Illustration for Liebovar, a Children’s Opera

I have worked with composer and librettist Misha Dutka before, illustrating the poster for his children’s opera The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. Recently Boheme Opera NJ performed a beautiful concert version of Misha’s full length opera Liebovar, or The Little Blind Girl, at the 1867 Sanctuary in New Jersey. Liebovar‘s plot has an opera-within-an-opera, and now Delaware Valley Opera Company plans to mount the short children’s opera that is within the larger story of Liebovar, in the fall. Misha asked me to do an illustration to advertise this performance.

Misha explained that the children’s opera involves the same young girl I depicted in the art for the full length work, a blind girl in a WWII concentration camp –

– but in this fairy-tale-type opera she is a poor peasant girl wandering through the woods, and befriended by various animals – a squirrel, a turtle, a fawn and a duckling. As soon as he described this I sketched a rough idea quickly, which he then approved:

I tightened up the pencil drawing –

and did a colored pencil color sketch first –

and then the final painting, in acrylic washes over prisma pencil, on illustration board. Below is the poster with text added for the event.

Hedgehogs with Violins

If you see hedgehogs playing violins and flutes, can spring be far behind?

Below is my drawing for the Lenape Chamber Ensemble’s upcoming Concert for Children in March. Lenape Chamber Ensemble brings together word-class musicians for local classical concerts and the instrumentalists also find time to do a one-hour concert for kids in between their professional performances – they talk to the kids about composers, play snippets of the longer pieces, and generally create an entertaining hour of the fun side of classical music. It’s completely informal – kids spontaneously dancing along to the music is encouraged – and children can chat with the musicians and see the instruments up close.

Highly recommended for an afternoon out with the kids or grandkids, to welcome spring!

Logos for Youth Orchestra Events

The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County gives children in grades 4 to 12 the chance to meet other young musicians, participate in group activities, and get a taste of what it’s like to be in a real orchestra. I was happy to be asked to create some logos for their fundraising galas in the last few years.

The first gala, which was held virtually in the spring of 2021, had a Night at the Movies theme, and their coordinator suggested images of popcorn, theater curtains or movie reels. I came up with some ideas for them to consider –

They liked the popcorn theme, and with suggestions from their coordinator I developed a marquee-type logo for the final –

This year’s gala will be in person and has the theme Tropical Rhythm, so the coordinator suggested images of bright flowers, greenery and some type of rhythm instrument. I drew a basic idea and tried various fonts & details –

The coordinator suggested a great ‘tropical’ typeface and a revised logo for YOBC, and I modified the design to his suggestions, for the final logo.

He did like the toucan I put in the first design, so he may use that in the program book where some art is needed.

Children’s Classical Concert Returns!

I’m very happy to say that the Lenape Chamber Ensemble, a group of world-class musicians who perform several times a year for chamber music lovers in our area of Bucks County, will return to a live in-person concert for children on November 13 at Delaware Valley University. The Ensemble has been performing these delightful and educational concerts for kids for over 20 years; they play snippets of music from their adult concerts, teach the children about the composers and musical instruments, and even invite the little ones dance to the music as a finale – it’s just as much fun for parents as for the kids!

I always illustrate the flyer for the Children’s Concert with little animals playing instruments, and this fall is no different. The selections to be played will include parts of Telemann’s Tafelmusik, which was meant to played as entertainment at a banquet, so that became my theme. I started with a pencil sketch, and set it in the rainforest because I just wanted to have a toucan in the scene. I sketched monkeys playing the noted instruments, with a jaguar seated at a little table enjoying the music.

I traced the basic lines of this scene onto bristol paper and inked it in loosely with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. The finish is below.

For those who have attended before, please note the new time of the concert. I highly recommend this event to everyone – parents will love the informal and fun atmosphere and kids will easily learn to appreciate the beauty of the music and the joy of these musicians.

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.

More Musical Animals

Getting a jump on next spring, the Lenape Chamber Ensemble asked me to draw up the flyer for their March Children’s Concert.

The Schubert piece that the Ensemble will play is entitled Rosamunde, which refers to the legend of a princess who lives for years disguised as a shepherdess. I decided to base my drawing on that, so I sketched some sheep playing the various instruments needed –

and shepherdess Rosamunde with a crown of flowers and sitting on a tree-throne listening on.

And then I combined them into the layout for the flyer, below. I do recommend these concerts, they are fun for kids and adults alike!

Chamber Music Hippos

Twice a year the Lenape Chamber Ensemble creates a delightful concert for children age 4-12 at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA, featuring world-class musicians performing short sections of the classical masterpieces – they play the full versions in their adult evening concerts. The musicians explain their instruments and themes in the music in simple terms for the children in a casual interactive concert. At the end the kids are invited to dance to the music – so fun to watch!  

I’m commissioned to draw the flyers for the Children’s Concerts and chose hippos this time for my illustrated performers. I can imagine hippos behaving rather elegantly in evening dress, can’t you?

I highly recommend the concert for introducing young kids to great pieces of music – simple refreshments are provided at the end of the 1-hour concert and children can meet the musicians and see their instruments up close afterwards.  And you can’t beat the price – children $2, adults free! For further see their website or call (610) 294-9362.  

Art for the Greenwich Village Orchestra

I’m very happy that one of my animal illustrations will again grace the promotional pieces of the Greenwich Village Orchestra, in advertising their family Holiday Concert. The concert is Sunday December 8 at 3:00 pm at All Saints Church, 230 E. 60th Street, NY, NY, and children 12 and under are admitted free! For more info on other concerts by these outstanding musicians, who perform out of love for great music, see their website here.

Russian Badgers

I’m pleased that the Lenape Chamber Ensemble again requested a fun drawing from me, for their Children’s Concert next spring. This concert will include music by Mozart, Widor and Prokofiev, played by world-class musicians who also teach the young audience about musical themes and the composers. I read a bit about Prokofiev’s life and thought the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow would provide some architectural interest in the background, since my last illustration for a concert was set in Venice for Vivaldi.

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I also discovered that Prokofiev was a noted chess player! I decided on badgers for this drawing’s main characters, and so drew a couple playing chess while others serenade them with flute, violin, viola, cello and piano, which are all featured in this concert.

Here is the sketch partially inked in – unfortunately had to change the pelican at right to a small bird, to fit in the word bubble.

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And the final all inked in – below. Should be a delightful March concert!

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