Sunday, January 14, 2018


  For an upcoming recent feature on water voles for Ranger Rick magazine,  I was asked to portray "Ratty" or "Rat", one of the characters in The Wind in the Willows.
  I loved that book as a child, and hope to revisit it.
  I looked at many wonderful illustrations, including EH Shepard, Robert Ingpen,  and Inga Moore ( her version is my favorite, although I do not own it; must get).
  Then there is this comprehensive ''best-illustrated'' reference book.
  For those who have not read this classic,  Mole decides go out to the river, and meets Ratty (a water vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Ratty takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Ratty teaching Mole the ways of the river.
  Water voles used to be common over all of Great Britain, but  in the 90's began to disappear. People brought American minks to Great Britain to raise them for their fur. Many escaped and were so good at hunting voles for prey, the numbers of voles dropped fast.  More of their habitat was ruined when livestock trampled their banks and ate the plants that the voles needed. Conservation groups are working hard to reestablish their numbers, and hopefully they will not only live on  in the pages of a book!

Look out, Ratty! Rapids ahead!

 I love being able to merge illustration with an actual photo. Great fun!

 Hi; I'm  Ratty, your river guide.

Goodbye, little voles!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New year, new postcards

  It's been a while since I sent out any promo cards.  It's always so hard to decide which images to use. So this time I  guess I let the season and the weather decide. Brutal "polar plunge" temps here in Cleveland, and across much of the country. I wish safety, warmth and cozy dreams for you in the new year.  These brave souls on my cards will be celebrating outside only in the imagination, I'm afraid.
  Oh, except for the penguins. They will be happy.  This one is a work in progress so far... and taken from a riddles piece originally created for Ranger Rick magazine.  We had pancakes this morning, courtesy of Dave. He makes the best pancakes ever.  The key is fruit, walnuts, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon and a good apron. Flip me one.

postcard in progress

original work

original version for Hal Leonard

original for Highlights

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nesting in Style

  Maybe it's because the snow is going to fly, that I've finally found the time to get this illustration on my blog. Nesting instincts are kicking in, and birds are fluffing up their downy feathers. About a month ago  I was fortunate to illustrate a piece for Highlights  called Spring Search, which will come out in....wait for it... the spring! The challenge for the young readers is to find as many shiny, sparkly things as they can, just like the bluejay has.
  But  they shouldn't actually try to steal people's jewelry. They can climb a tree and make a nest though, and surround themselves with their own possessions, and look down on the passersby on the street and make bird calls at them.  That would be fun.  But later.  Now it's winter, so they will have to fluff up their feathers and wait.

photoshop color

base drawing: graphite pencil and white pastel pencil

Monday, November 20, 2017

Really Bright Kids

  It's only November and I miss the sun already.
  Recently I had the pleasure of working on a cover with Hal Leonard, a company that creates and publishes music for schools.
   The art director took my finished illustration and further embellished it on the page.  When I saw it, my first thought was that it looks like they are looking down through a skylight. I wonder if "Up on the Roof" is one of the songs.




cover final

Monday, November 6, 2017

No Words

   Last month I illustrated a small wordless book for Scholastic, that teaches words starting with certain letters of the alphabet; in this case Y and Z. Each story was told in two images.
   Enough said.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Packy Derm

  Elephants never forget ... to blog. September was an incredibly busy month with work, and I'm playing catch up. Recently I finished illustrating two readers for Scholastic, one immediately after another. ( Phew!) This one features an elephant who is getting dressed and carrying his stuff to an unknown destination. He does not forget his mittens! I call him Packy Derm, but the actual title is "Packing Up".
  Each of the 16 pages says "I have my ______." ( hat, jacket, iguana, etc.)  To expedite the process I copied and pasted many of the background elements, such as the house, trees, stepping stones, flowers and leaves, changing their sizes, shapes and positions as needed.  I  had a library of leaves from previous work which I could recycle.
   It is not until the final page that the reader realizes he is loading his car with his belongings
(although the title is a clue to  that). The cat co-stars as she watches his every move from a different vantage point each time. 

 first step
I began by drawing each pose traditionally with pencil on grey pastel paper which made it easy to  establish highlights, values and details. I added the pinks and a few colors, then went on to silhouette the figure, copied and pasted the ties and hats, and added the rest of the color in Photoshop. I placed the isolated figures in their scenery, adjusting each environment as I went along, based on the layouts of  my initial sketches.

I have my vest.

I have my jacket.

I have my bicycle.

I have my jam.

I have my iguana.

I have my cat.

 I have my car.
Vroom.....Bye bye for now!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Garden Party


My latest illustration assignment, Garden Party, was for Pearson Education's reading program. This family covers some ground recruiting their neighbors to start a community garden, and young Jamal discovers that people are more than willing to help.

These illustrations began as traditional media: monochromatic colored pencil drawings with a bit of pastel overlaid to add depth.  They were then scanned and became the base layer for color added in Photoshop.

gearing up

 joining in


"You were right, Dad!"

Illustrations © 2017 Pearson Education, Inc.