From start to finish

Celestial Estate Tea package

There are projects that come along that are just sheer pleasure to work on, And this one surely qualifies. Celestial Seasonings has been fantastic company to work with. Really a dream come true for me. Last summer they asked me to work with three other illustrators to develop imagery for a new line of tea. One of the parameters of the design was to hire multiple like-minded illustrators and follow a similar narrative through out the line, and lucky me was asked to do two of the five flavors. This was one of them. I thought it might be interesting to all of you to see some of the process involved in creating such an image.

rough pencil

After doing some research into the kind of geography that is located in this region of China, I then sat in my thinking chair and imagine an idealized tea plantation, in a grant wood would sort of way. This was my first rough sketch of this place.

Jasmine Green estate p

This is where the project started to get fun, doing my final pencil work. The foreground was going to contain hundreds of jasmine flowers so I thought I would handle this digitally by drawing an image library of flowers and plants and leaves in different angles and sizes, also the client requested there be some flexibility in adjusting the way the image was cropped. So creating the foreground hillside as a separate layer would be a good idea anyway.

flower hose pencil A

image hose flowers

After drawing a good amount of the flowers for the foreground, I then made image libraries of the different segments and simply sprayed the rest in with the image hose in painter.

Painter screenshot of nozzles

final pencil concept

This is the final pencil drawing with the foreground put in as a layer and with the flowers on their own separate layers as well. I wanted the flowers to carpet the foreground hills but I did not want them to look tilled at all so I sprayed them with as much randomness as I could.

rough color landscape

After getting approval from the client for the direction they also needed a color rough of the painting to show at a shareholders meeting. And it also helped me figure out my lighting and overall color direction. You may also notice that my left-side waterfall was somewhat modified in my final pencil, I think it was just a little bit too much for my client, however I liked it.

Jasmine Green Detail

Here is a detail of the final painting. I chose to handle the flowers by painting the color by hand, digitally I mean. I thought of handling flowers as a nozzle in full-color but I felt by painting each one separately over the pencil work I would create a much more harmonious and finished look that would blend in with the rest of the painting.



Drawing from history

field 2013 calandar A-5

This project came about from a request from my rep to create a piece for our yearly calendar project. We were partnering with the Field Museum in Chicago to develop imagery that honors the immense fossil collection at the museum. One of my favorite things about the Field Museum has always been the mural paintings by the artist Charles Knight. He worked with many of the archaeologists of his day to develop all of the mural work he did in New York and Chicago. His great fascination with all of these artifacts and the animal kingdom, We’re quite evident in his paintings. My goal with this piece was to honor some of that fascination he obviously had in this work. I also have been inspired by the work of M.C. Escher. I know this has been done before but I thought it might be a fun exercise. It certainly is different for me to use photography, but I thought it might be good to show the contrast between the imagined illustration of a fern and a real photo. It certainly was a challenge to draw the fern in this imagined view from the obscure photo reference I was able to get. It had to be made up entirely. But I guess that’s just the point Charles Knight was trying to imagine things that were a mere shadow of what they were, and bring them to life.fern ℗

Yeah, I can do “photo realistic”



Applebee Grill AI was asked to add the fire in this photo. It is next to impossible to photograph.                     I painted it entirely in painter, and then exported to photoshop.Applebee Grill no fire



EXPO asked me to create an idealized view of their markers. The design needed a precise control of light and shadow. This requiered the use of photgraphy as referance. But a lot more was needed to make this image work.

1.   Establish a dynamic view of the product in use.

2.   Using hand photo as a reference I painted over every aspect of it in Corel Painter.

3.   Paint the window with graphic elements on separate layers.

Client comp. sketch below.

Sweet Savannah

Sweet Savannah

I made a trip to Savannah Georgia and was impressed at every turn. The public squares every 3 blocks or so with lovely live oak trees, victorian brick architecture, & magnolia trees. I have also admired Martin Heade’s Magnolia painting’s for sometime and thought I would try my hand at painting them.

Pineapples are cool


I have always thought pineapples were interesting, so being up against a deadline for an ad in workbook I chose a pineapple drawn from one my wife brought home from the store. But like most pineapples the proportions were a little outlandish for my use. So I took a little artistic license and tried to capture it’s essence rather than it’s literal shape.


The other elements in the painting were all exsisting images I had painted for past projects, and assembled in Corel Painter.

A great opportunity-almost

When I was a young concept artist at Source inc. in Chicago, we revered Joe Duffy’s work on Classico pasta sauce. In the world of maximum shelf impact pop, this design stood out for it’s beautiful illustrative design and muted color pallet. It certainly was a paragon of emotive package design.

Fast forward to 2003. I had the opportunity to work on one of my favorite brands. Lipson, Alport & Glass ask me to design imagery for 1 of 2 concepts being developed.

My concept was evolutionary in that it borrowed heavily on the past label art.

Here is the final label design. The Shelf pop zeitgeist finally caught up to the Classico brand, but L.A.G.A. wanted to keep the charming woodcut look. But in the final analysis the client wanted to move even farther away from where they were. O well, it still was a fun project.

Here is some of the development work that led to the final comp label.

iconic illustration works!

In 2000 Hidden Valley needed a make over. I was asked to paint an idealized sun lit farm valley & sky, with (17) flavor icons. For 11 years the (valley) has defined the brand and ranch dressing in general.

This was a bit of work I did to show the development process I go through to paint an illustration. Just look at those old crts in my photo, and no gray hair ether.

I am thankful for the many things I learned with this project. It helped me define a style of illustration that was colorful, dramatic & appetizing. It also let me do a landscape inspired by Edwin Frederic Church. His work has given me a great love for landscape.