Author Archive for Benjamin

New Website Makeover!

Thanks to my lovely wife, Cherish, I recently updated my website. My yellow from yesteryear had to go, but I was still able to homage the honeycomb pattern subtly in the background.

But better than that was an updated gallery function that I could add in WordPress. Now when you go to one of my illustration pages, either Color, Black and White, or Caricatures, you can actually sort by categories. Over the course of 30 years, I have created tens of thousands of illustrations, so choosing which images to go with and how to organize them has always been a challenge. This new gallery function helps with that.

Go ahead and check out the new design! I’m sure you will be pleased. I certainly am!

The Final Illustration!

As the final blots of color scumbled across the surface of the prepared board, I drew in a deep breath and closed my eyes. It is finally finished! The last illustration, DONE! Six months and twenty paintings later, and this project has finally come to a close. After the momentary time of reflection, I pumped my fist in the air and shouted a big “HOOLAH!” My cat, dozing nearby, looked up at me with strange curiosity, but then again, that’s not too unusual for her. What an amazing sense of accomplishment and achievement!

The design decision for the book was to paint all images in a sepia tone except the last spread. The analogy is, as the White House moves into the twentieth century, it suddenly becomes filled with color. For this last painting, I went with a primary color palette, filling the composition with a selection of yellows, reds, and blues. Below is the final result.

Oh, wait, you need me to move my art supplies? Oh, that’s right, this one is a surprise. If you want to see this final illustration, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book. You can pre-order by following this link here.

A Dynamo Generator

For those of you following my updates on Facebook, this blog, or Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been working feverishly on the young readers picture book titled “Lights On!”

Below is an illustration featuring Ike, Samuel, and the Navy Admiral examining an Edison Dynamo generator that was going to be utilized as the power source for the White House.

The challenging thing about this project was finding the right image to base this illustration off of. I’m not an electrical expert, especially of antique electrical systems. I had no idea what in the world this thing should look like. After googling “antique generator” I came across several images of generators. Not knowing exactly which ones were historically accurate, I came up with this design.

However, we later discovered an obscure product sales sheet of an Edison Dynamo from around 1890, and realized that this drawing, though I spent a fair amount of time perfecting the perspective, was wrong. It would have to be redone, with the correct Dynamo image.

Sometimes that’s just the way it goes in this industry. It has to be right, so that’s what I did.

By the way, pre-orders are still being taken! Order now, get free shipping and get the book personally signed by yours truly.

A Liver Transplant Journey

On March, 30 2017, Benjamin Hummel gave a candid talk about dealing with life long chronic illness, which includes ulcerated colitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, the two transplants that it resulted and his art journey during that process. This inspirational, and sometimes humorous, talk was presented to the students and faculty of the illustration department at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Below is a video of that talk.

Depth and Space

Depth and space are part of the focus of this next illustration for the Light’s On! book on which I’m currently working. In this particular case, the illustration sits opposite of a beach scene and the contrast in the story is that while the President and his family are all relaxing at a beach vacation location to avoid the sweltering Washington DC summer heat, Ike is stuck in the hot crawl spaces of the White House. This is the only illustration in which I wanted to explore an extreme top down view. I decided to add a number of vertical perspective lines receding in order to emphasize the point of view. I wanted the image to convey a sense of uncomfortable vertigo and slight claustrophobia. Since I can’t turn up the thermostat in your living room as come across this illustration, I had to try and find other ways to visually give that sense of overwhelming heat.

To the right, you can see my process. I drew Ike and the perspective on two separate layers, combined them digitally, and then retraced the completed image on board.

By the way, pre-orders are being taken! Order now, get free shipping and get the book personally signed by yours truly.

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The One Hour Caricature

When one has but one hour to pull off a caricature, what does one do? That was the issue I faced with this piece I did, minutes after the conclusion of one of the most surreal Super Bowls I have ever witnessed. My brother came up with the idea, and I immediately went to work on the pencil sketch. When I couldn’t get my scanner to work, I had to photograph it from my phone, at night. I cleaned it up as best as possible in Photoshop before applying some color overlays.

Overall, I’m happy with the likeness. Wish my scanner was working. Wish I had more time for rendering, but I wanted to get this out into the digital universe as timely as possible. I received great response from it, including a ton of “hearts” on Instagram. If you aren’t already following me on Instagram (really? why not?) I encourage you to do so @hummelillustration.

Replicating Louis Tiffany’s Masterpiece

Replicating Louis Tiffany’s masterpiece can be a challenging thing. This next illustration for the children’s book “Lights On!” illustrates Ike and Samuel walking down the Cross Hall as it might have looked in 1890. The problem is, there’s only 3 grainy photos I was able to find of the Cross Hall and the famed Tiffany glass partition that separated the Cross Hall from the entry way. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt remodeled the White House and one of the things he did was have the stained glass wall removed in order to open up the space.

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In order to make this illustration, I employed several tricks. First, I roughed up a generic point of view in my thumbnail sketches. Even though in this piece the vanishing points are really close together (much closer than would be in reality) I loved the gaping, cavernous feel it gave, so I kept the original perspective from my thumbnail sketches. (I tried a version where I “corrected” the placement of the vanishing points, and found the image to be too boring). I then gridded everything out and I aligned the columns, windows, and ceiling tiling in the grid.

Then, on a separate sheet of graph paper, I drew out the stained glass design as best as I could approximate. In Adobe Illustrator, I created a ceiling design based upon one of the photos I had. I took the flat stained glass design and ceiling design and digitally warped and fit them into my gridded perspective drawing. This was then all traced on board. For my underpainting, I separated the light areas and the shadow areas first, and then I proceeded to paint the detail inside of both. Believe me, the detail was as arduous as it looks. I labored over it, because I wanted it to have a wow factor at the end.

By the time I finished, seven days later, the paint on my palette had pretty much all dried up and my detail brushes were all shot. But, in the end, I think it’s worth it.

PS. I did not do enough research to know where the stained glass ended up, I’m guessing it’s in a museum somewhere. If you know, feel free to send me an email.

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Custom Christmas Card for BL Speer and Associates

Every year I design and illustrate custom Christmas cards for various area businesses, and one client who has consistantly been a part of that for many, many years is Ms. Speer, who also happens to be an intellectual property lawyer, specializing in the arts.

Every year, she has me depict her and her staff in some sort of outrageous and wonderfully creative scene. I’m amazed how she’s able to come up with something completely different each year.

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This year it was the Speak Easy theme, 1920s, prohibition, flapper girl, jazz.

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It’s too late this year, but if this is something you’d like for next year, be sure to let me know, oh…, about August! I book up fast.

 

This Year’s Liver Transplant Card

This year’s liver transplant card features the American bison grazing on the Colorado Front Range. As many of you know, my life from childhood has been one that deals with debilitating chronic auto-immune disabilities. One direct result of this is PSC, which ultimately destroys the liver and requires transplantation. This I endured as a 15 year old. So it is with great honor that I continue to design the annual calendar card for the great people at the University of Colorado Liver Transplant Team.

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For whatever reason, all I knew going into this painting is that I wanted to paint buffalo. And grass. Lots of grass. In my head, that’s all I saw. Unlike most pieces, I did not start with a color study and barely a rough sketch. I started with a red and brown underpainting and then I began to look for shapes and forms in my gestural brush work and started sketching out from there. When I got to the background mountains, I decided I should probably pick actual Colorado peaks, so I choose Long’s Peak. After the bison were painted in (they were the easy part), I took a breath, went “here goes nothing” and just started hacking away at the grassy areas.

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I painted the transplant ribbon on a separate canvas and merged the two digitally. I’m absolutely thrilled how it turned out! Being a freelance artist has been a blessing, allowing me to work when I have good days, and work around my rough days. And I do still have rough days. I’ll always have them. But the gift of organ donation has given me 24 additional full and powerfully rich years. I am deeply blessed.

 

Travel Back to 1890 with Me

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram (…um… if not, why? @hummelillustration), I am in the middle of illustrating a historical picture book about Ike Hoover, the young man who wired the White House for the very first time. Those familiar with my work, know my propensity toward historical illustration, and in specific, I have a tender spot for the latter Victorian/Industrial age as it emerges into the Belle Epoch era at the turn of the century. Everything about this story is tailor-fit to me and my illustration style.

The book is titled “Lights On!” It is being published by Filter Press and will be released in 2017. I have a total of 20 illustrations to complete. I’m using this opportunity to really explore what I can do with perspective, as I have been challenged with a variety of unique settings both inside and out of the White House. As the book nears completion, I’ll release other blogs about it, so stay tuned!

Like all of my work, the process is what makes the final successful. A lot of research and a lot of time spent in the preliminary stages. Here is a sneak peak of some of the illustrations, but certainly, I’ll keep posting my progress on Instagram.

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