In Character: Sandy Powell

illustrations, Projects Series

My reasons are multifold [pun intended] for sketching from Tim Walker’s photo of Sandy Powell. For starters, Ms Powell is no ingenue nor is she a fashion model – as one might typically find in my works.The vibrancy she exudes is not limited to her vivid red hair; there is joi de vie found throughout the “W” editorial and you can see this for yourself on stylist Sara Moonves’ Instagram. And better still[!], those specs which Sandy Powell wears are nearly identical to the ones worn by my mother.

You might not know my subject  – but in all likelihood you have seen her award winning costume designs from a plethora of movies. In fact, I would love to wear that zipper and safety pin jacket of her own design…

Sandy Powell 2020

Pencil on sketch paper, 9.5″ x 14″

LV’s Thistle Design

illustrations, Projects Series

 

The Thistle pattern, artfully applied to a Louis Vuitton jacket and as worn by Kaia Gerber, brought the word “pluck” to my mind. Found in Vogue’s March issue [“The New Edwardian”] and photographed by David Sims, I just love that diagonal action in Gerber’s hair above the uniformly vertical pattern. Does anyone say “plucky” these days? Well, this is pluck all over!

Louis Vuitton Spring 2020

In Gaultier’s Fashion

illustrations, Projects Series

Prophetic or just strange…? Yet, when I learned that designer Jean Paul Gaultier had announced his retirement, I had already begun this sketch of a Niall McInerney photo found within the pages of Colin McDowell’s Gaultier biography. 

From his fairly humble beginnings, Gaultier began his breath taking career when he was employed by Pierre Cardin. Jean Paul was a mere 18 year old at the time! [Does anyone speak much of Cardin today? Would it be hubris to view Gaultier as having surpassed his mentor if we are to think of the legends of haute couture?]

Gaultier has often come across as an impish mischief maker; this being one of the many reasons I personally adore him but also gives one the sense that he will not disappear entirely. And since his own style – more often than not – is typically a striped sailor’s shirt, I felt the need to lend stripes to the model’s gloved hand.  

Les Journées ou Gaultier

Steadman at Midnight

illustrations, Projects Series

Yes, yeah: I’ve been MIA for quite a while! 

And you may be wondering who is this shock of a man and where are the fetching females of fashion usually posted here? Due to personal exasperation over events from the past week or so, I’ll spare you the dirty details. This sketch of Ralph Steadman – the expression on his face – pretty much tells it all. And what a sinister way to introduce him to my portfolio!

My recollection [which is always up for debate] dates my first reading of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at 18 years old. [For the uninitiated, written by the late Hunter S. Thompson, and illustrated by my victim/subject.]  Presently, I am about half-way through “The Joke’s Over”, written by Mr Steadman – this illustrator maestro/batty Brit/global trooper and more than anything else, a kind and decent man whose concern for this planet is beyond measure.

It was Steadman who prompted me to obtain a copy of the Universal Declaration of Rights, which I printed out and keep on hand. I would encourage all who are reading this to print a copy of their own – or, better yet – mail it to Washington. However, I leave it to my readers and Godspeed! 

Ralph Steadman, from “The Joke’s Over”

 

Autonomy & Unity

illustrations, Projects Series

While working on this particular illustration, the existentialist in me went into hyper-drive. You may ask: Two models posing in front of a painting – so what’s the big deal? 

May and Ruth Bell for Dior

Sparing you the entire recap, my short list includes Civil Rights, Spiritualism, Symbolism [ala Carl Jung], Community, and Family – by blood and otherwise. The editorial story in Harper’s Bazaar is titled “The Power of Sisterhood”, written by Robin Morgan. My source photo by Jason Kibbler depicts May and Ruth Bell – being twin sisters –  really ignited me into that frenzied stream of consciousness.

Whereas I have one sibling, my sister and I are not twins but perhaps similar to May and Ruth in a somewhat Yin Yang sense of being. I refer to my dearest chick mates as my sisters as well. With all due respect to “Sisterhood”, I also have adopted males – aka my “brothers”. And just as this photo could not have come to light without countless members within a team, my sisters and brothers are imperative to my own work. [You too! You, reading this now…]

Quite integral to the image is the painting behind the Bell sisters: “Durga”, by Diana Kurz. This I had to pare down to some essential elements; two arms & hands upholding symbols, another hand appearing between May and Ruth, the 3 pointed spear and the goddess’ crown*. 

I have sung my praises to Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri before. However, this? I must sing a refrain!

Which I extend also to fashion editor Miguel Enamorado. Brilliant, on every level!

*In studying what can be seen from Kurz’s painting, I can only surmise that the Hindi goddess is a variation of “Lakshsmi”. As I’m limited in all things Hindi/Hindu, I think I’ve deciphered the following from the elements as selected in my illustration:

Trident [left] represents Desire and/or a combination of Action & Wisdom

Fire [upper left] is symbolic of both Creator & Destroyer of Life

Crown [above Ruth] is commonly symbolic of – or formed as – a Lotus

Conch Shell [upper right] represents Brilliance/Auspiciousness

 

To learn more, go to this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshmi

When Joey Blows Into Town

illustrations, Projects Series

Busker Joey… This cat? Tall and fair and tinged with ginger, Joey just sorta magically appears in Downtown Mystic every summer. I dig his style: Appalachian Chic? I am kicking myself because I did not swap out that yellow gear bag from the photo I’d taken and replace it with a guitar and strap. [Another time, maybe.]

I’m not going to play Mystic Busker favorites. No way and never! It is just Joey’s nature in that he is such an approachable dude. And when I see him, he brightens my day. Actually, on the day I had snapped this picture, the sun was so strong that he is squinting in that photo. I used my artist’s prerogative here. Without recent contact with him, I hope Joey approves!

Joey in 2018

Busker Joey

Fire Submerged

Brushwork, Projects Series

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!

Fire Submerged

 

 

Wild Abandon

Brushwork, Graphic, Projects Series

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… 

imaan-in-drie-van-norton-2019

Illustrating the Impact of Norma Kamali

Graphic, Projects Series

While my assorted visions can be fuzzy at times, nobody could say this of the legendary designer Norma Kamali. And I cannot pinpoint the exact year that I was first smitten and intrigued by Ms Kamali, I’ve recently reconnected with her present collections – and being blown away in both her aesthetic as a designer as well as the considered integrity that she upholds both personally and professionally. Rather than fill this post with the Kamali history, there is a fascinating article one can read on Vogue’s pages.

As my salute to Ms Kamali, I joined together one look which dates back to 1983 [roughly being that era when she arrived on my radar] with the tracksuit found in her present line. Quite the companions!

Norma Kamali Salute

 

Yasmin in Bottega

Brushwork, Projects Series

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

A Very Mod Maudie

Brushwork, Projects Series

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…

The Elisa Sednaoui Impact

Brushwork, Projects Series

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