The Spirit of Anna Sinton Taft

“The Spirit of Anna Sinton Taft”
Digital illustration
14 in x 17.5 in

This is an illustration I did in Photoshop using a Waucom Intuos tablet.  While the process took roughly 21 hours, I feel like I learned a lot during the process and I’ll be able to do something like this in the future in less time.  The reason I chose to do this piece requires some explanation, though.

Anna Sinton Taft, wife of Charles Phelps Taft, was left with the Times-Star business after her husband died in 1929.  Construction of their new building, the Art Deco monument that stands today at 8th and Broadway, had only just begun.  However, she died of a heart attack in 1931 at her home, the present day Taft Museum, and never lived to see the new building’s completion.  The firm of Samuel Hannaford & Sons finished the building and it opened for business on January 1st, 1933, just 30 days shy of the second anniversary of Anna’s passing.

Anna Sinton Taft never stepped foot in the building that was dedicated to her and Charles and their legacy.  She never witnessed with her own eyes the artistry we can so easily walk up and appreciate today.  On the Hamilton County official website, it purports to list a complete history of the Times-Star building and mentions that it is rumored that Anna had “taken residence on the 16th floor, a huge penthouse suite, with a spectacular view, designed for her comfort.” This is obviously untrue given the timeline of events, but it conjured a mental image I couldn’t get out of my head: Anna, alone at one of the windows in her tower under the light of a full moon, looking up at the stars toward where she felt Charles would be, and feeling young and restored despite her old age. She’d let down her hair to settle in for the night and shared a quiet introspective moment with herself, the stars, and the room she was in.  The drawing is a collage of those elements.

The brightest star in the sky is directly in her line of vision, which represents Charles.  I chose to make him a star because of the namesake of the newspaper.  The moon is enlarged because I imagined the scene set within one of those nights where everyone has a faint shadow because the moon is so bright and it’s low on the horizon which makes it seem extra large.  Anna is rendered based on an image I found online of a nameless woman at the turn of the 20th century in clothing similar to the type Anna is wearing in old photos, and I added the necklace with the teardrop pearl (which is prominently featured in a painting of her at the Taft Museum).  The building has a stylized, dramatic lighting scheme to amplify the emotion present within the idea behind the image.  1930s searchlights were added on either side of the tower to represent Anna’s search for Charles.  They’re placed at the bottom of the image because that’s where the luminosity of the city actually is.  It symbolically bridges the gap between Anna and the city below by combining use for both parties.  The “TS” on the dark side of the building is a design taken from the street level windows bounding either side of the main door; I put it on the darkened side of the tower because if you draw a line from the “Charles star” to it, it passes through Anna’s heart, linking all three things together.