Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I.F./The Legendary John Henry

Hello, all.
They say timing is everything. It just so happens that I finished this piece a couple of days ago... who knew that it would fit perfectly with the Illustration Friday topic? :)

I have been working on this idea for over a year now, with lots of frustrations. There is something about working on an idea on your own that feels a lot like learning to ride a bike. You spend so much time trying things that don't work. It can be daunting, to say the least.

All that being said, I have the first of what is to hopefully be several images of the legendary John Henry. This is the eighth version of this image. I have learned lots about taking reference pics, sketches, using tracing paper to plan space, research, and my ongoing developments dealing with my oil/colored pencil technique.

Have a great week!


  1. Good composition with great depth, beautifully rendered. Suspenders with cast shadows are a nice touch but I wonder if they are hooked up too close to belt buckle area. We've discussed this point before, he doesn't look sweaty or strained, looks clean w/new clothes, background is not gritty/greasy, a prettified version.

  2. Steve, this turned out to be a gorgeous image. The color is wonderful!

    Are you going to set a title over top of this by chance? I think you could and it would be a nice final touch.

  3. Anni,
    Thanks for the compliments.
    You know, I decided to go with a rested, cleaner image as an overall shot. I couldnt get this to work out showing him at rest, but dirty... I guess more of my personal preference.
    The next image is an action shot... Im fairly excited, and I plan to go all out.
    Thanks again.
    Logan, no plans for that yet, but it was in the back of my head (for the original design).

  4. If this is your preference then it's good to go. Very strong piece, effective as a cover. Have fun with the action piece!

  5. FABULOUS DRAWING!!!! I need to learn how to do what you've described doing. You've obviously learned it well. I look forward to seeing more.

  6. Truly excellent. Your perspective, color choices and composition are all top-notch. Brilliant work and an excellent solution to this week's topic!

  7. a wonderful piece, perfectly executed.

  8. Hello, all.
    Thanks for all the kind words... I was really down about this image (I literally drew it 8 times) and this makes it feel like it was all worthwhile.
    Coreopsis, if you look through my older posts, there is a post called "Dazed" where I explain my oil paint/colored pencil technique.
    Thanks again, everyone.

  9. really well done. Love the color & composition

  10. This is a perfect illustration for 'legendary'. Very iconic! :)

  11. I really love your blog, and this illustration is so cool. I've seen nothing like it. Do you have it for sale?

  12. Fantastic!! I am glad that you stuck with it!! I like the placement of John Henry in the foreground and the tain in the background!!

  13. Hello, all.
    I just can't thank you enough for your support. It came just in time, as I was considering giving up on illustration altogether.
    Katie, I left a comment on your blog... good stuff.
    Susan, we have been teaching art for the same amount of time, and with the same goal (to eventually break into children's book illustration). Small world, is it not.
    Thanks again, guys.
    Peace out!

  14. This is probably one of the first tales I heard as a child and your drawing lives up to everything I imagined back then and now. Just fabulous!

    Oh by the way, there may be a blog you might be interested in, he's a wonderful children's illustrator and you two may have a few things in common, especially, talent. He also has great advice on the Children's Illustrator's market. His name Don Tate and he's at:


    and he's part of a great group of African American Authors/Illustrators at:


    If you know about all this...that's great, too! Peace and have a happy week

  15. Indi,
    Thanks for the info... no, I didn't know about any of it.
    I will make sure that I check it out today.
    Thanks again,
    Steve Cozart

  16. Fabulous rendition. Your work is stunning, which shows your hard work is paying off. I admire your dedication to your craft.

  17. Incredible illo. Great idea, composition and drawing

  18. Outstanding work! You picked a perfect legend for the topic, and portrayed it wonderfully.

  19. Just wonderful! The color palette is excellent and beautifully rendered! Outstanding.

  20. Hello.
    I just can't thank everyone enough for their compliments. Bless you all.

  21. This turned out very well!! Indeed working on your own piece can be the most difficult thing, especially trying to fit the piece together before you even begin filling in. I'm sure your entire series will turn out as well.