Category Archives: Russ Cox

Russ Cox: Books and Games and Apps, Oh My!

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
October 12, 2012 at 06:31PM

All images ©2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

As fall is making a quick stop here in Maine before winter comes for a visit, I have been holed up in my studio working on a wide range of projects when it dawned on me that I have neglected my poor blog. I was surprised that the last time I posted on it was over a month ago. Where does the time go? I did have a vacation to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends during the lapse in postings so it was not like it was all work and no play. I must admit that I am ready for winter. It is my favorite season with the cold air and snow. Not that I am a skier but just love the look and feel of winter. Everyone thinks I am crazy and they are probably right.

Since my last posting, I have picked up two book projects. One is a second children’s book with Outhouse Ink Publishing and the other is from a fairly well known publisher but I cannot say more than that. I can tell you that the second book was written by someone is not at a celebrity status, but many will recognize the name. I am so excited to be working on both books and heading into the direction that I want to take the next step towards. Both books will be out sometime next summer and I will post more info on them when I can.

I am  also working on a cool kid’s game for Gamewright. Again, I cannot say more than that but it is very exciting in knowing that my artwork will be in toy and game stores. this si something I always wanted to do and now the opportunity has present itself. Hopefully soon, I can post images from the project, once Gamewright says it is okay.

And if it is not busy enough, I am in the middle of a second app for developer. The deadline is very tight and I have a few weeks to get everything completed so they can submit both apps to Apple. I should be able to talk about both apps once Apple approves them and they are listed.

I guess I have not had anything really to share but there is a ton going on here. In my free time (HA!) I have been sending out my dummy for Faraway Friends which has been going well but no real bites. I am encouraged to keep pushing forward with it but I also need to start work on the other stories rolling around my head. Maybe if I have a few more to offer, a publisher or agent will see something and want to work with me in getting them out.

Attached are some doodles that I have been doing while taking a break. Or maybe in my sleep. Maybe we have some doodle elves that are drawing in my sketchbook while I sleep. Hmmm, that might be a story idea so “DIBS!” Attached are a few of them so you have something visual to break up the copy.

Oh, if all this is not enough, I am doing a Schoolism Painter class with Ryan Woodward. I felt like I needed a jump start with the software. This is a great class for anyone who wants to learn Painter and pick up a few techniques along the way. The above image are a few samples from the course. I still need to finish it up before it expires. I promise you that I do sleep from time-to-time.

Well that is it for this posting. I do hope to have some things to show very soon and maybe a few more announcements so please hang in there. 

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”  ~Andrew Wyeth

Russ Cox: The Major Has Arrived!

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
August 31, 2012 at 11:22AM

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Things are very busy here in the land of Otis but thought I would do a very quick post just so you know that I am still here. I’m working on a couple of book projects as well as a game cover and pieces. More details as things progress and when I am allowed to share.

I have advanced copies of Major Manners Nite Nite Soldier (Outhouse Ink Publishing) for sale. I did the illustrations for the book. It comes with a fun cd with the Major and kids reading the book. The price is $15 plus $5.30 for shipping. I can do signed copies if you request it. Shoot me an email for details.

Until next time, back to the drawing board.

Russ Cox: A Collection of Doodles

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
July 27, 2012 at 02:38PM

©2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

I have been very busy these past few weeks so I thought I would post a collection of doodles. Many of you probably have already seen them on my Facebook or Google+ pages but since I do not have a lot to report at the moment, I would just share them again.

My picture book, Faraway Friends, is ready to be submitted to publishers and maybe a few agents. The feedback on it so far has been very positive. A few friends and colleagues have read over it and provided lots of valuable feedback and insight. We shall where it leads me.

Lots of book work seems to be coming in at the moment with some small publishers plus Outhouse Ink sent me another story to begin working on which I am very excited about. I cannot really chat too much about the projects I am working on due to confidentially forms that were signed.

On Friday evenings, I have been giving drawing lessons to a 9 year old boy who’s parents we are friends with in Pittsfield. It has been a very fun experience and the boy has talent! You may be reading about him one day.

Until next time, I will leave you with this comment:
“Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.” ~Theodore Dreiser, Life, Art, and America, 1917

Russ Cox: Monhegan Island 2012

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
July 15, 2012 at 03:21PM

© 2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio
I just returned from my annual trip to Monhegan Island with a group of area artist. This was my second year attending the event on the island. A group of us from last year decided to get our own house for the week so we were guaranteed a spot with the group. There were three houses rented out by the group. We, seven of us, were in The Field House with the other artist in Eider Duck and Chadwick House. I believe the total count was 27 artist from the Bangor and surrounding areas.

This year, I did not do very much painting but a ton of drawing. The island is very inspiring but I just felt the urge to draw. I brought along my sketchbook which I filled up several pages from the week. The above drawings were studies of a tree drawn on hot press illustration board and a rocky study drawn with pencil & white marker sketched on a Twinrocker cold press toned paper. The opening image of sea gull painted sketch was “Clyde” who hung around our house the whole week and kept the other gulls away. I guess he has claimed it as his turf. Maybe feeding him from time-to-time kept him around as well. The study was also done on a toned Twinrocker paper.

I also worked on some story ideas and developed a couple of new ones along the way. I am really excited about getting the ideas to a point of starting to write and storyboarding them.

One evening, the house decided to hire a model from the island and do some studies. Our model was a delight and very good with the various poses. The above sketches were from that session. There was some very lovely drawings from the group. It felt good to draw something besides rocks and trees.

These drawings were caricatures of me drawn by the Filed House group. I was showing them how to create images from doodles and how I work in my sketchbook. Afterwards, they wanted to do some drawings of me. I think that pretty much captured me, especially my nose.

This was our view from the third floor deck. The first floor was for storage, second floor were the bathrooms and the top was an open kitchen/dinning/ living room with a large deck. It was a great space from drawing and painting if one wanted to stay indoors. During the hottest part of the day, many of us did stay indoors and went back out later in the evening. For once, I did not get sunburned!!!!

If we are not creating artwork, we did a ton of hiking around the island. Monhegan has all of the best elements rolled into one little island. Trees and forest, rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and a small community area. one evening JoAnn and I went down to the local church to hear some jazz. The church is also the community gathering spot for shows and concerts.

We also spent time traveling from the three houses, visiting each other and seeing what each of us were working on or just to have a glass of wine. These two photos are from Eider Duck. This place has so much character even though it is rough around the edges. The group that stays there every year are hoping to get it again next year. It is for sale so there is some uncertainty on whether it will be available.
This is Roscoe. John and I found him along a path. We brought him to the Field House as the guard dog and to keep Clyde company. He will return every year as our mascot.

Some shots with Gaye. She is a trip and such a fun soul. If you spend any time with her you cannot help but feel her energy rub off on you. The top photo is Jo-Ann, Gaye, and Cristine. the bottom one is of me and Gaye.

One of the past nights on the island, the three houses had a group party and showcase for our art. We started at Chadwick for cocktails and appetizers, Eider Duck for dinner and then our house for desert and music. I brought my banjo and played a few tunes with people joining in with pots & pans, spoons, and some flat footin’.

The last night on Monhegan, I spent some time with world renown impressionistic painter Don Stone. As you can see from the photo, he also has a love for the banjo and old-time music. We played together for a bit, listened to tunes, and chatted about the instrument. It was an amazing experience and a highlight of the trip. We plan on getting together next year one evening to continue our chat. Don is so funny and has great stories.

A photo with Diana Young and Renate Caraballo. They are very inspiring and encouraging. Like Gaye, they have such wonderful spirits and always are good for a laugh. I wished I had recorded Diana talking about the characters in my sketchbook. It was a riot!

Some quick photos of Olena, Jo-Ann, Cristine, and Terri trying to get one last painting in before time to clean the house and pack up. They were actually painting each other. 

We have reserved the house agin for next year and we all seem to be ready to go right now. Even though I did not do a lot of painting, it was very inspiring and provided me some time to work on other personal things. 

Time to get back to reality.

Babies don’t need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach… it pisses me off! I’ll go over to a little baby and say ‘What are you doing here? You haven’t worked a day in your life!” ~ Steven Wright

Russ Cox: Making Some Progress

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
June 22, 2012 at 02:33PM

All images © 2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

It has been a busy past few weeks including working on some of my own projects. Of course as soon as I get rolling on things, it gets really hot here in Maine which makes one not wanting to do anything except stay cool. 

A few weekends ago I went to a writers workshop lead by my good friend Sharon Mack. It was very overwhelming since I was the only newbie and the other people at the session have some serious writing chops. I must say that each of them were very supported and very helpful in getting me out of my comfort zone and start playing with words and ideas. We did some quick exercises that helped get the mind rolling and the creative juices flowing. My stories were okay but with the help of the writers there, helped me see what was wrong and what would make them better. The afternoon was spent working on our ideas. I did not have anything come to me so I went for a long walk and when a story idea struck. I jotted a few notes and a rough direction for the idea. We presented our stories and ideas before dinner. After the response from the others, I think I may be onto something. Time to get that story into development.

Speaking of stories, Faraway Friends is basically done except for a color spread and few layout tweaks. I hope to send it out for submission within the next few weeks. After it heads out the door, I will begin working on some new story ideas. Fingers crossed that I at least get some feedback on it.

I am continuing doing a sketch or two a day for myself. They have been so much fun to do and really warm up my brain before the day gets started or ends. Above are a few from the past few weeks. There are some stories in them somewhere.

The above piece is for a new promo postcard. It was a doodle I did and really liked the idea. Again, I think there is a story in there that needs to be developed. The card is going to art directors and a few agents/reps to drum up some business and interest. I let the sketch show through more since people have been telling me how much they like my drawings and some of my final art looses that freshness of the sketch. This was painted in Painter. I am loving that software! It has a more natural feel that Photoshop and the options are amazing. More experimenting needs to be done but I am getting comfortable with it. The black & white drawing will be on the back of the card. Good buddy Kelly Light suggested keeping it one color. She was a big help on the main illustration as well. I owe her big time!

That is it for this post. Time to get a start on the weekend and relax before diving into my workload for the coming week. I will leave you with this:
“At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the ‘what if – what then’ approach to writing and illustration.” ~ Chris Van Allsburg

Russ Cox: The Funky Shape Game

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.

Jennifer Morris and Kelly Light play this fun warmup game where you take several odd shapes and turn them into characters. It is so much fun to warm up the brain by doing this. It brought back memories of high school when we would play this game in study hall. You should give it a try and join in on the fun! Here are my quick doodles from Jennifer’s sample sheet.

©2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

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