26 December 2009

Christmas Card 2009.

I am submitting this for Illustration Friday: Trail. Forgive me if I have submitted this for another theme, I honestly can't remember if I did or not.

For the past few years I have incorporated Ranger Kent and Cowgirl Pearl (two characters my wife and I portrayed for our church's annual Vacation Bible School) into our Christmas card. This year, with the birth of our daughter Virginia, I wanted to put her in as well our dog, Charlotte. The problem I ran into was that Kent and Pearl were never married so I would have a lot of explaining to do if they showed up on the card with a baby, right? I decided to go with it anyway and added this little note on the back of the card:

Last year sometime Ranger Kent and Cowgirl Pearl got hitched and had a baby some 10 months later. Oh, and they also adopted a dog, apparently.

I hope that straightens things out kids!

As a little side note, if you go back and look at some of the illustrations I have done for Highlights this year, you can see Kent or some kind of cowboy in the illustration.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. God Bless you and your family and best wishes for a successful and healthy new year.

- Chuck, Daisy, and Virginia.

20 December 2009

O Bethlehem.

In April of 2001 I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Israel, a trip which changed my life and forever altered my appreciation of God's word for the better. This is a small excerpt from my Israel trip sketchbook, as well as my Christmas card for 2001. I hope to have my Christmas cards delivered to me by Tuesday which means I should be posting the illustration on Christmas Day at the latest. Meanwhile, enjoy and have a Merry Christmas.

Forgive the quality...

14 December 2009

Miniature Golf - January Highlights Magazine

This one took me a while. The fun part of a "What's Wrong" illustration is that you can add some pretty off the wall things but they must be obvious for the kids to get. The problem with this one (as instructed by the art director) was that miniature golf courses already have unusual things on them (windmills, etc.) so I needed to make this work in a way that still looked "wrong." I decided making a generic miniature golf course and focusing on the people and their accessories worked best, but this was after a few trial and errors.

This illustration will appear in the January issue of Highlights for Children which should be in stores now.

23 November 2009

Coming soon in Highlights...

I just received my copy of the December 2009 Highlights in which I illustrated a fun story written by Cecil Dzwowa. This is my first double page spread for Highlights so it was really nice to work on using all that space.

Also, I recently completed some big illustrations for the back cover of the upcoming issues of Highlights magazine's "What's Wrong?" feature (see below). Look for them in the February and (I think) March issues. Here's a sneak peek at a couple of the "wrong" things.

With the Holidays coming I'm sure all the little ones on your gift list would love a subscription to Highlights or High Five.

13 November 2009

Virginia Paige

On Tuesday November 3rd at 10:54 pm my lovely wife, Daisy, gave birth to our daughter Virginia Paige weighing in at 6 pounds 9 ounces and 20 inches long. Virginia is in perfect health and Daisy is recovering nicely. We're the happiest we could ever be.

25 October 2009

Ilustration Friday: Fast

In the little river town of Delanco, New Jersey (where I had the pleasure of living for 8 years) is the Holiday Skating Rink. Older costumed roller skaters come from miles around one Tuesday night a month to roller skate to the organist's music (yes, they still have an organist- one of the few in the country to still have one). One night I accompanied a friend and was amazed to see just how good these folks were. I was simply shocked at how fast they were roller skating all the while doing their fancy dance moves. It was captivating to watch, especially when the couples would "roller dance." They would move in flawless unison to the music. One woman tried to teach me but I was hopeless. I met with a few of them and sat back and sketched them as they whizzed by me.

21 October 2009

Latest Art Student

At my height I am often mistaken for a student, especially in the beginning of the year by the Freshman. When I first started teaching it was a struggle for me to maintain respect and discipline the students. Short people simply do not get the respect that tall people get and I'm okay with it, it's just a fact of life.

Let me share one of my experiences with you:

Once, after a long day of teaching, I was on the train drawing and the elderly woman sitting next to me asked if I was an art student.
"No," I kindly replied, "I'm actually an art professor."
To which she responded, "Well, you don't LOOK like a professor."
So I quickly said with a smile, "Well. you don't look like a rude person but here we are!"
I followed it with a laugh and thankfully she laughed with me. What a funny memory for both of us.
You really can say anything with a smile.

16 October 2009

IF: Frozen

I did this back in 2006 for the Philadelphia Zoo's Big Cat Falls exhibit. There was some signage there with some corny kid's jokes in which this one asked, "What kind of treat do cats like on a hot day?" The answer, of course, is "Mice Cream Cones." Laugh hysterically.

13 October 2009

Now available...

Two of my pieces were published this month. The first here is in this month's Highlights High Five and the second is on the back cover of this month's Highlights for Children. See? I'm not a liar.

05 October 2009

Autumn Leaf Kite

Several years ago I had a dream in which a young version of myself was flying a leaf as a kite. I sketched it out and it sat in my sketchbook until now. Since Autumn was upon us and I had a little extra time I wanted to finally make this into a finished piece.

28 September 2009

Illustration Friday: Pattern

I hope this fits into this weeks IF theme. Ever since they asked that we strictly follow the rules (something I am all for) I have second guessed every submission. My point is that I'm not too sure if this one fits, but it does have a good amount of pattern to it. I know we may be looking for something deeper but this is all I've got.

I did this back in 1993 for one of my Junior classes at Hussian. We had to design a Marathon poster for the city of our choosing. Since Jerusalem is home to our world's three major religions I thought I'd incorporate them in as the pattern.

24 September 2009


I did this years ago for the Philadelphia Zoo. It was the second job I completed for them I think. Anyway, enjoy it's grossness. I had fun researching the bugs and worms that lived in a compost heap. It's good that we have them around or we would all be up to our eyeballs in filth. Food for thought!

23 September 2009

Boys will be boys.

This is one of my favorite Inside Dirt comics from 1993. Every so often I would make a comic in which the main characters would be their younger selves. Doing so would allow me to illustrate some memories from my childhood. In this case it was based on my two older brothers, Mike and Dan, who would spend hours building intricate models and soon thereafter would go find something flammable in the garage and set it on fire. Our unsupervised single Mom lifestyle taught us many things about combustibles and I'm sure it brought much joy to the hearts of our neighbors.

20 September 2009

Vincent VanGroening.

Just to warn you I am probably going to be uploading a lot of my old stuff on the blog here. This week I started the process of moving my studio to the third floor to make room for our baby. With any move I usually take it as an opportunity to purge some unwanted art (mostly unworthy sketches) and along the way I discover some stuff that I forgot about or simply haven't looked at in years.

In this case, in what has become a very common art school assignment, I took the VanGogh painting, Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle and turned it into a portrait of Madame Marge Simpson and Baby Maggie. The idea was to copy the style of an accomplished painter in order to learn about their technique and color sense. For what ever reason we were instructed to add some pop culture into the mix.

The original Van Gogh painting is below. I felt like I never really got the technique down since VanGogh worked in oils and I had to work in acrylics.

PS: My wife hates both of these paintings and I am a little tired of holding on to mine. The first person to contact me gets it for free so long as you agree to pay postage and handling or you can come to my house and pick it up. If you come to pick it up I'll throw in a house tour and we can take my dog for a walk. I live in East Philadelphia, also known as Southern New Jersey.

14 September 2009

Morning Exercise.

Our little dog Charlotte just graduated to being let loose from her leash occasionally and we're really enjoying it.

11 September 2009

Illustration Friday: Welcome

I did this colored pencil piece back in 1993 for our Media Techniques class taught by the great Jim Souder.

My thoughts behind this were that while it is truly wonderful to be outside playing in the snow all day, there is also nothing quite like returning to the warmth of your home where Mom was usually making tomato soup and grilled cheese.

I remember at the time of making this illustration that I was experimenting with the coloring pencil technique of self taught illustrator and Caldecott Winner, Stephen Gammell.

10 September 2009

The best part of my job.

The best part of my job is learning about how things work. It's not often I get jobs like this but when I do I always try to go on location and see the machinery (or animals as well) in motion. In this case I had to go to the local Occupational Training Center's recyling plant and see how recycling is sorted. Besides the melodious smell I found the trip to be very educational and downright fun.

Below is the trammel screen that sorts out the broken glass.

This next one fascinated me. The spinning drum puts out a charge that repels the aluminum but magnetizes the steel/tin while leaving the trash to fall straight down. Brilliant. It was fun to watch the aluminum "jump."

This high velocity fan blows the light plastic and aluminum while the heavy glass drops down.

And of course, here is the aluminum compactor. It was fun to paint all of those cans.

All of these were used as signage in the plant (with some text) to help explain to tour groups how everything worked.

08 September 2009

Little Bird

I recently finished this Hidden Picture for Highlights High Five. It will be featured in the February issue's "My First Hidden Pictures" which are hidden pictures designed to be easier for younger kids and they are also accompanied with a poem. This was my first time coloring one of my hidden pictures. I have been experimenting with a colored pencil Photoshop technique and decided to try it out for this illustration.

Look for the following objects:
Magic wand, birthday cake, mitten, spool of thread, ruler, pencil, eyeglasses, and a tea cup.

There were many changes to the original sketch (the one posted above is actually the second revision). You can see in the sketch how the window was changed to make it easier for the younger kids to "read." My technique in making a hidden picture is usually to make a purposefully busy composition and then find the objects in the sketch with some manipulation. With this one I felt I really had to pull back and simplify which was much easier on my brain.

Below is the line art minus the bird. The bird was done separately so I could control the depth/color of the line in the finish.

High Five is a beautifully illustrated/written magazine. Click here to get a subscription.

31 August 2009

Moonless Night.

I got some work done early today so I decided to quickly color this piece from my Adirondack sketchbook.

Adirondack sketchbook.

Daisy and I vacationed in the Adirondacks (specifically the Lake Placid and Saranac areas) and here are a few pages from my sketchbook. I foolishly started it in very thin pen (01 or 02) and felt like I had to stick with it. Please be kind while looking at these, I did them without any pencil and I have done no spelling or fact checks so I may come across as an idiot.

After watching the olympic Aerialists train and do their show, I had some of them autograph my sketchbook (below). I thought it was pretty funny that the only one to sign the actual drawing was a bob sledder who just happened to be there that day.

I later found out this bird below was actually a Chickadee.

I actually did the below sketch on a return trip from DC. I quickly drew people as the zoomed by us. It was a fun exercise so I thought I'd throw it in here.

I can't remember why I drew these bears. I was probably wishing I was in Yellowstone, which is how I spend a good 25% of each day.