This is what I wrote for our Facebook page devoted to the novel, Acaju, by Douglas Lorie (for which I illustrated the cover, & interior map.)
Having previously known Doug Lorie merely as a very funny person, a great cook, world-traveler, & the son of one of my favorite people in the world, I was FLOORED when he sent me the first passage of Acaju, as a reference. Only 3 sentences in to it, I was completely hooked! It was immediately clear that this character - a woman - was powerful & self-respecting. I knew she couldn’t possibly be Western. Further reading revealed that she was well-respected in her family & tribe, as well. Such a rarity! The Tupi-Guaranis of Brazil were not yet westernized in the early 1700s. I already loved Aponi, and was dedicated to portray her in a way that did justice to her strength, passion, power, & pain.
It was also clear that Doug Lorie was capable of a lot more than joking around! How often is it that we get to read about women like this?? Not often enough, I think. And, how often do I get to illustrate someone as intense, complex & nuanced as this? Also not often enough! I must add that this character was created by a man - as in “guy”. I was so impressed by Doug’s ability to create a convincing 3 dimensional female character!
So, all of this made my job much easier. I had a clear idea of what I wanted her expression to be, right from the start. I was so very grateful that he asked me to do it instead of someone who would be inclined to stereotype her, or who couldn’t do justice to her depth of character. Our culture desperately needs to see & know strong, self-respecting women! My mission was clear.
I so loved making this portrait! It rekindled my love of portraiture, & reminded me of how incredibly expressive the human face, and body, are.
This website is made possible by an Emerging Artists Grant from the Durham Arts Council with support from the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the state of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.