I love the art style of your Valentina piece; you said you were "looking at a lot of 50s lifestyle art with graphic black". I love that art style too! Do you have some artist names I could look up? I never know who does all that gorgeous advert art other than Rockwell and Leyendecker--especially with that use of black, that's my favourite.
oh yeah, absolutely! Leyendecker and Rockwell are absolute masters, but there are a ton of illustrators to look at for later, more graphic mid-century work. A couple favourites of mine include Al Parker:
Earl Oliver Hurst:
…and not entirely of the same school, but Mead Scheaffer is killer at large swaths of black and value grouping throughout a composition:
…ditto that for Tom Lovell:
….and a million other artists that I’m sure I’m forgetting. But hopefully this is a good starting point! And here are some great compendium books to check out as well: