The Illustrated Raymond Carver: What’s in Alaska

WhatsINalaskaWith this piece I chose to illustrate the end of the story where our main character is in bed and hallucinates, seeing a pair of eyes in the shadow in the hall. While the story is filled with a bunch of great content I could have painted such as piles of snacks, highly inebriated conversations and children wandering about into the before mentioned drunken fray, I went with this route. Here’s why.

It is really one of the smallest parts of the story but one that stuck with me the most. To me, the character has always seems haunted with the idea of moving to Alaska and the way his wife and friends seem to spiral around him throughout the night, almost like he’s not there because he’s, “on a bummer”. This concept (moving to Alaska) mixed with the libations really throws him. His anxiety and inebriated state brings him to see something which may or may not be real. An apparition. I sought to create a composition that is truly mundane at first glance but on further views you notice maybe the disembodied eyes and then maybe the way the floorboards and wall do not line up correctly, further illustrating this man’s muddled and disquieted thoughts. What he is visualizing is his anxieties and fears which only he seems to see, which earlier in the story, no one else seemed to notice either.

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The Illusrated Raymond Carver: CATHEDRAL

CathedralThis is probably one of the first stories I read by Raymond Carver. Without giving too much away, the story involves a rather jaded man describing one evening spent with a friend of his wife. What follows is a really beautiful transformation of this character from an unpleasant and obstinate guy to a, dare I say, (slightly more) enlightened man. Whether it’s  fleeting or lasting, no one can say. But that’s not really the point. For the moment this character stands in the presence of something greater than himself. Just like one might in front of a great Cathedral.


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The Illustrated Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver is one of my favorite writers. I started reading his work in college and quickly devoured everything he wrote. Short stories, poems and even other takes on his work such as Short Cuts and, more recently, Everything Must Go. I return to these stories every once in a while (as I often do with favorite books) to re-read my favorite parts.

What I found fascinating in these short tales is the way Carver built scenes and filled them with what feels like real people and conversations and emotions.

With this project I have sought to capture specific parts of these stories. Snapshots. Moments that have stood out to me and/or have been a pivotal piece of the stories composition while also creating an interesting composition myself that might draw a future reader in. Hopefully I’m successful. At the very least I’ve had a lot of fun.

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WHY DID YOU MAKE THAT? Over Under Around Through

Over Under Around Through



The inspiration for this piece stared in May while I coached my (former, sad:( ) middle school track team at a meet we were competing in. Heavy rains in the days leading up to the meet created a humongous puddle blocking the whole turn of lanes 1-3. Trying to sweep out the puddle proved futile because obviously the water was already in the lowest point(Science always wins). Cut to later on in the meet with the decision made that the lanes would be kept open. During a relay race, I witnessed a group of racers charging toward this massive puddle.

I have to give it to my middle school racers; they were determined to keep that baton moving.

Some went over and tried to jump (hilariously), some went around into the grass and other lanes (No DQs on account of said puddle), some went through, (the most fun choice anyway) splashing the whole time. Fortunately none went under because that would mean someone would need a band aid and that’s no fun at all.

My mind then flashed to Cyclocross (my favorite and the best cycling spot) and barriers, mud, hills, etc. Everything great about CX. I thought about how the CX racers, especially new CX racers, often find the most interesting way to negotiate these obstacles. Just like a bunch of 12 year olds at a track meet, the results are hilarious but usually successful.

From all of that, the concept was born.

We won the meet by the way.

Go Vikings!

Big Ideas, Planning, Overthinking

The initial sketches were completed in a rough manner but enough for me to understand what needed to happen.

Sadly I can’t find any of these initial sketches!

I knew that the best way to illustrate the action of the piece was to portray each racer in a profile view. It was important to see the mud and what the racer was doing with the mud to communicate the message. This layout also conveys the repetition of shapes which helps to set up an expected pacing to the complete piece and adds to the narrative. This choice also gives me the flexibility to layout the finished drawings either stacked as they are depicted or in a horizontal design. In the latter instance this would read almost as if this is a snapshot of an actual race.

I had a very specific way I wanted the bikes to look which I guess I could describe as classic, traditional, or vintage. I basically didn’t want the deep carbon wheels and rounded corners that you get a lot with the contemporary set ups. Just an aesthetic preference is all. I quickly found an image that worked in a Richard Sachs. I researched a variety of classic cycling jerseys and found several that would work best together as a composition. The “Under” Guy represents the colors of Team Pegasus. I chose those colors with that racer because when the team started it was a bunch of people with varying degrees of cycling experience who just wanted to race, get dirty, and have a ton of fun. More than once I ended up in this similar situation. Though I don’t race with them anymore I still feel like I’m a part of a team. Plus they told me the only way out was to get jumped out and that sounds painful.

Materials and Execution

I created the Art for this in 5 major parts. Each racer was drawn in .05MM HB pencil on a piece of 8.5X11 Smooth 100LB Bristol. I traced each Bike.

photo 1

I painted each racer and bike with Pelikan watercolor with round #2 and#6 brushes. Final color choices were based on achieving a balanced overall composition as well as balance within each separate bike and racer pages. The only “for sure” colors were the Team Pegasus Pink and Black.

The text was the final piece of the puzzle and was completed separately from the bike and racer pages.


I went with my own hand writing as I thought it best represented the nature of the sport and image. 

I scanned it all in to my MAC and put it together in GIMP layering the text on top of the racers, cleaning up stray marks, and laying it all out.

In the end it looked like this.


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The Who What When Where Why How

I have decided to document the creative process that goes into my illustrations. Why? Well, I enjoy learning about other creative people’s creative processes. I enjoy this because to me great Art is more than just pretty pictures or sounds or stories. I know that and I think most others feel the same. To me a great work of Art encompasses everything about it from the instant it is thought up to the moment it is labeled complete. I know there is a usually a whole story behind a  piece of music, painting, or writing. I also know that a lot of time and energy goes into creating these pieces of Art and I appreciate that effort that particular Artist puts into the piece which also makes me appreciate the particular Art piece more.

Great Art doesn’t just happen. Great Art just LOOKS like it just happened.

Often after viewing a piece of Art and researching it later on I learn just the most amazing stuff about how or why an Artist made their Art OR what they really intended to say. Learning more is super exciting.

Congrats teachers, you made me a life-long learner.

I want to know the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of it all. 

Maybe it’s a bit obsessive to get that into a Song or Drawing or Story. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe everyone does this? I don’t care either way. It’s just what I do. I enjoy learning. I dig the big everything about a lot of things, especially Art. 

“So you think you’re like some amazing Artist that people should really pay attention to? You think you make great Art ya’ turkey? No one even goes to this old claptrap blog!”

You are right about the fact that no one visits this page but wrong in that, 

NO, I do not think I’m the bees-knees on anything. 

I do like the things I make though and think long about making them. 

Most importantly, I am a part of a much larger community of creative people who look to one another for inspiration, help, etc. Maybe someone wants to know what goes into something that I make. Maybe the things I share can help someone else. Probably not, but maybe.

Like many things in my life, I’ll probably keep doing this until I’m bored of it and it’s not fun anymore. It’s going to be detailed. Maybe even annoyingly so. 

If you care to know more about the Who What When Where Why How of how I make stuff keep reading. If not that’s cool too but you should also go listen to this song

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Over Under Around Through

A little CX Themed piece I made recently.









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A couple quick things

1. I finished the next part of COLOSSAL. It’s called Before Curious Machines and the outside looks like this. I’ll write a proper post about it in a few days.


2. I will be reading a selection from COLOSSAL at the Chicago Zine Fest tomorrow and exhibiting my goods on Saturday. I’m honored to be a part of this event and am really looking forward to sharing my  work with everyone.czf2014poster

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