Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview With Iain McCaig

I am impressed over and over again by how the best among us are often the most humble.  Visual artists at any level will enjoy this inspiring and encouraging interview by Emma Robertson with artist, Iain McCaig.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Lost Worlds" With Illustrator John Howe

In this clip illustrator John Howe of Lord of the Rings fame talks about his book Lost Worlds.  There are some nice scenes of Howe working in his studio.  I always enjoy a glimpse illustrators at work.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Henry York, Photographer

My father's father was a photographer. 

 He took pictures like this

and this

and this.

Photos Copyright 2013 by John Randall York

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Church Sketches

I did these while a church member gave a talk before communion today.  These are done with a ballpoint pen, Shaffer fountain pen and waterbrush in a 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch sketchbook (easy to hide!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Strange Art in Cub Scout Manuals

Let me tell you right up front, I am a huge fan of the Boy Scouts of America.  They are an amazing organization and a positive influence in a negative world.  I was was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader when my sons were young.
The scout manuals were always informative and colorful.  I think I enjoyed the manuals more than my boys did, one in particular, the Wolf Cub Scout Book printed in 1990.  There were some real imaginative interpretations of "Akela", the wolf character from Kipling's The Jungle Book that the Wolf Cub Scout gets its name from.  Robert Depew is the Illustrator who is given credit for the Akela illustrations in this book copyrighted in 1986.  "Akela" is a lanky, anthropomorphic wolf in scout regalia who reminds me a little of the popular movie werewolves of the time in such films as " The Howling" and "An American Werewolf in London".  I really like the illustrations, I find them incredibly creepy, and that's not an insult, it's a high compliment from me!  The color choices and atmosphere put me in the mood for a scary story!  I've wondered if any little scouts ever had unintended nightmares about "Akela"!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wild American Pulp Artists

If you are a fan of American Pulp Art you will be happy to know that David Saunders has created a wonderful site that catalogs many American pulp artists and their work called .

Illustrations by Allen Gustav Anderson

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My 3 Favorite Movie Haunted Houses

You may be aware that I love "Haunted Houses" as a painting subject and I have a few favorite Houses from scary movies, places where I would not sleep very well.
To begin with is a picture of my "Dust House" painting inspired by Ray Bradbury's From The Dust Returned.  It's just a whisical illustration.  Below you'll find my 3 favorite haunted houses from movieland.

"Hill" House from the 1983 movie, "The Haunting" 

"Bly" The haunted house from the 1961 movie, "The Innocents"

"Eel Marsh House" form the 1989 BBC production, "The Woman In Black" 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Introduction of the Eames Chair in 1956

Boy, those were the days! Notice the "Dahling" accent of the hostess!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo: Tender Lumplings

Here's a little blending of music and art, leastwise, the way I see it

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Tops" by Charles and Ray Eames

Here is an example of beauty observed in simple things by the husband and wife team, Charles and Ray Eames.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rowland Emett

Rowland Emett was a British Cartoonist/Illustrator/Designer with an incredibly ornate style.  He started as a cartoonist for the magazine "Punch" then eventually designed many "Things" for movies, theme parks, corporations and private collectors. He is responsible for the zany mechanisms for the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Of his "Vintage Car of the Future" Emett said it "has a great safety factor: It doesn't move". You can join the Rowland Emett Society here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rare TV Commercial Reel by Jack Davis

This is a reel of television commercials designed by the great cartoonist, Jack Davis.  Some kind person posted the animation on YOUTUBE and now we can all enjoy them, may they never take them down!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

"The Owl and the Pussy Cat", a production by the English animation company, Halas & Batchelor, made a profound impression on me as a child.  It has a very stylish, dreamy quality about it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Robert McCloskey's Extra Robber

Are you familiar with Robert McCloskey? Robert McCloskey lived from 1914 to 2003, He wrote and illustrated stories about a character named Homer Price, he also wrote Make Way for DucklingsLentil, Time of Wonder, Blueberries for Sal and Burt Dow, Deep Water Man. He received the Caldecott Medal for Make Way for Ducklings and Time of Wonder. He was a great story teller and an excellent draftsman. Time of Wonder and Burt Dow, Deep Water Man are beautifully illustrated in watercolors.
In Homer Price there is a story called "The Case of the Sensational Scent" wherein four robbers (count them, "four") stage a big heist on a live radio program and Homer eventually solves the crime and helps in the apprehension of the crooks.
A strange thing occurs to the reader's eye in one illustration that shows all of the robbers in one bed at a motel. Though it has been well established in text and pictures that there are four robbers there are suddenly five criminals in the bed at the motel! It's weird, it's actually kind of creepy! It makes me think of those movies where a mysterious person lurks in a scene who isn't supposed to be there, a ghost!
Here are some pictures, check them out, read the books, they are great fun for anyone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

All Hail Cheesy Sci Fi Book Covers!

Don't you just love cheesy Science Fiction cover art? I own quite a few of those paperbacks that I bought as a young man when, perhaps, I thought I may have the opportunity to visit Mars and battle a six-armed native.
Jared Hess, the director of  "Napoleon Dynamite" made an hilarious movie called "Gentlemen Broncos" about a young, aspiring Science Fiction writer that begins with some wonderful examples of the Cheesy Sci-Fi cover genre.

Here is a gallery of some of my favorite covers. I love the ROBOTECH series but isn't this cover a hoot!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Toccata for Toy Trains

Here is one of my very favorite short films. It is a lesson in the beauty of real antique toys. The film is one of many famous shorts made by husband and wife team, Charles and Ray Eames. I love the pace of the the film, the colors and music.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sketch Kit

There really any aren't any rules about what supplies you should use when sketching. There is the temptation to think that some miracle art pen, brush,  pencil or Japanese marker will make you a fabulous artist but any of us will only get "good" by practice. I'll show you some of the things I like to use when I sketch. 
It's hard for me to travel light, I have a tendency to keep sticking more pens and pencils and markers in my pockets and bag but I really do a much better job and think more clearly when I don't have a lot of junk to keep up with.  I have had some fun sketching sessions with one ballpoint pen or a #2 pencil.
Below is collection of pens and pencils I usually have collected in a small, black zipper bag to take almost anywhere.
From the top down: A white china marker, a blue "non repro" Prismacolor pencil, orange, yellow, burnt sienna and black watercolor pencils, a regular 2B pencil, a black ballpoint, a brushpen with brown ink, one with blue, one gray and one with clear water, and a black brushpen.
The brands of these items don't matter, you'll settle on which you like best as you try them out.
I carry them in a cheap, little zipper bag I bought at Hobby Lobby.
Below the supplies are a few sketches from a 4 1/2 x 6 inch Fabriano Sketch Journal. That sketchbook has different colored pages that are fun to experiment on.
Check out the Brushpens if you aren't familiar with them, you can buy them at any art or craft store and fill them with your favorite ink colors.
I learned a great deal about some of the materials I use from Russ Stutler's website, Russ is a great sketch artist who is very generous with his knowledge. Okay, go have fun! JRY

Saturday, January 12, 2013

STAGE CRAFTS, an Indispensable Book for Props

STAGE CRAFTS by Chris Hoggett is an indispensible resource for prop making. It's full of very easy to understand instructions for making weapons, armour, hats, you-name-it, all the cool stuff you always wanted that Santa failed to bring!
I used it a lot as a reference for building things for my children when they were young.
The author did a great job of illustrating every project with his own pen and inkwash pictures.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Photographing "Real" Ghosts!

Well, let me say first off, I don't have much faith in modern ghost recording. I do believe in ghosts! My oldest son and I saw and heard a ghost (I guess it was a ghost) from two different points of view when he was about 3 years old.

To the left is a beginner, ghost recording kit I found on the Sears website
For some reason I have a lot more interest in old, primitive photos of apparitions
Here is a neat photograph taken in an old English house in 1936 from Alice Duer Miller's book, I Have Loved England. Below that is a photo taken by Shirley Mackie of a ghost by the Brazos River in Texas.  The picture was published in Ed Syers' book Ghost Stories of Texas.
The Photo from the Syers book creeps me out! Look carefully at the top right area of the photo and look for a very ancient looking girl holding a child in the area of her left elbow. Br-r-r-r!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Making a Book Cover Illustration

When I started work on the cover for Gregory Miller's collection of short stories, The Uncanny Valley: Tales from a Lost Town I started making little sketches about the size of a large postage stamp and I tried to picture the cover as a thumbnail image on a website like Amazon. I also tried to imagine how the book cover might appear if I walked into a book store and saw a whole row of book covers, would ours stand out? I tried to go by what would attract me so it wasn't going to look like a Tom Clancy novel or a Danielle Steel book.

When I settled on a design I made a pencil sketch about 8 1/2 x 11 inches in size and eventually enlarged that to about 11 x 14 inches and transferred it to a piece of illustration board.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Gregory Miller Books

Last night Gregory Miller, my favorite living author, sent me some of the first chapters of the manuscript for his new book which I will be happy and honored to illustrate.
Greg and I met by way of a mutual appreciation for  Ray Bradbury's work. Greg bought a painting I made inspired by Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree. Later he commissioned me to paint a companion piece based on Ray's From the Dust Returned and eventually asked if I'd be interested in illustrating his first book, Scaring the Crows:21 Tales for Noon or Midnight.  We followed with The Uncanny Valley: Tales from a Lost Town then On the Edge of Twilight:22 Tales to Follow You Home.
It's been a thrilling adventure so far and it is truly "uncanny" how we inspire each other as we work on the books. In 2008, Ray Bradbury wrote, "Gregory Miller is a fresh new talent with a great future."
Below are links to buy our books at Amazon, if you'd like a copy inscribed personally please email me at

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Headless Portraits from the Victorian Era

We have a lot of photos with the heads cut off in our family albums but nothing like these found on Flavorwire!

Go to Flavorwire and see them all!

Illustrative Cartoonist, Jack Davis

This won't take  long because all I have to do is gush like a smitten fan about my favorite cartoonist, Jack Davis.
You won't have any trouble identifying his work from Mad magazine, magazine ads, Raid television commercials, famous movie posters, album covers and sports cartoons, especially for his Alma mater, the University of Georgia. Many bloggers have published thorough and excellent biographies of Jack and I have published those links below so do what I did, click through and enjoy!

"About Jack Davis"

"The One, the Only... Jack Davis!"

Jack Davis (Cartoonist) Wikipedia


Monday, January 07, 2013

Evidence of the Human Hand

There certainly are a lot of beautiful, realistic illustrations being produced today, especially in Fantasy and Science Fiction illustration. The anatomy is correct, the skin is perfect, the shadows and color are convincing. Just look at a Spectrum publication, all of that fantastic art is the result of much hard work and planning by award-winning illustrators. The pictures are photographic in appearance, some are the result of photographs and computers.
As for my tastes I am drawn to artwork that shows evidence of the human hand. I like to see some raw pencil shining through watercolor or some crooked ink lines or an unintended splotch of paint. The handmade art seems more personal to me and I find that sort of thing very comforting to look at. Often, if a picture is too perfect, I give it a quick look but my eyes tend to move on in search of another subject.