Phillustration Award

Every year the Philadelphia Sketch Club, historically the oldest club for artists in the country, holds a juried illustration exhibit, Phillustration. I am thrilled that one of mine was awarded second prize in the show this year.

The illustration I painted for Lodging Magazine, Office Churn, was among many other creative and colorful pieces in a show I highly recommend visiting. The exhibit runs thru November 24 and Sketch Club hours are Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun 1 PM – 5 PM and the venerable brick building that houses the Club is at 235 South Camac Street, Philadelphia PA. their website is http://sketchclub.org/ I also congratulate Joe Kulka, whose Smokey Bear art took top honors in the Advertising/ Institutional category. Sketch Club President Rich Harrington, a terrific illustrator in his own right, warmly welcomed the crowded room full of artists and emceed the reception with plenty of good humor.

My New Yorker cartoon was also accepted into the show, and I got to chat with John O’Brien, a creator of many many New Yorker cartoons and covers, at the reception, as well as Eric Fowler, the archivist at the Society of Illustrators in New York. A number of other Bucks County Illustrators Society members were accepted into this show, including Lauren Walsh, Joe DeVito, Joe Kulka, Piya and Christina Wannachaiwong (who also ‘exhibited’ their adorable new baby boy at the show), Mark Schaeffer and Dennis Wise. A few snapshots of our BCIS members’ work from the show:

Caricature branding

My friend Roberta Fortune commissions me to do a caricature of her for practically every holiday that comes along, and she uses these illustrations to brand her events as The Spa Lady, wherein she helps clients relax their lives with essential oils, wellness products and yoga. I drew a black/white caricature of her recently and thought I’d post that and some of the previous holiday caricatures, which all show off her clever marketing and effusive and fun personality.

My recent drawing, showing her with some fragrant burning sage –

and some of the previous holiday-themed drawings (click to enlarge):

‘Book Smart’ Illustration

My most recent illustration for Lodging Magazine was for an article on how to interpret and tweak a hotel’s website statistics to convert more online viewers into customers.

This was assigned right before I left for a vacation, with finished art due right after I got back. I had to draw a very quick idea to get approved before I left; I thought of people reading a website and walking right through a door on the screen to go into the hotel, and luckily the editors approved.

I added the web technicians under the laptop, sliding around on those dollies that car mechanics use under cars, to indicate the tinkering that might go on to improve the site.

Because of the tight schedule I only had time to tighten up the drawing this weekend and go right to the finish – no color sketch this time, so I kept the colors to a limited palette.

The Bucks County Book Fest

The 2nd annual Bucks County Book Fest will take place in lovely Doylestown, the county seat, this Saturday and Sunday Oct. 12 and 13, and I’m happy to say my artwork will be seen in a few publications there.

The Bucks County Writers Workshop‘s inaugural issue of its historical and literary magazine Neshaminy will be sold at the open-air book market on Sunday from noon to 4 pm. It features short stories and poems that revolve around our area’s rich history and famous residents, including pieces about Dorothy Parker, Oscar Hammerstein, Pearl S. Buck and a never-before-published interview with James Michener. I was happy to be commissioned by the BCWW to illustrate the articles about Michener and Parker, and contribute a frontispiece illustration of the Neshaminy Creek, with a subtle reference to the Lenape tribes that lived by its banks.

You can see my pieces below – click to enlarge.

Some of my illustrations for children’s books will also be at the Book Fest, courtesy of author Chrysa Smith, for whom I have illustrated The Upside-Down Gardener, Once Upon a Poodle, and a series of children’s books called The Adventures of the Poodle Posse. Chrysa will also be at the open-air book market Sunday, and I’m sure she’d love book lovers to stop by and to buy local [books]!

A few of my illustrations for Chrysa are below – click to enlarge.

I’ll be around the market too! I’m not sure what I’ll be hawking yet, but probably some of my Christmas cards (you can see some here) and my notecards for birthdays or any occasion when you are giving a book as a gift –

Hope to see you at the Book Fest! There are many other events both Saturday and Sunday – a Lit Crawl, readings for children, a writer’s workshop and an illustrator’s workshop – check out all the events at their site here.

New Illustration for Lodging Magazine

When my husband and I used to visit our son at his college in Washington, DC, the hotel we always stayed at had a courtesy van to take lodgers to the metro stop. We always thought it funny that we never once were able to catch that van at the times it ran, we were always too early or too late. We thought, when did they run it, like 2 hours a day?

I think the latest article I illustrated for Lodging Magazine explained the reason for this. The piece is about courtesy vans and what an enormous liability they are for hotels – most have a high center of gravity so they can unfortunately roll over easily, and if involved in an accident, there could be multiple injuries since they usually seat 10 or more people. The article suggests some strategies to make the vans less hazardous for hotels to offer, but the general message of the article seems to be, vans really are too expensive to keep safe, so hotels should consider discontinuing this amenity.

The editor gave me a good suggestion for the illustration: to show passengers about to board a hotel van, but each is protected by a big bubble. I took it a bit farther, wrapping the passengers in bubble wrap, wearing helmets, and the van has all sorts of Caution Tape and flashing lights to make it unmissable to other traffic. I made a rough sketch –




Then I tightened that up, and made a rough color sketch from a printout of it –

And then drew it with black prisma pencil and painted it with acrylic washes for the finish.

My Hotel-Condo Illustration for Lodging Magazine

Sometimes articles that deal with the specific concerns of a complicated industry are tricky to illustrate; and that was my experience with the current article given to me, dealing with the complexities of hotel brands that develop mixed-use buildings, such as a hotel that has both rental units and condos.

The article went into detail about the division of operating costs and maintenance, and compliance with project standards – not the most scintillating ideas to draw! I thought the idea of a mixed-use building in itself might be enough to enhance the rather dry material, so I submitted one rough pencil sketch idea:

One side of the building has an ocean shore in the background with a lighthouse, hang-glider and jet-skier, and lots of people entering in beachware and tourist clothing. The other side has a city background with a playground for children, and into that side are pouring families with shopping bags and business people returning from work. The editor liked it so I drew the sketch tighter:

and then did a quick color sketch with colored pencils –

The color sketch made the painting of the finish go much faster since it let me plot out the 3 or 4 main colors for the palette. The finish is below, drawn in black prisma and painted in acrylic washes.

An Illustration for Gamification

My latest article for Lodging magazine, a trade journal for the hotel industry, involved a new method being employed for training housekeeping and other hotel services: video games.

To keep employees engaged and improve their business, hoteliers are starting to use interactive games to teach skills – a kind of soft training that creates less stress than task-oriented drills. The example given to me was: workers are shown a picture of a spotless room and one with noticeable imperfections, and are asked to pick out what’s wrong with the second photo. Prizes are awarded for correct answers. In the process, staff members learn, in a fun and interactive way, what to watch for when they clean rooms for real. 

I sent three very rough pencil sketches with ideas. The first was pretty much an illustration of that example –

In the second I imagined pinball games with funny hotel-related names –

And in the third, a video game screen with employees acting like Mario Brothers characters –

They liked the last one, so I tightened up the little character drawings –

And then borrowed colors and actions from classic video games. Here is the finish –