Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake is one of my favorite illustrators.
He can be so darn expressive with just a few lines.
The more I experiment with my work, the more I would love it to become simpler and more Quentin Blake and a handful of other illustrators whose work I find deceptively simple.


Here is an interview Stuart Jeffries did with Quentin Blake in the Friday, September 28th edition of The Guardian.

Additional Links:
Also, you may enjoy perusing Quentin Blake's website.
He's got lots of things there, including a video showing him work in his studio and "The Story of a Book," you can watch Quentin Blake’s creative process within his book, "Cockatoos" where you can see drawings from roughs to finished pages.

A little heartbreak.

I've often said how I'm looking for a paper that doesn't buckle as easily as the current stuff I use. I found a watercolor board that is just fantastic to work on. It's THICK! It just seems to scan a lot "dingier" than my strathmore imperial hot press, making it somewhat less useful to me. Bummer. -Wes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

She's Green

Another warm-up sketch of a character I'm working on.

Ink and watercolor on cold-pressed Arches, 140 lb.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Warm-up Sketches

Here are a couple of warm-up sketches I did this week.

Ink and watercolor on bristol board

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Smelling the pines.

There are some attempts at gouache in here along with the more transparent watercolor. -Wes

Monday, September 24, 2007


This is a quick sketch I found while looking through my sketchbook.

Ink and watercolor, Holbein sketchbook

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Just wanted to take a moment and say Thanks to all you folks who take the time to come visit our humble blog. I hope we occasionally are able to make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blow Me Down!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Click here for information on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Try it out:

All Hands Hoay! - "All Hands on Deck!", everyone on the ship called to the deck, usually for action
Avast - "Avast Ye!" from the Dutch term for 'hold fast' and means "Stop and pay attention.", like, "Get a load of this."
Dungbie - rear end
Hornswaggle - To cheat or defraud, often of money or belongings
Shiver me timbers! - akin to "Blow me down!", an expression of shock or disbelief, believed to come from the sound the ship made when 'shocked' by running aground or hit by a cannon blast.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Treasure Story

Ink, watercolor, sketchbook

Here's a little sketch for a story I'm working on.

Are you ready for some ...

... football?!?

I was testing some watercolor paper for an upcoming book project and wondered what a watercolor drawing looks like on top of a photograph. Interesting. Kinda reminds me of what Mo Willems does with his Knuffle Bunny books.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Keeping the dream alive...

...sometimes means having to do you own car repairs. This one was a doozy. -Wes

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Making a Children's Book

From Nate Jensen.

Peter Reynolds

Children's author and illustrator Peter Reynolds on a public television spot.

Humble Stumble

I found this YouTube video of our ol' cartoonist buddy Roy Schneider singing the theme, I guess you'd say, for his comic strip The Humble Stumble.

Sketches of a guy

Here are a couple of quick doodles from my sketchbook.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I have a tendency to work late. Real late. When I'm on a vampire schedule it's inevitable that i will have to reset everything and a half-pill of melatonin seems to do the trick.- Wes

Days Go By

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wet Canvas

Wes, I love these fox and lizard sketches! These are some of the best characters you've done.

A couple of years ago, I got a lot out of participating in the forums at Wet Canvas, a site for artists of all different mediums. Lots of folks post their Works in Progress, and will share their techniques. I remember I got a lot out of a post in the watercolor forum that included a muralist and an architectural illustrator, and then learned more over in the portrait forum and illustration forum where someone was working on a caricature of and commissioned by Govuhnor Ahnold. It was a great resource for me and great, helpful people. They also had different places for and levels of critiquing, since sometimes we need it and sometimes we don't. Worth checking out, I think.

Do you buy your watercolor paper in large sheets? A couple of years ago the Love of My Life bought me a few sheets from Dick Blick. This might mean it could be feasible to do some sketching directly on the watercolor paper, depending one's Keeper to Krap ratio. (Judging by the ol' studio floor, I'm doing pretty well lately. But that's mostly because I would rather shave my butt than re-do a drawing.)

Just checked, and they sell ROLLS of watercolor paper. That's a new one on me. One of the rolls of 140 lb. paper is 86 smackers for a roll that's 44" X 30 feet. I'm not a math person, but that sounds like a sweet deal. Also reminds me of when I was a kid and we didn't have any paper to draw on so my uncle who worked for NCR would bring over a box of adding machine paper and I'd draw rolls of comic strips on them.

Or you could try out this 50-foot roll of rice paper on eBay for ten bucks. It says it's for watercolor and calligraphy, but I have no idea. Anybody ever work on rice paper? I've eaten it before, with those little Japanese candies where you eat the wrapper.

More sketchyness.

All my attempts to somehow transfer sketches to watercolor paper are failing. Printing directly works with landscapes, but most of these little moments will have to be redrawn. I was thinking about using a light table, but Ted had mentioned to me how the glare might interfere with the color and he's right.

There is a lot of experimentation that gets done in art that keeps all these art stores in business. How many times have I come home with a 20 dollar investment only to see it not work in the slightest. -Wes

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Miss Potter"

We watched the movie"Miss Potter" last night. It's about Beatrix Potter, who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit.

I did some research on the real Beatrix Potter afterwards to distinguish which parts of the movie were factual and which were fiction, which I find myself doing alot with these Hollywood movies that seem to dress things up for box office moolah.

It was great for its entertainment value as well as for learning a bit about one of the most remarkable women ever.
Not only was she a great children's book illustrator, she was also a great conservationist.

I'm also a big fan of "Finding Neverland," one of my favorite movies of all time. It's the wonderful story of J.M. Barrie, author of "Peter Pan."

Two great movie rentals for a rainy afternoon.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

More Dinos

Yet another dino sketch. This is kind of half-way through the drawing process I'm using for the books. First I'll try to get some good lines and balance, and then I'll tighten up the pencils. Will be coloring these digitally without inking first.

Friday, September 7, 2007

It's The Same Thing But Different

I'm probably the only one that this interests, but it's 1/3 my blog, so I'm posting it anyway. I just read that the Jack Kirby sketch I inked was used for a compilation of his Jimmy Olsen stories, and was inked by Steve Rude (Nexus). So for kicks here are the three different versions: Kirby's original sketch, finished cover inked by Steve Rude, and my version (I left out the side characters).

Want Something to Read?

I'm going to suggest a couple of books you might want to take a look at if you see them at the bookstore or your local library.

The first one is Bob Staake's picture book, "The Red Lemon."

The second book, I have NOT read yet, but it's on my list to pick up.
It's called "Squirrelly Gray" by James Kochalka of "American Elf" fame.
You can see a trailer for the book by clicking right here.

If you happen to pick up these books, I'd love to know what you think about them. Leave your thoughts in the Comments area.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I ran across some more unpublished comics. These were my part of an Incredibly Cool Project with some of the Best Cartoonists Ever... which unfortunately never got off the ground. What we needed was an Incredibly Cool Project with an Incredibly Persuasive Sales Professional. Everyone involved produced some of the best work ever, and I still feel like I let 'em all down.

Oh, Yeah??

I thought I would post something controversial to see if anybody is visiting our blog or not.

Tomatoes are not a vegetable! They are a fruit! And if you're spelling "tomatoes" without the "e," my friend, you are an illiterate boobie. I don't care what the song says.

Not only that, the banana was not always the perfect fruit it is today! It used to be tiny and MUCH more difficult for primates to peel and eat. Not the perfect fit for the hand that it is today. Not by a long shot.

Wait, I'm not done. New York Times bestsellinger Adam Rex's new novel, The Meaning of Smekday, is a complete fabrication! That's right, it's all made up! Every word! In fact, several words themselves were completely made up! Although brilliantly written and illustrated, this book is sheer entertainment, and that's it.

And one more thing. I say it's high time that women started leaving the seat up for us!


This is the Hunt 512 (right) that I used to ink Spooner. It has a "bowl" point so it's not as scratchy as many other nibs. I also used a Zebra G (center) which a friend sent me from Nippon. You can go from a very fine line to a nice wide one. Most folks thought I used a brush to ink Spooner, and that's the effect I wanted. I didn't feel qualified to use a brush, though, and still don't.
The one thing I liked about nibs is that you can put pressure on them. I like to feel that weight on the paper. However, that also puts a lot more pressure on the hand over time. Now I almost exclusively use the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (left). I've had this one since last December. I like not having to keep dipping into the ink, so I can work even faster and drying time is cut by probably 1000%.
The Superman drawing below was inked with the brush pen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

More Inking Jack Kirby

I had so much fun inking Jack Kirby's pencils a few months ago that I thought I'd try it again. Needed a break from the reg'lar stuff. I don't really do it justice, but it's fun and learnful.

Jack Kirby wasn't really known for his Superman work. When he was ready to leave Marvel, of course DC was ready to snap him up. But when he worked on Supes, they had someone else go through and re-do his face in the house style. Very weird. It would be like reading a Dr. Seuss book but all the characters have Richie Rich heads.

I'm not a huge Kirby fan, but the fundamental way he worked pretty much set the standards for comics even today. I guess this is my equivalent of sitting in front of the Mona Lisa and painting it to learn from a master. After all, the way I learned to draw was from copying everything I saw when I was a kid.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Unpublished Spooner

Not that there's anything particularly interesting about unpublished Spooner strips, since nobody has actually read all of them (except for me and my editor), but here are a couple of unpublished Spooner strips. These were actually part of my submission package to the syndicates. I'm pretty sure they're drawn on poster board, and inked with a Uniball pen and a Sharpie. Once I started actually having to draw a daily strip, I learned to ink with a Hunt 512. Much, much faster and eventually, more beautifuller.
And I'm happy to say that we're getting a house that has three bathrooms. Yes!

Just kicking it in the flowers.

This is a cute little design by my niece that has been up on my wall. I'm struck by just how perfect this little girl was drawn. The shoulder is leaning back just the right way and the purse is swinging forward. You can almost tell that there is something in the purse the way it's done. The bow is so over the top and that SMILE! I just love it. -Wes

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ichthyosaur V2

I think I had the Ichthyosaur looking too dolphin-like. I started thinking it's unlikely that it could curve it's body downward like a dolphin, as the dolphin, being a mammal, has a horizontal tail fin, and an Ichthyosaur had a vertical tail fin like fish. So I redrew the bugger, trying to get more of a sideways action while still keeping some good leaping action. I don't know if it's any better, but I think it's more accurate. Comments welcome.