Category Archives: Illustrations

Spring Time Illustration

Working on an illustration to show spring time on the great plains. Black fields are replaced with stubble to catch moister as no-till is common now. Spring planting  is just around the corner. The geese are already passing over us on their northward journey.


Leave a comment

Filed under Illustrations, North Dakota, Painting

Journal Entry 2/19/17: Working on Illustrations


Working on three illustrations that will full spreads for an issue of an upcoming publication. I will post once they are published and where you can obtain a copy. Top illustration is done in ink and watercolor. Bottom illustration is a rough experimenting with acrylic, graphite and watercolor. All three illustrations are editorial in nature.


Filed under Illustrations, Watercolor painting

Journal Entry 9/14/16: Viking Cafe


If you ever find yourself in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, make sure the Viking Cafe is on your list of places to hit while you’re there. I was so impressed by the meal I got there last time that I had to illustrate it (above). This was the Roast Turkey Special for @ $8.50 (coffee extra). As I say in my notes this was a true cornucopia of food: Slabs of turkey (white & dark), mashed potatoes and dressing smothered with gravy and peas (from the can) scattered on top, a roll with butter, two little cups of cranberry relish (surprisingly good) and a custard dessert with whip cream and nuts. If you get coffee it is adequate and fresh, because they make it by the gallons, no matter how many people are in the cafe (always full) your cup will never drop below half. Once you experience coffee at the Viking your outlook on life will always be “the cup is half full and please no more coffee.”


Not the most attractive building on the outside, a victim of downtown renewal attempts in the 70s and 80s, but don’t let the outside facade fool you. On the inside the cafe is full of wooden booths where the holes for the old nickelodeons are still visible. There is some gratuitous viking decorations on the wall but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. If all the seats are taken, which happens often, wait patiently at the front by the till for the next available booth. God (or should I say Odin) I love this place.


Fergus Falls is located 50 miles SE of Fargo, ND and 180 miles NW of the Twin Cities on I-94. The cafe is on main street on the south side. Parking in the back. There has been a Viking Cafe long before there ever was a professional football team called the Minnesota Vikings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Illustrations, Sketch Book, Travel Journal, Watercolor painting

Art Challenge: Day Five—Illustrations

Front and back watercolor illustration for Clancy's Tree.

Front and back watercolor illustration for Clancy’s Tree.

For the last day of the art challenge I will share some current and past illustrations I’ve done. The first six images are of illustrations I’ve done for children’s books. I also did the layout and design of the books they appeared in. The gallery at the end of this post is a sample of visual puns I’ve done in the last year.

Sample of an inside spread and illustrations for for Clancy’s Tree.

Front and back cover of water color illustration for Clay's Frogs.

Front and back cover of water color illustration for Clay’s Frogs.

Sample inside spread of layout and illustrations for Clay's Frogs.

Sample inside spread of layout and illustrations for Clay’s Frogs.

Cover illustration for Dad's Best Present Ever!

Cover illustration for Dad’s Best Present Ever!

Back cover illustration for Dad's Best Present Ever!

Back cover illustration for Dad’s Best Present Ever!

This will be old hat for any of you who have followed me over the last year, but here is a sampling of some of the visual puns I’ve done over the year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Illustrations

Art Challenge: Day One—The Sketch

A small sample of the sketchbooks I've filled over the years

A small sample of the sketchbooks I’ve filled over the years.

I was challenged by one of my art peers, Kathleen Fettig, to post three pieces (minimum) of artwork per day over the next five days. For day one I would like to start at the very beginning of my creative process—the sketch.  For me art doesn’t just happen. I have to capture it, toy with it and let it simmer, sometimes for years. Sketch books can be found all over the house and I have folder upon folder filled with loose sketches.

I randomly opened some of these sketch books to show you a glimpse of my artistic soul.

I randomly opened some of these sketch books to give you a glimpse into my artistic soul.

The first thing new designers and artists need to learn is that the sketch and sketch book are essential equipment for creativity and that no one has to see these nuggets of inspiration, unless you want them to.

Close up showing a graphic concept and thumbnails for a publication I was working on.

Close up showing a graphic concept and thumbnails for a publication I was working on.

Over the years these books have become a graphic timeline of my life and growth as an artist.

Leave a comment

Filed under Illustrations, Sketch Book

An Evening With Paul Schurke—21st Century Explorer



It isn’t often you get to spend the evening with someone you’ve admired for a long time from afar, but that’s exactly what happened to me when Paul Scurke, Polar Explorer, came to speak at Bismarck State College on November 5, 2014. I was asked to be on the committee Institute for Culture & Public Service (I think because I knew what a sled dog was) to help promote this event. The Institute for Culture & Public Service is the result of three colleges (Bismarck State College, United Tribes Technical College and the University of Mary) coming together to create an avenue of sharing knowledge and the understanding of different cultures and believes.

It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone you and your family have somewhat idolized turns out to be as genuine, generous and as kind as you thought they would be. This was the case with Paul Shurke. Prior to his talk the stakeholders in the committee had the opportunity to sit down with Paul and break bread.

How lucky was I, to sit at the same table as Paul, along with the master mind of this event, Master Carpenter Earl Torgerson, BSC Provost Drake Carter, and newly appointed UTTC President Leander R. McDonald.

Despite Paul’s credentials as an arctic explorer, his talk this evening was about his recent trip down the “River of Doubt,” a tributary of the Amazon river, since renamed the Rio Roosevelt after President Theodore Roosevelt who canoed this river 100 years ago.

As many of you know Theodore Roosevelt spent four years in the Badlands of North Dakota and says he would never have been president if not for his time spent there. Because of this tie to our state Paul talked to a near capacity crowd of his own descent of this river. He ate piranhas like Teddy did, saw the same sites and on several occasions slept in the same campsites. He met the same tribe of Indians who stalked Roosevelt and had only made “first contact” in the late 1960s. He told his story and we held our breath. An evening well spent. Thank you Paul.

Leave a comment

Filed under Illustrations, Spearkers

Screen Printing—First Time


I’ve done my own printing off and on for over 25 years. The process I’ve used up until yesterday is lino-cuts or relief printing. The Graphic Design program I teach at just added some screen printing equipment. My colleagues and I practiced using the equipment prior to fall semester.

Original sketch of Visual Pun #3 .

Original sketch of Visual Pun #3 .

For those who follow my blog you’ll recognize the image I choose to make poster size as Visual Pun #3: Bowl Movement. Notice the lack of shadowing on the original sketch. I scan the original and add the tonal values later in Photoshop.

Poster of VP #3. Size is approximately 9.5x13 inches.

Poster of VP #3. Size is approximately 9.5×13 inches. Print run of 50.

I was fortunate enough to have Jason and Sean walk me through the process for the first time. I was impressed withe amount of detail and the crispness of image.

I think that printing in a less forgiving medium such as Lino-cuts and doing it in reverse helped me visualize what I wanted to achieve. The key is to keep it simple for the first time. Try to see your image in black and white, strong contrasts. This first attempt gave me a lot of information on what my limitations are and how much I can push the medium for future projects.

Original sketch (L). Screen printed poster of sketch (R).

Original sketch (L). Screen printed poster of sketch (R).

I scanned the original sketch and converted it to vector art (eps) using Adobe Illustrator. Vector art allows for crisp lines while resizing  and printing the art to vellum for transfer to the printing screens.


Leave a comment

Filed under Bismarck State College, Illustrations, Posters, Visual Pun