After each of our sessions together in the MFA program, we are given an illustration assignment. Normally the theme of the assignment is based on the location we have just visited. However, with our summer sessions in Hartford, the assignments take on a whole new flavor.
Murray Tinkelman gave an excellent presentation of American illustration in the 20th century. During one of his lectures, he told us we needed to pick an illustrator from 1900 to 1950 who was included in his presentations. He told us to choose a publication from that era as well as a person who was famous at the time. We then had to create a cover featuring that person in the style of the illustrator of our choosing.
I chose to emulate C. Coles Phillips. He created a style called the "fadeaway girl" that was more than a gimmick. He used the Gestalt principle of reification, also known as closure, where the eye will perceive a whole shape in an incomplete space by filling in the missing information.
The more I read about Getrude Ederle, the more I became fascinated with this strong, independent young woman (much like my wife and 4 daughters!) who was bound to not only swim the English Channel, but to also break all previous records in the attempt.
I took some liberties with the English and French coast lines in order to create the watercolor portrait of Ederle in the Phillips style. I then ran the scanned image through the color halftone filter in Photoshop to simulate the screening and muted palette that would have been used in publishing in the 1920s.