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
Last year while shopping used books, I happened upon one entitled: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations”.
To be more exact, this book is the catalog from the Metropolitan’s 2012 exhibition. Whenever buying a museum catalog, there are rarely previews of its contents. Priced at “a steal” level, I was stunned when it arrived; both the quality and quantity of images within are curated with imaginative consideration.
This sketch was done from a photo by Regina Relang in 1938. I do love “Persian Lamb” – as seen in this Elsa Schiaparelli jacket in its collar, cuffs, and gloves. [To be really forthcoming, I didn’t know what that curly black fabric was called until I researched it, mid-sketch!]
Schiaparelli Ensemble 1938
The ability to imagine is a vital asset to us all. While not everyone uses this power for good, and then some very sadly don’t have access to its benefits, our imagination is the first step towards change and understanding and progress.
Generally speaking, I don’t share my personal woes with the virtual world. Yet, and with few exceptions, 2018 felt like one woeful day after another. Spring, Summer, and Fall seemed to simply pass me by… Like a year with nothing but a Winter of fear and discontent.
However, I am stubborn. No matter how bad things were, I remained committed each day in creating one thing or another. Such is the powerful force of art.
This year, now soon reaching to the next, I pay tribute to a variety of the Arts – by way of these muses. They are the graces of the written word, music & dance, and visual creations. Furthermore, they are also my saving graces.
As are all of you! Happy Holidays!!