Tuesday, August 28, 2012

poster process

I just spotted my marketing visual for Portland Stage Company in print, so now I can spill about what fun I had illustrating it.

By Wendy Wasserstein, The Sisters Rosensweig, is an award-winning play, a funny family drama about three Jewish-American sisters who gather in London for the birthday of the eldest. There's great dialogue, dishing, and reckoning about love and choices each have made. After reading the script, I made about 14 rough thumbnail sketches to show Carole Harris, marketing director extraordinaire. These are loose and quick, and 3 that led to the final image:

The one above got the green light, to refine in that direction. From here, I needed models. I called three of my neighbors who fit the age categories and asked them to mimic my sketch, sort of.

Thanks to Christine, Kathryn, and Maria Grace! Now I need to gather them again, this time WITH actual wine and cake. You can see I worked from both photos, plus one of mine from our trip to London in April.

Before any drawing, I created a color pastel environment, to set the mood more than for realism. I wanted the warm colors to wrap around the sisters, a metaphor for what binds them.

I make my final drawing on tracing paper, then retrace it on the reverse side in charcoal. Then I rub the line drawing (with red color pencil) so a shadow is left on the pastel paper. Old-fashioned carbon paper, yes.

By the time I draw the final illustration, I know it pretty well, having drawn it multiple times, each time a little different.

Here is the final drawing, with my reference for Big Ben on the side.

I leave lots of room for "bleed" or extra area that allows for various crops, to fit the wide variety of marketing formats used by Portland Stage.

The script calls for a list of props, among them a chintz sofa. I wanted to add a chintz pattern to the illustration. Peonies were in bloom back when I worked on this. They drove me to considerable distraction.

Here's the drawing that became my pattern.

At this point, my better half, Marty, showed me the technique for doing this in Photoshop. Always nice to learn new digital tricks.

And voila, final illustration. I added the hand-lettering of the title, playwright, and dates on another layer in Photoshop, sending it all to the designer, Secret Weapon Karen Lybrand, to use in countless ways.

I am eager to see the production, as Portland Stage never disappoints!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

breezy book spree

I've been riding the waves lately with a trio of book outings, three days in a row. On Saturday we zoomed past the ferry on our way to Diamond Cove on the water taxi. Marty's likin' it!

I was the third and final speaker in the Fort McKinley Museum Summer Lecture Series on Great Diamond Island. Built in the 1890's as a defense for Portland Harbor, the fort is now a private residential community. Our hosts, Richard and Jane Cullen, gave us a tour by golf cart. Peaks Island has similar batteries like this, but not as old as this: 1899!

We stopped at the Fort McKinley Museum for a glimpse of the rich collection of artifacts.

Enjoyed a quick bite at the General Store, where hand-painted chairs welcomed us.

The presentation was held in the Diamond Cove Bowling Alley, a great gathering spot.

My house on Peaks Island is just up from the shore that faces the Diamond Islands, so I began with one of many pastels I've created from these views. Having gazed at these islands fondly for 20 years, it was a delight to actually BE there, among new friends.

I shared some personal history, traced the process of my books, and offered a peek at the next one, due out in 2013.

 The best part is always meeting kids! They each have a unique island story of their own.

Later, over dessert,  I saw Jane's lovely collection of hearts. Ah, a kindred beachcomber.

Thank you, Cullens, and friends of the Fort McKinley Museum for loving books, islands, and the gems we call home.

The following day, Sunday, I signed books at Take a Peak, a little shop on Peaks next to the ice cream store.

I sketched Caitlin, granddaughter of island librarian, Rose Ann Walsh, who helped me locate a lobster boat for Ice Harbor Mittens. She colored in her name on the drawing. Nice to have such cute company!

She and Daisy (now 15!) enjoyed a tea party, just like in the book.

Thanks to Eddie Walsh for loaning a swell vessel for imagined journeys.

On Monday, I was off to Bright Horizons in Portland, past Fort Gorges, seen here in my pastel, "Regatta."

My amazing niece, Cristel Sanborn, teaches the preschool 3 class. I visited three classes, beginning with the youngest, ages 2 - 3, reading Seven Days of Daisy.

Those wee ones don't know the days of the week, or even care. Oh, how I miss that chapter!

In the next class, preschool 2, ages 3 -4, the children know some of the days, maybe not the order. But they are FULL of it, questions, telling stories, and eager to create.

Cristel's class is ages 4 -5. They mostly know the days of the week, and love to draw.

They told me all about their own collections of shells, rocks, and toys. It was a blast to meet every one of them. Thanks, Cristel and Bright Horizons. You teachers are doing the most pivotal job of shaping curiosity in children. Being with your classes made my week!

More photos to follow. Today, it's Tuesday and time to meet an illustration deadline for Portland Stage Company.

Friday, August 17, 2012

a Brit, 3 bears, and a book group

Some folks think being an artist is like a fairy tale. On certain days, I might agree. Like Wednesday, when I encountered a Brit, three bears, and a book group.

For starters, I met fellow children's book illustrator, Hazel Mitchell, for a chatty lunch at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell, Maine.

Never mind pie, face time with another artist is a really big treat! Hazel hails from Yorkshire, England, but finds the rolling fields of Detroit, Maine much to her liking. Thanks, Hazel, for making the trek! She documented my prize: a carved bear by Dan Burns, a surprise win in the Hubbard Free Library raffle.

I wore my red pants for the occasion.

On my way to another library, I lolligagged like Little Red at the nearby Maine State Museum, where I found Baby Bear out front.

There's a haunting exhibit there now about Malaga Island, a sorry chapter in Maine history.

I enjoyed the various installations evoking At Home in Maine. Could Grandma be waiting for Little Red in this kitchen?

There's an extensive exhibit, Back to Nature, where I encountered a very big Papa Bear.

A quote by Rachel Carson, naturalist and author of Silent Spring, hung in the air:
"In nature nothing exists alone."

That concept is also behind A Warmer World by Caroline Arnold, in which she describes animals' shifting habitats due to climate change. This poster hit the nail on that head. Many species are moving into cooler places all over the globe.

The museum was a great warm-up for my visit to the South China Library, where I met once again with their inspired book group for kids. I brought a few objects for display, several of which were used as reference in illustrating Nest, Nook & Cranny, and A Warmer World.

Each member gets to pick a book and the activity for that book. Thanks, Sedona, for choosing Nest, Nook, & Cranny and for bringing the clay and hay to make little nests!

I brought sketches, the original art for this book jacket, and some drawing supplies.

Love this young artist's squid!

And look, here's my illustration from the book, a hive and Mama Bear.

Thanks to South China Library for a fun evening! A sweet time all around.

My next outing will be on Great Diamond Island this Saturday night at 7 PM, the final lecture of the series at Fort McKinley. I'll tell more tales about the life of an illustrator, three miles out to sea.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

art roamings

I'm blessed to be immersed in art wherever I go. We visited the Portland Museum of Art last week to see A Cat in Paris, an animated film with a lush texture and fluid story-telling. LOVED IT, especially that some of the environments were done with pastel on Canson paper, a favorite paper in my stash.

Where do artists always go in a museum? The shop, duh, to ogle books and goodies. Quelle surprise!
Found my wee book there:

From there I headed over to rendezvous with fellow RISD chum visiting from Brooklyn, Madeline Sorel. Caught her in a frenzy at Portland Fiber Gallery, fondling wool roving. Here she is with her latest creation:

Whoa, I spotted another book with my illustrations: Cast On, Bind Off!

Even though I don't knit, I'm a total sucker for anything color sorted.

Really, anything.

We parted ways promising to visit again. I took the boat back to Peaks and strolled into another fine show at the Gem Gallery. Kat Ferrin's "Sticks and Dots" was mesmerizing.

She paints on salvaged wood, driftwood, found sticks, and even sticks chewed by beavers, plentiful on Peaks Island.

As a part-time member, I have a pastel in the front gallery, seen here hanging above work by fellow members Diane Wiencke and Paul Brahms.

Diane's show in July absolutely glowed. Founding curator of the Gem, Jane Newkirk, stands in front of a Diane piece from the show, "Scrap Heap," a sublime alchemy of texture and sheen.

Prior to this show, Carol Cartier's "Gloves Off," filled the back gallery with all manner of assemblage.

For a two room cooperative gallery, the Gem packs a mighty punch.

Earlier in the summer, I took in a show at SPACE Gallery in Portland, "Rum Riot Press," curated by Amze Emmons. A zine fest, huzzah! Another surprise to find art by someone I know, Torie Leigh.
Small world we lives in.

And some classy broadsheets, printed by Carl Haase, a MECA alum and local artist who takes nothing for granted, not even the humble paper cup or remote, objects of every day use with informative histories, chronicled within.

Hey, I can find art at the grocery store, too. Check out these beer packages illustrated by my better half, Marty.

Speaking of Maine College of Art, my former student, Thomas Dowling, showed this in "Critters and Creatures" at the Richard Boyd Art Gallery on Peaks Island in July. He calls this Ulia.

Currently showing is the work of Jeanne O'Toole Hayman, an island neighbor, whose oil painting, Alizarin, I am now owning, along with one of Rick Boyd's signature vases. This gallery is a must-see when you come to Peaks.

I got into the art action with my daughter at the annual Art on the Porch at the Fifth Maine on Sunday.
The day was off to a rainy start, but sunshine and smiles prevailed.

Um, can't believe we've been doing this for like, 5 years???

I sold prints of this piece, Luminous Lowtide.

And this original pastel, titled Thirsty Cove, went to a happy patron who knew Spar Cove when she saw it, and loved the strong resemblance to her dog.

My daughter added a new print, done especially for the show, Night Ride.

Fellow island artist, Paul Brahms, set up on the lawn, with his son, Lucien, drawing away. Some parents know what a good pastime a pencil can be!

I loaned my tent to photographer, Whitney Fox, who braved the rain with aplomb. Bravo!

Yes, the island keeps us out of trouble with art-making, art seeking, and all that the tide washes in.

With so much to see and do, it's hard to get much done in the studio.

Tomorrow I am visiting the South China Public Library to discuss Nest, Nook, & Cranny.
I'll be heading over to Great Diamond Island this Saturday to give a talk at Fort McKinley at 7 PM.
And signing books at Take a Peak on Peaks Island on Sunday from 1 - 3 PM.

 Who said summer was lazy?