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

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

{W} Easter

Graphic, Projects Series

The promise of more sun… Flowers blooming… There is much to embrace when Easter is here.

When W’s 2019 “Hollywood” issue arrived, my heart raved over the Tim Walker photographed stories. And while I was going gaga – there was this really captivating image of actress Thomasin McKenzie, wearing Moschino Couture. As the prop egg pops up in more than one setting, I feel that stylist Sara Moonves also is truly deserving of credit here.

The photo is exquisite; yet, like a kid with fresh egg, I just had to dip it into a vat of colors!

Tim Walker photo of actress Thomsin Mckenzie for W Magazine

Hollywood 2019, W Magazine

color pencil sketch of a tim walker photo

Thomasin Sketch from W Magazine V1 2019

Happy Easter!

~ Jeni

Dorothea

Brushwork, Projects Series

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.

 

Oil pastel sketch of Dorothea McGowan 1961 photo by Irving Penn

Dorothea

6″ x 8″, Water soluble oil pastels and color pencils.

Valentino, Fall 2015

Brushwork, Projects Series

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

Eugene and Sergey of Gogol Bordello

Projects Series

Who is Eugene Hütz?

This is what I asked myself after seeing a photo of him standing next to Iggy Pop, taken shortly after the annual Tibet House fundraising concert of 2016. And, I’m glad I searched this Eugene… which led me to the music of Gogol Bordello.

I’m now a bit of a Gogol fanatic – and I finally had the chance to see the band live in Providence last month! In my “homage sketch”, in which I must credit photographer Rich Russo of Music Madness magazine, I had to confine myself to depicting Eugene and his mate, Sergey Ryabtsev.

Pencil sketch of gypsy punk band members, Gogol Bordello's Eugene and Sergey.

Eugene and Sergey of Gogol Bordello

After which, I modified the color levels and printed out a duplicate for coloring:

A duplicate of the above pencil sketch with colors added.

Paper Rag Doll

Brushwork, Projects Series

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.

Colored pencil sketch with wash depicting model Rianne Van Rompaey wearing a Valentino ensemble. featured in the Spring issue of W Magazine.

Rianne Van Rompaey in Valentino

Shanelle on Parchment

Projects Series

Needing a break from my pen and ink studies, I looked to the Spring 2019 fashion pages. Vogue’s March issue has a profile piece on the [often] nomadic minded Rick Owens. As I just happened to have parchment paper within reach, I began sketching Shanelle Nyaiase [as photographed by Zoe Ghertner] and was intrigued with just how graphite appears in the process.

While colored pencils, understandably, might have been a bad turn… Yet I can never resist when an orange hue is involved!

Shanelle Wearing Rick Owens

Natasha Ramsay-Levi Study

Brushwork, Projects Series

There is so much more behind my being mesmerized by Natasha Ramsay-Levi’s face that transcends the surface. Found in W Magazine’s Volume 4 2018 issue, I then went online to find out more about the photographer Paolo Roversi. Within the bio I’d located, I learned that Roversi’s first assignment for the AP was to cover Ezra Pound’s funeral – which alone is an auspicious start for a photographer’s journey. And in her position as creative director for Chloé, Ramsay-Levi has brought some extraordinary and admirable views and visions…

Photo by Paolo Roversi

My colored pencil depiction from the above:

 

Colored pencil with water sketch of natasha ramsay-levi