Bill Mayer
"The Neutron Enigma" for Scientific American

 A new piece for Jason Mischka at Scientific American... Great article about two precision experiments that were disagreeing on how long neutrons live. Always starts with rambling thumbnails that finally settle into more direct concept. They settled on #24 but wanted some element of the atom worked in. I added atom heads. and wanted to have some element of time add decay to reinforce that part of the article. Like the sands of time spilling out of the broken decaying hour glass. 

 I did try several slightly diferent layouts but we decided the clock added a bit more conceptually.
 I tried a different color palette to get the tape measures to stand out and the atoms in red and blue. Most of this one was painted in gouache then scanned in and edited and tweaked in Photoshop. 

  I thought the color palette made the illustration kind of haunting...And the beautiful layout with the fragmented type Jason did. Much thanks to Jason Mischka and the folks at Scientific American. Always fun working with them.
NewsWeek Cover - ZIKA BITES
Upcoming cover for Newsweek, for Priest and Grace....

Did some alternate ideas but this one was pretty much right from the art director, Grace Lee... Just the perfect creepiness. I wanted it to make you sort of start feeling itchy when you look at it, but still look fresh and clean. I decided to paint all of the little bugs and the shadow together on one tiny painting. With little digital touch ups...
Robert sent us the final type on Friday and we stripped the image together, bugs in place. We didn't think about the digital formats that would have to work for IPhone, IPads and such. SO, a little scrambling over the weekend trying to get that to work. Much thanks to the incredible Grace Lee... and Priest and Grace and the folks at NewsWeek. This one looks marvelous.

Read the article on  at
Opportunity in Small Things... PlanAdviser
It had been a while since I had a chance to work with SooJin on one of these projects. So happy to get another chance. This one was conceptually challenging and my thumbnails were sort of all over the place. She had requested the airbrush style but said she was open to anything... The breif she sent was: "Opportunity in small things. Or big universe within small world."
I sort of ran in all directions with a batch of random ideas.
This was really pretty funny... I didn't hear back from her... as is a bit unusual, so I am thinking none of the ideas were working. So I sit down and try a different direction. Another thirty or so thumbs and sent them off.
 Okay a couple days go by... I am feeling a little insecure at this point. She obviously doesn't like any of them...
Scratching my head i rocket through another batch of thumbs and send them off. I get an auto reply she's out of town ove r the Holidays... I am an idiot...of course...
Then a quick note that she's waiting to get all the other sketches in from other artists before deciding on directions. I should have remembered she does this. Does not want a magazine filled with fish drawings. Now I am a little embarressed. 
 SooJin got back to us with her picks, so I tightened up a couple of the sketches on the two directions she picked to make it easier to flush out which idea was working better. In the end she liked them both. They were really so simple I decided I could do both and decide later.
One of her concerns was that the hand did not just look like it was in front of the planets. I added some orbit rings to give it depth and help make it more integrated with the hand. On the marble bag I changed the draw string to make it a little more believable. 
 Honestly we liked them both.. couldn't decide if one worked better than the other so we sent them both off . I think SooJin picked the hand. I have to agree it just felt better... We had some discussion about whether or not peiple even remember what marbles were. Somethings some of us are so familiar with but others have no idea about. Makes this concept with the Marbles and bag mabe not really work as well now.Should I put a link for marbles so the students reading this post will have some reference about them. Marble (Dictionary .com) doesn'e even list marbles as a toy.....
Marbles (Urban Dictionary) Brain Cells, son=metimes used to illustrate a lack of....
A Most Unforgettable Penguin

 A new little gouache painting for Marti Golon at Readers Digest. I was so thrilled when Marti called me with this wonderful story. her initial idea was to do a portrait of this little penguin as a portrait in an old style, retro bathing suit. staring out at the sea. I did work through some thumbnails in this direction, but was such a magical story that i wanted to add some element that would make it a bit more. I remembered the surreal poster for one of my favorite movies "Being There" 1979.
In the poster, "Chance" (Peter Sellers) the gardener floats in the air above the pool. It was a take off on the surreal floating men Rene' Magritte had painted. 

 The rough penguin in the thumbnail was a little odd so I spread his wings apart to make the whole thing read better and gave him a nice bit of attitude.
I was a little confused a to call his wings arms but Forest assures me "wings" were proper. Although according to him "flippers" was perfectly alright as well.
Marti was very specific about the type of penguin.... The Story is about a Magellanic penguin living in a Boarding School in Argentina.
from wikipedia....
The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is a South American penguin, breeding in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil where they are occasionally seen as far north as Rio de Janeiro. It is the most numerous of the Spheniscus penguins. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. The Magellanic penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.
The original painting, I had followed some reference on old bathing suits. Marti felt the holes on the sides looked a bit odd...
One new little trick I learned on this was  painting the clouds with a paper towel to get the softness and it worked great. I will use that again...
 I pulled together reference on the Magellanic penguins and vintage bathing suits...I decided to put the penquin in a straw Boater hat... Sort of added a little something more from that era... I did a few tighter thumbnail sketches from the original scribbles. The editors pick was the floating penquin. When I was finished with the paining it seemed like it needed something. So i thought about adding a beach ball or a toy boat to make it a bit more playful. 
When I sent over to Marti she didn't really have an opinion about the boat but was more in love with the stripes on the suit in the sketch. I had decided to pull back on the color and make the bathing suit fall back into the illustration and thought the clouds and the beach would carry the color in the painting. I must have struggled for hours trying to make this change in photoshop befor just going back and painting over the grey in the original painting. sometimes the more obvious solutions are better. Decided to nix the boat too. 
 The one suggestion I wished I had pushed was one that came late into the painting. Lee suggested that it would be better if he was floating above a roof top pool...

This looking back at would have been a great way to add a bit more surreal feeling to the painting but I was finished with it, everthing was approved, and that was a totally new painting.
So the final painting stayed pretty much intact with the small addition of a striped bathing suit.
Much thanks to the Art Director, the incredible Marti Golon, and the rest of the folks at Readers Digest for a fun project. You guys are the best.

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