Monday, August 24, 2009

Braggin' on Lydia

All my daughters are gifted young women. Alayna's cooking expertise, hospitality and organizational skills are second to none. Natalie can write and perform music that can grab the attention of the noisiest venue (plus she's a mean car mechanic and landscaper!). And Emma can quote and act entire scenes from her favorite movies (as well as overcoming any obstacle facing her with Down syndrome).

Lydia, my 12-year-old, is expressing her creativity through writing and sculpting. She is enthralled with the Lord of the Rings, both book and movies, and has been sculpting some of the figures. Her latest piece on Gollum blew me away.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Young Catbird

Lydia ran over to our picnic table at the lake. She said she had something I needed to see. There, sitting on the lawn was a young catbird, obviously sick or injured. She begged to take him home to see if we could nurture him back to health. Unfortunately the poor critter didn't make it through the night. However, he did get an opportunity to be immortalized on paper.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breaking Free

With each trip we take as part of the MFA program, we are required to create an image based on the place we last visited. Our March trip to San Francisco was especially important to me. It inspired me to start this blog, to create and experiment, to develop a new portrait style, and most of all freed me to return to watercolor and graphite.

The first lecture in SF was given by Kazu Sano, an extremely talented and prolific illustrator. When I saw the portrait that is pinned to the wall above the cage in my image, I was inspired and challenged to push my portraiture. He also talked about creating an image a day, which spurred me on to do the same.

The left half of the image is entirely digital. While the likeness of me is accurate, it is stiff and without expression. The chain morphing into butterflies is an obvious metaphor for this newfound, or rather re-found communication. I look forward to what is ahead.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No, I'm not...

Just like last last year, the incoming students were asking if I was related to Jean Tuttle. I made a t-shirt to help clarify things. Jean got a big kick out of it. So, before anyone else asks... no, I am not...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Night of the Hunter

So this week we spent time in the digital world with our instructors Jean Tuttle and Nancy Stahl. Our assignment was to create an image of a person from Connecticut using 3 programs: Illustrator, Photoshop and Painter. I had not used Painter before so I tried to do most of the work in that program rather than just lean on what was familiar to me. I decided to do Robert Mitchum (he grew up in Bridgeport), specifically his film The Night of the Hunter.

I was delighted with the watercolor effects I could get for the background and the ability to keep it all on separate layers, like Photoshop, so I could tweak, change or eliminate what I didn't like without having to start over. Also, having worked with Payne last week, I was free to create a caricature of Mitchum rather than produce an exact, photographic likeness. I'm not totally satisfied with the image of the woman on the bottom, but I had to stop the endless noodling. I may still play with it to get it right.

Looking forward to coming home and beginning the process of creating the body of work for my thesis. It's going to be a busy year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Maple Man

What a great week it has been here in Hartford. First of all, getting back together with so many creative folks is electrifying. Second, to be under the tutelage of two illustration greats like C.F. Payne and Gary Kelley has been such a privilege. And third, I feel like I've really hit my stride. So much has seemed to come together in these past four days. It has also encouraged me to put this style to work for the Lady Who Swallowed a Fly book that I comped up last year. And best of all, I'm having a ball. What's better than that?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting ready for Hartford

For those of you who have been complaining about staring at a salt and pepper shaker for the last two months, here's a pencil drawing of yours truly that I've used as an element in one of the pieces I'm bringing with me to Hartford next week. I'll be in classes for two weeks for my Masters and will be half way to my degree! As my sister so affectionately noted, "who's the old guy?" I'll post the full image when I return... If I'm not too ancient to remember.

Enjoying the new studio. What a difference to have some sunlight!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salt & Pepper

So, after making a quick model of a salt shaker for yesterday's entry, I couldn't resist creating its complement and running a render while working on my paper for my MFA. Love being able to bounce back and forth between the digital and the traditional.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When It Rains...

Just got the check from insurance to replace the carpet. We've been rearranging 3 rooms in order to get my studio upstairs... finally out of the basement into the light.

In the process, I've been pushing through some pretty severe neck and back pain... numbness and tingling in my arms no less. Makes for some difficulty in trying to get things done while working and living life. Starting PT Thursday.

One bright spot... I might have a real commission to do a children's book!  

A wise man once wrote: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." Looks like I'm in for another round of character building. Bring it on!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More issuu...

Another issuu document, this time from my publishing portfolio.

Carpet's being ripped up... worse than we first thought. Might just move the studio to an empty bedroom upstairs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere...

So, it's Wednesday already, and where's my post? My only answer... life happens!

We've been busy getting my Dad's house ready to go on the market after some pretty extensive water damage from burst pipes. In the midst, we've been helping my oldest daughter and her husband get their new condo ready and getting them moved in.

Of course, at a most convenient time (is any time convenient for this?) my carpet in my studio is soaked from a leaking water pressure gauge. You know, one of those pinhole leaks that keeps spitting a small, steady stream, enough to soak the padding before it starts to show up in the carpet. Needless to say, I'm a little preoccupied. 

So, no, I'm not slacking.

Friday, May 1, 2009

discovering issuu

Discovered this week...

Booker T Washington

Another of Teddy Roosevelt's firsts was being the first president to entertain an African-American to the White House. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Phone

All this drawing and painting made me thirst for some 3D modeling (what a geek!). Anyway, in researching Teddy Roosevelt, I found that there were a number of "firsts" associated with him and his presidency, one of which was being the first president to have a telephone in his home.

I did some research on phones in that era, recreated it as a 3D model in Strata, and then drew the image. Here they are, the model and the drawing, side by side.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beginning Teddy Roosevelt

Started on the image of Teddy Roosevelt today. Gosh, how I love working with pencil.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dennis Nolan

Last night I went to the University of Hartford to meet with Dennis Nolan, a wonderful watercolorist with the heart of a father. We talked for 2 hours about paint and palettes and chroma and value and all kinds of other fun stuff. Dennis was a real encouragement to me in the beginning of the MFA program. He knew that my real satisfaction would come from going back to my traditional roots. How right he was.

Dennis gave me some great feedback on the direction in which my work has been going. The mentoring I received last night will really take things to another level. He and my thesis adviser, Bill Thomson, another amazing illustrator, have suggested I create some portraits of recognizable and/or historical figures so that any audience viewing my work will see that I can faithfully render their likeness. So, rather than pump out something for everyday, I'm going to be working on an illustration of Teddy Roosevelt. I'll be posting my progress.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

While we're revisiting...

Took Q's input about pulling back the color in the background on the image of Riley.

Liyah One More Time

Your comments are truly helpful and welcome. Taking one more shot at the image of Liyah, I desaturated the color, darkened the background a bit so that the face stood out more, and added a little color to her lips and cheeks. Still a moody piece, but a far cry from the murderous first attempt from a couple weeks ago.

impressionistic tissue

I was cleaning up my studio and started unfolding a piece of tissue I used to dab my watercolors. I scanned it in, made a seamless tile from it and started playing in Photoshop. I ended up making these Monet-like impressionistic patterns. Don't know what the heck I'm going to do with it yet, but it was one of those happy accidents that comes from entertaining oneself with paint-soaked kleenex.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Since deciding to work together with Ken and Lois Wilder I feel that rush like when I used to be a bike rider... when you come downhill and keep your cadence as you go up another. Having their photography, and the heart that comes with it, available to me has been a blessing and a half.

So ends my third week at this blog. I am so pleased with the progress from that first lip-biting shot with the lupe on my desk. So much more to learn...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Color Adjusting

While I'm in this color scheme frame of mind, I thought I'd play with the image of the Thai farmer. Unlimited possibilities.

Liyah Revisited

Now that I've done a few of these images, I'm understanding more and more the impact of color. I know that sounds like a "duh" moment, but I was so caught up with working the new style that I didn't think so much about what a slap to the eye that red can be. I've had a number of comments about the image of Liyah. Sure, if I was illustrating an article about someone who had been murdered or their heart broken, the original color scheme would work well.

Thank God for Photoshop. Since each of the images is built in layers (pencil drawing, watercolor, photo) I can go back in and play with the hues. What a huge difference.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thai Rice Farmer

Yesterday I visited Ken and Lois Wilder and we discussed how we might work together. They shared some of their photos with me, especially portraits.

Last year, Ken went to Thailand and shot some wonderful images of people working in rice paddies. I fell in love with this image.

Monday, April 13, 2009

First collaboration

One of the joys of being in a creative field is the friendships that grow with other gifted folks. One of these friends is Ken Wilder. Ken is a great photographer who works in concert with his wife, Lois, who is a fine artist.

Ken and I have breakfast every Thursday morning, and this past Thursday we decided to try a joint effort combining his photography and my portrait experiments. So, this is the first of hopefully many Wilder/Tuttle images. This is a portrait of one of Ken and Lois' granddaughters.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Okay... enough with the portraits. Playing with watercolor, photos and 3D. Click on it to see more detail.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Finally, a portrait of my oldest daughter. The last picture I drew of her was over 22 years ago. Bad daddy!

I tried a different paper for the pencil work. Not very happy with it... I had less control and it made the image too blotchy. What I do like is the very directional swash of the paint and the addition of the typographic swash. I also tried to keep to a much more limited palette than with the previous portraits.

Now, off to work on some more marketing materials...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Homemade Light Box

I was working on another image today when I started coveting a light box. When I worked at Union Carbide we had a beautiful light table... had to be 5' x 4'. Tried to get it when they were emptying out the offices after the Dow acquisition, but it got lost in storage somewhere and I never saw it again.

So, I decided to build my own. It's nothing like what I could buy at Dick Blick, but it hardly cost me anything... a mongrel mix of stuff in my workshop and some items from Home Depot. Yeah, I know... it's got hot spots, but for what I need, it's perfect. You know, you have those days when you just gotta make somethin'.

Working on an image of my oldest daughter, Alayna. Should have it up tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I've loved the photo of my wife, Donna, that this image is based on. The setting, however, left a lot to be desired. So, why not create a portrait?

Because of the tedious nature of the way I used to handle traditional work, I ran from it. I may not settle on this approach, but what I love is the ability to create an image in less than a day... and be happy with it!

I know when I started the Masters program I really wanted to mix traditional and digital media together, but wasn't quite sure how. I'm enjoying this immensely.

Took some photos of my oldest daughter, Alayna, over the weekend. She spent the day with us while her husband, Ryan is in Germany. Apply this approach or discover a new one?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nightly Doodle-Pro

Busy day yesterday... started another image but didn't have time to finish. So, I thought I'd post one of my nightly Doodle-Pro excursions with Emma.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Here's portrait of Natalie's friend, Liyah. She sang with Natalie on Tuesday. An incredible voice!

I'm enjoying this portrait style. Will keep playing and experimenting... maybe even incorporate it into my Masters thesis.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Natalie at The Space

My 18-year old daughter, Natalie, is a very gifted musician. I went to see her play last night at a venue in Hamden called The Space. I was blown away at how much she is maturing as an artist. Her song writing has improved greatly, and she always shines playing live.

I really liked the style of the piece I did of Lydia last week and decided to try it with a photo of Natalie. I think I'm on to something. I like it anyway.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Break at the Park

Today was one of those glorious spring days, and Donna and the kids were heading to the park. I grabbed my sketchbook and went with them. The girl on the swing was so aware that I was sketching her... she didn't know whether to be embarrassed or show off.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fretting Fly

Been busy today putting together a promo, so I pulled a sketch from my book. Another image for the children's book I'm working on.

It's a kick working on these characters. Like anything else, it's important to know how the real thing looks before you distort it.

My youngest daughter, Emma, and I draw characters on her MagnaDoodle every night before she goes to bed. I split the screen, create a wacky face, then she creates one of her own. It's now part of her evening ritual.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It started with a pansy

Been messin' around with patterns using silhouettes of flowers. Here's just 4 examples of patterns from an image of a white and purple pansy. Playing with hues and blending modes produces an infinite number of patterns. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lydia too

Another image of Lydia, this time watercolor and graphite. I've done better... the hair is really muddy. BUT... I'm glad to push myself through another piece. I suppose the liberating part of all this is being able to put on display something I'm not happy with. It's all a work in progress.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Decided to experiment with mixing several different media. Took a photo of my daughter Lydia, created a small pencil drawing to keep the lines fairly coarse. Scanned the pencil drawing in, ran it through a couple of filters in Photoshop (underpainting and poster edges), scanned in some watercolor splashes, and went to town with layering and masking. I really like the effect. Need to try it with other images. Would love some comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scaredy Cat

Had a great chat with Q Cassetti today — great artist and even better coach. I'm letting myself get too bogged down by this whole thesis thing. This daily blog right now is my kick start. No pressure, just what's flowing from the brain through the fingers today.

I've dusted off the children's book I sketched out in Hartford this past summer and decided to work on the character of the cat being chased by the old woman. After poking around at a bunch of cat pics online, some of Peter de Sève's work and a few Disney characters, I came up with this fella. Having fun.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Take a deep breath, and...

So, after more than a year of hemming and hawing, I'm finally posting. This past week's trip to San Francisco with so many incredibly talented illustrators inspired me to take the plunge. So here it is... the first of many daily paintings (or drawings, or whatever). I admit I'm not very impressed, but this is more of an exercise in experimenting and loosening up than in noodling and fretting over technique.

I'm currently earning my MFA in illustration through a limited residency program with the University of Hartford ( In the 30 years I've worked as a designer and illustrator I've never been challenged as much as I am now. I've spent too much time as the big fish in the sea. It's humbling, demanding and stimulating to suddenly find yourself a guppy in a tank full of angelfish.