'll be sure and put more of my activity pieces on the blog. For now, most of the work I have scanned in relating to games are in the "Gaming" genre. 

Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle
Magic Card Detail

The Adder Bites!

The Adder Bites!

Dragon Feaster

Dragon Feaster
I just thought to add this piece because it's my most recent cover and I'd guess the most time consuming painting I've done in the last decade. Like mountains on the horizon, you can walk towards them for days, but they never seem to get closer.

Sketches and Scribbles from the Studio

Just thought I should add a few sketches and scribbles as well.
One of the most important things to do as an artist is to sketch, scribble and explore. Ones strengths in drawing actually grows more from sketching that the large grand paintings. It's those little moments of exploration where there are no boundaries that you gain understanding.
The most important subject (I believe) is the human form. Art teachers will often say that if you can draw a person you can draw anything. I'm long out of school, but I try to go to figure drawing regularly as well as challenge myself with unique subjects like water and metal. I hope you will find these interesting. I often find that a sketch can be more complete that a painting that takes ten times as long.

Baby Koi Study

Baby Koi Study
blind contour and watercolor

Little Grace Detail

Little Grace Detail

The Dinner Guests

The Dinner Guests

Dizzzy

Dizzzy

The Bookman

The Bookman

Medusa Framed

I always felt bad for Medusa because in any full telling of the tale, she is actually the victim. She was assaulted because of her beauty and then cursed for her beauty out of jealousy. And of course we know where the story goes from there.

Odd, no one ever talks about that.

Medusa Framed

Medusa Framed

Panda's Valentine

Panda's Valentine
New this month

Released Feburary 1 2011

Released Feburary 1 2011

Pop up Book for Acuity

Pop up Book for Acuity

A lot of work and a lot of time for a beautiful book

Well, I can finally share some of the art. To be respectful of the client I didn't want to show any of the interior because while it is a book, it is also their annual report. That being the case, I wanted to be sure not to divulge any information before it was shared within the company itself.

Having said that, I can now share with you all. There is a lot of art on the inside. I'd say the most art I've ever done on one book. From the fun hidden pop ups, pull tabs, moving wheels and doors it's just too much to describe. It's something you just have to see in person. From time to time I may rotate some of these images to show as much as possible.

A special shout out to Acuity for taking the time, interest and understanding to produce this work of art. This has got to be the most amazing annual report ever :-). And of course a special shout out to two wonderful friends and a lot of the talent behind this Andy Baron (paper engineer) and Andy Foerster (art director). Lol, I'd love to lie and say it was all me, but a pop up is a team effort.

Be Well,
:-D

Mary Mary

Mary Mary

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill

Little Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep

Hey Diddle

Hey Diddle

Back view

Back view

Humpty

Humpty

Lay the Tracks

Lay the Tracks
More trains please