Daily drawings and visual meanderings from wannabe illustrator, Adam McHeffey.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Golden Triangle Celebrates Sendak

I received a great phone call the other day from an old school friend about doing the cover of the next edition of The Golden Triangle Writer's Circle-- an online literary magazine that features amazing work from writers and poets.

In celebration of Maurice Sendak's intensely prolific career and in commemoration of his recent passing, they requested a piece that had something to do with the man's work. I was ecstatic, nervous, and optimistic. I'm a huge fan of Sendak-- his stories, his lines, his textures-- so this was a project that I decided to take very seriously.

Here are a couple of sketches I submitted for their discussion. They've already made their choice with which will go to paint, but I won't tell you quite yet. Which one yells "Sendak" to you?

Hey, that's kinda neat!

So exciting! Asiago (my vampire protagonist, as you may or may not know) landed the site-stripe on the Amazon Children's home page. I'm so thrilled for that little guy.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


It's becoming a tradition: whenever I finish a dummy for a new book, I lay out all 32 pages in my hallway and just sort of stare at them for a long time. It's a great feeling to get something like this done, especially when it's so nice out-- I thought I was going to be inside drawing all weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reference Photos

If you need to draw a character watering flowers, eating a sandwich, cleaning their car, or walking the dog, it usually helps to have a picture or a model to give you the shapes and gestures. I do a lot of drawings of people doing different things, so I'm always taking reference photos of myself.  I thought it'd be funny to compile the most recent in my Photo Booth. Depending on where I am with which project, I usually look very crazy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. My first book, my brainchild, "Asiago," is finally on bookshelves. If you've been to The Daily Graphite before, you might know the young vampire pretty well already, but for those of you who don't...

Asiago is a vampire, and like all vampires, he avoids the sun, wood, and garlic. When his friends invite him to the beach, he is excited to go. But after getting a sunburn, a wooden splinter in his foot, and a stomachache from eating clams with garlic sauce, Asiago can't wait to get home. Luckily, his friends come up with a clever solution that makes it possible for Asiago to enjoy the beach. 

I used color pencils to create a vampire appealing enough that children will want to meet him again and again. Library Journal calls it a "funny and fresh introduction to one of the most vulnerable vampires ever depicted for a child audience." (April 2012) I hope that's a good thing haha.

In case your curiosity gets the best of you, you can order the book now on Amazon!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Here's a tee shirt I did for a summer camp in Westchester County. It's a cartoon version of their trail map-- still pretty accurate. I started by doing a light trace of their actual trail map to ensure that all of the lines would fall in the right spot. With the rest, I took some artistic liberties (for instance, there is not a bumblebee the same size as their building).

Fun to know that your work will be worn by a few hundred kids over the course of the summer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Doom and Gloom

I was asked to do a sketch for a picture book that deals with animal cruelty. At first I was very taken aback by the subject matter. I think it's good if kids get a taste of reality, but (and know that I'm an employed environmental educator as well), my instinct has always led me to encourage a love of nature first, and then share the doom and gloom stuff when the children are a bit older, let's go with 4th - 6th grade (around the same time you'd delicately educate a class about the Holocaust or any atrocity of that caliber). If kids grow up with a love of nature, the advocacy for preserving our environment will come more naturally. Just one man's opinion.

With that said, drawing lions is always awesome, and I take every project that comes my way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

City to Country

I was asked to do a drawing that represents the city going into the not-so-city. Here's the finished product.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Figuring out the right style...

The last step in creating a "dummy" (a mock-up of a book, composed mainly of sketches), is doing one finished piece. It helps give prospective agents and publishers a sense of what the book will look like when all is said and done.

It never hurts to try out a few different styles, color palettes, whatever-- and this is a great stage in the game to do it.

So what do you think? Textural and a little wonky or straight and bold with a more modern look? The one on the left is graphite and the other is ink. Both with digital color. Which one does it for you?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Is Art? -- My Latest Project

I started working on another picture book. While walking through the fantastic sculpture garden at the PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, NY, my four year-old nephew asked me what one of the sculptures was. It was a totem-pole looking sort of construct, and while at a loss for a simple and accurate description, I said "It's art," to which he replied "What is Art?"

It was such a keenly felt retort that it gave me an idea (and a title) for my newest story. I'm not ready to give it all away, but I will say that it's about a rat, whose name is Rat, and his search to answer the very difficult but important question, What IS art? Something I'm still trying to pin down myself.

He tries to paint a landscape, but this goose gets in his way:

The adventure begins again. Stay tuned-- I'll introduce his mentor, Pigeon, next.