Milton “The Maestro” Glaser

Illustrations, Projects Series

Last year and during a period that I found myself feeling especially grateful and generous, I began a sketch of Milton Glaser with the intention of sending it to him along with a letter of my adoration. What can I say? I got waylaid. I had overworked this little 5” X 7” portrait to an extent that poor Milton looked as if he belonged in a Kabuki theater. Really, awful. I meant to finish it but… and yet…

From childhood to present, Glaser’s artistic and illustrative designs have greatly contributed to my sense of aesthetics. However, Milton Glaser as a mentor [to me and so many others, globally] brought a profoundly strong ethos that he not only embodied but touched upon so generously in both writing and talking on the subject of art. He was a true mensch whose words were often flavored with deeply informed historical philosophies. Anyway, this has been my impression whenever I’ve streamed one of his videotaped conversations; which was quite often as I worked at my own easel. 

Imagine the blow I felt when I learned of his death last week! I had to wrestle with the guilt I had for having never finished my little portrait of him… or sending that letter. I picked up that first task again and thanks to an image found on the website artsmeme.com, I pencil sketched Mr Glaser and then, for better or worse, printed out a tracing. In the colorized version, I added a personal favorite Glaser-designed metal sculpture that had been commissioned by The Rubin Museum in New York City. 

Milton Glaser: 1929-2020

Milton in Color
7″ x 9″

 

Then and There: Part II

Illustrations, Projects Series

When I do a search for a muse, my aim often is in seeking someone who feels familiar to me – while avoiding many subjects I may already be thoroughly familiar with. It is like a game where I really can’t lose because I often find remarkable stories behind these veneers.

So, after completing my sketch of a 1960s Donna Mitchell last week [“Then and There”] I went on to do a search of my subject with the hope of learning more about her. At the top of the results online I was astonished to see brilliant photos of Ms Mitchell – as she continues to model to this day! Represented by the “Iconic Focus” agency, her portfolio amazed me as she is no less stunning now than she had been in her teens. Although, and perhaps an indication of that “familiarity” factor, I found very little of her personal life and I’m quite private with my own. And while it was hard to choose from her very-very varied looks collection, the pose I settled on seemed to serve as the best narrative companion for my other Donna Mitchell sketch – in which she beams, sitting and looking quite self possessed. 

Donna MItchell 2020 Mix Media 8″ x 10″

 

Then and There

Brushwork, Illustrations, Projects Series

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

A Pati Hill Portrait

Illustrations, Projects Series

My friend Richard reminded me that today is Pati’s birthday. Had Pati Hill not departed life here in 2014 she would be 99 years old…!

Richard Torchia, who is Arcadia University’s art gallery director, had discovered the genius of Pati’s art around the time that her book “Letters to Jill” was published. In his present capacity as curator to her artistic legacy, Richard recently secured an exhibition of Pati’s works at the Kunstverein München in Munich, Germany. 

And due to my friendship with Pati Hill I am honored to have as a friend her invaluable assistant, Nicole. For the past six years, dear Nicole has given me extraordinary mementos of photographs and art and more… The sketch below was rendered from a photo of Pati, wherein she sits within a window of her home in Yonne, France. 

“Pati Hill”
9″ x 12″

 

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″

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

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

The Power of Ruth Bell

Brushwork, Projects Series

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.

{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

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.

Nethery and Tilberg in “State of Grace”

Brushwork, Projects Series

For the sartorial minded September is the month that releases brick-heavy issues from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. Furthermore, these September magazines are usually abundant with pages and pages for my own inspiration. But what is going on for 2018?! All I could see was a deluge of extremes. Puffy coats on steroids. Gym wear, ala haute couture. And, really?! A revival bringing the worst of the Eighties.

Yet, Marie Claire’s September offered some redemption. And it came by way of an editorial [no kidding!] titled “State of Grace”.  Photographer Robert Nethery uses an exquisite flood of light in his work, so that model Tasha Tilberg appears beautifully near-translucent.

A gouache portrait of Tasha Tilberg from a Robert Nethery photo in which she holds a small white dog

Nethery’s Tasha