"Do you do illustrations for books?" was a question I got early last week, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to creating illustrations. With all that is still going on in the world, I've taken to doing more digital drawing as a familiar coping mechanism lately since mostly moving away from chalk lettering. It had been a while since I drew regularly, but getting back to it has been a relief and something I look forward to daily.
The first book illustration I ever tried was for a book cover design for project my Father published entitled Escape. I remember him giving me a synopsis of what he was writing about and asking me to draw something. At that time, I sketched it on paper with pencil and shared it with him, but the drawing didn't go much further than that. Eventually, and I'm not sure how much later it was... there was a second book that is available online via Amazon/Kindle that I did a watercolor design for and then used as a project to learn how to make vector art using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I wrote about falling in love with that process in one of my first-ever blog posts here seven years ago.
That was only the beginning, and I had no idea that I would create illustrations for three different author's projects some years after that. I haven't seen any of these author's books as finished, printed products yet, unfortunately, but learned a lot with these early illustration works that I still use today. Read on for more about my first few storybook projects!
2016 Illustrations for Kevin Norman's book Golden
I met Kevin while attending a Valentine's event with my good friend Alicia in 2014. The singer Marcus Canty was having a concert at a venue in Fayetteville, and Kev was its host. We became cordial over the years and even casually dated before realizing it wasn't going to work out between us, but were able to collaborate on a few cool projects in that season.
One of those projects was a children's book he wanted to release and he asked me to do the illustrations. It took some months of brainstorming and tweaking, but I completed the designs and sent them to him in June 2016. Since then, I haven't heard anything more about publishing the book, unfortunately, but the illustrations can be viewed in the slideshow below. My process was to 1) sketch, 2) ink the drawing and scan it into the computer, and 3) color and edit in Photoshop, then save save as a PDF.
We are facing a pandemic; and it's the first emergency of its kind to impact the United States in the way we're currently witnessing and experiencing. Many people are under stay-at-home mandates; and we all are practicing social distancing and extreme hygiene in order to curve the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
I miss being able to freely go out and about. During this time, however, I am grateful for good health and provision. I am grateful for my family and their safety, and the opportunity to slow down and continue to stay productive from home. I am also prayerful for the healing of the earth and anybody who is ill. As an introvert, my regular routines haven't been interrupted a whole lot. However, shopping at the grocery store has become somewhat of a sport and making a quick run to the arts and crafts is not at all possible. One thing I miss very much is going to see art exhibits. Viewing others' artwork is something I really enjoy and appreciate about the community I am blessed to be surrounded by and a part of. Getting lost in creation seems to lift my spirit and helps me empathize and better engage with important topics and issues.
As this pandemic gets more serious, I feel the need to get lost for a moment and reflect on things that lift my spirit (and also purge my camera roll in the process). Thankfully stepping outside for a few minutes of fresh air and sounds of nature's activity has been a good source of relief lately. This post will highlight 14 spaces showcasing art that I've visited over the last year and a half or so, through a collection of photos and descriptions. Some of these places are still around and some are not, unfortunately. Also, some are more accessible than others, but read on for more and enjoy!
1. Dix Park Flower Cottage, Private Showcase
This space is not open to the public, but it is used for Dix Park Conservancy-related events and meetings; and because I am a new member of their team, I recently got an exclusive tour of the space and will be visiting it more often in the upcoming year. It is extremely beautiful. I attended an event on the field behind the cottage in March 2019; and I admired the building and landscaping from outside, not having a clue that I'd be inside of it within the next year. The walls of the conference and common room are decorated with artwork by Artists Thomas H. Sayre and Damian Stamer, which can be viewed in the images below.
2. City of Raleigh Museum
Immediately following my second interview, which happened to fall on a snow day and took place in the aforementioned Flower Cottage... I decided I would spend my "day off" learning more about the history of Dix Hill. I had read so much online already and heard there was a permanent exhibit on display in downtown Raleigh. It made perfect sense to go check it out! The photos below are from the trip I took that February afternoon to see this exhibit.
3. NC Museum of History
I went to see an exhibit that featured the art of Ernie Barnes in March 2019. His style is renown due to his "Sugar Shack" piece that was often seen in the popular, classic television show Good Times and also served as a Marvin Gaye album cover.
4. Durham Art Guild's SunTrust Gallery
At the beginning of each Spring, DAG hosts its annual "Swing Into Spring" fundraiser auction. The photos below are from March 2019. This year's event was planned to take place on Friday, March 27th again at the SunTrust Gallery, but it was moved online with all that is going on right now. Moving to the virtual world allowed a one-night event to stretch to over a week long. The auction is LIVE here until Monday, April 6th. Please check it out and consider supporting through a bid or donation!
5. The Scrap Exchange's Cameron Gallery
When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
Oh, how the change of seasons forces me to be so contemplative! The cooling, crisp air all around and old, crunchy leaves on the ground make me think about the newness on the way. The dread of the upcoming holidays hit me, yet I also feel appreciative of the natural scenic makeovers. Every year, the outdoor transformations cause me reflect on the good things the warm season brought.
This summer marked another year spent with kids participating in Hidden Voices' and Blue Ribbon's Seeking the Self camp; Year Three. You may remember my recap posts in 2018 and 2017-- well, the team was able to come back once again, which is not something I take for granted at all. The fact that camp took place this year after coming close to not happening at all due to major changes in organizational structure and funding alone was something I was happy about. Thankfully, the third time was a charm. For the second time, I also joined TPPI/APPP's graduation celebration for a round of painting fun (group photo pictured above). The last time I did that was for their 2017 group (and I wrote about it here).
Below, I share more photos, a video, and summer memories related to Seeking The Self 2019.
The video below shows an overview of this year's STS Program.
The growth I got to witness in these kids during STS was super rewarding. As we worked with the students this summer, sharing other Artists' work and interpretations, I heard Will describe some of his work in a way I never experienced it before. I was inspired instantly. I wanted to try to replicate it his portrait style. I wanted to find out more. I got to see how many times he shared images of people with themselves as their own "twin" via his social media, and about how long he's been doing that. What I heard him say for the first time was that these portraits were all about love. Self love. The series was an investigation of what that self love look like. Below are some images he has shared in the past with one of my own following. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed; and please leave any questions or comments below if you have any!
1. Acrylic Hexagon Hand-painted and Lettered Tiles
I love how these turned out! It was a total experiment, but I am glad to have been trusted enough to take on this project. Photos in the gallery below show the transformation, step-by-step, from what the painting boards looked like when I took them out of the package up until after they were cut, painted, and lettered on! It was my first time cutting acrylic with the tool I used as well> I had to find a video on YouTube to research what to get and how to use it (also posted below). The edges were not as smooth as I hoped it would be at the points when I did cut the boards, so I sanded them a little and then used a heat/wood burning tool I have used in the past to cut pieces of acrylic board for evening it out.
-Acrylic Painting Tiles from Jerry's Artarama
-Plaskolite Acrylic Cutting Tool from Lowe's
-Acrylic Paint by Liquitex Basics in Ivory Black and Artist Loft
-Chalk Markers in white by Marvy Uchida Bistro
-Wood burning/heat tool
-YouTube video resource
2. Balcony Makeover
After bringing home a houseplant from work one day and taking on the challenge to learn how to care for it, I sat on my balcony and stared around thinking I was ready for an upgrade. It had been almost exactly a month since learning I would move into my first apartment, and I couldn't believe the time had passed so swiftly. I enjoyed each month in my new home, and kept busy decorating and settling in over the time. It was now time to settle in the outdoor space. Time to decorate and make it my own... right in time for Summer 2019! That is exactly what I did (photos below); and all of it for under $100.
Outdoor rug... $35 from BJ's
Lantern... $4 from Michael's (was on sale + discounted due to damage)
Flowering shrubs... $12 from Walmart
Hanging flower basket... $16 from Gunter's Greenhouse
Table... $2 from TROSA Thrift Store
Outdoor fabric... $7 from Walmart
Batting... $0 left over from previous project
Bag of potting soil... $2 from Roses
Three cans of spray paint... $12, one from Walmart, Michaels, and Roses
Chairs... $0 given to me from a friend
Railing attachments and baskets... $0 gifted to my job and no one wanted them
Sweat-equity, blisters, and DIY perseverance to get the job done... PRICELESS
Dreamville Festival - My Vendor Recap
After collaborating on a number of projects and events, a practice I've grown to love and appreciate is having a debrief session shortly after wrapping up. Doing so helps to review, learn, and create community in many cases. In the spirit of such a helpful strategy, I'm writing and sharing this post to reflect on my vendor experience- my top three highlights and one thing that could be improved... in the inaugural Dreamville Festival that took place [almost a month ago] on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
What Worked Well?
1. Completion - It happened!
With the first attempt of having the festival on Saturday, September 15, 2018 canceled due to safety concerns caused by Hurricane Florence, simply having the festival take place was awesome. We did it, and it went very well in addition to that. That was one thing I could not help but be pleased about.
2. Intention - The energy!
There were good vibes all throughout the day. It was beautiful to be a part of this event and witness such amazing energy. Over 40,000 people in one place and it was nothing but love. Everybody attending seemed to have an expectancy that they were there to see an epic show from an incredible line up and to be a part of history. The long day was worth it; PERIOD[T], and that's another thing I was so glad about.
3. Cooperation - Sharing platforms!
A collective of organizations, companies, artists and more all came together to make the event happen. It was such an honor and blessing to be exposed to a production of this level as well as such a large audience. I can not describe my gratitude enough for the amount of thought and attention to detail that went into the execution of an event this huge. Being involved, even in my small role, was one of my highlights of Dreamville Festival 2019.
In early March 2019, I received an email congratulating me for recently completing my NC Environmental Education Certification. The painted mural project at SEEDS that I blogged a bit about (here) was intended to fulfill one of my program requirements, and it was the last thing on my list to check off for finishing the program. What a relief. I was glad to make it through, but even more glad to continue reading about a request to have Secretary Michael Regan visit me at my workplace to deliver my certificate himself. That acknowledgment and experience alone was special and worth the hours I put into earning my certificate.
During his visit, a crew from the NC Department of Environmental Quality was present to film B-roll footage for an updated video that was being created about the EE program (can be seen below), directed by Sharon Martin (Co-Producer of the Oxygen show Snapped, and so much more). Being involved in this video was such a pleasure, and I look forward to the good things to come.
My baby nephew's due date was yesterday; and I am joining my family in the wait for the day he actually arrives. My sister-in-law requested some hand-lettered scripture to hang in his nursery some time ago, so I am sharing the behind the scenes of this project as it came together. The materials used were all things we already had and were reused. I am thrilled about that and happy with the results. Check out the transformation in the photos in the slideshow below to see as well as a second transformation project from months ago! I'm actually wearing that piece as I write right now.
1. Plans, Plans, Plans. Hand-lettered Scripture Wall Art
In good ol' faithful grinch fashion, my inner holiday-bashing spirit tried to come out about mid-week last week. I quickly suppressed it, however, and decided to focus and spend my energy on creating something much more positive this year. I felt like laughing and began to think of all the ways love shows itself in my current life and relationship status.
January came and went, and there were a few awesome projects I wrapped up that I wanted to share. Continue reading to check them out!
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