Goodbye Old Friend

A week ago my dear old dog and friend Marcus passed away. He was a spirited, ornery as hell wire haired fox terrier who had been a close part of my life for 17 years. My wife and I called him one of our “protochildren” (along with two cats), our kids before we had kids. I’ll miss him dearly! If you look at many MANY of my old paintings and illustrations, you’ll find him.

This is very VERY accurate representation of Marcus’s personality.

This is very VERY accurate representation of Marcus’s personality.

A painting from a board book made many years ago staring Marcus.  You’ll be missed, buddy!

A painting from a board book made many years ago staring Marcus. You’ll be missed, buddy!

Alternate cover for Field Trip to the Moon

So right before I turned in the final art for Field Trip to the Moon, I had an idea for an alternate cover. It featured the class and space station more, and the bus less. Basically I just really thought the station should look like it spins to make artificial gravity. The editor passed on it, which I agree with, but I still like the way it looks.

This sketch show an alternate cover design showing the kids departing a station that spins to make artificial gravity.

This sketch show an alternate cover design showing the kids departing a station that spins to make artificial gravity.

And this sketch shows what that station looked like from space. The scale of it is much more enormous than the station used on the title page of Field Trip to the Moon.  See below.

And this sketch shows what that station looked like from space. The scale of it is much more enormous than the station used on the title page of Field Trip to the Moon. See below.

This is the final art of the version used.

This is the final art of the version used.


Busy Artsy City

I need to make a fun illustration about how Kansas City is a town of arts and big ideas. Should I focus on the visual arts? performing arts? First Fridays? architecture? the loved/loathed shuttlecocks and sky stations?  Yes.  

So this one is a bit busy, but I like to think its fun and vibrant too.  That's what I tell myself anyways.

Lunch at the fountain

The boy before being asked to vacate the premises.

The boy before being asked to vacate the premises.

Originally there was a boy walking on the ledge of the fountain in this illustration. After awhile I began to feel like he was paintingbombing (like photobombing but more 14th century). The copy is about the fountain and he was right in front of it breaking up the lines so I removed him.  Poor kid. I feel like I ran him off. I should make another illustration showing him sulking away carrying a skateboard and giving me the finger.


Paris of the Plains and KC Cable Cars

This look like a loud and smelly place to have tea.

This look like a loud and smelly place to have tea.

So this illustration plays off the idea of Kansas City being a Paris of the Plains.  I always thought Paris of the Plains referred to KC in its youth being a cultural hub and bustling city on the plains. Then I read it referred to the fact that KC is second only to Paris in miles of boulevards and parkways.  Next I read it referred to the decadent prohibition era of Boss Tom Pendergast, when KC was a city that never slept.  Well I've come to realize its all those things so it doesn't really matter.  Also with all the recent Cuba hubub I heard Havana being referred to as the Paris of the Western Hemisphere it became clear that its  just one of those phrases people like to throw around to classy something up.  It must be good to be Paris!  

So anyways for this illustration we opted to go with a bustling downtown scene from the turn of the last century.  The centerpiece is a cable car running down 9th street. I knew Kansas City had a huge network of street cars but until recently I had no idea about the cable cars!  What's the difference you ask?  Well, cable cars get their locomotion by gripping an always-moving cable located in a slot centered between the rails (think San Francisco trolleys).  Street Cars are powered by electric motors which get their electricity from a grid of wires suspended above the road.  The cable lines had a short, but extensive run here in town.  In fact, at one time KC had the 3rd biggest network of cable cars in the country.  Its like we were the San Francisco of the Midwest!  See, I don't know about that kind of phrasing.  Its like saying "Hey!  You're like that other guy who does that thing better!"

For the final I went with a grip car pulling a trailer.  The grip car is the open car.

For the final I went with a grip car pulling a trailer.  The grip car is the open car.

KC - Town of arts and big ideas

Here is another rough sketch for the KC project. Deciding the best way to illustrate how KC is a town of arts and big ideas was a bit of a challenge. In this sketch I wanted to try out a bustling First Friday feel with the Kauffman Center for the Performing arts in the background.  I always want to call it the Kauffman Performing Arts Center.  Seems like better economy of words. Haha me talking about economy of words! 

Anyways I'm excited.  I think I'm caught up enough on projects to get some make up sleep tonight.  Hmm, I'm realizing that my make up sleep is still less than most peoples normal sleep. But I'll take it! 

Rooting for the home team - Rough sketch examples

Here's a couple more illustrations for this Kansas City project. If there's one thing KC has in spades, its passion for our teams.  I shouldn't phrase it like that.  There's certainly more than one thing we have. Did I ever mention we have Tacos In A Tub? Tacos. In a tub. That's right. SO let me start over.  

PROMINENT in the long list of awesome things about Kansas City (including tubs full of tacos) is our passion for our sports teams. We have some of the best fans in the country - be it football, baseball, soccer, or college basketball - people here can't get enough. And they're good fans too. Go to a Chiefs game wearing a Raiders jersey and you'll still get offered brats, beer and ribs in the parking lot.  Then again if you're a Raiders fan you might want to keep an eye on that Brat during its journey from the grill to your hand.  Just saying I can't speak for everyone.

The point of this sketch was to put the emphasis on the excitement and experience of the crowd more so then the teams.  I love our major teams, but I swear you could go to a chess tournament or a curling match in this town and still find people tailgating in the parking lot and lovingly yelling expletives inside.  Its an awesome place to be a fan and we're always ready to root for the home team.


City of Fountains

So what is the best fountain to capture the spirit of this "City of Fountains?"  Is it the epic, classical JC Nichols fountain so often seen in file footage used by the local news?  Or is it a more modest and personable fountain? Perhaps something you pass on your walk to work where you can stop and eat a sandwich?  Maybe it's that fountain the kids can play in without getting yelled at?....while you eat a sandwich. I guess in the end I just wanted to sketch a place for some lady to eat a sandwich.

Kansas City BBQ and the Meat Sweats

Kansas City is famous for its BBQ which is often associated with a sweet, spicy sauce. For me its associated with the meat sweats.  What are the meat sweats you ask?  Well, the meat sweats are a phenomena  experienced when one consumes way too much meat.  Its not a typical sweat like you'd have on a hot day after running a few miles.  Oh no.  Its a clammy, gross, strange protest of the body.   Meat sweats are like an indication of my primal instincts gone wrong.  If I lived ten thousand years ago and successfully hunted a wooly mammoth, I'd think, "I'm going to eat as much as I can because who knows when the next successful hunt will be!"  Well my barely evolved brain still thinks that way despite the fact that I don't have to don a loin cloth and have badass atlatl skills in order to assure my next dose of protein.  So now when I get that strange  perspiration of gluttony, I remind myself that I don't need to eat the whole animal and  Its okay to take a break and eat some celery.  Now where's the ranch dressing?

Next time: Ranch Dressing Seizures

I really should have used this space to talk about the awesomeness of KC BBQ instead of my perspiration issues.  Ah well.

Here is a rough sketch of a Kansas City BBQ scene based on the atmosphere of the American Royal BBQ Competition.


The Town of Kansas...and Westport

Here are some sketched ideas for the first illustration of a new mystery project.  OooOOo a mystery! I will say this - its about Kansas City!  I'm having a blast with it and learning a lot about the area.  And when I say I'm learning a lot its not code for "I reluctantly did boatloads of mind numbing research".  Honestly I'm having a hard time putting down  the books and keeping myself from taking too many "research" road trips around town.

One thing I've begun to unravel is the relationship Westport had with Kansas City.  I just figured settlers got off their horses two centuries ago and said "Here we shall make thy bar district!  Jebediah! Thou quaffs ale like a Puritan!"  Not so!  Turns out it was a small town where people would set off on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails.  It was a Port to the West.  Which makes sense because it always baffled me why a town five miles from the river would have "port" in the name.

Well.  It kind of turned out to be a river port too.  There was a nice rock landing on the Missouri 5 miles north of Westport.  It was nicer and less prone to becoming a muddy nightmare then the popular landing in Independence, and since it was further west it would shave off overland time for settlers making the wagon journey across the country. So a road was cleared from Westport  to the rock landing. (That road pretty much ran the path of modern day Broadway.)  Well, that landing got to be pretty popular and a town company was formed to purchase and develop the area around it. Hence the Town of Kansas was formed, having narrowly escaped being called Rabbitville, Possom Trot, or Fondas something or another. It grew up quickly and Voila!  BBQ and Jazz!  Okay there was a lot in between but its late and I need sleep. 

A family staging in Westport for the journey...well...west.

A family staging in Westport for the journey...well...west.

Early pioneers in a keelboat approach the small settlement of Kawsmouth

Early pioneers in a keelboat approach the small settlement of Kawsmouth

Meh

Meh