Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Here is a color study that I whipped up of a Cherokee warrior. It's a fast, speed-rendering I did to try out some different color schemes. During the French and Indian War, Francis Marion fought with what was probably the provincial militia against the Cherokee indians. The Cherokee were imbedded deep in the back country--mainly in the northwest or Piedmont region of South Carolina. Clemson University is perfectly situated in what would have been the heart of Cherokee country during the eighteenth century--right where the Blue Ridge mountains "yawn their greatness..." In fact, Fort Hill was the site of Fort Prince George, I believe. Fort Hill looks down on the East end zone of Death Valley, which in the eighteenth century would have been prime real estate...
This is a depiction of Francis Marion and some of his men fighting some Cherokee. During the war, Marion led a small detachment (possibly around 32 men) of militia against the Cherokee. During the engagement, all but 8 men were lost in what must have been a bloody battle. Of course, the irony in all of this is that many of the men who, at the time, were fighting for England and the colonies, had, until recently, lived in harmony with the Cherokee. Marion, in particular, was said to have counted among his friends several Cherokee Indians... I am not positive that this was the case as I am not sure how many Cherokee were living and working openly in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina at the time. Who knows? Anybody have any ideas out there? Please do let me know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I am sort of at a loss as to what images to post today... The Marion book is sort of in limbo while I try to finish a silly job for a PARTICULARLY high maintenance client. She's nice enough but she's not paying me much and she is expecting me to jump through all sorts of hoops for her. On top of that, her comments are kind of frustrating. I am working on a series of pinup illustrations which are hard enough and she is giving me notes like "I want them to look less illustrated and more drawn." I'm not making that up. In all my years working with a variety of clients, that has to be the most head scratching note I've ever gotten. LESS ILLUSTRATED, MORE DRAWN...

I am not able to post any images from this job because I am bound by contract. What I can tell you is that I was given, like, a ton of reference material from Vargas to Leyendecker (all of whom have their own distinct style) and told basically to match that style. Well, that's fine but some of the artists use an outlined, airbrushed technique while others have a nice, textured/painterly look. Also, while one artist might stylize the women, others do not. Most of the sketches I have done have been sort of middle of the road--none of which has she liked. If they don't look too muscular, they're too skinny--or they look like cartoons which she HATES!!!

Honestly, I am about to lose my mind. Women are especially hard for me since everyone has their own idea as to what an attractive women is and, generally, they know what they like when they see it. Unfortunately, I don't have all day to do eighty pinups for this woman to shop through. Women are also difficult in that, well, I just don't have as much confidence in my abilities when I'm doing something strictly realistic. What to do?

I really want to bag all of this stuff and get back to the Revolution...

Friday, March 25, 2005


I just realized that I got the illustration friday topic wrong... DAMN! And I was so proud of that bloom illustration! Anyway, happy EASTER!



Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Another Revolutionary War soldier. This is the Second South Carolina Regt. which Francis Marion commanded for a time prior to the Fall of Charleston in 1780. These are really my favorite uniforms of the Revolution with Tarleton's green jacketed dragoon uniforms a close second. You'll notice the heraldic crescent on the leather cap. It's the same crescent that appears on the SC state flag. The significance of the crescent still puzzles me. Many eighteenth century uniforms featured heraldic symbols and the crescent has been seen on both American and British uniforms from the era. It's significance in heraldry is meant to signify the "second son" or, perhaps, second regt. It also is heavily connected to Moors/Muslims. Who knows? Anybody out there have any ideas?

Monday, March 21, 2005


Hey y'all... Here is a detail of the two page spread I've been working on for the picture book on Francis Marion. I'm pretty proud of it. Y'all let me know what you think. Constructive comments are welcome!
Here is the complete image:
The text will be on the right--or facing page where the smoke and stuff is. I didn't want to totally fill this scene with people since the focus is primarily on Marion. As I mentioned before, I am really trying to get the feel of the old Howard Pyle/N.C. Wyeth paintings. Those old illustrations captured my imagination as a kid. It wasn't that I was concerned with how many buttons any uniform had--or even if the depictions of the battles were particularly spot on accurate. It's that were so DRAMATIC. It's the stories that they told. Nobody painted pirates like Howard Pyle--and N.C. Wyeth was the only illustrator I ever associated with Robin Hood. I have some pretty high hopes for this project. Stay tuned and y'all let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


This is a detail of a painting I did for the picture book about Francis Marion. It's still very much unfinished. I have yet to add smoke and other elements to it. It depicts Marion directing the last cannon volley from Ft. Sullivan at the British fleet in Charleston harbor during the first British attempt to take the city from the sea. I'm pretty pleased so far. This represents a day's work--I hope to have it finished by the end of the day tomorrow. I really want this book to be a slam dunk--pictures, words everything... Y'all let me know what you all think.

Visually, I am really channelling the spirits of N. C. Wyeth and Fredrick Remington--two of my most favorite historical illustrators. The drama that both artists bring to every scene they paint--the way that they are able to tell a whole story in the space of a single canvas. It's just amazing. I consider the turn of the century up to about the 1950's to be the golden age of illustration. Remington, Wyeth, Pyle, A.B. Frost... These wonderful illustrators were not just painters, they were storytellers as well. They were also, some of them, flamboyant adventurers and travelers.
While I was working on CHASING THE SWAMP FOX, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some reenactors, riding horses and stuff (I'm the portly gent in modern dress in the foreground). It was amazing fun. I have few material needs in my life--I don't need a lot of stuff. However, if I were ever to have the means I would definitely get myself a horse or even a couple of horses--maybe move out to the country... I don't know... Maybe I'm too citified.

Anyway, I'll be posting some images here from time to time and I want to welcome all of you to toss yer two cents in with any constructive comments you have about the pictures... Thanks y'all!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Thanks so much for the comments y'all. Here's what I've come up with. The card itself will be 4/6 on matte coated--mainly because that holds up the best. Please let me know what you think. I am working on another card to gear towards another targeted audience--mainly kids... We'll see what happens. I'll let you all know what happens!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I am currently in the process of putting together a self promo card to send out to some prospective clients. The reason this illustration looks so light is because it's an underpainting I did in Photoshop. I will take the underpainting and finish it in Painter. The caption is going to read, "Tasty Illustration!"

I hate self promotion so much because it is almost a full time job in itself. The obvious soulution would be to hire a rep but even then there's no guarantee and I don't know that I am willing to pony up the money that many reps require you to pay for promotional materials and publications. Who knows? I think that I'll try and handle it myself this go round and if nothing materializes then I'll pursure hiring a rep. Anyway, y'all out there let me know what your thoughts are on either the illustration and/or the trials and tribulations of self promotion...

Thursday, March 03, 2005


I just finished this piece today for the Revolutionary War book I am working on. It shows the British fleet attacking Ft. Moultrie in preparation for taking the port city of Charleston, SC seen in the distance. Before the British could attack the city, they had to run the gauntlet of Charleston Harbour--which is treacherous in any era, and get past the guns on Ft. Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Today, you can go to Ft. Moultrie--now a national park, and see the city from the same perspective that the city's defenders probably did. As the boats were sailing in, the British army, having landed at Tybee Island to the south, were busily laying siege to the city from the western side. On May 11th, 1780 Heny Lincoln surrendered the city of Charleston and over 5,400 continentals. It was the greatest loss suffered by the Americans to date.

It took me a day and a half to complete this image and I am pretty proud of it. It is created almost exclusively in Photoshop. I used a variety of customized brushes of varying opacity and shapes which made it go a lot faster. Oceanscapes always give me hell. There is so much dynamic activity--the surface is constantly changing. It's just a HARD thing to render believably. For the ships, I found a ton of references online and sort of eyeballed the rest. I pulled out the DVD of MASTER AND COMMANDER as well to get an idea of how a ship leans to in the wind and is still able to fire its guns. Anyway, stay tuned!


I know, like, nothing about jazz actually. This is what sprang to mind... I just have this picture of a bunch of guys with cigarettes in a smoky bar listening to music. I don't know, I have to see if I can figure this jazz thing out...


Last night at church we were all sitting around for a Lenten discussion. The topic was "passion" and what it means to have passion in our lives. As we went around the room, I was pretty amazed at some of the different perspectives people were bringing to the table. Some perspectives were tempered by age or life experience. Still others were affected by race and cultural factors. It was a pretty lively discussion. Mandy related how her passion in life is working with young children. Her voice shaking with emotion, she went on to relate how her passion sustains her during the difficult times and how she is always amazed at what she finds around each new corner--the happy surprises that occur when you work with children. I was awestruck--not only at how well Mandy was able to articulate her feelings but at the fact that I've never heard her talk at such length about what drives her in her job.

It was around this point in the discussion that a person offered their perspective. She was an older woman and her life experience was that you worked to provide for your family, to keep your head above water. Passion was a luxury that few people she knew could afford to give themselves over to. She went on to say that she felt passion was, at times, an indulgence--a distraction almost, from what is important in life. Because she is the parent of three young children, she felt like she was ill-equipped to handle the passion that can so consume the lives of her kids.

I was pretty saddened by this, most especially because I know and adore her kids. Passion is something that they happily have in abundance. I began to think about how that passion is being stamped out of them in school. In my experience, some public schools find little value in the passions of the children they are charged to educate. Instead, they force them to sit in rows, stand in line, keep to themselves, speak only when spoken to. That is, they are compelled to conform to the culture of the school or curriculum and not to make themselves a problem by questioning the prevailing "social structure" of the school. At least two of the children are, in spite of their amazing academic aptitude, struggling somewhat keeping their behavior within the appropriate and acceptable boundaries laid down by the school. So, while they are academically proficient, they still draw the ire of their teachers because they have a hard time sitting still. COULD IT BE THAT THEY'RE BORED?????

I understand and sympathize with the challenges facing our public schools. They are educating HUGE numbers of children and doing it with very limited resources and, in some cases, limited local support. Public school teachers are further hamstrung by standardized testing and a stunted curricula. Local school districts face a multitude of challenges and I applaud anyone who teaches in our public schools. I only wish we could find ways to bring the wonder and passion back into learning. It only takes a LITTLE bit more creativity. Let students have some ownership over their learining space. Let their work and achievements be what is most visible when one walks through the front doors of the school--rather than institutional looking grey walls and teacher-made bulletin boards. Can teachers find the time, while working within the curriculum, to give students assignments that are challenging and fun and aren't just a worksheet ripped from some workbook? Can administrators and teachers keep order and discipline and still allow children to express themselves without shouting them down? I hope that there are more possibilities available to us now than when I was in school.

I don't know... I think I am feeling the pangs of impending fatherhood on the horizon. I am filled with hope for our kids in the world. They have so much to look forward to--why must we rob them of the passion that they are so going to need later in life? Who knows?
End of rant...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


This really isn't a tutorial per se but more of a way to illustrate how I create these images. Figure drawing from memory--or rather without a direct figure reference, can be daunting. Whenever possible, I always prefer drawing from a photographic or live reference. There is no substitute for directly referencing a model. The fact is, though, there aint always one available!

First, there is a wealth of references on the web for human anatomy and other visual materials. Corbis is a GREAT place to start. There are a lot of other good stock image sites out there that will be great as well but Corbis is the best. Here is another great site that has a ton of linkage as well. There is also a link to some of the Great books by Andrew Loomis. Check them out. Now ont with it.

First, I create a general gesture drawing--taking care that the figure is somewhat balanced and in proportion. I have a pretty good bit of reference photos with Rev. War reenactors but this pose is right out of my head.
I then tighten up the anatomy and create a nude figure which I will then add clothing and other accoutrements to. Here is the final blackline. As you can see, I moved the right arm a bit and made some other minor adjustments to the pose but all in all a pretty sound figure drawing. I should also add that clothing and weapon and other period reference images are critical in clothing and outfitting the figure. I will now bring the image into Painter and complete the rendering in color with the blackline image on a seperate multiply layer. I'll post more on that later.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Here is a redcoat for the aforementioned book. Notice that his uniform isn't clean. It's dirty and there are buttons missing--exactly as there would be. The British were well supplied during the Revolution and their red coats were often stolen and turned inside out and then re-dyed by the rebels. One thing that REAAAAAALLLLY bugged me about THE PATRIOT was how clean the uniforms were. There were no sweat stains or dirt visible. No missing buttons. Certainly not at all the way it would have been.


Here is the latest illustration I am doing for a series on the American Revolution in South Carolina. It's for a book that is going to be published by my mom and dad's small press. It's supposed to be a picture book for young students--like third graders. They're going to pay me which is cool and I really dig the subject matter. It just means I have to put all the other stuff I'm doing on hold for awhile.

This illustration is of a colonial partisan--or the 18th century equivilent of a guerilla fighter. The illustrations in this piece have to be more graphic looking so that we are able to highlight certain aspects of the illustration for pedagogical purposes... You'll notice certain touches like the wrapped flintlock which keeps the moisture and elements off the locks and prevents them from misfiring. Also, he isn't wearing a uniform because militia units were a voluntary force that fought in homespun and generally returned to their homes and farms after the battle was over.