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.