Latest illustration for a trade magazine

The most recent article I illustrated for Lodging Magazine deals with a much more serious subject than usual: human trafficking. Unfortunately the hotel industry sometimes becomes inadvertently connected with this crime because traffickers use the anonymity of room rental to escape law enforcement. The article suggests ways to make hotel staff conscious of suspicious behavior by room renters, while staying within regulations of privacy.

1lodging_traffickingtypes_sk1One such suggestion is inviting local law enforcement to present information personally to the staff, so questions can be answered directly. I tried going with this angle for the illustration – my initial pencil sketch:

The editor approved it and I did a rough color sketch in colored pencil, also approved.  1lodging_traffickingtypes_colorsk1The editor did make the comment that everyone looked ‘too happy in my sketches for such a serious subject, with which I agreed. So I gave everyone more thoughtful expressions in the finished art.

This illustration, like most of my others for these assignments, is drawn in black prisma pencil then painted with acrylic paint washes, like watercolor.

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My New Poster for a ‘Fiesta’ Concert

1fiestadetail2I just completed the new poster advertising the Doylestown Symphonic Winds’ summer concert Fiesta, which will showcase Latin instrumental music performed by this outstanding brass and woodwind ensemble.

I gave DSW two rough ideas for the top part of the poster, which I usually illustrate in some way, the bottom half of the poster being mostly text giving the when and where of the concert. I sketched a flamenco dancer in the first, with line drawings of the instruments tumbling in front of her; and for the second, I borrowed the figures from my art for last year’s poster and added some festive costumes and Spanish design elements.

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DSW liked the second design best, so I redrew the figures tighter and placed the rest of the poster text.

1dsw_fiestaposter_colorfinish1This was close to being finished, but the DSW board asked for more color to be inserted on the people, and also they found that in my switching a few figures left and right, I had flipped a few so that the instruments were technically being played backwards. Not good on my part! They were helpful in providing me with direction and some photos showing how hands should be positioned, and I revised the drawings.

The finished – and physically and musically correct! – poster is below. I’m looking forward to going to this year’s concert, since last year’s resounded with all the exuberance and majesty of brass and wind instruments. I highly recommend this concert for music-lovers of all kinds!

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My Gilbert & Sullivan Artwork

I’ve just completed designing the show program for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s June production, Trial by Jury and More! This production is a melange of two comic operettas and some magnificent overtures and solos from Gilbert & Sullivan.

I’ve been pleased to paint the poster illustrations for a number of these G&S shows, which I then use on the program cover as well. It’s a pleasure to get to know the witty and comical characters in these operettas – and they are truly operettas, with some dialog but a lot of gloriously operatic sung music. I really recommend these shows for anyone who loves classical music and good theatrical humor.

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My illustration for Trial by Jury and More includes the characters Mr. Cox, a hatter, and Mr. Box, a printer, who unwittingly occupy the same rented flat because one works all day and the other all night; they meet unexpectedly and both are furious with their landlord for double-dipping on the rent – until they discover they are, or were, also engaged to the same lady and neither wants to fulfill that contractual obligation! Also depicted in this cover are characters from Trial by Jury: Angelina, the tragicomically jilted bride, and the Judge, who is instantly smitten with her. Together these 1-act shows make up the operatic musical comedy Trial by Jury and More!  and it is set to open in two weeks, on Friday June 16 here in Doylestown – all info is on the website here.

With my art for HMS Pinafore I shoehorned the main characters into a tiny rowboat for comic effect: the gallant sailor Ralph Rackstraw kissing lovely Josephine and Captain Corcoran carrying his sunny Buttercup, with ornery Dick Deadeye paddling them through the waves and Sir Joseph admonishing them all to be quite polite. My husband played Sir Joseph in this show locally, and friends may see the resemblance in my rendering of him.

For Princess Ida I stood our stalwart princess front and center, and in the background her bastion for women, Castle Adamant. If you look closely you can see the brave fellows clumsily scaling the castle battlements – Hilarion, Cyril and Florian – who engage the theme of this battle-of-the-sexes play. For some elements of Castle Adamant I was inspired by the design of Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine, and you may notice I incorporated male-female symbols into the castle windows.

For the Patience illustration I painted sweet, sensible milkmaid Patience listening skeptically to the florid words of poet Bunthorne. (I enjoy that G&S often chose hilariously Dickensian character names.) Meanwhile the lovesick maidens of the village cling and swoon on Bunthorne, with even Lady Jane and her cello getting drawn into the undertow. There’s a lovely small magnolia tree in my neighborhood that I used for reference in the Patience art.

In all these illustrations I painted with acrylic paint on illustration board. If you’d like to see my sketches leading up to these paintings, I wrote about my process – Trial by Jury here, Pinafore here, Princess Ida here and Patience here. Leasing of my artwork for other productions is available, and inquiries can be made through my Contact page.

 

Illustrations for ‘Don’t Be a Cow’

I recently had the pleasure of illustrating George Barker’s self-published book, written with his wife Rachel, called “Don’t be a Cow.” This amusing title comes from George’s philosophy, honed over many years of the ups and downs of everyday life, that each person should find their own path to happiness, without falling into line with all the other ‘cows’ they encounter.

While we have not met in person, George’s upbeat and gentle humor in discussing the illustrations that head each chapter lead me to believe he is onto something with his outlook on life. His book includes thoughts and lessons on the search for fulfillment – some formatted like a conversation between “John and Jane,” two everyday people, with Bible quotes, self-reflection exercises and even related popular songs for each theme.

Here are just a few of the interior illustrations I created and their chapter heads:

1dbac_wp1And here is the cover with the eponymous Cow – I recommend George & Rachel’s book and I think it would be particularly useful for young people who may need some help weathering the bumps along the road of life. Don’t Be a Cow is available here on Amazon.

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Our Award-winning Invitation Design

1artdecoinv7I am pleased to say that my daughter’s wedding invitation, printed and assembled by Cortineo Creative’s Wedding Studio in Doylestown, and in which I had a hand in designing, has received the Neographics award for Best Invitation in the category ‘Small Press 1, 2 or 3 Color’ this year. Neographics is a graphic communications contest for the PA, NJ and Delaware area in which graphic arts, packaging, design and publishing excellence is selected and showcased.

My daughter, multimedia writer and videographer Julie Achilles Benns, chose her wedding decor to fit her themes of Art Deco and New Year’s Eve, the date her wedding was celebrated. The invitation was truly a collaboration in design and execution between The Wedding Studio and us.

1ppboxphotoJulie and I worked out a basic design in black and white for the front of the wedding invitation; Julie wanted to incorporate the idea offered to us by Lori at The Wedding Studio, of a lasercut paper overlay to be hand-applied once the invitations were printed. We designed an original custom overlay. Julie created the vector file and we used Paper Presentation in NYC to lasercut an elegant, very Deco style frame in burnished gold paper.

Kelly, our designer at The Wedding Studio, chose handsome fonts and designed the rest of the invitation package, with a coordinating gold pocket to hold the waterfall-cut insert cards. The final invitation was printed on white stock with black and metallic gold ink, with a white envelope and a gold liner.

Cortineo Creative did a stellar job of printing and assembling the invitations, which was evidently noticed by the judges at Neographics! I wrote in more detail on the entire process on my previous post here, and Cortineo announced the honor on their blog here.

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My Work Featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating’

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I am quite honored to have my illustration work featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating,’ a fun and very informative blog on publishing by author-illustrator Kathy Temean. The interview, with lots of samples of my work, is here.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions at the bottom of Kathy’s blog, I will be checking it throughout the weekend.

A hearty thank you to Kathy for her help!