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The Picture of Oscar Wilde

Here is the third in a series of three images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—specifically for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast is stars from the recent and distant past. I showed you Sarah Bernhardt. and Jim Morrison. Here now is Oscar Wilde.

By the way, this painting and the two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this evening and continues through July 20th.

Jim Morrison

Here is the second in a series of three images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—specifically for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast is stars from the recent and distant past. Yesterday I showed you Sarah Bernhardt. Here is Jim Morrison—sketches and final painting. I can’t seem to find work-in-progress photos for this one. I must have forgotten to take them. You’ll notice that instead of thumbnail sketches I’ve done gesture sketches of these characters. I was trying to capture their attitude as well as likeness.

By the way, this painting and the two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this Friday evening.

UPDATE! The final color painting is up for auction on eBay this week (November 17-23, 2014). It’s beautifully framed and ready to hang.

The Divine Sarah

This past January I had the pleasure of creating images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—this time for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast of characters is 6 stars from the recent and distant past. Art Director Paul Schifino asked me to create stand-alone caricatures of 3 of them: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt. Here are sketches, painting-in-progress and the finished art of the Divine Sarah.

By the way, this painting and two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this Friday evening.

Here’s Charlie

Twenty-fourteen is a big year here in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It was 100 years ago, just a couple of doors up from my studio address, that Charlie Chaplin signed his first movie deal with Mack Sennett. Charlie was performing at the Lyric Theater with Fred Karno’s comedy troupe and met Sennett in between acts to sign the contract. Here’s a detailed account of Charlie’s early career.

I was approached by the Friends of the Library to create a stand-alone cut-out of Charlie. They wanted him big—8 feet tall. I went over to the library to see where Charlie would be installed and discovered that there is not very much floor space but there is ample height—the main floor’s ceiling is about 16 feet high. I scrapped the drawing I’d done of Charlie standing and drew Charlie suspended, using his cane as a hook. I think this pose fits his acrobatic style.

I enlarged my drawing onto pieces of foam board. The project is 3 ply, so that I could paint front & back without it warping. His arm has a center of plywood and his cane itself is 3 pieces of plywood laminated together, since it supports the whole piece.

He is painted with acrylic in black & white, of course!

hangingcharlie.front

More Mummy cover sketches

Back cover of Where’s My Mummy?—working out some sketch ideas, followed by the layout for the entire jacket.  When an art director sends me a layout (sketch & text together in one piece of art) she’s telling me to go ahead and start painting.

Dear T Rex cover

My computer had a nervous breakdown in March and I thought I’d lost all my images from this title, Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Here are some that follow the development of the cover art I found on a disk.

The story’s about a girl who sends a T Rex an invitation to  her sixth birthday party.  The first sketch is for front & back cover, showing T Rex opening the invite in his museum.  Next is the painting with more background on the left side, including the security guard.

The art director wasn’t happy with this image, and suggested something simpler.  Here’s the sketch and the painting.

Return of the Wizards

Way back when I was a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a bunch of us got together and founded a society devoted to nothing more than throwing parties.  This was back before cable tv, gameboys, x-boxes, iPods—so we had to amuse ourselves.  Back in these primitive times, when boys and girls wanted to meet, we’d go to parties and dance around and listen to music—which had been recorded on records, and played on a turntable. We hosted these parties on the Duquesne University campus, at the Pittsburgh Elks Club (a beautiful beaux-arts building now demolished), aboard a riverboat, or anywhere else that would have us.

Anyway, being art students and crazy for anything that smacked of sword ‘n’ sorcery, we called ourselves the Wizards.  We’re having a reunion in August, and I’m putting together an illustration to commemorate the event.  Here’s the sketch.

Jacket art for Famous Nini

Of all the images for a picture book, the jacket art gets the biggest going-over.  I sent 4 rough thumbnail ideas to Kerry Martin, the senior design editor (in the olden days there was an art director and an editor; Kerry’s title reflects the melding of those 2 positions over the years).  Number 2 was chosen—the silhouette of the gondola makes a nice graphic shape—and I worked up a tight sketch.  You can see the painting in progress.  I liked the idea of a nighttime scene, with Venice reflected in the canal.  Next, the comprehensive layout—or ‘comp’—with the sketch and the type combined.  Originally I was to hand-letter the title type, but the treatment Kerry came up with looks so good we all agreed not to mess with it.  Finally, the finished illustration.

L’Imperatore d’Etiopia

The Famous Nini is due out June 7, but Amazon.com already has copies available.

A scene I particularly like: the Emperor of Ethiopia arrives in Venice to visit Nini the famous cat. Here’s the thumbnail sketch—

Here is the sketch, built from the thumbnail.  I envisioned the Emperor and his daughter traveling from their ship up the canal via a royal gondola, like the one the Doge used. That’s Verdi top right, with some Carnivale party-goers (they look a little somber—the princess is tragically mute).  I tricked out the gondola with some African style pelts, but my art director felt a tiger-skin would be out-of-place in a cat-lover’s book.

The Doge's gondola

Emperor Menelik

…and more pirates