Imperial Band of South River Concert Illustrations

On Sunday, March 3, 2024 we had the pleasure of attending an Imperial Band of South River concert. The band played all kinds of Irish music. I enjoyed watching the movements of the players, how they used their whole bodies to illustrate the sounds with their instruments. I did all my sketching at the concert in a sketchbook; all the color was added later at home. You can see all my illustrations of the Imperial Band of South River here.

trombones at the March 3 concert
The trombone players were impressive, moving their instruments in and out with skill. I loved that an American flag stood proudly behind them.

Richard Golazeski, conductor of Imperial Band of South River
The conductor, Richard Golazeski, sat in this chair and moved his arms with great passion. He really enjoyed all the Irish music.

bassoon player

bassoon watercolor
Here are two of the bassoon player. She used her whole body to play her large instrument.

orange carnation on the table at March 3 concert, watercolor, gouache, and ink
The tables were decorated with orange carnations with lots of green leaves.

My favorite piece was The Parting Glass. When I looked it up, I noted it usually sung with lyrics. It seems to be a bittersweet song about farewells and parting ways. In this concert, the music was all instrument. Beautiful and inspiring.

The concert finished with the music of George M. Cohan, composer of American hits like I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The Imperial Band of South River has concerts 11 times a year, typically the first Sunday of each month except January. The concerts are held in the Imperial Music Center, 48 Appleby Avenue in South River, New Jersey.

Flat Design: Armchair

arm chair flat design
What do you see in the above illustration? Does this look like a flat design armchair? (I looked up armchair – it is truly one word). Does it remind you of any particular profession? What does it evoke?

I have been redoing my website, the main part of my site in which I sell my web services such as WordPress training and small business web development. I decided a little illustration would be nice for my new Services page. Of course, the illustration itself is the hard part … I already fussed a lot over the illustration for the home page.

So one idea is to have little balloons or circles with flat design illustrations that represent some of the businesses or organizations for which I do websites. Maybe one might look like this:
arm chair flat design
Or like this:
flat chair in a balloon

I may just toss the circles all together. Meanwhile, I need to come up with a few more flat icons / illustrations to put together in one illustration. Ideas: pen and ink, camera, piles of books, light source from a lamp …

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been fussing over today (in between helping various clients with various issues). The main question for you is: Does the arm chair illustration remind you of any particular profession? Or can you think of any professions I might illustrate with a simple flat design of some sort?

Blue House with Illustrated Bushes

illustrated blue house with bushes
Today I worked on some bushes. Not bushes outside my house (although those can certainly use trimming). No, I added two illustrated bushes to the front of the blue illustrated house I started last week.

Next step will probably be working on clouds. My plan is to add text to the inside of the clouds, so the illustration will “talk to you.”

I only found one tutorial on how to make the illustrated bushes. Maybe I will write my own? Unfortunately, I found the technique I used rather cumbersome, so I can’t say I would recommend it. So, no, probably no post on how to create illustrated bushes. But I would happy to read one written by someone else.

Blue House Illustration

blue house illustration
This is third house illustration I have created. You can see one house illustration here and another house illustration here. I left out many details from this one. Is there a door? Do you see one in your head? In front of the “real” house, there are many bushes. I might add a few when I make the composite illustration. This house also has black outlines – the others do not. Oh, decisions, decisions.

And now comes the hard part – putting all three houses together in one mural. Will it work? I don’t know. Wish me luck. Maybe the tree illustrations, clouds and illustrative text will help.

Updated illustration:
blue house illustration blue trim
I toned down all that black outline by adding some dark blue trim. I like the illustration a little better. Still not convinced all those lines work … ah, the problem with too many choices. I’m sure I’ll be fussing with this more.

Here is a third version:
blue house with trim
Let’s play a game: How is this third house different than the other two?

Three Yellow Ribbons Round Tree Illustration

illustration tree with yellow ribbons
What! She’s making yet another tree illustration! Again? What this time …

Here’s the back story … Tony Orlando, who popularized the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, visited Israel. He was encouraged to do something in support of families of the three kidnapped teens. He visited the families, and he asked the people of America to tie three yellow ribbons in support of the teens.

A friend in our area has started a little campaign selling yellow ribbons, with the money going back to Israel to support the families and soldiers searching for the teens. I confess I still haven’t gotten the ribbons, but I did write this post.

So what is the history of the yellow ribbon? There is a great article by Gerald E. Parsons on How the Yellow Ribbon Became a National Folk Symbol. It seems the yellow ribbons started getting used as a symbol in the early 1980’s in support of the hostages in Iran. Parsons writes: “Ultimately, the thing that makes the yellow ribbon a genuinely traditional symbol is neither its age nor its putative association with the American Civil War, but rather its capacity to take on new meanings, to fit new needs and, in a word, to evolve.”

On a related topic, the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurBoys was inspired by #BringBackOurGirls. There are actually, unfortunately, similarities between those kidnappings.

The names of the boys are Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. Hashtag: #EyalGiladNaftali
The boys are close in age to my own teenage sons.

three yellow ribbons on tree
Three yellow ribbons spotted on a tree in Highland Park, New Jersey

Tree Illustration: Fruit, Stream, Shade

tree with fruit by stream
Checking into my blog to say hello to my readers. Above is a tree illustration, once again. This one comes with a story (paraphrased in my own words):

Once upon a time there was a traveler. He was quite weary, hungry and thirsty. He happened upon this beautiful tree. There was a stream flowing by the tree, so he helped himself to a refreshing drink of the water. There were fruits in the tree, so he ate of the fruit. He laid down under the tree and took a nap. When he awoke, he was refreshed and well-rested. Before leaving, he turned to the tree. Tree, oh, tree, how can I bless you? For you have so much already. So he blessed the tree with more of the same.

Source: Taanit 5B-6A

For those that read Hebrew, here is the original Hebrew of what the traveler says to the tree:

אילן אילן במה אברכך, שיהיו פירותיך מתוקין, הרי פירתיך מתוקין, שיהא צילך נאה, הרי צלך נאה. אלא יהי רצון שכל נטיעותיך יהיו כמותך.

Have you ever been grateful to something in nature? Or perhaps grateful to someone in your life who has given you so much?

Flat Illustration Trees and Leaves

colored leaves tree
In a continuation of a banner that will have houses, trees, clouds and some text, I started working on trees. The one above is the one I like best, although I realized that I should get the tree trunk to be straighter if I want to use something similar in my banner. There are many details to construct, and getting everything to work together and not be too busy will be an interesting challenge.

trees - round circles and triangles
This was my first set of “flat illustration trees.” These trees are made up of triangles and circles. One version of this had a grunge look added at the end (using Photoshop – the shapes where created in Illustrator). If you examine illustrations of flat design, you will often see trees depicted in a similar manner of only these basic shapes.

What makes an illustration “flat design”? How does it differ from other art? It’s missing the shadows. And it’s made up of simple shapes. It’s often vector art, so it can be made bigger or smaller without losing its look, unlike a photograph with pixels.

If you are interested in making tree illustrations yourself, check out my Pinterest board of Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorials.

tree with leaves
Both these two illustrations use the same twirly tree trunk. The bends of the tree trunk add a certain look that might go well with a different illustration – I think I will go with a straighter trunk, as the houses are quite straight as well. On the other hand, maybe a twisty trunk would be welcome next to a stiff, geometric house.

leaves and trees

Of these illustrations, do you have a favorite? Any parts that you like in particular? Have you noticed flat design on any sites that you visit?

Tall House Illustration in Highland Park, NJ

Tall house illustration
I worked on this tall house illustration back in December, and I’m presenting it to you today with a little secret. Shh, it’s not quite official and may be going slowly, but this house illustration and the house illustration I posted in late December will be part of a new “mural” painting that will appear on my home page. I came up with the idea about two years ago to redo my home page completely and give it a “Highland Park, NJ” look – to me, that meant the old houses of Highland Park. And some trees. An old-fashioned suburban look perhaps. I started working on the actual “mural” or banner earlier this week – it needs a third house, so that is on the list to be done.

My next step will be either cloud or tree illustrations – which should it be? Clouds or trees, anyone?

House Illustrations and Illustrator Notes

house on N 5th avenue illustration
I am continuing my work on house illustrations. Last week I showed you a sketch I had done of a Highland Park house. Above is my Illustrator version of an illustration of this home. I originally made all the windows black, and then I decided to switch the windows above to a blue gradient, so it looks like a sky reflection. The illustration is made of a collection of shapes placed in many layers in Illustrator.

One of the features of a good flat design illustration is eliminating details and only depicting what is most important to view. This process of what to include and what to leave out is not an easy one.

tall house North 7th
My long term plan is to depict at least three homes in this manner. Here is another house illustration – I sketched the above drawing by hand using pencil and then a ink pen (then I scanned it into the computer). If you know Highland Park, I welcome you to walk around and look at the homes to see if you can find these. But I won’t identify them directly.

I also plan to do some flat design bushes and trees as elements in between the homes. The lamppost in the top illustration makes a fine detail for this purpose as well. I’ve been collecting various illustrations in Pinterest so I can refer to those illustrations for ideas.

line art of house tall north 7th
This morning I was playing around with the Live Trace tool in Illustrator, and I created the above line art drawing from the original sketch.

This process of creating a suburban street scene with houses and trees is taking longer than I anticipated.