Monday, December 7, 2015


Ice skating beside the beach at the Hotel Del this past weekend

Robot in Balboa Park

Steampunk inspiration

Cracking contraptions

Drum Dream Girl: Literary Stroll around the neighborhood in Boston

From beauty salons to Cuban restaurants and health centers, the Drum Dream girl took a literary stroll around the neighborhood thanks to the Boston Public Library and an innovative idea that was the brainchild of Sujei Lugo. Read: Drum Dream Girl Story Walk in Latin@s in Kid Lit.

What a great way to have fun and integrate the community bringing families to the library.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


A week I ago I dreamt about this tiger from India and had to wake up early in the morning to paint him.

His face blushing in shame. The temptation proved too strong for Ferdinand the Bull as he munches away at the last flower that bloomed on his hilltop.

After learning that Little Red Riding Hood and Grandma haven't spoken in years, the wolf goes for Plan B. Red however is very clever and decides to shop online.

Study for Maybe Something Beautiful

Here is one of the studies I created for Maybe Something Beautiful due out next April. The story was inspired by the work we have done with many dedicated volunteers in the East Village of downtown San Diego. I was looking for mood and atmosphere as the story written by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell starts with a little girl who lives in a grey city.

I wanted to try something new and challenged myself to experiment with this book. Riding around on my bicycle I shot photos of buildings in our neighborhood. I then painted the outer shapes of the structures using acrylic paint on wooden boards to get the texture background. One of my favorite downtime pastimes is photographing textures and these came from my urban file. This was compiled digitally to deliver the grit I was looking for.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maybe Something Beautiful

This year several new books took flight from my drawing table. This one hits home.

Maybe Something Beautiful written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell due out this April from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The genesis of this book was a personal journey that started in 1997 when my wife Candice and I bought an old car garage in an edgy neighborhood at that time, the East Village of downtown San Diego. We were in our thirties and put down all our savings to make it happen. My mother in law cried when she first visited and couldn't fathom our choice of a first home in a such a challenging part of town. Undeterred we rented two industrial wet vacuum cleaners to scrub the car grease off the floors and began digging car parts out of the back yard. For ten years we worked with our friend Daniel to transform our home into a live/work studio where we could create and dream. In 2007 we stood back and took a deep breath. The once cold, dark 3,200 square foot space at last felt warm, and inviting. We were happy, sort of.

You see there was a big issue all too evident the moment you opened the front door. Drug dealing and related violence ruled the streets. That gray darkness outside extended into our home. We noticed that most people in our neighborhood walked looking down. They were sad, depressed or perhaps just afraid to make eye contact. The signs of struggle were all around and the few families who lived nearby rushed across the streets to get inside quick and lock their doors. Not knowing what to do we put up flyers and held a meeting at a local school to try to figure something out. We decided the best thing to do was something we knew. To use art to transform our neighborhood. After many meetings in our loft which became the paint station and staging area, the Urban Art Trail was born. It started with the painting of electrical boxes once used as makeshift offices by drug dealers. I developed a series of large murals that worked like giant paint by numbers so untrained artists could be involved. The trail grew to include benches, sidewalk poetry, sculpture, urban bird houses and mosaics. Working together with neighbors, children, students, graffiti artists, teachers, designers, residents of women's and homeless shelters and many others we transformed our community.
The East Village today is a great place to live and work.

Imagine my excitement when Isabel Compoy and Theresa Howell crafted an inspiring story about young Mira and her neighbors based on the actual Urban Art Trail. Below are sketches from the pages of our book. Featured in this 2016 Picture Book Preview from Jbrary. Thanks Lindsay and Dana for your early support of this new book. 

As this is based on our own story it felt right to take some risks and try new mixed media techniques that blend original photographs I shot of the East Village, digital, watercolor and acrylic on wood. I look forward to sharing these techniques in future posts.