The Gift of Art
This is the time of year when I make something special for the people nearest and dearest. I absolutely refuse to participate in the consumer frenzy, and so would rather devote my time in the peaceful pursuit of something meaningful. For a while now, I've been reclaiming cigar boxes and building environments within. My only rule is that it must be constructed entirely of watercolor on handmade paper (toothpicks for support). This box, #4 in a series, was made for my daughter who spent a semester in Tuscanny last year, and fell completely in love with the region. She described the particular light as a day was coming to a close, and the pastoral views of the countryside from her veranda. Luckily, she'd sent me a photo that I saved, from the vantage point of the balcony, which I recreated with a little artistic liscence.
Our Oil Addiction
For the current issue of Utne Reader on a group of veterans from the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, who are touring the country to warn of our continued dependence on froeign (and domestic) oil. They are promoting solar and wind based energy.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
I started my drawing career rendering tedious versions of animals in their environments. A naturalist illustrator is how I envisioned myself. So it's only natural for my mind to be drawn to using animals in a symbolic way, over the years. The animal world has served me well in countless illustrations, but I don't think I've served them well, since subjects such as evil, theft, treachery, and deception are inevitably represented by the cliche and irresponsible perceptions of animals, therefore perpetuating and maligning them as stereotypes. Because our aim is to communicate effectively, we need to work with collective perceptions of the world around us. When this assignment landed concerning con men in the insurance industry, luring unsuspecting (aging) vets...the fox seemed appropriate, as a visual solution. So the fox's wonderful ability to survive as an elusive and skillful predator, becomes deception, and is instantly understood as such. It gives an illustrator reason to pause. The finished art here will not be seen in print, since they went with another sketch. I took a chance before they responded and went to final art on the sketch I thought was the winner (not!). And that's ok with Mr. Fox.
The sketch is always more vital.
A Baaaad Arrangement
For Utne Reader, on key environmental groups that are beholden to corporate money, and therefore end up working on their behalf, or at the very least, an ineffectual agenda. It's a pleasure to work for Stephanie, who encourages illers to "surprise" her with a dynamic image.
Most Unusual Working Conditions
I got caught in Philly yesterday with no art supplies or technology, when the Wall Street Journal called with a quick turnover assignment about the Immigration Bill. I had roughly an hour or two, so I sketched on the back of a map and sent it via Blackberry. With the green light at hand, I sped to Utrecht for ink & brush, watercolor and paper to execute the final art. Then where to draw? Perhaps a pub or Starbucks, but neither has a Mac and scanner. I called upon the venerable University of the Arts, and declared myself a teacher at Pratt (kindred spirits) and threw myself upon their mercy. The Illustration Dept. office manager and chairman were very gracious and the experience was like the next best thing to working in my own studio. thank you to all concerned!
The Immigration Debate
For today's L.A.Times editorial page. There are still those who would say that all our woes are due to immigrants. The rhetoric is insensitive, often racist and potentially dangerous for a large population of hard working people. This B&W drawing is intentionally stark and has a text wrap on the top and bottom of the barbed wire.
Tis the season of battling donkeys and elephants, thanks to the health care debate. This illustrates an article that made a puzzling analogy to WWII, hence the tanks and map. My anthropomorphic characters are getting mangier looking with each drawing.
The sketches always have more vitality.