Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paintings and Monotypes on Etsy

I have posted some paintings and monotypes on my Etsy page. Please stop by and take a look.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


7. Anita Kunz

Anita Kunz is an artist who speaks the truth. In her work, through analogy, thoughtful comparison, exaggeration, and a razor wit. Her work is so well crafted, that her content always comes to the forefront and I forget how well painted, drawn, and composed it is. In her blog, I have found thoughtful and incisive writing on social issues, copyright, the environment, and various other topics. It is rare for me to find someone who is not afraid to speak their heart, even if it means risking offending the powerful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Painting in Progress

This is a recent work in progress. Not the best pictures but hopefully you will get an idea as to what is there. The piece is about 36" square (I think) It has no title, and began as something completely different than what you see, but serves as a good example of how things tend to evolve. There are remnants of the landscape this once was, and also of the woman in a seat which it also once was. Those things will remain as parts of the whole, building up as part of the plot of the thing, some staying others painted over or scraped away until I find something that resonates with all the myriad things that I feel fit.

I think that most people are influenced by everything, and follow a process not too dissimilar than my own: Firs you choose what to paint, then you paint it, then you decide whether to keep it or not, and keep working until it all kind of gels into a cohesive whole. Some painters like to plan things out and then execute a plan, others, like myself, may have a plan but quickly let that go by the wayside when it is not working and follow their intuition. I once was told by an artist and teacher I respected that i had good instincts. It has taken about 20 years for me to understand this and accept it as truth. I think I am finally realizing that my instincts for what is true were correct in the beginning when I was young and not yet mature as a person or painter. The best advice I have to younger artists is this: Throw out anyone else's ideas about what you should be doing and follow your intuition. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to approach a thing, and I also don't think that there is really such a thing as a "great" artist. This idea that some artists are greater than others seems like a lot of hype and BS to me. Any processes that some older and well established artists have discovered have come to them in the same way that yours have come to you, through working.

I hope you enjoy the work, I will get back to my 20/40 series soon. I am stuck on who to write about at the moment and lacking the time to get good scans of the work I want to show.


Bill Koeb

Monday, August 16, 2010

Twenty over 40

6. Greg Spalenka

Greg Spalenka is driven I think by a desire to be aware. His work as bot an artist and teacher are a reflection of his continuing path toward light and awareness. Almost everything he touches contains some element of this path toward light. Whether it be in magazine illustrations about social issues or production designs for an animated film, one can see the thread of Greg's spirit and warmth in the work he does. As a teacher, Greg has touched to lives of countless students and continues to do so through his 'Artist as Brand' series of workshops where he seeks to empower artists as not only creators of content but also as authors of their careers.

I had the good fortune to meet Greg several years ago at the Comic Con in San Diego. He was warm, welcoming, supportive, and without a shred of arrogance, I liked him immediately.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


5. Susan Gross

It takes an incredible amount of skill and restraint to make simple and elegant images. It takes intelligence and awareness to express the gist of a subject with only a few brush strokes and a great deal of wit and sensitivity. Susan Gross accomplishes this with every assignment she takes on. She also continually challenges herself to explore unknown territory and try things without the foreknowledge that they will work. I have seen her do this with painting, printmaking, and collage. Each new material she tackles prompts a shift in approach, color, and subject matter. Her work is instantly recognizable to my eye. No matter how much she grows and develops as an artist, one thing remains constant, her spirit.

As a professional designer and illustrator she has been working for over 25 years in a field that seems the first to be affected by recessions, is flooded every year with younger artists who seem only too willing to give more for less and sacrifice the value of their work for quick financial gains. She has been imitated, but never very well, and has From Joe Boxer PJ’s to Beringer wine labels to books and Nordstrom products, Susan has created distinctively sophisticated design solutions for a variety of clients including Living on the Edge by Stephen Levine, Heal Your Body A-Z, published by Hay House; Vanilla, published by Chronicle Books; and The Cultured Cocktail; published by Clarkson Potter.

For more information, please visit Susan's website. Also, if you know anyone who is visiting or lives in the Mendocino, CA region, tell them to stop by her and her husband David's Art Barn.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


4. Frances Jetter

Frances Jetter is an artist whose work faces issues head on and without apology. In her straightforward and symbolic illustrations for The Nation, The Progressive, The New York Times, and several other publications where serious content is involved and in her personal drawings and sculptures, she tackles issues with a directness and personal approach that has been often imitated but never equalled.

Her people inhabit a world that operates as a mirror to society, often reflecting what cannot be seen but is right in front of us. Within her work there are equal parts beauty and tragedy, despots and victims, and always, a sense of humanity.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


3. Jeffrey Smith

Watercolor is a tricky media. It is brutally unforgiving, and often associated with pretty paintings of flowers and children. Few artists have realized the potential of this medium the way that Jeffrey Smith has. His work comes at you from a place that few can enter, and brings with it light, mystery, beauty, mayhem, and a gritty realism that combines understated body language with bold visual statements. There is always more beneath the surface of Smith's pictures, a darkness, a recognizable element that is often hidden behind the warmest smiles. Not to say that all of his work is dark, but that when he enters the darkness, he brings to light truths about the human condition.

I had the good fortune to meet Smith several years ago and speak with him for a short time. He was honest, straightforward and candid. His pictures are always intelligent, and always evoke from me an emotional response as well as make me think about the subject matter he has tackled.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


2. Vivienne Flesher

The most difficult part of writing about Vivienne Flesher was choosing the images to post. There are so many incredibly beautiful and strong pieces to choose from, that I had to mull over them for a few days before I was able to narrow them down to the four shown here. Vivienne Flesher is an artist who works in a wide range of media, and with an equally diverse range of approaches. Though I think that most know her pastel work, she is also an accomplished photographer and painter.

What strikes me most about Flesher's work other than its emotional power is the solidity and fluidity of the work. That she is able to make a figure both solid and appear to float as if gravity weren't an issue is a testament to her skill and her intuition. If she only drew figures, that would be enough. That she goes beyond this with taking on controversial subject matter, with gutsy color choices, and an understanding that each assignment needs to be taken on its own, and deserves its own approach, makes her brilliant.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

twenty OVER 40

Recently, I have been seeing magazine and newspaper articles touting the talents of people under forty. They are usually titled, "Twenty under Forty", and feature the work of whomever the editors and writers feel deserve recognition for their work.

I am all for showcasing the work of talented people and shining a light on those who are doing outstanding work in their field and have seen and read a lot of good work by these youngsters. I have also seen a lot of derivative work which has been called innovative by writers who seem to not know the source material that influenced these young creators and seem dazzled by their style. I do not want to point fingers or name names, but I have seen and read articles in almost all of the top design magazines touting the work of younger artists, while not always recognizing how heavily influenced by they are by teachers and older pros who spent years developing their voices.

The world of publishing seems to value the look of a work more than the content. Illustrators seem hired, not because they have an original approach to content, or an interesting way of telling a story, but for the surface qualities of their work. This is not always the case, but from what I have seen and read recently, it seems to be the rule and not the exception. One example of this is a series of illustrations I saw in an annual last year. They were almost direct copies of an all too often copied illustrator who pioneered the use of symbolic imagery in American media.

I offer in the weeks that follow, with little editorializing, a sampling of the work of artists whom I feel have done outstanding work over the years, continue to grow and inspire, and yes, are all over 40. I hope that you enjoy their work as much as I have.



1. Ward Schumaker

Ward Schumaker's work has appeared in magazines, books, advertising campaigns, and on the walls of galleries. His eloquent brush drawings cut right to the heart of subject matter, and he combines a sharp wit with an excellent eye for color, shape, and simplicity. I recently discovered another side to Schumaker. An expressive and painterly series of images exploring themes ranging from composers to rivers of the world. The work is both symbolic and narrative, playful and serious.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Durham Tee-Shirt Design

Personal piece for a tee-shirt design.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Re; Father's Day

Since yesterday was Father's Day and my family treated me to some nice family time, a few small gifts, and some alone time, I wanted to post something related to fatherhood. In the early days of Gabriel's life I was doing a drawing or two a day of him. I still draw him almost every day, but the early drawings when the newness of fatherhood was full upon me, hold a special place in my heart and take me back to those first few days in ways that photographs never quite do.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Phone Photos

Some phone photos from earlier this spring

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fair Trade Poster

This is a poster I designed for Weaver Street Market, a co-op grocery store where I worked as a graphic designer in the marketing department. We wanted to connect customers with the people and their families who benefitted when they bought Fair Trade products and give a face to the growers of their food.

The colors were determined by the Weaver Street logo and the textures were achieved by scanning in leaves and bits of old metal.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Morning Grind

Layout with excerpt from a short piece I am working on.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yellow Canisters part 2

Below, is the Yellow Cannisters image with type.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

My thoughts on this Memorial Day turn to both the soldiers who have fought in wars and the people who live in places where war has become part of their daily life. This piece is one I did a few years ago in response to a story I read about unexploded US cluster Bombs left in Afghanistan and the children who found and played with them, often losing limbs or dying as a result. THese devices were referred to as, "yellow canisters of death".

According to the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan, Pierre Wettach: "Millions of such devices are scattered over hundreds of square kilometers of the country. This legacy of 23 years of conflict has a terrible impact on the civilian population."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recent Website Design

I was contacted recently by a talented metal sculptor named Mike Steele to design his website. He wanted a minimal, clean approach and had photos of just a few pieces. I wanted to give him a site that, though minimal, would showcase his work and allow for expansion.

Mike is a great guy, and available for custom metal work like benches, bars, and other furniture, and does really beautiful individual sculptures.

Hearts of Steele

If anyone likes the site and is interested in seeing more work or would like to discuss a project, please email me at To see another site I had a heavy involvement in, go to

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Variations and Revisions

About ten years ago I was working on a series of illustrations for a Fireman's Fund ad campaign. The theme of the campaign was freedom to risk. There were full page ads and a series of smaller, spot ads that ran in magazines around the country. Some ads ran in trade journals, while others ran in national publications like Newsweek or the NY Times Sunday magazine.

The images below are from the second set of full page ads. They are, top to bottom, my original piece and the subsequent revisions requested by the client. It is always challenging to have to revise something once you have done it. Luckily, the real changes were limited to the main figure, and not the overall composition. If I remembered all of the comments, I would list them with the images.

version 1

version 2

version 3

version 4

version 5