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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Because it’s funny, that’s why! Enjoy!

LEPER CON

Go Broncos! Cartoons

While you wait, enjoy some cartoons. These two are Bronco cartoons I created during their last Superbowl run. Always experimenting, I had some fun with these.

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Because I have to knock out these cartoons as soon as possible, I utilize a technique where I pen and ink in Radiograph, and then I color with vector shape areas underneath. Often times, this technique can look mechanical if I’m not careful, so I decided to play around with an app that I have that will convert any photo into a watercolor painting. It’s a pretty awesome app, and depressing at the same time, especially if you are a landscape watercolorist.

I brought my completed vector shapes into the app, had it converted into a watercolor before reapplying it to my pen and ink.

My only issue is that it made my cartoon much darker than my original colors. Being in a hurry, didn’t want to have to lighten up my cartoon, so I went with it. The end result is what you see below.

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This next cartoon was a play on words that I thought made sense for the moment. Isaac Newton being known for hypothesizing about gravity, Cam Newton sharing the same last name, why not put the two together, highlighting Von Miller’s iconic glasses. I actually developed Bronchitis right after the Superbowl, so for three days, I was bed ridden. When I finally emerged, I wanted to knock this out as fast as possible.

I decided in order to do so, I had to simplify the values. Von Miller and the shadow he cast were to be one singular value, and the background another. Then for the people in the stands, I simply designed a quick and simple pattern that I could fill the area with. I was finally able to finish it four days after the Superbowl ended, although the idea actually came to me while lying in bed with burning lungs.

 

Zacchaeus was a wee little man…

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For those of us who grew up going to Sunday school, we’ll recall the nursery song about Zacchaeus, the Jewish tax collector mentioned in the Gospels. So when Pastor Blake at Faith Bible Chapel, Carr St, brought him up as a case study into more adult topics it made sense as a part of my note taking to doodle the scene out.

I actually do this a lot. Instead of writing words, I’ll draw out the imagery that comes to mind as I’m listening to a sermon or a lecture. Sometimes those images are very concrete, as is this one, and sometimes they are more abstract. Often times, they don’t end up mounting to much, other than pneumatic devices to help me personally remember the different points.

In this particular case, I was rather pleased with the final sketch. The actual pencil drawing was only about 4″ high at most. Since it turned out well, I decided to scan it in, at which point I felt that I could enhance it even more with some digital color overlays. Trying to force myself to play around with unique color combinations, I went with these bold, out-of-gamut colors. It was fun, turned out alright, and so I felt compelled to share.

New Year’s Cards… in the third dimension!

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In addition to my traditional, printed page, illustration work, I also am an illusionary 3D chalk artist. Yes, I’m one of those crazy guys who sits underneath blistering sun and driving rain as I try and bring my street art illustration, created in nothing more than chalk, into something that appears 3D in the camera. If you haven’t checked us out, I invite you to go to PeopleOfTheChalk.com. And while you are at it, if you know of or are in charge of an upcoming festival or event and you would like me and my team (aka, my talented artist wife) to come down and perform a custom (as in, you help choose the design) 3D chalk art piece, be sure to drop me a line and we can set that up. (*AHEM, AHEM*)

Thus, when it came time to come up with a design for my holiday card, I thought to myself, what if I could create a similar illusion, but on a smaller scale. What if those receiving the cards could take those cards, lay them flat, and then with their camera phones get a sense of that illusionary depth.

That is what I endeavored to do with this piece. Nothing is new in regards to how to set up the reverse perspective, except that instead of working in feet, I’m working in inches. I plotted out my reverse vanishing point and drew everything up on graph paper. The image below shows first how it is supposed to look when the illusion comes together, and then what it actually looks like when looking straight down on it. It’s pretty fascinating how, if you have the vanishing point in the right position, based upon the precise viewing area of the camera, the converging lines appear to look parallel.

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Next, I had to plot out the shadows. The illusions work best if you have a strong shadow pattern and it is accurate according to a given light source. Assuming that most people would be looking at these cards with a light source directly above them, I anticipated this to be the light source, moving it to the left a little to give it some visual interest. With this in mind, I plotted both a shadow vanishing point and a light source point, in reverse perspective. Then every single to corner that can cast a shadow somewhere needs to be plotted to BOTH of these points, plus additional lines drawn back to the reverse vanishing point. To see how complex that ended up being, see below.

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I took this shadow information and retraced everything onto illustration board so I could paint it traditionally. I painted a version digitally as a color study and used that as a guide as I went into this final piece.

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If all of this sounds complex, … guess what, it is. However, I understand that perspective is a type of math that can be very confusing to the lay person or the right brained artist. For that reason, I’m writing a book on perspective, designed to be very user friendly and easy to understand and use. It’s in it’s rough, rough draft stage right now, but as I continue to develop it, I’ll keep you posted.

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That’s all for now. I made a limited number of these cards, but if you send me a query from my contact page and let me add you to my email list (which I email once every seven years, I’m kind of like a comet in that regard), I’ll be sure to mail you any of the extras I have, first come, first serve.