I first met Hayley Powers Thornton-Kennedy when I visited the MFA Illustration Practice program (MFA ILP) as a guest critic and lecturer. In their cozy, well-lit studio, she showed me a selection of signage she had created for the Women’s March on January 21. I was instantly attracted to the bold illustrations and, above all, imagery featuring strong female figures. I had the opportunity to talk to Hayley more about her work, both in person and via email. The conversation and her illustrations seem especially fitting for today’s International Women’s Day and A Day Without Women.
Last summer, Jess Phoenix wowed me with her vibrant blooms. And, she was a hit on Brown Paper Bag, too; her beautiful bouquets were one of the most popular posts of 2016. Jess has just finished another gorgeous series called Queens that builds off of flowers and incorporates illustrated women and cats.
It’s been two years since I last shared the three-dimensional illustrations of Bozka Rydlewska (aka Bozka). Back in 2015, she had recently started her foray into pop-up and tunnel books. They focused specifically on botany and were (and still are!) exquisite in their depiction of natural of beauty. Since then, Bozka has continued her work in multiple dimensions and created a 3D puzzle that’s under the sea.
You know when you see something you want and can’t stop thinking about it? That’s how I feel about these plant lamps by Mariana Folberg. Since I first wrote about them on My Modern Met, I’ve been dreaming about having one of these potted lights in my studio space. Inspired by botany, Mariana has formed translucent green acrylic into the shapes of leaves. Their intricate engraved veins are what illuminate your space with the soft glow.
I know it’s so cliche, but time really has been flying with the 1 Year of Stitches project. Month two is now a wrap! (Wondering what I’m talking about? Read more here.) As I look in the Facebook group and on the Instagram hashtag, I’m blown away by all of the amazing embroidery that’s in the works. Some folks have taken a figurative approach to their hoop and embroidered small scenes, while others create abstract compositions with thread.
For those who exercise, you (probably) go through a warm up before you start on your workout. This activity transcends physical activity, however, and extends to mental ones as well. A sketchbook is the perfect place to get ~ready~ to illustrate and try out new techniques. Julie Hamilton does just this with her collage sketchbook. Under the hashtag #sketchbook_studies, she cuts out paper of different colors and shapes, arranging them into various combinations that range from figurative to abstract. In each collage, Julie’s trusty pair of scissors is her paintbrush—just like Matisse—which gives her images a bold, angular appearance.
It seems forever ago when I first featured the embroidery hoop art of Sarah K. Benning (it was 2015!). Since then, the nomadic contemporary embroiderer has created a myriad of other works, all of which revolve around people, plants, and interiors. She’s also hosted workshops and participated in gallery shows, in addition to creating a popular pattern program; known as #SKBDIY, each month she introduces a new DIY pattern that’s available on Etsy.
I’ve talked before my love for illustrated animal totems. I think, partially, it comes from a childhood fascination I had with my mom’s miniatures that she kept displayed old printer drawers. Through her online shops, Emily Rose Thomson crafts similarly tiny creatures you can hold in the palm of your hand. Sloths, camels, foxes, and more are hand-sculpted and adorned with repeating patterns and my favorite—tiny pillows and other colorful packs.
You know how there’s the hashtag #TBT? (If you’re not in the know, it means Throw Back Thursday.) Anyways, it’s basically an excuse to post vintage photos and other things from long ago. I’ve always enjoyed it, but never participated… until now. I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at illustrations from the past century, with a specific focus on women illustrators. First up is my all-time favorite, Mary Blair.
Maggie Chiang (previously) remains as one of my favorite contemporary illustrators. Her work is technically beautiful and conceptually intriguing—particularly when she delves into sprawling landscape illustration. The abstract horizons leave much to the imagination as figures contemplate what’s ahead. These spaces, no matter desert or forest, permeate her imagery—even when it comes to portraiture. This dedication to spaces both near and far play into Maggie’s larger ideas of her work.