Picture perfect

Have you ever wondered about the illustrations that appear on our websites? They are the work of artist Rebecca J Kent who was originally commissioned to design images for The Information Point website, to show the way that centronuclear and myotubular myopathy affects people of all ages and the different ways in which the condition can manifest itself. And when The Information Point celebrated its 10th anniversary, Rebecca designed a further image to mark the occasion, which now appears on The Big Sunflower Project website. 

The Information Point 

Rebecca first designed the banner image that appears on The Information Point website. She spent several weeks working on the project, taking time to learn about centronuclear and myotubular myopathy and looking at photos of those affected, then incorporating aspects of the condition into her work, to create a truly unique image for the centronuclear and myotubular myopathy community.

The image started life as simple black and white line drawings, showing a group of people affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, traveling together, looking for information. Some are in wheelchairs, some are ambulatory – they are of different ages and genders. The drawings show that later a young boy on a special needs bicycle was added, then the first glimpse of colour in the form of some sunflowers. Later drafts added colour to the people and a green background with bright yellow and orange sunflowers. The final version saw the addition of two more figures, an adult, ambulatory but holding onto a wheelchair for support and a young boy.

The centronuclear myopathies are complex to understand but the umbrella image that appears on the website aims to simplify this, showing how the conditions that fall under the ‘centronuclear myopathies’ umbrella are related. It also represents community and shelter for anyone affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. The image was later updated when new genes implicated in centronuclear and myotubular myopathy were discovered.

The Big Sunflower Project

The image that appears on The Big Sunflower Project website was also designed by Rebecca. The sunflowers which appear in the background of The Information Point image now take centre stage. Three people are caring for the sunflowers, in a garden filled with animals, insects, plants and other detail, including a bee hive and a birthday cake.

Again, the image went through several design stages; first some black and white sketches with a touch of colour. Then the first pass of real colour, followed by the addition of detail, shadow and texture.

Rebecca used a graphics tablet, to create her images and told us ‘The tablet is like an electronic paper and pen, so I can draw directly into the computer. I start working using a vector graphics programme – instead of pixels, it uses co-ordinates to map the path of the lines. This means I can scale things up and down, and move elements of the picture around very easily. Then I move the file into a drawing programme where I can add colours and textures. I use lots of layers when I’m working – this means I can change one thing without affecting another part of the image that I’m happy with – for example, the figures can be moved around and I can swap the direction they are facing until they look right together’.

The Big Sunflower Project



Further information

You can learn more about Rebecca and see more of her work on her website below.

San Francisco watercolours

This story first appeared in the Information Point newsletter Our World in 2013, when Andy C Villon, a 19 year old freelance artist, diagnosed with X-linked myotubular myopathy, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina told us about four watercolours he had produce for Audentes Therapeutics in San Francisco, a biotechnology company developing new treatments for people with serious rare diseases, through the application of gene therapy technology and currently working to develop a treatment for myotubular myopathy.

Andy and his paintings.

Andy says: I am diagnosed with X-linked myotubular myopathy however I do not let this disability stop me from enjoying life. I have been painting and drawing as a hobby all of my life. When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to do something with art. Around this time, I painted my first watercolor of the Grand Canyon and seeing how it came out, I knew I was on the right track. This painting won in the youth category in the 2014 RareArtist.org art competition.

For the past three years I have been instructed by Bruce L Bunch who is a professional artist. Mr Bunch has guided me and given me advice on how to improve my painting skills, I have learned a lot about art history, digital art and traditional art from watching videos on YouTube and I learned about design when I read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

My watercolors tend to look much more realistic than my acrylic paintings. My acrylics are very impressionistic and vibrant. After watching a girl on YouTube draw photorealistic portraits using colored pencils, I was inspired to try that medium too. When I paint with watercolors and acrylics I enjoy painting broad landscapes.

I love powerful scenes where you can see an entire city or valley and earlier this year was contacted by Tristen Moors of Audentes Therapeutics. She wanted me to paint four watercolors of scenes from around San Francisco, California, to go in their new office. These were the first large (18″ x 24″) and realistic watercolors I had ever done and I truly appreciated what I was painting due to the fact that I had traveled to San Francisco in 2013 and the paintings helped me learn so much about working with watercolors.

The four watercolours painted by Andy are now showcased on the walls of the Audentes offices in San Fransciso and as the photos here show, the team are very happy with his work.

Watercolours in the Audentes Therapeutics office in San Francisco.