Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rough Sketch

Here is my rough sketch. I don't always do this, but it was very helpful for this piece because the photo reference was so extensive and messy. This allowed me to see everything as a united whole. From here I began to lay out the final sketch and then painting - but I still made some changes to better fit Irving's text. I switched the "athletic" horse with an older, stronger work horse (plow riggings included - a throwback to Disney's version). I also changed the old bridge into the church. I had originally planned to create a evil glow coming from inside the bridge (the Headless Horseman) but Ichabod was moving away from the bridge and in the in the story that is the end of Ichabod's mysterious journey home. The Headless Horseman's power lay between the church's graveyard and the covered bridge... so I went with the church/graveyard. You'll see that soon. 

For those who are watching the process of my Sleepy Hollow cover, I apologize for jumping around so much. Does anyone know a way to group blog posts together, instead of grouping everything by date?  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Joke of the Week

So my family started a new tradition... The Joke of the Week. It's a great way for me to keep sketching for fun, and my kids to enjoy drawing. Once a week we post a joke, then everyone has the week to draw their idea. On Friday nights (Family Night) we unveil our drawings and all have a great laugh. Our timing was a little off this past week, but I wanted to share my drawing as well as show off my son, Caleb's, work. The joke was: Why did the dinosaur paint its toe nails red? To hide in the petunia's! (Corny, I know... but fun.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Research & Photo Reference

One of the first things I did was to read Irving's book. I love his style of writing and attention to detail. I was able to incorporate a lot of Irving's details into the sketch, which made it a lot of fun for me. After I nailed down my idea, I started looking for reference. I had a great old photo in my files that I have always wanted to use for a Sleepy Hollow painting. There's an old church in the background with super gnarly trees in the foreground. It's very foreboding. I then scheduled a photo shoot with a friend of mine, but had to add the horse and background in digitally. Our family loves going to fall festivals and there are a few good ones in West Tennessee. I brought my camera and was able to get a lot of great shots of horses in harness, old wooden wagon wheels, etc. I also had to incorporate the face of Danny Kaye to fulfill the assignment, as well as research the look and layout of The Saturday Evening Post in 1953.  The final Photoshop file is a mess - but provided a wonderful map for me to use to begin my final drawing... complete with a copy of Cotton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pigs Are Flyin'!

Copyright 2011
I'm taking a short commercial break to promote my first children's book which is now for sale on and Barnes and Noble.  
It's called, When Pigs Fly, and is the story of a little pig who is able to do big things with the help of his friends. The story is fictional, but the moral is real... and has especially been true with the publishing of this book. I started creating When Pigs Fly almost ten years ago, but without the help of friends along the way, it would have never been published. I think especially of the author, Ben Mandrell, who helped raise the level of the book with the quality of his writing and my good friends Jared and Heather Schuler who introduced me to Brian Mooney at Borderstone Press. 

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me along the way with prayers and words of praise. I'm just a silly pig who dreams big dreams but you are the birds who allow me to fly.

If you purchase the book and like it, please leave some feedback and encourage others to buy it as well.
Copyright 2011
Copyright 2011
Copyright 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Fall, Autumn... call it whatever you want, I love it! The cool weather, the scent of wet, falling leaves, college football, camp fires,  jackets, jeans and long sleeve shirts...  (not to mention the gradual build-up to Christmas!) This kind of weather invigorates me and calls for me to create. I'm currently working on a few projects, but I thought it would be fun to show you the creative process of a painting I did last fall which was inspired by one of my favorite fall books as well as Disney animated features - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The assignment was for my MFA program. We were asked to create a magazine cover from the 1900 - 1950's. I chose the Saturday Evening Post, October 31, 1953. The idea was inspired by the covers of Norman Rockwell and had to include a notable figure from the time period... I chose Danny Kaye. Below is the initial moleskin sketch.
Enjoy the process and happy fall!