Last week I painted a poster design for the Obama campaign (above), which I read about here. The slogan that appealed to me the most, and there were about a dozen of them from which to choose, was "Every child deserves a great school."
Since she's such a smart, adorable girl, and since she's brought me nothing but good luck in the past, I wanted my young friend Mabel to be the star of this poster. So what we have here is the sequel to a painting I created a year and a half ago!
Mabel is in kindergarten now, and I thought her contemplative pose (based on a photo taken by her mother Kate) was appropriate for this subject. Because Mabel's expression is slightly ambiguous here, I think you can read the poster two ways. Either she's happy at a good school, and the things you see around her are real, or she's unhappy at a failing school, and the things you see around her are imaginary. I painted Mabel realistically in watercolor, and in order to achieve a believable child art style for the background, I drew and painted the rest with my left hand, which as you can see operates at a shaky 3rd grade level at best. Here's a small, early plan I put together on graph paper before I started to work.
While I didn't change much in the final design, I added an extra child on the right side, and I turned one of the figures near the center into a kid version of Mabel's red-haired mother Melinda. (Mabel has two mothers, and they were granted a civil union last month--the whole family wore purple dresses on this great occasion. Genius Melinda wrote about the happy day here.)
As a former art teacher who worked in Illinois' public schools for seventeen years, the theme of this poster is especially meaningful to me. I realize that I don't stand a chance at winning the contest, and the irony of designing a poster about creating jobs--for free!--is not lost on me. But for me this was more about having The Idea and wanting to see it through. And painting Mabel again filled me with joy.