August 29, 2008

New Art: Equestrian Classic

I just finished this piece for a St. Louis company called the FURMINATOR. It is for an Equestrian Classic Event to be held in St. Louis on October 18th, 2008.

Anyone who would like more information on the FURMINATOR product can go to

Posters and T-shirts are also being produced for this event.

August 28, 2008

James Jean: Farewell to Fables

Blog@Newsarama » James Jean says farewell to Fables.

Murray Kimber Has Border Issues

Illustration is a highly transportable profession. So with that in mind, I moved my studio 6,700 kms from Canada to Oaxaca, Mexico, a center for culture, art, and all kinds yummy food served with chilled beverages.

My new studio is smaller than what I have back in Nelson, B.C. The “casita”, as its called, is a separate outbuilding normally used for guests. Although the interior space is on the squishy side, I do have a nice patio to work in with good light and a view of the the rest of the grounds. The main house sits higher up on the property separated by a lush garden.

There are two house dogs, Chuparro and Pipa, and cat named Lula that keep me company, and serve as models.

August 26, 2008

Staycation Slideshow

In honor of all our clients that are on a well-deserved vacation this week, and especially for those on an Andy Rooney endorsed staycation, I've dusted off some pixels for a slideshow of amazing travel images from the illustration lockbox.

So, grab a fruity/fizzy drink, as if you need an excuse, and enjoy.


August 25, 2008

Wise Elephant Advice to Illustration Students

Jason Moriber of Wise Elephant is the sharing type. Last spring he shared his knowledge with a group of Illustration students from BYU, and now he shares the fruits of that labor, in the form of a slideshow, with you.

Jason is a marketing manager with a talent for online community building. He's also an artist which explains why creative professionals love to work with him.


Presentation for Illustration Students (or anyone really)
by Jason Moriber
"This presentation focuses on a plan students can take in order to get their professional ball rolling while still in school. In short, make connections, keep connected, and always keep moving. Let me know if you have any questions as the slides do contain some of the information, but much was spoken using the slides as the outline. Thanks…"


Looking at Illustrator Ryohei Hase

If Palencar is one of your favorites (and how could he not be), you might also like to check out the work of Japanese illustrator Ryohei Hase, who seems to draw from a neighboring well.

You can get the below image, Drown In the Empty Dried-Up Room, as a wallpaper from his website. There is also a little documentation of his process on Go Forward and Forward.

Read an interview with the artist on

August 22, 2008

It's Pronounced "Or-A-Gun" and Our Stamp is Better Than Yours

Last Tuesday was the official unveiling of the Oregon Statehood Stamp for the US Postal Service, on the steps of the State Capital in Salem, OR. As the artist on this project, I was invited to be there and shake hands with the Governor and assorted state dignitaries.

I was taken aback by the excitement and enthusiasm about the stamp as the state celebrates it's sesquicentennial next year. (That's 150 years...but you knew that.) Everyone was gracious and happy and so very proud of their state heritage. After all, Oregon has played a major role in the country's history, being the ultimate destination for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Not only is this a special stamp for me because I live in Oregon, but it's my very first stamp for the Postal Service. What a special way to start! I've collected stamps for years because of the excellent artwork and design...and now I get to be a part of that history. I'll be painting two more stamps for them over the next year.

True to Oregon behavior, the First Lady rode her bike two miles from the Governor's residence to the event! I discovered she is a native of Kentucky, like me. We chatted briefly about horse farms and Kentucky colleges before she donned her bike helmet and rode away on her old, green, beach bike with silver streamers fluttering.

August 21, 2008

VCUarts Interviews Alumnus Sterling Hundley

Sterling Hundley, VCUarts alumnus, talks about his art, the Department of Communication Arts, and VCUarts. This video courtesy of the VCUarts channel on YouTube.

August 18, 2008

Visual Search Engine - Answer to an Agent's Prayer?

New search engine? Yawn. What? This one searches images? Not just image tags, but the actual images themselves? You mean we could, theoretically, upload an image, and then locate all of the places that image might be mis-used, and then track down the miscreants who dared to use it without permission or compensation? And then force them to watch Cop Rock re-runs as punishment?

Such is the promise of Tin Eye, currently in beta. I had to see for myself, but quickly and unscientifically (I do have a job to do after all). I chose an image by C.F. Payne which I know is in at least three places on the web. I uploaded the file, though you can also provide Tin Eye with a web link, or install a plugin that lets you maniacally right click on any image on any web page. The engine then searches and compares images pixel by pixel, supposedly flagging even images that have been cropped or digitally altered.

Tin Eye found two instances of the image on websites I had not anticipated, but it did not find the images I knew were out there. In one instance someone was using this image as an avatar, and in another it was posted to someone's message board about dad rockers.

Neither of those results would've helped me if I was a hapless art buyer trying to track down the artist in order to hand him oodles of money. Still, the idea and potential is intriguing, and Tin Eye says that it's expanding its index by a few hundred million images per month.

August 14, 2008

Great art for the colorblind. And apparently, dogs.


This week's featured illustrator is Kent Barton

Alphonse Mucha

Last night I was upset to learn I had lost my favorite Mucha poster, a mass market copy of Bieres de la Meuse. I looked for it everywhere, lastly peeking even online where I found this great post on the artist at

If you enjoy Mucha too you might want to check out his gallery on the Mucha Foundation website, which features descriptions of a handful of his posters, drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

Mucha also created many beautiful drawings, which can be seen in the book Drawings of Mucha. offers a "look inside" preview of this book, which gave me at least two or three pages of instant gratification.

As for my particular poster, I can always buy it again, though I might wait until those lottery tickets pay off and get an authentic one. In 2004 one of these treasures sold at auction for $39,100.

It was such an iconic picture that in 1899 French artist Adolphe Willette drew a scene after it in which a little girl mistakes the main figure for a saint, and kneels down before it.

August 12, 2008

Reply to "Yan, What Are You Up To Right Now?"

Today I took time out from a book I'm working on to put together an electric fan. Cheaply made in China but not cheap, and designed(?) in Luxembourg, the culprit this time around for providing the weirdest instructions, no drawing (can't they hire a damn illustrator?) and spectacle size screws that Joan managed to mount with tweezers. It works fine though, and quietly, making my studio a bit less miserable. 44º centigrade is not typical in France, even in Provence, in August. Forgotten in cars and garages, babies and dogs die. Old people die as well, but it's not quite as dramatic. Being old myself, I can attest to that, one gets used to the idea. At least I did.

The book I am working on, written by a Korean woman, an adoptee, tells the not so fictional story of a Korean baby girl adopted by French parents. Another Korean girl, Chan-Ok, also adopted, used to read many books in the Gallimard Page Blanche collection when she was ten or eleven. I illustrated all the book covers for that collection, two hundred of them over twelve years; that's how she first got introduced to my work. When she was a bit older—thirteen?—she wrote me a letter and I sent her a postcard back, thanking her, as I always do with children. As years passed, I did become an old man—not quite ancient but old—and Chan-Ok became a young and enthusiastic publisher, the one behind the project that I am working on.

It's summer, it's hot and everyone here is on their five-week vacation. Time for dinner: Ratatouille and eggs. The fan—a treat—hums away.

Rolling Stone Reducing Trim Size

Another magazine trims its waistline, sadly this time it's Rolling Stone, dropping from 10" x 11 3/4" to 8"x11". Wenner Media hopes this new diet will increase the mag's newsstand appeal. I guess the days are gone when you increased sales by making yourself stand out from the pack.

August 11, 2008

D.K. Dyson Performance

Joe's Pub was swingin' on Friday under the influence of D.K. Dyson. I assure you that the woman we've met before, Rudy Gutierrez's sweet and pleasant companion at our illustration events, was not on that stage. Instead appeared a woman that absolutely commanded attention, from her dress to her movements to her unbelievable voice. This woman can sing to heaven, can sing the blues, can shake it Rio Carnival style. We had a thoroughly great time watching her and can't wait until the next performance.

It was also really great to see Rudy, something we don't do nearly enough.

Photos by Rick Theis

August 10, 2008

Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part Five)

Last day of class. Everyone was still in a mood of wanting to learn as much as possible. Me, too. These folks were teaching me a lot about what it means to paint and why it's important to teach from a point of view that encourages, rather than diminishes.

We finished last night's painting over the first hour, then I did a quick demo. I used burnt umber and white, painting a full figure value study to show how little can be fussed over and yet, carry much visual information. Since our model only had an hour to sit, I asked if anyone would mind posing until lunch.

To all our surprise, another Norman Rockwell model stepped forward! Dale Zola, one of my students, was the model for a 1970's painting of her family, posing as a lovely bride on her wedding day. We couldn't believe it. She'd been holding out on us. But she brought in a book of Rockwell's work that displayed the painting she modeled for. What a treat!

Unfortunately, no one knows the whereabouts of the original. They're still searching. But Dale was just great once again, and I did the painting in a little over an hour. We finished the day with a 2.5 hour figure study of another model.

Everyone said their goodbyes and traded hugs and promised to stay in touch...maybe even returning next year. We'll see how it goes. Now they're going off to the real hard work: painting on their own. After class, a number of us hit the Red Lion Inn Pub for drinks and a recap of the week.

Thanks to my students! And thanks to everyone on the staff and the docents who modeled from the Rockwell Museum! An entirely delightful time.


August 8, 2008

Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part Four)

It was time for another demo, or so went the request from the students. And this time I slowed way down and explained most of my actions. It was an intense lesson for me about teaching, and about how I paint.

I have heard that there are four types of creators:

  • Incompetent/incompetent (not very good and doesn't know how they do what they do)

  • Incompetent/competent (not very good at what they do, but can explain every detail of how to do it)

  • Competent/incompetent (good at what they do, but can't explain how)

  • Competent/competent (good at what they do, and can explain how they do it)

That last one is where a good teacher wants to be. But it takes hard work and focus. It's not a free gift, and it's not a talent. It's hard learning.

But today, the questions came as easily as the answers. And everyone was on a roll. Four days into the class and we were getting somewhere! Paintings changed, efforts changed, results changed.

Terry Brown, former director of the Society of Illustrators, stopped by to say hi and kid me about teaching. He's been working with the Rockwell Museum, and I'm certain it will benefit all lovers of illustration.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's class, but already feeling the sadness of saying goodbye. I'll come away with a new understanding of how to communicate with students about my passion for painting. And keep the torch burning.

Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part Three)

A busy day indeed. We started by painting yesterday’s model from memory. I had dropped hints the day before that memorizing the model and the mixtures of paint they used to capture her is part of the students’ learning process.

So we started the morning by painting on yesterday’s study. And everyone improved their pieces rather quickly. They felt free to use whatever colors were needed to enhance their pieces. Muddy colors suddenly got more luminous.

In this way, they were able to simplify their color schemes, and practice mixing fresh, clean color.

Then we ran upstairs for a quick walk through of some of Norman’s best. Again, I simplified the process for them by taking as much of the mystery out of his painting process as possible, and thereby making it accessible. I was touched by how much fun we had talking about the things that thrill us about his work. So simple, so elegant.

Painters like Rockwell weren’t gods...they were people. Like us. Which makes it all the more amazing to me.

August 7, 2008

Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part Two)

Tuesday at the Rockwell class...

We ended our portrait study of Wray Gunn. We're not trying to come away with finished, ready-to-hang paintings. We're striving to paint enough on each piece to gain an understanding of the painting process. There's hardly enough time in the week to practice, but there is time for exposure and discovery of basic principles.

The afternoon was spent painting from a different model, and this time we strived for a half to full figure. Progress was good and steady, just the way it should be. Everyone will find out more of what they learned once they're are back at home.

Ichabod Crane

I finished the day with an impromptu tour of the "inner sanctum" of the museum...flipping through huge rolling stacks of original Rockwells, which are stored in a controlled environment as they are rotated out of the main exhibit. There were so many that I had never seen before. And one I am quite familiar with: the Ichabod Crane. This painting alone has driven my own special interest in capturing likeness and character whenever I can.

We're back at it today, only this morning we're painting yesterday afternoon's model...from memory.

Read Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part One)

August 6, 2008

Flip Book: Rick Farrell Paints Actor Joseph Cotten

Digital flip-books are my new favorite thing. Made from a series of PDFs, they can be passed around via email, or posted to a website, facebook page, etc. Best of all, you can zoom in on the images for a better look, an invaluable tool when you have artists like ours, where every line and brush stroke begs appreciation.

After our now infamous crane accident, we are always looking at alternative ways to share artwork with our clients, since 25 years of carefully constructed printed samples and portfolios are no longer in existence and have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Below is Rick Farrell's Joseph Cotten painting, from sketch to finish. Click on the arrows to flip through, or on the book to see/email/share a larger version.

Workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum (Part 1)

This week I am teaching a workshop in oil painting at the Norman Rockwell Museum. I taught my first workshop here two years ago, and they were kind enough to ask me back. I could not resist.

It’s such an honor to walk in these doors and feel the respect everyone has here for the illustration field. I always feel so welcome. I’m like a kid who’s been asked to explain his theory of the universe.

Yesterday was the first class. We’re a little tight on room to paint as the class has maxed out at 17. But the atmosphere is one of discovery as once again I find that when I’m completely honest about the process of painting, teaching a non-complicated point of view, students get excited and suddenly realize they can get results. No matter what their age.

New Kids in the Neighborhood by Norman Rockwell

I was honored again today when our first model turned out to be one of Norman Rockwell’s models! Yes, 13 year old Wray Gunn was the young, black boy on the left of the painting, “New Kids In The Neighborhood,” which appeared on the cover of LOOK Magazine’s May 16th issue of 1967. His sister stands next to him. I remember studying that cover, and here he was, modeling for our class. Thanks again, Wray!

I’m looking forward to a week of teaching, but I return every night to being the student myself, when I go upstairs to study the masterful paintings of Rockwell. If you are a painter and you’ve never seen his originals, you cannot understand the depth of his skills. Treat yourself and make a trip here.

painting Wray Gunn at the Norman Rockwell Museum

August 5, 2008

The Leviathan

Just when I published my Tor goodies post, they thrill me with another: The Leviathan, a comic (or sequential series) from young and very talented artist Wesley Allsbrook.

August 4, 2008

Goodies at

Our buddies over at Tor Books consistently (and increasingly) put out great online content. Here are a few goodies we've recently perused over in our little office. Don't hesitate to go over there yourself to download free stories, screensavers, and catch up on the world of Sci-Fi/Fantasy.


Write-up and video of the Gregory Manchess Comic-Con demo

Donato Giancola Asus Sweepstakes Watch a video of Donato painting a laptop, then register to win it.

From the Tor/Forge YouTube Channel:

Artist Dan Dos Santos creates a book cover illustration lickity split. Dan was an intern here many years ago, before my time, for like a day or two before moving on to bigger and better things. But we still love him. Check out his amazing website while you're at it.

Jon Foster Demo at Comic-Con (Part 1)

Jon Foster Demo at Comic-Con (Part 2)

And of course, Art Director Irene Gallo's blog The Art Department is always a guaranteed illustration crowd pleaser.

D.K. Dyson at Joe's Pub

"Get Sainti-Fried" with D.K. Dyson at Joe's Pub this Friday. Dyson is not only a gifted singer who racks up the rave reviews and critical acclaim, she is also the wife of amazing illustrator Rudy Gutierrez.


August 8, 2008
$15 advance / $18 at the door
with DK Dyson's B'klyn Soul

Sensuous seasonings from Africa, Brazil & Brownsville, Brooklyn forming the Jazz, Rock & World Brew Mix that is tied together by the legendary voice of DK Dyson.

"Here is a voice of unfathomable range and nerve-fibrillating
sensitivity that could probably just lie back and let itself be
groomed. You can almost see an Uncle Clive (Davis) beseeching
the woman to put down her pen and put on some airs. But you
get the feeling that someone who's never put up anything but a
fight is not about to stop now."

"Listening to powerhouse Vocalist DK Dyson is like watching
Michael Jordan a few years ago: breathtaking."

JOE'S PUB 425 Lafayette St. NYC 10003

August 1, 2008

Nascimbene Picture Book Preview

Courtesy Lookybook, a flip through Yan Nascimbene's Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers—page after page of stunning (now award-winning) illustrations.