This first unit helped me develop my professional skills and explore new mediums I enjoy using for illustration. I learned that I love gouache after doing my gouache self portrait and wanted to expand on that new interest with my contemporary illustrator piece. I discovered Mercedes deBellard while researching contemporary illustrators and knew immediately when I saw her work what I wanted to do for my piece. Most of her work combines realistic portraits of people with floral elements which are two things I love doing in my art. When I was composing my idea for this illustration, the wonderful woman who’s portrait I painted for this piece named Jenny popped in my head right away. We met when she took my senior pictures a few years ago and we have stayed in touch through social media since. For the floral elements, I wanted to chose flowers based on what they signify, so I started brainstorming adjectives that describe Jenny and narrowed it down to genuine, witty, and affable. Then I found plants that had related meanings which ended up being ferns, coreopsis, and lily of the valley which represent sincerity, always being cheerful, and sweetness. Working in the art gallery at St. Norbert, I sit at a desk nine hours a week in the Baer gallery. Directly in front of me across the gallery is an illustration from Rebecca Jabs of Black Terns. The tip of their wings or tails break the picture plane of the rest of the scene which inspired me to do something similar with some ferns in my illustration as I sat at that desk doing a rough sketch. Overall, I think this illustration really captures who I am as an illustrator and points in the direction I am going. It combines two of my interests, realism and botanicals, and also made Jenny very happy–something else I strive to do with my work. I think this concept of painting wonderful women I know with plants that I think represent them well is something I may revisit in the future and do more with.
This piece represents who I am as an illustrator well.