Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Official book blog now up and running

Studio Hermit now has a younger brother with a more outward, professional orientation. Have a look.

Moleskine Miscellany

More moleskine drawings, fresh since the last time I posted from this sketchbook. The image below is a composite of OK bits from otherwise so-so pages.

Since these are all starting to look too much alike, I decided to use today's session (laundry day, so street drawing) to try some new materials:

The ink I've been meaning to try forever; the brush pen is something James Gurney talked about on his blog a while back and which looked interesting and convenient (he uses it with clear water when doing watercolor, which I also want to try at some point). My maiden effort was kind of a mess:

Yeah... mess. On the other hand, there are a lot of small moments in them that are OK (click to see originals... I left them a little bigger than usual). The brush pen is very strange: the handle is a flexible water well connected to the brush. You control the amount of ink that's flowing through the brush by controlling the amount of pressure you put on the handle. It took me a while to get the hang of it. Also, the paper in the moleskine was not very receptive - it kept giving me this weird waxy reaction - but that might have been oil from my hand transferring to the paper while I was doing the underlying pen work.

At any rate, with holiday travel coming up, it'll be good to have some new toys for airport and train station waiting. And it'll be good for me to have another way to keep my hand in wet media while finishing the charcoal drawings for the current book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Word of the Day: Ushanka!

"Ushanka" is one of those Russian furry ear-flap hats. I learned it this week from a New Yorker article about shopping. This character is named Budge; he lives on Pluto. I dreamed him up for a project that never happened but at least now I know what his headgear is called. Pen & ink, graphite on paper.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Playing well with others

So what happens when three illustrators and an editor aren't ready for the evening to end once a certain local bookstore's holiday party is over? Why, a trip to the Old Town Bar, naturally, and a four-handed game of Exquisite Corpse. The upside-down head on the upper right figure? I totally meant to do that...

Retirement Party

A little bit of staff turnover here at Team Tim: two old standbys, longtime reliables Scanner and Printer are moving on. In addition, the Cube (probably the last member of its tribe to hold a full-time job) has been slowly moving of late towards its new role as Computer Emeritus.

Maybe people who upgrade more often than I do - or who don't work by themselves all day long - don't get sentimental about peripherals. Well, phooey on them. I say... tribute time! The printer produced many, many mailers in its day that scared up the jobs that kept a roof over my head in lean times. The manuscripts of the last seven or eight years' worth of books have entered the world through its paper tray. The scanner has not only been a good and valuable workshop tool; the last five (at least) volumes of the Capital Mysteries series have been published using scans from its flatbed.

It would feel ungrateful not to mark this occasion a little.


There. Marked.

Please join me in welcoming the new Team Tim:

They have very big USB ports to fill.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

100 Eyes 3 & 4

Same source material as the ink wash drawings below; graphite on paper.

Ink wash, newspaper photos

The list of media I've never tried includes all sorts of obvious things: oil paint, etching... but ink wash? Had a spare afternoon yesterday to fool around with it, using some newspaper photos. It's hard... everything they say about watercolor that's only sort of true (no going back, unforgiving) really is true here. Most of what I came out with was a total mess; these were the best of the bunch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

North American Bird Hall at AMNH

Short drawing expedition with Ann to the American Museum of Natural History. She was working on elephants but the crowds in African Mammals were too much for me... plus, I looked into the dusty glass eyes of the antelopes and decided that I wasn't in a mammal mood. So, up the stairs, around the balcony, through the sad fluorescent morgue of New York State wildlife and into the North American birds. Taxidermy up there looks a little scabby up close, but plenty to draw. Magpie, osprey head, and I forget which kind of hawk. The feet on the hawk are too big. Ballpoint pen on paper.

More from North American Bird Hall at AMNH

Peregrine falcon chicks and marsh hawk.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Untitled storybook drawing 1

Both of this drawing and the one below it are a little rough around the edges because I haven't drawn anything like this in ages. I miss doing oldey-timey rock-and-forest storybook stuff... a little time in Germany brings out the Grimm in me. Or maybe it was hanging out with these guys... Ball point pen on paper, drawn on the plane ride back from Germany.

Untitled storybook drawing 2

Drawn at the Hamburg Airport while Continental Airlines promised us a new plane. After twelve hours they gave up and sent us all to a hotel for the night. Ballpoint pen on paper.

Security line at the Hamburg Airport

5:30 in the morning; the sun wasn't up but I was. So were these people and about ten thousand others. Ballpoint pen on moleskine.

100 Hands 3-7

Ballpoint pen on paper; one more time-waster on the flight home from Germany.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


In Bremen for work, so not enough time to draw. But a couple of early hours and late ones to look around the old city center and scout subjects for next time...

Hamburg Airport, broken plane

Drawn while standing in a very long, very slow line while an entire airplane's worth of passengers got rebooked. Got a seat on a flight tomorrow and a hotel room tonight. This, my first-ever remote blog post, is courtesy of the hotel's free wireless Internet-- thank you Marriot Courtyard! Image not my usual tidy scan: shot with camera and uploaded with no retouching, rearranging or prettying-up. Ballpoint pen on moleskine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

100 Eyes #2

Working off Election Day anxiety after voting. Graphite on paper, from a newspaper photo.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Drawing heads

One of the upsides of getting most of my news online is that when I watch election coverage on TV, I can concentrate on what's really important. Drawn from the screen.

Eighties Hair, Giant Foreheads

Real life suburban TV is less Wisteria Lane than Memory Lane. Tons of old shows whose existence I'd have otherwise forgotten. Drawn off the screen at my mom's house in Ohio.


Spent Halloween in Ohio this year, which meant I got to carve (and art-direct) the pumpkins for the porch.

The vegetation (except the hay bale) is all from my mom's yard; the glowing eyes are clear colored glass marbles. We always did pumpkin-eyes that way when I was a kid. In the last few years I discovered that if you cut open the pumpkin from the back (instead of the classic around-the-stem technique), the marbles refract and round out the image of the hole and give the eyes spooky, flickering dark pupils.

Yes, I 'm a dork. Be glad I'm sparing you the full details of candle-placement strategies.

Halloween close-ups

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

100 Hands #2

Graphite on paper, done from magazine photo.

100 Hands #1

Graphite on paper, done live from my own scrawny paw. First in the 100 Hands series: one hundred hands in twelve months from different sources as a way of learning to draw hands better.

100 Eyes #1

Part of the purpose of this blog for me is to practice stuff I want to do better. To that end, I'm doing a couple of regular features, including one concentrating on eyes: goal is one hundred eye studies between now and this time next year. This is graphite, done from an Internet photo I came across last summer and loved. I think I'll be revisiting her, partly because I love the photo, partly as a way of checking my progress and partly because I want to try different treatments of one piece of source material.

Subway sketches 10.19.08

Drawing day at the Met on Sunday but the only decent thing I came back with was the sketches I did on the subway en route.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Watercolor Street Sketches, Oct. 11

Down by the Hudson on what will probably be our last really warm day of the year. Check this space for puffy overcoats soon!

Watercolor Street Sketches, Oct. 10

One of the little mental health exercises/art-school assignments I've given myself lately is to get out of the house to draw just for fun. These are from last week at the corner of 14th St. and 9th Ave.

Live from the mountain cave... it's Studio Hermit!

Made a pact with Jason Watson and Ann Marshall that I would set up a blog. Ann's already done it. Ball's in your court, Jason Watson.