I ignite clarity in all. A window to the Art of Chuck Todd

Posts tagged “Bay Area

‘IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN’ EARTH DAY ILLUSTRATION

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Angela Hill’s story, published Sunday in Bay Area News Group papers, explores why it isn’t easy being green…in fact it can be downright confusing. What may claimed to be green, when looking at the carbon imprint and the amount of energy used in manufacturing a “green” product may net an adverse impact on Mother Earth.  So sometimes when we are trying to be green we may not be…thankfully sometimes we are. The story offers tips and sites where you can go to help make good green decisions.

For the illustration I wanted to evoke a sense of Earth Day and of the dichotomy of making green choices…and choices that end up not being green. I wanted to avoid using a big earth for Earth Day…been there, done that. Instead I wanted to focus on the personal side of someone making green decisions. I came up with the concept of the Earth being used as the lens in a pair of sunglasses. One side the earth is green with blue ocean in the lens. The other has the continents in red and water is gray. On that side of the figure the color scheme is gray on the figure with red in the lens and background.

On the green side…color is vibrant..using a green, blue color scheme with warm flesh tones in the figure to give that side more life. We positioned the headline in the head scarf and the story in the dress of the figure. An extra embellishment was picking up the continents as a pattern in the scarf and dress.

Of late…all of the illustrations at the news job have been quick turnarounds…but challenging and fun. I working up a rough sketch, scanned it in and did more drawing and painting in Photoshop. I rendered the continents first in Illustrator and then imported to photoshop. Features Design Chief Jennifer Schaefer pulled it all together on the page and made it all work. For the page we used a tight, more dynamic crop.

I’ve been slamming out so much illustration work for Bay Area News Group recently I have had little chance to update my blog…I’ll start catching up this week.

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THE AURATOR: DEADLY SECRETS by M.A. KROPF

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd for "The Aurator: Deadly Secrets." "The Aurator" is a sci fi / fantasy, medical thriller by M.A. Kropf. The first of a trilogy of book covers I'll be illustrating. The first book is NOW AVAILABLE as an ebook, in hardcover and softcover from Xlibris.

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IT WAS A REAL JOY AND FUN CHALLENGE TO WORK ON THIS SCI FI / FANTASY BOOK COVER. This artwork has the kind of visual storytelling I love the most. Mystery and drama..think Sci Fi and Film Noir..that really gets the creative juices flowing. A lot of fun elements to play with for an artist: fog, threatening shadows, a San Francisco landmark….and The Aurator, Megan, entering the scene with her glowing red aura. The book written by M.A. Kropf has just published and is the first of a trilogy. I better get busy on the next two cover illustrations.

You can find the book here: http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0111572049/The-Aurator.aspx

UPDATE: Now available as an ebook as of Friday, March 9.

Here is a description of the book:

THE AURATOR: Deadly Secrets by M.A. KROPF

First book of a Trilogy. Genre: Fantasy/Sci Fi

Illustration and logo design by Chuck Todd

“Megan is a nurse, wife and a mother who learns that her lifelong heightened sensory perception puts her among an ancient elite group known as Aurators—those who can read people’s auras. Mentored by Max, leader of the Aurators, she is swiftly thrust into membership within a secret historical medical society originating back to ancient Greece and her world quickly wobbles between reality and the supernatural driving her to the brink of insanity. In discovering her powerful bloodline, she also learns the prophecy marking her to protect the world from the Caduceus, an equally ancient society intent on world destruction. Conflicted between her professional oath to do no harm, and her prophesied calling to protect the innocent, Megan cannot deny an inherent and swiftly growing urge to do the unimaginable. Barely juggling her new Aurator life, work and family, Megan tries to confide in her rock solid husband only to discover that he too has secrets of his own—leaving Megan to question if her marriage and family will ever be the same.”

For more information on the book, an excerpt from the story and on author M.A. Kropf go to: http://www.theaurator.com

You can also visit the Facebook page for more updates: www.facebook-the aurator.com.

The Aurator: Deadly Secrets by M.A. Kropf Detail of artwork by Chuck Todd


FACEBOOK FIGHTING: Social networking for FISTICUFFS?

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OK. I had too much fun on this one. This image was created for a story a couple of months ago in the Contra Costa Times on teenagers using Facebook to setup fights on high school campuses. This has been a recent problem at several local high schools. Of course boys full of testosterone have been prone to fight in high school since before high schools were invented. However, with social media on iPads and smartphones on campus…setting up a battle royale in the quad has never been easier!

I came up with the solution of utilizing the tools technology as the portraits of the boys who were fighting. I used a laptop as the head of one student and an iPad as the head of the other and had fun drawing their profile pages. Pencil, pastel, watercolor and a pinch of comic book drama finished the image.


OAKLAND BLUES

Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Lowell Fulson and Bob Geddins

Rich history of blues in Oakland is being remembered with a blueswalk installation

An illustration and hand drawn map for a graphic the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers that ran in Tuesday (Dec. 20, 2011) editions. The best projects always seem to land in your lap when you have the least time. This tight deadline project that came up just before I left on vacation. The subject matter was too rich to pass up going the extra mile on. I learned a lot about the Blues history on Oakland’s Seventh Street. And I was able to illustrate quick portraits of Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Lowell Fulson who were some of the legends that performed on Seventh Street during its heyday. Also a key figure in the blues scene in Oakland was Bob Geddins who after being inspired by west coast blues great Fulson switched his BIG TOWN record label from gospel to blues.

Thanks to Bay Area News Group writer Jim Harrington for the story and helping me dig up reference materials and to Pai and Dave Johnson at Bay Area News Group for getting the project finished up, adding color and more info in the maps for publication in my absence.

For this one I did separate quick sketches based on historic photos and scanned in the line art. I played with the composition and did the painting in photoshop. Very pleased with the results even for a quick turnaround. Now, I’m hungry to tackle more music and history subjects.


Wildlife artwork for the new exhibits at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. One of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of.

Red-tailed Hawk Wings by Chuck Todd for Flight Simulator display at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA is part wildlife hospital and part wildlife museum where kids and adults can see animals native to Contra Costa County and the Mount Diablo area. The wildlife on display at the Lindsay are those that cannot be returned to the wild due to injuries or that they have become habituated to humans. You can see up close a mountain lion, golden eagle, hawks, snakes and many other birds and mammals.

Illustrations for the Lindsay Museum: I recently was asked to create illustrations for a new interactive flight simulator exhibit and for a field guide display. For the flight simulator I painted the wings, back and tail of a red-tailed hawk.

In the display the wings are life-size and constructed into a bench with controls and a monitor at the front. A kid (or adult) can lay down on the display, face forward to the monitor and can experience a hawk’s eye view of flying over Mount Diablo. The illustration for the simulator is at the top of the post and was created in pencil, acrylic and watercolor on bristol board. I was able to examine and study specimans and had two red-tailed hawk wings as reference. What fun!

You can see what it looks like in action on the front of today’s Contra Costa Times.

The Lindsay Museum "New Heights" front page of the Contra Costa Times

Story by Elisabeth Nardi with photos by Jose Carlos Fajardo and design by Chris Gotsill. Very cool. (Full disclosure: Although I work at the Times I was not involved with or mentioned in the story, nor did I design or art direct the package. Elisabeth wasn’t even aware that I had done illustrations for the project until after she had worked on the story and I mentioned it to her.)

Here is a link to the Contra Costa Times story on the new Lindsay exhibits including a video and slideshow.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/bay-area-news/ci_18991270?nclick_check=1

I’m also including a few other wildlife illustrations for the new Raptors Exhibit and for the new field guide display.  The grand opening is next week, I have not seen them myself yet, really looking forward to taking one of my drawings for a ride. Thanks to Loren Behr, Michele Setter and Marty Buxton at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and to designer Lisa Park-Steskal and James Freed on allowing me to be a part of something so special.

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight by Chuck Todd for Lindsay Wildlife raptors exhibit

Red-tailed Hawk detail

Red-tailed Hawk detail

Gopher Snake illustration for the Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Fox Squirrel illustration for the Lindsay Wildlife Museum


Illustrations related to 9/11

On the somber 10-year anniversary of 9/11 I thought I should post a couple of 9/11 related images I have done.  The first illustration went with a story published in the Contra Costa Times a month or so after the horrific terrorist attacks. It went with a story about how we are coming to terms and coping with the terrible events and images of that day.  I contrasted a linear portrait of a woman, head bowed, with an abstraction of the twin towers.

The second illustration went with an A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times on how the Arts have been impacted by 9/11. I painted a stage with Hamlet raising a sword, twin lights beaming down from above against a backdrop of the ruins of the twin towers. This published a year or so after 9/11.

Hamlet on stage with ruins of the twin towers in the background...and two lights from above shining down.

The third illustration I painted to go with a story on athletes that have a fear of flying…even though they have to fly on planes to competitive events.  9/11 made this fear more daunting to overcome. After 9/11 I think all of us had to deal with a fear of flying in one way or another. In this painting I tried to portray the emotional conflict and fear the person had to confront. Lines connect different cities he has to travel to. Dramatic lighting, a shadow of a plane and hand lettering for the headline echoed those feelings.

Looking back on these images now, I see that I was also coping with the 9/11 events in my artwork.

Illustration for story about athletes who have to confront a fear of flying, as many of us did after 9/11.


Steve Jobs ascending on the Golden Apple

Steve Jobs ascending on a golden apple.

Here is an illustration I did of Steve Jobs for the Contra Costa Times a number of years ago.  Apple announced today that Jobs is stepping down as CEO. Jobs is a great pitchman, visionary and guru.  This illustration was for a story about Apple’s rising success under Jobs’ guidance.


A tribute to Kazu Sano

I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of illustrator, teacher and mentor Kazu Sano earlier this summer (May 31).  Kazu was a master illustrator who was prolific, creating artwork for book covers, for National Geographic and painting a famous Return of the Jedi poster. Kazu was the epitome of what an illustrator should be. His ability to research, and know his subject matter and his masterful techniques as a painter created a lifetime of work that was revered by other illustrators and honored by the Society of Illustrators.

I took Kazu’s Acrylic Figure Painting class at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in the Spring of 1997 – my second semester in the graduate program in illustration. The class and Kazu’s demonstrations and insights were transformative for me as an artist. Beyond techniques Kazu imparted a passion and love for discovery.

You always went early to Kazu’s class. Without fanfare he we would bring in a painting or two of his and lean it up against the critique board.  Seeing these works, leaning up close to them, soaking them in hopes of gleaning from them their magic. Kazu rarely said anything about those paintings. They were there to speak for themselves…and for me they spoke volumes. He would start off the class with a demonstration of one of his acrylic techniques, and then send us off to paint from models. Intense, inspiring, joyful and life changing for me…all in just one semester.

One assignment was a self portrait project and along with that a personal review of my paintings, studies and projects created during the semester. I remember the critique as if it happened yesterday. Inexplicably Kazu did not see just my color, or my brushstrokes or my design and painting skills. He saw what was behind them. He peered beyond the artwork to find the artist. He saw exactly where I was coming from and what I was exploring. He was absolutely in tune with what I was doing in my paintings, and what I was getting at. For me this was an exhilirating and spiritual experience. An incredible validation from a master. I have never had an experience as a student or as an artist that has come close to Kazu’s insight and inspiration that morning in Bradley Hall.

This was only one class with Kazu. Kazu’s wisdom, advice and artwork have made an indelible, lasting impact that continues to inform and influence my journey as an artist.  I saw Kazu a few years ago at Barbara Bradley’s memorial celebration. I had a good conversation with him and was able to thank him for his class and insight. Thank You Kazu.

Below is the self-portrait project for Kazu’s class.

For more on Kazu go to his website: http://www.kazusano.com/sano_website.html

The Academy of Art director of the department illustration, Chuck Pyle posted a great tribute to Kazu on his blog:

http://chuckpyleart.blogspot.com/


EAST BAY PRESS CLUB AWARDS: The Contra Costa Times News Art and Design teams win 8 out of 9 possible awards; sweep illustration and infographics categories

At the East Bay Press Club 2010 awards banquet on June 10 in Oakland my graphics and design teams at the Contra Costa Times swept 2 out of 3 categories and grabbed 8 out of a possible 9 awards. Outstanding recognition for a hard working and talented group of artists and designers.

THE SWEEPS:

In Infographics: Dave Johnson grabbed First Place with his graphic “Oakland Museum of California 2.0.” I won Second Place and James Gayles took Third Place honors.

In Illustration: James Gayles took home First Place, I scored a Second Place award with an illustration for the series finales of Lost and 24 and Jeff Durham took the Third Place prize.

THE TWO OUT OF THREE:

We just missed the sweep in Page Design…I’ll take two out of three. News Design Chief Chris Gotsill got Second Place on a front page design with the headline “Eating away at education” and I took home a Third Place on a front page on the proposed Point Molate casino project.

I’m very proud to work with and art direct such talented visual journalists. I’m honored that I received three individual
awards. But, I’m extremely proud of my folks. Great job Chris, Dave, Jeff and James.

Here is the A&E illustration for Lost and 24 that was honored with a second place in illustration by the East Bay Press Club. To see the other winning Contra Costa Times pages go to: http://tinyurl.com/EB-Awards

Lost and 24 series finales illustration by Chuck Todd for the Contra Costa Times


Osama Bin Laden DEAD

Chuck Todd illustration: "Osama Bin Laden is DEAD"

We heard the news as a family midway through President Obama’s speech. In shock I couldn’t believe it was actually true that the the architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States had been killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden was not hiding in a cave in a remote area of Afghanistan or Pakistan but in a mansion / compound in the city of Abbottabad. As we watched we told my two girls ages 9 and 12 to watch history in the making. My girls tried to soak it in and make sense of it, comparing our reactions to what Obama was saying. Both girls wrote eloquently in their notebooks to record their thoughts. My youngest wrote this: “…when we start(sp) to watch Obama say that Osama Bin Laden is dead at first I thought it was bad. My dad cried and my mom shouted, “What!!!” I asked my Mom is this good? “Yes, listen to Obama speak. I cried…”

As an artist I created this graphite, watercolor and pastel sketch to mark the moment visually. The idea popped into my head almost immediately.  I thought playing with a quick line drawing and X-ing out the eyes…an old cartooning symbol to show death… could be powerful contrast.  I painted the background with a watercolor brush and added some pastel texture all in blood red.  The Xs on the eyes I made by using my index finger…the act was intense and emotional. Of course I’m probably channeling somewhat the famous Hitler X-ed out Time magazine cover from 1945 or the more recent Parada illustration for Time of Saddam. Those paintings X-ed out the whole face.

Rather macabre to create an illustration to note of the killing of someone. I have to say when President Obama said that “justice has been done” I cried, thinking of all of the lives lost on 9/11 and since. I usually work on Sunday nights….it was a tough day for a journalist to be off on furlough from my news job for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers. I felt compelled to make the artwork and post it. I have to say that the world is much better place without the evil of Bin Laden in it. Interesting note I heard on MSNBC, the killing of Hitler was also announced on May 1.