From the Flat File: 2004 – Slots Landing

A number of years ago before I got into the world of animation, I was a very busy illustrator. I illustrated many books whether of my own design, or sometimes with a team of other illustrators. Much of my color work back then was created with gouache – an opaque water based paint I would apply with both regular brushes and airbrushes. I absolutely LOVED this work.

After having worked for a number of years in the world of animation, and not having illustrated much anymore, the urge to paint more came bubbling up inside of me. While some of my colleagues who spend their days with cartoons want to create fine art, I wanted to create illustrations, even if they were just for me and not part of a greater project. But, I didn’t want to use gouache anymore. The erratic, organic quality of watercolors looked mighty attractive.

So, I bought some tubes of watercolors – Winsor & Newton – the same brand as my gouache paints, and decided to take a crack at ’em. The first serious attempt at using this medium resulted in the piece down below. Watercolors make up the bulk of the piece, finished with the sketchy lines that colored pencils provided.


The name “Slots Landing” was suggested by my brother.


I was hooked, and never looked back. At least 80% of my paintings since then have been with watercolors. Gouache still creeps in now and then, as does purely digital painting in Photoshop, but I absolutely love watercolors, and try to learn more with each new piece that comes across my desk.

Even though this was my first serious attempt at the medium, it remains one of the more popular pieces with viewers, likely due to the subject matter. There’s just something about the loss of innocence when tempted by something bigger and meaner that we all can relate to. The alligator seemed like a natural tempter to the sweet, innocent rabbit who he is coaxing down to the riverboat casino with his luring words and the push of his tail. It seems like the key moment of a book, doesn’t it?

The image was inspired by a verse in the Bible found at I Corinthians 10:13 where it promises to those who have given their lives to Christ that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”