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It’s not the first Sunday of the month, which is when I normally feature the work of student or newly-graduated illustrators, but Sara Kendall’s work, which I’m featuring today, is too good to follow any rules. So I’m posting it now.
Sara is getting her BFA in illustration from the College for Creative Studies in Michigan and will graduate next Spring. I’m not only featuring her paintings today, but she is also here to talk a bit about her work and future plans. She recently had work in the Society of Illustrators’ Student Scholarship Show 2016 and discusses that a bit below. I thank her for taking the time to visit and share art.
P.S. Sara is putting the finishing touches on a brand-new painting right now, and when it’s done I’ll add it to this post. [Edited to add, 7/1/16: That painting, Gangs of Wonderland (casein and acrylic ink on illustration board), has been added below. About this painting, Sara says: “It’s me as Alice and Daniel Day Lewis as the Mad Hatter.”]
Pursuing illustration was always an idea at the back of my mind. As a kid, I was always drawing, and I made my own little books and comic strips when I was supposed to be doing homework. I loved to read as well, and I was always drawing the characters that I came across while reading. But when I finally decided to pursue illustration, I had been going to a non-art college for three years — with a major in Studio Art and a vague ambition to be a classical portrait painter. The first and only illustration class available was taught by the lovely Alla Dubrovich, who had just come back from attending the Illustration Academy the summer before. I hadn’t realized how dissatisfied I was with strictures of fine art until that class. She assigned us some projects that she had done at the academy, and the class gave presentations on the history of illustration that opened my eyes to a new way of creating art. I transferred to the College for Creative Studies that summer to major in illustration, and to this point in my life I’m pretty sure it’s the best decision I’ve made. I’m currently attending the Illustration Academy, too, so it’s come full-circle.
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Discovering Mark English in that first illustration class was a major game-changer. Wow, his design! How he uses flat shapes and patterns next to rendered form! To this day, I’m influenced heavily by his work, and I just got the chance to visit his studio at the Illustraton Academy this summer, which absolutely blew my mind. Other contemporary illustrators who influence my work are Edward Kinsella III, Sterling Hundley, and Gary Kelley.
It’s hard to narrow down the list when it comes to artists of the past, but Klimt [Adele Bloch-Bauer’s Portrait is pictured left] is definitely loitering around the top. I am also influenced by the beautiful composition of Ferenc Pinter, and I recently discovered the lovely shape design of Sven Brasch.
Right now, I work in casein on top of an acrylic ink underpainting. Casein is a weird, obscure paint that somehow has become very popular at my school. It’s a milk-based paint (it smells like cinnamon, in my opinion), and it has some of the working properties of oil in its mixing ability — with bits that remind me of gouache and watercolor as well. When I first discovered it, I thought it was the perfect paint, and it hasn’t let me down yet!
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Student Scholarship Show 2016:
The Society was amazing! I got in a piece called Conspiracy Theories, which I did for an Editorial Painting class taught by Cathy Gendron. The gallery was packed with all sorts of interesting people and beautiful art, and it amazed me to be in the same room with so many people related to my chosen profession. My friend Shoko Ishida got into the show as well, and together we made the rounds, introducing ourselves and making conversation. We met a lot of inspiring artists, students included, and even if I don’t get in next year, I’m definitely going back. Camaraderie is a lovely thing!
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I don’t have anything set in stone yet, but I would love to go into Editorial Illustration, and I’ll be sending out mailers to various creative directors this year. Children’s book illustration is also a major dream, and I’ll be putting out my feelers for that as well, as I work to build connections and advance my art.
Illustration is the ultimate dream job for someone who grew up reading constantly and drawing pictures on her math homework, and I count myself lucky to be able to pursue something that I’ve always found joy in doing. I love making the invisible visible and finding something new and exciting in a story or idea that somehow was always there. It’s like magic. But not Vegas magic. Real magic. The kind that comes from knowing where the wild things are and how to get to Neverland. I look forward to finding my way to a lasting career in this amazing field — and especially to everything that I discover along the way.
All artwork is used by permission of Sara Kendall. Adele Bloch-Bauer’s Portrait is in the public domain.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
I’m going to let all seven of my kicks this week be that we Danielsons finally found a new house and are in the process of doing All That Stuff necessary to get into said house, including packing (which I should be doing right now). We really need more space, so it’s exciting. I think that’s worthy of seven kicks, don’t you?
Also, it is an absolute pleasure to feature Sara’s artwork today. I hope we see her artwork in children’s and/or YA literature really soon.
What are YOUR kicks this week?