It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Character Sketches

Here are some character sketches for a children's book I have been working on, "Piewacket, Ship's Cat of Salem". My wife Amy wrote the story, and she has been trying to get me to illustrate it for months. The story is about a ship's cat on board the Friendship, an early 19th century merchant ship that sailed from Salem, to Sumatra and other ports of call in southeast Asia, to trade for pepper and other spices. It was not uncommon for ships to have a ship's cat, in order to keep the rats and mice from eating or destroying the cargo. The cat in the story is based on our own cat Piewacket, who is a very large Russian Gray. The story is finished, but the artwork is definitely a work-in-progress. The top sketch is of the two main characters, Piwacket the cat, and Thomas, the cabin boy. Below are sketches for the Captain, a ship's rat, the Farmer, who brings the cat to the Friendship, and the First Mate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Anyone who has known me for any amount of time, realizes that I hardly ever leave home without a tiny sketchpad and a pen. Most of my drawing for the last few years has been done in a series of small memo books 4.25" x 2.75", filled with plain white paper.
The size is unobtrusive, and will fit in almost any pocket nicely, and can travel anywhere. I have always liked drawing small anyway. I buy plain white paper memo pads from CVS and cut them to size.

I also use the best pen ever made, it is a Mitsubishi UM-151, a uniball pen with extremely black, nearly-waterproof, archival ink and a .028" tip. They are not available at your local stationary store and had to be ordered from Japan through I covet these pens, and love drawing with them.

I will also sometimes carry a small Windsor Newton watercolor kit, which is compact, self-contained, and very versatile. That means I can do small, quick sketches almost anywhere.

Here are some sketches that I did recently of the Iris Apfel show at the Peabody Essex Museum using this method.

Naughty and Nice

Here is a poster I just completed for the Salem Theatre Company. It is for their Christmas Repertory show, Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales" (NICE) and "The Eight:The Reindeer Monologues" (NAUGHTY). The challenge was to come up with an attention-getting poster/image that would represent both shows without being offensive,
or misleading. Since everyone I know is having a difficult time financially this year, I thought that the lump of coal in the stocking image was appropriate. I just wish I had put "AIG" or "Wall Street" on the stocking.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

20,000 Leagues

I have always been a big fan of Disney's 1954 film version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I don't think there have been any subsequent versions that can touch it in terms of performance; James Mason's elegant and tortured Nemo, or in terms of production design; Harper Goff's design for the Nautilus is still a marvel 55 years later. I was able to see a technicolor print of the movie on the big screen at the Harvard Film Archive last year, and it still holds up remarkably well. My obsession with this movie finds its way into sketches, doodles and an occasional painting. Here is a color sketch that I did recently of Nemo on the Nautilus. It might end up as a painting someday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Graphic Novel Anyone?

Some work in my "not paying now but maybe someday" category. Some thumbnails for a page from a proposed graphic novel about WWI-era subchasers. Wooden fore-runners of the PT boat that were built specifically to hunt and destroy Nazi subs.

Latest Project

Finally getting around to starting a blog. Thought i would start with my latest work, a poster for the Mugford Street Players production of "The Trip to Bountiful" at the Little Theatre (Firehouse) in Marblehead. It was done in watercolor on illustration board. The original is about 11x17.