Showing posts from April, 2009


John Updike, one of the world's greatest and most highly regarded writers, died in January at the age of 76. From the day he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, Updike worked tirelessly to produce (in the words of his New York Times obituary) "a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism so vast, protean and lyrical as to place him in the first rank of American authors." It's hard to imagine a life more productive.

Here are just some of the international awards he received for his brilliant work:

1959 Guggenheim Fellow
1959 National Institute of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award
1964 National Book Award for Fiction
1965 Prix du Meilleur Livre √Čtranger
1966 O. Henry Prize
1981 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1982 National Book Award for Fiction
1982 Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award
1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
1984 National Arts Club Medal of Honor
1987 St. Louis Literary Award
1987 Ambassador Boo…

Hillside road in central California. Oil on canvas.

My hope with this one was to have a large brushstroke feel like the small, quick studies over on Landsketch. It's much larger though, 36" × 48"; I used 3 inch brushes and a large palette knife.


Gilbert Bundy (1911-1955) painted with a light and elegant brush.

Look at the graceful way he handles the bouquet of flowers on the table:

... or the foliage and chandelier in the background:

Bundy gained fame as a cartoonist in the pages of Esquire magazine in the 1930s. He painted delightful watercolors of the leisure class at play, specializing in millionaire sportsmen and glamorous show girls.

High society photos from this period show the handsome young illustrator out on the town, dressed in his tuxedo and escorting some beautiful young chanteuse to gala parties. Here we see Bundy in his studio with yet another gorgeous model:

Bundy fell in love with the right girl, married her and had a baby daughter. Life was sweet.

But when World War II came along, Bundy decided for some reason to leave it all behind and volunteer to work as an artist in the South Pacific for Hearst newspapers.

In 1944, Bundy was accompanying the Marine invasion of Tarawa when a Japanese shell exploded in his small l…

Laura. Charcoal on Strathmore paper.


Nothing is more solid and constant than the earth beneath our feet, right? It provides us with objective standards for measurement ("milestones" and "landmarks"). The physical location, dimensions and characteristics of mountains or streets or rivers can be quantified and recorded on maps that can be read and agreed upon by all.

Isn't it interesting, then, how various artists can view that same objective reality so differently?

A map of Florida from Walt Disney's Dumbo, with storks parachuting baby animals down on the circus.

The earth as a jester, with cautionary Latin maxims.

New York City as a huge penis

A map of London from the 1851 World's Fair

The earth may appear constant to a farmer or an engineer building a road. A map maker has tools and standards to depict the earth as objectively as possible. Artists look at the same object, but what a blaze of creativity in their responses!

The earth as perceived in 1940s romantic fiction, where the single most …

Here's a scene painted for the animated film Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron. Acrylic and photoshop.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation.


What is it?

A slashing tempest?

A rugged granite cliff?

A rolling river?

The tail plumage from a firebird?

Naw, it's just the way Robert Fawcett draws a face:

This intense little portrait (approximately 4 inches tall) is a virtuoso performance by a master draftsman. Look at the speed and facility with which Fawcett employs a dazzling array of marks on paper to channel the designs of nature. This is what I call drawing!
Fawcett took draftsmanship very seriously and was fiercely proud of his ability. As Roger Reed of Illustration House observed about some of the lines in this drawing, "he must have used a bamboo stick to draw with, like he searched for the most difficult-to-control tool in the box."

Do you prefer your drawings less intense? That's OK. Simplicity is another weapon in Fawcett's arsenal:

I am pleased to be working with Auad Publishing on a book about the life and work of Robert Fawcett. I hope you will keep an eye out for it.

Color key for Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas. Acrylic and photoshop.
This was the last painting I did at DreamWorks that had any traditional painting in it.

Copyright DreamWorks Animation.