Tag Archives: art

Traveling with a Decorator – Europe Day 1

Kings Cross St. Pancras Station, London

M. and I (hereby renamed M&M) are on a tour of Europe. We once designed theater projects together in College and now work in two different design fields. This is our account of the trip.

Day 1: We arrived in London late on Tuesday night and headed to our hotel, a nondescript little hole in the wall on a row of similarly tiny hotels next to Kings Cross St. Pancras Station. Upon waking the next morning to a rather dreary, rainy day I promptly blew up my hair-dryer (but managed not to light the room on fire or blow out the electricity so I count it as a win). Appealing to the better natures of the hotel staff I managed to wrangle a new hair-dryer and proceeded with M. in tow to meet my old flatmates, C&C, in Kensington.

We headed to The Muffin Man for a delightful tea with scones & jam. It was a great traditional place with cozy seating and a great tea selection.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 6.35.59 PM
Tea and Scones from The Muffin Man – Photo by Olivier De Man

Then we hailed a black cab and headed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A is by far one of my favorite museums, and houses everything from clothes and costumes, to marble statues, old tiles, pottery, stained glass etc. It’s huge and we hardly had enough time to begin but we gave it a go anyway. C&C led us through the Cast Room which I discovered back in 2004 during my study abroad years. One sections was being remodeled but the other was just as I remembered it. Then, we headed to the theater exhibit rooms (filled with costumes and set models) and the stained glass rooms (which were beautifully laid out).

Before we had even begun to take it all in it was time to head off. We bid a cheerful goodbye to C&C and went back to the hotel to grab our bags and catch the train to Paris! The train was exceptionally fast and not too crowded (4:30 on a Wednesday isn’t the most popular time for travel) so we were able to spread out a bit. By 11pm we were happily tucked into bed at our Friend’s apartment in the 16th and passed out. It was quite the start to our Europe Adventure.


Couples Costume for Halloween – Bonnie and Clyde

It seems like the summer just whizzed by this year! With October almost upon us I thought it might be fun to explore some costume ideas that you can get ready for all those fun Halloween parties that the fall brings.

Bonnie and Clyde are by far the most famous of the American Gangster/Moll couples. Known for their robberies during the “public-enemy era” of the 1930’s the two traveled the midwest together with their gun-toating gang. The two were eventually ambushed and killed in the south after committing more than 100 robberies and killing more than a dozen people. Their larger-than-life public appeal was cemented when Fay Dunaway and Warren Beatty portrayed the two in Arthur Penn’s 1960’s film. Below Dunaway and Beatty are on the left and the real Bonnie and Clyde are on the lower right.

Bonnie and Clyde Costume for Halloween

This outfit is fairly simple to assemble. For Bonnie, a skirt that hits your leg at mid-calf but hugs your hips, a fitted sweater, scarf, beret and a cute pair of vintage looking shoes. For Clyde a well tailored suit in gay or brown, patterned tie, fedora, and brown shoes. Both should get fake guns, you can find those at your local halloween store or online. Have fun and rock that 1930’s gangsta style.


It’s been a while since I sat down and typed up a blog post. Life has been keeping be occupied and I’ve been lucky enough to be kept busy at work. This week though a post on Design*Sponge got me thinking about the art of the Sketchbook and the importance of it in the world of the designer.

From the Sketchbook of Caitlin Keegan. Image provided by Design*Sponge.
From the Sketchbook of Caitlin Keegan. Image provided by Design*Sponge.

I’ve kept a journal for years (since I was about 10 actually) to record my thoughts and help me remember the small details of my everyday life. But it wasn’t until I studied abroad at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London that I started recording my thoughts through sketches and drawings. For me there is a joy is being able to look back at a sketch and remember exactly what you were seeing (whether in person or in your mind’s eye) and as landing pad for new ideas or experiments in visualization.

From my college sketchbook, part of a greater study of Pablo Neruda’s work.
From my college sketchbook, part of a greater study of Pablo Neruda’s work.


While keeping a journal of images is paramount to the development of an artist or designer, so too is looking at the work of others. In recent years The Sketchbook Project has been sharing thousands of sketchbooks from artists around the world and it’s always so interesting to see what a group of artists do with a packet of paper stapled together. Here is a round-up of a few of my favorite sketchbook images from around the internet.

Pat Perry’s Sketchbook from PatPerry.net
Pat Perry’s Sketchbook from PatPerry.net
From the Sketchbook of Leonardo Da Vinci via drawingsofleonardo.org
From the Sketchbook of Leonardo Da Vinci via drawingsofleonardo.org
Love Birds from the Sketchbook of  Vanessa Valeriano via the sketchbookproject.com
Love Birds from the Sketchbook of Vanessa Valeriano via the sketchbookproject.com


"Gestures from Life” from the sketchbook of Glenn Grubbs va sketchbookproject.com
“Gestures from Life” from the sketchbook of Glenn Grubbs va sketchbookproject.com
From “Drawing and the Designer”
From “Drawing and the Designer” at drawingandthedesigner.blogspot


Switzerland 1869 from the Sketchbook of John Singer Sargent via the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Switzerland 1869 from the Sketchbook of John Singer Sargent via the Metropolitan Museum of Art


"Arm of a Javanese Dancer” from a Sketchbook of John Singer Sargent via The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Arm of a Javanese Dancer” from a Sketchbook of John Singer Sargent via The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Study from the Sketchbook of Edward Hopper
Study from the Sketchbook of Edward Hopper via Drawingandthedesigner.blogspot

Brave Halloween Costume

I’m on a Halloween kick this week so here is another costume idea for those ladies who want some warmer clothing options this year. Brave is a feel good, coming of age, mother/daughter movie and for those ladies out there with Red Hair it’s an easy costume. This idea requires a bit more alteration than the last one I posted, however it’s very easy, just cut the arms on your long-sleeve dress and either pin or sew to a white shirt that you will layer underneath – making sure that you have extra fabric bunching between the sections of blue. Pop on a pair of brown flats, a costume cape, a quiver of arrows, and a red wig for you non-redheads (you can still order them online or find them at your local Halloween shop). And away you go! Brave Halloween Costume
Old Navy Dress  / Dorothy Perkins long sleeve top / Velvet coat / Gucci leather flat / NARS Cosmetics eyeshadow

An Exercise In Color – Sanna Dullaway

A few days ago, Designboom ran an article on Swedish Artist Sanna Dullaway. Sanna works as a restoration artist and more recently with old historic photos that she recolors using shades in Photoshop that would have been popular during the period in which the photo was taken.

photograph from liverpool's canada dock, 1909, featuring first chieef engineer of mauretania john currie

As a costume designer, I am constantly researching historic images and trying to figure out what colors someone would have been wearing in say 1909. So this is right up my ally. Take a look and tell me what you think. Check out the article on her here, and her website here.

A girl and her dog

Costume Sketches 101

I remember a Costume prof telling me once that you didn’t have to be a great artist to be a great costume designer. You just needed to be able to represent the body and explain how you wanted the cloth to fall on it. Even so I still get a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to comparing my costume renderings to the rest of the design community’s. So here are some tips on how to do a solid costume rendering.

1) Always start with the body. No matter how good your ability to represent clothing, if your proportions or angles are off in the body, it just won’t look right.

Image Provided by Bravo5 on DeviantArt.com

This first sketch does not have to take that long or be that detailed, it just needs to give you as the designer a solid foundation to go back to when layering the clothing on top. Also remember that unlike the fashion world which tends to design for one body type (at least for the runway) the world of stage design includes all body types. If you can get the body right at this point it will make your actors a lot less self conscious when they look over the costumes they will have to wear later.

The Character of Lucy Thompson from “The Laramie Project”- Design by Rain Davis

2) Start layering the clothing shape in pencil over your figure. This is the time to figure out where you want your shadows to fall, basic materials, add some expression to the face and add any props they will have (like a purse or hat) as part of the costume. However don’t feel like this needs to be too detailed, most likely you will be going over the sketch in at least pen if not watercolor.

I have been known to stop at this stage if I know I am going to be pulling from a limited costume closet (or sometimes from the actors wardrobes) and then the costume rendering becomes more about shape and texture. But ideally you will be adding color.

3) Start adding layers of color. You can use a number of different mediums and combine the mediums if you like. The ones that I tend to use more are Colored Pencils, Prismacolor Pencils, Water Color, Gouashe, and Prismacolor Pens.

Guiteau from Assassins design by Jennifer Madison

4) Once you have your basic colors in you can go back over the image with pen or watercolor and add shading. Below you can see the designer used a fine tip pen to add clean lines to her water color sketch.

Kate Barlow in “Holes” Costume Renderings by Jan McCauley

5) Lastly add anything that helps you to flesh out the design for the costume shop. If you have fabric you want to use, staple that to the side. Likewise you can add a research photo or notes if need be.

Mark Pirolo is the costume designer for "The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock"

Most importantly do not be intimidated! Play around with your materials and get to know them. Look at other designer’s sketches to get ideas about how to create the images. Below are a series of images to show you the range of costume renderings all done by professional designers. Enjoy!

Rendering by Jeff Cone
Jasmine from “Aladdin” costume design by Debbie Baer
Design by Laura Bauer for Manhattan Theater ClubImage provided by Florida Stage College Theater Department