Feb 2012


Fireflies Acrylic on paper mounted to board

In a previous post I mentioned how I would like to bring an element of traditional painting back into my illustration work. This painting is great example of that approach. The painting started as a sketchbook entry. I liked the idea and wanted to develop the piece in color, but rather than scan the drawing into my computer and rendering digitally, I decided to paint with acrylics.

Because the pencil was created on paper too thin to paint on, I glued the drawing to a piece of board using matte medium. I let this dry overnight. With the drawing on a suitable substrate, I coated the front side of the paper with a tinted matte medium mix. The entire piece was built up with multiple glazes of color which I manipulated to add textural interest. The depth produced by working this way surpasses that of painting in opaque darks of the same value.

Once I had the basic darks down, I worked up the light areas. The glow of the fireflies was created by painting in a white glow and then glazing over that with cadmium yellow. I finished the piece by adding one last overall coat of matte medium to even out the sheen across the surface.

Of course anything is possible with a painting like this once it is finished and scanned in to the computer. I could smooth out the texture in places, add a softer glow to the fireflies, etc. But rather than slick the art up, I decided that I would show it this way, with all of its handcrafted look untouched.

Medco Balloon Art

The Dispensary of Hope is a not for profit program helping to provide access to medications for those, who for lack of insurance coverage or income, lack access. The Medco Foundation, as a supporter of the program, asked me to create illustrations of helium balloons carrying a red box labeled with the Hope logo. The art would be used in promoting the program via print, collateral, and on the web. Due to the various usage sizes we needed to paint two separate images. The one above was used in formats about as opposite as you can get; web presentation and as a large format, 46” wide, wall cling. The piece below was for print and point of purchase usage, including a tabletop pop up tent card.

One of the client’s major concerns was that the balloons be relatively consistent in size and shape, yet show a realistic interaction. In other words this could not simply be a cloned grouping of colorful balloon shapes. So I was careful to add cast shadows along with the rendered balloon forms to add depth. A bit of see-through transparency, and a few reflections here and there, helped the overall presentation as well. The red box art was supplied by the client in a vector format, so some tweaks were added to give it dimension. Strings were done as separate layers and shaded to coincide with the balloon’s light source. And yes, there is a string for every balloon. Count them and see.

The illustrations were a big success and it was a pleasure to work with Medco to provide artwork for such a great cause.