The first illustration I was paid to do was a pen and ink drawing of Jesus for a church billboard, done when I was a sophomore in high school. My second funded illustration was a silhouette of an exotic dancer for a strip club, done right about that same time. I just love to draw, and being paid for making art is a dream come true…especially in high school…but it’s pretty awesome now, as well. Here are descriptions of some of my favorite illustrative projects. The book “Play Onwards”, chronicled below, will be for sale soon on the “It’s All Happening” section of this website.
I'm so excited about this book!
I’ve just finished a wonderful collaboration with a brilliant poet who just happens to be my dear friend, Joe Flara. “Play Onwards” is a book of poetry and short stories that have evolved from Joe’s life experiences. My illustrations are done in pencil, darkened a bit with the magic of Photoshop…there’s a cat and mouse who appear repeatedly throughout this delightful, rollicking tome. A kitten at first, our cat grows throughout the book, eventually…well, you can guess what happens to the mouse. Each illustration has it’s accompanying poem.
This is the first book I’ve illustrated. My prior experience includes magazine and newspaper illustration, but a book is a game changer; it’s an excuse to create a whole new body of work.
The reason there’s an ironing board on the cover is as follows, and I’m quoting Joe: “When I was a kid, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with a story in my head that I knew HAD to be written. I’d quietly sneak down the parts of the stairs that didn’t creak, and get out Mom’s ironing board to use as a desk. I’d awaken the following morning, clutching scribbled pages in my hands, frantic that I had forgotten to put up the ironing board, and would be found out. Mom knew, or course, but for my sake she didn’t let on; she’d only hint at it, sometimes. I remember her smiling once and saying, ‘Life will get a lot simpler, Joseph, once you get past the ironing of it all’.”
I think the above paragraph hints at the magical quality of Joe’s writing. He’s working on two new books, and has several more in his head…I hope I get to illustrate all of them!
The Porch at Schenley
I have 10 paintings gracing the walls at the Porch at Schenley, a totally amazing restaurant in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. This illustrative job was a dream come true; I was invited to see the space before it was finished and asked to help develop the series of paintings.
This eatery has a theme, that being “the inside is outside”…it has a picnic in the sunshine atmosphere, complete with a glass garage door sized wall that rolls up into the ceiling when weather permits, allowing access to outdoor tables. I started with sketches, as I generally do, and what emerged is a series of paintings all about the joy of eating outside, from grilling to corn roast to catching fireflies.
The Porch at Schenley features thoughtfully crafted seasonal food made with fresh ingredients from local farms. They grow some of their own produce in a garden on the roof! Try the goat cheese, fig and arugula pizza, my personal favorite.
Each painting has an accompanying story.