A friend commissioned me to paint her daughter’s adorable first home, as a gift and celebration of this milestone. I waited for a while so they could send me some photos of full trees and flowers blooming around the house – Vermont’s spring comes quite a bit later than it does here!
I started with a pencil sketch. My client also sent photos of her daughter’s cat, so I pencilled him in on the front porch.
After some more recent photos were sent I was able to add newly-planted flowers to the color sketch.
And after approval from my client I transferred the drawing to illustration board and painted it using a combination of prisma pencils and acrylic paint washes.
I organized another Art+Faith Life Drawing session through my church and this time our model was a lovely friend of mine, tall and with waist-length hair; and instead of Madonna and Child poses we decided she could pose as Mary at the time of the Resurrection or other women of the New Testament. Another artist in our group borrowed some beautifully-made costumes from a Nativity pageant, and along with some props, veils and scarves we put together some wonderful depictions of women of the Bible to bring into our art.
We started with warm-up sketches of about 5 minutes in length. I sketched on charcoal paper with chalk and conté crayon.
I didn’t get too far with this one below but I think I have the basic pose, just have to develop it more. This is prisma pencil on charcoal paper. I think this drawing could be Mary waiting to go with the other two women to the tomb on Easter morning.
The last two are twenty minute poses I drew on toned grey sketch paper, with burnt sienna and white prisma pencils. I added some local color with other pencils and chalks. The top woman with the jar could be the ‘woman at the well’ that Jesus met, and the bottom one, since we dressed her with several accessories, could be a wealthy woman – perhaps Pilate’s wife, contemplating her message to Pilate to “have nothing to do with this righteous man.”
Many years have passed since I drew figures daily in art school; until these drawing sessions I had forgotten how personal and cathartic it is to draw from a model in the moment. It inspires exploration, harkens back to stories long remembered, and turns accidental strokes into almost prophetic discoveries. I’m looking forward to our next Biblical model.
I was commissioned to create a pet portrait for a family with four adorable Boston Terriers. I’ve never had occasion to draw this breed before but I could tell from the client’s photos they are charming, affectionate, and greatly enjoy each other’s company.
I started with a pencil sketch of each, working from both the photos the client sent and reference photos of the breed from the web.
After the client gave me corrections on size and some markings I tried a rough color sketch, adding blanket to give some interest and patterns to the picture.
After a few more tweaks I transferred it to illustration board and painted it. The client wrote to say they call their brood ‘the Gustavs’ after Gus, the first one they adopted, and they’re really pleased with this family portrait of all the Gustavs.
Every once in a while I am asked for permission to print one of my cartoons that is of particular amusement to people who sing in a choir. I received such a request last week from a choir in the UK, who rehearse at the delightful-sounding address of Worlds End Lane, Orpington, Kent. Here is the program cover for their concert, through which they hope to raise money for two worthy causes.
Every year I design the poster for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s musical comedy, and last year because of lockdowns we had to postpone the event. I’m happy to say the group is back in business this season and they will produce what would have been last year’s show, since the whole cast wanted to reassemble and perform it – and the show is Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer. It will be performed LIVE, with a full live orchestra, on July 16, 17 and 18 in Doylestown. I love the wacky plot of this show, which involves a sorcerer in Victorian England who is asked to create a love potion of which an entire town unwittingly partakes, with chaotic and comic results. It strikes me as typical Gilbert & Sullivan silliness that instead of a cauldron like witches traditionally use to brew potions, this very proper Society Sorcerer’s potion is steeped along with a pot of tea.
I was lucky to be at an early costume fitting for the actor playing the title role, so I took photos of him in costume for reference when drawing, and the prop staff even had the large teapot that will be in the show on hand. I knew the kind of pose I wanted for the figure and started with pencil sketches –
I put some rough color on the sketched figure and placed him on the poster page, with the text that will go around him, and drew in the background roughly with a digital gradation, markers & colored pencils, to get a rough design of the page.
I refined my line drawing of the figure and did more detail on the digital color –
I worked on the title logotype next, to shape it around the sorcerer’s arm & umbrella. I used a fun typeface called “Island of Misfit Toys, ” although I played with the letter shapes a bit, stretching and adding some curls, to give it a consistent feel of whimsy.
I drew the cloud emanating from the teapot digitally and put the figure in place –
and then dropped in the title logotype and added some more magical swashes and particles circling the Sorcerer and the cloud, for the finished art.
The singers and musicians of Bucks Gilbert & Sullivan are busy rehearsing now and are thrilled to be back onstage live, with the full Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Orchestra accompanying them. I recommend everyone comes to The Sorcerer, performed at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA, to enjoy this fun show! Tickets are on sale now through Eventbrite HERE. And to enhance the audience’s enjoyment of the show, the group provides interesting background info on the show on the website HERE.
In cleaning out our basement I found this relic of my girlhood, my Barbie carrying case from the late 1960s/early 70s. Note the hot pink babydoll smock dress with pneumatic sleeves (which you’d think might get in the way when you were mixing up your glass of Tang). I would regularly tote this case – full of all the related tiny clothes, hangers, purses, shoes and hats – from my front step, across one neighbor’s lawn (no kids there) to the next house over, where two of my good Friends-in-Barbiehood lived.
Inside the case I found a slightly damaged but largely intact World of Barbie book of fashions. The drawings are so fun and colorful, I can’t help but think that this helped spark my interest in illustration. Shall we step back in time and see the groovy fashions? Here’s the fab cover:
Here’s the first page of fashion plates you could totally dote upon:
^^^ The only outfit I had on this page was the blue knit-set ‘Togetherness,’ an appropriately 1960s-branded title. It was pretty difficult to pull those tightly knitted stockings onto Barbie’s rubberized legs, and it was like a Chinese finger trap getting them off. I so wanted Extravaganza and Jump Into Lace – sheer lace sheaths were a big thing, my 10-year-old self not thinking about how itchy the reality would be.
Here’s the facing page, kind of a Hot Pink Heaven:
^^^ I think I may have owned the Snug Fuzz outfit, because i remember having the usual difficulty getting the sparkly silver tights over Barbie’s lower limbs. They were not in any way smooth fabric, very gritty in fact, a finger snagging nightmare. I thought the donut-neck wedding gown was rather off-brand for Barbie.
And then we are on to this swingin’ lineup:
^^^ Like a Lime-Green Cowboy! I bet it was hard to actually keep that cowboy hat on her head, – this was the 60s after all and head gear was fast on its way out. I wore a hat at Easter when I was young, but hats as accessories lost big ground during these decades. I wonder why did so many of these drawings depict her with basically gray or ash-color hair? Was that a thing?
I’ll be posting more fab pages from this booklet soon.
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:
I recently went through my Big File of Past Illustrations and came across some fun ones from before I had a blog, so herewith:
I drew this a number of years ago for the cover of a book about finding your mate online when you’re over 50. It’s drawn in black prisma pencil with some watercolor and pastel. I think the author is still in the business of matching people up!