“Sir, we’re getting ready to land–I’m going to need you to slide that under your seat.”
I started reading and chuckling at New Yorker cartoons in high school when my dad introduced its unparalleled humor to me. He and I shared many hours discussing our favorite gags and cartoonists, and, while Dad did land a great cartoon one time in The Saturday Evening Post, he never made it into Eustace Tilley’s grand library. He hoped someday I would. Dad passed away 8 years ago but I have the uncanny feeling he’s been pulling some strings.
There’s a room in most houses that is the lint filter of your family’s extraneous possessions. The end-of-the-line room, the place that stuff accumulates inside until you finally have to haul stuff outside, to the garage or to the garbage. If only that room could be cleaned as easily as a lint filter – but where do you even start?
I have such a room in my house and now that I’ve illustrated professional home organizer Christen Fackler’s new book How to Organize Everything, I no longer have an excuse. Her book enumerates clearly and succinctly just how she has successfully shaken down hundreds of clients’ messy spaces and come up with cool streamlined systems for keeping the really important stuff organized.
I’ll show a few of the drawings I did for the book, but to get her great organizing advice – and her insights on how it applies to getting your life in gear as well – you’ve got to read the book, available as an ebook here and soon to be in print.
I started with some very rough pencil sketches that illustrate tips for steps in her process –
Moving on to tighter drawings like this –
I drew some rough color sketches using colored pencils, keying the colors to those on Christen’s business card.
And finally I created the finished color artwork, which I drew on illustration board with prisma pencil, then painted with acrylic washes.
It was a pleasure working with Christen, and now I know how to tackle that room so I better hop to it!
A while back I was asked to paint a home, to be given as a remembrance gift to the owners who were downsizing to another residence. The client sent me many good photos of the neat-as-a-pin cottage-style home, so I started with two pencil sketches from slightly different angles.
They picked the second sketch, which I then scanned and roughed in the color with acrylic paint and prisma pencils.
I had originally cropped the picture on these sketches to keep the image suited for an 11″ x 14″ frame, which I usually do to make it easy to frame. The client was not concerned about getting a custom frame made so she asked I zoom in a bit more to focus on the house and gardens.
I painted the finished piece in acrylic washes on illustration board, shown below.
Once a year I remind my readers that I have drawn some popular greeting cards for Scouts, in case you know someone who is earning a special honor through the organization. My son is an Eagle Scout and he had such a great experience with the Boy Scouts, learning great practical skills and making good friends, while reinforcing responsibility and good morals, and I am happy to share in celebrating current Scouts’ achievements.
The journey to Eagle is guided by Scoutmasters, parents, friends and others who inspire and encourage the Scout to accomplish the challenges needed to achieve Eagle rank. Several customers asked me to produce smaller thank-you notecards for Eagles to send to their mentors, and they too are on my Etsy shop at this link. If the buyer wishes a special message printed inside these notecards, I can customize the card message after we chat through email.
I’ve also drawn Congratulations on Crossing Over cards for young children making the ceremony from Webelo to Scout rank, since my two grandsons have become Scouts. That ceremony is often in February, so the time is coming up!
I have many 5-star reviews and nice comments about my cards and service, which are listed in the review section of my shop. All of my cards are printed on sturdy card stock – the congratulations cards are greeting-card-size, and the thank-you notecards are smaller, invitation-size. Envelopes are included with each order, and all the cards take standard first-class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and my cards are printed in the USA – in fact, they are printed in my hometown! By the way, let me give a shoutout to all the wonderful people at Cortineo Creative LLC – who print all my cards with outstanding efficiency and keep the colors stunning!
I’ll mention, if you are in my area of central Bucks County, PA, you can email me before you order on Etsy, if you’d like to pick up your cards in person to save some postage. And for special orders of quantity, size or message just send your questions by clicking HERE to go to my Contact page to drop me a line. And I have some other cards on my Etsy shop for musicians and special occasions, you can see them all HERE.
A friend commissioned me to draw a portrait of his sons and their sweet (recently departed) family dog, which the boys, and his wife, loved very much. He sent me some very good, clear photos of them all – they live on the other side of the country from me, so live drawing was not possible. I started with a pencil drawing.
I scanned that and roughly colored it in with colored pencils.
After the client approved this I drew the image on illustration board in prisma pencil and painted it in with acrylic washes. There was a lot of play between the warm and cool colors in the scene, which helped define the shapes. I also feel that the fact that the boys were not aimed full-face at the camera helped me get their facial features well – profile or 3/4 view of a face is easier to define and draw that full-front portraits because you naturally get some 3-D effect from the head being turned.
I was asked to paint an old farmhouse, dating to the 1800s, using an old photo provided, since the house, while still existing and lived in, is much changed and renovated over the years. My client asked for the painting to be in sepia tone, to give it that nostalgic feel.
I used the photo reference exactly since there was no other information about the structure, and the photo was fairly good – a farmhouse along a horizon, with distinctive trees, a few outbuildings (we think they are an outhouse and springhouse) and a field in the foreground, giving it the feeling of a hand-built home plopped in the middle of a vast rural America – which this most likely was at the time. I started with a pencil drawing.
I did a rough tonal sketch by painting over a scan of this sketch in grays, then made it sepia with a click of a computer key, and the client approved it –
I took one photo while I was working on painting it on illustration board with acrylic paint washes –
And finished and delivered it yesterday for the client to frame. The only real change I made from the original photo was to add two birds flying low on the horizon – I think it’s always nice to show some life and movement in a landscape.
It’s a real kick to see a couple of my cartoons, previously published in the New Yorker, also printed in their 2023 Day-to-day Calendar. This desk calendar has tear-off sheets so you can have a new cartoon practically every day.
Above is the first one of mine, which I originally wrote about here. Below is my second drawing in this upcoming year’s calendar, which I also mentioned here.
I can show you the calendar, by the way, when I am at The Mercantile this Sunday, December 11, with my son Tom as we sign copies of our new cartoon book, Zeitgeist Meetup. It’s a compilation of cartoons written by Tom, who does occasional standup in Brooklyn after working at NYU, with drawings by me. I hope if you’re in the area you stop in at The Mercantile between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. If you still need to do holiday shopping, The Mercantile has tons of delightful items so you can also pick up some gifts after you chat with Tom and me. And I’ll have some of my funny holiday cards too, if you need to send a chuckle to any friends this season. Please stop by!
At the front and back of Zeitgeist Meetup I included some pages of the sketches I did for all the cartoons in the book – here’s a sample below – just gives an idea of the process we went through in developing the gags.
Over the last year or so my son Tom and I have been collaborating on a big batch of gag cartoons – Tom wrote the ideas in New York City, between working at NYU and doing frequent standup in clubs and bars, and sent them over to me here in Bucks County, where I drew them up when I had time. I’m happy to announce that we’ve finally assembled them into a book titled Zeitgeist Meetup, and we’ll be signing copies at The Mercantile, 444 N. Main Street, Doylestown, on Sunday, December 11 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Tom’s humor has a young, New York-type viewpoint, with some ideas coming from his everyday experiences in the city doing improv comedy, some reflecting his standup style of wordplay and visual puns, and a few short-story cartoons like “Bushwick Self-Defense,” “The In-Convenience Store,” and “The Kool Aid Spectrum.” Our book riffs on lots of topics that are in the ‘zeitgeist’ right now— from food trucks to Bigfoot to crickets to Elvis – all just for fun. We want people to laugh!
Tom has been involved in comedy for over 15 years, leading an improv comedy group when he attended Holicong Middle School and CB East, continuing through college at American University and comedy clubs around Washington DC, and now in NYC.
I’ll also mention that two of my latest New Yorker magazine cartoons have been chosen to be in the “2023 New Yorker Day-to-Day Calendar,” which I’ll have there at the Mercantile on display, and I’ll have some of my humorous holiday greeting cards for sale too, so I hope you can come and say hello!
There is plenty of convenient parking at the Mercantile since it’s right in the Doylestown Shopping Center, in the space where BonTon used to be. The Mercantile is a collaborative store that showcases creative small businesses, so there is a ton of great gift items to browse after you’ve chatted with Tom and me – they have beautiful housewares, accessories, vintage items, baked goods, furniture, jewelry, gifts for men and adorable stuffed animals for kids. There are even places to sit down and have a snack when you’re tired of shopping – you can’t beat that!
Zeitgeist Meetup sells for $12.95, and if you can’t make it on December 11 but you want a copy, just let me know. And if you went to CB East with Tom or were in his improv group, please just stop by to say hi, we’d love to see you!
I arranged a Biblical Life Drawing session last month and we were fortunate to have two models for some of the time. I drew with prisma pencil on toned pastel paper for these quick sketches of a woman holding a basket and Mary cradling the Child in a basket
We discussed a pose for our two models together and came up with the idea of a quiet moment with Mary and Elizabeth marveling over Mary’s new Child – this is a scene I would like to come back to and develop more, I think there could be many beautiful emotions to manifest here.
I drew these Madonna and Child sketches in prisma with some chalk highlights. I will use one of these on a Christmas card this year.
Finally, I went back into a drawing I did last session of Jesus with Mary Magdalen, and added some tones to it with charcoal, which added some needed depth to the scene.
My illustration can be seen at the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Bucks Fever Art Exhibition which opens Thursday, November 10 from 5 to 7 pm at the Mercantile in Doylestown, PA.
There’s a building in the middle of Doylestown, at the corner of Main St. and Shewell Ave., that’s been scaffolded for months – it’s being renovated into lavish condos, with a craft brewery on the bottom floor. But if you’d walked down Main Street in 1900 you’d have noted the latest women’s fashions in the elegant semi-circular second floor window of that same building, because that floor was home to Mrs.Ivins’ millinery shop.
The Doylestown Historical Society asked me to envision a typical day in Mrs. Ivins’ shop, with hats, customers and that lovely Victorian arched window. I had a wonderful time researching and creating this scene and I’m pleased to say that my original illustration will be in the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Bucks Fever Art Exhibit, which opens to the public tomorrow, Thursday, November 10 with a reception from 5 to 7 pm at the Mercantile in the Doylestown Shopping Center.
Kurt Spence of the DHS sent me excellent photo references, courtesy of the Doylestown Historical Society, to begin sketching for the scene. Some were photos of the outside of the building from the turn of the century, some of ladies’ dress and hat fashions, and some from the interiors of Victorian hat shops.
I boiled down my process of creating this historical scene to three steps: research, distillation, and reintroducing selected detail. The research came in studying these photos, pictures from costume books I have, and information on the internet. I started sketching by creating the empty shop room with little detail, just to get the space correct. I sketched some figures separately, to drop into the scene. This was par0r of the ‘distillation’ – simplifying the elements to get a clear composition
Here is the room with the figures dropped in –
At this point I showed the sketch to Kurt, who, as a retired contractor, knows a lot about architecture and buildings, and he gave me suggestions which I was happy to revise. I next did a tonal sketch next to help with simplifying the light and dark areas. This would be a fairly complex drawing when finished, so thinking tonally helped organize shapes so the viewer could ‘read’ the picture more easily.
The DHS asked for this picture to be in color, but of course all the photo reference I had from the urn of the century was black/white, so I had to look at painters of the era to get a feel for the colors. I found this lovely piece of an interior by William Merritt Chase, painted in 1895. I liked the teal, rose and muted yellows and creams, and saw those colors repeated in other paintings of the era, and felt I’d found a good palette.
I did a rough color sketch, using colored pencils over a scan of my line sketch –
At this point I could start adding ‘selective detail’ – detail that would give the flavor of the era but not confuse the viewer’s eye too much. I could add pattern – the Victorians loved patterns of course – to the the carpet and the wallpaper, as long as it was low contrast. I added the bold wallpaper border near the ceiling because there was not much going on in the top third of the scene, and used my chosen teal, rose and yellow in that border.
I wanted to make this scene tied specifically to my hometown, so out the window one can see the Civil War Monument and the Intelligencer building, two landmarks that can be seen from this corner in Doylestown.
After this stage I transferred the drawing to illustration board, outlined using prisma pencil, and painted it in using acrylic paint washes. The finished piece –
The public is welcome to attend the Central Bucks Chamber show to see my piece and many other works of art. The opening reception is Thursday Nov. 10 from 5 to 7 pm at the Mercantile in Doylestown, with light refreshments and music on tap. The exhibit continues until November 20.