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as a kid, got me interested in my own family's ancestry. Although, it wasn't until about 10 years ago, around the time my son was born, that I finally started digging on my mother's side of the family tree. If you've ever done any digging yourself you know how exciting and time consuming it can be, but in a short amount of time I made decent progress.
Then a couple of years ago, my aunt gave me these two portraits of my great-grandparents.I'm guessing the photos are about 100 years old.
Their daughter, my grandmother, Blanche, was born in either 1916 or 1917 so I estimate the photos were taken around then, give or take a few years. These portraits are a part of my family history. And until seeing them and delving into my family's ancestry online, it was a family history that I was not too sure actually existed let alone connected to a larger American history.
Part of what fuels my art (and illustration) is the desire to shine a light on those who have been forgotten by history, underrepresented or misrepresented. My goal is not to merely tell their stories but to reframe them and their lives. By reframing, I mean looking at people and events from a different vantage point and thereby changing the way we perceive them, reminding us that identity is perception and therefore malleable, not static. The first piece of work where I consciously used reframing was A Brief History of Sambo.
For me, the portraits of my great-grandparents suggest that they were people that mattered, even though their names may only be a small piece of a larger historical record. Often times African-American history is linked to the history of oppression, poverty, brutality and blight, as though they are all synonymous. In terms of success, names like CJ Walker, George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglas are important and familiar but by no means the whole story. There are countless people who we learn about during the 28 days of February, many who were part of the Civil-Rights Movement but still that's just a portion of the picture. Industries such as law, medicine, art, invention, publishing, hospitality, real estate and apparel are all areas where numerous African-Americans made a name for themselves. People like Arthur Gaston, Jeremiah G. Hamilton, John Coburn and Chloe Spear are just a few names but their success defies the perceived norm and that success was not confined to just one era but was a truth, for some, throughout the history of Blacks in America. Given the circumstances of how we arrived here, our presence in America today conveys a success that pervades all of American history.
Back to this week's piece. In the spirit of those industrious people who's stories remain untold (and the portraits of my great-grandparents), I created this week's piece-"Black Business 1890."
The portrait is of no one in particular and the date arbitrary but the objective of the piece is to emphasize my previous points. The print is 10x10" including 2" borders on all sides. Printed on heavyweight, ph-neutral, cold-press watercolor paper with archival inks. Just respond here or email me SeanQuallsStudio@gmail.com with Weekly Painting #9 in the subject if you would like one.
I apologize to anyone who has been waiting for these updates. It's been awhile, I know. I have more to share so stay tuned!
Oh,one more thing.
This Sunday, May 15th in Brooklyn,
I will be at the 5th Ave Street Fair, 5th Ave between 1st and 2nd Street in the artist area. I may have one or two proofs left of the Black Business 1890 and a Brief History of Sambo. Hope to see you!
Author and illustrator Roxie Munro returns to Ready Set Draw!, with a new project inspired by several of her books, including Market Maze. In this episode Roxie teaches you how to draw your very own busy random Roxie reversing maze! Go above, go under; make turns and twists. There are no mistakes, only opportunities to create new paths.
Did you, a child, or student draw their own maze using this video? Please share your images with us via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter! Use the hashtag #KidLitTV on Instagram and Twitter too. We can’t wait to see what you’ve drawn!
Eight trucks hit the highway in a colorful and mesmerizing maze book that helps kids understand how food gets to their tables. In eleven intricately drawn mazes, eight vehicles, each carrying a different product, are on their way to the city. Fish, apples, dairy products, corn, vegetables, flowers, eggs, and baked goods all travel through colorful and minutely detailed landscape mazes to reach the city farmer’s market. Information on all of the products and their journeys is included along with answers to all of the mazes. For additional fun kids are challenged to look for objects hidden on each spread.
Prepare to be astounded, because these are no ordinary mazes! Welcome to Mazeways, where A is for Airport, B is for Boatyard, C is for Circus, and everything is exciting. In this eye-opening world, each letter in the alphabet transforms into a fantastic maze and fingers have to trace a path through fantastically detailed environments. Navigate these puzzles as you would if you were traveling in real life: drive your car on the right side of the road, cross the street only at the crosswalks, and feel free to walk around furniture or landmarks as long as nothing blocks your path. Each maze comes with directions on how to launch into the adventure, and features really cool things to find and guide you along the waylike crocodiles and seals, clown cars and motorcycles, baseball diamonds and sunken treasure, and more!
Find more of Roxie’s books, including more mazes, here.
ABOUT ROXIE MUNRO
Roxie is the author/illustrator of more than 40 nonfiction and concept books for children, many using “gamification” to encourage reading, learning, and engagement. Her books have been translated into French, Italian, Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese.
Roxie was born in Texas, and grew up in southern Maryland, by the Chesapeake Bay. At the age of six, she won first prize in a county-wide contest for a painting of a bowl of fruit. She has been a working artist all her life, for a while freelancing in Washington DC as a television courtroom artist. It was great training for life drawing, concentration under pressure, and making deadlines. Clients included CBS, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press. Fourteen of her paintings have been published as covers of The New Yorker magazine.
She also creates oils, watercolors, prints, and drawings, primarily cityscapes, which are exhibited widely in the US in galleries and museums. Roxie’s work is in numerous private, public, and corporate collections.
Roxie Munro studied at the University of Maryland, the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore), earned a BFA in Painting from the University of Hawaii, attended graduate school at Ohio University (Athens), and received a Yaddo Fellowship in Painting. She lectures in museums, schools, libraries, conferences, and teaches in workshops.
Many oils and watercolors are views from the roof of her sky-lighted loft studio in Long Island City, New York, just across the East River from her home in mid-Manhattan. Roxie is married to the Swedish writer/photographer, Bo Zaunders.
Released last fall from LEE & LOW BOOKS, The Story I’ll Tellis a gentle and moving story of adoption and parental love that is sure to touch the hearts of readers everywhere, no matter how they came to be a family. It has received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, which called it “an unabashed love letter, one that many families will treasure.”
We asked illustrator Jessica Lanan to take us behind the scenes of her art process bringing The Story I’ll Tell to life:
The process for illustrating The Story I’ll Tell started with research and brainstorming. I read books about adoption and collected evocative images from magazines and the internet that I thought might be useful references. There were a lot of questions to investigate as I tried to piece together the identity of the characters and the overall look and feel of the artwork.
As I researched, I also began sketching thumbnails. My art director and editor provided feedback on these, and through several rounds of revisions we worked to get the concept and flow of the art just right. The thumbnail sketches were also essential in order to work out the composition of each page. For each round of revisions I made a printed dummy in order to simulate the flow of the book.
After the thumbnails were ready, I worked on more detailed drawings, using reference images and models as needed. Here you can see a rough clay model that I used as a reference image for one of the drawings:
Once the drawings had been approved, it was time to move on to the final art. I was using watercolor for this book, which is a rather unforgiving medium, so, I made a miniature version of each painting first in order to get all the mistakes out of the way. Then I transferred my drawing to the watercolor paper and started painting!
Each final piece was done with watercolor and colored pencil on 300lb watercolor paper.
Jessica Lanan has been in love with illustrated books since an early age. Besides The Story I’ll Tell, she has also illustrated Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth from the Shen’s Books imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, where she enjoys thunderstorms, crunching autumn leaves beneath her feet, and leaving footprints in freshly fallen snow.
You can purchase a copy of The Story I’ll Tell on our website here.
StoryMakers host Rocco Staino caught up with Mo Willems at the preview for The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems, a retrospective of Willems’ work at the New-York Historical Society. The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibit contains many pieces that show Willems’ process as he created some of kid lit’s most memorable characters. He hopes children create their own art after they leave the museum. The author and illustrator briefly discussed The Thank You Book, the 25th and last book in the Elephant and Piggie series.
Mo Willems has had a huge impact on the lives of children. As a television writer for Sesame Street he garnered six Emmys. His witty one-liners inspired children to quote characters from Codename: Kids Next Door amongst other familiar cartoons. In 2003 his first picture book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, was published and since then it’s been a stream of accolades; three Caldecott Honors, two Geisel Medals, five Geisel Honors, and a place in the Picture Book Hall of Fame.
Willems’ surly pigeon, the mismatched pair of Elephant and Piggie, and everyone’s favorite Knuffle Bunny are a few of the characters visitors will get to see evolve via the exhibit.
The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibition brings together original art, sketches, and inspirational drawings from Willem’s most popular series, plus stand-alone classics such as Leonardo the Terrible Monster and That is NOT a Good Idea!. It displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness, and the desire, as Willems says, “to think of my audience, not for my audience.” His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.
The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems is open now, until September 25, 2016. Click here for ticket information, directions, and more.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art organized the exhibition, which is supported by Disney Publishing Worldwide.
LIKE IT? PIN IT!
Click the images or links below to access fun activities with characters from Mo Willems’ books!
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone … someone important.
ABOUT MO WILLEMS
#1 New York Times Bestseller Mo Willems began his career as a writer and animator for PBS’ Sesame Street, where he garnered 6 Emmy Awards for his writing. During his nine seasons at Sesame Street, Mo also served as a weekly commentator for BBC Radio and created two animated series, Nickelodeon’s The Off-Beats and Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City.
While serving as head writer for Cartoon Network’s #1 rated show, Codename: Kids Next Door, Mo began writing and drawing books for children. His debut effort, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! became a New York Times Bestseller and was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004. The following year Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale was awarded a Caldecott Honor. The sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too: a Case of Mistaken Identity garnered Mo his third Caldecott Honor in 2008.
In addition to picture books, Mo created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of “Easy Readers”, which were awarded the Theodor Suess Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009 and Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. For older audiences he has published an illustrated memoir of his year-long trip around the world in 1990-91 entitled You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons and Don’t Pigeonhole Me!, a collection of 20 years of his annual sketchbooks. His books have been translated into over 20 languages.
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical is the oldest museum in New York City. New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs are one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.
The New-York Historical Society’s museum is the oldest in New York City and predates the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly seventy years.
Here's a sketch I made today. I literally had fifteen minutes, on my parking, to get a coffee and sketch. I've this thirst for drawing out and about recently.
Dunno why. Maybe its the new pens I've got (loving fountain pens right now). Maybe it's just dawned on me that there are so many fascinating buildings where I live. Maybe I'm just looking at things differently.
Dunno. Maybe it's, well, I don't know, but I always think it's good to go with that....that...that thing I don't know how to explain.
So, I'm in this amazing labyrinth of a local book shop, that truly is the best book shop I've ever been in, drawing the organ (yes the book shop has an organ) and I had about twenty minutes before they closed.
But it's enough time, you know? It's enough time to get out the fountain pen, water brush and get it down on the page.
Maybe that's it. Maybe I just can't believe it myself; that you can create something so fast. After years of taking hours and hours over a drawing I can't believe I can fill a page, in minutes, with something I'm happy with. And I am quite happy with these.
And then there are the days that I wake up and want to do some of that line work. The stuff that takes hours and hours. I dunno.
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Joe Mclean is an Illustrator from Norwich, who creates illustrations using a combination of hand drawn lines, scanned textures and Adobe Illustrator. His inspirations include traditional printing processes, hand drawn type and graphic illustration. His speciality is editorial illustration and greeting cards. His clients include; Computer Arts, Spindle Magazine and Loud and Quiet to name a few.
Maria Had a Little Llama/Maria Tenia Una Llamita and Knit Together author and illustrator Angela Dominguez creates heart-warming tales about family and togetherness. Angela Dominguez is a two-time recipient of the American Library Association’s Pura Belpre Honor (2014 and 2016).
It’s kind of a love letter to my mom.
— Angela Dominguez on “Knit Together”
Angela’s picture books are rooted in the themes of family, tradition, and friendship. Several of her books including Maria Had A Little Llama/Maria Tenia Una Llamita;Let’s Go, Hugo; and Knit Together pull from relationships with family members and artifacts from her childhood. A wind-up toy inspired French bird Hugo. Angela’s memories of wanting to be a skilled knitter like her mother led her to write a book to remind children they can be talented in their own way. An aunt’s interest in indigenous cultures informed the writing of a version of Mary Had a Little Lamb with a Peruvian twist.
Angela’s books aren’t only an option for children growing up bilingual; they are excellent for those who want to expose young readers to the Spanish language and Latino culture.
Aspiring illustrators will enjoy hearing about Angela’s process and seeing what a book looks like from start to finish.
We’re giving away three (3) sets of books from Angela Dominguez. Each set includes signed copies of Maria Had a Little Llama and Knit Together. Enter now!
All entrants must reside in the United States and be at least 13 years old.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
From an award-winning illustrator comes a sweet story of mothers and daughters, drawing and knitting, and learning to embrace your talents just right for Mother’s Day. Drawing is fun, but knitting is better because you can wear it Knitting isn t easy, though, and can be a little frustrating. Maybe the best thing to do is combine talents. A trip to the beach offers plenty of inspiration. Soon mom and daughter are collaborating on a piece of art they can share together: a special drawing made into a knitted beach blanket. For every mom and daughter, this is an arts-and-crafts ode creative passion and working together.
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Harry N. Abrams
Dominguez presents a humorous and endearing portrait of a stubborn French bulldog and a determined little boy.
Everyone knows about Mary and her little lamb. But do you know Maria? With gorgeous, Peruvian-inspired illustrations and English and Spanish retellings, Angela Dominguez gives a fresh new twist to the classic rhyme. Maria and her mischievous little llama will steal your heart.
Let’s Go, Hugo! Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower — or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?
Marta! Big & Small (August 23, 2016)
Written by Jennifer Arena, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Marta is “una nina,” an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends. As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she’s bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is “sabrosa” tasty, very tasty But Marta is “ingeniosa,” a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results. With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.
Hello “Hola.” Some people speak Spanish. Some people speak English. Although we may not speak the same language, some things, like friendship, are universal. Follow two young giraffes as they meet, celebrate, and become friends. This bilingual tale will have readers eager to meet new friends and “amigos.”
COMING IN 2017 Sing Don’t Cry
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Henry Holt & Company
Pura Belpre Honor winner, Angela Dominguez, based this musically driven story on her beloved grandfather. Her abuelo always encouraged her to stay positive and carry on.
ABOUT ANGELA DOMINGUEZ
Angela was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and lived in San Francisco. She’s the author and illustrator of picture books such as Let’s Go, Hugo!, Santiago Stays, Knit Together, and Maria Had A Little Llama, which received the American Library Association Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. When she is not in her studio, Angela teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. She also enjoys presenting at different schools and libraries to all sorts of ages. Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and is represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency.
Laura Manfre is a self-taught illustrator from France. Her work has a beautiful traditional quality to it but still remains relevant and appealing. It’s difficult not to feel hungry when looking at Laura Manfre’s work due to one of her main subjects being indulgent treats and tasty snacks. She is equally talented though at depicting other subjects such as animals and people.
If you’d like to see more of Laura’s work, please visit her portfolio.
I don't understand how people get bored. It's a complete mystery to me. How is it even possible when there are so many things you can do to amuse yourself? I have a million and one projects on the go that I can dip into when I have nothing else to do. My problem is those projects too often get shelved because I never have nothing else to do.
Here's one of them. I started this a little while back when my friend, designer Emily Pickle, bought me a couple of Chagall and Renoir sticker books. At the same time I'd bought a couple of cheap little sketchbooks that were on a buy one get one free offer. So I dedicated one to copying the stickers. But, copying them upside down
Now, I'd heard about this technique a long time ago, when I first started drawing. I'm sure it was through Danny Gregory but I can't be certain. I didn't really give it much of a go back then. I was too caught up in making everything look perfect, and hadn't really learnt to trust my own judgement. Anyway, I only really started playing around with the technique, properly, a few years ago. Now, I really love it and use it often. Especially with portraits.
So how does it work? Well, it's really quite simple. I'm sure many of you already know, but for those who don't (and being self taught and not having that art school background, I had never come across these techniques before hanging out with illustrators online), here's a quick demo.
As I said, I was given these little sticker books of paintings from a series by the great painters. I'm not really a Renoir fan, but that really doesn't matter at all. And, as for Chagall, well, although I knew his work I hadn't studied it until now. And now I really am a big fan. I stuck all the stickers on the left hand pages of the sketchbook. You don't need stickers though. You can use absolutely anything as subject matter.
Then what you do is you turn the book upside down. See below.
All I have used is a fine pen and then a thicker pen; like a brush pen, a calligraphy pen or anything with a thicker nib. A marker pen will work just as well although they often bleed through the paper.
I started by making a line drawing. This exercise is all about looking. Really looking. Starting in the top left hand corner and trying to copy, as best you can, the photo or image you're working from. Stop wondering if you're getting it 'right' and just keep looking. Resist the urge to turn it the right way up until you've drawn the whole image in.
THEN you can turn it around. It's never really going to be 'perfect'. There'll always be a quirkiness about your drawing, but I think that's the joy of doing this. I always find I make the eyes huge.
When I'd completed the line drawing, and turned the book around, I shade the drawing with the thicker pen. There's no reason you can't do all that while the image is still upside down. I just like brining it together like this at the end.
I've since found some more stickers of Japanese art which should complete the sketchbook (after I've shared them out with Emily Pickle, that is).
I should add that your first attempts may look absolutely nothing like the image you are copying. Mine certainly didn't. I've done a huge amount of this stuff since getting into it. But it's amazing how quickly I got better at it and how confident the drawings became. But, I guess that's the same of anything you do.
This one above, is one of my favourites.
One warning; if you do decide to dedicate a whole book to this technique, no matter how much you try, this will at some point happen...
I saw a friend recently, who said "what have you been up to? Just going from café to café?" And, you know, from my drawings, it could look like that is all I do.
I do enjoy drawings in cafes though. They seem to combine all my favourite things; people, food and stuff, whilst being (mostly) warm and dry.
It's particularly useful, too, should you have forgotten to take your sketchbook out with you, if the café has paper place mats. I commend Tampopo for this. I managed to dig out an orange felt tip pen from the bottom of my bag for this one. I believe all cafés should use paper placemats. When I'm Prime Minister I will make it law.
It started with a girl on a train. I had to start it somewhere, so it started there.
Then I got into work and it grew (I still have to pinch myself that I go into work to draw).
I was trying to cover up the mess of the marker pens that had bled through the previous and following pages. I love marker pens, they are my new favourite thing. But they do not like sketchbooks. They do make a right old mess. Although I kind of like that. I like the challenge and, actually, you could look at it in a totally different way; the stains/mess give you something to work with.
Yeah. Plus, it really suits the way I like to create my sketchbook drawings these days. You see, this chaos and mess expresses much more about what goes on inside my head than any of my earlier 'perfect', serene, calm sketchbook drawings did. Sure, I get that I was looking for that at the time - a kind of peace - and that's what I was hoping to achieve from drawing, but, for along time I denied the mess. Not any more.
There are no rules to this kind of drawing. Nor rules or restrictions to making these kind of spreads. They're just a sprawling stream of things that are happening multiplied by a stream of consciousness. That, at this present moment in time, is my favourite way to create my sketchbooks. And, is the most interesting way too.
Okay, there's just one rule. Spotted it?
Yeah, never leave one millimetre of paper untouched!
There is still a little time to order from my shop for Christmas. Inspire someone you know, to draw their lives, with my zines or books. Or treat yourself. You can find my goodies, all created with love, HERE.
I thought I'd just share a bit about the making of an art commission as I've been working on a few of them recently. I also thought I'd post about it because perhaps, just maybe, sometimes, some folk don't quite realise what goes into these things.
So, I was commissioned to draw this beloved Land Rover in front of this beloved house.
Now, I'm not really one for drawing from photos, things would have been a damn sight easier if I were, but I like to really get a feel for the place I'm drawing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with photos and I took a few as visual prompts/reminders, but I started with sketching from life. Which, living in the UK, and specifically the north, means one thing; standing/drawing in the rain.
So I got a load of en location sketches together; some of the Land Rover, some of the house, some of the Land Rover and the house. I made them on various papers and various sizes with various materials. Then, when I was chilled to the bone, I went home to work on the finished drawing.
...into the wee small hours of the night. Well, morning.
Then with some sleep between us I started again. I'd been building up to adding the colour, and putting the red door in. I say building up, but I mean dreading. I knew that bit of colour was make or break for the picture.
Then I totally panicked that I'd made the picture to feminine. So, I spend more time worrying over the colour and making it more red than pink. Then I spent a bit more time worrying that they'd hate the it and be really disappointed. This is an obligatory stage in the whole commission making process, I find.
Unfortunately, I haven't got a photo of the whole thing. It was A3 in size and I don't have a scanner big enough.
So, there's just a little insight into what goes into making commissioned artwork for somebody else. To be honest, it doesn't even scratch the surface. I haven't even mentioned the blood, sweat, tears, anxiety, deadlines, avoiding deadlines, procrastinating, deadlines and avoidance. Next time.
Oh, I needn't have worried so much, he loved it. But, I know I'll go through it all next time too.
I currently have FREE shipping worldwide on all of my original drawings (including a Land Rover Defender) in my Etsy shop HERE. I truly appreciate, more than I can say in words, being supported in this way. It keeps the wolf from my door.
Made this little sketch to celebrate the birthday of Joni Mitchell. My idol. My hero. My inspiration. I've pinched - I mean, been inspired by - her lyrics more than any other artist, to use in my work, as blog post titles, as life coaching. Happy Birthday Joni (her birthday was actually yesterday, but I did draw this late last night so it was kind of in time, although as my family and friends will tell you my birthday cards, presents and wishes are always, without fail, late).
A young Joni in, my new drug of choice, the Pentel brush pen.
Ruth Cobb (1878-1950) was an English illustrator and writer, particularly noted for portraying children and dolls in colourful costumes. Some of her full-colour plates may be found disbound and sold separately as prints (“My First Pet”) or reproduced as modern posters (“Little Girls of Other Lands”).
My First Pet & Little Girls of Other Lands
Ruth was born on 14th June 1878 to Thomas Cobb, a future novelist but at the time evidently a tailor in New Bond Street, London. Curiously Ruth’s birthplace is stated as 164 Regent Street, later the sumptuous studio of Victorian society photographer Walery. However the family soon moved to Tunbridge Wells where her sister and brother were born.
All the family became busy writers, but young Ruth was determined to be simply an illustrator. She worked first in a studio then as a freelance, eventually selling to magazines as varied as Chatterbox, the Autocar, the Builder, and Punch.
Notable success began from 1902 with her three books in the Dumpy Books series, where Richard Hunter’s verses accompanied Ruth’s vivid colour sketches of Dollies, More Dollies, and Irene’s Christmas Party. (Other Dumpy titles included one by her father and two by Mary Tourtel, pre-Rupert.) She then produced larger-format books such as The Wonder-Voyage and A Trip to Fairyland, and provided illustrations for books by others.
The Wonder Voyage - front & back covers
Meanwhile her holiday sketches of old buildings started seeing print, eventually blossoming into a long secondary career of illustrated articles. For adults she decorated works such F J Harvey Darton’s A Parcel of Kent, her brother’s first novel Stand to Arms, and – a striking dust-jacket – E H Young’s 1930 best-seller Miss Mole. However she remained devoted to children’s art.
During the Twenties and Thirties Ruth contributed to an astonishing number of children’s annuals and miscellanies for Blackie, Collins, Nelson, Tuck and others. At times she provided both text and pictures for stories or articles. Some young readers could not resist colouring her black-and-white drawings, and surely a portfolio of her children’s sketches would make a lovely colouring book for modern times.
However, this long extension of the Edwardian Summer in children’s illustration was ended abruptly in 1939 by the outbreak of World War II. Ruth’s market was shattered, and so was her whole way of life. A memoir states: “She went to live with relations in Sussex. There, she did a lot of voluntary war work, became President of a Women’s Institute, did map drawing, for the War Agricultural Committee in Lewes, and spoke for the Ministry of Information.” Typically, a 1941 lecture of hers was “Some of London’s Bombed Buildings.”
Later she resumed her work for periodicals, and as the war ended she began producing a quartet of slim illustrated topographical books, all well-received. Evidently she suffered a sudden heart attack, being found dead on 7th December 1950. Her wartime struggles seem to have deepened her appreciation of liberty; the first chapter of A Sussex Highway is entitled “The Beginning of the Road”, its main illustration dated shortly after VE Day. The final chapter of her final book commemorates Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man.
Charming as those late adult books were, it is for her delightful children’s illustrations that Ruth Cobb will be remembered.
Illustrations from The wonder voyage
Note on Ruth Cobb’s family.
Her father Thomas Cobb (1853-1932) was the author of nearly 80 popular novels and many shorter items. Her sister Joyce (1890-1970) produced poems, articles, short stories (notably WWI fiction) and one novel. Her brother (Geoffrey) Belton Cobb wrote approximately 70 crime thrillers. Ruth herself created only a dozen books of her own, but contributed to over a hundred more.
Note on signatures.
Her preferred location was generally the lower right-hand corner, as “Ruth Cobb” or “ruth cobb” sometimes boxed or enscrolled. Smaller drawings bore initials “r c” or perhaps nothing. In Edwardian times, the plates for Dollies etc were unsigned, while larger paintings gained a stylised slanting “R” within a “C”. Sketches for adults published then or as late as 1953 were signed “Ruth Cobb” in handwriting, with smaller items initialled.
Grateful thanks to The Society of Women Writers and Journalists for providing the picture of Ruth Cobb and for other kind assistance. David Redd.
I would like to add my thanks to David for sharing this very interesting article.
The Miss Mole cover image is from The Bamboo Bookcase, other images supplied by David Redd.
Still keeping up with #inktober (just about) and the last few days have been all about cats and dogs.
Not sure where it came from, some dark recess of my mind no doubt. Actually this poodle has been trapped inside trying to get out for ages.
I've also been trying to work outside of the sketchbook. Not that I'm giving up in the sketchbook. NOOOOO way. I'd never do that, my sketchbooks are my favourite places to draw and that was the problem.
I just felt I couldn't draw outside of the sketchbook. And when I feel like that about some drawing related thing, these days, I challenge myself to....well....challenge the 'I can't' thoughts and feelings.
So, with that in mind, I've decided to use up all of the scraps of paper I have around the house. It started with my bicycle challenge (the one where I felt I could never draw a bike so I drew fifty in a few weeks. Actually, I'm not sure I've blogged about that yet) I gathered every bit of blank paper in the whole house and have started drawing on them.
A friend of mine bought this 1920s music paper for me so I drew on that. I drew on the cardboard backs of sketchbooks. And on brown paper. On old water colour pads. Anything that's been hanging around. It's getting drawn on.
Like this poodle, if it's a bit of paper that can be drawn on then it won't be hanging around for long. It's going walkies.
I'll be honest, I have no idea where I'm up to with Inktober. But that doesn't mean I'm not inking away. In fact I haven't stopped.
And my love for ink grows by the day. I've always loved the intensity of ink, and have used it in the past, but always ended up drawing with my paint brush in a very controlled way.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to take an expressive ink workshop by talented fashion artist and illustrator Tracy Fennell. I absolutely loved it. I really feel this is what I've been looking for.
I'm always trying to improve my skills, always wanting to learn new things when it comes to illustration. I love drawing so much that I just want to keep learning. I want to learn anything and everything.
So, yes, I'm very much loving ink and Inktober - even if I have no idea where I'm up to.
Released this month, Amazing Places is a collection of original poems hand-picked by acclaimed anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins that celebrates some of the amazingly diverse places in our nation. It has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, which calls it “a broadly appealing testament to the American landscape and people.”
The gorgeous illustrations in Amazing Places are a uniquecollaboration between artist Chris Soentpiet, who created the rough sketches, and Christy Hale, who brought those sketches to life by adding color and detail. We asked Christy to take us behind the scenes and show us her process for working with Chris Soentpiet’s illustrations to make Amazing Places come to life:
Christy: I have selected the longhouse piece to show the art process used for creating the art for Amazing Places:
1. Chris Soentpiet’s rough sketch
2. The editor and art director requested modifications. Below is Chris’s tight sketch reflecting those changes.
3. The printer scanned Chris’s sketches and then I received the digital files and my work on the art began. I made some additional changes to the original sketch based on editorial suggestions.
4. I changed the pencil line to sepia to give it some richness.
5. To add color to the art I needed some reference for longhouses. I did some image research. Here are two of many pictures I found.
6. I added colors in transparent layers in Photoshop. I wanted to simulate the beautiful watercolor effects Chris is known for. Each layer was a different color. Sometimes there were multiple layers of the same color in varying transparencies for more subtle effects.
Below you see the sepia line with one color added.
7. Here is the sepia line with seven colors added.
8. Here is a screen shot showing the many layers in the Photoshop file.
9. Here is the final image with all the colors. For each piece in the book I worked with a limited palette. In the long house piece there are many, many different neutral colors in varying values. I used color value, intensity, and hue to help direct the eye in each composition.
I came to Henry Moore later in life. In the last couple of years, actually, I'm pretty sure it was on my first ever trip out with the Urban Sketchers to the YSP. Anyway, wherever whenever, now I'm a big fan.
It's just SO drawable.
Earlier this month, when I had a grip on #Inktober - before it ran off in all directions - and I was doing an ink drawing a day, I came across my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
It hadn't been used much at all. In fact I hadn't seen it for years. But when I opened it I found this wash (above). Now, I have no idea what I was thinking way back then when I put it on the page, but just looking at it with all that time between us, I could only see one thing. You're thinking the same, right?? You can see it too, yeah?
So I came up with my very own Henry Moore reclining nude. An Andrea Joseph inspired by Henry Moore for day nine of #inktober
Daniel Arriaga is an illustrator based in the USA whose work often tells a narrative, depicting fun characters. He has worked in various departments at Pixar, and also Disney. He has helped to produce films such as Wall-E, Up!, and Wreck-It-Ralph. Arriaga combines digital art with a subtle painterly style to bring his work to life, and his clever colour palettes create a nice ambiance in all his work.
If you’d like to see more illustrations by Daniel Arriaga, please visit his portfolio.
The good thing about not blogging regularly for a period, is that you build up lots of work to post when you finally get back on it. Here's a project I completed earlier in the year.
So, I saw this post on the rather excellent Doodlers Anonymous where somebody completed a sketchbook in two hours. TWO. HOURS. I loved the idea.
And, I had a couple of new cheap sketchbooks that I'd got in some sale. It gave me an idea of what to do with them. I should say that they were quite big sketchbooks (over 70 double page spreads) and so I set another goal; TWO WEEKS.
Which would pretty much mean taking the sketchbook wherever I went (including Ikea) and drawing even more obsessively than normal.
I started the sketchbook at a life drawing session that I used to attend weekly. It was a good place to start as that week we were focusing on drawing body parts, which meant I could fill up quite a few pages of feet and hands and, well, other bits.
And whilst I was totally pissed off that my washing machine was playing up, I did get a few drawings done waiting around at the laundrette.
I drew my friend's dog and I drew photos of my friends on my window sill.
The thing you have to do while speed drawing in this way is to ditch the fine liner pens. I pretty much used thick pens for the most of it.
I was also going to say you need to forget the detail, but I seemed to capture quite lot at my friend's gorgeous canal boat home - in both the one above and below.
Now it comes to something when you get home from another trip to Ikea, drop your bags on the floor and draw that, but I was determined to get that book finished.
The cat was not impressed.
Obviously these are just a tiny selection of the drawings I made. And they'll never be my best. But that wasn't the point.
It was a challenge, and I wasn't going to give up. I kept on pedalling.
In some places I had a field day.
Like at the antiques auction.
Where there was no shortage of things to draw. I was even sketching whilst bidding.
And I did it. And one of the things that pleased me most about finishing the book was that I finished it exactly two weeks to the day, at life drawing. And with the same model that was posing when I started.
So, if you're ever stuck for something to do, start yourself a two week sketchbook. Give it a go. And yeah, sometime in the near future I'll be giving the two hour sketchbook a bash.