Blog

100 days smarter

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, pastels, school visits | 4 comments

Last week I had the good fortune to visit another stellar school: Kennebunkport Consolidated School. Author Lyn Smith and I received a warm welcome from first grade teachers and set up in Mrs. Roberts’ room.

1KCS_blog

There was evidence all over the place that students here are on the ball. I need one of these oversize pencils as a prop, since I’m always talking about keeping our eyes and pencils sharp.

2KCS_blog

We attended the Friday morning assembly, where I spied this ingenious banner in the hall. The entire school was celebrating the first 100 days of learning.

3KCS_blog

After the pledge, the school song, announcements, a dance, and watching a Kid President video, we were duly warmed up for hearing Lyn read her book, A Porcupine’s Promenade.

4KCS_blog

Such good listeners! They wanted to know how the book was made. Lyn told them it is a true story, but she made up the boy, Bailey. I talked about my process and shared my book dummy and sketchbook, and a pile of supplies and nature objects.

5KCS_blog

Lyn gave everyone a sketchbook, and they began their observational studies.

6KCS_blog

This artist did three different studies of a sea star.

7KSC_blog

I like that this artist found great color matches for their drawing, and imagined 6 eggs nestled inside.

8KSC_blog

Careful noticing going on here.

9KSC_blog

I noticed this artist wearing deer all over her, while drawing an antler.

10KCS_blog

And that careful butterfly is now flying up to a tall blooming flower! They picked up on my tales of illustrating with both observation and imagination.

11KCS_blog

Lyn spotted one student writing observations down.

12KCS_blog

It was gratifying when Karen Bubar, the principal, took time to share in the discovery.

13KCS_blog

My heart sang when Caroline gave me her mini pastel masterpieces. Thank you!

14KCS_blog

Michelle Roberts and Lyn are former colleagues, and remain proud advocates of children’s literacy.

15KCS_blog

On the ride home, we rode through the Wells Reserve past Laudholm Farm, where Lyn is doing a reading and activity for their Winter Wildlife Day. Like RIGHT NOW! Looking up at these tall trees, I wondered if Priscilla might be napping there.

16KCS_blog

In the book, this is my final illustration. Do porcupines dream?

17KCS_blog

Thanks to the Kennebunk Education Foundation for another great encounter with kids, books, and drawing!

Between Books and Blizzards

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, collage, Illustration, Peaks Island, Tilbury House | 2 comments

When I saw the forecast a week ago, I dared to ship all my original art to Tilbury House instead of driving there in a blizzard. Not an easy decision, given I’ve had this work in my head and on my table for the past five months. Whew! Ana and the Sea Star by R. Lynne Roelfs will be out in Fall 2017.

1-BB_blog

Driving down front to the post office on Peaks Island, all was quiet before the storm. Even us chickens.

2-BB_blog

I’m a snail mailer from way back, so the island post office is an almost daily destination. Isn’t it cute?

3-BB_blog

Once the storm picked up steam, I ventured out for a weather report of my own. The first foot of snow is normal enough.

4-BB_blog

Cue the sound effects here: crashing waves and howling wind.

5-BB_blog

I hiked up to Tolman Heights, no sledders in sight.

6-BB_blog

Wow, like magic, my husband hero had begun shoveling.

7-BB_blog

My studio is one of the coziest places I know, so I holed up with my valentine supplies.

8-BB_blog

I heard my Ana and the Sea Star art had arrived safely, and made this card in honor of all those letter carriers delivering love to every corner.

9-BB_blog

I also made some sweetness for my own valentine, because what good is a blizzard without baking?

9-BB_blog

We enjoyed a lovely valentine date last night at Vignola, and looked for heart-shaped icebergs on the ride home.

12-BB_blog

Found these delicious cards upon return. Thank you, beloved peeps!

11-BB_blog

Above, top row: Eleanor Morse, Marty Braun, Kim Traina. Bottom row: Mary Anne Lloyd, Katherine Mahoney, and Inky Blue design (sent by Emma McCabe.)

Now it’s back to the drawing board on new projects before the next blizzard….stay warm, everyone.

 

Portland Stage fun

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in Illustration, Island Birthday, Portland Stage Company | 2 comments

1-anita_blog

On a bitter cold Saturday morning, the colorful sight of Portland Stage’s Executive Director Anita Stewart warmed me right up. It was the Theater for Kids 7th birthday and Island Birthday was being featured in their Play Me a Story production. I was delighted to be on hand to witness the theatrical reading. But first, party hats were a necessary prop!

2-partyhat_blog

Actors voiced different characters and provided sound affects. Below James Patefield (middle) plays Riley, the lead character in Island Birthday who is tired of being out of milk, and living on a remote island. (James was bully good as Teddy Roosevelt in Arsenic and Old Lace as well.)

3-playme_blog

After two books and two poems were performed, the chairs were removed to the sides of the theater and actors gathered the children in a circle to talk about what acting tools are: imagination, body, and voice. Kids were led through a series of absurd prompts, like chewing gum into a huge bubble that bursts on your face and all over your body and must be pulled off with icky dismay. Hilarious! They also became noises in a thundering storm, and brave pilots took turns flying through the raucous mob of bodies.

4-lilactors_blog

You just might want to get in on this action, every Saturday coming up, with more wonderful books in line, details HERE.

It thoroughly put me in the mood for seeing the current production, Arsenic and Old Lace. I worked on the poster about a year ago. These are a few of the rough sketches I presented for consideration.

5-Arsenic-rough

Of course, I watched the classic film first, and was spooked by Jonathan Brewster, the creepy older brother.

6-jonathan_blog

I was also desperate to draw some lace and romance.

7-Arsenic-rough

8-Arsenic-rough

The tension between the dark thriller and the comedy seemed like a good contrast for scars and lace. Or being tied up.

9-Arsenic-rough

10-Arsenic-rough

Eyes peering out of lace? Maybe too hokey.

11-Arsenic-rough

Lovers in a bottle? This was the idea that got the nod.

12-Arsenic-rough

I found lovely lace samples in a recent copy of Uppercase Magazine.

13-lace-mag_blog

14-lace_blog

I did my drawing thinking the lace was full of spying eyes. I inverted the drawing in Photoshop so it would appear white. And of course, I got out some wine for reference, and maybe a little imbibing. Part of the job, c,mon.

 

15-decanter_blog

This is the final illustration, with some wonky ellipses, which are so challenging.

16-REVfinal_blog

What a blast to see the amazing set design by Brittany Vasta when I attended the Sunday performance. She did the sets for three other plays for which I did the poster art: The Whipping Man, A Song at Twilight, and My Name Is Asher Lev. Love how the wallpaper pattern here echoes the lace theme.

17-arsenic-set_blog

And the wine glasses match, too!

18-table_blog

It helps when you are with a gang that loves comedy. Doug Smith, in the bottom left, is my island neighbor who first got me in the door at Portland Stage, and has also illustrated many posters for them.

19-Arsenic-gang

photo by James Flagler

We stuck around for the discussion with the cast after the performance. Led by Literary Manager Todd Backus (far right), the cast reappeared out of costume, one by one, with hearty applause.

20-cast_blog

It was informative to hear about their process of preparation, auditioning or not, how they are all thrown together for a mere three weeks of rehearsal, with no understudies. Actress Leighton Bryan (Elaine Harper) rehearsed early on with a sprained ankle, carried about the stage by Ross Cowan, her fiance (Mortimer Brewster) in the play.

Portland Stage has pulled off another winner with this vintage chestnut, go see for yourself!

Women’s March

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in travels | 13 comments

1Liberty_blog

drawing by Jamie Hogan

You know it’s serious when an introverted, crowd-averse, middle-aged peep decides to go to the NYC Women’s March.

But how could I not? I joined my neighbors, Nicole d’Entremont and Eleanor Morse, both writers and veteran activists for civil rights, peace, and the environment. Nicole and I left serene sunshine on Peaks Island, crossed Casco Bay, and took the bus to NYC, where a soft drizzle greeted us.

2NY_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

We walked to Chelsea where I met our host, Fran, and her friend, Shirley, who is a Raging Granny. Here’s my sketch of Shirley in her Pucci scarf.

3Shirley_blog

Drawing by Jamie Hogan

She invited us to join the opening ceremonies at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in the morning. So we did.

3signs_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

It was a tight mob of buoyant citizens, many signs and so many smiles. Rosie Perez introduced several of the speakers.

4Rosie_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

Whoopie Goldberg addressed the crowd, saying “The change is on us! This is just the beginning.”

4whoopie_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

There were songs, more speakers, including a hello from Dame Helen Mirren and a welcome from New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray. We sang our national anthem together and then we were off, literally like a herd of turtles, inching ever so slowly over to the street. This is Nicole and Fran, in the foreground, ready to hoist our banner, painted by Marty Braun.

5fran_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

It served right away as a connector between us, the crowd was so thick. We chatted with other sign-makers.

6nolock_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

I met a fellow biker, proudly sporting her pink hat.

7biker_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

It seemed to take forever to reach the end of the block but everyone was in a good mood.

8rosaries_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

Finally, we made it to Second Avenue where we could actually march. Onward!

9act_blog

photo by Nicole d’Entremont

When we turned onto 42nd Street, I was overwhelmed with pride for the marchers, as far as the eye could see! Yes, this is what democracy looks like. Somebody joked, yeah, like gridlock.

42ndST

photo by Jamie Hogan

By the time we reached Grand Central Station, we needed a pit stop.

11Grand_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

As did everyone else. We’d been on our feet for almost six hours. Really?!! We left the march and headed back to Chelsea. Friends elsewhere were marching, too. Here is Madeline Sorel and friends, somewhere near us.

12mad_blog

photo by Madeline Sorel

And Doris Ruth Barton, also in NYC.

13Doris_blog

photo by Mary EllRoy

Back in Maine, a group of Peaks Island kids had the same idea for the Portland march.

14kids_blog

photo by Olwyn Moxhay

My heart sang to see a photo of my neighbors filling the ferry, feisty as ever.

14PImarch_blog

photo by Patricia Erikson

The Portland March drew 10,000! Here an invincible Zahara stands firm on the Eastern Prom.

15izzy_blog

photo by Mary Anne Lloyd

The hand-made nature of signage is a beautiful thing.

15sign_blog

photo by Olwyn Moxhay

Up in Augusta, my cousin Wanda was with friends and family.

16hannah

photo by Wanda McDonough

Fellow islander Jane Banquer reported the crowd in August was too big to move.

JBAugusta

photo by Jane Banquer

Meanwhile, islander Carol Young, on the far right, met up with friends in DC.

17carol_blog

 

Daisy brought her sign to a protest in Baltimore.

20D-sign_blog

photo by Daisy Braun

Her roommate Ellie took note that the new administration has deleted quite a few pages from the White House website.

19ellie_blog

photo by Daisy Braun

On Sunday, Nicole and I walked along the High Line. This manifesto by Zoe Leonard from 1992 remains potent.

22zoe_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

Signs, signs, everywhere about what is going down.

23alien_blog

Photo by Jamie Hogan

 

24eyes_blog

photo by Jamie Hogan

Given what’s happened in just a few days, we got way more more marching and resisting to do.

 

 

 

 

Sharp eyes in Kennebunk

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, pastels, school visits | 2 comments

1henry_blog

When Lyn Smith, author of A Porcupine’s Promenade, promised to introduce me to Henry, I could barely wait. Why didn’t I meet this friendly fellow last July when I was working on my illustrations? Henry is a male North American porcupine who has lived at the Center for Wildlife since November 2014. He was mistakenly taken home by some well-meaning folks who thought he was abandoned at the base of a tree. Did you know porcupine mothers climb and forage in trees before their young can climb along? I learned a lot illustrating Lyn’s story; it was a surprise to me that they climb, and I had fun working on this illustration for the book.

3climb_blog

Once Henry was habituated to human contact, his survival in the wild is at risk. He is one of 23 ambassadors who visit schools and engage the public in wildlife education. I fed Henry a carrot before he toddled off after some smell, only to be blocked by Katie Brodeur, Education Fellow with the Education and Outreach Program, who cheerfully scooped him up before he disappeared under a building.

2henry_blog

She graciously gave us a tour of all the other animals, including a pair of barred owls named Bianca and Byron (I think this is Byron) who arrived in 1995 after being hit by cars.

4byron_blog

For owls and other predators, roadsides lure them with discarded human food scraps and can be deadly. In their cases, they both sustained permanent injury to their wings. Bianca has fostered over 40 barred owlets who have then been released back to the wild!

Lyn gave me a tour of Wells before hosting me at her home filled with collections of shells, gemstones, duck decoys, and more. Her husband, Brian, is a science teacher and avid outdoorsman, as well as the source of her porcupine story. They are thrilled with Lyn’s new sign!

6-sign_blog

I sketched one of the two deer mounted in their cozy den.

7deer_blog

We were up before the moon set to visit Kennebunk Elementary School, where Lyn works as a reading specialist. What a beautiful school, filled with art and amazing learners!

8KES_blog

I set up in the Learning Lab. After the morning assembly, we would meet there with 5 classes of first graders, thanks to a grant from the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks & Arundel. Thank you for the opportunity to engage students with visual literacy!

10supplies_blog

I brought my sketchbooks, my dummy for the book, a box of nature objects, pastels and pencils, some scraps of sandpaper, and each student was given a nature journal. They could also hug a fuzzy porcupine puppet.

Lyn introduced me to staff before the assembly. Excellent displays everywhere!

9snowglobes_blog

Principal Ryan Quinn made opening remarks at the assembly with the help of some students. The chorus sang, birthdays were announced, and then Lyn read her book while the audience watched the illustrations on big monitors.

11Lynreads_blog

I shared a slide show of my process for creating the illustrations and then we met the team of Teen Trendsetters, a group of Kennebunk High School students who created a fantastic book trailer on our behalf. They mentor 20 first graders every week as part of a program coordinated by Joy Russo and funded by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. How cool is that?

When the first graders arrived, I let them feel the edges of this opening piece. I draw on sanded paper, so the pastel pigment will stick to the rough surface.

12opener_blog

They began their observational studies with keen detail.

13branch_blog

Guess who joined the mix? Principal Ryan Quinn, who engaged a table of eager artists.

14ryan_blog

Pine cones are not easy to draw, but this drawing is off to a great capturing of complexity. It’s all about point of view.

15pinecone_blog

This artist has drawn a colorful scene, making use of the blue page to suggest the cold day.

16scene_blog

A good part of nature studies is the handling of an object. How does the surface feel? What are the patterns?

17shell_blog

There’s a lot of serious focus going on! The choice of color, the placement of marks, the image taking shape…

18focus_blog

This artist was clearly excited about the pastel and the sandpaper. He made several small studies to arrange in a group.

19greens_blog

This artist made intuitive blends of warm and cool contrasts and taped her sandpaper into the sketchbook.

20blends_blog

This artist was drawing from an unidentified bone I found on the beach. He was repeating the bone shape into a dinosaur skeleton, an imaginative leap just like a paleontologist!

21bones_blog

And then he drew around the shapes with gusto.

22dino_blog

All day, I was delighted by the associations made, the curious wonder of making marks, and their enthusiasm. How about this prickly porcupine with bold quills?

23porcupine_blog

As each class lined up to leave, Lyn gave them a copy of her book, which we had both signed.

24lyn_blog

This is Abby, who told me she had written and illustrated her own book about a lion. Keep those eyes and pencils sharp!

25abby_blog

Many thanks to the first grade teachers for sharing their incredible students. And for the use of magnifying glasses to scrutinize the details!

Lyn and I left with these fun souvenirs.

26hats_blog

Lyn will be reading and signing her book this Saturday at Mt. Agamenticus, where a Story Walk of A Porcupine’s Promenade is featured on the trails. Get outside and enjoy the wild wonders of Maine!

 

 

Kick Off ’17

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Art Classes, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Island Birthday, Maine College of Art, pastels, Peaks Island, Portland Stage Company, school visits | 4 comments

1-glasses_blog

Everybody seemed eager to kick 2016 into history. Yeah, there were losses, that Election, hate, and plenty of things I want to forget. But a New Year…is a perennial place for hope. An earnest band of neighbors called the Get a Grip club gathered at our house on New Year’s Eve, armed with resolutions of change, good humor, and some hand-made glasses we will use for envisioning a better world.

2grippers_blog

Rest assured, we will keep a grip on what matters!

A few days later I visited King Middle School, a hive of young people poised to take over the world. It was my 9th outing as a visiting artist for their World Languages Art Expedition Kick-Off. Local artists of all stripes share their work and wisdom to rotating groups of students who will choose a French or Spanish-speaking artist, write a paper in that language, and  create art inspired by that artist. I’ve been participating since my daughter, Daisy, was a King student, and for the second year, she joined me as a visiting artist, too.

Fellow presenter Jenny Van West strummed her guitar before the event began, looking over my table of books, posters, pastels, and props.

3king_blog

I shared the dummy for Island Birthday, in which I used my neighbor, Nikolai, as a model. He’s also a King sixth grader now, and will likely do this project when he hits eighth grade.

4-ibdummy_blog

Showed them the finished illustration. I brought some scraps of the sandpaper I use, and some of them got dirty with a handful of pastels. Island Birthday will be featured on Jan. 28 at Portland Stage’s Play Me a Story!

5-ibtruck_blog

I brought a sketchbook, never one to waste an opportunity to promote the value of drawing. I’ve begun some of my MECA illustration classes with an observational exercise in which students bring in objects for a 15 minute session. Art students often bring in toys. This is my sketch of what Gunnar Johnson brought; it was a challenge with so many parts.

6-nerfgun_blog

And here is a MECA student I spied in the library, looking like Rapunzel checking her e-mail.

7-bluehair_blog

Five rounds of students asked questions, took notes, or doodled. When it was done, kids could wander to other tables they hadn’t been assigned. Daisy had a rapt audience.

8-dtable_blog

She shared her MICA portfolio on her laptop, as well as an old self-portrait from Portland High School.

9-dface_blog

Also some of her figure drawings from a MECA Continuing Studies class. She used these when she applied to colleges.

10-dnude_blog

She showed a couple of commissions, too, like this cover illustration for the Island Directory. Plenty of island kids recognized it.

11-dbdirectory_blog

Daisy designed this t-shirt using similar sinuous tangles for a local cultural exchange organization.

12-dshirt_blog

We owe the ties that bind to Daisy’s beloved French teacher, Ms. Zack, who spearheaded the language arts project years ago.

13ms-z_blog

Thanks to the King teachers and all the great students who asked the best questions, like “do you regret your choice?” Never! I asked some of them who they are choosing to research. One student is reporting on a Bolivian pastel artist, Roberto Mamani Mamani. I looked up his work; thanks for the inspiration! Another asked what I did for inspiration, and my answer was 1) taking a walk and 2) going to see art. Daisy and I stopped at UNE’s Art Gallery to see Pastels Only, the 17th Annual International Juried Exhibition of the Pastel Painters of Maine. Cool work!

14-pastel_blog

Walking on Peaks Island always brings an open mind and renews my energies.

15walk_blog

I’m working now on a new picture book for Tilbury House. Everything is on the table when I begin, the dummy, my reference photos, and my chosen pastels.

16anastuff_blog

Later this week I make another school visit, to Kennebunk Elementary School, where author Lyn Smith works as a reading specialist. We will present our book, A Porcupine’s Promenade. Here’s a detail from the first page.

17-bailey_blog

Can’t wait to meet the kids who inspire her, and maybe a porcupine, too! Stay tuned, 2017 promises to be full of art, learning, and travels.

 

 

 

 

Take something like a star

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Children's Book Illustration, Illustration, pastels, Peaks Island, Portland Stage Company, Tilbury House | 2 comments

I have stars on my mind.

It never fails that I am working out of season when illustrating a picture book. Last July I was feverishly drawing deep snow for A Porcupine’s Promenade.  As the ice forms outside, I am drawing a summer day at the beach for Ana and the Sea Star (for Tilbury House, coincidentally located on Starr Street in Thomaston, Maine)

1-seastar_blog

When we decorated our tree, I noticed how many star ornaments we have. This one, from former island neighbors Deb Deatrick and Scott Vile, is a joy to rediscover every year.

2-froststar_blog

The letterpress poem by Robert Frost always shines a light on whatever is going on. Take Something Like a Star ends with these lines:

It asks of us a certain height,

So when at times the mob is swayed

To carry praise or blame too far,

We may take something like a star

To stay our minds on and be staid.

The returning of seasonal things every year gives me footing in this topsy turvy time. Like putting the lights on Phoebe’s tree, which I drew many years ago.

3-phoebetree_blog

The glow from that small tree is a miracle, especially on the Solstice.

4-solstice_blog

Meanwhile, the illustration I did for Portland Stage’s A Christmas Carol has been making the rounds for the second time. I still enjoy the quietude of this pastel.

5psc-acc_blog

In fact, any illustration is better with snow, is it not? I did this illustration ages ago for the Baltimore Sun for a reprise of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. The snow brings it alive.

6-wales_blog

Because of my picture book deadline, I re-purposed a previous holiday card, adding snow and cut paper snowflakes.

7-owl-2016_blog

Marty added snow to his holiday card, too, depicting the door to our barn.

8-mcard_blog

When our daughter, Daisy, returned from a busy semester at MICA she made this graphic card, no snow but those deer spots!

9-dreindeer_blog

What a starry night for the Christmas eve service at Brackett Memorial, where a cast of angels and shepherds sang loud and clear. The passing of the Christmas candle for Silent Night is another symbolic moment that makes Christmas real for me.

10-church_blog

Our old house welcomes everybody that shines. C’mon over!

11-welcome_blog

You can find us on a little rock in the ocean, staid beneath a canopy of stars, as in this little watercolor by Daisy.

12-dstarry_blog

May all your wishing upon a star come true in 2017!

Illustration, How Do I Love Thee!

Posted by on Dec 13, 2016 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Portland Public Library, Portland Stage Company, travels | 0 comments

Illustration is literally all around right now. I just realized I’ve been doing it, living it, and breathing it non-stop for the last month.

My talented kin, Mati McDonough, an artist, illustrator, and teacher visited Maine in November. She gave me a long, hard hug the day after The Election, the results of which were still sinking in.

1-illolove_blog

We went straight to the Portland Museum of Art, sure that art could lift our spirits. She signed her latest children’s book, How Do I Love Thee? an illustrative telling of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem.

2illo-love_blog

 

We then browsed the Matisse show, which is full of his illustrations for art books.

3illo-love_blog

In another exhibit, I spied this gorgeously illustrated plate by Rockwell Kent. Don’t miss all the epic Moby Dick action, it’s there til the end of this month.

3illo-love2_blog

Downtown on Congress Street, another exhibit showcases illustration: Picture This: The Art and Workings of the Illustration Institute, at the Portland Public Library. I’m thrilled to be part of it. This is my “process board” for Rickshaw Girl. Each participant was asked to fill a provided frame with the preliminary sketches and references that became the final illustration on display.

5-illolove_blog

Marty included his sketches for John Cariani’s Last Gas, a poster for Portland Stage Company.

6illo-love_blog

We attended a reception for the show on December 1 that included a DRAW OFF. Here is curator and Illustration Institute Director Scott Nash ready to duel with Matt Tavares. Basically anyone can throw out a prompt, the more absurd, the better. Kids seem to have the quickest ideas. Scott and Matt had to draw the god of candy!

7-illolove_blog

Marty and I were paired. This actually happens at home, a lot. Our prompt: Pistachio Queen.

8illo-love_blog

Chris Van Dusen and Joe Rosshirt tackle a ninja moose.

9-illolove_blog

Here picture book illustrator Kevin Hawkes and tattoo master Danielle Madore await their prompt: a panda eating bamboo with dancing marshmallows. I kid you not.

10-illolove_blog

Nancy Gibson Nash and Daniel Minter responded to a difficult prompt: a Trump Santa Claus. Illustrators really can draw the unthinkable.

11-illolove_blog

Soon after, the Illustration Junior Majors manned a long table of their wares at Maine College of Art’s Holiday Sale. Thanks to IL Department Chair Mary Anne Lloyd for the swell banner.

12illo-hstable

They tried their hands at a Draw Off during the next class.

13illo-love_blog

We made an outing of studio visits to close out the semester. We began at Daniel Minter’s home, where soulful paintings like these line the walls.

15illo-daniel_blog

He pulled out a huge stash of old sketchbooks, the kind he carried everywhere as a student and early professional. When one was full, he wrote RUINED on the front.

16illo_daniel_blog

I noticed this David Driskell woodblock print in his library, reminiscent of the Matisse show, but more evocative.

16illo-daniel2_blog

We all got a kick out of seeing his early sketches, many of them satirical.

17illo-daniel_blog

His dog, Kofi, guards the studio on the third floor.

18illo-daniel_blog

I love seeing other people’s collections. There were wooden bowls of shells, cupboards of woven baskets, hanging brooms, and more. But what’s not to love about toys wearing LL Bean boots?

18illo-daniel2_blog

Everywhere there are wooden vessels, carvings, boxes, sticks, and frames. Daniel told us this blue is his favorite.

19illo-daniel_blog

He discussed his recent book project, showing his sketches drawn directly on the manuscript for Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Told the World About Kindness.

20illo-daniel_blog

He has stacks and stacks of linoleum pieces, this one for a USPS Kwanzaa stamp. He considers these the real art. “I’m a carver,” he said. He’s not that interested in the printing part. It’s the physicality of carving that he enjoys.

21illo-daniel_blog

In this detail of a piece in the hall, Daniel’s favorite blue, his love of pattern, and an unforgettable eye all come together. We could have stayed there all day, spell bound.

22illo-daniel_blog

We headed back towards the college to the Art Studio building where Kris Johnsen keeps a studio.

23illo-kris_blog

Students enjoyed patting Capone, another solid studio mate.

24illo-kris_blog

Kris has drawers full of ink drawings that he sometimes pieces together digitally for new hybrid images.

26illo-kris_blog

He majored in Graphic Design at MECA, but spent most of his time after hours in the printmaking studios. He began his career working at SPACE Gallery, and doing gig posters on the side. He maintains a silk screen operation in another room, and takes pride in printing his own multiples.

25illo-kris_blog

He’s also deeply involved in the Portland Patch Project. Here the whole collection shares space with a few toys.

27illo-kris_blog

I’m grateful to Kris and Daniel for sharing their magic, and for the curiosity of my students, and for illustration havens like Portland Museum of Art and the Portland Public Library.

See what I mean? So much illustration everywhere, so much to love.

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Eyes in Luna Land

Posted by on Nov 30, 2016 in Illustration, Luna Press, travels | 1 comment

Nancy F. W. Passmore is the venerable editor of Luna Press, which has published it’s 41st annual edition of the Lunar Calendar: Dedicated to the Goddess in Her Many Guises. I sketched her after our recent visit in Boston, which I will always consider Luna Land.

1lunalady_blog

I’m honored when it’s my good fortune to do the cover! These are some of this year’s sketches, done in June.

2moon_blog

In this rough idea, I have referenced my goddess figure sculpted by Peg Astarita.

3goddess_blog

I tried a collage approach.

4collagemoon_blog

This mosaic of blues was inspired by the work of Paul Klee.

5mosaic_blog

How about simplicity?

6pinkwave_blog

This is based on the real deal: full moon rises on the back shore of Peaks Island have become a monthly calibration of my rhythms.

This one got the nod, and here is the final pastel, titled “Strawberry Wave.”

8luna-17_blog

I’ve been contributing to the calendar since 1983, and Nancy has become a dear friend. We try to rendezvous annually at the Museum of Fine Arts, no better place to imbibe divine forces at work. She was unable to join us, but provided passes so Marty and I could wander among the masters.

We marveled at the work of John Wilson, in a series of prints in different states.

9mlk_blog

And I never knew William Merritt Chase worked in pastel! His wife was a frequent model and bears a striking resemblance to one of my current MECA students.

10chase_blog

In the Modernism gallery, it was startling to see the original of one of my favorite paintings ever. Reproductions don’t do justice to all the texture in a Stuart Davis work.

11davis_blog

We also saw a super exhibit of vintage posters from the collection of Robert Bachelder, A Century of Style: Masterworks of Poster Design. The Stephen D. Paine Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art and Design is filled to the brim with decades and decades of jewels.

12posters_blog

Why am I always drawn to eyes? And polka dots? You could hypnotize me with this one by Fritz Buhler in 1945.

13eyedots_blog

This detail from Richard Avedon’s classic from 1967 remains as trippy as ever.

14lennon_blog

I love the ornate detail in this one by Franz Von Stuck in 1911.

15eye_blog

Nancy would enjoy the moonlight in this one.

16poster_blog

We went straight to Nancy’s house for a quick visit, amidst her cat collectibles.

17llmagnets

She shared an article with me, where I found a revealing quote by Marcel Proust: “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having fresh eyes.” Exactly!

We headed back to our island in time to welcome our own visionary girl, here looking closely at some of the zines from my junior illustration MECA majors.

18zines_blog

During her visit my eyes felt as fresh as ever, seeing beauty everywhere. I take comfort in the eyes of nature watching over us, the goddess in her many guises.

19bircheye_blog

We make our marks by being ourselves.

20trollrock_blog

Thanks to Nancy and the Luna Press for the gifts of wisdom and lunacy!

 

Sotto Voce

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Illustration, pastels, Portland Stage Company | 1 comment

Of all the scripts I read in January for Portland Stage poster development, Sotto Voce by Nilo Cruz stood out as multi-layered, romantic, and evocative. In the play, a young Cuban man finds a German-born novelist living in New York who shares a connection to the 1939 voyage of the MS St Louis, a German ship that left for Cuba with German-Jewish refugees, only to be turned back.  The elder writer, Bemadette, calls the young man Student. They don’t meet yet weave a romance built on memories and imagination via phone calls and messages.

Like all the plays this season, the theme is about what never was, with an underlying longing that triggers mixed emotions. Here are some rough sketches. Bemadette is looking back. The ocean liner hovers in memory, with a couple dancing, submerged below the water line.

1sotto_blog

I tried the idea of using the O’s in the title as portholes with different images..

2sotto_blog

3sotto_blog

In one scene, the young Cuban, Saquiel, invites Bemadette’s caregiver, Lucila, to a dance class. It’s an electric moment.

4sotto_blog

5sotto_blog

The dancing couple got the nod. I enjoyed looking up vintage clothing, this dress is by Sonia Delaunay.

6sonia_blog

This is the final illustration, done in charcoal pencil and pastel.

7sotto-final_blog

Anita Stewart’s set design gorgeously combines real and imaginary spaces. Director Liz Diamond staged an amazing dance of the past and future with stellar performances by the actors, James Cusati-Moyer, Carmen Roman, and Anita Petry. The lighting by Solomon Weisbard cast the perfect spell.

8sottoset_blog

The playwright and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Nilo Cruz, will join Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco after this Sunday’s 2 PM performance for a discussion. I hope you’ll go see this enchanting play, you have until Nov. 20!