Sweet finish for Illustration MECA juniors

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 in Art Classes, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island | 0 comments

I last wrote about my class at Maine College of Art after the first month of the semester HERE.

So so SO much has happened since! I’ve gotten to know the Junior Major illustration students  better, their abilities and voices have grown, and it has been one blur of productivity. Project 2 finals were brought in, and the crit was quite articulate and thoughtful, regarding the success of illustrating a figure in an environment with convincing space and depth. These two used the phone as a prop.

Illustration by Stephanie Henry


Illustration by Lauren Merritt


Illustration by Carla Nunez-Hernandez

Project 3 involved illustrating one of three editorial essays for a magazine. One was from Sierra Magazine, titled The Wilderness Out Your Front Door. To warm up, we had a visit from Katie Brodeur from the Center for Wildlife, seen here introducing Zipper, the corn snake.

Students sketched while she brought out a petite screech owl, Lady Willow, and then Wilbur, a curious opossum.

drawing by Jacob Papciak


drawings by HC Elliott

Students formed groups according to what article they had chosen and then brainstormed ideas with word lists. They were asked to develop concepts that played with metaphor and juxtaposition.

Art Director Beth Taylor of Longstocking Design visited class for a sketch critique, giving each student feedback on which preliminary idea was strongest and most appropriate to develop for the story.

Students placed their finished illustration in the context of the layout for the class critique.


Illustration by Fred Aldrich

Illustration by Alice Eafrati

Another article was from The Atlantic.

Illustration by Meaghan Chandonnet

The third article was for Nautilus Magazine.

Illustration by Sarah Sawtelle

Project 4 involved reportage, the visual documentation of an event or place. It was the perfect time for a field trip to Peaks Island. They hiked up to Scott Nash’s studio where the remnants of a Halloween installation were still in place.

Scott discussed his work and professional practices and answered their questions, surrounded by his toys and scraps of watercolor blotters.

They headed down the street to the home studio of Doug Smith, because there are illustrators everywhere here. He showed the preliminary sketches for a book jacket and students marveled at his collection of vintage illustration and pulp fiction paperbacks.

We engaged in an impromptu golf cart parade followed by a hike to Battery Steele.

Illustration by Stephanie Henry

We hiked through the woods to my house, where everyone ate brownies and Halloween candy.

Illustration by Eli Cania

Students had only a little time to trot down to the low tide.

Back to Portland too soon.

Illustration by Meaghan Chandonnet

Their choices of subject matter for the reportage assignment, which required five images, ranged from the public to the personal. Emily did a series of watercolors at a local cemetery, capturing a certain slant of light.

Illustration by Emily Carlson

Elliott documented five MECA students in costume at the Halloween party and put them into a zine. This is Baby Driver.

Illustration by HC Elliott

Jenna did a series on the special objects in her relationship. Like the couch she and her boyfriend moved several blocks.

Illustration by Jenna Zammett

Hannah’s series was about comfort zones, the places that bring her calm.

Illustration by Hannah Stritch

Right before the Thanksgiving break, MECA alum Sophie Cangelosi came in to demonstrate the RISO printer, which is a somewhat vintage machine that has found new fans. It requires printing in separate colors, like a silkscreen, but with the advantages of a copier. This is my sketch of Sophie.

She brought in some of her RISO misprints to discuss the accidental glories of imperfection.

Students brought in images from their sketchbooks to try out a couple of colors, discovering the challenges of registration.

print by Meghan McDunnah


print by Owen Scott


print by Jenna Zammett

After the break, there was intense hustling to complete all things for all courses. In the final assignment, students chose their own theme for three illustrations that had to be the same size, use of media, and color scheme so all three appeared related and demonstrated a deeper connection to what drives their illustrative voice.

One student used the RISO with strategic color mixing of orange, yellow, and blue inks.

Illustration by Sam Myrdek

Another chose to illustrate edible plants, emphasizing color and pattern.

Illustration by Emily Hepler

Another student brought historic buildings alive by creating an informational graphic with her hand-lettering.

Illustration by Eli Cania

This student created three posters of performers of magic, including a self portrait as a mentalist.

He embedded images of cake and the word cake in the illustration in an attempt to persuade us all to think CAKE. It worked on me! I felt compelled to make one for a sweet ending to a busy semester.

Congratulations to the juniors who stretched their abilities and showed so much patience in our 5 hour crits! What an honor to witness your growth and discovery. May you all rest up for the next semester and enjoy merry holidays!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *