The first volume of The Illustrated Shakespeare, a projected thirty-eight books — one a month for the next thirty-eight months — is scheduled for publication Monday, January 9. It’s an ambitious project, and one for which I’m proud to be the illustrator, something that might come as a complete surprise to anyone who knows me since I’ve always spoken of my writing and not a word about art. Nevertheless, each book is supposed to be done in a different style. My challenge is to mix it up as much as I can. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is not an oft-read play, but it was the Bard’s first. The books are being printed in alphabetical order, so the two gentlemen are up first.
This is the first portrait I ever painted in gouache — the Bard of Avon, based on the famous Chandos portrait. I chose gouache for this painting because it’s more opaque than the watercolors I typically use. Plus these Holbein brand paints helped me get the dark background I wanted. This particular portrait is reproduced on the back cover of an upcoming paperback edition of The Two Gentlemen of Verona soon to be published by Coyote Canyon Press. I designed the cover and also completed forty-five pencil illustrations for the book. Publication date is January 8, 2017.
When I send postcards to friends, I often draw a picture. My friend, the novelist David Winkler, loves the literary characters I draw. He’s always been a fan of the short stories of Raymond Carver, so this one was fitting.
I’ve alway liked the writing of Kurt Vonnegut, so he was a natural choice for my first attempt to draw a likeness of a famous writer. I think I captured a pretty good Kurt.
This is another in my taxi cab series. These watercolors seem to be the most popular art I create. At least more people tell me they like the loose style and my use of color. What I’m trying to capture with these is the sense of emptiness and loneliness oftentimes endemic to urban environments such as industrial work areas. Plus, the aesthetics of old cabs is appealing.
Lucetta: Peruse this paper, madam.
I’m going to create one illustration for every single scene in Shakespeare — an ambitious project to be sure. I’l try to do one drawing a day, but we’ll see. I’m working with Coyote Canyon Press on an illustrated edition of Shakespeare, to be published first in individual volumes and then as a single collected volume.
All the illustrations will be in ink. Here is the first from Act One, scene one, of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Another sketch of a famous composer, this time Hector Berlioz. My process is simple: I print out a picture of the composer and then pick up a No. 2 pencil and sketch the likeness on a small sketchpad. That’s all there is to it. I plan on working my way through the visages of several hundred composers.
I’ve been honing my pencil skills by drawing portraits. Here’re a few recent examples: Leonardo Da Vinci (darkened in Photoshop to look more like charcoal) and the composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.