Book covers for Madeleine L'Engle's classic Time series. In her 2004 New Yorker profile of Madeleine L'Engle, Cynthia Zarin quotes a friend who says “there are really two kinds of girls. Those who read Madeleine L’Engle when they were small, and those who didn’t.” I was definitely one who *did* read Madeleine L'Engle and was influenced by her thoughtful, sensitive characters and their quests to make things right in their world. When I thought about making book covers for her books, I was inspired by Robert and Sonia Delaunay's Orphism art movement. Their experiments in color seemed a perfect correlation to L'Engle's understanding of the universe as a place of harmony and joy: a musical geometry that can be shattered by the evil actions of the Echthroi or set right by the protagonist Meg Murry.
Journey of Transformation
I'm proud to announce that my work is in a show along with other artists of the Dalvero Academy at the Mystic Seaport Museum. We are sharing the reportage we created around the historic 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship in existence, as well as our own personal explorations of the whaling industry. You can find out more information about the exhibit here at our website.
The USS Constitution with the Charles W. Morgan
I drew this on location in Boston when the Charles W. Morgan made a stop there on her historic 38th Voyage. I had thought the Morgan quite a large ship until I saw her next to the behemoth that is the Constitution.
This drawing was made on location during the Sea Trials of the Charles W. Morgan after the sails had just been put on in New London. I had only ever seen the whaleship without sails and they added a whole new dimension to drawing her. They added so much drama and excitement because they were ever-changing with the wind: now billowing, now slack, now taut. And because of the activity they caused in the crew who were always swarming up the masts to attend to them.
Bending of the Sails
I made this drawing on location in New London while the crew were bending on the sails in New London. It was a flurry of activity that involved perching on a line (a sheet, I guess they call it) under them, leaning against a spar, sometimes climbing up onto the spar. They all had to work together since the sails were too big for any one person to handle. It was, at all times, a five-person job.
To tell the truth, I can't remember if I made this little watercolor as the Morgan was leaving Mystic, or arriving somewhere else, but as you can see, I was in a romantic mood. I think this was my first sighting of her after Mystic, and it seemed to me the dawning of a new era for the whaleship, at the beginning of her 38th Voyage.
A Stamp for the Charles W. Morgan
This seems too good to be true, but in the waters off Provincetown, this is exactly what happened. The crew put down a whaleboat that used to be for hunting whales, and as the whaleboat's crew was maneuvering around in the water, a curious whale came up and began to frolic around the whaleboat. The whale approached in complete innocence, and it broke my heart a little. If we were still in the business of killing them, this is how easy it would have been. Happily, we were there for another purpose and with a different attitude, and I decided that would be the perfect moment to capture for a stamp to commemorate a new kind of meeting between our two species.
Whale Conservation Stamp
I made this drawing at the Whale Naturalist Conference in Provincetown. Speakers had been invited to talk about the threats facing whales today. After enumerating the threats, one of the speakers talked about the difficulty of protecting them since they live their lives out there, free in the ocean. "It's not like we can keep them in boxes," he said. And I thought about how happy I would be if I could keep them in boxes, safe from big ships that would strike them, and fishing lines and nets that might entangle them, and pollution that would poison them. I can't keep them in boxes, but I can make a drawing of it. So I did.
Whales are the largest mammals yet live their lives unseen, to their detriment and ours: if we could more easily see them, perhaps their survival might be more urgent to us. When we do catch a glimpse of one, it’s impossible not to be moved.
In my piece, “sea change” refers to the change in the ocean over the past two hundred years. The whales have suffered these changes: first, from whaling and today from other survival challenges created by humans. “Sea change” also refers to Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, in which the ocean transforms the substance of the body into riches. As the sea changes eyes to pearls, bones to coral in the song, so we changed the substance of the whales’ bodies into commodities.
I hope that my piece makes visible that lost, uncommodifiable richness and inspires connection with the whales that still remain.
Around New York
I'm lucky enough to live in the greatest city on the planet, where scenes and people to draw are just outside my door.
More New Yorkers
People are among my favorite subjects to draw. I try to get a likeness, of course, but what I try for even more is the feeling they give me, drawn from their way of talking, their expressions and gestures, all the cues that express who they are beneath their externals.
How many times have I read Jane Eyre? That would be really, really hard to say.
Helen Keller at the Top of the Empire State Building
I'm often inspired by things I read. In a Letters of Note post about Helen Keller's impressions at the top of the Empire State Building. She wrote that, there, at the top of what was then the tallest building in the world, she had a vision of the universe.
There was the Hudson – more like the flash of a sword-blade than a noble river. The little island of Manhattan, set like a jewel in its nest of rainbow waters, stared up into my face, and the solar system circled about my head! Why, I thought, the sun and the stars are suburbs of New York, and I never knew it! I had a sort of wild desire to invest in a bit of real estate on one of the planets. All sense of depression and hard times vanished, I felt like being frivolous with the stars.
Happy Birthday Herman Melville!
One of the joys of drawing people is trying to use all the graphic tools at my disposal to convey not just what a person looks like, but their life experience, what it's like to be in their presence. This man had clearly been through good times and bad, and I tried to convey the impression he gave me of enduring all things, and surviving with warmth and humor intact.
A fashionable Upper West Sider in her natural habitat: a chic café.
Friends of mine during a crit.
Blacksmiths from a gathering at Mystic Seaport.
Misha the Fox
Misha is a little boy who finds himself mysteriously transformed into a fox.
I love creating illustrations for books. Since I read a lot, it's an inexhaustible resource for inspiration.
The Last Unicorn book cover
The Road book cover
An Illustration for Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper."
A detail from The Yellow Wallpaper illustration. *Who* is that creeping woman being the wallpaper?
The Blacksmith's Shop
A reportage of the James Driggs Shipsmith Shop at Mystic Seaport complete with blacksmiths and all those tools that are really fun to draw!
Charles W. Morgan Restoration
A reportage of the restoration of the last wooden whaling ship in existence, the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea. I was privileged to take part in a show, Restoring a Past, Charting a Future at the Seaport in 2013 with the Dalvero Academy. Watching and documenting the restoration of this venerated whaler was a real joy.
The Charles W. Morgan Undergoing Restoration at Mystic Seaport
The Mystic Seaport Magazine chose my piece for the cover of their quarterly magazine to let their readers know about the Dalvero Academy show Restoring a Past, Charting a Future.
Workers touching up the hull of the Charles W. Morgan near the completion of the restoration.
The Charles W. Morgan surrounded by scaffolding.
A portrait of Quentin Snediker, the Shipyard Director at Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea.
Sometimes I leave New York.
Faneuil Hall, Boston
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Barton Pool, Austin, TX
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Gasworks Park, Seattle
Gasworks Park, Seattle
Gasworks Park, Seattle
A little girl falls asleep on the way to the amusement park and has a dream heavily influenced by the unicorn tapestries.
Reportage is defined as 1) thereporting of news or information of generalinterest and 2) somethingreported. Whether it's the Millions March, a musical or theatrical performance, or the Annual Halloween Dog Parade, reportage always pushes me in unexpected directions.
People march in New York City to protest the killing of Eric Garner on December 4th, 2014.
Protesters gathering at Foley Square in New York City to protest the killing of Eric Garner.
Protesters at Foley Square in New York City, December 2014.
Police barricading the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in New York City to prevent protesters from blocking traffic, December 2014.
Dogs in costume at the 24th Annual Halloween Dog Parade in the Tompkins Square Park Dog Run. See my blog for more.
I made this live at a Sō Percussion show at Le Poisson Rouge.
Dan Deacon drawn on location at the 2011 Ecstatic Music Festival.
Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs joined by singers from Roomful of Teeth, at the 2011 Ecstatic Music Festival.
Drawing on Location
Drawing on site is both an exploration and an experiment. You can never predict what will happen, who will wander into your drawing, so you're forced to react honestly, from observation.