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


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