Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brunet & Sons Illustration

I was planning to post my nearly completed illustration from "I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog," but I couldn't pass this up. My oldest son has to research a children's book illustrator for school, and create a picture in the style of that artist. He loves the book, "Chalk" by Bill Thomson (a former professor of mine at The University of Hartford.) Bill has a great web page where he talks through the development of his illustrations. (You can check it out HERE.) He starts with thumbnails, rough sketch, photo-shoot, etc... very similar to the way I work. So after our research, my son came up with an illustration idea. He started with a thumbnail sketch, drew a rough sketch, and last night he directed our family for his photo-shoot. 

I was so proud of him. He set us up, positioned us, and provide props for us. It felt very professional. 

Then... my youngest son (who is 3) came out with his own drawing and informed us it was his turn to direct a photo-shoot. It was hilarious. Somehow, from his sketch, he knew exactly how he wanted us to pose. He was very specific with each person's stance, where and how they stood, and what they were doing. We took it very seriously, but inside were cracking up. I think my business is grooming a couple of new talents. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


As I was working on my soda shop illustration, I got some wonderful inspiration from my favorite illustrator, Norman Rockwell. This painting was a Saturday Evening Post cover on August 22, 1953 and currently hangs in the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. It is so great... and it made for good reference as well. 

I also found inspiration at one of my favorite Jackson, TN hot-spots... The Old Country Store at Casey Jones Village.  Inside they have an old, 1890's ice cream parlor that has been named one of the top 50 ice cream parlors in America.

Here is the final drawing that was approved for painting.  You'll notice some elements from both Rockwell's painting and the 1890's ice cream parlor. Researching paintings is one of the best parts of creating. For this image, I have an entire file full of animal photos, models, paintings and props... it's just like doing a research paper in high-school - only instead of having to write the paper, I get to paint a picture. It's the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting the Family Involved

Part of the fun in painting and illustrating is finding ways to get the whole family involved. I truly believe that my family is behind me and my painting career... but when you work three and four jobs to make it happen... sometimes it can be more of an annoyance than a joy. One way I like to get everyone involved is to make them a part of the process, so each illustration has a good memory associated to it so when we look back at projects they don't remember that   dad was in a bad mood - but how fun it was to be included. (At least that's my hope! I'm sure when the kids are all older they will all swap stories of how dad would force them to be in photo shoots against their will.) It's great to have built-in family models, but I also enjoy seeing their faces while I draw and paint at night. Even while they're sleeping, I get to relive sweet experiences with my wife and kids. 

Here's a few photos for the soda-shop spread. I was able to include some friends from work, but most of the characters are me, my wife and my son. I've become the model for the Big Blue Frog - which is funny, considering I'm 5'9". The world of illustration is truly magical.