Guinea Sam sketch examples

Here are some examples of the Guinea Sam comp sketches.  Researching materials for the illustration of this book has lead me down some fascinating rabbit holes.  (fascinating rabbit holes?)  I've really enjoyed making these and I look forward to the final art.  

(These sketches are for the Notable Missourian book series to be published by Truman State University Press)

Guinea Sam as a young boy captured and sold to slave traders in his native Guinea

Guinea Sam as a young boy captured and sold to slave traders in his native Guinea

Guinea Sam as a youth working on a rice plantation in South Carolina

Guinea Sam as a youth working on a rice plantation in South Carolina

After working on a sugar cane plantation in Louisiana, Guinea Sam was sold to a man from Boonville Missouri.  There he tended an apple orchard.

After working on a sugar cane plantation in Louisiana, Guinea Sam was sold to a man from Boonville Missouri.  There he tended an apple orchard.

This is an alternate approach for Guinea Sam in Boonville.  I like the scene better but the figure is not great.  Guineas Sam was freed at the end of the civil war.  He stayed in Boonville for the rest of his life as a gardner, storyteller, and conjure man.

This is an alternate approach for Guinea Sam in Boonville.  I like the scene better but the figure is not great.  Guineas Sam was freed at the end of the civil war.  He stayed in Boonville for the rest of his life as a gardner, storyteller, and conjure man.

Guinea Sam using his conjuring to lift a curse

Guinea Sam using his conjuring to lift a curse

A family refused to put Guineas Sam up for the night, so he hexed them by telling them that before the end of the night they would be driven from their home.  That night there was a big storm and what sounds like a ball lightening incident.  The timing is awesomely spooky.

A family refused to put Guineas Sam up for the night, so he hexed them by telling them that before the end of the night they would be driven from their home.  That night there was a big storm and what sounds like a ball lightening incident.  The timing is awesomely spooky.

Guinea Sam as an older man mixing herbs and traditional folk remedies.  

Guinea Sam as an older man mixing herbs and traditional folk remedies.  

Meet Guinea Sam

AKA Sam Nightingale.  Sam was an herb doctor, conjure man and story teller from Boonville Missouri.  He is another fascinating subject of a book in the Notable Missourian series (Truman State University Press).

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The challenge here was that there was no known photo or engraving of Sam to work with. That meant I had to come up with character sketches based on the description of his appearance and personality. To get in the mood, I listened to some hoodoo podcasts while reading up on the Gullah culture and conjuring.  It worked maybe too well...I think this image might have some juju going on. My son asked me to print out a copy so he could hang it in his room and some fold deep in my lizard brain told me that was a bad idea. 

Along the same lines, it seems superstition has been a theme of mine lately.  The other day I had a black cat cross my path while running and the first thought that came blasting through my head was "Well great, now I'm effed."  To build further on the crazy I got home and my own pet black cat came out to greet me and I thought "Oh good!  I own a black cat so that nullifies any black cat crossings, right?"  

Seriously, thats a thing right?  

Back to reality.  So Guinea Sam is a fascinating story and I can't wait to start on the final art for it, but right now I'm working on the final art for Helen Stephens so he will just have to wait...cause her story is amazing too!