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Disgraced

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 2 comments

When I read the script last year for Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, it leapt off the page. This play is his first, and he’s the first Muslim playwright to win a Pulitzer. The story begins in Amir and Emily’s posh apartment on the Upper West Side in NYC, where issues of identity, race, religion, and culture clash in unforgettable drama.

The play begins with Emily sketching Amir, inspired by Velazquez’s Portrait of Juan de Peraja.

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It played into my first sketch for the poster.

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Amir has renounced the religion of his birth, Islam, and diligently climbed the ladder at a law firm. I made him the central figure in many of my sketches, and used Islamic patterns for a focal point.

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In one scene, the dinner party shares a celebratory toast. It unravels from there.

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I tried a bit of mystery with this one.

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Much like Emily, Amir’s painter wife, I fell in love with Islamic patterns as I researched my visual frontier for this poster.

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I kept trying to draw them. So much beauty in the organization, but challenging to get the order of it.

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Portland Stage chose the sketch with the four actors raising their glasses. But they wanted some of the patterns coming into the image. I revised that sketch.

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I asked my neighbors, the Moxhays, to come over and pose for me. They happily obliged.

Marty became Amir, Olwyn became Emily, Peter became Isaac, and Katheryn became Jory. This was the illustration in progress.

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I added the patterns digitally over the pastel for the final illustration.

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I brought Marty and the Moxhays to see the play last night. It’s always a treat to see how Portland Stage has given life to the setting. The set design by Anita Stewart is stunning. The lighting design by Cecilia Durbin was spectacular; the exterior cityscape changing from day to night was gorgeously achieved.

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Director Christopher Grabowski managed a nimble cast for an incredibly tight show. Alex Purcell gave an intense performance of his complex and conflicted character, Amir. Wow. This is a play that must be seen to be believed, and it is very believable, yet everything is unexpected. Thanks to Portland Stage for producing works that cause us to question, have more conversations, and look deeper. This is the last weekend to go. GO.

They will take a little summer breather until their next production, All Night Strut. Marty posed with his poster yesterday. Looks like fun!

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MECA Fashion 2017

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in drawing, fashion illustration, Illustration, Maine College of Art | 2 comments

May has been a complete mash-up of amazing events. I’m behind in all my documentation, but eager to share the wonders of Maine College of Art’s 5th Annual Fashion Show on May 4. Illustration Department Chair Mary Anne Lloyd was my date, and we enjoyed chatting with Textile and Fashion Design Adjunct Professor Jill McGowen before the show. The event took place in the ICA Gallery where Director of Exhibitions and Special Projects Erin Hutton rounded up the best crew with her signature magic.

Program Coordinator for Continuing Studies Louise Tuski was the MC for the first fashion show in April of 2013, when the TFD department was a little sprout. Here she is (on the left) with the current Chair of the program, Betsy Scheintaub.

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Development Officer Dietlind Vander Schaaf was this year’s MC, herself a frequent model for South Street Linen.

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The show began with model Linda Holtslander wearing a knit fiber dress with impossibly long sleeves, designed by Grace Foxen. I made sketches of some of my favorites….and this piece just looked downright cozy. Plus RED.

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Leave it to MECA students to be fresh, creating eye-catching accessories like this adornment by Cassie Groover.

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Mary Anne and I were delighted to spy a couple of our illustration students as models. Here is Veronica Jones, wearing a gorgeous dress by Anna Morse, her roommate.

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Here is Kat Harris, stunning in another dress by Anna Morse.

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This model was in disguise until we realized it was none other than Photography major Kat Miller, rocking a felted suit by Allison West.

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I had seen Ariana Faria’s thesis presentation the week before, in which she shared the process for her line that focused on leather corsets in a new way. Her inspirations from a semester in Florence were fascinating.

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Spectacular to see them all together!

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I loved this piece by Justin Desper.

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He also had a line with futuristic shapes called Daedalus or Viri et Machina.

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There were 70 models and so many fabulous pieces, it was a blur of color and form. Fun to mingle with models afterwards.

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Congratulations to all the designers and models! Bravo!!!

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You can see some of these garments on display in Congregate, the 2017 BFA Thesis Exhibition on view through May 20. Be sure to check out our Illustration seniors, too. I head to the State Theater tomorrow for commencement. So proud of all of them!

 

Tillie Time

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration | 0 comments

I recently illustrated the cover of Mary Atkinson’s second middle grade novel, Tillie Heart and Soul, that just earned a starred review from Kirkus!

As soon as I heard that Tillie was a roller skater, I was into it. After reading the manuscript, I began a little page of doodles.

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Then I began doing my homework for visual research on skater culture. And did more sketches. Tillie is a fifth grade girl living with her Uncle Fred. She’s an awkward but tough kid, and gets her share of scrapes.

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I wanted to show energy here, with hair and limbs flying out of the image frame.

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A new girl arrives and Tillie’s so-called best friend seems to ditch her for totally cool Gloria.

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Here Tillie’s coming right at the viewer, fiercely determined.

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I tried eliminating the need to define Tillie’s features by just showing her skates, heading pell-mell out of the image.

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Here she’s skating past the piano factory where she lives in a loft with Fred, a painter. I keep sticking with the striped socks!

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I tried Tillie looking at the viewer, unsure, as the two other girls skate away. The whole composition is off balance, suggesting the dynamic in her life.

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Mary liked Tillie skating at the viewer, so I refined my sketch and put in some type for placement, as well as the piano factory in the background.

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I added some color.

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Mary wanted Tillie to look “kind of like” Punky Brewster, which threw me off for awhile. I did a weekend of sketches of just Tillie’s face, trying to capture the right expression and attitude. Finally, we landed on this.

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And now they are published! There is nothing like a box of brand new books.

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photo by Mary Atkinson

Join Mary this Saturday at Print: A Bookstore when she celebrates the launch of her book, from 3 – 4 PM!

 

String Around My Finger

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Illustration, pastels, Portland Stage Company | 4 comments

Over a year ago, I read the script for Brenda Wither’s play, String Around My Finger, now in it’s final run at Portland Stage Company. As someone who has suffered infant loss, the comedic tone seemed too light then. The aftermath of such an event is devastating, confusing, and heavy. In the play, Emma’s had a miscarriage, and everyone else is ignoring her trauma, trying to keep up good cheer while navigating realities.

To tackle illustrating this, my initial ideas played with the literal visual of a string around a finger. The first was a baby hand that looms over small figures, the string swirling around a couple.

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I tried a woman’s hand, with a hospital bracelet, and a group of small figures, the various characters who orbit around Emma.

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The miscarriage, the medical bills, and other pressures begin to unravel the couple’s plans. I tried two figures pulling at the string of one large hand.

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I tried a hospital bed, with an IV tube that would connect the title. Ugh.

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Fortunately, this idea was chosen. Emma and Kip are holding on for dear life, with a wedding band and engagement ring floating around them, implying everything is up in the air.

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I created each element separately on paper (the pastel background, the hand, the figures, the rings, the hand-lettered title), then scanned and merged them digitally in Photoshop. This is the final illustration.

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As the 2015 winner of Portland Stage’s Clauder Competition, the script was further worked during last summer’s Little Festival of the Unexpected. Under the nimble direction of Sally Wood, the play has debuted with unexpected depth and poignancy.

When I attended last week, the sight of the hospital bed triggered my distant loss, and might for anyone who’s had to face medical realities.

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Anita Stewart’s set design was brilliantly seamless, with stage crew dressed in scrubs striding in and out of gliding hospital walls as scenes changed.

Frank Sinatra music plays in the background. Here’s a drawing of Frank from an old sketchbook of mine.

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You can hear his version of I’ve Got the World on a String HERE.

I’ve got the world on a string, sittin’ on a rainbow,
Got the string around my finger,
What a world, what a life, I’m in love!

Perfect lyrics that actually contrast with the ambivalent ending of the play. Go see for yourself, it’s the last weekend!

 

What’s Up in IL 2?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Art Classes, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, pastels, Peaks Island | 7 comments

Between illustration deadlines , I’ve been teaching Illustration 2 at Maine College of Art. This sophomore level elective is open to any student, and usually includes those interested in majoring in Illustration or Digital Media. There are two sections, and mine has 10 amazing people! While Illustration 1 involves an emphasis on black and white media, IL 206 focuses on color, concept development, and putting images into context, with a design layout provided.

The first day of class students were presented with pastel pencils, colored paper and sand paper, and a grab bag of toy animals. They chose 3 colors and paper scraps, and then drew a surprise from a bag. Limitations of color can spark unexpected serendipity.

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Drawings by William Kittredge

 

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Drawings by Taryn Perry

We have begun every class with an observational drawing session of 15 – 20 minutes, with students providing one or two objects. Not only a good exercise, it’s a chance to warm up before we focus on the project at hand. Will brought in an object he had just assembled, drawn here by Peter Maloney.

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Drawing by Peter Maloney

 

Drawing by Emily Carlson

Drawing by Emily Carlson

 

Project 1 involved illustrating one of 3 fables for a book jacket. Early classes include brainstorming ideas, followed by sketch development. We also had a live model session, in which some handy props conjured some fable characters.

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Drawing by Taryn Perry

Warm-ups with short poses using ink captured quick gestures.

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And longer poses involving more props and color.

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Drawing by Thomas D’Amore

After a couple of snow days and much sketching, final illustrations were submitted in the context of the cover design. It’s an additional leap for students to work within a given layout, pairing image and text together, choosing colors to balance and contrast, while allowing room for legibility.

Illustration by Fred Aldrich

Illustration by Fred Aldrich

 

Illustration by Sarah Sawtelle

 

Illustration by William Kittredge

Illustration by William Kittredge

We moved onto Project 2, illustrating a tea package. Students were given a template, but could create an imaginary tea flavor to cover the package. This one referenced a Japanese landscape and still life.

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Illustration by Andrew Moran

Sam created several individual images that she layered into her final design.

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Illustration by Sam Myrdek

Thomas created a pattern of marijuana leaves for a wallpaper backdrop for his medicinal blend.

Illustration by Thomas D'Amore

Illustration by Thomas D’Amore

I brought in some deer skulls borrowed from an island neighbor for one of the observational drawing sessions.

Drawing by Thomas D'Amore

Drawing by Thomas D’Amore

 

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Drawing by Frederick Aldrich

We met for one class in the Joanne Waxman Library, where Library Director Shiva Darbandi shared this quote:

“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.” -Author Sidney Sheldon
We played a game I call Library Lines. Students draw a prompt from a hat, which is a category related to illustration, located on the shelves.
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They find that area, choose a book from the stacks, and make a tracing from an image found in that book. Sam is making a tracing here.
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They repeat this 7 times, tracing from other books found, so the final image is a layered linear collage. Each drawing represents several deliberate choices, each step informed by the one before. Hopefully there are surprises, such as discovering the resources at hand, while making an image triggered by impulse. Sam’s resulted in a lyrical use of text with crisp juxtapositions.
Drawing by Sam Myrdek

Drawing by Sam Myrdek

 

This one makes bold use of variations in line weight, with an implied narrative of violent history.

 

Drawing by Owen Scott

Drawing by Owen Scott

This exercise was a lead into Project 3, an editorial assignment that called for interpreting one of three magazine articles. A majority of the class chose a piece from an award-winning science magazine, Nautilus, about engineering luck into game design. Owen’s piece touches on the aspect of luck as a belief in the gods, with luck symbols lining the steps of a Mayan-like temple of good fortune.
Illustration by Owen Scott

Illustration by Owen Scott

 

Taryn created a slot machine with a lucky winner oblivious to the furtive mechanic behind the machine.

 

Illustration by Taryn Perry

Illustration by Taryn Perry

 

Peter illustrated a game environment in which a player’s own handle is pulled by the game, referencing a point in the article about the manipulation of players’ perceptions about chance.

 

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Illustration by Peter Maloney

 

In Project 4, students were asked to create a 3D character.  For our next class, we had a surprise visitor in the form of Pepper, an African pygmy hedgehog belonging to MECA alum (and former student) Andi Croak.

 

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She skittered about the table, but everyone managed a few sketches.

 

Drawings by Peter Maloney

Drawings by Peter Maloney

 

Pepper felt most at home burrowing into Andi’s sweatshirt.

 

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Andi brought in a few of her recent 3D works, and discussed the materials, obstacles, and rewards of creating them.

 

Students began sketching ideas and playing with Sculpy and other materials.

 

Sketches and prototype by Sarah Sawtelle

Sketches and prototype by Sarah Sawtelle

 

sketches and work in progress by Sam Myrdek

sketches and work in progress by Sam Myrdek

 

Before the final critique, Sam brought photography equipment to shoot their pieces for a card set, which is in production as I write. For the final crit, students assembled their preliminary sketches, the photograph of their piece, the actual 3D piece, and a drawing made afterwards of their piece. Bringing 2D into three-dimensional form, and back into 2D reproduction is a circle with many layers of challenge.

Joe Rosshirt was a student when I first assigned this project, in 2008.  He went on to create several 3D characters during his years as a MECA illustration major. Now a freelance illustrator and animator, Joe currently co-teaches a Junior Seminar here, and agreed to be a guest critter.

 

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Everyone had frustrations with materials, yet remarkable discoveries were made. I am always impressed with the efforts and perseverance of my students!

 

Photograph and sculpture by Emily Carlson

 

Photograph by Sam Myrdek, illustration and sculpture by William Kittredge

Photograph by Sam Myrdek, illustration and sculpture by William Kittredge

 

Photograph by Sam Myrdek, illustration and sculpture by Sarah Sawtelle

Photograph by Sam Myrdek, illustration and sculpture by Sarah Sawtelle

 

At this point in the semester, the class needed a break. They made a field trip to visit my studio on Peaks Island, a welcome dose of fresh air, sunshine, and a two-cent tour of the island. Plus, refreshments!

 

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Now they are working on Project 5, the last assignment. They will illustrate a gig poster for their favorite band. They will design their own layouts and consider typography.

 

When we returned to class the next time, I gave a word prompt, to illustrate a word with 5 – 8 letters. I’ve given this prompt before, and I am always delighted by the results.

 

Lettering by Emily Carlson

Lettering by Emily Carlson

Lettering by Andrew Moran

Lettering by Andrew Moran

 

 

Lettering by William Kittredge

Lettering by William Kittredge

 

Next class we will draw from the model again, with musical instruments for props. Drawing from the figure is always useful, and we may listen to the bands chosen.

The semester has flown by, working alongside these nimble folks. They have brainstormed together, drawn together, and stretched themselves. It’s an honor to share the classroom with them. Onward, Illustration 2!

 

 

 

 

Prickly Picture Book Program on Peaks

Posted by on Apr 12, 2017 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Island Birthday, Peaks Island, Portland Public Library, Tilbury House | 2 comments

Many thanks to the Peaks Island Branch Library for hosting our Prickly Picture Book Program on Saturday morning.

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I couldn’t resist making something sweet and prickly, too. (Do try this at home, a pile of warm brownies pierced with toothpicks is a very fun sculpture to make and then eat!)

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It was a pleasure to have Lyn Smith, the author of A Porcupine’s Promenade visit Peaks Island.

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As a reading specialist, Lyn enjoys reading aloud.  She makes these porcupine noises that I just cannot fathom how.

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I talked a bit before making a visual presentation, about how I came to illustrate this book.

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We can thank Maine Authors Publishing for bringing us together. I shared some of my process, such as drawing the first porcupine close-up. I had to imagine one without all it’s quills first, a prickle-less Priscilla. My sharp strokes had to be precise and in the right direction. I am quite sure I procrastinated at this point, and went for a walk.

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I also shared some of the rough sketch ideas for the book jacket. This was an early favorite that did not become the cover.

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I brought some pastel pencils, paper, and some nature objects for those inclined to draw.

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In the sweetest of gestures, two artists gave me one of their drawings. This is Avery’s cheerful mountain of gratitude.

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Here is Louise’s vivid sunset. She is also wearing some pastel, which often happens to me while I work with color dust!

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After book signing, Lyn got our two-cent tour of the island, which includes driving past the ocean and through the many woods, still shrouded in snow. All too quickly, she left for home, warmed by making new island friends.

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Marty Braun, Jamie Hogan, and Lyn Smith photo © Anne Dennison

During this National Library Week, I am SO grateful for the support of our island library. These two, Rose Ann Walsh and Priscilla Webster, contribute greatly to our book-loving community. I begin any project by going there, and they always find things I didn’t know I was looking for. When I was illustrating Island Birthday, I even got them to model for me for a scene that takes place in a post office. Here is a detail.

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As author Neil Gaiman has said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

Thanks to my community for coming to learn about our book, you make my heart sing!

 

 

 

 

 

Buyer & Cellar

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in drawing, Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 0 comments

Between shoveling snow and illustration deadlines, the winter is blasting by. Hard to believe it’s actually spring break for those of us at MECA, MICA, and MCLA. Post-blizzard, we enjoyed finally seeing Portland Stage’s current production, Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins.

About the same time last year, I was in a mad rush (like this year) to illustrate posters for the entire season. The hilarious script features the famously nimble Dustin Tucker, who plays Alex Moore, as the imagined shop-keeper in the basement boutique on Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate, where she keeps her collections in real life. Yes, really. He also plays Barbra, her husband, and two other characters.

These were my early quick sketches. This one references the So-Cal location.

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How about the shop-keeper with an iconic Barbra profile?

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Barbra has a soft-serve machine in her shop…

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It’s a deft play of power dynamics. While Alex is at Barbra’s beck and call, he discovers her vulnerabilities.

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It goes both ways. Here he has Barbra in the palm of his hand, like one of her many dolls.

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I played with another scale shift, making Alex the small figure next to Barbra’s enormous shopping bag, a metaphor for her insatiable  shopping.

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This one references Alex waiting at the bottom of the stairs, Barbra’s eyes in a gilded mirror.

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Sketch #2 got the nod, so I began by drawing Dustin. Not the best likeness, he’s way more handsome. I illustrated the costume he is given in the script, although he doesn’t wear it in the performance. Because these posters have so many different applications, I often do them in pieces that are merged in Photoshop. Elements can be reused in multiple formats.

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I had the hardest time drawing Barbra.

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Burgundy is apparently one of her favorite colors. I made a pastel backdrop for the other drawings.

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The color looked a bit dead, so it got brightened when I added the other elements.

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I loved the set by Meg Anderson! 

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The spare and elegant design left room for Dustin’s virtuoso performance, with the spotlight always on that aspirational book, My Passion for Design, stage center. Even if you’re not a Barbra fan, Buyer & Cellar is non-stop entertainment. Look, my amused guests enjoyed it. Go see for yourself, it’s on stage til March 26.

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Marty and Daisy Braun, Jonathan Hoel, Melissa Sweet, and Jamie Hogan, photo by Mark Holden

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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This artist did three different studies of a sea star.

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

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Careful noticing going on here.

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

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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.

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Lyn spotted one student writing observations down.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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

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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!

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

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I was also desperate to draw some lace and romance.

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

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Eyes peering out of lace? Maybe too hokey.

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

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

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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.

 

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

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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.

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And the wine glasses match, too!

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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!