Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'God Bless Us Every One' - Artwork

I hope you have enjoyed these posts and the behind the scenes process of how I create and imagine ideas for books and my personal work.  

Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’ will always hold a special place in my heart since I first read the story as a little boy. The book did scare me but it always made me appreciate the simple things that life gives us. 

I will have more updates and news on upcoming shows and books. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, Great Holiday, and a Happy New Year!

In the words of Tiny Tim…    ‘God bless us every one!’ 


Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Carol-Artwork

A Christmas Carol has gripped the public imagination since it was first published in 1843, and it is now as much a part of Christmas as plum pudding or as mistletoe. Here are some more of my sketches of the Cratchit family preparing for their Christmas dinner and family gathering.

I hope you enjoy these simple sketches and that they serve as a timely reminder of the simple pleasures that seem to have been lost sight of in the seasonal scrum of shoppers now days. This time of year I have always felt is an annual invitation to the pleasures of nostalgia and families coming together.


Saturday, December 21, 2013


Here are some of my concept sketches and paintings for Scrooge. Dickens has created a character that is both hated and loved in Scrooge. Scrooge was abandoned and left alone by his father as a boy. A father who did not want him. He was spiteful and mean. His sister Fan was his best friend who cared and looked out for him. Fan who was the best thing in his life died giving birth and once again he was left isolated. His wealth grew and his heart sank and turned black and polluted as the London sky.

Scrooge, who was unaware that Bob Cratchit had a crippled son, asked the spirit if Tiny Tim would live, and becomes upset when he hears that the boy will die. The spirit angrily throws his earlier words back at him...

“If man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked can’t until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?”

By emphasizing “What” and “Where” here, Dickens reinforces that idea that Tim represents all of the poor and needy. Scrooge does regret saying this, and one of the first things he does when he recovers is send Bob Cratchit a turkey—probably thinking about how Tim will be eating it.

In the end, Scrooge becomes a “second father” to the boy, loving him like the son he never had and basically becoming a beloved member of the Cratchit family. Thus Scrooge goes through transformation, reformation, reclamation and finds Christmas and redemption in his heart.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tiny Tim Portrait-Artwork

Here is one of my concept sketches and my finished oil portrait for Tiny Tim in Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. Tim represents all the children living in poverty in the “surplus population” that Scrooge refuses to help and everyone ignores.  Tim is the one person who Scrooge feels pity and sorrow for and represents the reform that could save his own destiny.

Tim was the youngest son of Bob Cratchit. He is portrayed as a very frail boy who uses a crutch and leg irons to walk since he suffers from a severe illness. As I had mentioned before Mr. Cratchit could not afford treatment for his son since Scrooge underpays him. 

In my sketch and portrait of Tim, I portrayed him as the pure-hearted, caring boy that symbolizes Dickens idea of hope and innocents.

Hope you enjoy the artwork.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tiny Tim's Death-Artwork

Here is my concept sketch and my finished oil painting for the portrayal of ‘Tiny Tim’s Death’ in Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. Tim was the young son of Bob Cratchit. He is portrayed as a very frail boy who uses a crutch and leg irons to walk since he suffers from a severe illness. Mr. Cratchit can’t afford treatment for his son since Scrooge underpays him.

When Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Present he is shown just how ill the boy really is, and that he will die unless he receives treatment. When visited by The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge sees that Tiny Tim has died. This, and several other visions, ultimately led Scrooge to reform his ways.

In this painting I tried to capture the moment, when Bob Cratchit has returned home and gone upstairs to pray at Tim’s bedside. Tiny Tim has succumbed to his illness. Dickens writes, “He left the room, and went up stairs into the room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened, and went down again quite happy.”

The scene is one of the darkest points of Dickens story. In my painting I portrayed Tim’s spirit emitting light as a symbol of hope and redemption.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

‘Ghost of Christmas Future’-Artwork

Here is my concept sketch and my finished oil painting for the ‘Ghost of Christmas Future’ in Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be shows Scrooge his own lonely death. It does not show him what he desires to see. Scrooge wants reassurance that the decision he makes to change the present course of his life will change his future. Such reassurance cannot be given to him. Scrooge has lost his way and hurt those who loved him. This final ghost leads Scrooge to question his own existence. As Dickens writes in the passage…

“The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand ...  Scrooge ask…"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?"

Hope you enjoy the artwork.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ghost of Christmas Present

Here is my concept sketch and my finished oil painting for the ‘Ghost of Christmas Present’ in Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Dicken’s depicts all of the ghosts as part of the overall symbolism of his story. The ghost of Christmas present in particular echoes Dickens’ vision and message.  When the ghost first appears he is sitting on a throne heaped with food, suggesting plenty and happiness. He holds his torch in one hand and his eyes are filled with truth. The ghost glows with light and a heart full of color.  In contrast Scrooge is heartless, empty, and consumes darkness. They are portrayed as exact opposites. 

The ghost on his side has a scabbard with no sword in it, “eaten up with rust”, giving the reader the impression that the ghost is strong, but does not use its strength to harm people. On its head is a holly wreath, echoing Jesus’ crown of thorns and making him a savior – the savior of Scrooge.

Hope you enjoy the artwork.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

'Ghost of Christmas Past' - Artwork

Here is my concept sketch as well as my finished oil painting for the ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ in Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

The first spirit the ghost of Christmas past appears to Scrooge and explains how he has forged the first link in his chain. Scrooge has lost his way in life. He has turned to apathy and forgotten empathy.

Dicken’s describes the ghost of Christmas Past as “a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light”.

Hope you enjoy the artwork.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Bob Cratchit - Artwork

Early on in Charles Dickens story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ he introduces the reader to Bob Cratchit the underpaid clerk of Ebebezer Scrooge. He is a symbol of faith and family even in the midst of poverty and poor working conditions. Dickens shows Scrooges cruel and unfair side when he says to Cratchit,  “Let me hear another word from you, and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.” All Bob was doing was applauding Scrooge’s nephew for his speech about his love for Christmas and family – an attempt to break through Scrooge’s icy heart.

Nothing can move Scrooge’s dismal mood as he threatens to lower Cratchit’s pay and take away the small bit of a fire that he uses to stay warm. He tries to force him into a similar bitter mood as his own, but it doesn’t work. Bob Cratchit represents adversity and perseverance in the midst of hardship. His heart is full. These are some of my early sketches of Bob Cratchit and his desk candle.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dicken's Writing and My Sketches

Dickens’ writing portrays much of the events of his troubled childhood in England. He witnessed the pain he felt and saw firsthand on the streets of London. When he was twelve, Dickens’ father was imprisoned for debts he owed. Dickens during this time period was sent to work in a boot-blacking factory rather than attending school.

These bleak memories and hardships that he witnessed first-hand would influence the tone and mood of his writing for years to come, including in ‘A Christmas Carol’. He wanted to portray in this all the wrong that he had felt himself, and that was still occurring on the streets of Camden Town.

In the story I wanted to set the mood of the book with an impression of the London streets that were as black and polluted as Scrooge’s heart. In Dicken’s description of Victorian society he explains that it is very different to that of the city: “…A little market town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river.” This is in stark contrast to the city where “the house fronts looked black enough, the windows blacker” – the blackness being caused by the masses of coal dust produced by industry.

Here are a couple of rough sketches that I created to set the mood of the city and Scrooge visiting the streets of his old town with the ghost of Christmas past. Hope you enjoy them. I will have more to come on my next post.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Ghost of Marley-Artwork

As I mentioned I am going to post paintings and sketches weekly from my recent work on Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. This week painting and sketch are from stave 1 of the story.

The scene is cast with Scrooge returning home from work to find his dead friends face in place of his doorknocker. Scrooge is in disbelief as he looks in horror at the apparition of his old business partner Marley and his ghostly face on his door

Here is a small excerpt from Dickens sets the scene... “Marley’s face, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. How it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but Marley’s face.”

Thanks for all your comments about the paintings. I appreciate the feedback. I have a lot more to show. I will also have paintings and sketches available for purchase for those collectors who are interested.

As I mentioned I recently finished over 40 new works of art for the 170th Anniversary edition of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. Easton Press is the publisher who is creating this special limited edition. 

Dickens is one of my favorite writers and I do believe that his work had a major impact on society and the treatment of the downtrodden. In “A Christmas Carol” he asks, in effect, for people to recognize the plight of those whom the Industrial Revolution has displaced and driven into poverty, and the obligation of society to provide for them humanely. I tried to capture Dicken’s vision as closely as possible and his heartfelt sympathy for the poor.

I am going to show some of the preliminary sketches that I did before the final paintings over the next month. The first painting and sketch that I am going to show comes from stave 2 of the story. It is a painting and sketch of Scrooge’s sister Fan. Fan was the one person that Scrooge loved and trusted from his childhood. In this particular scene, Fan has come to get her brother to bring him home for Christmas.

I used my daughter as the model for this scene. I have the sketch next to the final oil painting to show the difference from the beginning idea to the final composition.

Welcome to my new Blog. I am going to post images weekly of paintings, drawings,  sketches, gallery shows, books, and movie concept art that I am currently working on. I will also give examples of art that I create during demos for my students.

Sketching is the core element of compositional development for artist. Young or old you should have a sketchbook at your side when inspiration calls. You never know when your imagination might take off on a tangent. Sketching is not just a form of rendering, it is also a means to capture feelings and impressions that present themselves throughout an artist journey.

As an instructor I have required my students to have a sketchbook. I never go anywhere without mine. Here are a few pages of my recent sketches. One is part of a creature development project that I am teaching and the other is a study of St. Francis inspired by the artist Zurbarán. Life is short sketch hard!