Thursday, October 4, 2018

ART - Maria Giuliani

Julia Ruth-Garlic (Allium sativum), Jenn Deutscher-Salamander (Phaeoceros pearsonii),
Maria Giuliani-Pelican (Pelicanidae sp.), Donna Miskend-Rose Poseidon (Rosa poseidon)

Poe Park Visitor Center 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 
Hours: Tues-Fri 9-5 Sat 8-4 ph.718.365.5516
accessible by subway: D and 4 to Kingsbridge station or Metro North Fordham station
EYE ON NATURE, artists explore the world of plants and animals

Maria and I met at a class at the New York Botanical Gardens. I love the bold, graphic quality of her work, and invited her to be part of this exhibit.  
LOSING (Polar Bear,
Ursus maritimes©Maria Giuliani 2018, digital

Donna Miskend: Do you have a favorite subject?
Maria Giuliani: Right now I am having a great time drawing birds. I also like creating posters with social content and exploring the relationship of message and image. 
OYSTER, process©Maria Giuliani 2018

DM:What medium do you prefer to work in?
MG: I work either totally digital or mixed media. I usually sketch by hand. Once I bring my sketch into the computer, then I work with illustrator. Sometimes I use color pencils or acrylic paints over Epson prints on art paper. 

Tinglar y Uva Playera
Leatherback and Sea Grape
(Dermochelys coriacea
and Coccoloba uvifera)
©Maria Giuliani 2018
DM: Of the work on display in the exhibit, what piece was the most challenging and why?
MG: The leatherback turtle. I wanted to create a poster-like image and a strong sense of symmetry which restricted the composition. Incorporating elements like textures and letters can be challenging. Once you add type, legibility becomes an issue. It took me awhile to get the work Tinglar (as they are called in my native Puerto Rico) the way I wanted it. 

DM: Why did you decide to embrace the discipline of botanical and natural science illustration?
MG: I started having an interest in this discipline a while back. First with photography, then with drawings and graphics. Nature is perfect, and it offers beautiful colors and playful shapes and patterns. Eventually I found a style I was comfortable with, and I wanted to create more and more. 

DM: Who are the artists past or present who influence your work?
MG: Lorenzo Homar was a Puerto Rican artist and printmaker. I was always fascinated by his style and the way he incorporated images with calligraphy or lettering on his silkscreened posters. I am currently following the work of Martina Flor who is a lettering artist. I also like the work of illustrator Owen Davey.

DM: What would you like people to know about your work?
MG: I love what I do. I have lots of fun doing it. I hope that that comes across in my style and my work.

You are invited to read my thoughts and interviews with participants of the exhibit (click links):
Jennifer Deutscher    Stephen Paul DeVillo  more work on exhibit 
BIO: Maria Giuliani, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico is a designer, artist and educator. Her work is very graphic and illustrative in nature and uses multiple mediums. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Baltimore Gallery (Detroit, Michigan) the National Arts League, the Huntington Arts Council, and the National Association of Women Artists. Her design work has been exhibited at the 13th International Poster Biennial in Mexico and the AIGA; her book designs have received awards at the New York Book Show and the AAUP.
Giuliani received an MS in Communication Design from Pratt Institute and is an Associate Professor at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. She resides in Queens, NY. 

Participating artists: 
Jenn Deutscher 
Maria Giuliani. 
Donna Miskend and

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

AUTHOR - Stephen Paul DeVillo

Julia Ruth-Garlic (Allium sativum), Jenn Deutscher-Salamander (Phaeoceros pearsonii),
Maria Giuliani-Pelican (Pelicanidae sp.), Donna Miskend-Rose Poseidon (Rosa poseidon)

Poe Park Visitor Center 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 
Hours: Tues-Fri 9-5 Sat 8-4 ph.718.365.5516
accessible by subway: D and 4 to Kingsbridge station or Metro North Fordham station
EYE ON NATURE, artists explore the world of plants and animals
Saturday, Sept. 8th at 12:45 Opening Reception
panel discussion with the artists followed by 
Guest Speaker: Stephen Paul DeVillo 

Stephen was my guide for a short canoe jaunt on the Bronx River. Seeing it from the water offered a new perspective, not only for the stunning views, but I could see firsthand the invasive species that have taken hold there. His book is a portrait of the river, touching on diverse subjects: the relationships of its inhabitants from the Native Americans and European settlers through today, legends, cultural history, use of the river in times of war, the exploitation of the river from commerce and industry, and environmental issues

DM: Where does the Bronx River begin and end?
SPDV: The original sources of the Bronx River lie beneath the Kensico Reservoir. The
present-day designated source of the river is at the end of Davis Brook in Valhalla. The river ends in the East River/Long Island Sound between Clason Point and Hunts Point in The Bronx.

DM: What is your favorite spot along the river why?
SPDV: The Bronx River Gorge in the New York Botanical Garden. Surrounded by a
restored native forest, it is the most scenic and geologically interesting reach of the river.

DM: Researching your book, what topic interested you the most?
SPDV: I have a special interest in 18 th century American History, so the Bronx River’s
role in the American Revolution I found fascinating, especially the Battle of White Plains in 1776, where the river quite literally rose to the occasion and helped to preserve the Revolution.

DM: What did you discover that surprised you?
SPDV: Pursuing my research for the book, I was surprised to learn just how rich the river
is in both history and folklore, as well as its environmental diversity, quite remarkable for a river that is only 23 miles long.

DM: What are some of the major attractions along the river?
SPDV: The major attractions are the nearly completed Bronx River Greenway in The
Bronx, and the Bronx River Parkway Reservation in Westchester, both of which provide a multi-use recreational trail following the river. Apart from the Bronx River Gorge and the Bronx Zoo, there are a series of new or revitalized riverside parks in The Bronx – Muskrat Cove, Shoelace Park, Starlight Park, Concrete Plant Park, Soundview Park, and Hunts Point Riverside Park. In Westchester there are the Garth Woods in Scarsdale, and the Kensico Dam.

DM: What would you like people to take away from reading your book?
SPDV: An understanding of the Bronx River as a unique community resource that is worth preserving and caring for.

DM: What are the key environmental issues facing the river today?
 Storm water runoff and combined sewer outflows, and consequent bacterial    contamination.
 Streambank erosion and water turbidity
 Nitrate fertilizer runoff and algae blooms
 Invasive/non-native plants, vines, and shrubs
 Floatable litter and debris

DM: What 3 things can people do in their everyday life to help protect the river?
 Recycle
 Reduce use of plastics
 Do not dump wastewater or liquids in storm sewers

DM: How can people get involved in the protection and restoration of the river?
SPDV: Participate in river organizations such as the Bronx River Alliance, the Bronx River Parkway Reservation Conservancy, Rocking the Boat, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Garth Woods Conservancy, etc., and take part in volunteer restoration activities.

DM: You lead “rambles” along the river both on land and on the water. How can
people find out about these excursions?
SPDV:Check out the Calendar of Events at the Bronx River Alliance web site

DM: Any upcoming events? 
SPDV: October 7 th Bronx River Ramble exploring the Tuckahoe Marble quarrying
industry along the river and its social history. Meet at 11am at the Metro North
Crestwood Station.

DM: What else would like people to know about you or your work?
SPDV: I have an interest in the “micro-history” of particular places, integrating local folklore and the environment with social, political, and industrial history to develop a picture of what makes each place unique. Apart from my recent book on The Bowery, upcoming projects include the history of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, the Old West Farms Soldiers’ Cemetery, and a collection of New York City ghost stories that reflect the city’s unique history and character.
BIO: A local historian and lifelong Bronxite who grew up along the Bronx River, Stephen Paul DeVillo is the author of The Bronx River in History and Folklore (2015) and The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest Street (2017). A former Development Associate for the Bronx River Alliance, he conducts the Bronx River Rambles historical and environmental walking tours, as well as occasional on-water canoe tours of the river in the Bronx.

Participating artists: Julia Ruth 
Jenn Deutscher 
Maria Giuliani. 
Donna Miskend and

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

ART- JENNIFER DEUTSCHER, natural science illustrator

I interviewed Jenn for an article that appeared in the Botanical Artist Journal (click to read) in 2016. Her work will be on view in the exhibit I've curated, EYE ON NATURE, ARTISTS EXPLORE THE WORLD OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS, on view September 1 - October 27, 2018. She will be on the artist panel discussion at the opening reception Saturday, September 8th.

DM: What have you been doing since you completed your certificate in botanical illustration?
JD: I'm working as a freelancer, mostly for private clients. Recently I've completed an annelid illustration for a research paper and botanical labels for a line of herbal products. I've also taken on the role of Social Media Coordinator for the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI). On the personal side, I've gotten into printmaking - it has been a while since I have gotten to explore a new medium, especially one that lends itself to detail work. It has been a lot of fun.

DM: Do you still want to join a scientific expedition as the illustrator?
JD: Absolutely! It will always be a little dream of mine. In the meantime I'm enjoying sketching on my own trips.

ballpoint pen ©JennDeutscher2018
DM: Do you have a favorite subject?
JD: I'll always have a soft spot for skulls and bones. They just have such interesting topography. 

DM: Tell me about your illustration process. 
JD: Whenever I have an idea for a work, I try to make a few rough sketches before anything else. I find it's easiest to figure out your vision before adding external ideas. After a few sketches I go out and research - both for visual references and scientific information. From there, it's a back-and-forth between working and researching, gradually building towards a final product.

DM: What are your favorite tools for work by hand?
JD: For technical work I love pencil or a Micron pen. Whenever I do personal work, though, I love Papermate InkJoy's ballpoint pen. It's a fairly standard office pen but is just delightful for sketching. I also have a fondness for oil painting and would love to work more in oils in the future.

DM: And for digital illustration? 
JD: I do my digital work on a Macbook with an old Wacom Intuos 3. I've had that tablet for probably 10 years now and aside from one cable replacement it's still going strong. My favorite art program is currently Clip Studio Paint, though I still go back to Photoshop for text and complex editing.
Indian Smooth-Coated Otter©JennDeutscher2018
DM: What else do you want people to know about you or your work?
JD: My work in ballpoint pen has been unexpectedly meditative. I participate in a weekly drawing night at the American Museum of Natural History and have dabbled in many different mediums there. I decided to try out pen sketches for Inktober in 2016 - it's a community movement where artists work in pen and ink for the month of October. I quickly realized it was actually an improvement over my normal pencil work. I'm an artist who fusses a lot, and sometimes I get in the way of a work's progress for the sake of getting a few lines just right. In pen I'm forced to simply keep moving forward. As a person with a lot of anxieties and hesitations in my daily life, it has been a nice reminder that sometimes you just need to keep moving on and improving as you go rather than trying to get everything perfect on the first try.

Jennifer (Jenn) Deutscher is a scientific illustrator from Phoenix, AZ. She spent much of her childhood outdoors and became fascinated with the beauty and mystery of the natural world. Part scientist and part artist, Jenn uses art as a way of documenting her observations. Her works encourages viewers to appreciate and rethink the world around them.
Jenn now resides in Brooklyn, NY with her ever-growing plant collection. After graduating from New York University in 2015, she completed a Botanical Art & Illustration certificate at the New York Botanical Garden. She is now a full-time freelance scientific illustrator and fine artist., and acts as the Social Media Coordinator for the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI). 
Julia Ruth-Garlic (Allium sativum), Jenn Deutscher-Salamander (Phaeoceros pearsonii),
Maria Giuliani-Pelican (Pelicanidae sp.), Donna Miskend-Rose Poseidon (Rosa poseidon)
Poe Park Visitor Center 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY Hours: Tues-Fri 9-5 Sat 8-4 ph.718.365.5516

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Noteworthy Updates

Fred Kaplan has a new book, Lincoln & the Abolitionists: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War". Fred will be speaking in Kansas City on 9/13/17. About Fred Kaplan website

He was my guest for the exhibit, Dickens, A Celebration In Pictures. Read his Interview from the exhibit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Dave Kopka engages in books, story boarding, comics, and pre-production work, but is fascinated with exploring a wide spectrum of illustration and being a creative force in visual narrative.
site and contact:
an exhibition showcasing the literary work of Edgar Allan Poe
 interpreted by contemporary illustrators Dave Kopka, Nancy Doniger, Donna Miskend, Carol (Klio) Burrell special guests: 
Michael Patrick Hearnauthor of the forthcoming An Annotated Edgar Allan Poe, James Armstrong, playwright, Charlie Vazquezauthor and director Bronx Writing Center
DM: Talk to me about your interest in, and influence of fantasy art on your work.
DK: My work currently revolves around representational elements mainly, so I'm always looking to find ways to create the kind of imagery that a camera might have a very difficult time in replicating, visually or viscerally. I always look forward to the challenge of doing so, to create these worlds and scenarios that might not otherwise exist the same exact way in someone else's mind, and a prevalent effect is that the work has elements of the fantastic in it. I've always been a nerd about old and new school fantasy though (trading cards, scifi/fantasy novels, comics, table top games, etc), so I'd be remiss if that didn't have a strong influence on the work as well.

The Premature Burial,©Dave Kopka 2016/17
DM: Who are the artists you admire in the fantasy genre? 
DK: Interestingly enough, I try to expose myself to as many, if not more artists working outside fantasy themes. Artists include (but certainly aren't limited to) Diego Velázquez, Alberto Breccia, Degas, Mikhail Vrubel, Donato Giancola, Frazetta, Victor Vasnetsov, William Heath Robinson, Bernie Wrightson, Scott M Fischer, Goya, William Renner, Greg Manchess, Van Gogh, Ivan Bilibin, Jeffrey Allan Love, Edmund Du Lac, Harry Clarke, Kay Nielson, and most particularly Käthe Kollwitz. I am always looking for a good combination of current artists and ones from past-eras, and finding out who took or had influence in both groups. The list grows everyday. Indeed, we stand on the shoulders of giants! 

DM: Some of your illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe Illustrated has a distinct fantasy style element. What was it about his writing that moved you in that direction, or did something just click like an image that popped into your head?
DK: The way that Poe writes conjures up shadowy and spooky imagery. There's something elemental and passionate woven within the writing, utilizing a powerful sense of commonality (to me at least), and that was important to try and capture visually. Aiming to retain that energy guided most of the decisions made throughout the entire process. From this, some of the stories or poems lent themselves to be more interpretive than others, and allowed me to introduce an otherworldliness that I felt suited the written piece(s). It was a challenge I had so much fun being engaged with, so hopefully that shows through as well.

DM: Tell me about your illustration process. (All artwork,©Dave Kopka 2016/17)
DK: I don't currently have a traditional studio set-up, so I have been cultivating my process according to limited parameters, which I've found works out better in the end as I LOVE experimenting with many different mediums and approaches and find it difficult to decide what to move forward with. 

For the Poe illustrations, the process started with various rounds of thumbnails before settling on a composition. 
A slightly bigger sketch is done, solidifying all the design elements. That's scanned, scaled up slightly more, printed, and transferred to drawing paper. Artist-made reference photos and additional research for props are made and utilized throughout the rest of the process.

Refinements are made and the loose blown-up sketch is turned into a more finished preliminary drawing. 
A final high-res scan of this drawing is made to-size, and the paint is all applied digitally (after a series of greyscale and color studies are done, to keep the composition unified), with the preliminary drawing serving as a solid guide underneath.
El Dorado,©Dave Kopka 2016/17
DM: Did you discover something new or interesting while doing your research for this exhibit?

The Pit And The Pendulum, ©Dave Kopka 2016/17
DK: There was a lot of new territory to explore while looking through Poe's written works. Something that struck me while reading was that many of the stories present themselves for so much interpretation; the poems even more so. For instance, throughout the cast of his characters, we don't necessarily always have a solid grasp on who they are/what they look like specifically. Much of their image is made up of what we project onto them (another reason why I think Poe's writing was so good, it tricks the reader into doing a lot of the work in creating a visual image). This is fantastic, because it allows me as an artist to conjure up something that might look different than someone else's vision of the same story, and opens up a dialogue - visually or otherwise - to learn from folks with different perspectives. There's a lot of potential space to explore creative freedom too. Whether or not it was intended, Poe really lets illustrators take the writing and make it their own. 

DM: Do you have any upcoming events? 
DK: Some story pitches and a small line up of paintings are underway. A few smaller personal projects are on the docket as well, not to mention my continued exploration in sequential art. There's always something in the works! Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@drawkop), Tumblr (@davekopka), or Twitter (@DaveKopka) for updates and developments on current projects. 
James Armstrong  more to come
For more information call the visitor center 718.365.5516 or visit their website calendar under Poe Park Visitor Center.
Nancy Doniger, artist
Carol (Klio) Burrell, artist
Charlie Vázquez, author and Director, Bronx Writers Center  
James Armstrong, playwright
Michael Patrick Hearn, author and literary historian books
Donna Miskend, curator, artist news

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Due to family issues, this blog has been on hiatus. I am pleased to return with interesting interviews and some catch up posts here and on my general personal blog. A new post appears July 12th. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Illustrations by the Children's Book Illustrators Group 
On view in the Youth Wing at 
10 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn  tel: 718.230.2100
June 11 - September 25, 2015 
exhibiting members:
Angelique Anderson, Lisa Cinelli, Deborah Cuneo, Maria Madonna Davidoff, Diana Ting Delosh, Nancy Doniger, Laura Goetz,  Amalia Hoffman, Melissa Iwai, Yuko Katakawa, Kitty Leech,  Marie McCann, Virginia Law Manning, Jennifer Merz, Donna Miskend, Christine Mix, Annie Raulerson, Roberta Rivera, Karen Romagna, Vicky Rubin, Wallace West
guest speaker: Michael Patrick Hearn
Ugly Duckling, Yuko Katakawa
DM: Why did  you choose this fairy tale to illustrate?
I like both stories: The Blue Bird and The Ugly Duckling were telling us, “ Be true to yourself, Look no further, an answer is right there with you.”    -Yuko Katakawa
The tale of Snow White is gruesome but sweet, heartbreaking but hopeful. And who hasn't felt like a wicked stepmother is out to get him or her? It's cathartic. I wanted to capture that sorrowful moment where Snow White feels that all is lost, right before seven little saviors prove her wrong.- Wallace West 
I'm a devout animal lover and in reading through potential fairytales to illustrate, I found a story about animals that were "cast away" by their owners, because they were old. Since all my pets have always been shelter "castaways" themselves, I immediately connected with the story. - Deborah Cuneo
I chose the Balinese version of the Hansel & Gretel fairy tale because during one of my
Hansel and Gretel, Maria Madonna Davidoff
regular visits to Bali, I became fascinated and inspired when I discovered that there was a Balinese version of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale. - Maria Madonna Davidoff 
I chose to illustrate a tender love scene of Beauty embracing the fallen beast, because her compassion for birds and animals also resonates within my heart. - Laura Goetz
I decided to do The Spider’s Thread because it was one of my favorite stories to translate when I was a student of Japanese in college.  It was the first story I ever translated and it stuck with me.  - Melissa Iwai 
I have loved this fairy tale since I was a child. The animals who, being too old to be useful to their owners anymore, leave home in search of peace and happiness as musicians in Bremen. - Jennifer Merz
 DM: Did you have a favorite fairy tale as a child? 
The Princess and the Goblin. Christine Mix
The Princess and the Goblin, by George McDonald was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up. As a young girl, I read the story over and over, captured by it's magic. -Christine Mix
I'm partial to anything with a little gore and a lot of outsmarting of adversaries. Hansel and Gretel was always my favorite (an affinity made stronger when Joan Collins played both the witch and the stepmother in Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre).  - Wallace West

Cinderella was my favorite. I had two different Cinderella books. The most beautiful I saved well into my adult life. The illustrations were exquisite.  - Marie McCann

DM: Do you still read fairy tales? 
Yes, I like the re-imagined or fractured fairy tales based on the original stories. I’ve also written a few that I’m hoping will find a publishing home.  
- Donna Miskend
Absolutely and I collect fairytales from different countries.- Maria Madonna Davidoff
Yes. I recently was reading some of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales and fell in love with the story of the The Beetle Who Went On His Travels — another extremely rude character, a dung beetle! He has many adventures, thinks everyone else is disrespectful, when in fact he’s very self-centered. The end of the story made me laugh out loud! - Marie McCann
I may not always read them but I am perpetually referencing their archetypes.Wallace West

Thumbelina, Donna Miskend
DM: Tell me about your illustration process. 
It depends on the medium, but I make rough sketches to choose a composition. I also take thousands of photos of nature and animals for reference. I might make a color story to keep me on target for consistency and flow, especially If I’m working on a full dummy.  If I need to adjust the size I'll scan my drawings into Photoshop for the layout. I work traditionally in watercolor: redrawing on paper, laying on a foundation color like burnt sienna to enhance the colors layered over it, a process called glazing. This technique adds depth to the colors.  - Donna Miskend

I usually create 3D environments but have decided to experiment with 2D imagery.Angelique Anderson
I first do a lot of preliminary sketches and think about the color I will use. Sometimes I make a "mood board" of the color swatches and inspirational images. I make thumbnail sketches of my composition, then blow them up and refine and do color studies in Photoshop. Then I paint pieces of my illustration in ink and paint and scan those in and then assemble in Photoshop. For more on my process:
 - Melissa Iwai 

I read the text with an open mind, jot down character attributes and begin sketches based on those notes. I do a very rough sketch of the page layout and fine tune bit by bit with gestures and expression. I am bananas for texture and patterns so am always on the lookout for textiles, carvings, tile and woodwork that I can inject into my work.- Wallace West
I start my illustrations as rough  pencil sketches.  Then I draw a few sketches for the same image, developing character and composition.  Once I get a strong drawing,  I scan it, ink it and paint it with watercolor. - Christine Mix

DM: What else would you like people to know about you or your work? 
I think of my work as a reflection of my experiences living and producing art in Asia, Europe, and the United States. My hope is to expose children to a global, multi-cultural view of life through my illustrations and my books. - Maria Madonna Davidoff
I am also passionate about Fashion Illustration. I draw in a completely different style, but I enjoy to explore different subjects and medium. - Yuko Katakawa
I am developing children’s book apps and virtual environments for mobile devices coming soon to an iPad near you. - Angelique Anderson
Look for me Sundays this summer at the Morgan Library and Museum where I will be reading to kids from Alice 150 Years in Wonderland during their celebration exhibit of this classic tale. Days/time will be posted on my blog:        - Donna Miskend
HOURS mon-thurs 9am-9pm Fri-Sat 9am-6pm Sun 1pm-5pm
event: Saturday, September 19 at 2pm: The Magic of Fairy Tales, a conversation with Michael Patrick Hearn, children's literary historian and curator, Donna Miskend
Free and open to the public
Thank you to the Brooklyn Public Library for hosting us. And a special thank you to Barbara Wing, Mgr. of Exhibitions! 
This exhibit is underwritten by the Brooklyn Public Library