Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Alligators everywhere

I've been seeing a lot of alligators lately!
This ceramic fellow is by Lison and I spotted him here. I think he looks friendly
(but I'm glad I'm not a meal worm or a short-trunked baby elephant!)
© liliféfé 2010
This genial Mama Crocodile is by Maral
© Maral Sassouni 2010
By far, pride of place must go to the prolific French croco-designer and alli-strator Alain Lachartre of Vue sur la ville & Miter Brown. I copied this image from his facebook gallery. In this secret place reside a great many bizarre and wonderful crocodile confections.
© Alain Lachartre 2010

An alarming number of alligators and crocodiles have appeared much closer to home and they appear to have settled in for a long stay. If you can't beat them, I say: join them!
hungry for colors

chance encounter

Just the tip of the iceberg!
Bonne journée!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A little tern story

Easy pickings!
Off to market!

The bird market
…and what's inside of them

Fast forward!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

monkeys & foxes: 1

slaves and slave drivers

Oh, look who is stuck in that hole in the ground!

the crafty foxes find a way out

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Through a Glass Darkly

As I trolled through my flickr favorites yesterday  morning, it occurred to me that it is our passions (of their varying depths) that define us and provide a glimpse to our artistic values as they shift over time. Perhaps this is just the everyday motivation of collectors of things: the acquiring phase and the evaluation phase. We're basically magpies at heart and our collections help us see who we are or, were, at a moment that has slipped away forever.

I hope you can excuse my shallow musings but this is a blog after all! Artists are compelled by nature to bring the personal forward in the belief that there is something universal in their experience of life. So, blogging is a natural extension as we sort out Life out loud while trying to be elegant enough to not alienate the public we depend on. We sing for our supper every day.

There is the thing and there is the evidence of the thing.
Sometimes I wonder which is the more real or truthful representation of me. I can look at photos of myself or look in the mirror. I can look at old check registers or credit card statements and get a sense of my priorities and the places I've been. There are the boxes of Graphis annuals, PRINT and Creation magazine and shelves of books. Piles of sketchbooks and, of course folders filled with photographs. These are the physical evidence of my existence in and my interaction with the world.

I can talk to a therapist or a friend and through words try to fix some aspect of my uniqueness and possibly the beneficial effects of my being something other than an idea in my head. I can say something provocative and take note of others reactions to see whether I am only dreaming this whole idea of my life. And in quieter moments, like a detective. I can analyze the things I've collected over time. We are all anthropologists of the self,

Hopefully, I've left room in this text for you to take home this idea without burdening you with the particulars.

And since this is a blog for illustrators (this entry was originally intended for my Drawger blog), I believe that illustrators process imagery at a higher rate than other artists. The world is literally our banquet. All is grist for the mill. We love anything that is graphic. We prefer (or used to) that it also smell of printing ink. Popular and obscure, cinematic and intimate: the more and more diverse, the better. This vast and often uncategorized personal catalog of stimulating images is our edge and our money in the bank. It is the well from which our surreal creativity bursts. We are illustrators: we speak to the people in the people's language and we renew that language each time we do our job.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Well now...

What shall we talk about today?
I think I'll go rummage around and get a picture and see what strikes my fancy:

"10-26-10" (charcoal, watercolor, ink)

I've always liked (Le Douanier) Henri Rousseau and this vegetation is straight out of his famous painting "The Dream" in The Museum of Modern Art in New York city. You know it; this one:
"The Dream" by Henri Rousseau, 1910, MoMA
Reproductions of this painting are in art classrooms across the world. Rousseau had an interesting career and I feel an affinity with his ambivalent relationship with his contemporaries and their more "learned" efforts that worked in the contentious dialectic succession of styles that fed the advent of Modernism in Europe at the turn of the 19th Century. Artists like Picasso needed Rousseau to bolster their claim on the native force of the undomesticated imagination. Rousseau craved their attention and relative legitimacy.

I say this not to denigrate Rousseau. I would hope to elevate him (or rather, what he represents for me). The issues that animate the art world are generally pretty small and pretty elitist. I'm certainly not immune to these kinds of topics and dissections. But, truthfully, at the end of the day, what you do as an artist is make a representation of something that made an impression on you and, if you're lucky, it reaches other people and there's a little mental or emotional moment of communion. The picture has to stand on its own. Do you like it or not? Knowing the context or even the textual foundations is great but in the end, I believe that artifacts are frequently stripped of their context. The work should quickly get about its business. Lasting art does this effectively, respectfully (not necessarily politely!) and without apologies or dependence on outside supports.

Well, that's enough blog-blather from this boy. Here's another few doodles from my sketchbook.
Have a good day and visit soon.

The elephant in the room

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Utter Nonsense!

Feel free to suggest a story or motive…

Let's see, we have a contraption powered by some nuclear furnace or Catherine Wheel. It's being driven by an elf and is populated by cavorting blue foxes. All attended by a doleful bear.

Is there an explanation? Yes there is but it's boring and mostly about the process of making a picture out of nothing. Every artist is different in their approach to picture making. For me it has become a dialog between predictability and surprise. I do not begin thinking that today I shall make a picture with a contraption, an elf, some blue foxes and a bear. No, I begin with some predictable criss-crossing lines in green magic marker. And it goes uphill from there. Or downhill if I'm lucky.
The lines were boring so I started adding red dots and basically trying to "enliven" the marker doodle. The circles got added on the top and bottom. It could have turned into a Crystal City drawing at this point. Instead it became one of these vehicles I've been drawing since this summer. The vehicles always have occupants: first the elf, then the foxes. The elf brings a human element and the foxes add cuteness, joy, pleasure and spontaneity. The bear counters the sprightliness of the other creatures. So there is a picture that sort of came about in a logical fashion but it's not very compelling. It's whimsical and it might get your imagination fired up a little if you have some time to devote to looking at it and thinking about it.

It does suggest two questions to me and this, by the way, should dictate the progress of my practice. The questions are: 1) What is the nature of this small procession, and…
2) What do they see?

Is this enough to be the germ of a story? Can I love these questions and characters enough to find (or invest) the humanity in them? Indeed!

Have a good day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sunday Doodles

Oh, he's just sleepy…
For better or worse, I go to church on the weekends with my family. Been doing it for years and years. It's a good place and there are a lot of good people there trying to live life in good ways. And I'm no better than them so I pay attention to what's going on. I listen to the sermon and sing a few hymns too. It's nice to hang out with people of all ages as we all navigate this interesting phenomenon called Life.

Unlike most of them however, the only way I can make that hour my own and truly pleasurable is with a pencil in my hand. I doodle all over my program while I'm supposed to be praying or paying attention to someone else praying. Hi God! It's me: that total screw-up with the pencil in his hand. Thank you for another day to contemplate your beautiful Creation

another fox

the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
Savor your boredom

Fox and frog on church steps

a tiny sweet dragon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Autumn Castle

"10-13-10a" mixed media 8.5 x 11"
Some blogs are newsy little things with lots of links from a blogger trying be helpful and get you to linger for a few minutes at their site. But a lot of artists' blogs are just pictures too. Maybe a caption. As the season progresses and it gets too cold to draw outside, I'll be showing this kind of stuff more: just pictures from my studio and a little text. Hope you like it.

This picture started out with heavy marker outlines and color. I made the pink sky area and just stopped in my tracks. The autumn trees got added next and then I figured out how to make the marker lines less massive so they even trembled or shimmered a bit. The scumbled-on clouds rounded out the formula. Not very interesting but pretty to look at and satisfying to make. If you're new to this thing, I call these "Crystal Cities" and I have a lot more posted here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Wildness…

The Italianate Garden at Elm Bank
Thoreau's statement "In wildness is the preservation of the world" is frequently mis-appropriated as a call for preservation of pristine areas of forest and mountainous Nature. Thoreau, in some ways I believe, had little interest in preserving Nature for Nature's sake. What he was passionately interested in was preserving that part of humanity that wants to jump fences, tangled hair flowing with dirt under its fingernails. His call for "wildness" is a plea for the original, the uncouth, the very essence of what it means to be a human and to be a living human at that.

And so with this homely preamble I present you with a sketch of a formal garden in the rain. The people who tend it are just hanging on and it's liable to disappear or go feral in the next business cycle as funding dries up. You never know. Then maybe the fountain will fill with frogs and the hedges will grow out and owls may roost in them.

That is how this artist's life shall be: an unartful dialogue between domesticity and unpredictable behavior. In between all my posts here about ducks and dams and the sublime beauty of Nature have been ridiculous doodles of alligators, foxes, men in pointed hats and imaginary landscapes. One feeds the other. And so it goes: winter is approaching and things will take a turn to the imaginary in Sketchbookland (although I was thinking of getting some fingerless gloves to prolong my outdoors sketching a bit longer).


birds and flying bicycles

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gathering Nuts

"Red Squirrel, Lake Waban" colored pencil

Red Squirrel, le lac Waban" crayon de couleur

Fall is definitely here. And we are harvesting different things:

Some sort of flying circus

Une sorte de Flying Circus

Fearless Fox

Le renard intrépide

Birds in flying machines

Les oiseaux dans des machines volantes
We're having a good time over here. I hope you are too.


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