Friday, December 3, 2010


About a year ago, I met Andrea in Prospect Park while we were walking our dogs. We got to talking and the subject came around to art. When I mentioned I paint, she became interested and so I handed her my postcard. She started telling me about how she'd always wanted to have a more unconventional portrait of her son, Grayson, done with a sort of sci-fi setting and my style fit the bill. After several conversations, she hired me to do the portrait as a gift for her husband. I was a little nervous, having never painted anyone under 18 before. Luckily Grayson was a real character and kept us smiling during the photoshoot:

I'd done a few sketches for composition - Andrea liked the idea of Grayson in front of a window looking out on a otherworldly landscape, but she didn't want it too over the top. The image on the right was closest but she was looking for something simpler.

Then during the photoshoot we had one of those happy accidents where on a break, Grayson threw his hand over the back of the chair and I took some shots. It ended up being just the right pose for his personality and Andrea agreed this would be a great image to work around. She even wanted to keep the watch in. I created the drawing:

And after approval, the painting:

It's no secret that I love painting portraits, and getting the opportunity to bring portraiture and my affinity for fiction together made this a great job. We all ended up happy with how this one turned out- and no doubt it will be the most memorable Christmas present this year!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Realms of Fantasy

Realms of Fantasy has been a great outlet for new artists for as long as I can remember . I have a lot of friends who have produced some turning point pieces for the magazine- largely because they gave you the sort of creative freedom that is pretty much extinct nowadays. I've wanted to work for them ever since I became interested in fantasy illustration ,so when Doug Cohen asked me to do a piece for the December Issue- it was a no-brainer. He even wrote a lovely blog post about how he first saw my work:

Unfortunately not long after turning in the art we were sent the sad news that the December Issue was to be the last, and would not make it to paper print. The final issue has been placed on the RoF website for free download here:

Where you can read the story this piece was done for and see the rest of the magazine, including a fantastic piece by David Palumbo and lovely feature on Terese Nielsen.

So long Realms of Fantasy. You will certainly be missed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"I Aten't Dead"

To quote my favorite Discworld character. I just moved to Boston. And while times the NYC withdrawl gets to feeling a bit much, I just look out my REAL STUDIO window to my LAWN and somehow I think I can go on.

So I've been lax, I admit. The lead up to the move, the move itself (happening quite suddenly a month before schedule) and getting adjusted... sure I've been making art- just not sharing. Only some of it due to contractual constraints. That ends now. I've got a decent backlog waiting to see daylight and it's time to get back onto communicating with the rest of the world.

The above self portrait was done in a little over an hour one morning when I looked at a still-wet palette from another piece and figured I shouldn't let all that paint go to waste. I call it "You're Coffee's Getting Cold."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So a few months back my friend Vanessa hired me to design a tattoo for her. The concept was an original version of Yggdrasil, the World tree out of Nordic myth. It was a little intimidating...this work of art would be on someone for the rest of her life. I didn't want to slack off on this one. After a good amount of research and sketches I finally came out with this.

I felt pretty confident with it. I think it gave her a good design while still looking very 'me'. And clearly she liked it because she went out the same week to have the first pass done!

Thanks Nessa for giving me the hugest compliment of all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Painted Ladies

Lana Crooks has done it again! She's curated another great show out in Chicago and I am really excited about being involved in this one. 'Painted Ladies', an exhibit focused on the art of the female form is a new group exhibit with an all-star line-up. I'm joining such awesome artists as Dave Palumbo and Craig Elliott on the walls of OhNo! Doom's gallery. In addition to sending my Eve drawing, I created three new pieces in charcoal for this show:

Painted Ladies
Opening reception: June 5th 2010, 6-10pm

Exhibit Closes: July 3rd

Painted Ladies is a group exhibit that celebrates the art of the female form. All new lady-themed work by painters, illustrators, designers and animators:

Shannon Bonatakis
Kristina Carroll
Craig Elliott
Stephanie Inagaki
Jeremiah Ketner
Steph Laberis
Vince Newkirk
Dave Palumbo
Jason Rudolph Pena
David Rettker
Arkady Roytman
Scott Tolleson
Alex Willan

A portion of the art sales will be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Walk (taking place June 5-6th).

Directly after the opening reception all unsold artworks will be available to view and purchase thru our online store:

OhNo!Doom Gallery
1800 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

Monday, May 24, 2010


Back in January I posted the oil sketch for this piece. I've been finished with it for a while, with the occasional tweak here and there and finally decided that it was time to share.

There's something about painting old men with white hair that really appeals to me for some reason. I think it's the challenge of whispy hair against old, leathery skin. Wrinkles are so much fun! And big, bushy eyebrows.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Replanting the Garden

Replanting the Garden brings together the work of 40 artists who were simply given the directive to make a piece in response to H. Bosch's GARDEN of EARTHLY DELIGHTS.

I ended up choosing something a little different: Eve Taming the Snake. Eve gets a bad rap when all she did was choose to accept awareness and knowledge of the world. Without Eve there is no art, no words no pain, no love, no beauty. Without Eve, we would not be able to delight in the earth, so I decided to paint a portrait that illustrates the respect I feel for her. She has cast off her forced role of the weak-willed woman, shaved her head and made that snake her own. My Eve isn't the tempted, she is the hunter. Next she will go rescue Prometheus.

Replanting the Garden, curated by Richard Saja, opened last week in Indianapolis' Big Car Gallery space. This is a wonderfully eclectic show and I was very happy to be included. You can see all the images at and purchase them through the Gallery or

Friday, April 23, 2010

ArtOrder article, some drawings and some news

Hello folks!

I am excited to share my first ever foray into semi-semi-pro writing. Jon Schindehette over at his ArtOrder blog recently put out a call for guest writers to help lighten his workload and I decided to respond. You can see the results Here:

Please go check it out and let me know what you think! I had a wonderful time writing it.

And now it's time to share a few new pieces I'm working on:


This piece is for a show going up in May: Replanting the Garden. All pieces are works that were inspired by Heironymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delight's. I wanted to try something different so I chose a very simple and quiet composition of Eve taming the snake. The curator is the same man who commissioned my Richard portrait for his show at the Shelburne Museum so I think this is going to be a good one. I also quite like the color studies I did for the piece:

You'll have to wait until the painting's finished to see which one I chose. Lastly is a drawing I am very excited to start painting:


Very much inspired by the charcoal drawings of Charles Vess. I haven't done a nice, woodsy scene in a while and I am really looking forward to it.

Lastly I am very pleased to announce that the aforementioned Richard painting has been accepted into this year's Spectrum annual!

This is such a huge honor, and I still can't quite believe that I got in.

Read what Richard Saja, the curator, had to say about the piece in his show here:

Last, but not least, Marc Scheff posted a lovely review of my Zebrulu piece on his blog:

Go check them out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mutation Nation

Wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get in on the latest Art Order challenge, but made some time this weekend to play (and get sorta sick) so I did a little something. Introducing Zebrulu!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kim Boekbinder

Not too long ago I discovered the music of the very talented Kim Boekbinder and have since become a big fan. Not only do I love her songs, but she is a work of art herself and a very fun girl to draw and paint. Here's a little watercolor piece I finished recently and hopefully just the first of many. We may figure out a way to use the art to help her raise money for her album, so check back for details.

Original drawing:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Still Life

So I have been doing a lot of charcoal stuff lately and decided, after being inspired by Rob Rey's beautiful still lifes, I wanted to spend some time painting to keep up my practice. I haven't done a proper still life in... a long time. So I set one up all nice like- even did some clever umbrella action to control the light. Here's the set-up:

And the full painting:

Because I'm me, I spent longer on it than I had originally planned- so tomorrow I think I will set up a smaller one, stick to my time-limit and see what happens. I was just too happy to be playing with paints today to stop.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I am very happy to share my newest painting. This piece was made to be a two page spread for Michael Kaluta and Elaine Lee's groundbreaking space-opera comic, Starstruck, currenlty in re- release from IDW. The updated book is made all shiny with brand new drawings and covers by Michael, additional words by Elaine and some beautiful color-work by Lee Moyer. These are some of my favorite people in the industry and I was so honored to be asked to take part in their baby.

The short story behind this piece is that it depicts the murder of Sambo Thrace-Smith, the worst playwrite in the universe by Kettle Black, leader of the Guernican Art Squad. To get the full story, you need to go buy issue #10 of Starstruck. But really you should buy them ALL. Because they're really, really good and unlike anything else you've ever read.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rust painting

Here is the painted version of my Rust drawing for ArtOrder. You can read about the meaning behind my interpretation in the previous post.

I think it still needs some tweaking if I'm honest. A unifying glaze, and cooling down that foreground hand to start. But still- not TOO bad for a couple days work!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rust drawing

"A sword, a spade, and a thought should never be allowed to rust"
~ James Stephens
Irish poet and storyteller, 1882-1950

This is my Charcoal drawing for the latest ArtOrder challenge, which was to create an illustration from the above quote. I LOVE these sorts of challenges because they demand that you think outside the box. I knew immediately that the first rule for this piece was to avoid swords and spades as imagery. I thought about it for a while and then, randomly, picked up my favorite book The Neverending Story and opened up to the chapter I was currently re-reading. (I have plans for this book, but in the words of Ende "That's another story and shall be told another time.") Anyways one of the characters has an army of metal giants that she controls with her will. Towards the end, when her evil plans have been thwarted, she looses all control of these giants because her will no longer has a purpose and they kill her. I thought, 'well this is all just too serendipitous'.

"They were puzzled, because they knew it was Xayide's will alone that had moved the hollow giants. So, they thought, it must have been her will that they should trample her to death."

The giants are the personification of Xayide's twisted thoughts and desires. But because all her plans involve manipulation and power, her thoughts are hollow and they prove to be her undoing.

"For years the hollow, black-metal giants stood motionless on the heath not far from the City of the Old Emperors. Rain and snow fell on them, they rusted and little by little sank into the ground, some vertically, some at a slant. But to this day a few of them can be seen."

Now onto the paint!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Waterhouse post

(Disclaimer: First attempt to write anything of large scale on two days of cold medication and fever. Please be kind.)

So over MLK weekend a large group of us (artists, art directors and art enthusiasts) pilgrimaged up to Montreal to see the massive Waterhouse retrospective that is showing there until February. I could go on and on about the joy of the train ride up and back with such titans of the industry and inspiring folks as Irene Gallo, Greg Manchess, Kurt Huggins, Zelda Devon and Scott Brundage, the added fun at the Biodome, and the pleasure of sharing this show with so many people I admire- but Irene has done a much better job than I could and taken nicer pictures over at her blog. And her amazing photos here. So I will mostly just show stuff from my sketchbook and talk about a few things that I took away from this retrospective.

Saying this show was inspiring is an understatement. I always liked Waterhouse just fine, but looking at his work up close and seeing what a master storyteller and handler of paint he was humbled me. In his early works especially, his attention to detail and handling of every aspect of narrative from facial expressions to body language to value to color to brush strokes to edges only made it clear how much I have yet to learn. When at his best, not a single aspect of any given piece was thrown away.

Of course, being the portrait lover I am, I spent a lot of time swooning over his faces. Waterhouse knew how to capture an expression that told volumes, and several times I was as entranced with what was going on with the background characters as with the main subjects. Such as the two old men in Mariamne sitting in quiet judgment and whispering amongst themselves.

Here are some more faces. Many from Waterhouse, some from life and one from my head, while trying to illustrate "Dark Light" (thanks for the term Kurt!) at lunch between viewings.

I first saw "The Lady of Shallot" in London in '08. I won't lie- I might have cried a little that first time. But seeing it again after nearly 2 more years of training, and amongst all his other work- it didn't pale one bit. I noticed a hundred more details on the second viewing that just made it that much better a piece to me. The thing that most impressed me this time was, perhaps, realizing that the only thing truly in focus in the piece is her face- and as you move further out from that point, the paint and edges blur more and more. It's very subtle, (not something you can spot in reproductions) but it speaks volumes about the mastery of the painter and the story of this isolated woman he was telling. Of course, I had to try and capture her haunting expression.

Even after spending nearly 6 hours at the exhibit saturday, I went back Sunday for some more. The Magic Circle was another really popular piece at the exhibit. It was one of his simpler works, but that just made the details he included more effective. The dust on her skirt, the hint of fire from the circle, the live ouroboros around her neck and how drinking in all these details meant you didn't even notice the cave of people around a fire in the background until the 4th viewing made this piece especially riveting.

One of the things I think that I most appreciated from this exhibit was the way Waterhouse was never afraid to throw a main figure's face into shadow. The way he could hide features, and still not loose any emotion of the piece really got to me in a good way and is one of his devices (among many) I look forward to trying. It will no doubt be years and years before I can effectively use (or even fully understand) many of the things I appreciated in Waterhouse in my own work, and certainly I will notice all new things should I see any of these pieces again...but I think that is part of the joy of this whole artistic journey.

Happy Arting!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So I've been working several things: one of which is a Gandalf portrait and thought I would share it in its "sketch" stage.

I tried a different way of working this one- just using some photo reference, and sketching first with a blue pencil and then with raw umber directly on a gessoed panel. There's something lovely about the freedem this warrants- much like drawing with charcoal. It's got some colors on it now, and perhaps I will share another progress shot soon.

Back to the easel!