Teaching philosophy:
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
John Steinbeck

I have been a professor at RISD for over two decades, and have covered a wide range of courses in the Illustration Department to meet the changing needs of its students. My primary goal is to engage minds, elevate skills and inspire each of my students to find their true spirit. I believe in stepping back, stepping in and sometimes…bouncing up and down when a student makes a huge leap forward!


Courses Taught/Teaching:

Color Works
I offer Color Works, because most people are intimidated by color. My desire is to teach students to be fearless about color. They must discover that color is one of the most intriguing and dynamic elements of painting and drawing. Comprehending color is about achieving a balance between acquired knowledge and instinct; my hope is to provide a framework of knowledge for students to rely on when intuition provides no clear directive.
Students work from models dressed in costume, with poses changing every three weeks. They are given instruction in acrylics and watercolor – as it is the medium of choice for the first six weeks of this course. The expectation is that they will gain a level of expertise in the designated media and then apply that knowledge to other media. The homework assignments include a four-week individual project at the end of the semester. Each student can explore a style, material and subject matter of their choice that includes an investigation of color related issues.

What’s Your Story
In choosing a story to read, retell, invent or illustrate, the choice itself reveals a story. Be it a political cause, personal beef or compulsive curiosity, what motivates an artist to explore one particular theme over another? This course will require students to search the deeper and/or darker recesses of their hearts and minds to unearth meaning in the narrative themes they choose. How these themes manifest themselves through a series of images; an elaborate story embodied in a single image, a series of images that illustrate a story, and a comic, and a toy or game. We will discuss the various components of story telling; plot, character, pacing, style, communication of the essential meaning of the story and the motivation for telling it.
Character, plot/action, pacing, style, setting/atmosphere, format, focus, movement & readability, good editing, allegory, symbolism, deconstruction of plot, storyboarding imagery, engaging personal obsessions and a study of style and its relationship to illuminating meaning.

Artistic License
As illustrators shift perceptions about opportunities for their work, the field of licensing and the opportunity for illustrators to develop imagery for that field is only a glimpse on the vast horizon. The tradition of decorating objects with art is an ancient one, but the application and development of an illustrative style a set of characters and brand identity associated with the work of a particular artist translated to goods and products is in its teen years at best.
This course will require students to research, sketch, illustrate and create prototypes of their ideas for imagery applicable to licensing in a major project through the semester. They will be introduced through slide lectures and visiting guest lecturers to a variety of illustrators and artists who have licensed their work for multiple formats such as: sporting goods, apparel, giftware, infant goods, greeting cards, fabrics, puzzles and game, furniture etc.

The Portfolio
This course is intended to prepare each artist properly for “real world” experiences in the realm of illustration. The motivation is to develop a working knowledge of the industry, and the particular area or areas of focus for their portfolio. This course will focus on four main areas of discussion: The creation of the artwork itself, the portfolio as a delivery system for artwork, charging of fees and the creation of contracts, and the client as art buyer. Each student will develop an individual program and portfolio, including a business card, advertising materials, press kit, a resume and a client list with contact information. We will meet each week and review in group or individual critique format, augment with guest lecturers from a variety of markets and attend a portfolio workshop and seminar.

Student Artwork
Student Artwork

Master Affects
Traditions of the past, embodied by ideas or methods of craftsmanship, have proven remarkably persistent in the creative concepts, techniques and schools of thought of the contemporary illustrator. This studio course will be an in-depth exploration of the Masters of the Golden Age. We will examine influences on such luminaries as Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Norman Rockwell, the Brandywine School, The Red Rose Girls and the Pre-Raphaelites, as well as the resulting influence they’ve had over successive generations of illustrators.
How various philosophies and technical limitations affected their methods will be reviewed through slide lectures, in-class demonstrations and experimentation in a variety of materials. Further inspiration will be provided by visits to the RISD Museum and the National Museum of American Illustration. Assignments will involve comprehending the concepts, and replicating the techniques of the Masters as well as discovering innovative combinations for an individual point of view, and a clear historical context for one’s own work.

Electric Book
Team taught with Professor Nick Jaischigg
If a book is defined as “ a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers”, can we remove the second half of the definition, and still call it a book? This course will acquaint students with new possibilities in the art form of illustrated books made possible by touch screen tablets and interactive digital technology. The day-long schedule will be divided between examining the narrative traditions of the picture book, comic book and graphic novel, and exploring the increased opportunity for “real-time” interaction- between the reader, the written narrative and illustrations- made possible by a variety of digital programs. Exceptional examples of the dynamic integration of story and image will be studied through the RISD Library’s Special Collections, the Providence Athenaeum, and the RISD Museum book arts collections. The schedule will consist of meeting 10 hours per week, with course work divided between short experimental exercises in the first half of the term, and a longer, more fully realized interactive story as a final project.

Additional courses taught:
Illustration I, Illustration II, Illustration III
Mixed Media
The Picture Book

INTERNSHIP + PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ADVISOR: in this role, I help students in the Illustration Department in need of career counseling, portfolio review and advice/information on internships. I help to answer questions about pricing, salaries, markets, personal direction and to formulate a game plan that gives students some structure for internship options as a part of the larger goal of career development.

For more information about additional RISD contributions
and other educational experience: Resume