Chris Witkowski Illustration
In 2003, I added illustration as another egg in my income basket. I discovered that pastel seemed uniquely suited for illustration. Many artists consider working in pastel as “painting” but I believe it is a drawing medium that uses the principles of oil painting. There are several substrates for working with pastel including pumice coated boards, sandpapers, and velour papers. I concluded that I liked working on pastel paper, black in particular. Color pops on black and I love seeing the image emerge from the dark surface. Works in pastel also reproduce extremely well on anything from paper to tote bags. There is no reflective glare as with an oil or acrylic so photographing a finished piece is easy and the color is so much more expressive than watercolor.
Illustrations can require working with a lot of reference material. Now that I have been working as an illustrator for many years, I can see how I was heading in this direction in certain aspects of my fine art. In a series of floral watercolors I did in the 80’s, I painted the flowers from life, and the backgrounds came from other paintings of mine, imagination, or photos I found. In my dream based series, my intention was to make the image as real as in the dream, requiring the entire piece to be cobbled together with found imagery.
With the advent of digital photography and the superior photo editing programs available, I now use my DSLR to shoot most of my own reference material. I sometimes find imagery to work with online, using Google images or stock image sites, but in general, I like to set up my own photo shoots once I have defined the concept with the client. I often ask friends and their families to help out as models. I also have plenty of my own paintings to cannibalize when putting together a commissioned composition. I sometimes end up with 20 or more separate pieces which I cut and paste together using Adobe Photoshop. I then sketch out the completed composition on gridded paper, referring to the Photoshop composition as I work on the piece.
As a freelance illustrator I have been able to focus on themes that are not only appealing to me but are integral to the way I live. I appreciate the basic interpersonal commerce of a farmers market. I love to garden, cook and eat, drink good wine. I support any organization that helps folks to make healthier food choices. I have had terrific clients engage me with often challenging but ultimately satisfying projects. My thanks to them all.