Blossom Dearie, jazz singer and pianist | Skillshare Projects

Holly S

Illustrator and eater of bread



Blossom Dearie, jazz singer and pianist

May Challenge - week 1

I started this project a few months ago but wasn't happy with my sketches, since the concept I went with was a bit obvious. However, for the May challenge, I've decided to post them anyway and see if I can develop it further.

I used shuffle on my mp3 player to randomly select an artist, and it came up with Blossom Dearie, who was an American jazz singer and pianist ( Wikipedia | YouTube ). I love the wry sense of humour in some of her songs; her distinctive, light voice; and her unconventional look for a jazz singer.


Next I'll scan and upload my sketches...

Week 2 - Sketches

So when I found my sketches, which I made a couple of months ago, I remembered I did them in pen - I have some 'Zig Art & Graphic Twin' double-ended pens (these ones) which I like to use because they're quite chunky. It helps me to think about shapes and not to get too bogged down in detail.

I've scanned and annotated the sketches so you can see my thought process. I like the idea of having an image of Blossom (the person!) on the poster, but I'd like to simplify it right down, as I think too many fine lines wouldn't work with the printing - and also would make for a less striking poster.


I'll need to think a bit more about what other elements I'm going to include, though, since although drawing literal blossom could be quite pretty, it's too obvious and not sophisticated enough.

The layout sketch on the right isn't quite right in terms of scale; the one at the bottom-centre of the first page is more how I would lay it out. This needs more work.

Luckily, I can always play around with the scale in Illustrator once I've inked and scanned my elements. That's the next step.

Week 3 - Inspiration, and Inking

I was playing around with sketching Blossom a bit more, trying to get a better likeness.

When I was looking for reference photos I found some really nice album art - I think this is for a Japanese edition of a live album. I love the way the artist has simplified her face right down, but still managed to get a good likeness:


You can see that's where I got the little piano from in my previous sketches!!

I also really like this one:


You'll see elements of both of those in my finished images! It's interesting that they've both used a hot pink colour, which is something I had in mind from the start.


 I decided to try inking with a brush as I wanted my lettering to have a lot of line variation. Originally I planned to use a brush for the lettering, and a nib for the image of Blossom. However, while I was doodling with the brush, I came up with a picture of Blossom which I liked enough to use for the final poster. It's not a great likeness but I think for these purposes it will do! I drew it over the top of some other sketches, though, so it needed to be cleaned up a bit in Photoshop.


I also made some marks with a coffee-stirring stick which I thought might be useful for the piano. Again this came about by chance - I was trying to get some gunk out of my ink pot using the stick, and thought I'd make some marks with it rather than waste the ink.

Week 4 - Digitizing and finishing up

Here's what I've got so far - it's not quite finished yet.


What I'm working with at the moment is three colours - the bright turquoise background colour, a darker teal, and a hot pink accent colour. Then I'm using the white of the paper; and the pink overlayed on top of the teal, for a dark blue colour. I need to work out which colours print first, and if it will work. I might also bring more of the dark blue into the foreground, since the image looks a little flat at the moment.

Edit 2 - 29 May:

Made some more tweaks. Thought I might try have some of the elements overlap the border (guess I'll need to stick some extra border on to make sure my image isn't falling off the paper!). Still fussing with it...


It looks a lot more late 80's/early 90's than I was intending! Oops.


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