Early Bird Special: Free Shipping all week at The Ward-O-Matic Shop

Well now, the Christmas rush is upon us and to start it off right, I'm offering an Early Bird Special at The Ward-O-Matic Shop all this week! What's the special? Well, FREE SHIPPING - how's that? This includes international orders, so all you Etsy shoppers from across the way should definitely hit me up on this offer while it lasts! In fact, the Special will end this Sunday, December 6th. Woo HOO!

To remind you guys what's for sale in the Shop, here's a few of my best sellers (click on image to go to each item's respective page at Etsy):

Speaking In Color
Speaking In Color

Calico Elly

Looks Like Rain



And let's not forget the B-Boy Series:

Top Rock 2

Freeze 1


All this and MORE! at The Ward-O-Matic Shop!

(End hucksterism.)


Where I talk about getting older

I used to not like having my birthday so close to Thanksgiving. It took away from all the attention that was supposed to be spent on me. (When you're a kid, it's supposed to always be about you, right?) It was even worse when my birthday would actually land on the holiday itself. "Here comes our Turkey Birthday Boy!" or something similar would be blurted out by family members at our annual family Thanksgiving get-together. It was quaint, I had to admit.

After a while, I got used to my birthday being where it was. And now, I actually enjoy it. It's comforting to know that we'll have a family reunion of sorts each year, within close proximity to my birthday. It works out alright. On top of all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the usual holiday feast-havings, there'll be a nice, big birthday cake for all to enjoy by the end of it. See? It works out for everyone, doesn't it? You can thank my parents for that, guys. We get to have cake as well as pumpkin pie for dessert! What a deal!

This year, my birthday was two days before Thanksgiving and it was fantastic. A perfect day to celebrate being born. Starting with a cinnamon bun topped with a trick candle (nice try, Andrea), my day got better as I spent several hours in various bookstores and antique malls, getting the tips of my fingers dirty by digging through old books and magazines, finding some wonderful old ephemeral treasures. Case in point, this incredible Fortune Magazine from July 1952:

Fortune: July 1952

Jerome Snyder has be my new favorite illustrator. Just look at the shapes and colors he uses for this piece. Simply wonderful.

Later on, we had pancakes for dinner ("pancakes for dinner, you say?" yes—pancakes for dinner, I say) at the month-old Slappy Cakes on Belmont Street, which turned out to be such a fun experience we're thinking of going here for every one of our family member's birthday, even more so.

To end the already fantastic day on a high note, we had passes to see a sneak preview of Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was pitch-perfect. I have so many good things to say about this film, I'll have to put it all in an official review here on the blog later on. Such a great film, and everyone in the family enjoyed it immensely. Ava wanted to see the movie again immediately afterwards, which is a high compliment, I should say. Go see it. Seriously, I'm not cussin' with you.

So, having a birthday so close to a holiday where you ponder over what you're thankful for isn't half bad, really. If anything, it enhances my own birthday experience, maybe even merging it with the holiday in a way. I'm thankful to be alive, to experience a birthday yet one more year. And am thankful to be able to celebrate my birthday with my family, who laugh and grow with me, day in and day out. For without my family, my life would be empty and souless, like the puppets of Mr. Fox, once the lights are turned off by the end of the day. Andrea, Ava, and Ezra: all three of you give me that determinable spark in my heart, that sparkle in my eye. Thank you for making my birthday oh so fantastic.


New Print up in Etsy: Speaking In Color

Speaking In Color
I'm happy to report that there's a new print up in The Ward-O-Matic Shop!

Called Speaking In Color, it features this wonderful little girl (possibly, maybe inspired by Ava?) spreading happiness to the world through her gifted tongue, speaking out against the dull and drab out there. Hooray! I guess you can call her The Color Ambassador. She'd like that.

Buy Speaking In Color as a 8.5x11 inch print, or as a 5x7 inch print.



I was recently interviewed on Alex Mathers' excellent Ape On The Moon site recently about my sketches and where my favorite place is to sketch. This prompted me to make a new Flickrset called, appropriately enough, Sketches.

sketches in church 1

Most of the drawings that you see featured on this set are done while I was sitting around, doodling, or just working on some ideas for myself. Playing around. Observing. Exploring. Nothing devoted to any particular job. Sketches done for work is an entirely different thing. Even though some of the drawings might look similar in style, drawing for an employer has a direct reason for being: money. However, I try to instill that same sense of wonder and exploration while sketching for work. I'll probably scan some work sketches for another Flickrset in the near future.

In the meantime, take a gander at some drawings done while in church. I know, so horrible of me to do such a thing while in a house of God. But really, it's a lot of fun. And it's a no-brainer, too. Think about it: you've got a vast variety of subjects who are not going to move much for about 30 minutes. Even though it's the back of their heads, it's still a great exercise. And I find that I actually listen better when I do draw during the service, believe it or not. Like a mental stamp, I can look at a particular section of a drawing and know what was being said by the pastor. It's hard to explain, but I think you'd understand if you're an artist. Haven't you ever had the TV on while working on a painting? The following day, you might look at the right arm of your subject in the painting and realize to yourself, "hey, I was watching Laverne & Shirley when I painted that". I do it all the time. Not sure what you'd call this, but "memory stamping" sounds about right.

sketches in church 2

sketches in church 3

sketches in church 4

Anyway, here's a couple of other sketches from some of my sketchbooks throughout the years. Enjoy:

andrea sketch

sketches 1

sketches 5

sketches 7

post-it saxtons

sketches 3

sketchbook swooning 2

There are three approaches I take to sketching:

1. From observing what's around me.
2. From photographs, magazines, tv, etc.
3. Off the top of my head, freestyling.

All of it is part of who I am as an artist, looking at what I see around me and hopefully creating something different in the process. Plus, it's a lot of fun.


How about some Ward-O-Matic Holiday Stamps?

Holiday Stamps
Thanks to Dani of Rubber Soul, I've got my own line of holiday stamps! Check 'em out! They were a lot of fun to draw.

Fun stamps for you
I drew a whole lot more for this collection, but Dani had to edit down to those particular stamps that would make it fun & easy to be able to tell a story. You know, it's not easy coming up with stamps that are simple and clear enough to be able to tell a story. I credit Dani with her extensive knowledge of stamp making to be able to select from my drawings a great collection of fun holiday-themed images you see here. I mean, there were some that I thought would be perfect for stamps, but Dani knew what she was doing. I trusted her. And the stamps are very well made. Great job, Dani! I'm so happy to be a part of this endeavor with Rubber Soul.

We're hoping that if there's enough interest with this collection then I'll do some year round stamps. Dani and I have been coming up with some other neato themes that could see the light of day after the holidays.

I'm thinking of doing a giveaway, but not sure about how to go about doing this. Need to talk with Dani about it first.

But right now, I'd like to put this out there: if any of you guys buy some of these stamps and create your own cards (or anything) featuring these stamps, please email me pictures of your creations! I'd LOVE to see what you guys come up with!



In-Store Appearance Today!

Getting prepared for my in-store appearance later on today at Barnes & Noble, people. Kinda nervous, but hey! kinda not! I'm very excited about it. Hope to see you guys there! In case you're wondering:

Saturday, November 7th from 2-3pm, at the Barnes & Noble at Lloyd Center Mall here in Portland, OR, my first in-store appearance and book signing! Check the event's page on Facebook for details. I'll be reading the Michael Phelps book I illustrated, How To Train With a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, show some original drawings from the book, maybe draw a few things, who knows! Remember, it's for the Boise Eliot Bookfair. (Boise Eliot is a school here in Portland.)

Hopefully, I'll have photos of the event to share later on!


This Week Vacation Guide 1949

This Week Magazine Vacation Guide 1949
This Week Magazine: Vacation Guide, 1949. No mention of illustrator. Lowell Hess, perhaps?

This is a wonderful cover to a rather dull magazine. It's one of those informational publications, with no ads, a few photos, but mostly information like travel times from city to city, etc...- actually, it says that This Week is part of The Sunday Magazine, "issued jointly by 24 big city American newspapers." The "official govt. map of the U. S." was not found inside. Too bad. Would've been interesting to see that.

Things to consider: I love the way that the artist sets the family apart from the background by creating a light source directed on them. See the cast shadow? It's like they are up on a stage. Also, I love how there's a story being told with the dog interested in something off-camera left. Check out how each family member's pose moves from left to right as you go from dog, kid, mother, father: a nice triangle grouping. Genius! Also, I see a chevron pattern going down from the dog and back up through the kid's legs to mother's head, where the apex is. The mother is a triangle shape herself. Interesting stuff going on here. Incredible work.

Okay, I'll let you see it larger.


This is the Ward-O-Matic...5 Years Later

Today marks FIVE years I've been writing The Ward-O-Matic, if you can believe it. Wow. Five years! I can't believe it. So much has transpired since November 3rd, 2004 when I published my very first post. I look back on some of my old posts and wonder, who is this guy? Like flipping through an old diary or thumbing through an old sketchbook, I read some of these words and look at some of these old drawings and try to imagine what was going through my head at the time. It's like I'm reading someone else's blog—it doesn't really feel like me.

2004: I was an animation director at Primal Screen in Atlanta and was getting caught up with all these new animation blogs that were popping up like wildfire at the time. I was so inspired by what I was reading and viewing that I felt like I had enough of a voice to enter the fray. Having enough to say has been an issue at times, but that's okay. I'd just let my drawings speak for me. Or just scan in some dusty pages from a long forgotten children's book. Sharing some of my collection has really kept this blog going for me. Whenever I'd feel like wrapping it up here, all I had to do was sift through some old pamphlets or cookbooks in a box found in the back corner of the attic and I'd want to share it with you immediately. Like a giddy kid on Christmas morning, that's me in a nutshell with this blog. Especially if it was something that I knew hadn't been seen before. The lost, the forgotten, the diamonds in the rough—having a place like The Ward-O-Matic to share all these and more with faceless usernames behind computer screens has been a great joy for me. I think it shows through my writing when I talk about these neglected items. Even if you couldn't get behind my interests, if anything, I'd hope that you'd join me in finding out who these forgotten and anonymous illustrators from the past were. It pained me to open up some form of beautifully decorated ephemera from the midcentury era and never see any credit given to the artist. The gall! I'd think, of the careless employers and/or clients who mindlessly printed up page after page of gorgeous and vibrant illustrations, without giving one hoot about putting a credit line on the back page or something. Just writing about it irks me still. But hey! That's what I love about this "Web 2.0" or whatever-you-want-to-call it: filling up internet space with information and knowledge about these long-lost artists, so that some day, either they or their family members will by chance do a search for the artist and find out that yes, someone else out there cares about their work and want to know all about the who, what, why & how of them.

While I've been up front and center with certain things here on the blog, I've pulled back on others. I don't talk about the family or post photos of the kids as much anymore, for instance. The same goes for Ava Thursday, you might've noticed. The reason being is more complicated than what I can muster to write, or perhaps it's a simple fact of wanting to maintain (or regain) a little bit of privacy for myself and my family here. With the photos, that's easy. While I'd love to share with you guys all the fun and silly things that the kids do through photos, all it took was one idiot to snag one of my photos of Ezra off my Flickr and use it without permission for a video on YouTube, and that was it. I immediately privated a good deal of my photos of my kids, and to this day am wary of sharing any new photos I take of them. The situation shook me to the core at the time (YouTube was able to remove the video, thank goodness), and made me take a second look at just how much I'm sharing with complete strangers. Had a fellow reader of my blog not found the video by chance, who knows just how far the offender would've taken it? And there would've been no way of me knowing about it, too. All I have to say it this: be careful with what you share, especially when it comes to photos of your kids. Be smart about it.

With Ava Thursday, it was completely different. Even though I'd been thoroughly enjoying picking out a fun little drawing by my daughter and sharing it with you all on a weekly basis, I found it harder and harder with each passing week to justify why I was doing it. Of course, I was the proud dad, more than willing to share with anyone anything that my little girl would create. I thought it was cool to see Ava develop artistically throughout the months. However, at one point it seemed like the drawings weren't really "ours" anymore. By sharing with others my little girl's artwork on a constant basis, the specialness of each drawing seemed lost. Basically, Andrea and I wanted these wonderful Ava drawings for ourselves. These things were precious, made with extraordinary little hands that we loved, and I'm sorry, we kinda wanted to keep them in the family. Being her parents, we were entitled to be a little selfish. Simple as that.

Of course with all that said, Ava wants to show you one of her latest drawings. She drew this on Sunday, obviously during that glorious post-Halloween glow. Click on image to see larger:

Ava: Candy Kitties

She's into cats right now. She really really really really wants a cat. After Babycat's passing last year (did I ever mention that here?), the kids have been pining for a new cat. We'll see.

Okay, back to the issue at hand: five years. It's five years of The Ward-O-Matic and hopefully I've made it interesting for you. I know it's definitely been interesting for me.


In-Store Appearance this Saturday at Barnes & Noble

Look! The book!
Hey Kids!

This Saturday, November 7th from 2-3pm, at the Barnes & Noble at Lloyd Center Mall here in Portland, OR, I'll have my very first in-store appearance and book signing! Check the event's page on Facebook for details if you dig that sort of thing, or you can just read on:

So, YES! I'll show up, read the Michael Phelps book I illustrated, How To Train With a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, sign some copies of the book, show some of the original drawings, maybe juggle a few stuffed animals, you name it! It'll be for the Boise Eliot Bookfair. (Boise Eliot is a school here in Portland.)

Added bonus: If you come in and get a sticker from the Boise Eliot folks then anything you buy on the day of the bookfair will go as credit towards Boise Eliot's bookfair total at no cost to them--you just say you're purchasing on behalf of the bookfair if you wish to purchase something on that day--this applies to everything in the store minus the purchase of gift cards.

Hope to see you there! Yippee!