Thursday, January 27, 2011


The people who protest the term "racist" are the ones who the term fits so perfectly.

This is the age of unveiling of what has always been but has remained uncouth to admit. This is the age of drawing back the curtains on the men behind the masks. This is the age of a new type of lynching. The age of red faced bigots voted into power by red faced bigots.

I hold out for love and unity. But I refuse to go silently into this dark night.

Reason and truth must reign over fundamentalism. Without a society that evolves and grows we will digress to Taliban style rule. Look around you. It has already begun.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

School Visits Galore!

I have done lots of school visits and they remain one of the most fun parts of my job. This week I will be doing a bunch. What a fun job I have.

Mountain View library with my PT crew.


 Beaten by a ten year old in a blindfold. Really. Really. Humiliating. Except for the fact that he is going to be the next grand master from NYC.
I am so impressed by him that I am gonna offer up the video:

 Brooklyn can you hear me?

 Young queens. Young kings. Young  bishops. 

 Meeting fun people along the way... MY man, Greg, THE man, Melvin Van Peeples, and, the Queen of the HueMan Bookstore in Harlem, Marva Allen.

 Chess on the floor of the gym. St. Louis has game but Jesse holds his own. Tomorrow? No guarantees.

 Chess Rumble under the Arch

High school writers in Leavenworth
Session at the SCBWI Conference in LA

 Signing with Lin Oliver, Royal Empress of Children's Literature, and Henry Winkler, Knight of the Silver Screen, the real-life Hank Zipzer, and we must never forget, Barry Zuckerkorn, the greatest lawyer in the history of human existence.

Come to the Best'O Conference in the West'O! (or East'O)

Come check out the always amazing annual conference. It is an invaluable experience for those wishing to get into the field, hone their skills, and make contact with editors, agents, as well as superstar authors and illustrators. You have questions. They have answers.

I will be giving two presentations and am plotting how to bribe folks away from Santat's inevitably jam-packed session. (We will have BEERS in my session. Spread the word...*)

2011 Conference

* not true. There will be no beers in the session... aside from the one hidden in my coffee cup.**

** that is also not true. There will be no beer hidden in my coffee cup. Only coffee. Hallowed, lifesaving coffee. Nevertheless, it will be a freakishly fun weekend so sign up and I will see you there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


One year and a day ago the end of the world seemed imminent for those in Port au Prince.
For close to 300,000 souls, it was. from the global community was overwhelming. Yet, as things tend to go, the corruption in the government and corporate community kept most of that money from ever seeing its intended target. The interest earned on the donated money is burning executives' pockets as we speak. I can only wonder what a just reprisal might be for such heinous crimes against humanity.

And still the people carry on. The strength of the Haitian soul is undeniable. It is that little kid, barefoot, and working in the noon sun, that carries the hope of the nation. His future is not laid in stone.

I pray for Haiti with my kids. We pray for justice and hope. We pray for opportunity, economic and social. We pray for healing, emotional and physical. We pray for the world, especially those in the west, to remember their neighbors in need and sacrifice of themselves to make a difference.

Please take a moment to watch this work of my friend Bryn Mooser, who lives in Port au Prince and takes part in relief and reconstruction there. He and David Darg worked hard to bring you this amazing 30 minute documentary on Haiti. It is a beautiful film that I am pleased to share with you. 

SUN CITY PICTURE HOUSE from David Darg & Bryn Mooser on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Scholastic Magazine article on Hope for Haiti

Follow the link to the recent story in Scholastic Magazine, written by the articulate Kaj Lund Olsen, son of Deb Lund, author extraordinaire, and brother of the models I used in the book.

Check out the story here.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Portraits

What makes a portrait special? I am learning. When I first began I thought it was making look as much like the person as I could. Now, at the end, young Skywalker... oh, sorry. Brain tangent. But now, my ideas have changed quite a lot. What are the most treasured portraits in global history? Well many barely look enough like the subject to warrant a D+ in art school. And yet... By some stroke of the artist's brush, wave of the wizard's wand, we use the ancient magic and capture their ______ (Souls? Spirits? Memory?) upon a piece of canvas. Well past the lifespan of the subject, their portrait will live on. A form of eternity. 

I have spent 80% of my life pursuing artistic knowledge, impassioned with the creative drive. But only recently have I begun to learn the lesson that unravels the decades of study. I realize now that it is the portrait artist's job to give as much energy getting everything else about the painting as much attention as the likeness. For, if all you really need is a likeness, grab an effing camera, for crying out loud. This portrait is about much more than simple likeness.

Well, enough yammering.

Here's some art. There are my recent portraits. 



Tyler. Acrylic on KAPAbloc.

Ty and Phoebes. Acrylic on canvas.

Greg Neri. Ink and Acrylic on KAPAbloc.

Bradens. Acrylic on Canvas.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Loving my paintings and why I don't feel guilty.

I have been up to my ears in paint lately. The constrictions of illustration bottle up so much pressure that when all the other jobs are finished, I EXPLODE into a million pieces of light.

With the body of work I am creating right now, there seems to be cycles of discovery and finesse, and freedom. Unlike illustration, where the narrative of the story is king, these pieces can ebb and flow right out of the studio if they need to.

Ink. Acrylic. Canvas, or board, or panel, or plastic, or anything I can get my hands on mid-frenzy. (I considered the fridge doors but knew I would scare the wife.)

As I work with ink, I let the imagery out onto the canvas easily, knowing I am completely safe. If I screw up, pshhht. Who cares? I can go in with acrylics and chisel away the ink blobs until they are gorgeous representations of whatever they need to be. In fact, when I bring the canvas from ink (after it dries) over to my acrylics, I get the rare and beautiful treat of discovery. As I cut in to the territory of the ink, I am not in complete control. I, like a paleontologist or sculptor, get to find out what it is that is beneath the surface. The initial ink is only a suggestion, but often, and most rewardingly, once I begin to see into the true self of the painting to be, I get to explore a direction never intended.

I am basking in freedom.

I am basking in beauty.

I get to be stoked at how gorgeous they are. I don't have to temper my appreciation of my work because of not wanting to come off like those annoying artists who bleed on and on about their own work at openings. I mean, I know how hard I have worked to get to where I am now as an artist. I am not trying to be falsely humble or anything like that. I just normally don't have any desire to spend much time appreciating my work. I just do it and move on to the next. But this stuff... I am falling in love with it. It makes me feel amazing to be around it and just stare at it. It feeds me somehow.

I get to celebrate this work because it seems to have little to do with my skills or abilities. I am using fairly crude techniques to unearth brilliant visions. What I am celebrating is the healing power of art.

I can get used to this.

(Oh, and I realize the irony of this post, having posted no images of the work. Well... Maybe later.)