Monday, December 31, 2007

The Best of 2007

January: A downtown apex art dealer inquired about the purchase of this painting.

February: Grayson and I sketch the Tipper Tie water tower. Later, I create this piece from the sketches.

March: Book signing at Chick-Fil-a. The kids asked me to sign their books… and their cows and their water bottles and some more cows and…

April: Jackals Win FAHL C Division Championship

May: I go through my yeti phase, creating illustration after illustration.

June: After watching a video about spoon bending by using the power of the mind, I took on this new and exciting hobby.

July: The hunt for Pigrates. It was animal behaviorist Cole Saphone who spied the creature first. A large, orange animal was rooting through the sand, some 200 yards up the coast.

August: To be on an island… to be at a nest… to be there the day, the hour, the minute, when a sea turtle hatches. A once in a lifetime.

September: My fox painting won an award at the SCBWI-NC Fall conference.

October: My interface design made the Chicago Times. How very exciting. The interface I designed for TeleHealth Services has been installed in Northwestern’s new Prentice Women's Hospital.

November: my Computer Art and Animation students create some cool stuff.

December: I end the year the same way I started, painting large, multi-media paintings of water towers.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


This illustration is based on an actual dream I had last night.

The house in the middle is Mrs. Glass' house on Briggs Ave where I grew up. The house to the left (you can only see the garage) was mine. I'm the guy in the red shirt.

OK, I know. Now more Tim LaHaye books before bed!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Little Christmas...


Studio version of a Christmas song recorded by my old band, Karen Ray.

What Angels Came To Say.mp3

The Video


And now for my exciting Christmas animated gif :)

Friday, December 21, 2007


December is a crazy month. Every night, doing something. Some party. Some dinner. Fun. But still, no time to do stuff. Still, always doing stuff.

But not tonight.


This is a tower I snapped a photo of on the way back from Thanksgiving dinner. It's some small town in SC or possibly right over the NC border. I don't know. I was lost. Well, sort of. I knew I was heading home.

This little water tower was right on the horizon. It was the first thing you saw as you drove into town. That, and a gas station may have been all the town had. Though I do remember there was an IGA for sale in the town we went through right before this one.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I'm entering one of the last pages from my Computer Art and Animation class' book, Why Communism Doesn’t Work. I would enter the very last page, making it a truly backwards entry, but I don't want to spoil the ending.

Take a look at the book, you can download it for free, and I think you will see why it makes a splendid backwards entry.

Why Communism Doesn’t Work

The Computer Art & Animation class' latest book is finally available!!

Why Communism Doesn’t Work is a brilliant depiction of the ups and downs of life in Antarctica. A must read!

But don’t take my word for it. See what the critics are saying:

“Best book I’ve ever read. Better than Harry Potter!” ~ Anna

“Creative and imaginative. Sparked my inner child.” ~ Hannah

“A clear, understandable and unbiased look at the gritty government that is communism. A must read for kids of all ages!” ~ Mike

Why Communism Doesn’t Work
Buy it Today!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Computer Art and Animation: Flash

Here is a list of Flash projects my Computer Art and Animation class has been working on. Each link opens a new window.

The assignment was to incorporate sound with buttons. Pop away!

Musical Desk
Another assignment incorporating sound with buttons. Make sure you hold down the mouse to see the full animation.

Put the Cat Outside
Again, incorporating sound with buttons. This project also uses drag and drop as well as different scenes. Drag the cat out the window.

This student uses stop frame animation as well buttons to design a simple yet effective game concept. Click on the good guy to take out the aliens.

The assignment was to create a frame-by-frame hand drawn animation (no tweens). The project had to include at least 100 frames and incorporate music.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Computer Art and Animation

I've just posted some of the recent projects my Computer Art and Animation class has been working on. Check it out when you get a chance here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Post Modern Impressionsim

I was asked a question about my paintings. How very exciting! Here it is in Q & A format.

Q: I've noticed that most of your paintings have a strong energy about them, like you can't sit still. And then, there are some paintings that you've done with the trains and the water tower that are so calm and peaceful and dreamy.

What I've wondered is how much of your mood reflects the way the painting turns out? How much of the painting is influenced by the actual surroundings vs. what makes up the thoughts and feelings of the creator of the painting?

click to see the whole thing

A: When I drew the trains and the water tower, I went out, looked carefully at the subject, drew sketches from life and took photos. Then I went back and painted them. So I think I was more careful about capturing the subject. I looked over my sketches as I painted and paid some attention to the photos.

With the tree paintings, I basically sat in my yard and stared at them for a long time. I watched how the sun changed the colors of the trees. I really looked at them and tried to see what color they were. I took a photo or two for quick reference but when I started painting, I didn't much look at it anymore.

Putting this into the context of art history, the trains and the water towers lean towards impressionism, stealing from Monet :) The trees lean towards abstract expressionism, stealing from De Kooning and Pollock.

More post modern impressionsim

Friday, November 09, 2007

Large Scale Painting

click to see it larger

It’s been a summer since I’ve tackled a new postmodern impressionism project. But something about late fall/ early winter makes me reach for a large-scale stage.

Wish I had a ginormous canvas to paint on. Something not measured in inches. Feet instead.

About half the painting visable to show scale with stuff

Still it was nice to get my hands dirty again. This isn’t finished but I figured I’d blog it up while I wait for this layer of stuff to dry.

You can check out previous ian postmodern impressionist paintings here:
(The new paintings will be added below)

Pine trees
Water towers

OK, here is a cropped version of the finished painting:

click to see the whole thing

Sunday, November 04, 2007


OK, this is just a crazy thought but…

My crit group, we call ourselves the ‘goalies’ cause we set goals. Of course, Stephanie Greene, the SCBWI-NC RA calls us, that roughty Raleigh group.

Still, wouldn’t it be cool if all the ‘goalies’ had hats and shirts to wear? And what better hat than a goalie mask?!

So I took the liberty of using my award winning illustration (could I be any more full of myself?) to design our new hats. But hey, it's my blog. :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pages 20 -21

Still working on my top-secret project. Here are pages 20 and 21.

Even though I thumb nailed out the entire thing, I really can't see the big picture till I have a completed painting.

Once in Photoshop, I have so much more freedom to move stuff around and play with the layout. I know I’m suppose to be able to do all that with the thumbnails but...

I thought maybe this one worked better with the text on the top. Whatch you think? I don't know, maybe not... No, now that i look at it, i like the other one better. OK, never mind.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monster Mash

Here is my entry for the Penelope Illustration Monster Mash contest. Hope I win! Go monster!

Meanwhile Leatha Koefler, professional art critic and former gallery owner described my art in this manner, "It's like a party on paper." Could I ask for a better review??

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Zonkey

click to see it bigger

I played around with the layout of my top-secret project some more today. Moved the text around mostly.

I also played with different color schemes. Do you like the orangey background color of the zonkey green background color? I'm leaning toward orangey.

When Wogs Attack: Part 1

Can you beleive I have another stinken cold? Well, you know the rules. Whenever I'm sick it's time to play bass.

Here's a sad little ditty called the Wog Blues...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


click to view larger

Most of my stuff is less creapy then this but I was playing around with drawing people and these guys just popped out onto the paper.

Anyhow, this week's word for the Picture Bookies blog is scared so I thought that fit in just swell like.
Good Morning Chicago

My interface design made the Chicago Times. How very exciting. The interface I designed for TeleHealth Services has been installed in Northwestern’s new Prentice Women's Hospital.

The Times ran a story on the hospital and included a screenshot of my system. They squished it a little but that’s OK, I’ve never been in the Times before.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


click to see it bigger

Since starting this blog in 2005, I have been constantly toying with art. Every time I came close to a method I was satisfied with, I would switch directions in some kooky attempt to reinvent my style.

Exploring is growing and it is fun and all but I think I need to settle down. I’ve played with a lot of methods and I have a lot to work with. So I decided to grow up, pick a style and stick with it. I figure the best way to do that is to put a dummy together. 32 pages all using the same art, now there is a challenge. ;)

And all ready I’m learning and growing. Just trying to figure out how type fits on a page is crazy hard.

Here is the method, cartoony images, colored pencil first, watercolor on top of that and finish off with the black inking.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I think bringing a bear to school counts as extremes... kids...bears... you get it.
Just a test illustration for a top secrete project I have been working on. I could tell you about it but …
In The Eyes

Just flipping channels.. watching TV, not for me except when I’m sick.. I have a head cold…

and this guy says, “all these fish in the sea, all these colors, yet they never clash.

Not feeling up to painting or anything, the soul is willing but the flesh is weak… I decided to post some photos I took this year.

Maybe interesting to see what I thought photo worthy... where beauty can be found.

Water tower, Georgetown, SC: at dusk

Daufuskie Island, SC: greens on the wood

South Port, NC: bricks washed up on the beach

South Port, NC: Water tower (I never painted this one...)

Ocean Ilse Beach, NC: Turtle nest, very beautiful

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jirst Bluefin the First.

I have two major problems. I get ignored and I get ignored. See, I had to say it twice because you probably ignored me the first time.

My name is Jirst. Jirst Bluefin the First.

That’s a blended clip from my latest manuscript. One of my students asked to read it and afterward illustrated this rendition of Jirst. That’s Jirst’s first illustration.

A first for Jirst ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Twigs snap
Upright bass, piano, jazz
Bent over sunflowers
Rake, scratching
Apple pie
Burnt sienna
Pumpkin soup

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

SCBWI-NC Conference First Pages

On Saturday afternoon a panel of editors read First Pages. Here is how it works.

Daring authors submit one page from their bestest manuscript for the panel to review. One person on the panel reads the first page then the other editors give their critique of the first page.

First Pages is the kind of thing that sounds like such a great idea and is a great idea as long as the panel isn’t reading your first page. Then is horrifying.

I have submitted first pages for three years now. This year was the first time my first page was read and yes, brutally critiqued.

The panel is reviewing my manuscript.

"Hey what do you think of this?"
"Well it's pretty much crap."
"Really? I was thinking double crap."
"Yes, perhaps you are right."
"So you are saying crap-crap?"
"No, I was thinking crapity crap."
"I also agree."

Ok, I'm totaly kidding!! The editors do a great job and give great advice.

So, after a long cry in the bathroom, followed by another long cry in the lobby, followed by a short cry and a tear up in the hall, I finally was able to swallow the critique. Remember, I said I was out to write the best manuscript ever.

I can take this. I can do this… or maybe I’ve just been down so long that…

Oh dear, I feel another tear up…

SCBWI-NC Conference Saturday Morning

Hey, my fox painting won an award. How cool is that? Especially since I didn’t know I was going to win an award.

I was just standing there, taking photos, waiting for the winner-winner to step up... and they called me a winner.

My painting wasn’t the winner-winner but it was still a winner and I got a ribbon and a signed thingy suitable for framing. And I was very excited about the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

SCBWI-NC Conference Part 3

Sleep. I needed it. I needed to sleep a few nights before I could sit down at this here keyboard and tell you about the weekend.

The conference started Friday afternoon with a critique by my favorite editor Caitlyn Dlouhy. Nervous. Silly but I was so excited. First cause I never had a professional critique before and second cause it was my favorite editor Caitlyn Dlouhy.

Did you know my favorite editor Caitlyn Dlouhy edited one of my favorite voice books which is none other than Dovey Coe? You can’t help but talk just like Dovey when you read that book. It is written by Frances O’Roark Dowell who was also at the conference.

Frances and Caitlyn discussing what a dork I am.

Frances O’Roark Dowell and I chatted on Friday night after my critique. I told her I wanted to be her and I was working on a book very similar to her book but mine is titled Covey Doe. Yeah, I know. I said a lot of stupid things to a lot of other people who are not used to having stupid things said too.

My favorite editor Caitlyn Dlouhy gave me some excellent advice all of which I am taking to heart. My most grown up thing that I got out of this conference is that I am not really focused on getting my book published. I am focused on making Shellless, which is the story I had critiqued by my favorite editor Caitlyn Dlouhy, the most blow your socks off manuscript in the world.

Ok that was Friday. Then I went home to bed. Not sleep, just bed.

Monday, October 01, 2007

SCBWI-NC Conference

Who are these people and why are they on my blog? This is a photo taken sometime during the weekend at the SCBWI-NC Conference but I can’t tell you what day it was... looks like it was before breakfast.

I’m sure more will come to me later and I’ll update this post. Might even add a few more but I’m tired, too tired right now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

SCBWI-NC Conference Part 1

I’m glad the conference is over. I’m tired of chewing gum. I chewed gum all weekend, cause you know, you have to talk to lots of people. So I chewed it.

I chewed it on Friday, I chewed it on Saturday. I chewed it in the morning, I chewed it at the party while drinking a glass of wine. Hubba bubba merlot.

My jaw hurts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

As time winds down to the 15th anniversary of the SCBWI-NC Conference and my debut as a speaker, I thought I might share a few articles I've written on the topic of web design. Sort of get me in the mood :) Here’s a recent article, written for the Pen & Palette titled: Join A Clog. Enjoy…



If I asked you to tell me what a blog is you might say it’s a personal diary, an online journal or a place to hang your hat on the web. And you might be right. Most blogs are singular. They are a great way for illustrators to display their art and for writers and editors to vent about the slush pile.

But a new type of blog is popping up across the web. This new blog replaces the singular with the plural and the personal with the community. I’m going to coin a phrase here, a Clog.

A clog, as I’ll define it, is a community blog. Clogs replace the blog’s one editor/owner with several editor/owners. They replace the personal thoughts and statements used to promote a singular entity with a joint effort to promote a group’s purposes.

My term ‘clog’ may never take hold, but the concept of community blogs is steadily growing. For example, the Picture-Bookies clog started as a group of 4 children's book illustrators/writers. The site was designed to promote each illustrator’s individual style.

“Working from home can make one feel isolated,” states Sherry Rogers, children’s book illustrator and one of the founding members of Picture-Bookies. “We formed the group because of the need to communicate with like minded individuals with a common goal.”

Picture-Bookies is designed to help motivate the members of the clog with monthly challenges and information from the illustration community. The clog also features interviews with each artist as well as links to their personal websites and blogs. Picture-Bookies is currently by invitation only.

The Class of 2k7 is a clog of first time children's and YA authors with debut books coming out in 2007. In all, there are 39 authors collectively blogging to help promote each other's books.

“I had the idea early last year that a group of authors with first books coming out in the same year would be able to do more and speak in a louder voice than any of us alone.” Stated Greg R, Fishbone, founder of Class of 2k7. “I put the word out through a few lists and message boards and it just snowballed from there.”

Features of this clog include an "Ask a Debut Author" section, author’s discussion forum, interviews, biographies and perhaps most importantly, information about their books.


Ian Sands is a writer, artist, and active member of his regional SCBWI, NC. He has worked as a computer graphic instructor, web designer, project manager, and graphical user interface designer.

Friday, September 21, 2007

So Ask Me About the Web

Guess who will be a speaker at this year’s 15TH Annual SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference? Me! How very exciting. Here is what it reads in the brochure:

Ian Sands has been a web and graphical user interface designer, creating websites for corporations, education and the healthcare industry for over 10 years. He teaches web design and graphics applications at the high school and college level. He is also the author and illustrator of Pony Wombat and the Second Ark.

Wow, almost makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Well, if I’m going to be a speaker, I better hurry up and figure out what I’m going to speak about. I have received a lot of good suggestions, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Where do you go to set up a website?
  • How do you get the website on the web &
  • how to edit it once it's there?
  • How do you market your website?
  • Is a frame-based website ok or will most of the website material not turn up in search engines?
  • Can authors offer copies of their books for sale from their website?

Now it’s your turn. If you have any suggestions of something you would want to ask the web guru :), post a comment. The more the gooder and thanks in advance for your questions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Watergate Blues

My high school art teacher, Fred Nold, turned me on to the Heath Brothers. Percy Heath is an outstanding jazz bass player and he performed a live version of this tune, Watergate Blues.

Don't remember the album title… heck, I don't remember albums. I borrowed this one from the Yonkers public library back when you could borrow records from the library. Really hope I returned it or I must own some outrageous late fees ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2007


click to view larger

After my exciting morning in the emergency room, I decided to take the kids to Bugfest.

Bugfest was fun. I would show you photos but my camera phone seems to be on its last tripod. So instead I posted this illustration of an Imperial Moth caterpillar I did a while back till I can get photos out of my phone.

Let me tell you about some of the cool stuff at Bugfest.

First, there was this guy doing a flea circus. He was funny but we got there a bit late and it was crowded, couldn’t see well, so we moved on.

Next we saw a guy getting a honeybee beard. They tied a queen bee to his neck and then proceeded to dump box after box of honeybees onto him. The honeybees like to hang with the queen so they clinged till this guy’s entire face was pretty much covered in bees.

There were lots of bugs in little plastic boxes and at almost every booth there was a tank of those big Madagascar roaches. You could pick them up and hold them. They all had names. The one we held was Rebecca.

The bestest booth was the buffet line. Yes, yummy bugs to eat. And all free!

The Stir-fry Grasshoppers were really good cause the grasshoppers were so big you could pick them up and eat them straight. That was much more fun then the mealworm lasagna that had the bugs baked in.

For dessert we had a little cup of orange jello with ants in it. That was more like you went on a picnic and left your jello on the picnic table for an hour or so, came back and ate it anyhow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My So Called Heart Attack

So I wake up last night with chest pains, I have shortness of breath and I’m panicky. I’m thinking, am I having a heart attack or did I just eat a bad burrito?

Now I’m no stranger to an upset stomach and this feels like tightness on the left side of my chest. Then again, that is why they call it heartburn right?

Now I try to take care of myself. I work out, I eat ok (unless you aren’t a fan of bugfest), and I don’t smoke. On the other hand, the bottom number of my blood pressure is always up around 90-95, and you always hear those stories, “he was so young, only 41, and he left three children behind.”

The choices:
1. Lay back down, try to burp and fall back asleep (or die depending).
2. Go to the hospital, get poked, stuck and restuck and risk feeling like a smuck because you should have taken a tums.
3. Shoot the hostage

Friday, September 14, 2007


I just found out that Saturday is bugfest!! Is it raining out or is that just my mouth a watering?

More info posted soon!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Apex Art Skeleton Drawings

Hey, if you would like to see some really neat drawings, stop by the Apex High School Art Blog and see what my students did the first week of school.



Yesterday, we went to the zoo and I took my sketchbook. How funny after painting mammoths all weekend that this guy walked right up to us.

Usually, they are way down on the other side of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad these pachyderms have hundreds of acres to romp but it doesn’t always make for the best viewing. So this was way cool to have him only a few feet away.

Drawing animals, even what you might consider slow moving animals, is hard work. They really don’t hold still like you might think. I did a lot of gesture type sketches trying to capture the essence of elephant, (which is a new perfume I’m working on). I really like this sketch with the squiggly trunk. I’m going to have to do more with…. Coming soon to a blog near you.

After the zoo, my body decided to stop playing games with the ear infection I’ve been wrestling with all week. I had a raging fever with the most icky chills. If you’ve ever been under a heap of blankets but still felt like you were standing barefoot in the penguin house then you know what I’m talking about.