Monday, October 25, 2010


Been a long time since I posted anything here. You may remember from my previous post my desire to get more into gardening, and my online comic strip going. Well, I am proud to announce that I have reached both those goals!

I would like to present Head of the House, my new web comic. I spent a lot of time working on this and getting a "buffer" of strips ready, and am excited to have it to a point where I can present it to the public.

My initial schedule will be once a week, posting a new strip each Thursday morning. However, I do want to get to a point where I can do more strips per week.

As for gardening, I planted what I termed an "experimental" garden, with the intention of using it to learn more than to get a large amount of produce. And I feel I achieved that as well, and am ready to go all out next spring. I created a blog to document my progress.

As a result of my gardening, I have become increasingly interested in the slow food/local food movement (though I don't really like the term "movement", as it makes the efforts of everyone involved sound more like a temporary trend than something to be embraced long term).

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well.

Thanks for checking back in!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Calling it quits... for now.

Over the past 2 years, I have made a point of creating art in the hopes that one day I might be good enough to go professional as an illustrator. Over the past few weeks, I have come to realize that my interests have changed, and it is becoming more and more of a struggle (mentally, not artistically) to create the art I thought I wanted to do.

For the past 3 years, I have been really wishy washy about what I want to do for a career—art teacher, restauranteur, book store owner, hot dog seller, wedding photographer, start my own magazine, and yes, even looked into starting my own theme park (this just after returning from Disney)!! My intentions are good, but most of my ventures start with the idea of great financial benefits or filling a "need" in my community (I honestly believe a theme park would do well here). That being said, I thankfully do a lot of research on each idea, spend hours looking at websites, reading articles, etc, etc. (hours I could have been doing something more productive) only to realize that I have no business or desire to do any of these things fulltime. And I am adamant about not starting something solely based on the financial light at the end of the tunnel. But, I digress.

One thing I do know is I love being outdoors. While my thumbs are not all that green, I do love gardening. I have had a few vegetable gardens over the years with mixed results, but I plan to learn more to increase my yield. I have three small (1.5 feet tall) oak trees that I, myself, started from acorns I collected. I have gathered about 7 other oak saplings from my yard (acorns that sprouted on the ground after they fell from the tree), along with about 5 red maple saplings I got from another yard, and put them in pots. I have many more acorns I plan to propagate. I am planning to get some FL apple trees and blueberry bushes and create the beginnings of what I hope to be my own orchard/tree farm. Not large mind you, but we have 3 acres here, with plenty of room for such a venture. I have no plans to make this a full time gig; just a hobby that hopefully will pay for itself over the years. (Heck, I won't see any "fruits" of my labor for about 5 years, so this definitely ain't about the cash!)

Another venture I am seeing come to fruition is my online comic strip. Like the orchard, I have been wanting to create a comic strip for many, many years. I have a title, the characters drawn, and the basic story behind each. I feel really good about it. Check back here in the coming weeks and I will post a link to the new site.

As far as this blog goes, I will keep it online for a while longer, perhaps taking it down eventually. I do plan to start a new blog more on the lines of personal stories and commentaries.

Thank you to all who have visited over the years. It was a joy to have met each of you. I wish each of you continued success. God bless!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

12WC - Wk5

Well, week 5 was a total bust. Well, not totally... I did manage to get some rough sketches done of a character series for my portfolio. But these past few weeks have been super busy, and this week we are headed to the happiest place on earth (the kids' first time). I plan to take a sketchbook, but if this is like all our other vacations, I won't get any drawing done!

Anyway, I did do a bit of artwork for my son's birthday this past weekend. He is really into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (we've seen the movie, too). So he asked for Greg on his cake, and below is what I came up with.

Hope all of my fellow 12 week challengers are making progress. I am going to try and discipline myself to limit my time online so that I can get some illustrations done.

Good luck to everyone.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

12 Week Challenge - Week 3

Our task this week was to think about the business model we want to set up as illustrators, and also compile a list of 10 publishers we would like to work with.

As far as a business model, I will most likely keep it as a sole proprietorship in the beginning for simplicity. However, there are benefits to incorporating yourself in the future. One is that should anything happen with the "company", your personal assets are safe from seizure. There are tax benefits as well. I doubt I will ever put myself under an umbrella name, though.

And for my wish list of clients, they are as follows:

Book Publishers
Igloo Books
Parragon Books
Penguin Group (Dutton, Dial, and G.P. Putnam imprints)
Holiday House
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Hyperion Books for Children
Bethany House Publishers (Christian publisher)

Highlights (no brainer)
Clubhouse, Jr. (from Focus on the Family)
US Kids (Humpty Dumpty, Turtle, and Jack & Jill magazines)

Some of the publishers I picked through my research at the bookstore, others by their website and listing in my 2006 copy of the CWIM. There are others I may target in the future, but I think this is a pretty good start. (I will also mention that I am a bit disappointed in the 2010 CWIM. I went to the store to get it, and upon reviewing it, was surprised to see how little illustrator info was included compared to previous issues. I did not buy it.)

I have to give mucho kudos to Jonathan Woodward for starting the 12 Week Challenge. I have never been so motivated and inspired and excited about this process until now. While I don't expect to be a full fledged working illustrator, or even have my first job, this process is proving to be a step in the right direction!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

12 Week Challenge - Wks 1 & 2

Well, here we are in the middle of week 2 of the 12WC. Week 1 was pretty easy for me. We were to focus on what area of illustration we want to pursue, not as a absolute, but as a starting point. My choice was obviously picture books, but more towards the Christian childrens market, and perhaps do some diagramatic illos and maps here and there to supplement.

Week 2 is more of a challenge. Our goal was to develop a business plan of sorts, with the goal of building a business instead of a job, giving one the ability to leave at times and the business still produce money utilizing multiple steams of income. I am not planning on creating a business as such at this time, so I took slightly different approach.

Using their OGSM model (Objective, Goals, Strategies, & Measures), I drafted the following plan:

  • to be able to receive 100% of my income from illustration work

  • published illo within 1 year (05/11)
  • published book within 3-5 years (05/13-05/15)

  • join SCBWI and attend a few conferences
  • portfolio site in next 6 months (09/10)
  • do at least 1 finished illo a week to build portfolio
  • send mailers out to select publishers as soon as site is online and live
  • if time and budget permit, create portfolios on and other portfolio sites

  • published illo by 5/11
  • 10% income from illos by 12/11
  • 100% income from illos by 05/13 - 05/15

I think these are fairly realistic and reachable if I stick with the plan and follow thru with each step. I have to do my best to reserve time for this as it has been really difficult these past few weeks. One thing I really have to limit is my online time. I don't want to say I am wasting that time as much of it is spent visiting blogs. But I've got to pull the plug somewhere if I am going to succeed with this.

I would like to mention that I am getting closer to having my comic strip online! I am really excited and can't wait to share it. Keep checking back as I hope to have it online within the month.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Goals – Updated

As I prepare for the upcoming 12 Week Challenge, I have developed a short list of goals in an effort to further account myself to completing this journey I started, along with a few even more personal ones.

They are, in no particular order:

Short term –
  • Start a comic strip: I know this is a bit out of the realm of children's illustration, but I have wanted to do this longer than I have illustration itself. I have what I consider a good idea, the characters pretty much fleshed out, an a blog address reserved for the big release. This is nothing I am considering taking to a syndicate, just a personal project I want to see come to fruition.

  • Do at least one colored illo each week, perhaps with a different medium (I just bought some oil pastels I want to try!)

  • Do at least 3 quick sketches each week

  • Get healthier: As I sit at a computer all day at work, and then sit at a drawing table quite a bit as well, in addition to sitting watching TV at night. I am quite sedentary. I do get out and play with the kids in the evenings when the weather permits, and occasionally walk, it is not enough. If I try and run with the kids, I am easily winded. I also drink too much soda (my caffeine), and stay up too late... basically doing nothing to warrant the late nights. So I resolve to eat better, drink better, exercise more, and sleep more, for myself and my family.

  • Learn at least one song on the piano: I don't plan to take lessons, mind you, but get the sheet music and go from there. I have one in mind!

Long term –
  • My portfolio and web site done in the next six months

  • A published illustration in the next year

  • A published book within the next 5 years

I am going to copy this list and put it near my computer in another effort to stay the course.

Jonathan Woodward, the man behind the 12 Week Challenge, just posted all of the participants on the Zero2Illo website. So far up to 60. There is some amazing talent.

Best of luck to us all!

A quick addition...

I would like to thank Susan Mordigal for awarding me the Renee Award recently. The Renee Award is in honor of Renée Khan, who, for 4 years, journaled about her battle with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer on her blog Circling My Head. Renee passed away in early March this year, however, family is continuing to update her blog. I am flattered that Susan thought of me for the small tidbits of encouragement and advice given to her since we "met," since this is what the Renee award is all about. You can learn more about the origins of this award here.

Secondly, I would like to thank Shirley Benitez for awarding me the Creative Writer Blogger Award. I try to make my posts as interesting as possible, so thanks, Shirley, for noticing. However, there is great room for improvement, and I will be working on that in the future.

I know these 2 awards have been floated around the blog-o-sphere quite a bit, but I personally would like to pass the Renee Award back to both Shirley and Susan for their kind words, as well as to Alicia Padrón. She has been a constant source of advice, encouragement, and support since I started.

And I could honestly pass the Creative Writer award to all my blog friends, as I get so much from each blog I visit, be it encouragement, inspiration, or a good laugh!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting serious!

I know what you're thinking... "He's been blogging about illustration for over 2 years, and he's just now decided to get serious!?"

Well, sort of...

During these 2 year's, I have developed a love/hate relationship with my "day job". I love the freedom I have working at home, and the freedom my boss allows me as far as time off "as long as the work gets done." I hate the monotony of the work month to month. I design a magazine which is somewhat of a template that I refill each month with new text and photos. As a result, I developed this "get out quickly" attitude to getting a new job, basically coming up with "quick fix" ideas to move on to what I thought would make me happy in my career. I went from wanting to open a bookstore, to starting a kids website, a kids magazine, a restaurant, and most recently, to becoming an art teacher. Needless to say there are no quick fixes to career bliss. There is a lot of work involved in any choice you make. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful wife who, to my initial chagrin, knows me better that I do, and has saved me from myself many, many times.

After going through the research and development phases of each idea, I finally come to the realization that, deep down, if I am honest with myself, I love art and I love to draw, and I really don't have the desire to do anything else. I really do like graphic design (which is an art form), and am working on my attitude with my job to keep me going until I am able to support my family with an illustration career, if it takes off.

My main problem is lack of confidence in my current art, and my ability to get better with practice. I look at all the great artists out there, and begin to doubt my chances of making it in this field.

That being said, I have decided to join up with Jonathan Woodward and his 12 Week Challenge that will begin on April 5. Jonathan, like me, is an aspiring illustrator who, for various reasons, has put off illustration as a career. Hopefully this will be the kick-in-the-seat I need to get off my pencils and brushes, and really get serious about this journey I started 2 yeas ago.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


One of my favorite places to visit is the library, as it has become an unending source of inspiration and education in my art endeavors. On my most recent trip, I found 2 good books that I thought I would share.

I have always been a fan of dragons (as if my header wasn't a give away!), and am constantly on the lookout for a good book on how to draw them. I have managed to find a few, but have never been impressed. However, Draw Dragons and Other Fantasy Beasts by Gary Spencer Millidge and James McKay has proved to be a keeper. Very easy to follow along and they start you at the beginning with some basic art concepts. They then go into how to draw the creatures using basic shapes. This is not like one of the "Learn to Draw" books though. They show how to use contour lines on the shapes to give them form , and using those same contour lines to suggest the direction the animal will be facing. They also break the animals body parts down into sections to discuss the possible variety and ways of drawing each.

Other points they hit upon are action lines, posing, environments, and coloring the finished drawings. Lastly they give examples on how to draw many of the well-known mythical creatures like the centaur and the griffon.

I could go on, but it really is a great book for both beginner and professional.

Another book I picked up was Color Theory by José Maria Parramón. I haven't gotten too deep into this book yet, but I have already learned quite a bit that I didn't know before, like how mixing black and white with your colors to make them darker or lighter isn't the best idea sometimes (makes'em muddy or washed out). And how it is possible to get most if not all of your colors from the three basic colors (blue, red and yellow), but that the chemical make up of of the three basics, cannot give you the exact shade of the chemical composition of, say, yellow ochre. May be a bit too much info for some, but interesting none-the-less.

I have found many other great books that have been a valuable asset, too many to list, along with many wonderful kids books that I draw inspiration from as I flip thru the illustrations. Never underestimate the value of your local library. Visit as often as you can.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IF - Brave 2

While perusing IF, I came across this entry over at xhen's blog. Upon seeing that neat little illustration, I was inspired to draw what you see above. Kind of reminds me of the old Warner Bros cartoon dog. I once again braved the acrylic beast, and I must say that this painting is quite the step up from the one in my previous post. This was painted on paper for acrylics which didn't seem to help the drying time like I'd hoped. Below is the sketch.

I will admit that I was discouraged at first as it wasn't working like a I wanted it to (again the paints were drying too fast). However, with patience I managed to find a workable solution. I basically painted on more base color and then immediately added tints, working back and forth between the two to create a smooth transition. I think it came out pretty good considering my experience with the medium. Below is the palette after I was finished.

I do want to experiment more with acrylics, I just want to do it correctly. I will be hitting the web to see what I can find for reference. Any suggestions are always welcome.

Wow, 2 IF posts in one week. That's a record!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

IF - Brave

Well, I braved a new medium with this illustration: acrylics. I have had my acrylics for a long time—the Liquitex BASIC colors—and have been putting off trying them for fear of messing up. Anyway, got over that fear about 2 weeks ago when I started this illo, and I was just today able to finish it. It was quite difficult as the paint kept drying on me, both on the painting and the pallette. I am pretty sure the illustration board I was using was sucking the moisture out of the paint, but not sure. I have some acrylic paper that I will try next time. I am pretty happy with this first attempt. Hopefully the other paper will allow me more working time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

IF - Propagate

No matter what she did, the gum continued to grow around her.

Yes, I'm going for another possible stretch of the word for the week! I am working off of this definition: "to cause to spread out and affect a greater number or greater area." I was proud of this illo that I did quite a while ago, and have been wanting to paint and post her, so I thought this a good opportunity. I drew it, I think, in response to a previous IF, but I can't remember...

I have found that I don't like the sizing in the watercolor paper. I am sure if I stretched the paper, it would become a none issue. But for these small illos and experiments, it is more of a hassle. I like working on illustration board, but I have been using a thin version, which of course curls when wet. I am going to pick up some thicker paper today and see how that works.

On another note, I recently discovered the art of Matt Phelan while picking up some books for the kids at the library (I got "Always" by Ann Stott*). I love the sketchy looseness in his art, and the simplicity in the layering in his watercolor, something I aspire to achieve (I tend to overwork my pieces at times). Check out his site and blog if you have the chance.

*Can someone explain to me why many published authors and illustrators are sucked into a land of oblivion with no other reference to themselves except for the small "spotlight" located deep in the publisher's website. Is this a contractual thing that they can't have their own website? Just curious.

Friday, February 12, 2010

IF - Muddy

Well, I missed the deadline for IF this week, but since they keep it up a bit afterwords, I thought I'd post it anyway! I am really pleased with this illustration, both in the composition and painting. Two things I would change are the amount of yellow in the painting (different color shirt maybe), and the dog's muzzle (looks ok, but could be better). I try not to get too caught up in perfect anatomy in my drawings as that is not what I want, but I do want body parts (animal or human) to be in proper proportion to the whole figure.

Anyway, I really like this. I probably could have done it on time, but I still get a bit intimidated about putting brush to paper. (I hate to have to redo stuff.)

Oh, and the illustration represents the moment directly after you have washed and dried your dog! Not sure if it is done out of spite, or to save face in front of other dogs! : P

Monday, February 1, 2010

IF - Focused

These snowman are focused on their passions. Yeah, a bit of a stretch, but it works! : D

This is another quick painting to get in more practice with watercolors, and develop convincing shadows. I like it, but the shadows are a bit harsh, making them look like a spotlight is on them (which I guess is OK considering their activities!). I know the sunset doesn't fit, but yet is another experiment!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Morning stretch

Another experiment with watercolor, again using color pencils to add shadow/details. I didn't like it at first, but it grew on me after I got away from it, came back and added more detail.

Comments/critiques welcome!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IF -Clumsy

Sometimes our efforts to save time end up costing us more!

I had a few ideas for this weeks word, but this is the one I chose to illustrate. I am not completely happy with this, but most of my illos are experimental anyway, so I can't complain too much! I am still learning how to control the watercolor like I want it, especially when adding shadows to clothing. I tried to compensate with pencils, but not quite what I was after.
On to the next one! : )

Thursday, January 21, 2010

IF - Wilderness

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

IF - Renewal

Might be a stretch, but I guess hugs are a form of renewal...

Anyway, I am really happy with this illustration. I had to force myself to be bolder with the color and shadows, and allow myself the permission to make mistakes and know that I can do it over if needed.

This is actually the second version. I was going to post the first version (shown below) on Tuesday, in an effort to get it on IF earlier than I usually do, but I just didn't like it, and decided I wasn't going to settle for "OK".

After some scrutiny, and taking some risks (for me), you have the image at the top! Granted, there is still improvement to be made, but overall, this is one of my better illustrations. The rough sketch is below.