Abbey Lincoln portrait, revised

A couple of years ago, I drew this portrait of Abbey Lincoln in one of my sketchbooks. I was experimenting with painting a shape and then inking line details on top. The paper was a bit too thin for the gouache painting so some wrinkling occurred and came through in the scan along with the gutter fold of the sketchbook.

I opened the scan in Photoshop and converted the blue painted shape into a single color. This also captured a bit of the gutter fold shadow creating a crease across the face area.

I then converted all of the ink line details to solid black. This also captured some of the gutter fold shadow along with some additional shadow areas from the wrinkling of the paper.

I cleaned up the black from the wrinkle shadows as well as the sketchbook edges, but decided to leave the gutter shadow marks. I liked the accidental aspect of it and how it referenced the sketchbook, also how the line related to the diagonal black lines in the background. I didn't realize though that some might see this mark as a cut across the face, not my intention of course. And I realized that the reference to the sketchbook was probably only apparent to me. So I decided to remove the gutter shadow "cut" mark.

I also lightened up the blue a bit. And looking back at this piece, I remembered that I had made an alternative version, one with less distortion.

I liked how this version turned out, although I think it makes the body appear a bit odd in relation to the head. Overall, I prefer the distorted version, even better without the cut.

Conversation illustration

2013-conversation This is an illustration I did for an essay by Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. The essay was about the author's visit to his family after coming out as gay, his boyfriend texting him the words, "Be humble" as he was about to meet with his family, his Midtown Manhattan subway rides, and his research for his book.

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Above is the sketch the client and I decided on. It represents the author's conversation with the people he met on his journey. But this wasn't my first idea.

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In the essay, the author described the 49th Street subway station he used as, "brick, glazed a garish orange-red that always has made me think of the flames of hell." He went on to describe how he felt each evening waiting for his train, fretting about his family as well as his conversations with his friends who were atheist.

So my first idea was to show him as a lone figure set against a hellish train pulling into the station. Other ideas I had related to the text sent by his boyfriend. But the client wanted a more positive image and asked me to send them a sketch about his conversations during his yearlong journey across America.

Below are ink and gouache elements I made to collage together in Photoshop to make the final art.

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Tablet doorway illustration

2013-tabletdoor This is an illustration I did last month for a story about education and technology. The client wanted to show a teacher and a student walking into a tablet as if it was a doorway.

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For some reason, I thought laptop rather than tablet, so I sent initial rough ideas showing a laptop as a doorway.

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Oops! So I sent in new sketches showing a tablet as a doorway. I wanted to do the top right idea, the tablet as a doorway on a path in a park or school quad. The client agreed.

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I used graphite and ink on a textured paper to create the frame of the tablet and some of the background elements.

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I made a pattern of dots that I thought might be useful as additional texture, wasn't quite sure at this point how I would use them.

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I used ink to create line work for the figures and the app icons that would appear in the tablet.

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Above is the background without the tablet and figures. I generally work larger than the final cropped size. This allows me to re-evaluate how I crop the final image and allows for ample bleed.

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Above is the background and tablet without the app icons and figures. For the background, I used a few gouache elements I had painted for previous work.

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Above is a detail of the figures. I wanted them to have similarities for visual repetition.

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And here again is the final illustration.