Monday, December 22, 2008

The book to buy NEXT Christmas!

Designer Ian Black and I are working on a children's book co-written by his mother and his son. When the lucky publisher identifies themselves and comes forward with a deal to proceed, we're sure this will be all the rage next Christmas. I'll keep you posted, and hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas, and I hope you don't lose any teeth over the holidays. It gets confusing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Illustration Friday: Voices

I heard voices. I heard them all week. In my head.

 The voices said, "The Illustration Friday word this week will be either 'Cookie' or 'Dough', and that will enable you to use your existing holiday cartoon and you can post it quick enough to be hot on the heels of that Willie Baronet. Just don't ever expect to beat him. You will be disappointed. Only Tina has that power." 

But the voices lied. Or I misunderstood them. People do that you know. Misunderstand the voices that they think they are hearing. Happens all the time. 

Then I heard another voice. It said "What's stopping me?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Illustration Friday: Rambunctious

"Marked by uncontrollable exuberance: UNRULY." Good thoughts for a Friday.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It was 28 years ago today...

John and Yoko. 1981. Oil on canvas. h18 x w24 in.

I was watching Monday Night Football in my apartment in Dallas. The Miami Dolphins were hosting the New England Patriots. Miami won the game 16-13 in overtime, with a 23 yard field goal by Uwe von Schamann. His 3rd field goal of the night. It was December 8th, 1980. I'm sure I was nursing a beer. I'm sure it was a Coor's. I was just a child and had not yet cultivated my sophisticated taste for imported malt beverages.

It was during the broadcast of that game when Howard Cosell broke the news to the world that John Lennon had been shot, and killed.

I'm sure I had several more beers that night. 

I painted the above oil painting a few weeks after that night. It's of the iconic photograph taken by Kashin Shinoyama that appears on the album cover of Double Fantasy, John Lennon's then just released record. The album cover is black and white, but I squinted my eyes and imagined some subtle colors.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's the deal with Pirates?

These are some drawings I did yesterday for a children's musical songbook about pirates. What's with the fascination with pirates? They're criminals! Is it their silly clothes? Is it living on the ocean? Is it getting something for nothing? Probably just the funny way they talk, and the fun rides at Disney World. Do you know what a pirate's favorite letter of the alphabet is?? Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Illustration Friday: Similar

It's eery how similar Brad Pitt and I are to one another. It's actually getting kind of old. I like my space, you know what I mean?  But what's really weird is how my mom looks nothing like Mrs. Pitt.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Howard Finster! Rest in peace.

Today would be the 92nd birthday of the Reverend Howard Finster, the eccentric artist who claimed in 1976 that a smudge of paint on his finger told him to "paint sacred art". Finster is credited with fueling the "outsider art" movement. He went on to paint thousands of paintings, of which I'm privileged to own a couple. He counted as his friends David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. He painted album covers for both bands. The song Maps and Legends by R.E.M. is a tribute to Mr. Finster. I painted the above painting of Howard Finster in 1992 as a baby gift for my friends Scott and Lori, who are fans of his art, after the birth of their daughter Beatrice. I showed a polaroid of the painting to Howard during a visit my family took to his Paradise Garden in Penville, Georgia. He said that a lot of people have drawn his picture, and that mine was "real good".  Howard Finster died October 22nd, 2001. So, happy birthday Howard, I hope you're happy at whatever planet you landed on.
Painting the portrait of Howard Finster.

Howard giving me a brief drawing lesson.

This is Howard holding my daughter Kelly, 
who is now 17 years old.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've been tagged. (Is there a cure?)

Click on image to enlarge.

I'm somewhat of a novice to the blogosphere, but this week I've found myself "tagged" by the Great Kate of Chicago. And what that apparently entails is that I post 7 things about myself, and then proceed to tag 7 others, and so on, until everyone in the world knows about everyone else. Well, here are my 7 things, but I don't know how to tag others yet, but I will, because I know if I break the chain, 7 plagues will fall upon the world, and a Republican will be voted in as president again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Boulevard Bolt on Thanksgiving morning.

Okay, there's this Jew, a Baptist, and an Episcopalian. They get together, and they put on a race. Well, actually it's many Jews, Baptists and Episcopalians, coming together to put on a race in Nashville to benefit the homeless. The Temple, Immanuel Baptist Church, and St. George's Episcopal Church are putting on the 15th annual Boulevard Bolt 5 mile race on Thanksgiving morning. I had the privilege of designing and drawing the first shirt back in 1994, and again last year, for the 14th annual running of this race, with almost 8,000 participants!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Illustration Friday: Opinion

I know people who take it as a personal affront if your opinion is different than theirs. One definition I liked: Belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Illustration Friday: Pretend

I drew this sketch of myself during church yesterday, where I was pretending. Or was I pretending to be pretending? Maybe I was pretending to be pretending to be pretending! Ouch, my head hurts...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Trifecta is COMPLETE!!!

First: My daughter's high school soccer team defeated the evil FRA Panthers to win the regional championship! Second: The mighty Tennessee Titans defeated the Green Bay Packers to go 9-0! Third: Good guys win! Good guys win!!!

About the above illustration: I drew those angels for a book I wrote back in 1999. Ironically they are pumped about the birth of the coming saviour. Note that these are not Southern Baptist angels. When there is an illustration assignment depicting angels for LifeWay (Southern Baptists) you do not show wings, feet, or make it female. My publisher for my book was Thomas Nelson, and they let me be a maverick. Let's all get down and get mavericky!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Illustration Friday: Vacant

This was how it looked a long, long time ago. Hopefully it will be a long, long time before it looks this way again. But who would see it? 

Vote for hOpe, with a capital O, and vote often!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Illustration Friday: Repair

This old world of ours is in need of some repair, in many ways, and on many levels. Hopefully next Tuesday there will be a sign that maybe we can start heading in that direction.

This little tree-huggin' dude has good intentions, but with questionable results, is at least making some effort.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Illustration Friday: Late

The original.

My version.

The quintessential late guy in literature would have to be Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit. Or was it the Jefferson Airplane's? Whatever. The icon of late.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"

I drew this illustration probably before most of the Illustration Friday participants were out of diapers, but it's working for me today. Man, I could draw chains back then.

I'm curious to see if there's any menstrual cycle references this week.

Better late than never.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Old Phoebe Caulfield.

This is an illustration that I drew of a young J. D. Salinger reading to his children from an early draft of The Catcher in the Rye. He's reading the portion where Holden is describing his 10 year old sister Phoebe: "You'd like her. I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you're talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, for instance, she knows it's a lousy movie. If you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it's a pretty good movie."

No wait. Wrong illustration. This is an illustration where a father is reading to his children from the Bible, and sharing all of the verses that say that if you're a Christian, you're a Republican. My bad. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Stupid Mouth

My stupid mouth
Has got me in trouble
I said too much again

Mama said "think before speaking"
No filter in my head
Oh, what's a boy to do
I guess he better find one soon

Oh I'm never speaking up again
Starting now

John Mayer, a prophet for our times

Illustration Friday: Strings

Imagine there's no Strings
It's scary if you try
No music around us,
A world way too quiet
Imagine all the people
Not tapping their toes

Friday, October 3, 2008

Illustration Friday: Boogery

"Hey Bill, what's this supposed to be a picture of?"
"Well, the Illustration Friday word this week is 'Boogery', and this is what I came up with."
"No. I think if you look again, you'll see that the word is 'Sugary'."
Kind of like "Hickory, Dickory, Dock".
"Boogery, Sugary, Schlock!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's official: Fall is the BEST!

Results of a recent Gallup poll revealed that people that like Fall the best of the four seasons, are the coolest, most thoughtful, sensitive, heartiest, and nicest people around. I guess that's me. The results are said to be 100% accurate, with a plus/minus accuracy rating of 3%. There you go! People that like Summer the best are vain, impatient, and hot. People that like Winter the best (unless they live somewhere that you can do Winter stuff), are depressive, loners, prone to being serial killers, and cold. Duh. And people that like Spring the best are almost as cool as people that like Fall the best. Interesting, since Spring is my second favorite. Go me!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Illustration Friday: Packed.

Well, I'm all packed and ready to head off on that old Information Highway. I'll visit new friends in such exotic places as Hungary, Quebec, and Brentwood, Tennessee. Drop me a line and I'll come to your place too! Just know that I don't like curry, and I get up early.

And again to those Illustration Friday Purists: Not only is this a previously used illustration, it's also been previously posted on my blog! Yikes! But... I love it, and I've been to foreign countries before, and I love pork products, with or without lipstick!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Illustration Friday: Island

After his failed presidential bid in 2008, Socmo embezzled the remaining funds in his campaign war chest, and purchased his own island from the estate of Marlon Brando where he established his own dictatorship, declaring "LIPSTICK FOR ALL! ALASKANS AND SWINE ALIKE!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Illustration Friday: Clutter

Okay, here's the deal: I'm aware that there are Illustration Friday purists out there who contend that we shouldn't (from a moral point of view) use existing images for our Illustration Friday posts. We should draw inspiration from the word, consult our muse, and create some original art. When I started a month ago, that was my intention. But, as I often do, for the sake of convenience and pleasure, I've compromised my shallow morals, and have used existing images, previously paid for by my wonderful clients. My excuse last week: I was out of town for the Labor Day weekend, my time was limited, and I found a very appropriate image. This week: What else could I have possibly drawn? It's clutter! Given a forty hour work week, I probably would have come up with this exact image. And I could have lied to you folks, and given the impression that I drew it just for Illustration Friday, but seeing that I posted it 23 minutes after the word was announced, I suspect some sleuths out there might have suspected my ruse. So there is a glimmer of morality still in my soul.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Fascinating phenomenon: The older I get, the fewer memories I have! And like many of us, the fondest memories are often of vacations. I vaguely remember having a vacation. But oh, if my luggage could only talk!

This weekend we're driving to Detroit for a wedding. Vacation? Detroit? Hardly. More like punishment for unrepentant sin. Maybe Mr. Suitcase will have a good time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So which Australian band is this Roo-Teen listening to on his iPod while he is texting his favorite Sheila? Men At Work? Little River Band? INXS? Midnight Oil? If you thought anything except AC/DC, you're a loser! There's no need to even discuss this. G'day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I love eating animals. Sorry. I'm not a bad person. Just love that meat. There's an organization for people like me. I believe it's called PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


A sailing adventure on the good ship Self-Employed-Illustrator! While sailing on the beautiful seas, it is for the most part, quite a lovely journey. Interesting ports, mostly friendly natives, and an occasional babe in a hula skirt. But sometimes the days are stormy as I view in the distance that treacherous Sea of Deadlines, but nothing makes the crew more mutinous than that legendary whirlpool of No-Work! The bones of many illustrators lie at the bottom of that part of the vast ocean. To be avoided at all costs, though sometimes the cruel winds blow in that direction. After a bit of bailing, am currently cruising quite nicely. Welcome aboard all ye wish to follow! (Side note: My world really was flat when I lived in Kansas! Also to be avoided.)

Friday, August 1, 2008


"Wow... Illustration Friday, just like I pictured it, skyscrapers and ever'thang!" Well, here I am, my first entry to IF. I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of my first word to interpret. Apparently the IF people sleep a little longer than I do, so I waited awhile for the word to make it's way. Maybe they're in a western time zone. But finally, it arrived. "Poof!" My instant thought was a magic trick. Then I thought, what would I think would be magical? Then I drew this picture. On behalf of me and my paints, I hope we pass the audition.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shark Week! (Weak Shark.)

There's some channel on my television that has some big doo-dah festival of shark programming called Shark Week. Apparently it's a big deal and a lot of people watch it. I'm not one of them. I like shows about drunken advertising executives, who smoke like freight trains in 1962! That's my show. Seems like I drew this illustration in 1962, but actually it was around 1992, and boy, has it faded. It was for 321 Contact Magazine produced by Children's Television Workshop. It was a comic about The Fresh Fish of Smell Air. Those were the days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I (heart) Jeopardy!

I read a lot. Well, I guess compared to people who read a lot, I don't read a lot. But compared to most people, as least most people I know, I read a lot. I don't read a lot like those people on Jeopardy. Those people are freaks! But in a good way. How can one person know obscure Russian Literature and minutia about the cast of Friends? It's either/or, isn't it? Not with these folks. They have the time and the mental capacity for academics and popular culture. These people are my heroes. Each and every one. I love Jeopardy.

I produced a series of 10 paintings using the imagery of Bazooka Joe comic strips, but replaced the asinine jokes with text from famous American novels. The text that I chose was from the paragraphs in which the title of the book is mentioned. By the way, the text and the image have no correlation. That's the point, isn't it? Irony. Irony is so in right now. Not. I'm such a rookie.

"I'll take Potent Potables for four hundred Alex."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!!

Wow, it seems just like yesterday on July 10th of some other year when Ruth Ross was laboring in the Osteopathic Hospital of Wichita, Kansas pushing forward what turned out to be me. Way to go Ruth! Er, I mean, Mom. 

Other celebrity birthdays today: Arlo Guthrie, 61. Bela Fleck, 50. Gary LeVox (of Rascal Flatts), 38. Jessica (Thank God John Mayer dumped her!) Simpson, 28.

So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

Stop this train
I wanna get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly, won't someone stop this train?

-John Mayer (Stick with Jennifer Aniston you knucklehead!)

Monday, July 7, 2008

What do you think about, now that you're dead?

"Put your hand on your chin. You'll look more thoughtful!"
What do you think about when you're dead? I think (I'm still living), not much.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Can I plagiarize myself?

The top illustration was my Christmas card for 1993. Back when the daughter pictured still thought I was cool. She foolishly doesn't realize that I am still the epitome of coolness. There's been another daughter added since this illustration. She will very soon think I am not cool. Any day now. 

Many years later I was commissioned to do an illustration for a parenting magazine, an article about whining children. I had a square space to fill, and the old image of my Christmas card came to mind, and I adapted it to the assignment. There exists a fine line between plagiarism, influence, inspiration, imitation, and parody. Since it was myself that I was plagiarizing, I had no trouble sleeping that night.

Hey, guess what today is? It's the first day of the rest of my life! If I had a quart of gas for every time I've said that, (today's approximate equivalent of a dollar), I could drive to Phoenix and back. Though I've never been to Phoenix, I've got  friends there, so it would be worth the expense. But I've heard that Phoenix is the pits, so that's why it would be important to have the gas to get back. Anyway, life goes forward, and am trying to make the most of it! Started this morning. Again.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Snake, Rose, Fork #6

Acrylic on Canvas 12"x16"

This latest vision in the series of 437, was loosely inspired by Paul Klee's Park Near Lu(cerne).

Monday, April 28, 2008

This is about me, not you.

Last year I drew a small pile of gag cartoons and sent them off to the New Yorker just to, you know, see. I thought they were good, but alas, no response. Didn't even get a rejection letter. Now that's rejection. I'm sure they're inundated with submissions, but mine were special. They were from me. 

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Hey, can somebody get me a metaphor?"

This illustration is obviously replete with symbolism and is a deep metaphor for something. I'm just trying to come up with something relevant to merit it being here, cause I like it so darn much. Let's see... I was inspired by my hero Lance Armstrong on his finish today in the Boston Marathon, just putting one foot in front of the other. Just doin' it! Livin' strong! (zzzzz.) Or maybe he's on the road to Pennsylvania for tomorrow's primary. Just remember, vote for Barry Obama, and vote often! Or... Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time! Q: How do you get through life? A: One day at a time! Q: How do you get where you need to go? A: Look at a map (Ooooh, another metaphor!) and start taking steps. And be sure to smile as you go! Whatever. Hope you enjoy my drawing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Diptych rhymes with Dipstick. Coincidence?

These paintings were commissioned by Alley & Associates, an environmental engineering firm in Nashville, Tennessee, to hang in the lobby of their cool new offices. They are acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48" each, and hanging one above the other in a large vertical space. That's 32 square feet of painting folks, if you're into the math thing. I think Al Gore would like these, and could afford to send some work my way. Even though he lives just two miles from me, I haven't yet run into him or Tipper at the grocery, so if anyone can forward these to him, I'd appreciate it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Deuteronomy 25:11,12

This illustration is an element that goes on a children's game board for LifeWay Christian Resources. The designer is my friend Ed Maksimowicz.
The past few years a great amount of my work has been for LifeWay, so in an effort to know "the product" better, this year I'm reading the bible through, from cover to cover.
I'd like to share with you some of the practical wisdom I've gleaned from that comforting book of Deuteronomy:
"If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity."
That, of course, is from the NIV, or the "Nearly Inspired Version" as an elder at my church likes to say. Since this verse has such meaning for me today, I did an expansive study of it, and would like to share with you some other interpretations of this important passage, which as we know is "God breathed".
From the original language, or as some call it, The King James Version...
"When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand , and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her."
The secrets?
The ever popular NASV calls it this way...
"If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity."
And that lite, watered down Living Bible says is thusly...
"If two men are fighting and the wife of one intervenes to help her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, her hand shall be cut off without pity."
Yikes. So folks, quit your squabbling and be careful out there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And they lived happily ever after.

Occasionally in real life, like in the fairy tales, life is just, and good triumphs over evil. Like was witnessed yesterday evening when the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the thugs of Memphis. "There is no 'I' in Team, but there is a 'Me' in Memphis."  Quit eatin' gummy bears and practice your free throws you idiot! Life is soooo good!

Above is the latest installment of the 437 entries of Snake, Fork, and Rose. Please note that all my paintings are for sale, unless otherwise noted. Be a part of history, buy yours today!