Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Snippets

As promised, here are a few close-ups of the "Night in the Orient" poster, showing some of the work in a much higher resolution. These are digital photos of the piece, so forgive any cloudiness/washiness of color. First off, let's have a look at our model from the waist up...

As is my habit, I've tipped her turban with metallic ink - a scanner-friendly method of capturing light, without clogging up the works via the tinsel I'm so fond of using (shown in the trapeze artist piece, in the last entry). I stuck with my trusty Prismacolors for her plumage, much as I did for that of her peacock friend...

Admittedly there are spots of ink in the tail, but largely the colored pencils are doing the work. Peacock feathers are a near-obsession for me - I love drawing them, and observing their incredible sense of fluidity and spectrum. I remember, years ago, a friend telling me that her family refused to allow them in her home - an old cultural bias, stating that they brought bad luck. I'm so grateful that my mother didn't believe in such hash, liberally distributing them throughout our home... particularly in the late 1970s. Her sense of style clearly influenced that of her daughter...
And finally, a little feature time for our feathered friend. His chest and tip of his tail have sadly been a touch washed thanks to the camera, but this will do. Granted, this poster reflects the all-encompassing attitude characteristic of the Oriental fox trot - that is, doing all that's possible to capture the cultures of the Middle East, as well as Asian countries. Thus the peacock, alongside a concubine and hookah. This type of music was a purely American invention, much like other pseudo-cultural crazes our country was so fond of getting wrapped up in during the early 20th century - I figured this was a suitable illustration to convey that sense of presumptuous exoticism, for lack of better term.

As an aside, another peacock memory has been stirred. My father, who was a deeply accomplished classical tenor, had a true knack for mimicking peacocks. If I had a dollar for every time he got those birds going during our Cincinnati Zoo visits, I'd be rolling in dough...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Night in the Orient

How could I have forgotten this latest illustration? I meant to post this in my last entry - the advertisement poster for the recent, aforementioned "Night in the Orient" concert. Everything but the photograph and banner font was hand-illustrated - with luck, I will post close-ups in the next entry. For now, enjoy this peacock-focused flight of fancy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Sheik, His Sheba, Several Skulls... and an Aerialist!

So, after a rather longish absence, I've returned with the final version of the earlier post - my trapeze artist, part of a local opening in September. The last entry showed the "bones" of the matter - here she is in finished form. As is my standard practice, I used Prismacolor pencils with pen and ink - there are also details of tinsel and metallic ink. A close up of her face:

She was a delight to work on - the colors are joyous, and the subject matter consistently brings a smile to my face. Happily, I'm currently at work on several other illustration projects - to be posted here, naturally!

And now, I present the Sheik and his Sheba...

Matt's orchestra, the Singapore Slingers, held a truly landmark concert on November 19th: "A Night in the Orient" - an evening devoted to the Orient-inspired popular music of the 1910s and 1920s. We both knew that he needed a suitable sheik's robe for the event - and rather than rent one, I felt it would be much wiser to make him one. After much searching through the racks at local fabric shops, fate arrived in the form of a Moroccan festival in a neighboring town. We snapped up beautiful woven blankets, an embroidered shirt and leather slippers - and I got to work. Thanks to an older (and relatively accurate) costume pattern, I made his robe, and fudged my way through his head scarf and zarouelles (draped pants). I couldn't have been more thrilled with the results, to be honest - and luckily, I was able to dress accordingly myself, in a ragtime-era costume I'd made two years ago. Here's another photo of Matt in action, during the show...

On other sewing fronts, I bumped into a fabulous remnant of material - just in time for Dia de los Muertos:

I had just enough to put together a 1950s reprint pattern - a circle-skirted, sleeveless dress with bias-tape shoulder bows. It's an ingenious design, and I get complimented every time I wear it. Here it is on the form, to give an idea of length and drape. If you look to the right, you can see the adorable doll I made about 12 years ago, during my time in New York City. He's based off of my illustrations, and has been a well-dressed traveling companion ever since. Someday I'll devote a blog entry or two to his creation - it was a remarkable experience.

So there you have it, at long last - the blog has been updated! Stay tuned for further news, no matter how soon or how late... I'm bound to stop by. And thanks for your patience - as I manage to become better organized with each passing project, things will pick up again on the posting front. Best wishes - and happy holiday preparations to all!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Practically Naked!

I'm very excited about my latest project, something of a surprise that's come up within the last week or so. A circus-themed gallery show will be opening in Dallas on September 18th at the Fallout Lounge, and I've been invited to participate. As a bona fide junkie for all things circus history, I couldn't turn down such an exciting offer - and so, I currently sit at my desk, working on two new pieces. The first is a trapeze artist, and I'm so eager in my sketching that I've decided to give her a bit of premature exposure - consider it a tease before the final piece is unveiled.

I almost never share sketches - with anyone - I honestly feel nearly naked in doing so. As such, this is a rare treat. Expect photos of the final pieces, but for now relish in this little gal's graphite goodness. I figured it'd be fun to share the bare bones of an illustration, after all this time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Life Savers, Each and Every One

In keeping with my last entry, I wanted to post a photograph of my latest poster - aimed at the greyhound community, but more so, toward honoring fosters. Across the country, many retired greyhounds spend time with caretakers trained to help them transition from their prior lives (as racing animals) to their future, as family pets and companions. These caretakers, "fosters", are invaluable in the adoption community - they ensure the successful adjustment of these wonderful dogs, helping them to understand aspects of life such as house rules, climbing stairs, avoiding glass doors - many of these things are completely alien to greyhounds just off the track. Fosters give them the gift of a future... a new life.

This poster is one that I'd been wanting to work up for some time - I appreciated the idea of fosters truly being "life savers", and as such, I pursued a nautical theme. The life ring itself was a given - what I hadn't planned on was the metallic lettering, and wooden scroll. But the more I thought of the incredible carvings I'd seen in maritime museums along the east coast, the less I could resist incorporating that element. The gold lettering falls into that vein as well - the 16th-century galleons featured vast amounts of skillfully-applied gold leaf. In short, this was a great deal of fun to create. Some detail photos - the last of which was taken up close, and at an angle, to show the textures of the pencil and inks.

I hope to have this poster run into a series of prints very soon - along with my other work now on Etsy, I think it could do a lot of good in raising further funds for the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas, as well as other groups down the line.

And if you're wondering, the two dogs are Desiree, my late fawn girl, and Martin, a very special brindle boy from the Fort Worth seizure, mentioned in the last post. Their fosters, Lynne and Holly, are both wonderful people, tireless in their efforts to help animals adjust to a happy future. This one goes out to both of them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Renewed Inspiration

Some of you folks may know that for several years, I ran a small, mobile business that helped to raise funds for greyhound adoption groups, and research to fight animal cancers. For four years I hopped around the east coast, attending greyhound picnics, reunions, charity events and more - selling tee shirts, prints, cards and such that featured my greyhound-themed illustrations. Sadly, my life saw some major upheaval, and the business fell by the wayside - but not without my hopes of seeing it restored someday. Very happily, it seems that day has finally come.

I am an animal lover - anyone who knows me in the slightest is keenly aware of this fact. But greyhounds have a very special place in my heart. I had wanted to share my life with one at the age of sixteen, when I first learned of their plight (post-racing career adoption was a much rarer thing in those days) - and when I finally adopted Desiree fourteen years later, my heart was won completely. The business came along only months later - and by the time I had attended my first show as a vendor, I had adopted Brick as well.

But to the present. For a couple of years, my prints, cards and other paper goods had been in storage, waiting for their return to the market. Prohibitive expenses and policies on a certain auction website had caused me to close my online store, thus cutting off my Internet presence. I began to focus on other aspects of life, almost forgetting this important part of my career.

Until the Fort Worth 28.

This group of 28 greyhounds and greyhound mixes was rescued last month, as part of an emergency Animal Control seizure in Fort Worth, Texas. Most likely victims of an illegal racing operation, the dogs were reported to AC by a local water company employee - caged in a backyard, starving, covered in ticks and fleas... as good as left for dead. As the story branched out via news reports and the Internet, the appalling truth drove people to action. My first moment of awareness was the resultant death of Braden, found outside of the property in horrible shape... he died within days of his rescue of kidney failure, resulting from starvation. Three more dogs, all beautiful, loving souls, expired from distemper - a completely preventable illness. One dog in particular, Martin, grabbed my heartstrings - clearly a wonderful soul, just learning to play with toys, understand love and happiness - taken by the disease after his golden moment of life, in a caring foster home, touched by kind hands and words for the first time. The fact that I've met his wonderful, supportive family of foster caretakers only brings it home all the more.

The survivors are healing well, but funds will be continuously needed for their recovery. As well, even more dogs have been rescued from a terrible situation - 11 this time, in a case unrelated to the FW28. Clearly this seems to be an ongoing issue - and I've suddenly found myself driven to help out.

As a result, I've donated a number of my prints to the fund raising auctions to help these dogs in their recovery - as well, two custom portraits, which will be auctioned off this fall and winter. My prints will also be placed on Etsy - the existing pieces from my store, as well as some new offerings. My plan is to donate 10% at the beginning - a greater percentage as time moves along, and the store establishes itself.

I didn't expect to get back into this business so quickly, but inspiration comes unexpectedly. And these dogs certainly can use all the help we can offer them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Engaged, Married, Thrilled!

Time has passed since my last entry, but so much has happened! With a joyous wedding having taken place, I can now return to my blog - a happy, refreshed, marvelously married woman. I also want to take this opportunity to feature a few of the engagement photos that our dear friend Brittany Oswald took, just a week before the wedding - Matt and I couldn't be more thrilled. But first, the nuptials...

Matt and I were married on June 12, at the Unity Church on Greenville Avenue. The ceremony was officiated by Matt's youth minister, Andy Stoker - he was wonderful. Surrounded by our loved ones, and accompanied by our closest friends and family in the wedding party, the event was incredibly beautiful. And now for the creative, blog-focused aspect of the wedding - the gown!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was miraculously fortunate enough to acquire exquisite materials for the gown - silk duchesse satin, crepe and impeccable soutache lace went into the construction. The pattern itself is an alteration of a late 1990s Simplicity costume design, based on the film "Titanic" - the piece is affectionately called the "swim dress". The veiling tulle arrived the morning of the wedding - I whipped up a piece immediately. Although you cannot see it well here, the headpiece is a band of petersham ribbon, trimmed with vintage earrings and nazar boncuk charms.

The gown is a bit more visible here - you can also see more of the bodice front, finished with my late mother's antique cameo. Matt's handsome, circa 1938 tailcoat tuxedo is just marvelous - our dear friend Robert stands to my left. He provided the ragtime selections for our ceremony, and the exquisite lilies I carried down the aisle. I was lucky enough to find the perfect satin heels at David's Bridal - I had them dyed to match the gown, and finished them with petersham ribbons (ideal for fox trotting). I'm very proud of this piece - the hand-finishing through the lining is wonderful, and the fit is perfect. Just enough of an architectural nature to shape the body into that ideal, late Edwardian silhouette.

And now back in time, to see the engagement photos! Brittany Oswald is a deeply gifted photographer, and her sense of aesthetic came into full play with our shoot. We started out in Oak Cliff, a Dallas neighborhood - a lakeside park served us perfectly. We brought along our own props - as you can see, our love of vintage musical instruments, phonographs, antiques and ephemera tends to follow us around! Despite the simmering Texas heat, we had a great time in the park... Brittany had us laughing (and spooning) to beat the band...

Funny enough, until now I had forgotten that this dress is one I made two years ago. A Vintage Vogue reprint of a 1950s pattern, in white eyelet - one of my favorites. And now to the next location, Curiosities - an eclectic antique shop in the Lakewood neighborhood!

We changed beforehand - Matt into his 1920s beltback suit, and I into my walkaway dress (another one made at home). In this environment, we wanted a truly Technicolor experience, and we surely achieved that!

The above shot was initially unexpected - I had bumped into the corset just before, and in my enthusiasm, tried it on. Brittany hopped in as Matt lifted his cuff to show off his garters (an enormous weakness of mine) - and I lifted my skirt in a sense of unity. A power couple? You tell us.

I'll include the last photo - in fact a completely candid one, taken at Campisi's, a local Italian restaurant. This was between locations, giving us a chance to cool down and have a nibble. Matt did exactly that, and Brittany caught the moment.

He is an utterly wonderful man, and such a joy to be married to. Here's to an enchanting life together! And, for good measure - a photo of us, at the Singapore Slingers performance that took place three days after the wedding. Matt's playing "Mariutch" on the Baldoni accordion, and I'm doing a hootchy-kootchy dance, while wearing a circa 1912 bathing suit, and early 1930s egret fascinator. Such a beautiful life...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Home Stretch!

At last, Matt and I are pleased to announce the newest member of the Tolentino family! As dyed-in-the-wool independent artists, we refer, of course, to the new Singapore Slingers CD, "When Summer is Gone". The album features a marvelous collection of works dating from the late 1800s to the 1930s - the orchestra sounds superb, and I'm awfully proud of the cover art:

As it happened, Matt and I both had this image in mind before discussing the matter - a like-minded couple, to be sure. While I've seen my work on many types of publications/media, this is my first album cover, and I couldn't be more pleased that it's Matt's first industry-standard CD.

And so, on to our news from New Orleans! Although the real reason for our road trip was for Matt to play at two gigs in Florida, our souls were thrilling for weeks beforehand - not only to see New Orleans, but to meet Matt's oriental foxtrot idol, George Schmidt. As a founding member of the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra (PLEASE look them up, their work is exquisite), Mr. Schmidt would surely have so much to share about music history, the character of his city, as well as art - he's also a wonderful historic painter.

We had no idea how delightfully enthusiastic, creative, and hilariously wacky George would end up. We were blessed with several audiences at his Julia Street gallery, talking about nearly everything under the sun - the aforementioned music, history and art - but included too were good cocktails, fine foods, embroidered underwear, public reactions to the orchestra's often politically-incorrect tunes, the importance of "educated amusement" (George considers himself the "Adolf Hitler of fun"), the woeful lack of nitrous oxide in modern dentistry... and, well, myriad other subjects. We were also treated to a sneak preview of the orchestra's upcoming CD - a joyful and surreal moment, in that our own album was still on the presses, being manufactured. At our final visit, Matt brought along his Petosa, and serenaded George with favorite rags and foxtrots. Jack Stewart, a fellow NLOFTO member, stopped in to watch the shenanigans. George sang "Palesteena" as Matt played - a photo will have to stand in, until I can upload the clip:

It's doubtful I've seen anyone sing with such animation - this is a man with a great sense of passion for life. In retrospect, I can see why I immediately had such a fondness for George - he reminds me deeply of my late father, who was full of wonderful stories, endless humor and joy. George treated us to several of the orchestra's albums, and I promised a good handful of voodoo lilies for the courtyard garden behind the gallery, as well as a more personalized gift. I'll be making a sheik's robe for Matt after the wedding, and offered to create one for George, too - he was thrilled, of course. In all, New Orleans was incredible - and I promise to write a blog about its uplifting, creative energy. But on to other matters!

Over the next two weeks, I'll be in garment heaven - I've at last found the materials for my wedding gown. And how. Yesterday brought news both positive and negative - one of the only fine fabric stores in town closed its doors for good, after 40 years in business. An upsetting loss, as it becomes more and more difficult to find couture-grade materials... but there was a silver lining. I managed to pick up scintillating duchesse satin, crepe and lace for my wedding gown - there wouldn't have been the slightest possibility of my doing so at retail cost. Everything in the store was 90% off, so Matt and I went a little crazy, snapping up yardage for future use. But what excites me at the moment is that I can push ahead with my gown... and it will be even more beautiful in its ragtime-era simplicity than I had ever expected. The lace alone, shown above, makes me melt...

So if I lag a little, it's because our wedding is less than three weeks off, and we are in the Home Stretch! However, I'll do what I can to post that clip of Matt and George - it's WELL worth viewing. If I don't hop by beforehand, look for engagement/wedding photos in a few weeks - I'll be posting them here!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Voice from the East...

Although my time is limited, I've stopped by to post a brief update from the road. Currently in Tampa, and soon to arrive in Orlando, I'm tagging along with Matt on a gig engagement. We were fortunate enough to stop in New Orleans along the way, enjoying the usual beignets and French Market coffee (as well as our favorite, the Ramos Gin Fizz) - but the focus of our stop there was to have an audience with George Schmidt, the almost indescribably ebullient painter and musician... a true character we'd been wanting to meet with for a good, long while. After our business here in Florida, we will be making a return stop in NO, to enjoy the city's amazing beauty and character... as well, of course, to see Mr. Schmidt once again before heading back to Dallas.

Updates to come - I'm infinitely excited to see how the energy of New Orleans influences my work. I have some awfully wacky ideas in the mix, to say the least...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Plate is Rather Full...

... but I thought I'd drop by, and provide a couple of updates. First off, the new Singapore Slingers CD is in the final tweaking stages - Matt is polishing up the last of the liner notes, and the illustrations for the cover are complete. A touch of digital magic, and the separately-drawn album title will be added to the cover. I am distinctly fond of the results - like the last warm breeze of an Indian summer, the colors and lines are fluid and soothing. I can't wait to see the CDs arrive in early May, finished and professionally-manufactured - once that happens, I'll post the illustration (and ordering link) here. It goes without saying that the recordings are downright delicious.

Over the coming week, weather permitting, I'll be working on the hand-painted sign project that came along recently. Up to this point, the progress has been on paper exclusively - making certain that my client is happy with the overall appearance, before enlarging it to a 4 x 11' exterior painting. If I fail to update the blog over the next week (or two, should it rain), it's likely I'm spending more time on a scaffold than I had expected. Of course, the payoff is that I'll post the results here - and while the project is very basic (simple white-on-red letters/numbers), I'm sure to be proud of it. If nothing else, it will give me the opportunity to use elastomeric paints - and I am very excited about that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Constant Source of Influence

If I neglected to mention before now, I'm a nut for dandies, and the practice of dandyism. Whether that's an actual word or not doesn't matter a hang to me - as far as I'm concerned it's a fully legitimate art form, and worthy of a title. The great author Max Beerbohm considered it the most generous of arts, as the dandy himself bestows his creation upon all who see - rich and poor. Rather than relegated to the gallery or museum, the dandy's work is truly public in nature.

I'm inspired to write a bit about this today, as I've recently begun reading a biography on Stephen Tennant, one of the last of the true "exquisites". Though confined to his bed a great deal during his life, he spent his time lavishly among other artists and socialites, surrounded by beauty in many forms. Here's a famous photograph of the man in question:

To a far stronger degree, some years back I fell head-over-heels with Aubrey Beardsley, the divinely gifted illustrator who created a sensation in the late 19th century. And though it was his artistic contribution that started my obsession, I couldn't help but admire the heck out of his sense of personal expression. He was painstakingly collected, disciplined in his clothing and scrupulously clean (particularly for his time). He passed away at 25 years of age, but not without leaving behind an astounding legacy of beautiful work - in my opinion, so far ahead of its time that we still haven't caught up with him. One of the more well-known photos, a copy of which hangs - always - before my drawing board:

So help me, I love him more today - years after I first fell under his spell.

This reflecting reminds me of the day I was lucky enough to walk past the late Quentin Crisp - a man memorable for both his eccentric dress, as well as social commentary. I'd admired him before moving to New York City, particularly for his outspoken nature regarding his homosexuality, at a time when the lifestyle was a dangerous one. I was strolling up First Avenue, and felt a curious presence - I looked up, to see Mr. Crisp. His lilac pompadour, paisley jacket, flowing scarf and heeled shoes were enough - but his gentle, mincing walk and pristine expression made me want to stop, and bask a little in his energy. I was muted, too intimidated to say hello... and found out about his passing less than a year later. I regret the missed opportunity to introduce myself, but recall very warmly that little moment.

Here's to dandies, and their particular discipline. The drawing at the head of this entry is a detail (poorly scanned, I regret to say) of a piece I worked on about ten years ago - it features two dandies, in a decadent drawing room scene. I'd love to do more in that vein... such wonderful creatures.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Home of the Whopper

I know I've mentioned (and posted an illustrative photo of) the anole lizards that inhabit our front garden. However, this one warrants an entry of his own, alongside news of today's commission. This fellow is named "The Whopper", as he outsizes - by far - every other anole on the porch. At about 7 inches in length, he holds quite a bit of sway - often providing us with theatrical displays of territorial wackiness (doing push-ups and fanning out his throat). His presence on this blog might seem removed from the illustrations I do, but honestly he fits in perfectly with my work. Alongside the roses, kalanchoes, voodoo lilies and sacred datura plants I nurture every day, he plays a wonderful role in my little garden, which constantly inspires me.

And now, to the commission - thanks largely to a friend here in town, I will soon be working on a large-scale sign/mural. While simple in design, the process of executing it will feel wonderful - I love working with enamels. I can't wait to get my hands on some One Shot...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lagomorphs and Landscapes

And so, as promised, I've returned with a scan of Matt's Easter card. This was tucked inside his traveling case, along with several candy-filled eggs... luckily, the eggs didn't broach any questions at the checkpoint. In a big way, this was actually a little homage to my father, who managed the same surprise for my mother years ago - she was pulled away on a business trip over the holiday, and so he snuck a German paper egg into her suitcase, filled with all sorts of goodies. I miss them both, but find ways to keep their influence deeply present.

A little close-up of a particularly endearing face:

Although I'll be making some revisions before submitting this design to the larger market, it already has a great deal of character. A bit more elaboration, and it will be just right.

Meantime, the cover illustration for the new CD continues. Matt's happy with the ink drawing - the color work should be akin to indulging in a luxurious, long swig of lime rickey. Icy pastels and pastoral themes await!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Step One...

A brief entry today, to happily report that the cover artwork for the upcoming Singapore Slingers album is halfway finished. As Matt spent the weekend in Las Vegas on a gig, I've decided to let him see the ink-work first - from there, I'll move along to the coloring stage. It looks gorgeous so far - like a fairy tale version of 1920s sheet music illustration. It's an enormous joy to see that my skills haven't faded over the years.

As a keenly devoted fiancee´, I will wait for the CD release to post the artwork here. Mea culpa - but the big unveiling is a moment that belongs entirely to Matt. Updates to come. In the next couple of days, however, I will be scanning in and posting the cheerful Easter drawing that I made for him - I surreptitiously snuck into his luggage just before he left town. It's a charming piece, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it almost as much as he did.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shades of Coney Island

It's a gorgeous day in Dallas - in the 80s, with only a few clouds. Bright, blue and inviting for gardening, and - pleasures new to me - running and cycling. As I stretched out with Brick (our greyhound) in the backyard earlier, my thoughts turned to Coney Island, where the Polar Bear Club swimming season is drawing to a close. And as much as I enjoy this early warmth, I do miss the chilly spring season in New York City, and the thrill of seeing that very special Brooklyn shoreline come to life.

The sign posted above was one I created four years ago, that sat atop Steve's Grill House on the Riegelmann boardwalk and Stillwell Avenue, in Coney Island. Steve's is the unofficial summer home of the Club - even in the crowd-laden season the Bears are there - sunning, swimming, enjoying a beer and discussing, well... what Bears discuss. Steve wanted to do a little boasting of the honor his restaurant holds - Polar Bears are held in relatively high regard on Coney... heck, in NYC itself. Not everyone can withstand those frigid Atlantic dips throughout the winter.

Much like the banner I worked out for the Singapore Slingers, this one started out on paper, to be graphed out and enlarged. The final sign was eight feet long, and painted with One-Shot enamels - and my, they were heavenly to work with. The work was done in my dining room, then the sign delivered on-site.

And now, I'm off to hunt for a great photo of the sign on the building, complete with the 2006 Polar Bear Club marchers in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in the foreground - until then, here's a favorite of mine. I'm in the top car of the Wonder Wheel, after the parade. My good friend Nathan Brown and I had decided to take a spin, and as we neared the crest of the Wheel, a torrential rain broke out. I grabbed my umbrella - Nathan grabbed his camera. Enough said. Have a look at his other pics at - his level of amusement park fanaticism is even higher than mine. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Other Projects

Like any other blogger, I've found myself recently pulled away from the tablet. Not (primarily) thanks to the humdrummery of everyday life - but rather to a group of projects, creative to varying degrees. A friend's blog wallpaper, a musician's portrait, a cover design for a Most Important Album... and the list of preparations for our upcoming wedding. A gown to be made, a dress form constructed, decorations worked out, and - among other things - a papier-mache javelina to be created. Oh, and of course... Matt's sheik costume. This is serious business, you know.

So, my head's been a touch full of things outside of this blog - for this I apologize. But today I faced the unexpectedly enjoyable task of weeding out the porch garden, and was thoroughly inspired by the experience. While I adore gardening, weeding isn't my favorite activity - but this time around, I was treated to some pleasant company... green anoles.

I'm a nut for animals, and these little beings bring enormous delight to my soul. Frisky, inquisitive and amusing, they dart from plant-to-plant, sunbathe on the stucco walls, perform territorial push-ups, and go from dusky brown to lime green in a matter of seconds. Fascinating little buggers - who watched and nibbled at bugs while Matt and I trimmed out the overgrown side-yard. The one above is a girl, identified thanks to her dorsal stripe. Additionally, I nabbed a photo of this little creature, camped out for the day alongside our porch light:

This gave me hope, as I would love to see some interesting moths this summer. Sacred Datura plants will soon be sprouting along our porch - although half of their appeal lies in their beauty and notoriously hallucinogenic reputation, I admit that I'm really hankering to see a luna moth... and they crave Datura flowers. Here's hoping.

Both of these little encounters in the garden have their way of providing some wonderful inspiration for me, especially as an illustrator. Particularly the anoles, being colorful, linear creatures - animals in general are a strong presence in my work, so I'm eager to see the little reptiles manifest therein.

Otherwise, a quick photo to show another project that recently took place at Casa Tolentino - the clean-up and gradual restoration of an early 20th century Beuscher trombone, as well as the polishing of Matt's 1950s Martin baritone saxophone. As I've said before, we're both preservation junkies, and our shared activities reflect that extensively.

And oh, what the heck - I'll throw in a photo of Matt on his restored 1953 Schwinn Super Deluxe bicycle. Particularly impressive, as he did the restoration work by himself... back in high school.

I'm marrying well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Characters, and the Offerings they Inspire

A few days ago, the networking power of Facebook reconnected me with a wonderful fashionista I met in NYC some years ago - Lauren Ezersky. From what I recall, we were connected through a magazine editor I created monthly illustrations for - and from the get-go, she was a true delight. She wanted a portrait done with her three chihuahuas, and as an animal lover, I was happy to oblige. While basking in the creative wonderment of her apartment, I took several Polaroids of her and the dogs, and came up with the above illustration. I wanted her attired appropriately, as the glamorous creature she is - stones, jewels, baubles, a ball gown and her wonderfully fluid hair, tied in an updo. I was very happy with it then - and love it now.

I got to thinking of drawings that I've done of people - the aforementioned "Rue Levinson" a favorite - as well as those I've given away, inspired by the recipient's friendship and personality. "Hip Stockings", shown below, is one that I gave to a past co-worker, and longtime friend. The balance of wispy conviviality and solid grounding reminded me of David's personality, and aesthetic sense...

As well, a more recent gift - Matt's Valentine. This is just a photographed detail of the drawing, as I honestly didn't feel like de-framing it (perhaps a later scan will take place, but the piece was created for him, rather than for professional reasons). As I've mentioned, Matt is a keenly accomplished accordion player - thus the theme. "Papa" is one of my pet names for him - and seeing as how it's a common practice for accordionists to have their instruments personalized, well, I figured - why not? In the complete image, the lady sits in an arched wrought iron window, playing. Simple, but a good Valentine doesn't require complexity.

I'm in the middle of preparing a preliminary sketch, for a portrait of an Italian jazz musician. I'm very excited about the commission, and looking back at these little offerings, am very eager to see what comes from my fingertips... here's to what lies ahead!