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Elaine Exits

This is the first thing i drew.

I was looking for a photo in my phone and scrolled past one of Elaine Stritch getting out of a cab. it has always been one of my favorite photos of her — maybe even my favorite. It was taken in 1992 by Ron Galella as she arrived at the Broadhurst Theatre for the opening night of Noel COward’s private lives starring Joan Collins and Simon Jones.

the first thing i remember loving about it was how 90’s it is. You see, while Elaine was at opening night of Private Lives, i was watching the american playhouse presentation of stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods for the umteenth time off of the vhs my grandma thought to record of the original telecast. Beshert. this is what broadway looked like while i was absorbing it most. to this day it looks like this — in my head anyway.

this photo highlights the best of elaine. We get legs, diamonds on her shoes, sunglasses at night paired with the flash of the camera which allows us to see past the gradient lenses and straight into her wide eyes.

I love the cab with the ash tray on the door. i love that exact shade of yellow in contrast with her black and white-ness.

So, why did I draw it?

Well, as i mentioned I stumbled upon it — I wasn’t looking for a prompt — but I saw it and I thought of the animation style of Hannah-Barbara cartoons and those midcentury Disney animated classics. You could see the textures of the materials and I always loved that. It was so clearly drawn by hand even though we were seeing it digitally. I found a “brush set” that was inspired by just that and I thought that style would really lend itself to Elaine.

But you can’t draw!

Okay, I’ll trace it. But with as few lines as possible because the less you draw the less wrong lines there will be.

THis was my thought process.

An hour later it was done. And I looked at it and it wasn’t clicking that I had done it. because I liked it. Maybe even a lot. I thought to myself, “If I saw this online, I’d save a copy in my ‘Things Saved From The Internet’ folder.” I sent it to Dana, my dear friend and podcast co-host, and she asked me where I found it.

“Wait. Did you draw dat”

I get a little brave and a little caffeinated and put it online. Maybe someone else will be pleasantly surprised.

What I found to be most interesting was not how many people expressed their admiration, but who was. People whose art I respect and devour were telling me they loved it and had no idea i had this hidden talent. one person, who was particularly close to elaine, said she would have loved it.