Watercolor sketch of Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell. The library security guard was very excited Mr Bell was visiting Grand Rapids, leading me to print a few reference photos before I went out of town. Painted at my parents’ dining room table while my dad installed a new kitchen faucet. Neither of us watch pro football but my dad agrees he looks like a nice dude.
Mary Jane Patterson (1840-1894)
Art by Misha VanVaerenbergh (website/tumblr)
Mary Jane was the first African American woman to receive a bachelor’s degree. She graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1862. Oberlin College historian Robert Samuel Fletcher believed that Mary Jane was likely the first black woman in the world the earn a bachelor’s degree, although she is only documented as the first black woman to earn a bachelor’s degree in the US.
Mary Jane was preceded at Oberlin by another black woman, Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, who also completed a four year degree. However, Lucy graduated with a literary degree rather than a bachelor’s degree. At the time, Oberlin offered a lady’s course and a gentleman’s course. The two curriculum covered much of the same material, but the gentleman’s course had a greater focus on classical languages and mathematics. The gentleman’s course was required for a bachelor’s degree and the first female students to earn an AB graduated from Oberlin in 1841.
After graduation, Mary Jane taught at black schools in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. For over ten years, Mary Jane was principal of the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (today Dunbar High School in DC). She was also a founding member of the Colored Woman’s League of Washington DC which focused on training kindergarten teachers and increasing the homemaking skills of working class women.
My illustration of Mary Jane Patterson for Cool Chicks from History! I really enjoyed working on this project. The only known photo I could find was from her college years, so my goal was a fictional portrait of Principal Patterson c 1870s. Although she’s best known for acquiring her degree, I was most impressed that she spent her remaining years furthering the education of other women and youth of color.
I enjoy traditional painting and I weirdly love cleaning brushes, but digital is best on a deadline.
Three stages of Bell. This was another kind-of study, kind-of warm-up drawing: getting the mistakes out of my hands and organizing my brain for finished work. I almost left it at the second stage but wasn’t happy with the likeness,
because perfectionism procrastination Mr Hill’s a cute kid not a hot dad.