Ms. Nina Simone

Ms. Nina Simone - student project

I chose Nina Simone as my subject after watching the documentary "What Happened, Miss Simone?". She is also one of my favorite artist and have been a fan of her music since high school. As I started the project and was gathering my reference material, I jotted down words that came up for me as I thought about her life and her music:

I also created an Pinterest board of reference materials for the portrait . And one thing that I keep coming back to is one of her quotes:

" I tell you what freedom mean to me... No Fear."



I'm also drawn to one picture of her sitting in front of a mirror and the idea of framing her face/body as an icon. I played around with a couple of sketches to get a feel for what direction I would like to go in. However, I still want to look through my references again to get some more ideas.


UPDATE - 2/25/2018


I decided to experiment with a few things in this portrait. For the composition, I wanted to create an icon like portrait to signify her importance to music and activism during her time. For the style, I wanted to mimic the grainy texture of vintage posters.


Below is the sketch I created in watercolor. I used watercolor to get a sense of the shadows and light.


I'm not super happy about the piece, I like the sketch I start out with more than the final product. But, I'm going to go back to the drawing board revisit some of the other sketches.


UPDATE - 2/27

I changed the composition and took out some of the different to put more emphasis on her face. Now, going to work on a banner-like element to go around the frame so I can have a place for the quote or the "High Preistess" title. Whichever looks best.



UPDATE 3/15/2022:


Thank you all for the amazing feedback on this illustration. I've recently started selling some of my illustration online at I revised the Nina Simone illustration a bit. You can check it out on my site.