Monday, December 19, 2011

Illustration Friday # 9: SINK

The Lion & the Hare

A ferocious Lion who kills for sport, and terrorizes the animals of the forest. Finally, the animals flatter Lion into an arrangement where one animal a day, drawn by a lot, willingly become his supper. In return, Lion agrees to stop hunting.

When Hare draws the lot, he forms a plan. He arrives late, and tells Lion he was waylaid by another Lion.

"In my jungle?" roars the beast. "Take me to him."

Hare leads Lion to a deep well.

Upon seeing his own reflection, Lion roars and threatens the "other" lion. Then, the enraged beast charges at his own reflection, and proceeds to SINK to the bottom of the well, never to be heard from again.

This story is from the Panchatantra, or "Five Chapters," a collection of ancient Indian animal stories, where a wise old man named Vishnusarman uses tales to teach three young princes how to rule wisely.

The story and this illustration can be found in the January 2000 issue of Calliope Magazine, Ashoka, India's Philosopher King. This magazine, geared towards grades 5-9, focuses on World History.
for more information about the magazine, click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Cats

I want to brag about one of my former students, Cathren Housley. She's a graduate of the RISD-CE children's book illustration certificate program, and has 3 more book signings scheduled before Christmas for the latest book she illustrated, The Christmas Cats.

If you have a chance, stop by to see her, or order the book online.

Saturday Dec. 17,  2-4 pm
The Providence Athenaeum
reading and workshop
251 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903-2709

Dec. 20th, 3:30 to 4:30pm
reading and workshop
Rochambeau Library
708 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Dec 22  7-8pm
Providence Public Library
The P.J. Story Hour
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI

Friday, December 9, 2011

Illustratin Friday #8: Separated

Loss, from The Crane Wife, illustrations ©Cheryl Kirk Noll
The Crane Wife is a well known Japanese folktale. It begins as a story of love and caring, when a poor woodcutter saves the life of an injured Japanese crane. Good fortune follows,  but he allows greed and pride to overcome compassion and thankfulness. 

Thus, he is separated from what he holds dear.

 © illustrations by Cheryl Kirk Noll, The Crane Wife, by Ena Keo
I'm thankful that I was asked to illustrate this story early in career.  
The book includes a few images that are still among my favorites.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Illustration Friday #7: BRIGADE, and What I Learned While Researching the Black Regiment

Brigade: A military unit consisting of a variable number of combat battalions or regiments
Battle of Rhode Island, Revolutionary War,  © Cheryl Kirk Noll

Since I had the good fortune to work with RI author Linda Crotta Brennan on a book called The Black Regiment of the American Revolution a few years ago, I'm using one of the images from the book for the prompt "brigade." These paintings were done using traditional watercolor techniques.

I also decided to post about a few things I learned while researching this fascinating subject.

Linda Crotta Brennan gathering information at the reenactment of the Battle of RI.

The book is about a RI Revolutionary War regiment that was comprised of men of color. In 1778, the Rhode Island legislature passed a law that created what was later to be called the Black regiment. "Every able-bodied Negro, mulatto, or Indian man-slave" could enlist. The state would pay owners for their slaves and those who  enlisted would be given the same "bounty and wages" as White soldiers. If they survived the war, they would earn their freedom. Close to 200 men signed up. Most of them served until the war ended.

Here are some of the things I learned. 

1. RI had slaves. 

From "The Black Regiment of the American Revolution," ©Cheryl Kirk Noll
Newport was major port, and a hot spot in the slave trade. 

Rhode Island did not abolish slavery until 1784, a year after the Revolution ended. However, they didn't actually free those who were currently slaves. They freed children who were born after that date, but not until they turned a certain age; 21 for males, 18 for females. 

The last slave in Rhode Island died in 1859, just four years before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. 

Some of the men who fought in the Black Regiment:Primus Brown, Cuff Greene, Jacob Hazard, Ebenezer Mumford, Prince Vaughn. From the muster rolls at the RI Historical Society 

2. Reenactors are knowledgeable and generous folk. 

I was incredibly lucky while researching this book to have the Battle of RI (featured in the book) reenacted in Portsmouth, RI. Over 1,000 men, women and children appeared in authentic costume, set up camp and reenacted the battle.

I talked to many of the participants, and was impressed with the amount of research they had done to be historically accurate. 

My illustrations were also reviewed by RI reenactors, who pointed out fine points, like the difference between tricorns and bicorns, and the importance of having straps strong enough to support heavy ammunition bags. 

Many, many thanks go to them.

Comments on my sketches from RI reenactors.

 3. History is subjective.
Linda and I came across a quote about a skirmish in New York state with a group of loyalists called Delancey's Tories, where Colonel Christopher Greene was killed. It said: "the sabers of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of Blacks, who hovered over him to protect him and every one of whom was killed." That quote was in dozens of books. 

I wanted to find out what the place looked like for my illustrations, so I went to the Yorktown Museum in Yorktown Heights, NY, where they had some primary source documents about the skirmish. These  included a loyalist newspaper account, and a document  by a woman who was a child living in the house at the time of the attack, written when she was an old woman. The accounts were different, and neither mentioned the "faithful guard...every one of whom was killed." 

It was an "aha" moment for me. We don't really know exactly what happened, and we never will.

The unit that Greene was commanding was definitely integrated. There is evidence that some black soldiers were captured and sold back into slavery. Maybe the author of the statement had additional information available, but the statement seems woven with a bit of supposition. It really made me think.

4. People of color have been full and active participants in the United States from the get-go. 

This is a ridiculously simple-minded conclusion. Of course, Native Americans were here before Europeans. Long before! But did you know that by many accounts, 1 of 6 men who served in the Revolution were men of color? That Americans enslaved Native Americans in states such as RI? That there were Blacks in Jamestown in 1690? That initially slaves/servants were able to earn their way out of slavery and purchase property, but one by one, laws were passed to revoke these rights for Blacks. Eventually, laws were passed in some places to prevent owners from freeing their own slaves without getting permission from the state.
I discovered so many things that no one taught me in school. I felt amazed, a little embarrassed by my lack of knowledge, and a little angry with simplistic, white-washed educational texts.

5. Rhode Island is a spectacularly beautiful state. 

Of course, I live here, but I really began to appreciate it when I went looking for battlefields, historic societies and armories.

"The Black Regiment of the American Revolution" is still in publication.  It is geared for readers between 8-12. It can be purchased at Apprenticeshop Books, Ltd. Click Here
"The Black Regiment of the American Revolution," by Linda Crotta Brennan, illustrations by Cheryl Kirk Noll 

The story of the men who fought for freedom, both their country's and their own, makes for fascinating reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Illustration Friday #6: ROUND

I'm putting up an older piece for this week's Illustration Friday prompt, ROUND. I have so many... round moons, round suns, round the campfire... but I chose a holiday image of children dancing 'round the tree. When I painted this (watercolors and colored pencil), I called it "Dancing with the Stars."
Now that a fun, family Thanksgiving has come and gone, I'm trying to move on to the the next holiday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Whispering Pines Reunion Dinner

About fifteen prior participants from the writer's retreat, Whispering Pines, got together at Andrew's Bistro in Cumberland RI last night to network, catch up, and enjoy each others company. A special treat was to celebrate the ARC (advanced reading copy) of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's middle grade novel, One for the Murphy's, coming out from Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), in 2012.

It was an inspiring evening.

Lena Goldfinch, Sally Riley, Julia Boyce
Liz Goulet Dubois, Sue Fraser-Perotta, Marlo Garnsworthy, Mary Pierce, Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Licia Rando, Mary Pierce, Laurie Smith Murphy, Jenny Bagdigian

Sandy Budiansky, Betsy Devany

Cheryl Kirk Noll and Lena Goldfinch

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brian Lies visits Illustration III at RISD ce

What a treat I had last night.  RISD CE instructor, Emilie Boon, invited New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Brian Lies to her Illustration III class. Intelligent, well-spoken, down-to-earth, and incredibly talented, his "just us artist's sitting around" presentation was informative and inspiring.

Here, Brian is showing us one of his originals for Bats at the Beach, meticulously painted in acrylics.

Brian was generous enough to share his process, from idea to hand-written text, through multiple revisions, sketches, studies and tracing paper drawings, to color studies and painting. Here he lays a classic acrylic underpainting. 

 Brian also told us about his latest project, More, which he illustrated. It looks AMAZING!! It will be coming out in March.

Here, students from Illustration III and instructor Emilie Boon get a close up and personal look at Brian's amazing originals. Thank-you so much for your generosity, Brian. Let's hope "More" is a best-seller, too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Illustration Friday #5: FUEL

I didn't have time to do a new piece for Illustration Friday this week, so I'm putting up an older piece that illustrates a legend about the goddess Pele, from Hawaii. This is done traditionally, using watercolors.

The taunts from her sister only fueled Pele's anger.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Illustration Friday # 4: SCATTERED

The prompt word for Illustration Friday this week was "scattered." Leaves, ants, seeds, my brain... so much to choose from with this word. I chose birds.This is my hedge, re-imagined. I always wanted to have a gate it it.

Scattered, © Cheryl Kirk Noll
I figured out how to put a gate in perspective, and put the grass on a curve. The child and birds are painted, everything else is a photo manipulated in Photoshop. I felt that this one one of my more successful attempts at this style

Illustration Friday #3: CONTRAPTION

I thought this word would be perfect for the new art/photo combination, but it turned out to be more challenging, and I'm not entirely happy with it. I started by looking at Rube Goldberg cartoons for inspiration. They're wonderful, but didn't get my mind going. This just feels too stiff, but I'm glad I took a stab at it.

Illustration Friday #2: HIBERNATE

For the second week of Illustration Friday, the prompt word was "hibernate." I looked up animals that hibernate, and chose the ever adorable Hedgehog. 

I did a page of sketches of hedgehogs first (they are sooo cute!), after doing Will Terry's tutorial on character design. (what makes a hedgehog a hedgehog?... pointy nose, oval body, and spines)

And how could I best incorporate the style of combining watercolor and photos, using Photoshop? And add a little twist of humor? 
The result:
Hedgehogs apparently hibernate in piles of leaves, making them vulnerable to disturbances of all sorts, so friendly folks in England sometimes provide lovely hedgehog homes for them.© Cheryl Kirk Noll

Illustration Friday #1: FEROCIOUS

Since I just started the blog, I'm trying to catch up a bit. 

I've began doing Illustration Friday. This website puts out a prompt word each week, and hundreds of artists (from kids to pros) illustrate it and upload their photos. 

My first week, the word was "ferocious." I tried it with the new style, combining watercolors and photos, and a less realistic approach to people.

Little girls can be ferocious. Ask any parent!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning curve

Falling Leaves

I'd been doing loose sketches of kids, and decided to incorporate a few of them into a fall raking scene. Trying for a playful look, I used photos of leaves and oversized them, a photo of a fence, and "spherized" it in Photoshop. I learned to mask and use a few filters. (I'm finally getting used to my new Wacom tablet.) The children and tree are painted in watercolors. I also painted the background, but decided on photos instead.


Dress-up girls
I'm playing with my art. Here's my first try. I want to move towards a style geared to younger kids; less realistic, more fun, playful in perspective and sizing. 

The original sketch had a dog, a baby, another kid and a bed, but this is what I ended up with. 

I'm doing the figures in watercolor, and dropping in and manipulating photographs in Photoshop for many of the objects and clothing.

I don't know where it will go, but feedback is welcome.