My NYC Rockefeller Tree Christmas Card

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.

Meal Kit Container Garden

#humor

Meal kits are very popular right now, especially among young couples in big cities – they are a subscription service that delivers a fully-stocked box full of raw food to your door in a refrigerated container, with instructions on how to cook all the ingredients into a delicious, almost gourmet dinner for two. And if the recipe calls for one stalk of celery, that’s exactly what they provide – one stalk, in a clear plastic sleeve, so there’s no scrap left. What, though, can be done with all the packaging that’s leftover? Well, since spring is just around the corner, I propose . . .

#gardening #mealkit #illustration #cartoon #containergarden #modernlife #urbangardening

Illustration and text (c) Pat Achilles

Rube Goldberg Illustration for a Magazine Article

lodging_recovering_detailIf you don’t know about Rube Goldberg and his hilarious contraptions, you should look him up. There are actually Rube Goldberg contests around the world each year and the videos from it show how much fun his ideas inspired.

I thought of Goldberg when I was sent the latest article for Lodging magazine to illustrate. The article had few visual ideas in it – it detailed many steps that a hotel owner should go through to file insurance claims when a natural disaster forces the temporary closure of the hotel. Not exactly a fun scenario to draw! But the many tips the article gave to go from a hotel closed for repairs to a business up and running again sparked the image in my head of a wonderful but delicately balanced machine.

I started with some ideas based on what I saw in other Rube Goldberg contraptions and drew some rough pencil sketches – funnels, flywheels, ramps, hammers dropping –

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and I had to work in a number of the terms used in the article. The real contraptions are often laid out on a long horizontal plane, but I had a limited rectangle to work within, so I found the trickiest part was cramming a number of components into the model and actually making them conceivably work.

I finalized the basic sketch to the components below. I just had to include the ‘Drinking Bird’ on the top far right – that always seems to say ‘Rube Goldberg’ to me  –

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Then I did a value sketch to clarify objects & people, and got the editor”s approval –

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and painted it in bright colors, doing all the wording on a separate layer on top of a scan of the art. The sequence of the action starts from the left: the man rolls the billiard ball down the chute; it plops into the red cup which pushes down on the scissors, cutting the string; the string releases the hammer downwards which hits the end of the spoon, shooting the yellow ball up the cone, up into the green tunnel and down the yellow spiral; the ball hits the dominoes, which topple one by one till the last falls down on the clothespin; the clothespin opens, letting go of the balloon string; the balloon rises, hits the paddle which lifts and causes the red billiard ball to roll onto the Drinking Bird’s head, which goes down; his tail snaps up flipping the switch that turns on the Open sign.

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Board Game for Hoteliers

The latest article I’ve illustrated for Lodging Magazine explains the dilemma some hoteliers have when presented with a PIP – that’s a Property Improvement Plan – which can be expensive and time-consuming. Some hotel owners opt to sell or ‘flip’ their property to a new flag (hotel brand) or sell it at this point, processes which have their own issues. The editor wanted me to illustrate the quandary of choosing between these options.

Two fun ideas quickly came to mind and I sketched them roughly in pencil – a game show harkening back to Let’s Make A Deal, with Curtain Number 1, 2 and 3, with an agonized hotel owner on the spot:

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– and also a board game idea, with owners losing a turn or skipping ahead to win at their dizzying run at Pip or Flip:

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The editor liked the game board and so I drew it up a bit tighter, with quotes and tips from the article:

1lodging_piporflip_sk3With some suggestions from the editor, I drew it on illustration board in prisma pencil, and started painting in bright gameboard colors in acrylic washes –

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and splashed in a loose color background for the finished art –

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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.

 

Proud Nerd t-shirt

proudnerdtshirt1_detailI offer some items imprinted with my original art & designs for sale here on my Zazzle Store. I created a “Proud Nerd” t-shirt design for the daughter of a good friend recently, and it’s available in many fun shirt colors. The shirt is specially designed for any girl who stands tall, confident in the knowledge that she devours every molecule of info about her favorite topics, whether it’s Harry Potter books, science projects, music, basketball, theater or math problems.  It’s a comfy soft girls tee made by Hanes, in Youth sizes XS to XL.
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 Proud Nerd T-shirt
Proud Nerd T-shirt by AchillesPortfolio
Design your own custom tee shirt online at Zazzle.