Monday, December 29, 2008

Found art

I was looking through an old CD of past work and personal projects, and found these illustrations I did years ago.

My first job out of college was as the graphic designer for GATX Logistics. Don't know if I can really call it a job since I was only there for about three weeks! (The girl I replaced decided she didn't like her new job, wanted her old one back, and they gave it to her.)

Anyway, there wasn't much work for me during that time, and my boss didn't check in on me too much, so I had a lot of time to kill, thus the drawing of the semi truck above. I don't remember how long it took to create, but I was quite proud (and surprised) that it came out so well, especially since I drew it by hand (with a mouse) in Illustrator from several photos of the GATX fleet.

I am not sure what the motivation for the next two was, or when and where I did them.

This got me thinking about sharing some of my art from when I was a kid. I just have to find it!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you, and may you be richly blessed in 2009! Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented and been a part of this wonderful journey.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Close up views

©Tom Barrett

©Tom Barrett

©Tom Barrett

What I love most about macro photography is it allows you to capture the inherent beauty of subjects that normally appear mundane. With our naked eyes, we are unable to see all the details that make that item beautiful. I guess it I the old "can't see the forest for the trees" kind of mentality. The two top photos are essentially weeds, and the other is a dead leaf, all of which we either spray, cut, or rake away. With macro photography, we are able to appreciate the fine lines in the veins of a leaf, and the delicate fingers in the dandelion seeds.

I took the above photos yesterday while playing with a camera my boss has loaned me to take photos for the magazine I design. It Minolta DiMage 7i 5 megapixel camera. What's cool is it takes RAW images. Any of you with any digital photography knowledge know that RAW images contain much more information in the file than the typical JPEG that most digital cameras take. This in turn allows MUCH more freedom in the editing process to correct possible flaws or mistakes.

The dandelion came out great, and I thought the details in the other two were nice.

I really like nature photography, and coupling that with macro, you get some really cool images. I hope to one day some have the ability to get a dSLR so I can swap lenses and get a nice telephoto so I can do more shots of animals, especially birds. We have so many around here since we have bird feeders in the front and back yards.

Anyway, nothing to do with illustration, but I wanted to share.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Card colored

Well, I finally got this colored! Nothing like waiting to the last minute!

I made myself sit down yesterday and paint it. I hate it because I get so intimidated about painting... afraid I am going to mess up, or worried about "wasting" the paper (I bought some nice Arches for this).

But, as usual, it came out pretty good. I had to do a bit of cleaning in Photoshop to fix the places where I was going to fast. I bought some blank cards and envelopes today, so I hope to get them all printed and in the mail tomorrow.

In light of this, I think I will be challenging myself to do a drawing and painting a day for 21 days to get myself over this self-inflicted hurdle.

And, unfortunately, I won't be able to get to the SCBWI Regional this Jan. Bad timing with Christmas here, and I won't have a decent portfolio ready. Hopefully I can hit the summer one.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU! Have a safe holiday and a great New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cold Snowman?

We have neighbors who go all out in decorating their home for Christmas. We drove passed on the way home from church last night, and we noticed a lighted snowman warming himself by an accompanying fire. Thus the drawing above. I was going to leave it at the snowman, but added the reindeer for some additional humor and "story."

I don't like the way his arm and hand came out, so I will have to work on that.

Another one to color. Now if I can just stop drawing long enough to color some of my previous works!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Card rough

Here is a sketch of the idea I have for our family Christmas cards. I am very pleased with it, but am stumped on one aspect. I wanted to add a little dynamic to it by having the last child doing something other than just looking forward, so I added the dove flying overhead for him to look at. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have to offer on this, or anything else you think might improve the illustration.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

IF – Balloon

Here is my entry for this weeks IF. It is Templeton after his feast at the fair. Have to settle for a sketch again as I have a lot going on this month. (The notes were there before the drawing. I knew I'd draw it over, so I didn't bother to erase them.)

I am working on an illustration for our Christmas cards that I hope to have done by this weekend. And I am really going to try to get some sort of portfolio done by the first of the new year, with the hopes of taking it down to the SCBWI Regional in Miami this January. Tall order to fill, but I am a "glass-half-full" kind of guy, so we'll see what happens.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions! They are greatly appreciated.

On a side note, if you have not yet seen Bolt, the new movie from Walt Disney, you have to go see it. We went this last weekend, and it was great! The pigeons were classic! They are as cleverly done as the seagulls from Nemo!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mouse on Ice

Don't ask me why, but this little guy popped into my head at church last night. Had some down time, so I sketch him out real quick. Let me know what you think. I am going to color him, but any suggestions for improvement would be appreciated!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Old St. Nick

Not real busy today, so I took some time to draw some Santas. Three different versions for your enjoyment!

I hope to clean up and paint them (and get Santa to put on a bit more weight!), but we'll see how time goes with the holidays approaching.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tag... I'm it.

Fellow artist Deb has tagged me to share 7 things about myself. I did this a while back, so here is some new stuff!

1. In addition to drawing and photography, I enjoy wood working, model trains, and gardening. Finding time for all those activities, needless to say, proves difficult!

2. I love roller coasters, except for wooden ones. (I'll ride the wooden ones, but I enjoy the smooth ride of the steel coasters way more!!)

3. I loathe having to work indoors on beautiful days (like today!).

4. Mountain Dew is my coffee.

5. I listen to contemporary Christian music. My favorite group is Third Day.

6. I like to cook. I will usually do Saturday morning breakfast of either pancakes or French toast, which the kids love. Sometimes we have breakfast for dinner, and I will cook that as well. I can cook other foods, mind you, but breakfast is my "special" thing to do.

7. I am somewhat selfish with my time. It takes an effort for me to volunteer to help out with certain events, but once I commit, I am glad I did.

Here are the artists I am going to tag to share 7 things about themselves if they so desire:

Joyce Ann Martin

Nikki Shoemaker

Matalonga Jorge

Diane Smith

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hermit Crabs – Colored

This is the colored version of last weeks IF "vacant." I still need to get bolder with the colors, but I am really happy with how this came out. It is watercolor, then outlined with a warm grey Prismacolor pencil. (It looks better on paper than on screen. I can't get my scanner to capture the paper as white, so I have to adjust in Photoshop, which removes some of the color. Any hints would be appreciated.)

I think I may have asked this before, but I would love to know what paper you find suits watercolor best (this was just done on some heavy cardstock I had left over. I know.. not good for watercolor, but I want to get my technique down before I begin using good paper.) I gotta start stretching the paper, too!

IF – Wise

The original "wise guys."

Quick sketch I did last night, inspired in part after seeing Linda's "wise guys."

And here is a clip for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

IF – vacant

A vacant shell up for grabs!

I haven't participated in a while and I always seem to get my ideas for IF real close to the end of each week, thus making it hard for me to have time to color (or even clean up) my first sketch before the "deadline". So, for potential lack of time, I am posting said sketch now. I do hope to color it within the coming week. Check back if you like and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Young love... colored

Did this watercolor in about 20 minutes today while burning some DVDs to clean up my computer. Still need practice, of course, but it came out OK. Should have resharpened the pencil before I outlined the girl. My shadows didn't come out like I wanted either. I have been observing others work and how they do shadows, and experimenting to see what works for me. Would love your thoughts...

I have applied for a job which, if I get it (and accept), would mean a big move for me and my family (from Florida to North Carolina), leaving our families here. This is the main reason I haven't been drawing much... Been researching the city and lifestyle quite a bit, praying, weighing pros and cons, and all the fun stuff that goes with it. So, any prayers or words of encouragement (or discouragement, if you feel so inclined) would be appreciated! And, if anyone has done a move such as this, I would love to hear your experience.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend getaway

Went to the North Carolina mountains over the weekend with my dad and uncle for a sort of guys getaway (from what, I'm not sure!). They both have property up there, and we stayed at my uncle's cabin. Mostly a football weekend... watched the local high school game Friday night, watched the FL Gators Saturday night, and listened to the Jags/Broncos game on the car ride home Sunday. Got some decent photos during the trip and thought I'd share a few. Unfortunately, I had my camera ISO set wrong, so the photos came out a bit grainy, as well as blurrier than I wanted too. I hope to be able to upgrade from my fixed-lense camera to a dSLR soon.

Looking South at the top of Baines Mountain.

Looking North at the top of Baines Mountain.

The road near my uncle's cabin.

The southern end of Fontana Lake. That is The Great Smokey Mountain Railroad bridge in the center. They drain the lake in the cooler months, which is why you can see so much of the bank. What's cool though, is that they have a tour where you can see some of an old mining town that was covered when they flooded the area to create the lake.

Nantahala River just upstream from the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

I think this is a White Breasted Nuthatch.
They we in all the bird feeders at the cabin.

The tomato farm at a local market.

Saw this leaf in the driveway. I think it is obvious what it looks like!

Did two sketches while I was there, but really had no time for much (spent most of the time outside with the camera). Drawing in the truck was out of the question as the roads were just rough enough to create a problem. :P

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Portfolio... or Bust!

Boy, three weeks goes by fast! Took some time out to take advantage of the nice weather to get some things done around the house. We also had a party for my daughter, and just taking a break to reflect on things. I have been sketching a few odd things, but not much. The drawing above was to be my entry in the recent SCBWI illustrator contest, but time was not available. I actually did this today, based on a thumbnail I created when I learned of the contest. I plan to refine and color it over the next week or so. I also did a couple sketches for the IF "packed" from 2 weeks ago. Plan to finish that as well.

One thing I have always been interested in is creating a comic strip. I picked up The Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book at the library the other day, and have found it to be very informative and inspirational. (Calvin & Hobbes was always one of my favorites.) I have sort of an idea, it is just a matter of taking the time to get something down on paper. Just a matter of deciding what to put off to do that! :P

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Challenge – Day 10

Getting back into the swing of things after a not so fun weekend (see post below). Keeping busy has made it easier. Thanks for the kind comments so far.

I am really happy with this drawing. The movement, proportions, pose. It came out great for 10 minute sketch.

And I also want to thank Edrian and Carli for the awards they gave me last week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farewell Tiger

Hard for me to write this...

Friday we had to have our cat Tiger put to sleep. He had been sick, and over the period of two weeks, two of his legs got to where he could not put weight on them. I took him to the vet Friday for an exam, and blood tests revealed that he had FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Similar to HIV, but not communicable to humans. We weighed all the options, but in his current condition, and no cure for FIV, we felt it best to put him to rest.

One of THE hardest decisions ever! The way I have felt today, you would have thought I lost one of my children. But in a way I have. It is amazing how much a part of your life a pet becomes! How attached we are to them, and they to us. And the joys they bring to each day. Life truly won't be the same around here.

We miss you, Tiger. Rest in Peace!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Challenge – Day 9

Won't have any time to draw today, so I am posting my watercolor painting of the giraffe sketch I did the other day. Overall I like it, but I overworked the head, and did some experimenting shading with colored pencils. But, it's all good... good practice!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Challenge - Days 7 & 8

Busy day yesterday, so I didn't get to post, so today I have 2 drawings. This one I started yesterday at a doctors appt., and finished today.

This one I did right after the one above.

One funny thing about when I draw is that my sketches never end like they began in my head, sometimes drastically. I hope that proves to be a good thing should this journey become a career.


One another note, I would like to thank Jess and Diana for the great awards they bestowed on me the past couple of days! Once again, though, I am going to have to cheat and send these awards out to all who take the time to visit my blog and leave encouraging and helpful comments and suggestions! During this journey, I have met many wonderful people, all deserving an award for their mutual support of each other—whether newbie or veteran—in a field where we are all competing to some degree. That is rare in many other professions, and I am glad to be a part of this group!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Challenge – Day 6

Started this one over the weekend with a small thumbnail sketch. Not my usual routine, but I most likely will begin doing this. Not too happy with the boys head and face. I fixed it a bit in Photoshop, but now realize that he should be looking down more at the dog. His proportions look OK, though. I haven't been redrawing these daily sketches, mostly due to time constraints, but I think I will be happier if I spend a bit more time cleaning up each one before posting.

Did this giraffe over the weekend as well. Quick sketch for my wife. I like it, so I am going to color him, hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Challenge - Day 5

One week down! Thanks to all who have commented. Keeps me encouraged!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Challenge - Day 3

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Challenge – Day 1

Here is my first post on my new self challenge. My goal is to draw a human character (and maybe some animals here and there), each day until I feel I have developed a consistent style from drawing to drawing. I also want to focus on action poses, and different angles to work on foreshortening. For now, I am just going to sketch, then progressively add color.

My goal with all this is to work toward an decent online portfolio by the beginning of the new year.

On this, his arms are a bit long, and I was trying for a strenuous, "going-to-hit-the-ball-as-far-as-I-can" kind of look on the boys face, but not sure how well that worked. Overall happy with this, though.

Check back tomorrow!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dragon and boy painting FINAL

Here is the final version of the dragon and boy painting I have been working over the past weeks. Except for the initial drawing of the boy, which I did in pencil and scanned in, everything was done in Photoshop. I am really happy with the way it turned out. It was a great learning experience, both in using my Bamboo tablet, and drawing and painting entirely in Photoshop. Don't know how much a of a portfolio piece it would make, but I will most likely use it as part of my blog header.


Drawing people is my weakest skill when it comes to illustration, so I am going to challenge myself to draw at least one person per day—children and adults—in an effort to better my skills, and explore more actions and expressions. My goal is to try and loosen myself up some so my characters don't look so stiff. No time limit on this... I am going to continue until I am happy with the results. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dragon and boy painting update...

Here is a newer version of the boy and dragon painting. It is, for the most part, finished, except for coloring the easel, and I may add some "paintings" on the ground around them.

Would love to know what you think and any suggestions on how I might improve.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Colored dragon – stage 1

Here is where I am right now with the coloring of the boy and dragon painting (click for a larger view). All of the painting and linework was done in Photoshop, attempting to recreate a watercolor look.

What I would like to know is A) does it look similar to watercolor, and B) is the linework to stiff? I plan to "sketch" back over it a bit to "rough it up" some, but I would love your overall opinion on this beginning.

Thanks in advance!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Latest sketch...

Took some time today to work on this sketch. I have been working on it on and off for a couple of weeks. It is part Photoshop and part pencil. The boy proved to be the most difficult part, getting him to look right and mesh with the illustration as a whole. One part that helped was changing the dragons eye. Below is the original eye...

And this is the new eye.

Not only did it make the dragon more "friendly" looking, he and the boy fit together now.

Anyway, I hope to color this (the little boy need a bit more work), and use it as my header, and perhaps my first portfolio piece.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another Award!!

A BIG thank you to the talented Kathy Hare for awarding me the "I Love Your Blog" award. I am always honored to be selected for these blog awards. Since time is short for me right now (and Kathy said I could :P), I am going to hold off on passing this on. Besides, there are so many blogs I love to visit, narrowing them down to 7 is extremely difficult.
On the art front, I have been drawing some, just no time to post. Hope to have something new up soon.

Best to all!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Going digital...

©2008 Tom Barrett

Here is another one of my forays into digital illustration. Many of you may recognize this little tug from previous posts. This was done completely in Photoshop using some custom brushes (actually only one of them) from this guy. I am quite happy with this as it came out looking painted like I wanted it to. Those of you who use a tablet can attest, I'm sure, to the difficulty of going from pencil and paper to stylus and screen. I guess like anything, it is a medium that must be practiced (mostly hand/eye coordination, and getting used to not being able to turn the "paper" if needed). It is kind of funny to realize that even on screen, you have to layer colors to get the effect you want. What's neat about digital is how loose you can be with the art by not having to worry about making a permanent mark (mistake!) that will require starting over, compared to some traditional mediums I enjoy working with. If you haven't yet experimented with digital illustration, give it a try!