Drawing with Kids and Parents at the Michener Museum

From “Let’s Visit New Hope” illustrated by Pat Achilles

I’m happy to say that I was asked by the Michener Museum here in Doylestown to lead a fun and imaginative drawing class for families in November. Unplugged Sundays @ The Michener is a program the museum sponsors to get kids into art, and their parents are encouraged to hang out and get creative too.

My 2 hour class will be about Illustration and Storytelling. I’ll show some of my illustrations and how I create them, then we will chat about the theme ‘Going on a Journey.’ We’ll look at how other artists have made stories and pictures about journeys, whether they are by foot, by bicycle, or spaceship or submarine – and then we’ll break out the wild and colorful museum art supplies and draw our own adventurous journeys!

This drawing workshop is for children ages 6 and up, and we invite parents/guardians to stay and enjoy the fun too – working together is encouraged! The workshop is on Sunday, November 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and pre-registration is required, as seating is limited. The beautiful Michener Museum is at 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, and parking is right next door at the large Doylestown Library parking lot. Unplugged Sundays @ the Michener is sponsored by The Leff Family Foundation.

‘Book Smart’ Illustration

My most recent illustration for Lodging Magazine was for an article on how to interpret and tweak a hotel’s website statistics to convert more online viewers into customers.

This was assigned right before I left for a vacation, with finished art due right after I got back. I had to draw a very quick idea to get approved before I left; I thought of people reading a website and walking right through a door on the screen to go into the hotel, and luckily the editors approved.

I added the web technicians under the laptop, sliding around on those dollies that car mechanics use under cars, to indicate the tinkering that might go on to improve the site.

Because of the tight schedule I only had time to tighten up the drawing this weekend and go right to the finish – no color sketch this time, so I kept the colors to a limited palette.

Inkspill: New Yorker Cartoonist Michael Maslin’s Blog

I’ve always enjoyed the witty hand-drawn observations of cartoonist Michael Maslin, which have been published in the New Yorker since the late 1970s. His deceptively simple drawings often contain macguffins that pair hilariously with his caption writing, which can range from foible-y understated to pratfallen poetry. In July of last year I glimpsed Mr. Maslin in the background, snapping some photos during the opening of the exhibit Funny Ladies at the New Yorker: Cartoonists Then and Now at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Mr. Maslin’s wife is Liza Donnelly, also a prominent and long-time New Yorker cartoonist, who moderated a very funny discussion at the opening, with a panel of current women cartoonists and the magazine’s cartoon editor, Emma Allen.

I looked up Mr. Maslin’s blog, Inkspill, and found it to be a running catalog of all the newly-published books, appearances and special projects of all the New Yorker cartoonists, in NYC and elsewhere. He has effectively aggregated the history of the magazine’s cartoonists with their bios, some dating to the publication’s beginnings in 1925, and regularly writes about the cartoons and illustrations in current issues. It’s a wonderful inside-baseball resource for fans of cartooning in general and the wit of iconic New Yorker cartoons in particular – and so I highly recommend Inkspill!

My NYC Rockefeller Tree Christmas Card

It’s not too early to think about the holidays – I’m already working on three clients’ holiday cards for their businesses

Because of this, I’ve recently added a Christmas card to my listings on Etsy – one I drew last year for my family, in the classic New Yorker black & white style, not long after my first cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. If you’ve ever seen this iconic tree you never forget its overwhelming presence!

I drew this cartoon in black prisma pencil and painted it in ink washes. (Closeups of the art are on my Etsy page) It shows the legendary tree at Rockefeller Center, which about 100 million people visit each year, teeming with lights but with one small dark area; a small child looking up comments, “They missed a spot.”

Inside the card is the message “May your Christmas be filled with Peace and Joy and a thousand twinkling lights!”

Single cards are available on my Etsy shop HERE and boxes of 8 cards are available on my website store HERE.If you’d like more than 8 cards, or would like to use this card for your company holiday card, email me and we’ll work out the details. And if you live near me in the Central Bucks area and want to avoid postage charges, simply email me what you’d like to order and you can pay when you pick up the cards from me.

Chamber Music Hippos

Twice a year the Lenape Chamber Ensemble creates a delightful concert for children age 4-12 at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA, featuring world-class musicians performing short sections of the classical masterpieces – they play the full versions in their adult evening concerts. The musicians explain their instruments and themes in the music in simple terms for the children in a casual interactive concert. At the end the kids are invited to dance to the music – so fun to watch!  

I’m commissioned to draw the flyers for the Children’s Concerts and chose hippos this time for my illustrated performers. I can imagine hippos behaving rather elegantly in evening dress, can’t you?

I highly recommend the concert for introducing young kids to great pieces of music – simple refreshments are provided at the end of the 1-hour concert and children can meet the musicians and see their instruments up close afterwards.  And you can’t beat the price – children $2, adults free! For further see their website or call (610) 294-9362.  

My Hotel-Condo Illustration for Lodging Magazine

Sometimes articles that deal with the specific concerns of a complicated industry are tricky to illustrate; and that was my experience with the current article given to me, dealing with the complexities of hotel brands that develop mixed-use buildings, such as a hotel that has both rental units and condos.

The article went into detail about the division of operating costs and maintenance, and compliance with project standards – not the most scintillating ideas to draw! I thought the idea of a mixed-use building in itself might be enough to enhance the rather dry material, so I submitted one rough pencil sketch idea:

One side of the building has an ocean shore in the background with a lighthouse, hang-glider and jet-skier, and lots of people entering in beachware and tourist clothing. The other side has a city background with a playground for children, and into that side are pouring families with shopping bags and business people returning from work. The editor liked it so I drew the sketch tighter:

and then did a quick color sketch with colored pencils –

The color sketch made the painting of the finish go much faster since it let me plot out the 3 or 4 main colors for the palette. The finish is below, drawn in black prisma and painted in acrylic washes.

Newest Illustration for Lodging Magazine

The most recent article I was sent from the editor at Lodging Magazine was once more a rather nebulous topic to depict concretely. It detailed that when mergers occur in the hotel industry, a not uncommon phenomenon I gather, the transition period is very important and if mishandled can result in a lot of staff disruptions. The hotel’s general manager and HR department are key in steadying the ship, and the article advises that they prioritize onboarding, data system upgrades, compliance and operational efficiency.

Quite a jumble of complex ideas! I came up with two simpler versions of this situation and sent them as pencil sketches. The first was the proverbial tangled ball of twine, with a general manager directing staff how to de-tangle.

The second, which I liked better, was a Rubik’s cube turning, with people climbing, clutching and interacting on it as it twisted. I thought this pictured a number of the things the article touched on: the churn of the merger, how staff feel displaced, the uncertainty, and the need to keep communicating.

The editors liked this one too, so I traced it onto illustration board, tightened up the people, and painted it in with those bright Rubik’s cube colors.