The month of August was not mine to do as I would choose. Yet, within my home/studio [a basement apartment] the flooring in both the front and back was steadily eroding beneath me. Carpenters and plumbers and “finishers” were called in – and over the past few weeks all that I had needed to be relocated during the restoration. Of course much of the redistribution involved art supplies…
When I finally found a bit of time to create, I chose to use a long forgotten palette of – of? – that was paint which I realized was gouache. For those who might be unclear as to the difference between gouache and watercolors, one tip I would make is that gouache is harder to lift [or shift] than watercolors. Does it need mentioning that I had trouble in blending the floor?
9″ x 12″ Gouache
The subject I’ve depicted here was taken from a Takashi Homma photo of Kiko Arai and was published in W’s “Art Issue” of 2019.
While searching vintage era images I was recently very much taken with one which is so quintessential 60s Mod – yet there is more to it… Up until the moment of discovery I wasn’t at all familiar with model Donna Mitchell and yet in the expression she gave photographer David Montgomery, there is some element of personal reflection about it.
Years [and years!] ago I was – as I recall – shaped like a lollipop. From my neck down, a stick. My head, being the “lolli”. Or the “pop”? I mention this as my water brush sketch doesn’t quite do the real [and very stunning] Donna Mitchell justice; the result being an illustrated snapshot of, perhaps, personal vulnerability?
Donna – or Me? 8″ x 10″, Crayon and Pencil
The color orange acts like a magnetizing force when it comes to my personal aesthetic. Symbolically speaking, orange seems to be as paradoxical as my own personality… translating as both warning and warmth. Utility and creativity. Ripe fruits and autumn’s leaves.
From this photo editorial shot by Carlos Serrao, model Wanessa Milhomem plunged into the waters wearing this blazing orange Cavalli dress. And as with my passion for orange, water cannot extinguish these flames!
Am I ready to break more rules? I ask myself. There are, for argument’s sake, “technical” illustrators and then there are illustrators who master the human form and go on to find a way to express these skills on a more emotional level. And I aspire to fall into the latter category.
Again, I was taken by Ethan James Green’s series of photos for the July issue of Vogue. As I had already depicted the marvelous Raquel Zimmerman, this time I opted for Imaan Hammam who wears Dries Van Noten. Van Noten’s designs are driven considerably by the force of his own palette. For me, I couldn’t tell anyone if I favored his more industrial hues versus his vibrant ones…
Faces. How to explain whose face will lure me in cannot be easily expressed. Nor could I articulate why one photo among countless others compels me to render it, by whatever means. In this sketch of Yasmin Wijnaldum, she wears Bottega Veneta for a 2018 Elle editorial.
Photographer Chris Colls, versatile – and cunning in this instance, captures Yasmin beautifully by cleverly setting this overcoat against the grid of a rusted fence.
How did this escape me at the time of receipt? Again, I have no idea!
Yasmin in 2018 Bottega
While on a vintage fashion photo spree, a 1967 photo by Patrick Hunt seized and transported me both backwards and forward. A model by the name of Maudie James, dressed in 60’s Mod icon Mary Quant and seated in floral patterned “Barrel” chair. This über-cool chick I once dreamt of becoming…and to be dressed in Mary Quant!
Yet, I couldn’t be stopped in re-imaging this in my own [quite twisted] way.
The chair became a setting of its own for some trippy botanical, as photographed by my friend Bryel. And Hieronymus Bosch inspired some sort of pattern for Maudie’s outfit – as well as an added pot with its fern. More madness came over me as I left my “medium comfort zone” and went to town with pastels of all kinds applied to a – roughly – 12” x 12” hunk of grey mat board.
Maudie James in Mary Quant. Photo by Patrick Hunt, 1967
Maudie James in Bosch
*A special mention of gratitude to Clive Arrowsmith: As I couldn’t find anything as far as Maudie’s background, Mr Arrowsmith had written of his experience with her in that she was very quiet… shy…
More often than not, my subjects are a mystery to me when in the process of either sketching or painting them. It is only after I’ve finished a piece when I then go online to acquaint myself with my subject – along with the creatives behind the photo.
Elisa, Photographed by Angelo Pennetta for W Magazine.
This watercolor came by way of a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld which is featured in the current issue of W . Photographer Angelo Pennetta – whose work is lauded worldwide – is seemingly a private man… Stylist Sara Moonves, in an inspired move, lent her own veil to Elisa Sednaoui. While Elisa Sednaoui, I learned, began her own foundation in 2013 which allows children from both Bra, Italy and Luxor, Egypt to discover the world and power of the arts. Now that’s remarkable!
Elisa Sednaoui in Chanel
Rather recently I had a musing of combining a strong female face to be painted in Payne’s Grey and black and then superimpose a vividly colored floral over it. But, whose face?
I’ve seen many images of model Ruth Bell. I just didn’t know know that I had…
Not until the June/July 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar had arrived. In its editorial titled “The New Florals”*, photographer Sebastian Kim is brilliant in harmonizing the setting with saturated patterned fashions which don’t diminish Ruth’s presence in the least. Better yet, my search for the face I wanted was found after seeing Ruth Bell hold her own in a bold Balenciaga kimono.
Sebastian Kim photo of Ruth Bell, Harper’s Bazaar
I then scoured Ruth Bell’s [hopefully, to be forgiven] Instagram and fell for a shot of her, wonderfully unplugged…
Ruth Bell, Watercolor 2019
*I’d feel derelict if I did not give mention to the fantastical location, being “Quesalcoatl’s Nest” in Naucalpan, Mexico. This oasis was designed by architect Javier Senosian.
Just last month I had posted my rendering of Dorothea McGowan, in which she was crowned in flowers… There is actually a veritable Candyland out there of Sixties era McGowan photo shoots. Among them, a stunning vignette which is credited as photographed by William Bell. Other than his many other credits when he had worked for Vogue magazine, I had no luck in finding out more about the man.
In this [primarily] oil pastel piece, I knew I could only try to capture the overall mood. Also, there is no monkey to be found in the photo which I worked from. Of course that didn’t prevent me from adding one.
As I was sketching Dorothea, otherwise known as Dorothy McGowan, I saw her wide set eyes as similar to Katie Holmes’. Odd, because I rarely think of Katie Holmes… The photo I sketched from was taken by Irving Penn. My father, who had worked as a commercial photographer, did not have the highest opinion of Irving Penn. Why? I’ll never know.
All said, I’m just nuts for floral crowns. Adding the purple-blue and yellow was felicity on my part.
6″ x 8″, Water soluble oil pastels and color pencils.
While digging through my bulging folder of coveted images, I rediscovered a beautiful editorial for Vogue’s September 2015 that had been shot by Mikael Jansson.
Grabbing a piece of sketch paper, not quite 6” x 9”, I started throwing down some oil pastels and colored pencils – both being water soluble. The result, I mostly happy with it. Regrettably, I hadn’t scaled this to fit the model’s feet – nor can I find her name!
Valentino Couture Through Mikael Jansson’s Lens
The original editorial in W’s #2 2019 issue had model Rianne Van Rompaey with super sized lacquered hair. If my version is a slight to stylist Grace Coddington’s vision, I beg forgiveness. Craig McDean’s photos are beguiling – and I was hooked. (The clothing, primarily Valentino.)
To stay nearly true to the lighting I wound up using some of my student grade colored pencils, with a light wash and a dash of semi-soft pastels for the background.
Rianne Van Rompaey in Valentino