Drawing dog portraits for the American Cancer Society

I had a blast today drawing portraits of these cute doggie participants at the “Bark for Life” fundraising walk for the American Cancer Society.  When Bri Hermanson and Stephen Gardner invited me to participate in this Society of Illustrators volunteer table, I couldn’t think of anything better than combining dogs and drawing!  Together, we drew 38 dog portraits, raising $760 for the ACS.  Here are some highlights of my new little friends…

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5 new paintings

I just finished a three-day painting workshop with Peter Hristoff.  (Check out his site– I love his work!)  He teaches these intense painting and drawing marathons at SVA.  I worked on 50 paintings over the course of twelve hours.  I know. WHOA.  I can’t say I feel they are all finished, but his approach definitely helped me loosen up and stop trying to plan every detail in advance.  Here are shots of 5 paintings I came away with from the workshop.  Thanks, Peter!  Wolf painting

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650 Red and White Quilts

Here’s a nice New York story:

Joanna Semel Rose collected so many red and white quilts over the years, sometimes when they were used to wrap other items she bought at flea markets, that she didn’t know how many she had.   When her husband asked what she would like for her eightieth birthday, she said, “Something I’ve not seen before, and something that would be a gift for New York City.”  She said that seeing all her red and white quilts at one time would be the ideal gift. So, the American Folk Art Museum arranged an exhibit of her 650 quilts in the Park Avenue Armory. It was completely free and open to all New Yorkers for 6 days this week.  I walked into the exhibit hall and was overwhelmed by this homage to two centuries of anonymous homemakers who beautified countless lives with their painstaking handiwork.

red and white quilt exhibit

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The Great Illustrator Pictionary Challenge!

I was joined Monday night by illustrators Bri Hermanson, Daniel Hertzberg, and Daniel Fishel in a game of Illustrator Pictionary!  I now present to you the Illustrator Pictionary Challenge, in which I post some of the evening’s drawings, minus the solutions, and you can try to solve them yourself. Comment with your answers, and I’ll post solutions!

#1 (by Bri)

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#2 (by Alison)

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#3 (by Bri)

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#4 (by Alison)

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#5 (by Bri)

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#6 (by Bri)

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# 7 (by Bri)


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An illustration for every occasion

Here at Alison Stephen Illustration, we offer an illustration for every occasion, like that time your Dad’s girlfriend gave you her like-new combo clothes washer/dryer, and it fit just perfectly in your Brooklyn kitchen, and instead of spending your evenings watching Chinese soap operas at the laundromat, you started spending them sipping Cape Cods and watching Law & Order SVU in your living room while your clothes washed and dried themselves.

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“Riding the Long Wave”

See my illustration out now for a book excerpt, “Riding the Long Wave,” in the Earth Island Journal.  Editor/Art Director Jason Mark asked for something dreamy and naturalistic to go with this passage, which meditates on the passing of time while kayaking in the Pacific Northwest.  Lovely excerpt, and a pleasure to illustrate!  My thanks to Jason and Maureen.

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Illaborating on Heaven and Hell

Here is another collaborative illustration David Hollenbach and I did on Illaborate. What fun!

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Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera

I enjoyed this Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum today. It focuses on the photos he arranged as reference for his illustrations. Rockwell’s compositions are so familiar to me and so many Americans. I loved seeing how he planned each one. They didn’t just appear as fully-crafted scenes of Americana on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post!

If you wondered before this show why many illustrators use photographic reference, you won’t after! The perfect tilt of a girl’s head at the soda fountain, her shy sideways glance… By picking and choosing bits from so many carefully-staged reference photos, Rockwell pieced together the characters that are part of my cultural image bank.

Not to mention how amazing it was to see the beautifully-detailed original oil paintings, sometimes 3 or 4 feet tall, he did just for cover illustrations. Wow! This guy was really a master of his craft.

An inspiring show. See it before April 10, 2011.

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/norman_rockwell/

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Printmaking workshop: Xerox transfers

Every winter break at SVA (where I work full-time), staff and students in my department get to try new art-making technique workshops.  Last week, we experimented with Xerox transfer printmaking.  My partner, photographer Troy McCullough, was kind enough to contribute 2 photos, which I collaged with a drawing of mine, and printed.

Xerox transfer is a really quick, fun, printmaking process.  Having only tried lithography and silkscreening in the past, I was surprised how simple this process was.  We combined drawings and photos, photocopied the composition on regular office paper, then simply brushed gum arabic (sort of like a thinner rubber cement) over the paper.  Then, we rolled printing ink directly onto the gummed surface, slapped some rag paper on top, and put it through the press!  I couldn’t believe I could directly ink and print the paper surface without it falling apart.The paper was pretty much good for just one print, so there was no worry about multiple editions.

Here is one end result:

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Winter in the Park

It’s another snowy winter in Prospect Park.  I took this picture today, having fortunately missed the big Christmas storm of 2010.

Snowy Prospect Park

I haven’t actually seen a fox in Prospect Park, but I’m sure they wander around like this when I’m not looking:

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