Thursday, September 15, 2011


 art created 7-19-11

   Everyone knows crows are the cleverest of birds. So here I am to encourage all you kids to be just like them. You too can look smart by wearing specs and snappy clothes and be popular by hanging in a group. The group is called a "murder" of crows. Isn't that cool?  Crows can live anywhere. You don't need a home...just plop down on the roadside or in a field. Eat a variety of foods, including worms and insects, and get one of your friends to watch out for the authorities and caw out a warning if they see anyone coming. That way you can focus on the job of eating and reading. If you go into town, drop a nut in front of a car tire when the traffic light turns red. When the light turns green, the car runs over the nut, cracking it open. At the next red light, run out and get your snack. Very tasty, and you'll be a big hit with your friends.

 Eat a pear; read Shakespeare.

    For one of Ranger Rick's regular features: "Be Out There". You can also get other ideas for activities on their site to get you out of the house and out of your mother's hair, so to speak.
  And speaking of crows, there's a great Simpson's episode. To spare the family of having to eat genetically modified vegetables, Marge decides to grow her own corn, but her crop is attacked by crows.  So she erects a scarecrow which Homer thinks is a prowler in the dark and he beats it up and... oh... just go to this blog and you'll get the whole story.


   I thought I was a nature lover; but the only kind of snag I was familiar with was the kind I get in my sweaters (darn those hangnails), until I worked on this piece.  Snags being, of course, dead trees that serve as hosts to all kinds of animals, fungi and new plants that grow in the rich soil they provide from their decay. This accompanied a page in Ranger Rick that encourages kids to see how much wildlife they can find in and around a snag.  So naturally, this snag is fully occupied.

art created 8-12-11
   Mr. Squirrel is a memory portrait of one cutie that destroyed our sunflowers. The one that came right up to my window ledge and gave me that very cute look.  Just checking to see if I was home.
  This is a technique I've used a few times before. The pencil drawing is completed first, then scanned and tinted; then colored in photoshop on a layer in the multiply setting so that the color is behind the drawing. The main drawback in working this way is not having a completed work of original art in color.  But I'm fairly pleased with it, so I'm turning this one into a promo piece.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


A recent illustration for Babytalk magazine. I call it "va-va-voom vs. va-va-womb." The concept was body confidence for new moms. This accompanied a tongue-in-cheek quiz for moms to assess their own ideas of perfection and body image. It was good to do some editorial illustration for a change, even with a fast turnaround.

art created 8-22-11

  And oddly, I kept saying I wanted to go to the beach, and then I got this assignment.  I guess this is in the department of "Be Careful What You Wish For."  Now I'm REALLY going to the beach... but don't tell anyone!


  It's not too late to go to the beach and look for shells in September. In sweatshirts. This spread for Ranger Rick went through several incarnations in sketch stage with a different title too, but  it finally came together.  An "aha!" moment came when I realized I could make little shell characters on the beach instead of  trying to fit in an identification drawing of shells as a separate teaching element. Anthropomorphic shells. I think Ms. Whelk and  Mr. Mussel are hitting it off.
  Another piece for Ranger Rick for a regular feature called "Be Out There". No earbuds or ipads; just sun, surf, sand and wildlife.  Donna Miller's great art direction. (Thanks for the hermit crab idea, Donna!)

art created 6-28-11

Media:  pastels, prismacolor and photoshop.

  Here it is in print:


  Actually; wait, be silly. Be very silly! I had a lot of fun doing this spread for 'Your Big Backyard" magazine. It was a chance to work simply and nonsensical. I drew the basic art in black prismacolor; scanned the image , changed the line color and added the rest of the color in photoshop.  Every time I look at this piece again I think "That fish needs a monocle!"
  The reproduction turned out great. I'd like to do more of this type of crazy imagery geared more toward younger kids.

art created 6-14-11

 I just found out that Mr. Fish has a great great uncle.
Artist unknown.

Monday, September 12, 2011


  One of my recent assignments was this four pager for Ranger Rick magazine,  some of my favorite people to work with, on bird flocking behavior.  I suggested  a few other titles:  “The Birdy Bunch”, and “Hangin’ with my Peeps”,  but they passed on both.  I could see a bird saying “Marcia, Marcia , Marcia!” or some home-birds perched on a stoop. No?  O.K., perhaps some other time. Here's the first spread:

art created 5-13-11

  Birds of a feather flock together, but so do birds of several varieties. When a flock of birds is feeding; usually one bird  acts as a sentinel and will be the first to sense danger. When that one takes off;  the rest take their cue almost instantaneously.  Acorn woodpeckers have lots of Moms and Dads (and sisters and brothers) who help feed the kids. It’s like a bird commune.  I could have  put some Birkies on those bird feet… missed my chance.


 A great magazine to read indoors or outdoors.

Illustrations from the second spread:

  I found the coolest video while looking for reference. The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen birds do: a  massive flock behavior in starlings called murmuration. The shapes morph into one another like a 3-D mobius strip. Displaying strength in numbers, they are trying to distract a predator. They are also making art.  Similar to those rotating shoals of fish, it’s some kind of instinctual choreography.
  The starlings’ displays are so complicated that they are being researched by physicists, aeronautical engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as biologists. Starling numbers are a fraction of what they used to be.  The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pastures, the use of pesticides and a shortage of food and nesting sites.