I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, February 26, 2010


“Perspective” seems like a great word today. I’m watching snow fall in Ohio, wishing for spring, and dreading shoveling my driveway. For some reason, a poem my dad used to say every spring came to mind…

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

-- William Wordsworth

When I saw the end of the poem again, I understood why I was thinking about daffodils, and it seemed to make a perfect connection to “perspective”. I can think of myself as snowed-in, or as wonderfully untroubled by the outside world today.

When I decided to create this blog, I thought I would try to include something useful with each posting. Maybe being reminded that spring will come again and that there’s more than one way to paint a daffodil helps someone else who’s stuck in the snow?

The daffodil above is colored pencil and marker on construction paper. It was a doodle, and the fact that I didn’t mean to do anything useful with it probably made it better than if I were actually setting out to create an abstract daffodil for a client. I’ve learned to keep some of my doodles because sometimes I have a hard time being loose when someone tells me to be loose. This is the kind of thing that I will scan into the computer, then cut out the background in PhotoShop. I’ll then scan a clean page of construction paper and put my cleaned up, morphed doodle over it in a different layer. That lets me change the background color without changing the image. It’s easy at that point to keep the file until that magical time that I need a goofy daffodil in another piece and I have an impossible deadline to meet.

I can waste time doing this kind of thing, but it’s also a meditation time that I use to think about other projects. The fact that I sometimes get some gold out of the effort makes me keep doing it. Sometimes the hardest part of a project is getting started, and doing this kind of thing gets me going.

I messed around with this stuff today, and actually managed to create a post, so it wasn’t wasted time at all, right?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Keeping Artistic Memories

“Do something tasteful” was the only direction when I got this project. I was working for a regional newspaper, and in vitro fertilization was a new thing in the 80’s. Illustration Friday’s topic of “propagation” seemed like a great reason to dig through my old files and look at this again. Technically, this shouldn’t have been my project, but it was assumed the guy who should’ve gotten it would’ve done something off-color.

The newspaper was a great job for me. I got to do full-color work on a regular basis, had a great boss, and lots of artistic freedom. I didn’t know how lucky I was until I left and took a job at an advertising agency, where I did cheap fast food ads and other soul-crushing, mindless work.

If you do color work for newspapers, remember a piece of advice I got from that boss I liked – overdo the color. In his words, “Printing on newspaper is like fingerpainting on toilet paper.” The ink absorbs and spreads, and the difference between the original (see detail) and the printed piece can be night and day.

We can’t keep everything we do, but this is a great example of keeping a lot. Keeping old art in a way that we can put our fingers on it again easily is also a good idea. If you can keep your originals, keep them. If you can’t, then keep a good quality scan of them.

I never thought I would have a practical reason for this piece, but it was from my first real job in art, and the fun and laughter I got while doing it is a great memory for me. I keep my art in boxes in a closet that I can wander through when I’m down, or need inspiration, or need a special piece to show a new client. I never know what will come in handy.

The newspaper also provided me with a memory I wouldn’t trade for the world. I was taking a walk in my childhood neighborhood when a neighbor called me over. This was a man whom I had always admired because he was a working artist when everyone in my life told me that I wouldn’t be able to make a living in art. The day he called me over, he brought me in his house and showed me a portfolio – of my work. He had kept everything I had published in the newspaper. I was touched to the depths of my soul.

Which reminds me of another practical point – sign your work. Even if your employer doesn’t want you to sign it, hide your signature in the art. You never know who might be paying attention.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Scratchboard Feather

I love working with scratchboard, but it seems like a lot of people don't know what it is any more. It is a heavy paper coated with a clay-like surface with ink on top. The image is created by scratching off the ink to reveal the white surface below.

The thing I enjoy most about this technique is that it's like a treasure hunt. You have to look in the dark to bring your art to the light like digging up buried gold in a cave and bringing it into the sunshine.

I tend to do very detailed pieces with this method, but it has also been used to do very simplified wood block kinds of styles. It's a good method for reproduction and also a good method for coloring over the top of the finished piece.

This is my first attempt at blogging, and invite you to look at my website: http://www.artbyhensley.com/index.html for more samples of my work.