This summer, I've been practicing watercolor by doing nature studies of dead creatures I've encountered. After all, the Italian term for "still life" is natura morta: dead nature.
Yellowjacket. Watercolor and pencil.
Cicada shell, lateral view. Watercolor and pencil.
Cicada shell, anterior view. Watercolor and pencil.
Green June bug, watercolor and colored pencil.
Female eastern carpenter bee, anterior, watercolor.
Female eastern carpenter bee, posterior, watercolor.
Female yellow breasted chat, watercolor and gouache.
Female northern flicker? Watercolor.
My Dancing Bear was used with permission by the Academy for Teachers' "Show Teachers the Love" 2018 gala. How cool!
Finally, I am able to reveal the cover of my first illustrated book, The Lions at Night, coming this summer from The Roadrunner Press!
From the release: "We're so excited to reveal the cover of Jessica M. Boehman's wordless picture book THE LIONS AT NIGHT, which follows the beloved Literary Lions of the New York Public Library — Patience and Fortitude — on the kind of late-night excursion to Coney Island that children dream about. Coming September 2018."
Above photos courtesy of McDaniel College.
I was invited this past winter to be a part of an exhibit that was very dear to my heart: "Legacy: Celebrating 150 Years of the Fine Arts at McDaniel College." McDaniel, then Western Maryland College, was my alma mater, and it was there that I double-majored in Studio Art and Art History, having fallen in love with the theory and the practice of art. I had started as a Graphic Design major, and realized that it wasn't quite what I wanted, and was simultaneously seduced by Art History. For those of you who know me, you know that I got my B.A. in Studio Art and Art History but my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History. I now teach both disciplines at LaGuardia Community College in New York City, where I am Associate Professor.
The concept of Legacy was to pair professors--both current and emeritus--with students who were shaped by their tutelage. The show focused only on the Fine Arts. Two of my three art history professors have since passed away, but the third now works at the Carroll County Arts Council, where this show was held.
Prof. Emerita Susan Ruddick Bloom (top photo, far left, and below) chose me as her student pair. Prof. Bloom was my professor throughout college, and I had her for my graphic design and commercial art classes, and for my first computer art class, back when the medium was young. It was actually in her class that I made my first little illustrated book, which illustrated a Native American tale on the Creation of Man (see below):
Eventually, and as a result of that assignment, I ended up with an illustrated book for my senior capstone year-long project: an Arthurian legend from the point of view of Lancelot, written by my classmate Joy K. Hoffman, a beautiful writer and a like-minded soul. I had a lot to learn about illustration, but that was my start.
So it seems only appropriate that I am now working on my first illustrated book--also in colored pencil--that mixes digital technology.
Prof. Emeritus Wasyl Palijczuk (above) was my painting, drawing, and printmaking professor. Both he and Sue Bloom had taught my brother Jonathan first, so I had big shoes to fill. Wasyl, a native of the Ukraine, was a lively presence in the classroom and pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was so touching to see him again after many years. Here he is with my and my mom.
It was pretty exciting to exhibit alongside my old classmate, Aaron Heisler ('99) (below), who is now an Industrial Design professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Aaron and I slogged through many classes together. It's so interesting to me that we both started exactly the same, and both ended up as professors with very different specializations. We both marveled that of all the students from the years of history of the college, two of us from the same class were picked. How wonderful--and a good reunion, too.
I can finally announce a project that's been in the works for the better part of a year...my first picture book, a wordless story about Patience and Fortitude of the NYPL. It's called The Lions at Night and it will come out this year from The Roadrunner Press. It was inspired by a short comic I made in the winter of 2016. Stay tuned! In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board for me.
Today our family lost our dog of 13 years. He was a good boy, a beautiful golden retriever, loving, loyal, and totally neurotic. He loved us to distraction, and I loved him. When I was sick last year and lay on the couch of my parents' home for weeks, Fozzie sat by my side, slept by my side, watched over me. He guarded me from harm. He played often and raucously, learning to wrestle...really...and punch. I called him Chewy for how he brandished his teeth and sneezed all over me if I touched his nose. He was silly, rolling in the grass like a puppy up until his final days. We had him since he was as small as a melon and could sleep easily in our lap. Even when he was old, he still loved to sleep in our laps. One of my favorite memories of him is curled up by the fire, toasting his old bones. Goodnight, Fozzie. I miss you.
"Fozzie by the Fire" Colored pencil, pencil, gouache.
Here is little story to help ease the grief of the passing of a dear friend and mentor. Brian Curran was my master's advisor first, a dear friend later, and was, in a sense, a second father. I had seen him all over the world: in Pennsylvania, Florida, California, New York City, and all over Italy, where we frequently walked together when our research trips overlapped. He was my tireless champion, a brilliant mind with a biting wit, and an iconoclast. His wife, Mary, told me that once his ALS had robbed him of the ability to walk, he sometimes dreamed that he still could, so I wrote this little poem for him at that time. I was moved to put it into pictures this week as my mind lingered on his memory.
"For Brian", Jessica Boehman. Mixed media (ink, acrylic ink, gouache, watercolor, and collage), with some art for Brian.
My sister and I took a trip abroad to Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, and the Isle of Skye. We spent some time drawing to remember the trip better. Goal: start painting again so I can better capture the haunting colors of the landscapes I see. Here are the most successful of the drawings. All drawings below are in pencil.
This was our first drawing the day we landed in Ireland. A simple sketch to mark the old monastery and cemetery of Glendalough.
That night, we were heavily jetlagged. Even though we had only had three hours of sleep, it felt like afternoon EST. So we drew. I drew my sister as she drew the window of the Old Coach House in Avoca, where Mick, the Innkeeper, won the award for Most Awesome Host.
The next day we spent traveling to Scotland and learning to navigate the roads, and traveled to Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield. So no drawing. But the following day, we spent a few hours at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, befriending two men who were the keepers of the castle. It was freezing with a high wind coming off the loch, so we took a break with a bracing cup of tea and then toured the now-empty castle, free of throngs of tourists.
The next day we traveled to Dunrobin Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Sutherland. The castle was imposing and lovely, and we took in an exciting falconry show, walked along the Moray Firth and then drew in the lovely gardens. The large leaves in the background are giant rhubarb.
On the 11th, we drove to Skye, which was lovely but harrowing. We received some devastating news that night, so the next morning, in the quiet and the sun, I drew to calm my mind and my spirit. This is the view from our AirBnB. The other direction pointed out to Loch Snizort.
Eilean Donan castle, on our way back to Inverness from Skye. Our last day in Scotland. Wish we had more time and energy to draw more, but alas.
Breaking ground on a new project, an expansion of a smaller project I made in Winter 2016. Here's my first sketch--a character design in a three-point turnaround. "Mr. Potter" Stay tuned!