7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #653:
Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Christina Rycz

h1 September 1st, 2019 by jules


It’s the first Sunday of the month (welcome, September), when I typically feature an illustration student or someone newly-graduated. Today, I welcome the talented Christina Rycz, who just graduated from the School of Visual Art’s MFA program. She shares lots of wonderful art today and shares a bit about herself. Let’s get right to it, and I thank her for visiting today.

Christina: I just moved to Chicago from New York (I am a Brooklyn native), which is really exciting and also very new. This spring I graduated from SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay MFA program, and since then I have continued to develop my thesis project and begin another story, featuring the same characters. I also had the opportunity to spend a month in Paris and tried to soak up every last drop of artistic inspiration that I could. The past two years at SVA were overwhelming and electrifying in a great way. The program gave me the space to delve into and hone my personal storytelling with greater maturity than I was able to during my undergraduate studies at Pratt, and I have come away with a forever-deepening admiration for gifted storytellers.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



Pictured above: Art from Nestling (see more here)


I’d always spun my own stories for fun, and the itch I was scratching with elaborate world-building and character development as a kid never actually went away. The source of this interest, I believe, is my family. They surrounded me with beautiful stories in the form of books, animation, and art history, encouraging me to develop my own. I grew up steeping in a large and diverse collection of illustrated books, and my favorites were usually more classical and intricately detailed.


Exhibition piece (see more here)
(Click to enlarge)


Among the most enduring for me are: The Story of the Root Children (Sibylle von Olfers), Faeries (Alan Lee and Brian Froud), Stellaluna (Janell Cannon), The First Dog (Jan Brett), My Father’s Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett and Ruth Chrisman Gannett), and the nightmare-inducing Der Struwwelpeter (Heinrich Hoffman). Charles Santore’s rendition of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” was a particular obsession of mine as a child, and I was devastated to hear of his recent passing. Primarily, my artistic sensibilities always return to this library, most of which I still have and keep within arm’s reach of my desk.



(Click to enlarge)


Pictured above: Art from Song of the Selkie (see more here)


From art and illustration history, the artists who continue to inspire me most are John Singer Sargent, Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle, and Arthur Rackham. How they were able to balance such technical precision with compositional flow and expression is magical to me. Evident in the work of these artists is also an appreciation for and fascination with nature. The natural world is another steady source of inspiration for me, and I am thrilled any time I am able to add flora, fauna, or other natural elements into a piece.



Pictured above: Character sketches for thesis project
(Click each to enlarge)




Pictured above: More process work from thesis


Working traditionally — primarily in a mix of watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil — is most often how I create images. More recently, I have been using ink and lots of handmade textures and patterning to develop the depth and color of the final pieces digitally. When I have the time, I love to sculpt and have had so much fun creating three-dimensional book covers, masks, and characters for projects in the past. I have also had the opportunity to work professionally on some amazing projects as a painter/fabricator, which is an incredibly fulfilling extension of my interest in visual development.





Pictured above: Art from Christina’s thesis
(Click second and fourth images to enlarge)


I want to make picture books, because I absolutely love them. They were my first understanding of story, character, drama, and the unexpected. As a medium, they are especially powerful and hold such a vivid place in all of our memories of childhood. My favorite illustrated books, and the ones that I find most successful, are those that don’t require text to follow the narrative. I think it is a beautiful thing that collectively we can remember understanding the stories laid out on the spreads of our favorite picture books before we even knew how to read.




Pictured above: Sketchbook images
(Click each to enlarge)


* * *

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I love Christina’s artwork but particularly love Nestling.

2) A new album from Joan Shelley.

3) Sierra Ferrell:

4) After about nine years of writing over there, I turned in my last Kirkus column this week. I’m sorry that they are switching things up at their web site, which means I won’t be blogging there anymore (it was yet one more place where I could talk about picture books, and there aren’t a lot of places like that in this world), but I’m grateful for the nine years I had to talk about children’s books.

5) Dinner with good friends.

6) There’s a subtle autumn-like chill in the air these days.

7) Morning walks.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #653:
Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Christina Rycz”

  1. I really love these illustrations – the nestling illustrations are really reminding me of Maurice Sendak in both detail and emotion contained in the illustrations. Also, The Kettle Ghost looks like a story I’d like to read.

    Jules – Morning walks and dinner with friends sounds lovely. Sorry to hear you won’t be blogging at Kirkus anymore – hope you celebrate the impressive 9 years of writing with/for them with some cake! Thanks for the music links! (Oh and missed your question last week, but I bought my niece Lucy Knisley”s An Age Of License because she will be heading to Europe this fall.)

    My kicks this week:
    1) Made it through a busy and somewhat rough week (work stuff).
    2) A good day in court.
    3) Paying it forward.
    4) Takeout for dinner Friday – nice reward after a long week.
    5) Watched the rom-com Falling Inn Love on Netflix and now NZ has moved higher on my “Places to Go” travel list.
    6) Getting a massage.
    7) Thankful for amazing colleagues.
    7.5) Miss Daisy and her smarty-pants sometimes naughty ways always making me laugh. This week she pulled open a drawer in the garage with cat food for the feral cats, hauled it outside and plunked it next to her outside bed. I am guessing the placement was for easy snacking reach. That dog.

    Have a great first week of September, imps!

  2. I am.looking forward to the day when Christina returns with her own picture book. Such detail especially the nestling! Love these.
    Jules, Sorry to hear about your Kirkus gig. But what a great 9 years. Will look for Falling Inn Love.
    Rachel, Ah, Miss Daisy and Buster might conspire if they were together…he’s quite versed in getting into things. Liked paying it forward and a good massage.
    My kicks:
    1. A trip to California last weekend.
    2. Seeing my niece and her family.
    3. Friend dinner in SoCal to celebrate 50 years since we were in France together (we were 16 and 17 YO, can you imagine?)
    4. DaVinci exhibit at Regan Library.
    5. Good results at the Oregon State Fair in photography.
    6.Fabulous treasures in the mail.
    7. Finished The Overstory by Richard Powers.
    Have a great week.

  3. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello, Christina! Thanks for sharing your work. Very expressive faces, especially the owl and the cat!

    Jules: Nine years is incredible. I’m always impressed by your work. I’m sorry that chapter has come to a close but I know something cool must be around the corner for you!

    Rachel: I hope next week is ten times smoother for you. High five to Daisy. Smart pup. 🙂

    Jone: Safe travels and happy times!

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Electrolytes
    2) Rewatch
    3) Fill in the blanks
    4) Inspired
    5) Confident
    6) Breeze
    7) Music

  4. These illustrations are so imaginative and detailed. Hope we get to see the senior project published – I like the look of that girl on such an adventure. They looked beautiful on my phone, and even more so on my laptop today.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Jules, Love your kicks overall except for the Kirkus part. So sorry that is over. I liked what you were writing there. But 9 years! So much to celebrate. Can’t even imagine how many books that is.

    Love all the other kicks too. Looks as if overall Kickers are still bringing joy and kindness and art to the world. I’m grateful.

    My Kicks:
    1. Lots of extra Kindness from my Hubby this past week
    2. Labor Day Weekend with essentially no plans
    3. Book buying for our elementary and middle school libraries
    4. Kitchen makeover progressing
    5. So many books to catch up on – reading list is really long
    6. Such pretty late summer days (even tho’ it is LA and much of the country knows we are in lovely weather most of the year)
    7. Gratitude for beauty in unexpected places (even TJMaxx – is that wrong?!)

    Wishing everyone happiness!

  5. Rachel, this is about the fourth time this week I’ve heard about Falling Inn Love. I might have to check it out. Glad you treated yourself after a tough week.

    Jone, Powers is from East TN — or, I think, once lived there? Or lives there now? Anyway, he has an East TN connection. I was JUST there this weekend. One of the most beautiful places in the country! Glad you had a great trip.

    LW: Thanks for the encouraging words (and everyone else, too!). Love that third kick, in particular.

    Allison: Ha. No, that is not wrong at all. Glad you had a good week, too. I am also looking forward to no plans / no work tomorrow! Happy reading to you.

    Have a good week, you all.

  6. Bummer, Kirkus reviews are over.
    Delight that you will find new ways to write and connect with book lovers
    That Newberians are on the move
    Eco-dyeing on paper – beautiful and combining my loves
    50 years of bliss with the love of my life
    Birding with my grandson
    Finished 2 doll and grandchild aprons and 1 to go!
    My sewing machine is working again – old, old.
    Reading your blog THANK YOU

  7. Georgeanne! Hi! I’m also glad that the Newberians are on the move. Happy 50th anniversary! That’s fabulous.

  8. Wow. Just wow!

    –Jane Yolen

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