Finished: Claudette Colvin on the Bus

And now I’m done.

This is the final version of my illustration of Claudette Colvin refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus on March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, AL. She was 15 years old and was riding the city bus home from school. Because she refused, police were called and she was arrested.

This was 9 months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, but they were not the only ones. Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanetta Reese also refused to give up their seats.   Their arrests were the trigger for the Montgomery AL bus boycott that ran from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956. All these women were plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit against the city of Montgomery, AL and the bus company. On June 5, 1956 the court found that bus segregation was unconstitutional but it was sent to the US Supreme Court and through an appeal before the city and bus company were finally forced to integrate the buses on December 20, 1956.

A historical illustration of Claudette Colvin as she refuses to vacate her seat on a Motgomery Alabama bus on March 2, 1955.

There are two photos of Miss Colvin taken around that time which I used for references on her likeness and a hint at the clothing she might have worn that day. I’m not sure what color she’d have worn, but red illustrates anger and stands out nicely from the green bus seats. I always draw kids with big eyes, so her eyes are disproportional. I hope that doesn’t throw off her likeness too much. I think her face could be a little narrower, but then the huge eyes wouldn’t fit. I got her chin with that little almost-cleft. The nose is pretty close. Glasses and hair are right, I think. I got her coloring from a color photo of her as an adult.

I didn’t find any references to who the white woman was who demanded that Miss Colvin move or any of the other passengers on the bus. So, I used my imagination and designed some generic characters with 1950s clothes and hair. I hope I didn’t make the women too colorful. I got their fashions from vintage photos and drawings.

The bus interior is based on several reference photos of buses of that era.

Anyway…

What historical figure should I tackle next?

WIP: With Sketchy People

I was out of town last week, but now I’m back and here’s what I was working on today. You’ll recognize the same scene from my last post, but I’ve added a bit of highlights and shading and I sketched in all the characters.

This scene is to be an illustration of Claudette Colvin’s March 2, 1955 refusal to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus. You can see Miss Colvin there in the middle, with her schoolbooks and her righteous defiance.

I’ll post more as I work on it.

A work in progress illustration of Claudette Colvin refusing to yield her seat on a Montgomery Alabama bus in 1955.  The interior of the bus is mostly complete, but the characters are only sketches on white backgrounds.

WIP: Bus Interior

Here’s something I’m working on just now. It’s a work in progress, so it’s not intended to be finished yet. I have the lines and base colors in, but that’s about it.

It’s the interior of a Montgomery, AL bus CIRCA 1955. It will be the background for an illustration of Claudette Colvin’s March 2, 1955 refusal to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus.

I found quite a few pictures of buses of that period and I did my best to get it accurate.

I’ll post more as I continue to work on it.

A work in progress illustration of the interior of a Montgomery, AL bus, CIRCA 1955.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 15

Page 14 doesn’t have an image, so we skip on to page 15 from The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. This is the last illustration and the end of the book.

It’s not a completely happy ending because, even though Leena’s back in her own home, Amaya’s family lost their house. This is supposed to be a “tough subjects” series, so a not entirely happy ending is appropriate. But it’s not all bad because Amaya has sent Leena a letter saying how they found a place to live and are doing okay. They even sent pictures.

I made sure it’s the same couch and wall as page 4 so it’s definitely the same house. It comes full circle.

An illustration for page 15 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  A girl curled up on her couch leans back against her mother who is sitting beside her.  The girl is reading a letter and the mother is looking at some photo prints.  They are both smiling.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 9

Here’s the 7th illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 9 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine.

Here Leena’s family is getting settled a bit when a family they’re friends with shows up. The woman, Saanvi, is wearing a sari because I’ve seen Indian women in my neighborhood wear these, but I’ve never actually drawn one. So, when the client said they wanted me to make her Indian, I decided to go ahead and give her this traditional outfit while I was at it. It was fun to draw. I kept the decorative pattern really simple, though, because I didn’t want her clothes to have way more detail than the clothes of the other characters in the story so that it looked inconsistent. I do hope I drew it right.

It just occurred to me that I don’t think I drew anyone with glasses on in this story. I should have done that. Oh well. Mental note to self to put some glasses in the drawings for my next project, if possible.

An illustration for page 9 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  Leena's family is just starting to get settled on the cots in the gym when a family they're friends with walks in.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 7

Here’s the 5th illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 7 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine.

This is the last one in the project that has fancy lighting. From here on out the characters will be indoors under regular lights, which is a lot easier, but not as pretty.

Anyway, Leena and Amir are in the backseat of the car as their mom drives them away from their house towards the evacuation shelter. Leena is sad and worried. Amir is too young to understand, so is sleeping. He spends most of the book asleep, actually.

In the sketch phase for this one, I originally drew it at a different angle because I didn’t realize two-year olds, the age Amir is supposed to be, still have to be in rear-facing carseats. I thought they could front-face when they turned one. Nope. It either changed since my kids were that age, or I was remembering it wrong. Anyway, at first I drew them both facing forward. I had to completely redraw it at this angle so that both the kids’ faces are visible. Glad I caught it before I sent it to the client.

An illustration for page 7 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  It's the interior of a car showing two children in the backseat.  There's a toddler sleeping in his carseat and his sister looks sad and worried beside him.  Outside the window, the trees are silhouetted against a red sky.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 5

Here’s the third illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 5 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine.

In this one, it’s a bedroom at night, but red and blue emergency lights from the window and a white light from the hall are lighting it up. The girl, Leena, is running across the room with her shoes and emergency bag while her mom and little brother wait for her at the door. They’re about to leave the house because they’ve been ordered to evacuate.

An illustration for page 5 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  A girl runs across her bedroom to the doorway where her mother and little brother wait for her.  They are about to evacuate the house.  The room is lit by emergency lights from the window and white light from the hallway.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 4

Here’s the second illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 4 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. This scene is in a cloud to show that it’s a flashback to the previous day when they family had all packed their emergency supplies in preparation to evacuate if the fires got too near. You can see a collection of emergency supplies laid out on the floor ready to be packed into duffle bags, one per person. Mama is putting a tag on little Amir’s ankle so that he can be reunited with the family if he gets separated.

An illustration for page 4 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.