I’m very pleased to say, my second cartoon is being published this week by the New Yorker, for their legendary Caption Contest! At the moment it is online, but my cartoon will be published in the June 10 issue, on the last page inside the magazine. You can see it now right HERE.
Anyone can submit a caption for this contest, so please go ahead and enter! The directions for submitting are linked on the Contest page.
As I wrote when my first cartoon was published, the New Yorker loomed large in my wonderful relationship with my father, who was also a cartoonist, and who always encouraged me in my art. He grew up during the Depression in Allentown, PA, a second-generation American, and saw the New Yorker as the embodiment of the wit, sophistication and insight of the country’s best writers and illustrators. I just know he is doing a little dance up in Heaven now.
I can’t let this post go by without including a cartoon, so here’s one I drew when my Dad was alive, using one of his captions.
I’ve been looking through the illustrations of Arthur Getz, one of my favorite New Yorker cover artists. Getz painted 213 covers for the iconic magazine between 1938 and 1988. In addition to illustration work, he painted cityscapes and landscapes – ‘fine art’ sold through galleries – although he sometimes signed them with his middle name, Kimmig, because at the time a fine artist was not supposed to cross the line into commercial art.
A particular favorite of mine is his cover from 1957:
The moment it captures is utterly American, isn’t it? To the left, the bustling, spangly city with silhouetted crowds in frenetic motion, and in the foreground the relaxed parking attendant, contentedly oblivious to the high life a few blocks behind.
The skill and techniques of this artist make the painting especially appealing to me. The blazing city lights in the distance are warm, but it’s cold moonlight fluorescing down on the garage attendant – that’s the opposite of what you’re taught in painting class! Warm colors are supposed to come forward and cools recede – but Mr. Getz makes this inversion work beautifully. The covers of the magazine our fellow’s reading are slightly brightened with the reflected light bouncing off the pavement – reflected light is a detail that a master’s eye notes, and novices often overlook. The splashes of neon red far off in the city are balanced by that rusty red wall to our protagonist’s left; there’s even the faintest red haze in the air above the cars in the garage, a delicate touch to offset all that chill October air.
And our attendant’s pose, balancing on the chair – another master stroke. Let me explain: when you draw a standing figure and you want it to look steady, not tipping over, you draw it so the supersternal notch – that’s the central notch between your left & right collarbone – is directly over the inner ankle of the leg bearing the weight of the body – this makes the figure looks solid. Well, Mr. Getz has this gent perfectly balanced: if you imagine where his supersternal notch is, and draw a line straight down, it’s directly over the spot where the chair leg bearing the man’s weight touches the pavement. This acrobatic bystander is not going to tip over!
The contrasts in tone all around our nonchalant hero seal the deal for me. After your eyes take in the whole scene, where does your attention go? To the crisp lightning-white page edges of that magazine and that tiny cusp of face and finger illuminated by the October moon. That’s intentional – they are painted with a razor edge and surrounded by blacks and neutral grays to draw your gaze like a pinpoint. The same goes for the swatch of city on the left, the contrast is so high between the yellows and blacks that you can’t not look at them – but even though those marks are skillful, they are vague, to give an impression of buildings and lights. The painting strokes in and around our parked friend’s figure, instead, are descriptive, deliberate and masterful.
There’s sometimes a bit of friction between illustrators and fine artists, over whether illustrations deserve the same esteem that framed paintings are given. If you ask me, this Garage Nocturne by Arthur Getz could hang in a museum next to Hopper’s Nighthawks any day.
“Sir, we’re getting ready to land–I’m going to need you to slide that under your seat.”
I started reading and chuckling at New Yorker cartoons in high school when my dad introduced its unparalleled humor to me. He and I shared many hours discussing our favorite gags and cartoonists, and, while Dad did land a great cartoon one time in The Saturday Evening Post, he never made it into Eustace Tilley’s grand library. He hoped someday I would. Dad passed away 8 years ago but I have the uncanny feeling he’s been pulling some strings.
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 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.
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.
I’ve always enjoyed the witty hand-drawn observations of cartoonist Michael Maslin, which have been published in the New Yorker since the late 1970s. His deceptively simple drawings often contain macguffins that pair hilariously with his caption writing, which can range from foible-y understated to pratfallen poetry. In July of last year I glimpsed Mr. Maslin in the background, snapping some photos during the opening of the exhibit Funny Ladies at the New Yorker: Cartoonists Then and Now at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Mr. Maslin’s wife is Liza Donnelly, also a prominent and long-time New Yorker cartoonist, who moderated a very funny discussion at the opening, with a panel of current women cartoonists and the magazine’s cartoon editor, Emma Allen.
I looked up Mr. Maslin’s blog, Inkspill, and found it to be a running catalog of all the newly-published books, appearances and special projects of all the New Yorker cartoonists, in NYC and elsewhere. He has effectively aggregated the history of the magazine’s cartoonists with their bios, some dating to the publication’s beginnings in 1925, and regularly writes about the cartoons and illustrations in current issues. It’s a wonderful inside-baseball resource for fans of cartooning in general and the wit of iconic New Yorker cartoons in particular – and so I highly recommend Inkspill!
It’s not too early to think about the holidays – I’m already working on three clients’ holiday cards for their businesses
Because of this, I’ve recently added a Christmas card to my listings on Etsy – one I drew last year for my family, in the classic New Yorker black & white style, not long after my first cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. If you’ve ever seen this iconic tree you never forget its overwhelming presence!
I drew this cartoon in black prisma pencil and painted it in ink washes. (Closeups of the art are on my Etsy page) It shows the legendary tree at Rockefeller Center, which about 100 million people visit each year, teeming with lights but with one small dark area; a small child looking up comments, “They missed a spot.”
Inside the card is the message “May your Christmas be filled with Peace and Joy and a thousand twinkling lights!”
Single cards are available on my Etsy shop HERE and boxes of 8 cards are available on my website store HERE.If you’d like more than 8 cards, or would like to use this card for your company holiday card, email me and we’ll work out the details. And if you live near me in the Central Bucks area and want to avoid postage charges, simply email me what you’d like to order and you can pay when you pick up the cards from me.
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!
I like trying fashion illustration pieces once in a while, and the opportunity came up recently for an event I was invited to, to draw a young woman who is quite photogenic and fashionable. She owns a tiny adorable Yorkie who fit beautifully into a scene of her striding along in one of her favorite gowns.
This was a combination of hand-drawn and digital work. The figure drawing was done with a brush pen, and after I scanned that I inserted some flat color on it thru the computer. I printed that image out and added shading with chalk pastels and details with a finer point pen. I wanted a wash background with an indication of some buildings in Washington DC, so I painted a loose wash on watercolor paper, scanned it, and drew a rough silhouette of the Capitol in black ink and used that as a digital stencil over the wash, to create the building outline behind her.