Monday, December 24, 2012

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Location:Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Uncle Steve.

Steve T. Durkin, Elkhorn, WI (1952 - 2012)
May 29, 1952 - December 10, 2012
Steve T. Durkin; 60, of Cliff’s View Lane, Whitewater, WI, died unexpectedly Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, at his residence. He was born May 29, 1952, in Waukegan, IL, the son of the late Edward and Dorothy (Upson) Durkin. On June 21, 1975, he was united in marriage to Catherine R. Gnatzig at Whitewater Lake. Steve was a counselor for over 36 years with Gateway Technical College, retiring in July of 2012. He was a member of Sugar Creek Lutheran Church. The hallmark of his life was his eagerness to help a friend in need.
Steve is survived by his wife, Catherine; three children: James Durkin of Whitewater, WI, Cassi (Derrian) Richardson of Fort Sill, OK, and Timothy Durkin of Whitewater, WI; three grandchildren: Destini, Ava and Dean; two brothers: Don (Diane) Durkin of Salem, WI, and Jim (Anne) Durkin of Bristol, WI; one sister-in-law, Barb Durkin of Twin Lakes, WI. He is further survived by several nieces and nephews and a host of other relatives and friends. Steve was preceded in death by an infant daughter; his parents; and two brothers: Mike and Joe.
Funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, at SUGAR CREEK LUTHERAN CHURCH, N5690 Cobblestone Road, Elkhorn, WI, with Rev. Gerald Petersen officiating. Visitation will be Sunday from 4 until 8 p.m. at HAASE-LOCKWOOD & ASSOCIATES FUNERAL HOME, 730 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI, and at the CHURCH on Monday from 12Noon until time of service. Memorials may be made in Steve’s name to the church. On-line guest book at Arrangements completed by HAASE-LOCKWOOD & ASSOCIATES FUNERAL HOMES AND CREMATORY.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Germany Blues.

I love when people actually ASK for PERMISSION to use my artwork. In this case, it was for a caricature I did a few years ago of the Blues Brothers. A German entertainment company had booked a Blues Brothers tribute act from London and wanted to use my caricature for their posters and website.
I gave them permission with the condition that they credit me and send me a hard copy of the poster. This is how they utilized my artwork for their poster.

I also got a few copies of the poster, which is about 24' X 36". The QR code takes you to the website, which is here:

This text taken directly from the site, roughly translated from German says:

"Directly from London comes "Blues Brothers - The Concert". Black suits, black sunglasses and black hats - because every fan knows immediately what it is all about. To the well-known hits of the cult "Blues Brothers", where no one can sit still: everybody needs somebody, SOULMAN and sweet home Chicago Jake and Elwood present successfully these turbulent, funky show with the coolest original songs: .

So if you're in Germany, check out the show, and if you see the poster hanging up anywhere, snap a few photos and send them to me. I'd appreciate it! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Get your Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Garden Gnomes here!

For the past year or so, I've been working closely with GardenGnomeWorld who produces their very own line of garden gnomes. I was approached by them to re-design their existing Obama gnome. I needed to draw and entire turnaround for him to ensure the sculptor had plenty of information.
 Once I sent them my design, they were so pleased that they decided to create an entire line of political garden gnomes. I designed Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney (pictured below). 
 Several of them made it all the way to the painted prototype phase: 
 In the end, Obama and Romney made it to production. 

The manufacturing business is constantly in flux, and it's only until now, just a few days before the election, that the gnomes are finally available. But I strongly encourage you to get them now. Hey, get one of each and after the election, you can recreate the candidate's victory in your garden. Have the winner standing triumphantly and the loser buried in the dirt! Here are the links:

 Barack Obama Garden Gnome

Mitt Romney Garden Gnome

Friday, October 19, 2012

The 3rd Annual Orlando Puppet Art Show-This Weekend!

This weekend is the 3rd Annual Puppet Festival! That's right, THIS Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 
It's a 3 day event! October 19, 20th, and 21st

It's right here in Orlando at the NEW Renegade Theater!Located at 1824 w Washington.

Look for the Art Show section about midway through the video.

I've contributed 3 pieces to the show. Last year, one of my entries was created from found objects. I had so much fun making it that I decided to create three new pieces using found objects as well.
The first is "Manah Manah". 
I used wood, a toilet brush and red plastic Solo cups and ping pong balls (for you beer pong fans). Within 5 minutes of posting this picture on Facebook, it was $OLD!

The second is "Muppet Labs Operation".
 I repurposed an old Operation game to torture poor Beaker. I drew the line art, colored it digitally, had it printed, cut out the shapes and attached it to the board. Show patrons are welcome to try to remove the parts and make Beaker's nose glow…
…but I superglued the parts to the board!

The final piece is "Buzz Hogthrob". I took apart an old Buzz Lightyear toy, removed the head, repainted the body, sculpted and painted Link Hogthrob's head, reassembled him and added custom decals. I'll post a step by step soon.

I will be there opening night (tonight) and will probably be there for a bit on Sunday as well. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Agony and the Ecstacy

I've been FRANTICALLY trying to complete my submissions to the 2012 Orlando Puppet Art Festival. The final due date to drop off artwork is Friday the 12th (tomorrow). I have two pieces finished and I'm working on the third.

It's been a challenging process. I'm working entirely with found objects this time, repurposing them into  my artwork. Dealing with materials I've never worked with and constantly troubleshooting when things go wrong is taking up a lot of my time and energy. The entire process looks a little something like this (warning: NSFW language):

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fraggle Rock art contest: From around the web

I'm honored and grateful to have been chosen as a finalist in the Fraggle Rock art contest. Since the announcement yesterday, I've received an outpouring of support and congratulations.
This is a link to the Jim Henson company's press release regarding the Fraggle Rock art contest.
A screen shot of the release related to the contest is pictured below.
There is a specific spot in the CafePress Fraggle Rock store that is dedicated solely to my design.

Order something with my design and send me a pic of you with it and I'll feature it here on my blog!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fraggle Rock Art Contest: Winners announced!

The winners for the Fraggle Rock art contest have been announce and I have been chosen as a finalist!
For being a finalist, I will receive:
  • A feature on and Henson's Facebook page
  • A framed copy of my artwork
  • $500
You can check out the official announcement from Talenthouse here

 Congrats to everyone who participated and to the other winners. What a fun contest! I'm just getting warmed up though, because the next thing on my list is to finish my artwork for the 3rd annual Puppet Art Show here in Orlando. I'll be posting pics and updates regularly here and on Facebook so stay tuned!

Monday, September 03, 2012

The 2012 3rd Annual Puppet Art Show.

 This year, I am once again a featured artist at the annual Puppet Art Show here in Orlando. Here is the official poster for the show:
 I'm still preparing my pieces, and I'll post them on the blog and over on Facebook when they are finished. You can see my submissions for last year's show HERE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Words to live by.

I noticed a disturbing trend at Star Wars Celebration last weekend; people carelessly handling lightsabers the wrong way. I feel it's my duty to warn them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jerry Nelson 1934-2012

Today is a sad day indeed.
We have lost another giant in the Muppet world. Jerry Nelson has died at the age of 78.

"Jerry Nelson imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality. He joined The Jim Henson Company in the earliest years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many others are, and will continue to be, unforgettable. On behalf of the Henson family and everyone at The Jim Henson Company, our deepest sympathies go out to Jerry's family and to his many fans." – Lisa Henson, CEO The Jim Henson Company

It has been said that if Jim Henson was the heart of the Muppets, and Frank Oz the brains, then Jerry Nelson was most certainly the soul.
 Did you watch Sesame Street? Did you learn to count from Count von Count? Did you enjoy the antics of the Two-Headed Monster and Herry? Did you believe in the Snuffleupagus? Then you enjoyed Jerry Nelson's work.
How about the Muppet Show? Did you groove with Floyd Pepper? Or laugh in delight when Crazy Harry blew things up? Did you share a tender moment with Kermit's nephew Robin? You can thank the amazing Jerry Nelson.
Wasn't Fraggle Rock a great show? Did you know Gobo Fraggle, Marjory the Trash Heap, and Pa Gorg were performed by Jerry Nelson?
These few examples among hundreds of characters Jerry performed reveal a complex and talented man, capable of outlandish humor, soulful reflection, and cheerful energy. His characters, and his legacy will live on.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thank you. No, I really mean it, THANK YOU!

Voting for the Talenthouse Fraggle Rock art contest is now closed. I am overwhelmed by the amount of votes I received. At the contest's close, I have 151 votes and I am ranked 33rd out of over 500 entries. Throughout the voting period, I never slipped below the top 50 entries.

Thank you to all of the friends, family and fans who showed their support. Thank you for your votes, your tireless campaigns for me, and most of all, for putting up with my constant badgering. This contest means a lot to me. I didn't win the popular vote, but I'm still in the running for:

The Jim Henson Company's Choice

The winning design will be featured and produced in elements of Fraggle Rock's 30th anniversary merchandise line, which will be promoted and sold on their online store. In addition, the winner will receive:
  • A private tour of The Jim Henson Company and attendance to Fraggle Rock's 30th anniversary party (travel and two nights' accommodation in Los Angeles for two provided)
  • A framed copy of their artwork
  • A feature on and Henson's Facebook page
  • $2,500
Eight runners-up, as selected by The Jim Henson Company, will each receive:
  • A feature on and Henson's Facebook page
  • A framed copy of their artwork
  • $500
So now it's the waiting game. The winning entries will be announced September 5th. This contest was a blast to be involved with. I learned a lot and I had fun competing. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for voting for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Henson/Talenthouse Fraggle Rock art competition: Feedback.

Voting is still open for the Jim Henson Company Fraggle Rock art competition at Talenthouse. Over the past few days, I've shared the process in creating my entry. You can check it out on the posts below.

As of today, Sunday Aug 19th, I have 103 votes and remain as one of the top 50 entries. I have received a ton of positive feedback and there are a few notable fans that I'd like to acknowledge.

First of all, the great Muppet fansite Toughpigs has spotlighted my entry to be among one of their 50 favorite! Joe and the gang over at Toughpigs have always been hugely supportive, and it's my number one place to go for Muppet/Henson news and discussion. Check it out here:

I was elated when I saw that The Muppet Mindset (a fantastic Muppet fan blog) chose their top 10 entries in the Fraggle Rock art contest and I made the cut! I love the Muppet Mindset, Ryan's endorsement means the world to me. Here's the link to the blog entry

 You have less than 3 days to vote so please show your support for me at:

Don't forget, you can use BOTH your Twitter AND your Facebook accounts to vote. Let's keep me in the top 50!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Talenthouse Fraggle Rock art contest: Layers in Color.

 I'm currently competing in the Fraggle Rock art contest at Talenthouse. The voting closes in a few days. As long as the contest has been open, I've been sharing my process in creating my entry. Yesterday I posted the final inks, today I'll show you the separate layers in color.

I used a program called Vector Magic to "tighten" my line work. It also makes the line work infinitely scalable. For the most part, I was able to paintbucket the characters in Photoshop when it came to the coloring stage. Here's the top layer, the 5 main Fraggles:

Here are the Gorgs in color:

 This is the first half of the middle layer:

...and the second half.

With the characters composited, there was one final step. I needed a background to unify them. I repeated the shapes of each of the individual "rings" in different colors to create a look similar to that seen in a kaleidoscope or on a tie-dyed t-shirt.
Once again, the final piece:
So that's how the artwork was created.

The voting is still open, and of over 500 entries, I'm holding steady in the top 50. I would appreciate any support you can give me, so please vote for me at  Remember, you can vote with both your Facebook account AND your Twitter account. Thank you!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Talenthouse Fraggle Rock art contest: Inks

 I'm currently competing in the Fraggle Rock art contest at Talenthouse. Yesterday I posted the initial sketches, today I'll show you the final inks. Because of the complexity of the composition and all of the characters, I knew it would be easier to draw each layer separately so I could change the scale and rotate them as needed. This is the final inks for the main 5 Fraggles.
Here are the Gorgs.

 This is one half of the middle ring of characters. I split them in half because I knew they would be covered partially by the top ring (though I wasn't sure where), and I could modify the semi-circles accordingly.

I inked these traditionally, scanned them, vectorized them and continued to the next step, color. Tomorrow I'll show the coloring process on each of the layers.
There are still a few days to vote for my entry. Just visit . You can vote with BOTH your Facebook account AND your Twitter account. Thanks!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talenthouse Fraggle Rock art contest: Sketches

I'm currently competing in the Fraggle Rock art contest at Talenthouse. Yesterday I posted the final piece, today I'll begin explaining my process in its creation.

The second I heard about the contest, I knew I wanted to enter. Immediately, my thoughts turned to the design. Fraggle Rock was created to appeal to a global audience. It aired in many countries and languages, so I knew I didn't want to have any text. The overall goal of the show was to promote coexistence; cultures that were vastly different but still able to live together. I wanted a design that conveyed that symbiosis. I thought of holding hands, circles of communities. I thought of the characters, the size, textures and colors.

With all of that in mind, I thought of circles of these colorful characters, overlapping and radiating outward, much like a kaleidoscope. I knew I wanted the 5 main Fraggles in front, a second layer of Doozers, Fraggles and other characters, and a final layer of the giant Gorg family. I knew the only way that I could do this was to draw the characters in layers and then composite them in Photoshop. This is my initial sketch. 
Not bad, but no matter what I did, the Gorgs were being covered up too much. Unless of course, I made them huge. But then the 5 main Fraggles became lost in the design. I wanted them to be the primary focus of the piece. I kept working on it, but I just couldn't make it look right.

If you struggle too long on a design, sometimes you have to come to the realization that the design probably isn't strong enough. I attacked it from a different angle. I kept the characters and the theme, but pushed the Gorgs waaaay back, and made them part of the inner star shape that the main Fraggles made with their arms. This pushed the main 5 to the front and I didn't have to cover up the Gorgs.
With the design in place, I was ready to move on to the next step, which I'll show you tomorrow.

Please go vote for my entry. Just visit . You can vote with BOTH your Facebook account AND your Twitter account. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Talenthouse Henson Fraggle Rock art contest.

That's right, I'm involved in another Muppety art contest. This time, the Jim Henson Company is holding an art contest celebrating the 30th anniversary of it's acclaimed show Fraggle Rock.
Here's my submission.
I call it, "Fraggleidoscope".
 The inhabitants of Fraggle Rock celebrate 30 joyous years, hand in hand. The Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs and other creatures are interconnected to create a colorful, kaleidoscopic image of friendship, symbiosis and jubilation.

 Throughout the contest, I will be posting about my process in creating the piece including pics of how the artwork progressed. I will also be debuting a separate brand new blog that will showcase ALL of my Muppet and Henson related artwork and links on how to add some of it to your collection.

 Please visit to vote for my submission. You will need a Facebook or Twitter account to vote.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Today I'm a screever.

 "Today I'm a screever,
and as you can see,
a screever's an artist of highest degree.
 And it's all me own work, from me own memory!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Readeez: The soundtrack of our lives.

As a seasoned dad, I've heard a ton of kid's music and seen countless kid's videos over the years. My two oldest children were preschool age in the late 1990's through the early 2000's. Their favorite things to watch and listen to were the Disney animated movies, Mary Poppins, and television shows like Bear in the Big Blue House, Roly Poly Oly and PB&J Otter. 

Fast-forward to 2010. I remarried and our son Jett was born. He was subsequently diagnosed with Down Syndrome. We had always planned on raising him through less "contemporary" means, (we practice attachment parenting, elimination communication, co-sleeping etc), and with the diagnosis, we doubled our strategy.

We wanted to give him every chance possible to grow and thrive. The biggest area of our focus was his brain. We wanted to stimulate and challenge his mind constantly every single day. 

When we were studying about teaching Jett to speak and read, we came across Readeez, the creation of  Michael Rachap. Readeez are short videos, usually musical, where you see and hear every syllable at the same time.(Michael calls this SyllableSync). Readeez are way to learn reading, spelling, math and more. Here's an introduction to the Readeez concept:

We got Readeez volume 1 on DVD and we were hooked. The videos were simple, yet engaging. The music was infectious. We immediately got the entire Readeez catalogue and added it to Jett's daily therapy.

Immediately, there was a shift in Jett's comprehension and vocabulary. He began sight reading at 17 months, at 21 months he could sound out words at 25 months his reading level was late kindergarten (for those who haven't seen them, scroll through and check out the videos here). Readeez is always on in the car or playing on the stereo. They're on my iPod and I've even listen to them while mowing the lawn! I find myself humming the songs even when I'm not around Jett.

We owe a lot to Readeez. It's a gentle, smart way to introduce your child to learning, and the songs are instantly memorable. Because Readeez is such a integral part of our daily lives, I felt I had to do a tribute to Michael Rachap. For you Readeez fans out there, see if you can find all of the song references.

Big thanks Michael, Isabel, Julian, Miss Olivia and everyone else over at Readeez for everything you do.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Signs of a Great Resume: Book Illlustrations

Scott Vedder's book Signs of a Great Resume is now available. 
 As a recruiter at a Fortune 100 company, Scott conducted over 5,000 interviews and knows what recruiters really want to see on a resume. Scott tells those secrets in this humorous and highly effective book and now everyone can benefit in this job market.
  I provided the illustrations for the book and you can see several of them on Scott's website Order your copy of the book today!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jett the comedian.

Check out this recent video of Jett. 

He's the next Weird Al Yankovic!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Teacher Retirement Caricature

Here's one of my recent caricature commissions for a retiring high school teacher. 
It's larger than I'm used to working, 20"X30". It's executed with ink and watercolor. The details were given to me from the client. I love including all of those elements in the picture.

The caricature was a surprise given at the teacher's retirement party. Shortly afterward, I received this email from the teacher:

"I would just like to tell you how much I enjoyed the framed cartoon you did for my retirement from teaching. I loved all the little areas, BUT especially loved the part with my Black Lab called Remington with her degree in her mouth from retrieving school. It seems every time Kathy my wife or myself look at it again we find something new we didn't see before. You are a very gifted artist and this is displayed in our main living area. Again thank you so much for putting all the time and effort into this. This really made my special day that more special."

Friday, July 06, 2012

Zombie Bob art.

Here's a painting I did for Orlando's Zombies Attack Art Show. It depicts one of the characters Zombie Bob from a story I wrote and illustrated called "Dead Charlie and Zombie Bob."  I wanted it to be reminiscent of those cool, funky black light posters of the '70's, so I painted it with florescent acrylics. 
The final piece is 14" X 18". Here it is under black light.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Who wants a great deal on an awesome Muppet t-shirt?

The t-shirt I designed for MightyFine featuring the Muppets is on sale for a very limited time.
Go to this link, and order yours today!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there (especially mine)!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Congratulations Kathy!

Yesterday, my daughter Kathy graduated from 8th grade.

She won 6 awards, including National Honors society.
 I now have two children in High School. Yikes!
I'm very proud of you Kathy. Congratulations!