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Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

Ever had a song you’ve heard your whole life stuck in your head?

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This was the case maybe around two years ago. I was in my local neighborhood, doing some shopping. The store radio was tuned to the local NY oldies station, WCBS.FM. Suddenly a song I’ve been hearing in the background which dates all the way back to my childhood comes on. Afterwards the DJ states the song title and the artist. Finally after all these years, I found out who did this exact song. The singer was Benny Mardones, and the song was titled “Into The Night.”

I go home, hit Google and Spotify. Then I mosey on over to YouTube.

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Oh my.

Like, where do I start? Perhaps the first question really should be – who the hell thought this video would be a good idea? For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, which I’m guessing is the Zoomer/Gen Z crowd, allow me to show you this:

Hmmm…yeah. In the promo video, he stalks a teenage girl after her father clearly says “NO!“,  and it’s so obvious that he’s like, way older than his intended. In the post-Jeffery Epstien era of the year 2020, this would not work at all. But apparently some people got together, smoked some really good weed, and thought the plot for this video was a fantastic idea. Thus it was made, and the tune became a huge hit.

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If you’re of the the Millennial or Zoomer mindset, you might find this video offensive. You know, being Woke and all that. If it was made today, the Cancel Culture would’ve been all over this on Twitter. But chill out, cause remember – this video was done around 1979 or 1980. A year prior was the film Pretty Baby, staring Brooke Shields. So maybe the poor judgement gets blamed on the drugs. You know, like how they say LSD was the best during the 1960s? You might want to keep that in mind.

I kid, I kid. Since I’m from the Gen X crowd, I don’t get offended. Instead, I become snarky. Watch the video a few more times, and I’m roasting on it as if I was Beavis and Butthead, but without the brain damage. I know unintentional humor when I see it.

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Luckily the song was such a big hit, it transcended the video. The video wasn’t even controversial then. Into The Night was not only a hit once, but twice; 1980, and 1989.

What is not too known is the story behind the music. Into The Night sounds like a love song, but it was written about a teen girl going through a rough time. It was the year 1979. Living in Spanish Harlem, the girl’s father left the wife and kids for another woman. Sympathetic, Mardones started helping the family out. One day, as Mardones and his song writing partner Robert Tepper was working, the 16 year old teen comes by to walk Mardones’ dog. Tepper appreciates the teen beauty, but Mardones stepped in saying “leave her along, she’s just 16 years old…” The light bulb switched on above his head, and the rest is history. Years afterwards, the teen muse and Benny kept in touch. Therefore the song was not sexual in the least.

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The song propelled Benny Mardones into stardom, but it didn’t last too long. After a few years, Mardones developed a drug addiction. In an attempt to begin his life anew, he moved to Syracuse, NY. From 1985 onward, he became a favorite son in his adopted hometown. In 2017, he played one final concert before settling in California to receive treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Recently I read that Benny Mardones’ wife was requesting correspondence. Parkinson’s Disease was taking over. His wife said any letters, cards, etc., would mean the world to him. So I thought I should send him something. Alas, I never got around to it – he died a few weeks soon after I read the online article. Found out about his death through a Facebook post.

Hearing about Mardones’ passing broke my heart. Despite me busting on the original promo video, the song itself will always be a classic.

In honor of Benny Mardones, and for the song I’ve been hearing since childhood, I did a quick watercolor sketch. In a few days this sketch will be mailed to his wife. I understand his wife might be taking donations to Parkinson’s Research at USC.

MAILING ADDRESS FOR CARDS/LETTERS:
Benny & Jane Mardones
28039 Scott Rd, D397
Murrieta, CA 92563

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Quick sketch of Benny Mardones (1946 – 2020). Watercolor. July 2020. Done by Michele Witchipoo.

R.I.P. Benny Mardones.

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Been on a kick lately. Listening to music from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Which means lots of classic New Wave and Punk Rock.

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Due to this, it was time for a portrait of Poly Styrene. For those who don’t know, Poly Styrene is best known as the lead vocalist for the seminal British Punk band X-Ray Spex. X-Ray Spex’s album Germ Free Adolescence is considered a Punk classic.

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X-Ray Spex. 

Born to a Scottish-Irish mother and Somali-born father, Poly was born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said in 1957 England. Her mother raised her as a single parent. After trying her hand in Ska and Reggae, Poly was inspired to form a band after catching The Sex Pistols in concert. That band was X-Ray Spex.

 

After performing at a gig in 1978, Poly started getting visions. Her mother, alarmed about Poly’s hallucinations, took her to the hospital. There, the singer was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and taken out of the public eye. Thirteen years later in 1991, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In 1983, she converted into the Hare Krishna faith.

Around 1980 she embarked on a solo career. Poly Styrene released a few albums over the past few decades. Her last album, Generation Indigo was produced by Martin Glover, best known as Youth from the band Killing Joke. Generation Indigo was released on April 24, 2011, a day before Poly’s passing. The cause of death was  metastatic breast cancer.

In 2017, her daughter started a crowd funding online for the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché. Two years later in 2019, a biography titled Dayglo! was published. The documentary is expected to be finished in 2020, unless Covid19 gets in the way.

Without further ado, here’s a portrait of Poly Styrene, in one of her famous stage outfits. After doing the illustration, I read that Poly later complained about the ensemble. While I could understand why she wasn’t fond of the gear, like many others, I beg to differ. If anything, it would be considered highly couture today.  The illustration was done in pen, ink and watercolor. Another little bit of irony. After just finishing the piece, I discovered Poly Styrene’s birthday was only a few days away, on July 3rd.

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Poly Styrene, from X-Ray Spex, and later on solo singer. Completed June 27, 2020. Pen, ink and watercolor. Done by Michele Witchipoo. 

 

Additional Links:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/my-secret-life-poly-styrene-singer-51-811129.html

https://www.polystyrenefilm.com/

https://www.anothermag.com/fashion-beauty/9857/the-unforgettable-poly-styrene-first-woman-of-punk

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Here’s something loosely based on the Rider-Waite/Pamela Coleman Smith tarot deck. Most tarot decks follow this system, unless one uses the Thoth/Crowley deck, or various oracles, gypsy cards, etc. Drawn in pencil and ink, colored in watercolor. Two types of watercolor was used. Shimmer/glitter and regular watercolor.

The scan, done at a low dpi didn’t do the illustration justice. Doesn’t show the details nor the depth of the colors. Below is a photo of the illustration itself:

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Photo of The World illustration by Michele Witchipoo. Done May 2019. Pen, ink, watercolor. 

The other photo is a scan with the fore mentioned low dpi normally used for web and other devices.

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Scan of The World, by Michele Witchipoo. May 2019. 

At this point, the only left for this illustration is a frame, for exhibiting. There could be the rare exception of selling the original. Once it’s framed, of course.

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Maha Shivaratri is an annual Hindu holiday, in which Shiva is honored. This year the date was March 4th, a few days prior to this posting. Last year I posted an old Shiva drawing. Here’s a brand new rendition. Drew the line work in fall 2018. Did color March 2019.

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Hindu god Shiva. Pen and ink. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. 2018/2019.

 

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Shiva. Pen, ink, watercolor, glitter watercolor. Colored March 2019. Michele Witchipoo. 

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Coming back from a few weeks absence. November 2018 kinda kicked my ass, to put it lightly. Regardless, I did have a very unusual but good Thanksgiving. There is a lot I have to be grateful for.

Getting back on track, I’ll post some long overdue artwork. In November there was the annual Hindu holiday of Diwali. The illustrations were completed. It’s only now I’m getting around to posting them.

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Before color. Diwali illustration. Pen and ink. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. Nov.2018.

Diwali is one of the most important holidays in the Hindu religion. In this festival of lights, the goddess Lakshmi is honored. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, as her puja is celebrated on the third day. The new year festivities continue for five days.

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Before color. Lakshmi. Pen and ink. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. Nov. 2018. 

In the honor of this grand festival of lights, I went ahead of did two illustrations. First done in pen and ink, then completed in watercolor.

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Diwali. Festival of Lights. A holy holiday in the Hindu religion. Pen, ink and watercolor. Artwork by Michele Witchipoo, Nov. 2018. 

Quoting from the BBC online article:

“Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.

Diwali, which for some also coincides with harvest and new year celebrations, is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.”

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The Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Pen, ink and watercolor. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo. Nov. 2018. 

There will be more playing catch-up soon.

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For ten days Durga Puja is celebrated. In honor of Durga, here’s an illustration. Pen, ink, glitter watercolor. Here’s a scan of the basic pen work before color:

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Durga illustration, pen and ink before adding color. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo, Oct. 2018. 

Here’s the color version, after the watercolors have been added. Again, the scan doesn’t pick up on the shimmer very well. It’s best to see this piece in person. Maybe later on I’ll do some prints and/or greeting cards of Durga, along with Ganesh.

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Durga illustration after adding watercolor. Done by Michele Witchipoo, Oct. 2018. 

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Last week was Ganesh Chaturthi. For those who don’t know about Ganesha, he’s one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon. In order to work with the other deities, one must go through Ganesh first. He’s the remover of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom.* The main day for Ganesh Chaturthi this year was September 13th. In 2019, the holiday will fall on September 2nd.

Back in 2002, I had a job in some quasi ‘New Age’ store. It sold tarot cards, incense, bland Flax brand clothing, spiritual/esoteric/occult books, jewelry, statues and other curios from around the world. The store was located on East 6th street, in NYC’s East Village area. Sixth street was a row of inexpensive, brightly lit Indian restaurants, so this shop stood out. It did sell Ganesha related merchandise. As usual I sketched on the job when I was supposed to be doing something else. That was around the time I did my first Ganesha sketch, completed in colored pencil. Both the store and the original sketch are long gone. The shop went out of business in 2003, six months after I quit the job. Despite the joy of never having to deal with that ugly Flax clothing ever again, there’s still fond memories of the place. My former manager was a practicing Hindu; his main deity was Kali. He encouraged me to find my own path, interests, etc., but was also very down to earth. In fact, when it came to the general population, he was just as cynical as me. Retail does eventually bring out misanthropic tendencies. That guy was one of the best supervisors I ever had.

Although my former manager was kind enough to share some of his wisdom, I didn’t come back to Ganesh until years later. It was the advice of a current friend that turned my interest back to the elephant god.

It was time for a new Ganesh illustration anyway. This one was completed within the past 72 hours. It was done in pen, ink and glitter watercolor. I’ve been working a lot with glitter watercolor lately. Even if the shimmer doesn’t come out too good in the scans. In person the result is lovely. The glitter watercolors I use has a good balance, so it doesn’t look tacky. Thinking about turning this piece into either prints, greeting cards or both.

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Ganesh illustration. Pencil, pen, ink, glitter watercolor. Done by Michele Witchipoo. September 2018.

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By now I would’ve had the latest Psycho Bunny sketch of the week posted. The artwork has been completed. Just haven’t had time to scan it. It’ll be on this blog very soon.

In the meantime, here’s a recent commission I did a few weeks ago. It was the second time working for this awesome client. The style was a change of pace in regards to my usual style. It’s a local rapper from Queens. As requested, I’m not telling who. (Was given permission to post the art) I was going through his Instagram account, but when I watched his promo videos from his YouTube channel, that’s when everything flowed.

Here’s the inked version before color:

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Here’s the colored version.

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The mediums used was pencil, pen, ink, watercolor and glitter watercolor. Again, the scan doesn’t really show the shimmer from the glitter watercolor very well. It looks better in person. The person who commission this was very happy with the final results.

I’m still taking commissions, so if you’re interested, discuss rates, etc., send me an email: Witchipoo@witchesbrewpress.net. Serious inquires only.

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In the past few years, mermaids have become more popular. For example, every year in Coney Island, Brooklyn, there’s The Mermaid Parade. Mermaids are usually depicted as romantic, feminine creatures. Many different cultures have their own mermaid versions. After doing some quick research the other day, I discovered that in British folklore, mermaids usually foretold death.

Authors such as Lewis Spence, and W.B. Yeats wrote about mermaids. You can check out other folklore here.

Once I read about these mermaids bringing bad omens, such as storms, dangerous distractions, shipwrecks, and such, that’s when I decided to take the beautiful image of a mermaid into another direction.

Have you heard that sleep is your enemy? In this case, being half asleep made me forget to scan my devil mermaid sketch before using watercolor.

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Sketch of a devil mermaid in pen, before using glitter watercolor. Artist: Michele Witchipoo, June 2018.

The scan fails to show the effect of using glitter watercolor. Thinking about creating a custom frame and selling the original. Here’s the finished result.

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Not a very good scan of this illustration. Devil Mermaid. Illustration, pen and glitter watercolor. Artist: Michele Witchipoo. June 2018.

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Last fall I brought my first Wacom drawing tablet. Now you think I would be creating illustrations with it. Instead, I’m continuing to use the old fashioned method. Sketching by hand.

Case in point. Check out my latest sketch.

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Black and white original illustration by Michele Witchipoo. May 2018. 

Then here’s the same piece after a treatment of watercolor. The scan of the colored version threw me off. The flesh tones look quite different in person. However, I don’t mind the smoker effect from the scan.

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Spider Lady illustration after colored with watercolor. The scan has altered the colors somewhat. Michele Witchipoo. May 2018. 

Thinking about selling the original illustration, after I put it in a custom frame. Usually I sell only prints. That decision was made after I sold my original David Bowie/Aladdin Sane watercolor illustration. The Spider Lady item isn’t something I’m attached to. Despite her lovely spiderweb. Have to work on other illustration and sketches now. Will be back with another Psycho Bunny sketch of the week very soon.

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