Oscar Project

I've decided that I need a new, enormous, long term personal project. I really liked my presidents, so I figured I'd do a new collection of black and white portraits. The trick with this kind of thing, though, is that I need decent reference, and it has to be relatively easily accessible. Also, I'd like it to be somewhere within my realm of interest. So as it happens, I love watching movies, and I really, really love watching the Oscars -- I know it's completely ridiculous, but it's so much fun! I can't help myself every year!

So, my new project is to draw every single Best Actor winner since the beginning. If it goes well, it will be followed by every single best Actress winner since the beginning. Since the oscars are in their 84 year this year, that's.... a lot of drawings. But if I finish at least one a week, I should finish sometime next year! Like the presidents project, it will be a great way for me to keep my drawing fresh, and I'll have a nifty little thing in the end. With the presidents, I knew what they all looked like, so I think it was easier. With many of the first actors, I am not going to be familiar with their looks in advance, making for a really fun challenge.

I'm going to try to draw each actor in costume for the film in which they won. First up: Emil Jannings, for "The Last Command" (In 1927).


So, I don't usually post my final drawings, but it strikes me that that's a shame. This is the piece that came out of the studies I was working on last week. It's part of a bunch of contributions to drum up excitement for the second issue of gratuitous type, a small Brooklyn magazine. The wonderful AD, Elana Schlenker, asked only that the art embody the concept of the number two. I tried to push things a bit -- the concept isn't incredibly obvious, but it's there. I really want to try and force people to look.

I always go this far with my drawings, and then I paint right on top of them. I am definitely more of a draftsman than a painter, and I am always either working with that or fighting it. I do scan all of the drawings for each piece before I throw color down, for my own records. I am planning a subtle color palette for this piece, but I also really just like it simply in black and whites.

Also, I don't usually include animals, and I'm really pleased with the way the fox turned out.


Some studies for a new project. I was doing a lot of facial hair, and then somehow Daniel Day-Lewis snuck on in there. He does that.

I think I like the guy on the top right with the mustache, but I'm going to keep at it.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I'm enjoying the holiday spirit that began to saturate the air the instant we finished eating the turkey.


Small spot of Plato for FDU's Alumni Mag. Even though it's tiny, I totally agonized over this... the final version is like the 5th one. I'm really happy (and relieved) with the way it ended up coming out though.


Taking part in a nice little exhibition at Guerrilla Galleries in Newark, NJ called "Illustrious" full of artists with narrative work. My Tea Party, Noah's Ark, and Death and Frolic images are up. The opening was last Friday (sorry I didn't post before then) and it was really nice! The show is up through January 1, 2012. Thanks to the gallery owners for putting together such a great show!

Some Very Nice Drawings of Ladies' Backs

I went figure drawing at the Society of Illustrators the other night for the first time in a little while. I got to see my friend Bob Dacey, and I got to draw some pictures. The bad news is, the models took turns hiding behind the massive curly hair of the woman in front of me and facing the other way. The good news is, I actually really like the way the drawings came out anyways. Take that, curly haired lady!!!!!


Sorry, internet -- definitely tried to make this post last week, as per my one post per week commitment! I was stopped by internet issues. Curses.

I popped these out a little while back, but rediscovered them the other day. I love the way Charles Dana Gibson draws. I don't think I did these for any reason in particular other than to try and learn something.

Larry Young

Portrait of Larry Young, CEO of Dr. Pepper and Snapple, for Dallas CEO Magazine. I'm really pleased with the way this came out, especially considering the complete absence of high-res reference that I could dig up.

Talk, Sketch

Two things. One, I was lucky enough to get to the Society of Illustrators tonight for a talk by one of my heroes, Sterling Hundley. Sterling was probably my first real inspiration for a direction in illustration, and even though what I've learned from him has been joined over the years by many, many, many other points of view and techniques from other artists, he has left a powerful mark on both my work and the way I think about art. I've seen him speak three in the last four years or so now, so I guess I've become sort of that awkward illustration fan in the crowd, but it's no matter. I learn something new each time.

Also, each time I've seen him speak, I've come with a new point of view. The first time, I was still in college, and I was still very much under the sway of his work. He was kind of a teacher to me, even though he didn't teach at Syracuse, in that before I started each new class assignment, I'd look through his work with kind of a "WHAT WOULD STERLING DO?!" frantic urgency. This helped me enormously in the short term -- my work got astronomically better technically in a very short period of time -- but set me back stylistically, because I really was basically copying his stuff, and that's no good. It took me a little while to realize that I needed to open up to new influences and grow, but a series of fairly humbling experiences really threw things into perspective. The second and (now) third times I've gone, I've been drastically different. I have so many different places to look for inspiration now. I like to think of my current "style", if I have one, as kind of a melting pot of a whole bunch of different voices I've absorbed, combined with my own, as it steadily gets louder. The more time goes on, the more comfortable I feel saying that something is genuinely mine. I think that this is generally a process that all young illustrators go through in one way or another; it's just really interesting to watch my own journey. I have to step back and remember sometimes that I started this when I was eighteen, so even though some of my initial decisions seem like some that a child would make, they really weren't that long ago. I still have a long journey ahead of me -- I have no idea what my stuff is going to look like in ten years, which is very exciting to me.

Above is a scan of Sterling's book, which I picked up tonight at the talk, and he was gracious enough to sign. I mentioned earlier that I'm basically a fanboy, even after all this growth that I've gone through, soooooooo he does recognizes me from my appearances over the years at his talks. On the bright side, that lent itself to a really nice note!

Also above is a sketch for a new piece I'm working on for Dallas CEO Magazine. That'll be up sometime next week. I've been trying to have a little fun with my rough sketches. My work can get really tight sometimes; it's nice to loosen up and see where that takes me.

Wayne Wheeler

I've been watching Ken Burns's documentary about Prohibition on PBS the past few days. The era is fascinating mostly because prohibition is arguably the most ill-advised law passed in American history. The personalities are wonderful, and so are the faces.

Wheeler was the head of the anti-saloon league, the political organization with some of the most clout in the temperance movement, and probably the most responsibility for the law's passage. Wheeler's life, though, was ridiculously tragic. His fall from grace was before the amendment was repealed, but after it was clear that the law was failing spectacularly. His death, though, was shortly after he had retired to Michigan (ostensibly to regain his strength) where his wife had caught fire from the oven and his father in law had died from a heart attack trying to put out said fire. You can't make this stuff up.

Breakthrough Contest

A few months ago, I entered a contest that Richard Solomon {artist representative} put on for new illustrators. The winner was to be flown to New York and introduced to a whole bunch of new contacts, in addition recieving a cash prize. There was only one winner, and alas, it was not I, but I did just recieve notice today that among all of the entries, myself and nineteen other artists were selected as staff favorites and given a little bit of the spotlight on their web page. Check that out here! I'm towards the bottom of the page (alphabetical), but there I am! All of the artists up there are so talented -- it's such an honor to be included.

Stay tuned for some art later this week!


I've been burning through George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" books lately. I usually fluctuate between biographies and fiction, but I find that most of the books that have really absorbed me fully over the years have been really good epic fantasies. It's funny, because my art goes in such a different direction, but I keep getting drawn to these big stories. I first noticed A Game of Thrones a while back when HBO started their series, but I really got interested when a whole bunch of completely different artists that I follow professed their love for it to the internet on their own blogs and started making art inspired by it.

Dragons play a fairly major part in the series. I've always thought that they were the coolest -- I spent a lot of time drawing them as a kid, and I've actually spent a lot of time drawing them quickly recently with kids that I teach. But I haven't really tried to piece one together using reference like I do my actual work. Here's a start? I found a bunch of cool looking lizards to put together as inspiration.


New illustrations for Inside New Jersey Magazine. They are for the December 2011 issue, so printing is a bit of a distance off, but here they are now! The assignment was not a particularly edgy concept -- the article was about native New Jersey-ans love/hate relationship with their own state, and I was told to base both compositions on American Gothic -- but I had a lot of fun playing around regardless. My goal was both to give these paintings their own style, and to make them as technically interesting as I could.

The first image, with the less happy theme, is going to be the magazine's cover. Later, when I get samples, I'll post a picture. The second image is a full page for the feature article.

In unrelated news, I am going to try something seriously, seriously, seriously new for this blog: weekly posts. From here on out, I am going to post SOMETHING at least once a week. It might have something to do with a project I'm working on, it might be simple drawings and sketches, or it might be something that is particularly inspiring to me at the moment. It's going to be something, and it's going to be once a week. For serious.


New work for FDU. The article was about some students getting their degrees in The Dominican Republic, so I got to play a little with the image concept.

Willie Nelson

Another wonderful assignment for The Stranger. I loved doing this drawing -- the man has an amazing face. Seriously.

Primative Slacklines

I designed this logo a few months ago for a very good friend; their website just recently went live. I don't usually do design work, but I really like the way this ended up coming out (probably because it involved drawing something, and Celocampths are ridiculously cool). You can visit their page here.

I've been quiet for the past month, but I have several really exciting projects in progress. A portrait of Willie Nelson for The Stranger (up next week), a full page for FDU's Alumni mag (sometime this month), and two full pages for the Star Ledger's magazine (Inside New Jersey) for sometime in the next few months. Also, a Michele Bachmann painting for me, because it's just irresistible. Check back for updates!


Just finished this painting and accompanying spot for the cover of The Washington Post Capital Business. The article was about executive compensation. I love the way that the colors came out! As always, this was a blast. When I get a pdf of the cover next week, I'll add it to this post.

More black and white, with a Governor smashing a trumpet.

New assignment for The Pitch Magazine. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is leading some kind of a conservative charge against his state's arts fund. The AD and I thought an image with some movement would spice things up. I really like the way this drawing turned out.


A series of small portraits I did for The Stranger. This is actually part of a larger series of 15 or so, with the rest to come sometime soon. All of them are Republican Presidential hopefuls. This was a total blast to do!


The assignment's concept here was "from beyond the grave". I wanted to push my solution beyond a bunch of wavy hands coming out of the ground, which was definitely the first image that popped into my head.

What you see here is an image of me and my grandfather, who passed away when I was seven or so. It's strange how someone you knew for so short of a time can still leave such an impact. I still think about him.


Client: The Stranger
This piece was a lot of fun! The figure is not particularly well known, but he's the incoming president of Washington University, hence the WU. He's also a mormon republican. Fun.


A small part of a new project in progress.

Support Back to School Drives

This piece was done for the National Labor Federation's calendar. Each month draws attention to a different social issue afflicting or important to the impoverished workers in this country. It was an enormous pleasure to be included in this publication -- many artists I look up to have submitted work over the years.

My assignment was "Support Back to School Drives".


Recently completed illustration for "The Pitch" Magazine. The article was about bands covering The Pretenders songs.


Part of a series I'm working on.