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 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

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…

Bride and Groom – Groom and Bride

Projects Series

Do I dare to even imagine the red carpet hoopla which will descend at the Met’s gala for their upcoming “Camp: Notes on Fashion” costume exhibition?! Already I am beside myself over Vogue’s May 2019 issue…

Their editorial “warm-up” is entitled Breaking Camp. Already stupidly giddy over actor Ezra Miller, I’m now smitten with his photo shoot partner Keiynan Lonsdale – both attired in Thom Browne. Furthermore, I am {SO!} now following photographer Ethan James Green.

Pencil sketch of an Ethan James Green photo for Vogue of two young men in a matrimonial pose.

Sketch of Ethan James Green photo [May 2019 of Vogue]

A simple pencil sketch with touches of violet – but uncharacteristic in this is that I used a bit of color burn filtering for its presentation here.

{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.

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.

Yacht Pajamas by Edward Molyneux, 1934

Projects Series

My interest in designer Edward Molyneux [b. 1891, d. 1974] was ignited by my friendship with Pati Hill. Before Pati’s death in 2014, I had only known that she once modeled for fashion magazines and French ateliers back in the 1940s… I must credit my friends Nicole and Richard in their very thorough research done for the exhibition catalog: “Pati Hill: Photocopier”

In 1919, British born Molyneux established himself in Paris. Many of his clients later became globally known fashion icons.  Finding photos depicting Molyneux designed clothing isn’t easy – however I rather liked this ensemble found in a d’Ora studio shot [the model, unknown] from 1934.

A sketch and watercolor taken from a d'Ora 1934 photo of a model wearing nautical theme pajamas.