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Murray Tinkelman

Carol and Murray Tinkelman

Photo by Walt Engels ©2014

My grandparents have often talked about which of them will go first (pass away). They’ve given each other permission to die and honestly would be happiest if they died at the same time. When you’ve lived most of your life with the love of your life, it’s hard to be apart even for a short time. Murray Tinkelman said goodbye to his bride of nearly 60 years and knew that his job here on earth was done. He had run the race. He had lived a full life: enjoying children and grandchildren, a successful career, and the respect of colleagues and students world-wide. So, only two weeks after Carol’s death, I received news that Murray has also passed away.

Murray Ill web

Pen & Ink Illustrations by Murray Tinkelman

I wish my students could have met this man. His rough language (thanks to the army) and his tough persona (thanks to a stubborn disposition and a childhood in Brooklyn) could not hide his deep love for illustration, art history, his wife/family, and teaching. I mentioned in my last post how Carol kept the Illustration MFA program running smoothly. But the program would never have existed without Murray’s vision, knowledge, and contacts. For over 40 years, he’s been a highly respected illustrator. His work has been included in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Brooklyn Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. In 2013 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, joining artists such as Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Maurice Sendak, and Charles Schulz. In 2014 the Norman Rockwell Museum honored him with its Artist Laureate Award and an exhibition of his work.

Murray’s first illustration was published in Seventeen Magazine. When asked about that illustration, Murray is quoted as saying: “It was awful! I was paid $10. You’re right if you assume I was grossly overpaid.”

That sense of humor – quick-witted, blunt, unvarnished, and extremely funny – is what I will miss most about the man. Murray planned to retire from his role as head of the University of Hartford Illustration MFA in June of 2016. Perhaps that is the only goal he failed to achieve. However, knowing Murray, I don’t think he would regret “dying with his boots on.” His job and his life were about people. The relationships we illustrators built during our years in the Hartford MFA reflect Murray and Carol: their genius, their teamwork, their understanding that artists can’t survive alone; we thrive in an atmosphere of collaboration and accountability. Murray and Carol created just that with their program. I am honored to say that I knew him and learned from him.

About the artwork:

Murray worked mostly in pen & ink, using Rapidograph pens in a hatching and cross-hatching technique. Being color blind never held him back and probably helped to develop his sense of value range and contrast. To hear Murray describe his technique and process, click here.

murray 1

Murray Tinkelman

* If you’d like to learn more about his life and work, check out the following sites:

Murray TinkelmanUniversity of HartfordFerris State University

Carol – In Remembrance

Pasadena Painting web

copyright 2009 Mollie Bozarth

Today a mother-figure and mentor has passed away. For those of you who don’t know, I earned my MFA in Illustration through a program at the University of Hartford. Murray Tinkelman (whom I mentioned in my post Autumn Rhythm) is the head of the Hartford MFA program, but I’m sure he would agree that much of the program’s success is due to the tireless efforts and ingenuity of his wife and lifelong teammate, Carol. In a program designed as a tight-knit experience, Carol had the knack of bringing people together who would challenge and inspire one another. She was the mother hen, checking to make sure everyone had what they needed as we traveled to various illustration hubs around the United States. She was the one behind the scenes, getting paperwork together, emailing contacts, communicating with secretaries. She was one tough lady…not a woman whose bad side you would want to be on! Yet, she is beloved because her heart was big, her encouragement far-reaching, and her advice practical. Though I haven’t seen Carol in several years, I kept in touch with her through Facebook. She has checked in on my free-lance work, read my blog, and kept me posted on how she and Murray were doing. She will be greatly missed.

Above is an illustration I did after our Pasadena trip with the Hartford program. After each trip, our assignment was to create a piece based off of the city we had just visited. Throughout our week in Pasadena, the song The Little Old Lady from Pasadena had stuck in my head. Its chorus goes: And everybody’s sayin’ that there’s nobody meaner, Than the little old lady from Pasadena, She drives real fast and she drives real hard, She’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard, It’s the little old lady from Pasadena (Go granny, go granny, go granny, go!). Walking down the sidewalks of Colorado Boulevard, I could picture the granny flying past terrified pedestrians in her bright red sports car. I had originally sketched a boy scout in the dog’s position…playing off the irony of boy scouts’ tradition of helping old ladies cross the street. However, my art director felt having a boy scout dive out of the way seemed too precarious/dangerous. So, the dog running for safety took his place. If you look closely, a squirrel is peeking around the palm tree’s trunk. During our week there, squirrels were prevalent. One squirrel particular came right up to my friend Michael’s feet when we were in the backyard of a famous house. The critter stood up on its hind legs, tame as any pet, and stared at us for several seconds before retreating up a tree. I actually had time to snap a photo of it before it ran! Memories of this trip and many weeks like it will forever be tied to Carol Tinkelman. I hope she knows what an impact she had on countless lives, including mine.

Carol & Murray T

Santa’s Wild Ride

Santa's Stowaway

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

The painting above was inspired by SCBWI’s December illustration prompt. I decided to feature characters I’d developed years ago for a children’s book. My first thought was to have the farm animals taking over Santa’s sleigh…perhaps hopping aboard while he was preoccupied with chimneys and stockings. I imagined them driving off on their own, scrambling to figure out how to command 8 flying reindeer. Then I thought: what if they ambushed Santa as he passed through the barnyard? It was the cow’s idea, of course. She wanted a late night joy-ride on Christmas Eve. Life on the farm just wasn’t adventurous enough for her! The sheep went along with her plan but soon discovered their distaste for heights and speed. Needless to say, they’ll all be on the naughty list for next year. Never prank Santa Claus.

A few watercolor tips connected with this piece:

  1. Snow isn’t really white. Leave the white paper only for highlights. Build up blues and purples for the shadows in snow.
  2. I used bits of masking tape to mask off the stars. Rubber cement and traditional watercolor masking fluid also work well. White crayon is a 4th option. Crayon creates a wax-resist that won’t allow color to penetrate the paper’s surface (similar to Easter egg dyeing techniques). Once masked, you can paint large areas without fear of losing the white paper. Simply remove masking tape, cement, or fluid when finished with the painting.
  3. I like Uni-ball Vision fine point pens for tiny details like houses in the background or the soft edges of smoke. For bold lines, I use a brush dipped in ink. Note: ink is the quickest way to ruin a brush. Wash brush immediately with soap and water (working all the ink residue out of bristles) to keep your brush in good shape. Waterproof ink will not wash out once dried.

Not sure whether I’ll post again before the New Year. So, in case I don’t, I’ll say now: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”

If you visit this illustration on the SCBWI page, you can make up a caption for Santa and add it to the comments section! To see the SCBWI page, click here.

Chi-Town Sail

Sunset Sail Triptych web

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

As the daughter of a sailor, I’ve been raised to appreciate quiet time on the water. Yes, there can be the humming vibration of mainsail in a stiff wind. There’s breeze in your face and sun on your hair, the buzz of a centerboard and the glug, glug sound of wake churning behind  you. What there isn’t is the scream of a motor or blow-your-face-off speed, where you can’t hear yourself think, much less hold a conversation without yelling. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my dad were in the quiet of a day out on the water. In a sailboat, there’s time to think, time to be still. You can talk or simply enjoy the silence. You can sleep (and I often have) to the rocking motion, the sun warming your eyelids, the chink of halyards like bells overhead.

Of course, there are days with no wind, when you sit, parched, on the desert island that is your boat. Towels dunked over the side and wrung out on your legs are the “air conditioning.” By the time you finally give up and motor back in, you have sunburnt limbs and stiff muscles to remind you of the day. I remember one afternoon when my dad and his friend went sailing in a shallow bay near North Carolina. The breeze died suddenly, and the adults would not abandon their boats. But we kids climbed out and literally walked past our “sailing” dads back to shore. Sailors can be stubbornly hopeful, determined to wait for the next wind when others would have given up long ago.

For more than 20 years now, the Chicago skyline has been a regular part of my sailing memories. My dad moors his boat in Monroe Harbor from May through October, and we’ll often sail with friends throughout the summer. I’ve experienced the skyline in every light you can imagine: early dawn after sleeping on the boat, high noon with sun beating down, late night as building windows sparkle like thousands of stars against an indigo backdrop, or lit up by the colorful burst of fireworks. But my favorite time is sunset, as the glowing orb of orange seems to melt away edges of architecture. Individual buildings subside into a long Lego outline of purples and greys. Cotton candy clouds taper off in the distance. And a melon light touches tips of waves, contrasting deep aquas all around your boat. The painting above is a composite of a couple photos my friends and I have taken over the years. The painting was completed as a triptych, 3 panels, each 20″x24″. A detail below shows that melting effect I love so much. I hope you enjoy the painting as much as I enjoyed painting it!

Sunset Sail Detail web

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

Reflection – Psalm 139

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

“You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…when I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”  What imagery!! Who thinks of this stuff or has the writing voice to capture the thought with such poeticism?! David does. As a shepherd, he had way too much alone-time on his hands, hanging out with sheep and talking with God. Psalm 139 is a relational psalm – a conversation with the creator who knows us intimately. The God who knows every word we’ll say before it’s on our tongue (v. 4) knits us together using threads of DNA. Going even deeper than that, He designs our very inmost being, our soul…what makes us “us”.  As no two fingerprints are alike (even between identical twins), so no two souls are the same. There will never be another me or you.

While that knowledge is amazing, the idea that we are fearfully and wonderfully made falls short in this broken world. If God knits us, why does He seem to drop a stitch here or there? How do we reconcile David’s psalm with the realities of Down’s Syndrome, Autism, malformed hearts, or other birth defects?

I have no perfect answer for the tough questions that come when you face raising children born with challenges. But the people I know who face these challenges are known for their strong character and many abilities…not for any “dis”ability. It comes down to something God said about David, when He chose David as a gawky teenage shepherd to be anointed as future king: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

This painting was inspired by all of my students whom God knit wonderfully. The image is specifically inspired by a young lady I had the privilege of teaching for both 6th-grade and senior year of high school in Drawing 1. I’ve always admired her character, her beauty, her gentleness tempered with strength and stubborn determination. While issues with her hand have helped to develop her into the young woman she is now, they by no means define her or slow her down. God made her purposefully and had a plan for her life while He was still weaving her in the secret place.

This blog post is dedicated to so many students who have enriched my life over the past decade. I can think of a young lady with Down’s Syndrome who struggled to draw realistically, but she would sit and compose scenes of stick-figure characters – all part of a cheer or volleyball or gymnastics team and each doing some cool trick or flip. I think of a 6th-grade boy who spoke only through a computerized voice box, but he loved paper mache. He built and painted a zebra with yarn for tail and mane. That zebra was so cool I wanted to keep it for myself; and the boy was always smiling, always joyful. I think of multiple students with ADHD who warn me as they come into class, “Miss Bozarth, I didn’t take my meds this morning.” Yet, watching those kids draw is like watching a high-speed computer process information: hand and pencil whiz across the page, analyzing shapes, adjusting proportions with a beautifully active line-stroke. They finish in 30 minutes what it takes others 3 days to do; and they do it well. I think of a young man with Asperger’s who can’t make eye contact with me in the hallway and struggles in social situations. But he loves drawing; his enthusiasm is contagious; his humility is humbling; and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t one day achieve his goal of becoming an animator. I am blessed to teach these kids.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians says it better than I can: “Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor. 1:26-27) In over a decade of teaching, there are countless students like the few I’ve highlighted here. They have encouraged, challenged, humbled, and entertained me. More than that, they’ve taught me the beauty of imperfection. They’ve made me a better teacher (a better person) along the way.

Note: I realize Paul’s verse in Corinthians may rub people the wrong way. We all feel weak, in the minority, maybe even despised at times, but we don’t like the feeling and hate it when others think of us that way. Hold on! Many of our favorite heroes fall into just that category! Look at movies and TV shows from the past decades: Wicked (2003 musical), Underdog (1960s cartoon), Despicable Me (2010 movie), Get Smart (1960s TV show), Charlie Brown (1950s comic strip). We love a hero we can relate to whose weaknesses often become their strengths. Isaiah wrote about the ultimate hero who would be “despised and rejected; a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:2-4). “God chose the weak things” should fill us with relief, reminding us that even our weaknesses can have a purpose and be used for great things.

Enchanted

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

copyright 2015 Mollie Bozarth

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Such a simple statement. Yet, in a few words, Aristotle sums up an expansive truth. What is it about the perfect sunset that will cause us to pull off on the side of the road, stop our car and stand in awe? Even lightning storms, their jagged electricity radiating the night, will keep our faces pressed against windows…watching heaven’s firework show. There is something about nature that leaves us breathless, enchanted by its beauty, its power, its intricacy. And this is no new phenomenon. King David, in Psalm 19 wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (v. 1-3) That voice is more than the rumble of thunder in a storm, more than the rustle of leaves on a breezy day; it’s also in the silent moments of sunrise, calling out in crimson and coral, beams of light breaking through clouds. According to David, that voice declares God’s glory. It points to the author, artist, scientist who first put this globe into orbit. 3,100 years before Discovery Channel would enable us to observe wild animals in their natural habitats, God unfolded for Job a rich, panoramic tapestry of nature. From shutting the sea behind doors, to journeying to the springs of the sea. From binding the Pleiades and loosing the cords of Orion, to counting clouds and tipping the water jars of the heavens. From knowing when the mountain goat gives birth, to commanding eagles to soar. 125 verses, spread through 4 chapters (38-41) in the book of Job consist of a documentary account of the marvels of nature.

The painting above stems from an illustration prompt given by SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). Each month, members have the opportunity to submit a piece that will be posted to SCBWI’s online illustration gallery. The piece you see here will go live in that gallery on October 1st. The prompt was “Enchanted,” and my initial ideas headed toward the fairy tale realm. As a big fan of Trina Schart Hyman, I would love to illustrate fairy tales. Perhaps some day I will. Before I’d settled on any solid idea, I came across a photo that my cousin had posted to Facebook. It’s a shot of her granddaughter who appears to have stopped mid-spin, her attention captured by something off-screen. My first thought was, “I love the rim lighting, and I want to paint that expression on her face!” My next thought was of the Aristotle quote, which is on my favorite stationery at home. That took me to the question: “What is she looking at? What causes children to stop, stare, and study? For me, as a child, it would have been a cicada, caterpillar, or butterfly. And, so the illustration came to be.

I sketched out the quote in calligraphy format. Having pieced together photo references in Photoshop, I transferred my reference to watercolor paper. Then I could project my calligraphy onto the paper, playing with placement and size. The child’s face and hair, being the focal point, were the first things I painted. Moving to the background, I blocked in dark green foliage behind her, then faded down to a basic wash of grass. From there I jumped over to the caterpillar and his flowers. Her dress pattern was daunting, and I honestly planned to replace it with a simple pale blue. However, I needed the rich blue to complement her reddish-orange hair. As I worked, the pattern came together, warping as it hit each fold in her skirt. One key to this illustration was to keep everything (except her face and the caterpillar) in soft-focus. This meant a loose, soft background behind the caterpillar, fading out completely where the calligraphy would begin. Calligraphy came last. Marvelous was an easy choice…the color needed to pop as it tied in with the lighting around her hair. To balance that coral tone, blue became the thin letters of there is something. Earth tones made sense for of nature, though I pulled a few strokes of coral into that as well to tie in with the other lettering. Finally, I chose yellow for In all things, knowing it would be enough contrast to the white sky behind it without drawing attention away from my focal point word.

Need I say it?…I love watercolor! Yes, the piece was inspired by an SCBWI prompt. But I painted it for me; for fun; as a personal illustration challenge. I know I’ve mentioned it before on this blog…there is something about the story-lined wrinkles in the old, and the innocent expressiveness of the young, that pulls me right in. I enjoyed every moment of this painting.

As a side note for those who haven’t heard already: my blog was chosen to be featured for the month of September on SCBWI’s homepage! If you look on the left-hand side, in their BlogRoll section, you’ll see a link to this blog there. Mine is the 6th one down – they feature a few blogs each month, from members across the nation.

Reference: Tool or Trap?

Claire baby photo web

As a teacher, I tell my students what my professors told me: “Don’t be a slave to your reference!” As an illustrator, I tell myself the same thing. We learn early on to take strong reference photos; how to use and even manipulate lighting to get desired effects; and to play with perspective (bird’s-eye, worm’s eye, macro, etc.) for more dynamic compositions. Top-notch illustrators like Bill Thompson and Dennis Nolan go so far as to build models of animals or architecture if the real subjects aren’t readily available to photograph. During our master’s program, they taught us to do the same thing. Strong reference imagery can make or break your resulting illustration. However, even the best reference is merely that – something to refer to while working. Use your photos as tools, paying attention to the details you need without feeling that you must copy an image in its entirety. There may be foreshortening issues created by the camera lens that you need to adjust in your painting. Background elements, props, clothing patterns may (and perhaps should) be simplified or left out altogether. Colors can be changed or adjusted to better fit your design.

The photo above was taken several years ago for an illustration of the Dionne quintuplets. My best friend’s baby posed for the five body positions.  I then found photos of the quints’ faces, and photos of an antique Donald Duck doll, to finish off my reference imagery. You can see the resulting illustration in my post Christmas 1934. Recently, I pulled out the old reference photos, wanting to do a portrait of my friend’s daughter. While the outfit and toys didn’t fit what I wanted to paint, the baby’s expression grabbed my attention. It was a moment of innocent concentration caught on camera, as Claire, distracted from the toy in-hand, was more interested in trying to pull off her knitted sock. It was a moment between the lines of action, between moments of play. Those are the visual stories I like to tell.

Claire web

For the sake of design and composition, I veered from the reference in several areas. First off, I needed an element to divide ground from “sky.” I moved the blanket beneath her, creating soft abstract shadows to give her a feeling of being grounded. The pink knitted sock and shorts became blue to simplify color scheme. As for props/toys, odd numbers are preferable in design. There are three toy balls in the original photo, but I’ve made them solid red instead of clear plastic. And I moved their positions to form a triangular balance. All other props were eliminated. I’d originally painted a pale yellow background. During critique it was suggested that I brighten and deepen the color to a yellow-orange. This brought life to the piece, creating a complementary contrast to the blues. The underpainting layers were completed at school last spring as an oil demo for my Painting 2 class. The painting then traveled to Virginia with me, where I worked on it over vacation in my grandmother’s oil painting studio. A few weeks later, the finished piece flew with me to California for delivery to my best friend. Let’s just say it’s a well-traveled portrait!

Note: oils can take weeks or months to dry. To speed the drying process, I placed the wet painting near a fan, blowing several hours for a couple of days. Once it was almost dry, I placed it outside in the sunshine for a few hours, where the sun’s heat could basically bake it, finishing the process. If doing this, watch out for bugs! Mosquitos or gnats could become a permanent part of the painting, if you place it outside while still too wet. And, of course forgetting to bring the piece in before evening dew or rain would also spell trouble.

 

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