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

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

Tod A. as Muse – and Why?

Projects Series

I didn’t know who a Tod A. was until a couple of months ago. Nor had I been acquainted with his band Firewater… [I’m usually late for the proverbial party.] However he doesn’t know me either. Furthermore, he doesn’t know that the Firewater album “Ponzi Scheme”  – released by Universal in 1998 – has been fueling me at conspicuous frequency lately.

Tod A. is an expat and has been since the George W. Bush years. Given the present American landscape, need I say more? Maybe a 5.5” x 8.5” in strictly No. 2 pencil doesn’t do him justice. I gave it my best anarchist try…

Pencil sketch portrait of singer Tod A.