Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MECA mid-term musings

Things are busy in my junior illustration majors studio course at Maine College of Art. Students recently completed illustrating a rituals theme, with solutions ranging from an annual naked bike ride in Philadelphia, to Burning Man, to the piece below by Kiah Gardner, which fits today's mood in a fetching way.

Kiah's interest in fiber relief was renewed by a recent visit from Salley Mavor, who gave a fantastic lecture about her professional journey and working methods in early October. She brought original pieces of her unique fiber relief illustrations.

While students are working up ideas on any given project, we also do in-class studies. I borrowed a stash of interesting objects from my neighbor and fellow illustrator Doug Smith. Kiah drew some, and then started felting.

Doug's father, Dick Smith, is a legend in the make-up world. Doug loaned this life mask of his mother, which Maria Antuna painted.

I'm an advocate of working from life, more to sharpen observation skills than to render realistically. Each student brought their own signature to their studies. This gouache painting below is by Chris Vales.

An earlier project, "Flannel, Fiber, Fur" involved fashion illustration, in which students were called to interpret the Maine fashion scene. To get into the mood, Julie Smith, a MECA staffer in academic advising, modeled with her agreeable dog, Dexter.

It's a terrific challenge to draw animals, and the class captured Dexter's personality in quick sketches, as in this drawing by Liz Long.

Several of the final illustrations highlighted not dogs but lobsters. This lobster lass by Chelsea Canny shows a keen sense of style.

David Snider designed upscale fashions for lobstermen.

Molly Steinmetz created a frisky lobster claw bustier with fishnet leggings for her curvy model.

Declan McCarthy went for the fur, with his parody of fashion, in which a Maine black bear sports a fishy knit while eating out.

Miles Cook emphasized the flannel in his illustration.

Earlier in the semester, students tackled the campaign, creating posters for display as part of MECA's Public Engagement project, Provoke the Vote.

Maria Antuna merged two originals and added a graphic slogan.

Liz Long illustrated Mitt Romney wearing a dunce cap made of money.

Molly Steinmetz illustrated a young voter with in-your-face attitude.

Got freedom? Go VOTE!

Monday, October 22, 2012

autumn attitude

So what does an illustrator do between deadlines? Celebrate!

I started with birthday cake for breakfast, before it was light out. Icing and coffee: so good together.

Getting cool cards like this one from Marty is always a gift.

And to get tickets to a Cirque du Soleil performance, whew.  My daughter and I were thrilled!

C'est tres bien to share a birthday with a soul sistah like Nicole d'Entremont, neighbor, friend, author, and teacher. Here we are wishing big things. Thanks, Eleanor Morse, for hosting!

I cured my hankering for mountains with a visit to the motherland of orange trees.

The Flume is nothing short of spectacular. Have you ever been? It's a favorite spot of mine since childhood. All that granite is very grounding.

 I swooned with nostalgia in the Visitor Center, chock full of Old Man memorabilia.

A stop at Indian Head brought me back, scene of my days as a waitress in school. Daisy liked the teepee.

Yet the biggest surprise was waiting upon return. Hooray! My advance copies of Here Come the Humpbacks!

This non-fiction picture book about the journey of a humpback and her calf will be out Feb. 1, 2013.

Meanwhile, I've been working up this little zine for mailing. 

Let me know if you want one. I'm going back to celebrating my autumn attitude. 

This quote by L.M. Montgomery, a Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, says it all:

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

october fest

October is my birth month, so the opal in my soul shines a little brighter these days. I received a fantastic surprise via Caroline Arnold, author of A Warmer World: my first book trailer!

One luxury is being between deadlines, and having time to enjoy the busy scene in Portland.
Marty and I attended the preview opening for Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey at the Portland Public Library.

Kudos to Scott Nash, who found the sponsors to bring this incredible show to town. Here he recites a few of his favorite Gorey rhymes.

It was a delighted crowd, and one filled with familiar faces, including former students and MECA folks.

I brought my current MECA class a few days later, who marveled at Gorey's fine line work, his meticulous craft of hatching limitless shades of tonality, and absurd characters in morbid settings.
The exhibit includes sketchbooks, unfinished and unpublished drawings, decorated letters, miniature books, handmade character toys, and a bounty of illustrations from Gorey's eccentric oeuvre. SEE IT.

The cool thing is the Gorey Shop, where I bought myself his paper theater of Dracula!

It made me wonder if Anita Stewart, artistic director at Portland Stage, has this much fun creating sets.

We saw The Sisters Rosensweig at last! As always, the set is divine. Makes you want to move on stage with all of them.

I laughed at the life imitates art poster in the lobby:

I read the script months ago, well before casting. Each actor completely inhabits their character, especially Carole Healey, who plays Gorgeous with total guts. Loved her! The production is fantastic. A complex story with dips of drama and hilarious comedy, it's flawlessly paced by the large cast.

All these invented worlds give me goosebumps. And inspiration. Now to tackle my personal projects, waiting so patiently for that "between deadline" time...

Monday, October 1, 2012

firefly ball

Now that we've turned the corner on summer, I'll share my recent project.

I illustrated a poem by Dana Roffler, a whimsical verse about a midsummer's night frolick under a full moon.

It was a challenge, but fun, to bring together a parade of animals. 

Saturday night's September full moon hid behind soggy clouds, but that didn't stop the annual Sacred and Profane at Battery Steele. It's also a frolick of sorts that brings together art installations in the bowels of a World War 2 era bunker on Peaks Island, along with performances and eerie music echoing down damp halls.

This stone bird by island sculptor Robert Vandersteenhoven was a stoic sentry.

There's always new paintings on every surface, and in the darkness you never know what you'll find.

It's a perfect opener to autumn and the darkness that lies ahead, making the long light of summer seem like a distant memory. If only I'd captured some fireflies in a jar!