Tuesday, February 9, 2016

a new book cover project

A few months ago I was approached to do some artwork for a local woman, Cheryl Edgcomb. Mrs. Edgcomb has lead an amazing life around Tioga county and it seems that she was continuously surrounded by stamps and the people that used and loved them. Coming from a family that worked for the U.S. Postal Service, she has not fallen far from the tree. Her personality and kindness make her one of those people you struggle to say "no" to. After a short conversation, I found myself neck-deep in beautiful examples of historical documents from the area, vintage postal ephemera, and all sorts of interesting objects and envelopes that were hard to put down. 

Mrs. Edgcomb was in the process of writing a book about the people she has met and the amazing tales that her travels found her a part of. She needed a book cover. Though not sure of what we could do for a cover, I was honored to attempt to make something concise out of all the mayhem. She had her title and tagline and the rest was on me. I brainstormed quite a bit. Her story lacked an isolated image that could stand as a cover image. I thought about creating some unique text but that seemed a bit vain on my part for this kind of story. As she started getting her collection out of the many boxes around my dining room table, the pile of stuff looked cool. I said that these things say it all. Like the countless stories, each of the thousands of items are a part of her and her history. I assume that all that know her, and that seems like every resident within 150 miles, would agree that the cluster of objects fits with her spirit....a myriad of stories that all lead into each other. For the cover photo, she picked out the items that were tied to a story within the text and other items that were close to her heart. 

She has a passion for life. An obvious one. She liked the idea as well as the final image. I used Styrofoam to ink some letters for the "stamped" look. Scanned them in and did some manipulation and color overlay. I hand drew the tagline that was inspired by her own handwriting. That's that.

Anxious to see the final book! She has put a pile of work into the project.

Monday, February 8, 2016

large pencil rendering of wellsboro, pa - 3' x 9'

While attempting to locate a much smaller piece of artwork, I bumped into this rolled up drawing in the corner of the closet. It is a large pencil drawing of downtown Wellsboro. Wellsboro, Pa. has a beautiful downtown/business district. Traditional gas lights run the length of town in the median. If you are heading to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon any time soon, stop in town and walk the 4 or 5 blocks. Anyway, I was teaching one point perspective to my 5th grade classes about 4 years ago. To get the point across, and also to show what some hard work can produce, I chose the scenic downtown as my subject due to the interesting depth created by the many buildings and the trees. 

I walked (jaywalked) across the street, stood in the middle, snapped three side-by-side shots and continued on to the other side. After combining the images in Photoshop and tacking up some rolled paper on a large bulletin board, I set into the drawing. After about 30 hours spent on the work, I had achieved my point which was to inspire the youngsters into pushing hard on their own work. 

I do have a few regrets though. Mostly, I regret not using a quality piece of drawing paper so that the drawing may have some value (not monetary) to maybe a business in Wellsboro. I guess it would not have been as sketchy if I used good paper and would have doubled my hours just to reach this unfinished stage. I would definitely finish it if it were on better paper, for sure. The tape on the back doesn't bother me due to the lousy rolled paper used. Oh....drawing trees without leaves takes many more hours than some made up leaf formations. More building visible though!

Vanishing point had a red sticker placed on it (light spot back there where the street disappears) to help the passersby while it was under construction.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

eric carle inspired man cave

I've been attempting to brainstorm ideas as much as possible as of late. My second graders have painted paper like the great Eric Carle (author and illustrator of children's books) and are now using it to create images of animals. The project is based around building images using simple shapes. I attempted to reinterpret the concept of a "man cave". A small place to chill out.

All I need is light brought in, a great book and a Sheetz coffee (a large one!).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

the anatomy of the beg - an attempt to sell cookies to teachers that don't want to buy them

A few years ago I had a post that described my attempt to sell candy bars for my son due to his joining t-ball. You can check it out here. This time it is cookies for my daughter and Girl Scouts. The last thing teachers want is another sale from students clawing at the last few dollars. These sales are happening all the time and they come from all directions. So when I heard my daughter had to sell some cookies, I was very excited....NOT! We don't have lots of time after school to go door to door and hassle Joe and Jill Schmo up and down our street. Nor do I want to do that. A horrible thought. Anyway, I took it into my school. I had to come up with some angle to sell it that was different from the angle I used with the boy.

I decided on the "beg".

Clare was reluctant to pose, of course, and the picture is less than stellar. I had to brainstorm some sort of way to present this photo. I decided to point out how great the beg was and how passionate my daughter is about Girl Scouts. This lead me to the "anatomy of the beg" pictured below...

We sold a few boxes. Thanks to all those gracious teachers that caved in the face of such marketing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

new angry strongo fan art - from my wife

My wife is a very talented lady. I'm sure that she is not sure how talented she is. This version of Angry Strongo (below), as my birthday card, highlights her skills. It looks better than all my other cartoons. Her sketch hand-coloring is so rich and vibrant that I am considering changing the entire presentation of my comics. We are definitely looking into using this style soon in some other ventures.

thanks Ash....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

local font find #25

There is a local antique shop that has this just inside the front door. Having walked past it often, today I noticed many issues. Off center letters, tilted letters and an upside down letter. It would seem odd that the letter was traced upside down on purpose. 

This is the font that was used. See if you can find the upside down letter. It won't take you long.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

forkzilla - another exercise in brainstorming

While on "lunch duty" at my teaching job (we walk between tables and make sure the students are behaving and all), a young 6th grade girl called me over with a terrific smile on her face. She had a look as though there was something awesome to tell me. The awesome news was her fork. Yes!, her fork. It was gigantic and super heavy as well. She thought it was so extraordinary, she had to let someone know about it and felt that my being the bizarre Art Teacher, I was the perfect recipient of this great find. We all laughed as we looked at this abnormally large fork. It was almost a serving fork. I asked a student on the other side of the table if we could see her fork. I took this regular sized fork and placed it next to the enormous one and WOW!!! It really was big. Anywho, we all laughed (not sure why) and I left my "duty" to go back and teach for the afternoon. It was most strange that I couldn't shake the large spoon and the general sillyness of the whole event. How did that spoon get into the school? Why did this young lady feel the need to show an adult? Why was it funny? Why can't I stop thinking about this odd silverware anomoly?

So...I used the event to show her class how I brainstorm and idea to relative completion. The result was FORKZILLA and the R.B. Lunch Disaster! I will use this as an example for an upcoming Comic Book Cover lesson I teach at that grade level.

Monday, December 28, 2015

angry strongo and the new look-a-like!!!!

I have been enjoying this new Cartoon Network show called Clarence. A very strange cartoon about an even stranger young kid named Clarence. He has all kinds of odd habits and hangs with the other bizarre students in his class. You really have to watch a few episodes to get the full picture. 

The more I watch it, the more I am reminded of my Angry Strongo design and the similarity to Clarence's friend Jeff (Clarence and Jeff are pictured above). Jeff's design is an over-sized block head with a sweep of hair across the forehead and a large semicircle down the sides. Angry has a slightly different sweep that resembles a large wave that follows his always scowling uni-brow.

Not that anyone that reads this blog gives a hoot about whether I copied off this cartoon or not, but the reason for this post is the sense that any one reader might think that is the case. I am also not saying that I believe that the creators of Clarence copied my design but there sure are some weird similarities. What we have here, more than likely, is a very close case of independent invention...I hope.

April 14, 2014 was the premiere date for the show. This has Angry Strongo being designed some 2 and a half years prior. I first started showing designs for my new "Angry" character in 2011. With the first post showing the current look of Angry Strongo appearing in October 31, 2011 (shown above). I had a version of Angry even earlier than this but the one below shows the first time I clothed him in the striped shirt that was later colored red to pay my respects to "Calvin" from Calvin and Hobbes.

As I researched the similarities further, I was struck by the layout of the room pictured below. Now I know many homes have large framed images on the wall and rounded doorways that were all the rage back in the day, but when you look at it all together, it just seems strange. 

My Angry Strongo layout pictured above was from January of 2013 (again, Clarence didn't air until April of 2014).

Anywho, I am not attempting to show any type of copying on the part of the creators of Clarence. I was just struck by the design similarities. I talk with my students about independent invention in my classroom. It happens quite often. When I give them a design problem to solve, a student sitting on the opposite side of the room often solves the problem in a remarkably similar way to someone else located far away. 

Check out this cartoon....it is very funny (my sense of humor is in line with this cartoon). Good day.

All the images used of Clarence and Jeff were copied and pasted off the net. My apologies and thanks to those who uploaded them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

the history of fonts on stools for my classroom

About 3 or 4 years ago, my Principal, Mr. Smith, allowed me to order new metal stools to replace wooden ones that had become splinter hazards for my students. The new ones were perfect for the size of my students and my table height. The new metal stools had one flaw, a Masonite top that couldn't withstand the long term abuse that would be occurring in an elementary art room. I ran through many ideas to cover the tops. All seemed cool and I believed that the students would like the ideas. The only issue was that a majority of my ideas were way too involved and it would have taken me a year or two of design and application to conquer the project.

My love of letters seemed to fit just right. I thought about using my favorite fonts. I thought about listing the fonts and having each one drawn in its own font. Then, the simple concept of going through the 26 letters of the alphabet worked best for an Elementary art room.

I spent many hours searching the history of fonts and the important designs/designers of the last 500 years in the world of typography. I saw many lists by many of the respected minds in the font community. The fonts that continuously showed up on these lists were automatic picks. Fonts like Garamond, Baskerville, Bodoni, etc. were obvious choices. Helvetica, with its surge in popularity (surge in disgust as well) over the last few decades, was always going to be my A. Helvetica is not my favorite, but thought the students should be aware of how prevalent it is in the design world. I do love its lower case A with that bent drop of water as its bowl. 

30 Typography Stools

A Helvetica
B Copperplate
C Garamond
D Baskerville
E Rockwell
F Century
G Bodoni
H Franklin Gothic
I Times New Roman
J Claredon
K Broadway
L Sentinel
M Futura
N Gill Sans
O News Gothic
P Bembo
Q Akzidenz-Grotesk
R mine... (this does not mean that believe that I am the least bit important in the history of Typography because I AM NOT the slightest bit important in the history of Typography)
S Gotham
T Univers
U Officina
V Caslon
W Didot
X Interstate
Y American Typewritier
Z Metro

Italic (Poster Bodoni)
House Industries Ampersand
A blank one for students who choose not treat them well (not pictured)

I had some gold spray paint at home so I went to work on that Helvetica A. I made a circular mask to shield the gray metal ring at the top during spraying. My want for the letters to be exact had me tracing out enlarged letters via the computer... large enough to be seen well and still leave room for additional information. The Helvetica "a" is already taking a beating.

The thought of having all the stools gold sounded horrible, so off to Walmart and a myriad of spray cans were purchased. I used masking type and an Exacto knife to create masks for many of the letters while some were hand painted to achieve a variety of colors.

Upper and lower case was always considered to add interest as many lower case letters have unique styling. Also, I wanted to shift it around a bit just to keep it interesting.

Certain letters were treated to an interesting background. No real rhyme or reason to my choices on that. Just kept it kid friendly.

I designed this R for a project I was teaching at a local university. It was definitely inspired by the impressive House Industries ampersand pictured below.

The camo Z took the longest as I masked off each layer of green.

House Industries has been a frequent stop on my daily net surfing for many years now. Their designs are top notch and will be the kinds of designs that shall remain relevant for many decades to come. Their ampersand is way cool. You can even buy it cast in aluminum or iron!.

I threw in the Earnhardt "three" for some of my Nascar loving students and the 007 seven popped into my head at the last minute. Willie Stargell's 8 was for me. The rest of the numbers were just well constructed numbers I liked.

I have told my students that all the items in the room that I have designed, I have designed them for myself as well. I have to look at this stuff all day. The form is important but they must function as teaching devices. When these designs lose their cool, I head back to the drawing board and revamp them. I definitely had my taste in mind when designing a lot of these stools. Letters and lettering never seem to dull. I do love them.  

-Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

angry strongo #45

It has been quite a while since Angry Strongo has appeared on a blog named after him. Our lives have been hectic with children, our jobs and artwork on the side. This winter has allowed me to work outside in the garage in the evening as the temps have been awesome. I was even able to hang lights without a jacket, gloves and a winter cap!