Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Charlotte Award weekend in New York State!

This past weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Liverpool in New York State near Syracuse to receive the 2012 Charlotte Award for "The Can Man". Thanks to the New York State Reading Association for this great honor! 

The NYSRA started with 600 books published over two years then narrowed them down for the ballot so the kids could spend the next year reading and voting. 12,000 kids across the state picked their favorite books in four catagories. Laura Williams the author of "The Can Man" and I won in the intermediate level. Thank you to the NYSRA for flying me out and showing me such a good time. Thankfully I managed to just miss hurricane Sandy! I am glad to report Syracuse rode out the storm just fine.

Sadly because of the weather four other winners had to cancel their travel plans, but luckily most made acceptance videos that were played during the ceremony and three even skyped in which was really great. I was shown a lot of love for being the only winner who was able to make it for the weekend. Below are some pictures from the two days.

Here is the view from my room at the Holiday Inn. Didn't make it out much but enjoyed the fall color!

On Sunday we had a community day event where kids and parents could come and celebrate books.

Here is my setup for that event. We had a great turnout and I got to meet lots of kids familiar with "The Can Man". They also got to color their own skateboard designs.

The VanRiper's are a really nice local family who had a booth next to mine. They write and illustrate a on going series of books set locally called "The Aidirondack Kids". They are currently working on their 13th. Father and son write the stories and mom does the interior drawings. Really fun books and a great success story.

Here we are Sunday night at a banquet dinner singing the song "Reach Out and Touch Somebodies Hand" at the close of a great speech by Patricia Edwards. These teachers know how to party!

 All of the 2012 Charlotte winning books together.

On Monday the Charlotte awards were given during the luncheon. Here are all six of them together.

 And here is mine!

 Everyone still arriving.

 Judy is presenting my award.

 Me whipping up the crowd in my gunslinger pose (I guess).

 Enjoying the moment after my short speech.

Writer Adam Gidwitz a winner for his book "A Tale Dark and Grimm" brought the house down with his thank you video and skype visit from NYC, all while riding out hurricane Sandy!

My book signing buddies. Both of these authors, Suzanne Bloom and Alan Katz have books I have used in my illustration classes over the years. So cool to meet them in person!

Sadly the whole conference may have been upstaged by the child beauty pageant just around the corner in the hotel. I was tempted to sit in that chair. NYSRA and the Charlotte Award Committee made me feel like a king for the day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis loves Seattle

In honor of  the 35th anniversary of Elvis's death today here is a painting I just completed. It is for an art show coming up at Seattle's Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival over Labor Day weekend. The show is called "Elvistravaganza! The King Returns to Seattle!" Thanks to my former Cornish teacher Jo David for asking me to be a part of it. The lineup of artists is incredible. Here is a link to learn more about the show http://elvistravaganza.blogspot.com/.

It marks the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle built in 1962 and the same year Elvis visited Seattle to film the movie "It Happened at the World's Fair". My piece was inspired by an actual souvenir Space Needle pen from 1962 that went back on sale this year. The creator had some lying around these many years. So if you buy the painting ($500) you get a pen! The pen hangs on a string. Elvis really did love Seattle and so do I.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Camel in my back pocket

Today I was asked by a client if I had any paintings of camels for a possible project. I have horses, oxen, cows, kangaroos etc, but no camels. I spent an hour quickly sketching this up. Now I have a camel in my back pocket.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mummified illustrator

YES that's me as a mummy wrapped in toilet paper for a recent project. YES I take this job very seriously. That's called dedication.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another award for The Can Man

More great news for The Can Man! The book won the 2012 New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Award! Nearly 12,000 students across New York State voted for the winner from the list of nominees. It's especially exciting because they only choose winners every 2 years. I am so glad to have been a part of this great project.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New sample fresh off the easel

I just finished a new painting I'd like to share. The story behind the painting is interesting. Late last year I completed some drawings for a client for a book but because the due date was changed around the holidays I was not able to complete the final paintings. Sadly they needed to find another illustrator to finish them based on my sketches. It was unfortunate but I am making the most of it by completing some of the final illustrations myself. They story is set in the Maine woods. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"The Can Man" wins an award!

Great news! "The Can Man" won one of the state reading awards it was nominated for! "The Can Man" was voted by the participating students of Pennsylvania as their favorite and is the intermediate level winner of the Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award for 2011-2012!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mount Rushmore revisited

In honor of President's Day I decided to revisit the subject of Mount Rushmore with a series of new paintings. Last year I completed one painting of the monument that proved very popular. I love the subject so much I couldn't resist another go at it!

For this project I wanted to create something with a graphic novel feel so I designed this two page spread that shows the evolution of part of the carving. I could see this idea working really well as a picture book (hint, hint). In total it took them 14 years to complete the monument. My paintings took about 3 weeks. I had lots of great old photos for reference that I based my paintings on. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald final painting

Here is the finished painting of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age which I talked about in an earlier posting. It is my first oil painting in over a year. It felt just like old times although I could have done without the toxic oder in my small studio! I hope you enjoy the painting. This paintings is available for sale if you are interested, $500.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let There Be Rock!

My third blog post in a week. I am on a roll this new year! Anyway I just want to share a finished printed project I received in the mail this week. It's a slim 32 page paperback book for Zaner-Bloser called "Let There Be Rock!". I illustrated it a year and a half ago. I just now got around to tracking down printed copies. It's a cute story about a grandfather telling his grandson about his days in a high school rock band in 1957. I completed 8 small illustration for this chapter book and really enjoyed depicting the cloths, hair styles and other details from the 1950's.

Sadly for many of the smaller educational projects I have done I rarely get to see the final printed sample. For this project I made an effort to track down some copies and the publisher kindly sent me free books. It looks great and I am happy to see this project to it's natural conclusion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age

I'm working on a new sample image based on the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, one I like to reread every few years. Later this year there will also be a new movie version staring Leonardo DiCaprio, so I guess in a way I am gearing up for that.

I am always looking for reasons to paint images from the 1920's as it is a favorite subject, especially NYC during that time. I keep hoping an editor will present me with a story set in those times for me to illustrate! With that in mind my portrait incorporates iconic imagery of the 20's, F. Scott's writings come to life.

I will be doing the final painting in oil which I have not worked with in over a year. The creamy thick paint seems perfect for this image, a medium that most great painters of that time worked in. Below are some character sketches, my compositional drawing and a color study. I will share the final painting when I am done!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More "Can Man" news

Despite being out for almost two years now great news for "The Can Man" keeps rolling in!

The Alabama Department of Education selected "The Can Man" as a finalist for the Alabama Camellia Award Program 2011-12 Book List.

It is also a Show Me 2012-2013 final nominee from the Missouri Association of School Librarians. One of just 10 books. Grade school kids through out the state of Missouri make the final vote. See the list of books here.

Ultimately these state reading award nominations along with the ones in New York and Pennsylvania that I mentioned last year mean more kids will be reading the book which is really wonderful.

Lastly 25,800 kids last summer had "The Can Man" read to them up and down the east coast as part of TD Banks summer reading program. Follow this link to learn more.

What a great way to start out the new year!