In With the Old

This is a new piece for a book series I'm working on.  This picture, called "In the Stranger's Palace," takes place in Persia in the 11th Century. It needs a bit more work, but I'm on a short deadline with another book, so I have to put it away for now. Thought I would post it anyway.

I've been reading a few interesting non-fiction books lately.  One is  "The History of the World in 100 Objects."  It's written incredibly well by the head of the British Museum, who (as the title suggests) tells the history of civilization with 100 carefully chosen objects.  One of the objects, a tiny gold cart with tiny gold horses and riders, let's us see how sophisticated Persia was 2500 years ago. In so many ways, we humans have not changed much, only our technology makes us think we have.

Happy New Year! Let's hope it's a good one.


The Way We Were

I've just been reading some books by the painter, Eric Sloane.  He was even better with pen and ink.  He illustrated and wrote a series of books about life in the 18th and19th C. that are full of beautiful diagrams of tools, machinery and trees. In "A Reverence for Wood" he explains the proper way to dismantle a barn... (don't just knock it down with a tractor !) He also writes about how back in the day, people knew how to get along with the environment so much better than we do now (even though we think we are so smart).  They are great little books:
Once Upon a Time: The Way America Was
A Reverence for Wood
A Celebration of Bells
I just unearthed this painting I did a while ago, which also takes place in late early 1900s (and it involved a barn.) I like the way the colors came out.


Artists of Deception

This book I designed and co-authored.  It's based upon the exhibit I co-curated with Rick Beyer, who has been researching this unique WWII outfit for his documentary film, called "The Ghost Army." It will be released next year.  My father was in this outfit, along with many other artists, including Bill Blass and Ellsworth Kelly.  Three cartoonists: Victor Dowd, Bob Boyajian and Roy Harford, who worked worked on Captain Marvel and many other comics before and after the war, were also in this outfit.

"We were sleeping in hedgerows and foxholes, but nothing kept us from going someplace to do a watercolor" John Jarvie, 603rd

They were all sent to Europe armed with rubber tanks, phony artillery, and sound effects in order to deceive the enemy. They also brought along their sketchbooks and painted their way across Europe.  This 48 page paperback, printed by Sotheby's, is jam packed with photos, drawings and stories of their unique adventure.  For more info about the Ghost Army visit Ghostarmy.org. To see more pages and to order this book visit Amazon. 


The Halloween Tree

Sly does it, Tiptoe catspaws.  Slide and creep.
But why? What for? How? Who? When!
Where did it all begin? 
'You don't know, do you?'
asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud 
climbing out under a pile of leaves under 
the Halloween Tree.
'You don't REALLY know!'
The stars they turn, the candles burn
And the mouse-leaves scurry on the 

cold wind borne,
And a mob of smiles shine down on thee 

From the gourds hung high on the Halloween Tree.
The smile of the Witch, and the smile of the Cat, 
The smile of the Beast, the smile of the Bat,
The smile of the Reaper taking his fee,  

All cut and glimmer on the Halloween Tree... 

© 1972 Ray Bradbury 


In the Attic of the Museum

Some of my earliest memories of jaw-dropping murals and paintings of the natural world are of visiting the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.  I always wanted to paint murals like that, although I never pursued it.

The Museum is currently refurbishing their Hall of Mammals, including all those beautiful dioramas that have inspired and enchanted so many of us. Last week we had a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mammal Department including the dioramas they are working on.  With the glass removed, the animals seemed ready to pounce.  The animals were getting their fur touched up, ears adjusted, noses re-glazed, and the plants were being being repainted in spots. We also went to the research offices and storage rooms where  hallways are lined with skeletons of every kind of mammal on earth, from a tiny leaping fairy-size mammal (that I forgot the name of) to giant skulls of elephants that lined an attic room.  I never realized how many species of animals there are.  I also never realized how many  artists work at the Museum.  Next time I'm bringing my sketchbook.

Above is a book jacket I just finished, and at left is a luscious new book about the making of the ANMH dioramas, called Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural Historyby Stephen Quinn, Senior Exhibition designer at AMNH. It's on my wish list!


Next in the Series

My newest book has just been published: The Very Little Princess: Rose's Story (Random House).  It is the second in the series about an uppity doll and the befuddled girl who befriends her.  It's a wonderful story written by Newbery Honor author, Marion Dane Bauer.


"Go to war, bring back art"

Did you know that the Army has an art curator, an artist-in-residence, and a stellar collection of over 12,000  paintings and drawings? Yup, it does.

Recently the curator of the Army Art Collection, Sarah Forgey, spoke at the Ghost Army Exhibit, in New City,  NY about the Army's collection which includes works dating back to the Revolutionary War.  Many are in the Smithsonian, and the rest are awaiting a permanent museum which is scheduled to open in 2015 in Fort Belvoir, VA.  Some of the finest pieces are from WWI & WWII when the army actually commissioned artist/soldiers to go into battle armed with art supplies.  Each painting is a personal insight into war and life as a soldier, but also is representative of the era in which it was created.

Currently the Army has one artist-in-residence, who also spoke at the Ghost Army Exhibit: MSg. Martin Cervantez, a self trained artist and member of the US Army for 25 years.  He showed paintings of his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He thinks its quite exciting to be sketching in the midst of a gun battle.

Ms. Forgey said that the only art direction the Army ever gave to the artists (including one female soldier in Afghanistan who used tents in lieu of canvas) was "Go to war, bring back art."  Huh, maybe that is the answer.

Here is a link to the artwork, some of which were printed in Life and Fortune magazines - army artists

This painting is called "Two Thousand Yard Stare" by Tom Lea

The Ghost Army Exhibit, curated by yours truly, will be on view through October 16, 2011.  More info on the Ghost Army, a unique camouflage unit in WWII which  included many artists, can be found at http://www.ghostarmy.org

Illustrator Victor Juhasz in Afghanistan.


Back to School time

Spend Thursday evenings getting inspired.  Polish up your portfolio, begin some new projects or finally work on that children's book that's in your sock drawer.  This class is designed to help you achieve your personal goals. Color theory, composition, concept and technique are discussed, along with contracts, copyrights, and all aspects of the business of Illustration, as well as where to find clients in a difficult economy.
Illustration Portfolio
School of Visual Arts, NYC
Thursdays 6:30 - 9:30pm |  12 weeks beginning Sept 22 '11
Register for this class.

I will be speaking at the Illustration & Cartooning AND at the Professional Development Info Sessions @ SVA on Sept 6

More classes are here...


Falling for Hokusai

I've been working on some new stuff,  playing around with different media.  I've been inspired by a couple of classes, mainly a watercolor class I'm teaching this summer at SUNY/Rockland, which prompted me to throw out my old beaten up brushes and buy some new ones. Here is an illustration for a book series I'm working on, a quick sketch with watercolor with some Photoshop layers for the background.
Hokusai, First Manga Master
And I just got a great little book, called Hokusai, First Manga Master which is about the famed Japanese ukiyo-e master artist of the late 18th C.  It features about 60 pages from the 15 volume Hokusai Manga in which the prolific and influential artist literally illustrated an encyclopedia of images initially for his students.  They were eventually used by many others, including Degas and Monet.


Who's Afraid Of Ethanol?

This headline on NPR website, and the accompanying photo, reminded me of an illustration I did a while ago.  So here it is.  And for the record, if I were a presidential candidate (which I'm not) I would not be in favor of corn subsidies. (nothing against corn, or anything...)


Summer School

Illustration Portfolio
School of Visual Arts, NYC
Wednesdays 6:00 - 9:30pm |  10 weeks beginning June 8 '11

Spend Wednesday evenings this summer polishing your portfolio, beginnning new projects, working on that children's book idea and being inspired by your fellow students. This class is designed to support you and what your personal goals are. Color theory, composition, concept and technique are discussed, along with contracts, copyrights, and all aspects of the business of Illustration, as well as where to find clients in a difficult economy. Assignments vary each semester.  Register for this class.

More classes are here...

Student Work:
"Heave" © 2011 Andi Jones
This piece by Andi Jones was created in the Spring '11 semester for a project called - Build Your Wings on the Way Down...


I wish...

I have been reading  Wishes, Lies and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry by Kenneth Koch.  It's a book full of poems written in the 1960s by students of PS 61 in NYC.  In each poem the wishes fluctuate between funny and profound, fantasy and yearning... .. " I wish I were a key... I wish the boys were pigs..."  "I wish my little sister would find her nightgown..."  "I wish the street was ice cream" ... "I wish my bedroom would stop shrieking.."
Here is mine (yes, be careful what you wish for...)
I wish books will never disappear.
I wish I had more time to read them. 
I wish time wouldn't slip away like a lizard.

And here are a few of the books piled up next to my bed right now:
Magic in the Mirrorstone
The Very Best of Charles De Lint
Irish Fairy & Folk Tales by WB Yeats
Rose, Where Did You get that Red?
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America

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Re-Imagining Hopper & the Ghost Army

I have always been influenced by the paintings of Edward Hopper.  His sense of light & shadow and his colors.  Many times when I am stuck for an idea, a look through a book of his work unsticks me. I grew up in his home town and I'm now a trustee and member of the Gallery Selection Committee of the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, NY.

I am thrilled that 3 of my former students at SVA – Rich Tu, Katherine Ramos and Andrea Kantrowitz – will be displaying paintings inspired by Hopper's paintings in our upcoming exhibit, entitled "Hopper Re-Imagined." Other artists in this invitational exhibit are Karen Finley, Vic Muniz, Glynis Sweeney and many others.  April 2 - May 8, opening reception April 3, 3 - 5 pm.

And stay tuned for more info on an exhibit I am curating about the Ghost Army, a brigade of artists and actors who, during WWII used ingenuity, art and deception to trick the enemy, while painting their way across Europe. The Ghost Army Exhibit will be at the Historical Society of Rockland County May 1 - Oct. 16, opening reception May 1,  2 - 4 pm.


Of Kings & Eggs

I'm reading a book written in the 10th Century by a Persian poet.  It's an epic poem about the history of Persia.  It begins, as they all do, at the beginning when everything is fine and good until one day the King of Evil shows up and messes everything up.   He makes people greedy and mean, etc.  Eventually the King of Evil tricks a gullible king into eating an egg, (prior to this people ate only plants and roots.) The gullible king is ecstatic and the next day the King of Evil (disguised as a lowly cook) roasts a chicken... then prepares lamb... then veal...  Out of gratitude the gullible king grants a wish of the King of Evil, which  is to kiss his shoulders. After he does, black serpents sprout from the gullible king's shoulders, and remain part of him for the rest of his life...


sneak peek

Here is a peek at one of the illustrations for a book I just finished.  It is the sequel to
"The Very Little Princess" (actually its the prequel, but you will have to drag any other
information out of me.)  It should be published next spring!


Egypt at last

It's exciting to be witness to a velvet revolution.
Godspeed to the Egyptian people, descendants of a very rich cultural past.

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Snow Day

This is the jacket illustration for the YA book, Running the Dogs, which is about a rare snow storm in the South.  Most of the books I've illustrated about winter I've worked on in the summer, which can be disorienting at times.  For my book Millions of Snowflakes, I dressed my little model in a snowsuit on a 90 degree day and blew bubbles so she would look up. She was so happy! Now I am working on a spring book... snow is on the way.
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