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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

b-hummel-portfolio-art2 b-hummel-portfolio-art3 b-hummel-portfolio-art

Two to Tango

Originally inspired by a challenge prompt: shoes. There is a part of me that really enjoys jazz music of all flavors and the coordinated dance that accompanies it. Seems like once every four or five years I do a piece similar to this, although each time significantly better.

This piece is a practice and exploratory piece, as I played around with color, application of media, and the pushing and pulling of background vs foreground elements. This piece was a sample piece of the method and style I’m thinking about painting for an upcoming children’s book. (Oops, did I say that out loud? Well, the rest of the details about this book are proprietary, that’s the only hint you’re getting for now…)

Yes, I burned through a lot of detail brushes in the process. But it was worth it.


Turning 40.


I belong to an illustration challenge group, and every week they have a different topic. I do not always get the opportunity to participate, as my schedule is very full, but every once in a while I’ll be inspired. The word for this cartoon was “mirror.”

Deciding to focus on the duplicitous meaning of the word, to look back, I tried to mirror not only the characters, but perhaps their shared discoveries across the years.

This was a piece in which I challenged myself to try and create the same character both as a fourteen year old boy and as a forty year old man. This utilizes a technique called character aging, and I’m rather happy with the results.

CardIsle is currently selling this card. If you are in the Virginia or Oregon area, you can order this design as a birthday card online, and go to any CardIsle kiosk to pick it up. Follow the link here: https://www.cardisle.com/shop/#/selection?artist=Painting%20for%20Life®.

Basic perspective drawing… made easy and fun!

Stay informed about the progress of the Perspective Book.

* indicates required

I’m writing a book!

My own personal learning challenges coupled with in class experience led me to develop a unique and fun technique for teaching perspective, a method that cements these concepts into a beginning artist’s mind. In class successes proved my techniques to be highly effective, therefore, I decided to start putting them down into a book.

Educational Philosphy

My personal educational philosophy is this: Education should be both informative AND entertaining. That is the approach I take when teaching, and that is the approach of the book. I sprinkle my lectures with visual gags, running jokes, and stupid puns, but between those I weave in the concepts of perspective, focusing on the “why it works.” I truly believe that once you understand the “why,” remember the steps of the “how” become a lot easier.

For more info, sign up for the email list

This has been a project that I’ve been picking at for a few years now, remaining back burner until now. As I have been working on it, many of you expressed great interest in wanting to stay informed about this project and perhaps getting a copy of it when it is finished. My plans are to get enough chapters written and illustrated so that I can then pitch it a publishing company. When it is finally published, I will absolutely let everybody know, along with any book signings, talks, or other related ventures. So, please, please, please, sign up below! I will only send emails out in regards to the status of the book. But if I have enough individuals on the list, that will be a draw for potential publishers.

Everybody who joins the email list will receive a free gift! I will send them a chapter from the book, complete with all the illustrations, in PDF form.

Perspective books are usually two of three things: thorough, illustrative, and entertaining. Some books have great visuals, but not a lot of copy to explain exactly what is going on in the diagrams. Some thorough with both copy and visuals, but were dry to read, and boring. And some had great visuals and were entertaining, but the book’s organization made it difficult to follow. My book will be the successful culmination of all three: thorough, illustrative, and entertaining.