Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Here's our family Christmas card for this year. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jolly Old Santa Claus

This is my Christmas time wallpaper scanned from one of my cherished books, "Jolly Old Santa Claus". The book was published by Ideals in the early sixties. My grandparents gave it to my sister, my brother and me. My youngest sister isn't mentioned in the inscription, so it was given to us sometime before 1966. As the oldest I laid claim to it years ago. The story is credited to "Sparkie" and the illustrations are by George Hinke. The book is laid out with the art filling double page spreads alternating with two pages of text. I may have read the text once or twice but I spent many hours staring at the pictures. Every spread shows a scene of Santa and his "Brownies" getting ready for Christmas. There is an abundance of detail and all the characters are truly individuals. There is an aspect of early "Where's Waldo" in that there are re-occuring characters on each spread. Look for the cat.
I haven't been able to find out much about Mr. Hinke other than that he immigrated from Germany. His only work beyond this book that I'm aware of are two paintings of Christ. The book was republished a few years ago, but the layouts were changed to integrate the text and pictures. It reads better as a book but the pictures were obscured and cut up. So, I'll stick with looking at my old, beat-up book every Christmas season.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Barlow's Banter

My friend, Steven Paul Barlow, has just started his own blog, Barlow's Banter. He is the author of "My Brushes With Death And Other Outdoor Blunders", a book that I illustrated a couple of years ago. I shared some illustrations from the book here, here and here. Steve (no one calls him "Steven Paul", that's his writin' name) will be sharing his thoughts on all things outdoorsy in his usual humorous style. He is considering doing another compilation of his columns from Game & Fish Publications. If he does, I hope to illustrate that one too.

This is the cover art from the first book. I know I said that I wouldn't show anymore art from the book, but hey, it's the cover. And he's got a new blog. I had to show something. You can still get a copy of the first book at Briar Hill Books or through Amazon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

IF - Balloon

Illustration Fridays topic this week is "balloon". I wasn't going to do a picture. But then I learned that a friend had passed away on Monday after fighting lung cancer and this came into my head. Betty was a good friend of my wife's family. My kids grew up calling her "Grandma Betty". We will miss her, but like the balloon, I know she was going up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

IF -Opinion

This week's Illustration Friday topic is opinion. This reminds me of when I was much younger and would get into huge arguments about the stupidest things. There are few things more insipid than two 19 year old guys arguing about who's better; Elvis Costello or Lynyrd Skynyrd. I would never indulge in such an argument now. Even though I was right.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A scary story

Lately I've had a desire to do some comic pages. I haven't done any in a long time. The comic pages I've posted here were all done several years ago. So I did this little two pager. Watch out for the terrifying climax. Remind yourself "It's only a comic, it's only a comic".
Click on the images to enlarge.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


JimmyJoe loved to go out to the open plains to sing his songs. Under that beautiful big sky with no one to hear but the prairie dogs, JimmyJoe would strum his guitar and sing and yodel, sharing his music with all of nature. JimmyJoe liked singing here better than singing in the city. No one threw things at him on the plains.

Prairie dogs don't have opposable thumbs.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

IF - Repair

This week's topic at Illustration Friday is "repair". I thought of all those character shaped holes in Tex Avery Cartoons. Someone had to fix them. I'm experimenting with my new fluid acrylic paints. I was trying to use them with a watercolor technique. They don't quite work that way. They are good for building up glazes, but they're hard to fix if you mess up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

IF - Late

This weeks Illustration Friday's topic is "Late". I went back to inking with a brush for this one. The gray is ink wash rather than watercolor. It has a smoother look (except where I drybrushed) but is very unforgiving.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lab Partner

Here's a piece I did for the latest SCBWI contest. The challenge was to illustrate the following. "When your book's main character gets to the first day of Biology something worse than mold in a petri dish is waiting". You can see the winners here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

IF - Packed

My piece for this week's Illustration Friday.
I'm trying to loosen up my pen work. There's a lot of scribbling going on in the dark areas.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Last year I started doing little still-life paintings inspired by the "painting-a-day" trend. One time on a visit to my in-laws in Pennsylvania, my wife brought all the paintings I had done to that point to show off to her family. My father-in-law, Rev. John Denicola, was really taken with them. He would examine them and tell me how good they were and that he would like to watch me paint one. I assured him that that would be only slightly less boring then watching the paint dry afterward. I'm a slow painter.
Because he was so encouraging to me I decided to do a still life for him. One of my pieces that really caught his eye was the bottle and button. He liked the depiction of glass. Because of that, his Italian heritage and skill in the kitchen, I arrived at a picture of some cherry tomatoes, bread and a cruet of olive oil. We gave it to him for his 75th birthday. My mother-in-law told me that he would often sit and look at the painting. He intended to hang it but left it on the fireplace next to his recliner where he could look at it.
In March of this year, John fell in his garage and hit his head. He died a day later in the hospital. At his viewing my mother-in-law brought my painting to display it.
It meant a lot to me that John liked his painting. I consider it the greatest piece I've yet done for that reason. He was a great and godly man who we miss.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pappy Land 3 - This time it's personal

Here are the last 3 pages that I did of the Pappy comic.
Commodore Crayon was my own creation. I remember being told that when the show was being developed they considered a character similar to the Commodore. I think the conning tower shrank in the last panel.
The Mackerel? I guess all the good submarine names were taken.

Where did Mr. Kelp go after he opened the hatch? I must have been making this up as I went along.

And that's as far as it got. I didn't get to drawing any fish through the window Pappy is staring at. If the show and the newsletter had continued I would have finished this page and continued on. I have no idea where the story was going from here.
I just realized I left Elmer sleeping in the boat. I hope he's all right.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pappyland 2

Here's two more pages from the Pappy strip. These were never published in the newsletter. Too bad, the story was just beginning to get interesting. I was still struggling to get a decent likeness of Pappy.
I'm not sure how a submarine got into Pappy's fishing hole. But then again, I'm not sure why a turtle would have a mustache either.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 22, 2008


A few years ago the Pappyland TV show was being produced in Syracuse. It was a great kid's show that encouraged kids to draw along with Pappy Drew-it, a Gabby Hayes/49er type character. I knew one of the guys who created the show with Mike Cariglio, who played Pappy Drew-it. Mike, who I only met a few times, is a nice guy and a very accomplished artist. He was very encouraging to me. I started a comics story on spec featuring Pappy and his pals. The president of the company accepted the story and offered to publish it in the Pappyland Fan Club Newsletter. Even though I wrote it as a 7 page chapter of a larger story, they elected to print one page per newsletter.
These are the only pages that were published before the company had financial problems and the show ceased production.

The art looks kind of plain. I think my reason for not using a lot of black was that either it would be colored by the publisher to reflect the colorful appearance of the show or it would be open enough for kids to color their own pages.

Pappy, Chucky, Turtle Lou and Elmer are copyright Craftsman & Scribes Creative Workshop

Timmy Trout is my fault.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

IF Island

I haven't done any color pieces lately. I decided to use this weeks IF topic to take another stab at watercolor over pen and ink.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IF - Clutter

The Illustration Friday topic this week is "clutter". There are times when I have difficulty arriving at an image to draw. There's a lot of imagery cluttering up my head and I sometimes have a hard time finding a subject to commit to for a finished piece.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Happy Fat Man

Here is another Happy Fat Man designed as a fireman. This one never went into production.

I also dabbled in animated GIFs for the website. Click on this one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Fat Man

A few years ago a friend of mine, Jeff, came up with an idea "The Happy Fat Man". Jeff hoped to market shirts and other items with the HFM image emblazoned on it. Unfortunately, he couldn't draw so he asked me to design it. The original image was a jolly fellow based on Jeff himself.
We depicted him golfing....
playing softball....
and enjoying St. Patrick's Day.
As often happens in business, momentum was lost due to seperate events and the line died. It was an interesting experience designing for multiple sizes. I had to avoid all my usual feathering and shading and stick to a strong line. There was a website,, that is no longer operational. There is still a Happy Fat Man page at with these images available on various items. I have no idea if the Fat Man is coming back.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

IF - memories

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is memories. This picture is based on my great grandmother who lived to be 102. She lost a great deal of of her memories by the end of her life but she is still in mine. This is her second appearance in one of my pictures.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I didn't do this painting. It was painted by my son, Thomas, for the Assemblies of God National Youth Fine Art Festival. He received the Award of Merit for 2 dimensional art - Kappa Tau Division (college age). So now as the proud father, I have to boast about it. His mother (my wife) is proud, too.
24"X20" Acrylic on canvas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

IF - Detach

My first drawing for The theme this week is "detach". Pen and Ink with lamp black watercolor wash and drybrush.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Baseball cap

A still life of my Yankee cap. It was a present for my son. 5" X 7" acrylic on hardboard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Withers

A few years ago my mother showed me an old photograph of my great-grandparents and my grandmother taken sometime around 1919 , the year they immigrated from England. The year is a guess based on the apparent age of my grandma in the picture. I took the picture home, scanned it and cleaned up all the scratches and stains. I was able to give a cleaned up copy in a frame to my mother along with the original. While I was cleaning up the image I became fascinated with my great-grandparents' apparent discomfort with getting their picture taken. We are used to getting our pictures taken all the time, but this was probably quite an event for them. The picture appears to be taken in front of a backdrop. They are wearing overcoats which leads me to guess that it was taken by a street photographer. My great-grandparents are leaning into each other awkwardly and staring at the camera. Grandma is standing between them with a hand on her hip calmly looking into the lens. She seems much more comfortable. Just like the young lead the way with new technology now.
After working on the photo I decided to do a painting of the picture. The colors are, of course, a guess. Great-grandpa was wearing a pin in the photo which I decided should be an American flag pin. And I changed the background to a ocean pier, symbolic of their immigrating.
I was very close to my grandma and great-grandma, but I never knew my great grandfather. This painting was a way to connect to the part of my family no longer with us.
I continue to be fascinated with the photograph. A copy is pinned on the memo board over my drawing table.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jacob and Esau

I have recently been reading Andy Wales blog "Panel Discussions". He has some interesting stuff on his blog regarding using comics in the classroom and some neat bible comics. It inspired me to get this out of my pile. I did this in 1996 as a series of one page chapters. It was printed in the monthly Sunday School newsletter at my church. Previous to this I did an adaptation of Jonah that will never again see the light of day. I'm too embarrassed by it. Jacob and Esau, on the other hand, isn't too bad. I was still learning how to ink with a brush so it's rough in spots and the lettering is shaky. But, I don't cringe (much) when I look at it, so here it is.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Man Looked Bored

This is a colored sketch for the Art By Committee challenge on James Gurney's blog. The challenge was to illustrate the phrase "the man looked bored". I drew the image in sepia ink. I colored the man with watercolors, using a limited palette of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and mars black to give him a dull look. All the creatures and activity outside are in acrylic. It looks rushed because it was. Of course, the challenge is supposed to be a sketch. I have to force myself to be loose and not worry about the details I would normally fret over.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wild Thing

I have long been a Maurice Sendak fan. I love "Where The Wild Things Are" and his other works. My favorite when I was a kid was one he didn't write but illustrated; "Mr.Rabbit and the Lovely Present" by Charlotte Zolotow. I still have my copy. It's held together with yellowing scotch tape (Mom's not an archivist). It's a very peaceful book as opposed to "Where The Wild Things Are", which I learned to love later in life, probably because it was fun to read to my kids.

Today I was looking at all my Wild Things stuff in my studio (including the t-shirt I was wearing) and decided to draw my own Wild Thing. He doesn't compare to Bernard or Moishe, but I like him okay. I call him Knute.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Red pear

The last of the pear paintings. 5" X 7" acrylic on board.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

D'Anjou Pear

Yet another pear painting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bartlett Pear

Another pear painting. Same dimensions as the last.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bosc Pear

A small still life of a bosc pear - acrylic 5" X 7". Part of a series of pears.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Entering the cave

Another sci-fi picture in ink wash. This one is not from a particular story. It was inspired by a closeup of a condor's face in Smithsonian Magazine. I'm not sure what they are finding in the cave.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Dark Light Girl

An illustration inspired by "the Dark Light Girl", a short story by Alan Dean Foster. I did it as an exercise in ink wash. The subject is a girl that glows in the dark. It was a challenge to depict the subject as the source of light.

Friday, May 30, 2008


An ink and watercolor piece of kids playing the "Beautiful Game".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alligator wrench

A still life of an "alligator wrench". It is an early style of adjustable wrench. The mouth has a smooth side and a toothed side that conform to the sides of the nut you're turning. It is also neat looking and a good subject for a painting.
Acrylic on board 5" X 7"

Friday, May 23, 2008


Here's a picture of Cutbelly the werefox from Michael Chabon's Summerland. A fantasy book he wrote a few years ago that involves elves, indian legends and baseball. It's no Narnia, but it has a lot of cool imagery that makes for a good illustration exercise.