Norman-Rockwell-Triple-Self-Portrait-1960There is the remote possibility that I will burn in Fine Artist hell for saying this but I think Norman Rockwell is the greatest artist ever born. I also like Monet and think Robert Frost is a darn good poet! The thing about Rockwell is…the guy could really tell a story. He was a draftsman, a storyteller, a painter and apparently a shrewd business man. I mean, when was the last time someone paid for your signature?

Medical Illustration often lends itself to pretty straightforward topics. I was kicking around ideas for a piece when Rebecca forwarded me a post on Tumor Paint. I’m not sure if I had been looking at Rockwell’s art lately or where the idea came from but it made complete sense to me. A surgeon painting a brain tumor as a play on a famous Rockwell painting (ok, almost all of them are at least somewhat famous) his Triple Self Portrait.

In this blog I try to show how an idea is developed so here are the planning sketches and work in-progress for this piece.

This is the initial idea concept sketch. These are usually really loose sketches intended to just get some ideas onto paper. Typically I will make a few of these to try out different solutions. This time, I really liked my first idea.



Here is a slightly more thought out version adapted to fit onto a particular journal cover.



This is a fairly refined pencil sketch. The portrait on the canvas is our babysitter Tatiana and the surgeon is played by medical illustrator John Daugherty (he was my faculty advisor at UIC and he is a good sport). The good folks in surgery at UIC provided all the clothing. First they looked at me like I was nuts… and then they gathered up what I asked for.

Intermediat sketch


This is an in progress Photoshop painting from the final. I’ve never done an oil painting technique in Photoshop before but it is kind of fun. Dries a lot faster than real oils!


Eight days later  – the completed illustration and cover mock-up.

Root-Thompson Tumor Paint

Root Thompson Final Proj 4 Cover