Interior Illustrations for the Labyrinth of Flame

Last year I had the very good fortune to be asked to create interior illustrations for Courtney Schafer's book "The Labyrinth of Flame". This was the third book of a trilogy and, as such, Courtney wanted it to be something special. It's long been an ambition of mine to do interior illustrations, so I was thrilled to be asked to help bring Courtney's story to life. The world and characters she's created are richly developed and her storytelling fast paced and thrilling.  Illustrators don't always end up working with stories they would read anyways, but is It was a true pleasure to become absorbed with Courtney's adventure during this process. I'm truly grateful for her and her fans for supporting this project and my involvement.  You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Gorgeous cover by  David Palumbo

Gorgeous cover by David Palumbo

And here are a few of the thumbnails:

Month of Love 2015

Well another February has ended which means I have a bunch of new art from the 3rd annual Month of Love challenge!

A few things changed this year. I made a new website and switched platforms to Tumblr, which I think looks much nicer for our purposes. It was a really great year with some of the best overall quality of art yet! You can check out all the beautiful work, the challenges and the stories at http://monthofloveart.com/



I am also pleased that we were able to partner with Every Day Original this year and offer many of our originals for sale in one place! You can check them out at http://www.everydayoriginal.com/month-of-love/

Without further ado: here are my favorite pieces from this year's challenge:

Lady Nautilus and Companion
for the "Love is all Around" challenge
5 x 7 oil on panel
available for purchase from Every Day Original

"Lilith"
For the "Forbidden Fruit" challenge
5 x 7 oil on panel
available for purchase from Every Day Original 



"Halloween Jack"
For the "Diamonds" challenge
Watercolor

"Calamity's Child"
For the "Diamonds" challenge
Watercolor

"The Wolf and the Lamb"
For the "Love your Neighbor" challenge
16 x 20
charcoal
Some favorites by my friends. Clockwise from top left:
  Goni Montes, Wylie Beckert, Winona Nelson, Angela Rizza, Carly Mazur 

Adventures in Charcoal - Prologue

Minotaur quickie sketch
powdered charcoal, charcoal pencil

Let me start by saying I love the internet. Social Media, while still massively flawed in many ways, does make it so easy to share information instantly and start a conversation with a ton of people.  A few weeks ago I put out a call on Facebook for input on charcoal brands. I've been loving the charcoal lately and  now that I am getting more comfortable with it, decided I needed to do some serious testing of the different options to up my game. Namely I wanted to find a charcoal with a smoother and more consistent application than what I have been using.   I got some great suggestions and immediately took advantage of all the Dick Blick back to school sales and free shipping to fill out my burnt wood collection. Charcoal is a very tricky mistress. She's messy and flexible which is what makes her fun but a little hard to control sometimes. 

So in the spirit of art and the scientific method: I bring you Adventures in Charcoal! (feel free to hum some dramatic music)

Here are a bunch of my new (and some old)  toys I will be playing with :

It's like Christmas! I must have been very, very naughty to get all this coal. 

 The new players: 

Alphacolor charkoles recommended by Bill Carman

Coates recommended by Scott  and Teresa Fischer


Pan Pastels recommended by Eric Braddock and Dale Stephanos
Eric used these on his amazing Lord of the Rings drawings.

Nitram recommended by Robert Hunt

I really wanted to play with some of those big sticks, so tried out a quick experiment with the Nitram charcoals right away with this self portrait below.


Self Portrait
18 x 24
nitram charcoal on 300 series Strathmore charcoal paper
Right off the bat I noticed that the Nitram holds onto the paper better than a typical vine charcoal.  Often I prefer the 300 series charcoal pad from Strathmore because it has slightly less tooth and so I can float the charcoal on top a little easier, move it around with a brush or chamois and erase to white. The flipside to that is building up darks gets tricky. But with the Nitram I can build it up a bit thicker, get some darker colors and still erase. It doesn't go on quite as smooth as a soft vine charcoal but is still pretty consistent. Plus the larger. firmer sticks really lend themselves to filing into useful shapes which I will discuss more in a later post.

Over the next several weeks I will be experimenting with all of these more and posting my results. So please stay tuned and let me know if you have your own tips and tricks!