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Illustration Friday: Jazz

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an interesting site called Illustration Friday, being run by illustrator Penelope Dullaghan. The idea behind her site is to announce a topic for illustrations each week. Artists subscribed to the mailing list interpret, illustrate and post up artwork on their sites. Once up, artists can submit their creations to the Illustration Friday site for all to enjoy. Pretty slick!

I immediately loved the idea, but when I encountered the site, was too busy to participate, and my ideas for the suggested topics just didn't click. So I waited.

This Monday, the new topic came in — Jazz. Now there's a topic I can feel good about, as I'm a fan of jazz. This morning at the cafe, I pulled out my Moleskine sketchbook, fired up Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on my Tungsten E and let the ink flow!

Here's the final result (click the sketch for a larger version):


My focus on this spread was to let go and let the music guide my sketch. You'll see a bass guitar at the center of the image, because the bass line was so dominant in 'So What', the track playing when I began drawing.

I wanted to try and express the feelings I had just then, hearing Miles and the crew jamming out. It felt dark and dense, hence the heavy use of black and shading. I didn't want any part of the sketch to have a clear white spot, to convey this feeling of density.

kind-of-blue.jpgI nearly stopped on the left page, but by then 'All Blues' came on and I felt compelled to keep rolling. The right-hand page of the spread is my interpretation of the tune, if it were being captured by an oscilloscope. Top line is Miles on trumpet, middle line for the sax, bottom line for the bass. I only indicated these 3 as they felt most apparent (my apologies to the drummer).

So, there it is, my first Illustration Friday submission. I hope you all enjoy it and my description. Maybe it'll even cut the mustard on the site listing. :-)

Reader Comments (8)

I love the way the two pages contrast, yet work with each other. The "So What" side really resonates.
March 3, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBettsi
Bettsi, thanks for the kind comments! I was surprised that the two pages worked togther too � I think it may have been the connectedness to the music.
March 3, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Nice sketches. Mike. Different to your sketchtoons.

I've now got the bass line to So What bouncing around in my head -- lovely :-)

Sadly, I haven't imported Kind of Blue into my iPod yet, so I can't join you ... :=/
March 3, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNeal
Great sketches! I love that the actual music fueled your work.
March 4, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGiao
I've just (in the last few weeks) got into Miles Davis and love it.

The Birth of the Cool has be among the greatest album titles ever!

Maybe you can share some Rohdesign Top Tips to help newbies like me find my way into Jazz ;-)

Nice sketch too :-)
March 4, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Hughes
David, glad to hear you're enjoying jazz!

As for learning about jazz, maybe that Jazz 101 would be a nice little post. I'm no expert but I can share the way I stumbled onto good jazz (I like straight ahead classic jazz best).

Basically it was finding a good radio station (or stream) and visiting the library alot. It's the cheapest way to explore.

And if you can go hear live jazz anywhere, do it. There is nothing else like live, improvisational jazz.
March 5, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Love the sketch and the album; an island disc without a doubt. ::thrive!, O
March 6, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterO
Great sketches Mike. I'm wearing a large smile today as I am almost always listening to jazz when I read your blog. Recently, it's been the Pat Metheny Group's new release, "The Way Up". Happened to catch their show last Sunday in Seattle. What a treat! His approach to music and your approach to design are actually quite complimentary.Best wishes from "balmy" Vancouver, BC.Neil Hundevad
March 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hundevad

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