Neshaminy Journal Spring/Summer 2021

Neshaminy Journal has its newest issue out – it’s the magazine produced jointly by the Bucks County Writers Workshop and the Doylestown Historical Society. This issue includes some great articles, all related to the history and culture of Bucks County, a place with a long association with writers, musicians, artists and theater people.

Among the local creators featured in this edition are Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who studied in Doylestown under Oscar Hammerstein II; Pearl Buck, Nobel prize-winning author of The Good Earth; poet-novelist of the Harlem Renaissance Jean Toomer; Eric Knight, author of the classic tales of Lassie; and painter, teacher and writer Robert Beck, whose oil paintings chronicle our area’s beauty and its people. There is also original poetry in this issue and several illustrations by yours truly.

I recommend Neshaminy for everyone who has a connection to beautiful Bucks County. There are some fascinating aspects and stories to the people who have contributed and still contribute to its arts and history, and the writers involved here know how to spin wonderful tales. I enjoyed reading every one of them and learned a lot of Bucks County history that I didn’t know!

Neshaminy will soon be in book stores and can be ordered online by clicking HERE.

Lassie Illustration

Who doesn’t remember this good girl? But you might not know that the glorious collie Lassie, star of a dozen films and a television series – and even a radio show – also has a brush with Bucks County history. The author of the first Lassie novel, (Lassie Come-Home, 1940) Eric Knight, lived in Springfield at Springhouse Farm in the 1940s, where he and his wife raised collies. The upcoming issue of Neshaminy Journal – produced jointly by the Bucks County Writers Workshop and the Bucks County Historical Society – has a long article about Knight and the famous collie, for which I painted this portrait in ink wash and pencil. This issue should be available in April at local book stores and through the website HERE.

Sondheim Illustration

Another celeb who has a connection to Bucks County, PA, is composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and his story is also featured in the upcoming issue of the Bucks County Historical Society and Bucks County Writers Workshop’s literary journal Neshaminy. Sondheim spent much of his youth on a farm in Doylestown, and eventually was mentored by Oscar Hammerstein II, who owned nearby Highland Farm, on how to write musicals. Sondheim has too many blockbuster musicals on his resume to name all of them, but I chose sheet music from one of his most recognizable numbers, Send in the Clowns, as a backdrop for a simple line sketch of him to illustrate the story for Neshaminy.

Magazine Illustrations

The Bucks County Historical Society together with the Bucks County Writers Workshop publishes a literary journal, called Neshaminy, twice a year and I contribute a few illustrations to each issue. All the articles deal somehow with events or places in this county, or with people who had a brush with Bucks County history.

In this issue there is an article about Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck, whose home is located in Perkasie. She lived much of her youth in China as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, eventually writing richly detailed and moving novels of peasant life in rural China. When she moved to Perkasie she continued her prodigious writing and left a legacy of intercultural education and humanitarian aid, especially to orphans in Asia.

I drew the elegant Mrs. Buck seated at her writing desk. I used reference photos of her and the interior of her writing office to sketch out this original illustration.

I then drew it all in prisma pencil and used ink wash over the pencil for the finished art.

I’ll write about other pieces for this issue tomorrow.

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.

Illustrations for a New Literary Magazine

The Bucks County Writers Workshop and with the Doylestown Historical Society are developing a historical literary magazine by local authors, called Neshaminy. If you live in our area you know that the Neshaminy Creek is a tributary of the Delaware River and runs for about 40 miles, entirely through Bucks County.

Don Swaim, an author and radio personality, is the head of the BCWW, and it happens that probably 20 years ago my father became part of a writing club that Don also headed, so I was acquainted with him. When I heard about the project I asked if there were any need for an illustration or two in the magazine, and Don quickly assented, so I’ve drawn a few requests for him.

The first issue of Neshaminy, which should be published in early October, features a never-before-published interview with world-renowned author James Michener, conducted by Don. I drew this ink wash portrait of Michener for that piece, based on several photos I researched of the author.

Don thought a painting of the Neshaminy would be a nice frontispiece for the magazine, so I took some photos in the Castle Valley area of the creek. I imagined the art spilling over from left page to right, as in this first pencil sketch, base on my photos —

I made a tonal sketch with gray markers, below, and added a Lenape Indian in the distance, drinking from the creek. The Lenape lived in this area before Europeans settled. The word ‘Neshaminy’ means the place where we drink twice in the Lenape language.

The final ink wash painting for the frontispiece is below.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the published magazine, because at a launch party at the Historical Society a few nights ago we heard a bit about the prize-winning entries into the magazine, and they all sound like wonderfully interesting stories, some fiction, some non-fiction, some poetry. I’ve been asked to do one more illustration for this issue, and I’ll write about that as soon as it is finished.