Logos for Youth Orchestra Events

The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County gives children in grades 4 to 12 the chance to meet other young musicians, participate in group activities, and get a taste of what it’s like to be in a real orchestra. I was happy to be asked to create some logos for their fundraising galas in the last few years.

The first gala, which was held virtually in the spring of 2021, had a Night at the Movies theme, and their coordinator suggested images of popcorn, theater curtains or movie reels. I came up with some ideas for them to consider –

They liked the popcorn theme, and with suggestions from their coordinator I developed a marquee-type logo for the final –

This year’s gala will be in person and has the theme Tropical Rhythm, so the coordinator suggested images of bright flowers, greenery and some type of rhythm instrument. I drew a basic idea and tried various fonts & details –

The coordinator suggested a great ‘tropical’ typeface and a revised logo for YOBC, and I modified the design to his suggestions, for the final logo.

He did like the toucan I put in the first design, so he may use that in the program book where some art is needed.

Bills! Bills! Bills!

I recently painted the cover art for another fun book by author James Miller, whose previous book, The Book of Jims, I also illustrated. This one is another compendium of historical figures having the same first name, William or Bill. Bill’s! Bills! Bills! is the title.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch of the Bills to be shown on the cover – William Tell, Buffalo Bill Cody, William the Conqueror, William Shakespeare, William Penn and Bill Clinton.

Jim also asked me to include a red-billed toucan, a spoonbill and maybe a hen, along with some dollar bills and cable bills, so I worked those into the drawing and tightened it up a bit by tracing it in felt tip pen.

I then made a rough color sketch, coloring in a scan of the drawing and placing the text.

I consulted with Jim on some details of the drawing & text and painted a finished illustration to drop into the design. He’s awaiting publication now. I think Bills! Bills! Bills! will be a fun & interesting read – especially to other Bills – but also for anyone who likes quips and quirks of history. 

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 2

To read Part 1 of this process click HERE.

Once I had drawn all the pages of Laurie Nowlan’s Robbie to the Rescue! as pencil sketches, I scanned all the drawings and colored them in roughly so both the author and I could see the placement of color throughout the book.

Early on when Laurie and I discussed her main characters, we had decided there should be some little bits of clothing to humanize Robbie and his older brother Ben. Laurie liked having Ben wear a baseball cap, and perhaps big sneakers for Robbie, to make him look smaller and younger and maybe a little clumsier than his older brother. In initial sketches I had given them orange and red jackets, thinking they’d stand out in green foliage – then when I started doing pages I realized it was autumn in the story and the leaves would be those colors. So I switched their jackets to blue and green.

The story has a number of scenes that take place during a rainstorm so I tried to vary the spreads between pages that bled off the sides and vignettes where there was white space around the illustrations, as well as full double page spreads where it was warranted, to keep the scenes from looking too similar.

Laurie suggested that the storm scenes should stay very blue and gray, so that at the end of the story when there are beach scenes, the change to sunny warmth would really be apparent to the reader. I agree it worked really well.

After this stage I started painting finished art for the book. I’ll write more about that, and about developing the cover art, in Part 3.

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“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 1

I recently completed illustrating a new children’s picture book, written by Laurie Nowlan, Robbie to the Rescue! It’s a lovely story about brother robins and how they help each other through the younger brother’s first southern migration. I think it’s a very good sibling story, with lots of touches that happen between real brothers and sisters, so many children will relate to it.

I first spoke at length with the author about how she imagined the characters and the flow of the story. Laurie is a retired teacher and has been writing for a long time so she had already given this much thought. I di some black and white and color sketches of the brother birds and more or less used them as my prototypes when developing the page art – although you’ll see some colors changed.

With the author’s suggestions I laid out the text and drew pencil sketches for each double page spread. I drew a very loose pagination, which just helps me visualize a variety of page setups before I design, like this –

Then I drew pencils of each spread like these samples.

I’ll explain the next steps in the process in my next post.

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“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

Illustrations that Personalize a Business to Clients

Every fall and winter I draw a number of holiday greeting cards – and now e-cards – for businesses who like to show the human face of their company to their customers. Some-times I draw the staff themselves, sometimes I use humor to engage industry trends, but in all cases the card is created to personalize the company’s brand so their clients get to know and like the people behind the logo more.

This year Gina Furia of Furia Rubel Communications, an integrated marketing and public relations company serving many industries, asked me to draw her and her staff of delightful marketing experts in an office scene, which would be used on a card and in an animation. In the scene Gina would be interviewing Father Time while her staff zooms in through a virtual meeting.

I started with a rough pencil sketch of the scene –

After some edits from my client, like adding her husky dog, I tightened it up a little –

and then was able to scan and digitally color the background and each figure, such as those below.

I put it all together, along with Gina’s caption, for the printed card –

and the little trailer cartoon that appears on the back of the card –

and then FRC worked with an animation company to turn it into a video greeting as well! Click he image to watch.

Cows & Waffles

lodging_badapples_wpdetailMy latest illustration for Lodging Magazine is for an article about hotels keeping their dining areas germ-free. It delves into some of the nastier problems that hotel managers have to deal with – foodborne illnesses, sanitation laws and damage control responses. Not a lot of pretty images came to mind for my illustration, so I decided to go wacky with it.

The article begins by stating how people often like to get away to hotels where there are lovely bucolic scenes out the window, cows grazing and sheep frolicking nearby – but the visitors don’t realize that the flies around livestock are one of the most common ways for germs to spread. While flies buzzing around a dining area seemed off-putting to me, I thought some barnyard animals would be funnier and less openly icky. I sketched a cow and sheep in line at a hotel breakfast buffet.

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Whenever I’ve been at a hotel for breakfast, the most entertaining thing is watching people use the waffle machine, so I drew the cow using that. The editor asked me to include a bowl of apples in the drawing, since the article’s title is ‘Bad Apples.’ She approved the sketch so I painted it – acrylic paints, prisma pencil on illustration board.

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Magazine Illustration: Hotels & College Towns

My newest illustration assignment for Lodging Magazine accompanies an article aimed at developers in the hospitality industry, about some key points to keep in mind when choosing locations for new hotel.

The article explains that many chains realize the value of bringing hotels to college towns, since the football season brings so many out-of-towners that need accommodations; but there are other considerations before the developer should seal the deal, which the article describes more in depth. For the illustration I pitched a few ideas to the editor, involving cheerleaders, graduates in caps and gowns, and college fairs. Then I was talking to my son Tom, who does improv comedy several nights a week in NYC at Reckless Theatre, about the topic and asked him if there was some funnier angle to it – and he quickly hit on the best image of all – college football team mascots.

When I suggested this to the editor she immediately liked it, so I got onto the sketch.  I googled images of college mascots and chose several that looked distinctly different, then sketched them barging into a hotel developers’ office, begging her to pick their town.

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and a color markered sketch, where I added in a pennant & megaphone to reinforce the college idea:

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The editor approved it with a few gestural changes, and so I painted the final:

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I sincerely thank my son for his idea! By doing improv he has developed skills that lead him to generate really fast, funny, visual scenarios!

 

 

 

Poodle Posse Picture Book

Author Chrysa Smith has written a prequel to her stories of the Poodle Posse, books that are geared to grades 2 to 4, and this one will be a picture book for younger children.  I love the title – Once upon a Poodle. Since I’m just in the sketch-tightening stage I can’t show much yet. but here’s one spread that’s pretty much complete.

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I’ll post updates as we move the book along. The other Poodle Posse books, and info about Chrysa’s school visit programs, are on her site http://www.wellbredbook.net/ .

And allow me just to again plug our Bucks County Illustrators Society book Fantasy Tales, which includes terrific art and stories by 19 illustrators, available on my Store page here.

 

New Illustration for Lodging Magazine

My latest illustration for hospitality industry magazine Lodging involved one of those vague ideas that’s a bit hard to picture at first: delegating. The editor sent me parts of the article but it was not complete – it explained how hotels should focus foremost on their ‘hoteling’ responsibilities (great service and amenities for their customers) and hand off lesser duties if at all possible to businesses that specialize in those particular services. This delegating can help hotels accomplish key tasks without overwhelming their current systems and still providing excellent customer service.

I jotted down a few metaphors for delegating and sent them to the editor: I thought of a traffic cop directing traffic in a hotel lobby; a truck driver unloading packages to waiting deliverymen; and a football coach explaining a play to the team.  The editor liked the football idea, so I sketched it out roughly.

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The editor approve this and suggested a few more props in the hands of the players, and to have everyone in golf shirts instead of padding, which I added in the color marker sketch.

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This met with approval, so I traced the drawing onto illustration board and drew it in prisma pencil, then painted with acrylic paints, watered down to washes. The finished art:

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Announcing ‘Fantasy Tales,’ a Bucks County Illustrators Society Showcase

bcisfantasytalespromophotoI’m thrilled to be part of a unique publication of The Bucks County Illustrators Society – a showcase of the talent of the Society’s members, a full color book with text and illustrations entitled Fantasy Tales.  As a co-founder of BCiS, I am especially pleased to see the work of so many of my friends in the arts highlighted together.

The book includes art by me as well as James Bennett, Deb Hoeffner, Gil Cohen, Dot Bunn, Joe DeVito, Ponder Goembel, Rich Harrington,Monika Hinterwaldner, Becca Klein, Glenn Zimmer, Marie Thresher,Joe Kulka,  Rebecca Rhodin, Pam HamiltonSandy Bender, Kim Kurki, Seth Robinson and Kathryn Maxwell. Each illustrator chose a story or excerpt from a story that has elements of fairy tale, supernatural or fantastical events, and created an illustration to accompany the story.

In conjunction with this publication, we are mounting a show of Fantasy Tales artwork by our members, with many of the pieces in the book displayed as original art in the exhibit. The exhibit will be at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts gallery, running from June 24 to July 20, at 305 Horsham Road, Horsham, PA. The public is invited to the opening reception on June 24 from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm, to meet the artists and enjoy light refreshments. Copies of the book Fantasy Tales: A Bucks County Illustrators Society Showcase will be available for purchase at the opening.

The artwork in Fantasy Tales encompasses a wide range of illustration styles among BCiS illustrators, and varies from traditional media to digital to combinations of both. The stories chosen span classic Fairy Tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella to a Native American Folk Tale to the epic King Kong saga. Each illustrator’s biography is also included in the book.

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I invite all my friends, and any fans of illustration or fantasy art to come to our opening or visit the gallery during June and July. In Fantasy Tales the Bucks County Illustrators Society also thanks three institutions with whom we have special friendships: the Philadelphia Sketch Club, whose history of supporting artists and mounting exciting exhibits stretches back to 1860; Phoenix Art Supplies and Framing, a vital resource in Bucks County helping artists find the best supplies; and the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts, founded by artist Kathy Davis, which regularly hosts changing gallery shows and art, craft and music classes for adults and children.

Regarding parking for the opening reception, the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts, where our exhibit will be held, is in a beautifully renovated stone farmhouse on the northwest corner of Dresher and Horsham Roads, in a shopping plaza called ‘The Elements,’ which has ample parking.