Rob Dunlavey
Harvard Art Museums
Last weekend, I made it over to the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge. I hadn't been there in years and the museums (The Fogg, Sackler and Busch-Reisinger) have been transformed into a state of the art facility that house extraordinary and familiar works from all over the world.
Below are my random observations and even more random attributions and information related to the works. Sorry, I can look further and get details to you.
While in museums, my operative mode is: Omnivorous Scavenger. Each work draws me toward it, like a moth to a flame. They become mirrors in which I gaze into my own delighted artistic abyss. I pinball from ancient China and Bernini's clay-spattered workshop to Botticelli, his ears ringing with the reactionary logic of Savanarola and to a time called "Everywhen"…
Pietà, Austria, 1420 polychromed poplar wood
This familiar view of a grieving woman reminds me of Warhol's grieving "Jackie" 1963 artnet. 600 years later sons are still killing each other and mothers are admired for their poetic grief. We need a new script.
Sandro Botticelli: she has no clue…
Oh my! (tempera on panel, info)
This self-portrait is part of the three-way project that Van Gogh convinced Gauguin and Bernard to undertake. The three works are all quite earnest but it's impossible to evaluate them knowing the subsequent stories and paths each man followed. Soon, Gauguin, extricating himself from his deteriorating friendship with the Dutchman sold this painting for 300 francs.
Fra Angelico
"Negro Soldier" egg tempera & oil on board, Robert Smullyan Sloan, American (New York, NY 1915 - 2013 Boston, MA)
Persistent aren't they!? "The Three" by Philip Guston, 1970
Annette Lemieux "Available Portrait Colors" 2012 (commercial paint samples for flesh color)
"Pear Tree" an early painting by Klimt …all those dabs…!
Australian aboriginal work from the "Everywhen" show. Lots and lots of dabs!
detail: Everywhen… where mapmaking and storytelling and history merge. Time dissolves and becomes a medium through which one swims.
Everywhen: patterns emerging and submerging
I saw a show of Bridget Riley (British Op Art pioneer) when I was in Denmark. This Australian work is just as large but much more visually aggressive despite it's peaceful, mesmerizing accumulation of dots
detail of a Japanese folding screen: crane legs & feet
I like to paint birds like this and it almost always feels like a easy solution to the problem at hand. And then I'm reminded that it feels good to paint birds.
Stepping back from the precipice, a delightfully casual doodle by Nicolaes Maes, Dutch (Dordrecht 1634 - 1693 Amsterdam)
I hope you enjoyed this tiny tour. If you're ever in town contact me and let's go a museum together.
PS: I almost forgot the Bernini. There's a small space filled with these terra cotta models. The clay is singing!!
Morteza Zahedi
This new series of drawings of horses by Iranian illustrator Morteza Zahedi (blog) (facebook) blows me away. He is a prolific and award-winning children's book illustrator.
But the horses! Just when I think I've done something courageous, honest and unique I look  at Morteza's work and I know I have not been extravagant enough.
Happy New Year friends. Make lots of pictures!
all work © 2013 2014 Morteza Zahedi
Ping Zhu is…
AWESOME! Send her some love people!
Isol, winner of this year's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's books for 2013.
In March 2013, the Swedish government sponsored award committee announced its decision to give this year's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award to Isol, a children's book illustrator and author from Argentina. The other night, she accepted the award (sometimes referred to as "Europe's Caldecott").
Her acceptance speech is charming and inspiring like her books; she even sang a portion of it. She's got a fabulous voice! Congratulations to Isol!

An introduction to Isol's work:

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
The Guardian
Isol website
Isol blog (includes text of her speech)
My 15
It's been entertaining and edifying to read others' lists of influences. I hope that my indulgent speculation kindles positive reflections in you and the knowledge that we stand on the shoulders of so many others. And, that they are not so different than us.
I grew up reading my older brothers' comic books and Mad Magazines. I watched afternoon monster and war movies. And I was always drawing and these things were my early influences. Art has been a talent. I always stood out in grammar school and high school. I was  a good student and tried all Art materials and styles. I hung out with smart kids and art kids. I was one of the art stars. It may have been my 18th birthday; my stepsister gave me this book (I don't know what possessed her but it has always been a a touchstone):
But I went to art school. I didn't study illustration at all and never considered it a future job. I think my education, in retrospect, was scattershot which might reflect the time: the late 70's and early 80's. I studied fine art: painting, printmaking, sculpture. Presumably, options and a lifestyle would flow from this preoccupation. I worked college jobs designing posters, ads and editorial cartoons for the student newspapers (I'd also done this in high school). I was inspired by Mort Drucker, Bill Mauldin, Thomas Oliphant, Ranan Lurie, Thomas Nast, Rembrandt etchings. One-color offset reproduction maybe with color overlays done in rubylith… this was my graphic universe.
I wondered if Milton Glaser rubbed down his own Letraset type. I was clueless about graphic design, illustration and fine art. What's sort of funny to me is that in addition to Artforum magazine and fine art coffee table books and monographs, I would prowl the university library and check out old Graphis Annuals too.
So, I feel like I've had several "careers" with their attendant influences; …any more than 15! And since it's been a week or so since Yuko issued the challenge, my list has blossomed out of control to where I feel like a cloud and I wonder where the influences end and the self becomes defined. And I wonder also, who's wagging whom? Which is the tail and which is the dog? Should I add things to my list that make me look sophisticated or add idols that confirm something that I've sought in myself? …See, I'm a mess …!
But I want to leave you a list. It seems very slippery however. Some are role models for me, Some are etched in my visual memory. Some influence in a negative sort of way--I go in the opposite direction. Some I simply love and are part of my ever-growing artistic bouquet. They illuminate values that go to the core of what it means to make Art: to be fearless, to be curious, to provoke and to soothe. Some influences are laborers in the same vineyard, just a little further ahead of where I am and where I hope to arrive someday:
  1. Ito Jakuchu: Japanese artist
  2. Kazumasa Nagai: Japanese graphic designer & illustrator
  3. Benjamin Chaud: French illustrator
  4. Milton Glaser
  5. Seymour Chwast
  6. Saul Steinberg
  7. André François: French illustrator, designer
  8. Tomi Ungerer
  9. Morris Graves: American painter
  10. Disney's Pinnochio: backgrounds painted by Gustav Tenggren
  11. Jean Dubuffet (and other examples of Art Brut and Outsider Art
  12. Etienne Delassert: editorial and children's book illustrator
  13. Leo Lionni: designer and children's book illustrator
  14. Joseph Beuys: German artist
  15. Honoré Daumier: French painter and editorial artist
  16. etc.
Thanks for reading this.
Morris Graves
Ito Jakuchu
Hokusai Manga
Saul Steinberg
Gustav Tenggren more
Kazumasa Nagai
Joseph Beuys
André François (obituary)
So many more great images…
André Carrilho
Many of you are familiar with the illustrations of Lisbon's own  ANDRE CARRILHO. I've seen his caricatures in the New Yorker for the past several years. I enjoy the distortion of his figures and the way he blends standard practices of caricature (imagine a ménage à quatre between Ralph Steadman, Al Hirschfeld, Steve Brodner and Kristen Ulve) with a cool/hot helping of digital playfulness. I personally think he may be withholding his full talent or I just haven't seen enough of his work to think that this represents his full potential. However, I'm sure, in the realm of commissioned illustration, Mr. Carrilho has surprises in store yet to come.
The portrait to the left is of Billy Holiday.
Recently, when prowling flickr I was immediately attracted to these pen and brush drawings of the rooftops, also of Lisbon. What's the connection? They were done by André Carrilho.
by André Carrilho
by André Carrilho
by André Carrilho
Besides being a digital figurative illustrator, André Carrilho is also part of a worldwide semi-organized group of artists who practice "urban sketching." Moleskine notebooks in hand, they blog their work as groups and post on flickr and probably many other places. Artists organize "crawls" in different cities and do the time-honored artist practice of sketching and taking note of what's in front of their noses (and then follow this with socializing and more sketching).
Why? In André's own words: (from his flickr profile)

"I'm a professional illustrator that decided to go back to basics and try to draw without a "undo" button.

Here you'll find a selection of sketches that are:
• done mostly on location. They may be finished by memory, if the circumstances demand it, but I'll avoid as much as I can using photos as reference.
• done with techniques that make corrections or erasing difficult (ink, watercolor). What you see is what I first drew. I can add, but I can't take back."

He has used this method of working (I don't want to cheapen it and call it a "style") for a pictorial about one of the worst fishing disasters in Portuguese history.
by André Carrilho
If you go to Carrilho's flickr blog, you see that he adds work to it daily. There's just a steady stream of  images done in all manner of places: bars, concerts in the evening, city plazas and construction sites by day. There are older beautiful watercolors of exotic ports of call and rich and gritty ink drawings of the taverns before the fado singers show up. I've never been to Lisbon but this is how I imagine it somehow: posing and elusive, proud but with dirt under the fingernails. Somewhere, an old train lumbers along doing something essential yet somehow toy-like all the same.
Fernando Pessoa, arguably Portugal's poet laureate, touches on Lisbon's sultry yet acerbic gravitation and maybe hints at the way artists like André Carrilho can seamlessly pour forth work that spans obvious dichotomies:

“It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese, had three alter egos who wrote in styles completely different from his own. In fact Pessoa wrote under dozens of names, but Alberto CaeiroRicardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos were – their creator claimed – full-fledged individuals who wrote things that he himself would never or could never write. He dubbed them ‘heteronyms’ rather than pseudonyms, since they were not false names but “other names”, belonging to distinct literary personalities. Not only were their styles different; they thought differently, they had different religious and political views, different aesthetic sensibilities, different social temperaments. And each produced a large body of poetry. Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis also signed dozens of pages of prose.”  —from Goodreads

The Red Castle
I've found to be an easy platform to post brief pictorials of my sketchbook work. This diversion is part of my attempt to keep the drawger front page focused on more worthy news items! But, I live to blog (or vice versa!).
With posterus (which was recently acquired by twitter), I focus on one picture and then add a slide show of detail images. Sometimes I write a little story or speculation to accompany it. Then I feed it to my facebook page and voilà! …it's on to more important tasks (like packing my bags for a trip to Iceland!). They look kind of like this:
06-25-12 mixed media. Part of the never-ending Crystal Cities thing.
And what is the purpose of all this blogging and naval gazing? Is it just self-absorbed wonder and delight at an ant's eye view of one's artwork? Or is it hard-nosed self-promotion on the cheap? Intervention-worthy procrastination? Yes! All that and more! Totally.
My salvation is only is possible only if you too are momentarily (a nanosecond; nothing more) thrilled and start to drag your fingers through the dust and simply create a thing that hasn't existed yet. Today, perhaps…
Leo Dillon 1933 - 2012
Children's book illustrator Leo Dillon has died. He was 79 years old. He is survived by his wife and illustration partner, Diane Dillon and their son Lee. The Dillons were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Illustrators in 2008.
A wonderful tribute from Irene Gallo of Tor Press.
A blog collection of their work here.
More info here at Publisher's Weekly.
Donatien Mary
Donatien Mary is an illustrator and printmaker from France. He graduated from Les Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg in 2007 and currently lives in Paris. He's involved in many personal projects, bande dessinée and books for Actes Sud, Les petits Platons and Éditions 2024.
I like his aquatints and his linear drawing style. It reminds me of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz. I like how he uses limited color and can work the whole page or spread. It's just caustic, vibrant and immediate work that incorporates the best drawing of European graphic and comic history… and beyond. Hope you enjoy these samples:
If you're in Paris in April, besides whatever else that idea conjures up, plan to stop in at Galerie Petits Papiers (91 rue Saint-Honoré 75001) and see "La Valise Égyptienne" drawings and paintings by Alain Lachartre.

The drawings and watercolors open a peephole on a whimsical cosmology that includes floating crocodiles, happily suicidal monkeys, elephants that can walk underwater and at least forty pharaohs' tombs. It is quite extensive and full of offbeat philosophical humor and good old play.

He generously sent me a copy of the catalog last week and seeing the paintings as sequenced in the book (I've seen many of them on Alain's facebook albums) has made them seem even more mysterious …and funny.
Last year, Lachartre sent me a poster rolled up in a beautifully decorated cardboard box.
I found this one at my local library: "Cats, Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies & Clowns, The Lost Art of William Steig" by Jeanne Steig. Introduction by Roz Chast and an Afterword by Jules Feiffer. Abrams, 2011
Perhaps you've already seen this book. Included are many doodles and rejected items from the New Yorker. Classic Steig moonshine unfiltered. Prepare to be inspired. The chapter intro texts by Jeanne Steig are funny and illuminating.
Sorry for the bad snapshots!
more city doodles in Studioville
sketchbook painting and a the corner of a piece for next year's Dellas Graphics Frog Folio calendar.
Home Sweet Home!
Irana Douer
One of my flickr contacts is Hernán Paganini  a very busy Argentine artist whose work is very energetic, expansive and beautiful. He has many talented friends: Irana Douer caught my eye today. She does interesting figurative work. These are two etchings subsequently hand colored and reworked in a variety of treatments. Enjoy!
Bill Traylor exhibit
Untitled, ca. 1939–1942 "Traylor’s ability to make do with available materials is a trait common to people who grow up on farms. In their youth, he and his friends built a platform on the Alabama River, near the plantation, where they would spend hot summer days drinking and diving into the water. This lively drawing seems to be one of several in which the artist depicted that scene." Poster paint and pencil on cardboard
There's a show of Bill Traylor's drawings at Atlanta's High Museum: Feb 5 - May 13, 2012.
Get over there!

"Bill Traylor (1854?–1949) was born into slavery on a plantation in Alabama. After emancipation, he continued to live and work on the plantation until sometime before 1928, when he moved permanently to Montgomery. There he worked as a laborer and briefly in a shoe factory until he was physically unable to continue, then began receiving modest government assistance. Under the challenging conditions of Depression-era Alabama, Traylor survived on the streets in the then primarily black enclave of Monroe Avenue (now called Monroe Street). He slept first in the storage room of a funeral parlor, then in a shoe repair shop, and spent his days sitting on the sidewalks, creating the more than 1,200 drawings he is believed to have produced."
source: High Museum website.

L S Lowry
I just discovered L S Lowry today and you should too (that is if you live under a rock like I do and haven't yet). Charming. Melancholy. " A Sunday painter who painted everyday". From Manchester, England.
Man Lying on a Wall
Market Scene, Northern Town
The Cripples
The Terrace, Peel Park, Salford
View From the Window of the RTC, Salford
Laurence S. Lowry taking a break. Apparently, he was known for painting in these old suits and using the lapels (and other areas) to wipe his brushes.
Maurice Sendak interview
NPR's Terry Gross interview with Maurice Sendak yesterday.
photo © John Dugdale/HarperCollins Children's Book
Near Newport, Rhode Island there's a state park with a small museum in the lighthouse. And inside this lighthouse museum are wooden replicas of distinctive local lighthouses. Fun stuff.
Just passing this on if you like lighthouses and funky architectural models of them.
Newport's pretty nice too.
Beavertail State Park
Beavertail Lighthouse Museum
National Museum of American Illustration
a quick painting (what other kinds are there?) done the day after that trip to Narragansset Bay.
almost on cue, a year later, my doodles sprouted a few lighthouses.
A lonely outpost
OK. That's it. Get back to work.
Alain Lachartre
Alain Lachartre is a designer and artist from Paris. He is the founder of the agency Vue sur la Ville which is now allied with Mister Brown, another French design studio.
I do not know Alain Lachartre well. Then again, a physicist would probably tell you that he has never seen a black hole either. Nevertheless, black holes exist and the physicist governs all his assumptions about his world as if they exist in the same way that you and I exist.
So, Lacharte is real. His presence is felt and I have proof that he is appreciated throughout the vibrant world of French design and illustration. I am a facebook friend and we have collaborated on a few small exchanges over the past year or two (last year I was honored to contribute to his annual calendar for his design studio Vue sur la Ville & Mr. Brown. I hope to meet him the next time I go to Paris. Or maybe I'll invite him to Boston and we'll go to a Patriots game and toast Mr. and Mrs. Bundchen.
I was prompted to write an appreciation of him because in selecting work for an exhibit this coming September (2011) I came across a piece in my sketchbook from September 2010 I hadn't scanned and it reminded me of how much his paintings have amused and inspired me. Salut Alain!
Yukulélé aux Petits Joueurs
"La révolution est en marche..."
"Foumisinges énervantes"
my doodle: "09-30-10"
Boro fabric
Boro may be familiar inspiration to some of you but it was new to me and having just admired the beautiful blues in Michael Sloan's recent post I could not stop myself from bringing it to your attention now.
What little I know about boro is that it is patchworked fabric from the north of Japan. Scraps are quilted and appliquéd together so that new fabric is created that can be reused in various ways. It's reminiscent of The Gee's Bend quilts that made the rounds a few years ago here in the US.
The older pieces have a lot of blue and indigo fabric. Newer fabrics are more varied. It's all very beautiful. Enjoy.
There are many more examples and details of the kimonoboy website.
Laura Carlin
Laura Carlin is a very talented and successful illustrator based in London.
She's represented there and in the US by Heart Artist's Agents.
She also has a blog where she's showing examples of her painted ceramics.
All this work is simply gorgeous and stunning to see.

Recent BD raves & the Crumb show
I was accosted at the Wellesley Library recently by the librarian in charge of the BD (bande dessinée) section. I've been working my way through the collection trying to educate myself on my tastes in graphic novels. We chatted and he begged me for suggestions for additions to the collection. I suggested Christoph Blain, Joann Sfarr and Gipi (all recommended to me by Leo Espinosa). The librarian thrust a Blacksad collection and, when he understood that I was focusing on European authors, he gave me Jacques Tardi's "It Was The War of The Trenches" to read. Below are a few scans.
To the left is a panel from "Isaac The Pirate" by Christoph Blain. Isaac is an aspiring marine painter who leaves his fiancée and Paris and ships out on what turns out to be a pirate ship. As you can imagine, he's the odd duck in the crew. The captain begrudges Isaac's independence (before fulling losing his own mind) and rages at the artist for not working. I guess you could find a lot of useful metaphors in the tale.
A page from the Blacksad collection. All translated from the Spanish and available from Dark Horse (or, if you're lucky, your local library).

I love all this rendered stuff. It's so different from the style I'm currently working in.

Taking anthropomorphism to a new level: "Blacksad", illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, author: Juan Díaz Canales
Available from Dark Horse

I'm that guy… can't you feel it? The numb desperation that makes your mind only only on the insane task.

Hell… on Earth :-)

from "It Was The War of the Trenches" written & illustrated by Jacques Tardi.
I had to skim through this classic a few times because the horror of the imagery was too intense. Yup, I'm a serious wimp.

I love the storyboarding and cinema-feel. I imagine that I'm actually watching a movie and am somehow actively involved in the plot as it develops. But I'm very ill-informed about graphic novels and I don't see a lot of movies but I am in awe of this special art form that fuses draftsmanship, composition, drama, graphic wit and power, and the fourth dimension: Time. AND, the time it takes me to come up with sketches for a spot illustration, guys like Tardi have scoped out a whole sequence of war, mayhem, disaster and a resulting terrible truth.
I love the little boxes and how the artists work with them. Sometimes it's big and bold and other times the change is as subtle as a glance around a poker table as the cards get begrudgingly revealed. Blain's "Gus and His Gang" is full of these moments of exquisite timing and revealing hilarity:
from "Gus and His Gang" by Christoph Blain. This is a very complicated and hilarious send-up/love poem to Westerns.

In the midst of chain-reading these books, I found myself in Brunswick, Maine visiting colleges with my daughter. The Bowdoin College art museum has mounted an exhibit of Robert Crumb's "Book of Genesis" original drawings. Crumb is banal and profound at the same time as befits his stature. The 200+ drawings are arrayed around the small-ish gallery and you really must take the time to slowly follow the narrative. Submit. The enormity and uniqueness of his effort slowly sink in. Basically, and contrary to so many readers of scripture, he has actually read it and asked the basic questions an illustrator has to ask to do the job. Page after page, his unstinting hammering and cross-hatching mounts up from the big guy with the beard creating form out of chaos (another artistic metaphor!) to Joseph (who looks nothing like Donny Osmond) and Pharoah and Potipher's lovely wife. The show closes May 8th, 2011.
If you do get up there, you might look up fellow drawgerite Calef Brown. I spent a few hours with him talking poetry, his upcoming books, Art in general & blogging. What a nice guy!
Javier Zabala
Javier Zabala sketchbook exhibit

Cristiana Clerici has conducted and absolutely WONDERFUL interview with the fabulous Spanish illustrator JAVIER ZABALA. Read it here.
reblogged from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
sketches for "Hamlet"

Javier Zabala was born in León, Spain in 1962. He has illustrated over 70 books of poetry and fiction for children.

"During his brilliant career as an illustrator, Javier has undertaken undoubtedly complex works: from the illustrations of Don Quixote, to those for Santiago by García Lorca (for whom he obtained the Mention of Honour at the Bologna Book Fair), to the illustration of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for adults. Amongst others, he has illustrated stories by Melville and Rodari. Let’s say he’s made sure to cover almost all possible experiences! He probably doesn’t have much hesitation when it’s time to take up new challenges; this is an attitude I personally appreciate very much, because it’s symptomatic of a strong will to keep evolving, researching, and studying, something a professional, in my humble opinion, should never abandon. Though united by a thread that resides in his sensitivity, his vision of the world, and in the ability with which he gets to transfer those into images, adapting the language according to the audience he’s addressing, all his books are different."
— from the interview, text © 2011 Cristiana Clerici

Vivian Maier

The Amazing John Broadley
JOHN BROADLEY is a "book artist" (my term) from the UK. I have fallen under his graphic spell. There's a ton of work on his flickr site. I've posted a few random samples here to whet your appetite. More info below:
interview (@ Book By Its Cover with Julia Rothman)
interview (@ Paul Gravett)
All images © John Broadley, obviously

Design School

I just learned that ITC has posted all the back issues of Upper & lowercase on-line. I'm in a pensive mood today and it got me thinking about my design education (such as it is):
  • I got a subscription to U&Lc in 1974. My high school teacher must have seen some spark that I couldn't see until much, much later.
  • My step-sister gave me a copy of the first Milton Glaser book for my birthday that year.
  • Later, as an undergraduate art student, a friend turned me on to the Graphis annuals that were in the open stacks in Morris library at SIU. I naively wondered if Milton Glaser did his own Presstype
  • Later on, with a van still full of my MFA thesis sculpture show, I discovered Creation at Rizzoli.
Garance Doré

I've surprisingly found a lot of pleasure in subscribing to and reading Garance Doré's blog over the last year. She is a fashion photographer and illustrator from Paris. For me however, her fashion illustration is beside the point. What matters to me is her attitude toward her discipline and herattitude toward her public. The photographs and observations of beautiful women (famous and not, all hard-working and resiliant) and her perceptive and gleeful descriptions of their clothing and clothing choices have a wonderful energy that is like a ray of sunshine. Hers is an example of a really excellent blog,
In this WONDERFUL entry she describes how she chose illustration as a career.
I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience. Please leave a comment :)
(The following images are all from Garnace Doré's blog and are © 2010 Garance Doré)
Olivia Palermo by Garance Doré

Field Trip Part 2: Picasso-Degas, MassMoCA, etc.
Part 1 of this report is here

I’d been hearing raves about the Picasso-Degas blockbuster at the Clark  (it closes Sept. 12) all summer and I was anxious to see it. Since I was solo on this trip, I was able to indulge my ruminative nature to the fullest as I wandered through the three floors of the exhibit. Overall, it is a very good show with wonderful and rare examples of each artist’s best work. The premise is that Picasso came to Paris eager to consume and was poised to capitalize on any art that interested him. That is the phenomenon of Picasso. Like the Beatles perhaps: right person, right place at the right time. And art and culture have never been the same.
left: Degas "dans la café L'Absinthe" (1875-76) right: Picasso "Portrait of Sebastià Junyer i Vidal, (1903) Which one do you prefer?
I got the feeling that Degas was a brilliant and exacting 19th century artist whose practice was laced with tantalizing threads for future artists to take up. But Picasso, hot on his heels,  was able to meet anything head on and then pirouette and make it his own. Picasso: a relentless ocean wave to Degas' friable sand that is always claimed by the waters. I wouldn’t go so far to characterize Picasso as a “force of Nature”, but he ushered in a new concept of the artist as more than celebrity at a moment in time when it became possible to imagine this evolution of the concept.
Where I think the exhibition’s reasoning waivers is with the many direct comparisons it makes between specific works by each artist. They really never met. Ever. They were however, products of a similar educational process. True, Picasso had a few Degas’ prints and he kept a photograph of Degas in his possession, but it cheapens Picasso to suggest that he had an explicit rivalry  with Degas. I think Picasso’s reasons for doing anything were much more complex than simple rivalry (although he did have rivals and he dealt with them). Rivalry and competition are important motivations but the actual practice of making art allows much more into the process. Unexpected things can happen and that is when one's artistic uniqueness is expressed and they begin to stand out from their mentors and peers.
Left: sketch by Rob Dunlavey
Right: Degas: Combing the Hair (La Coiffure), c. 1896 Oil on canvas, 114.3 x 146.7 cm The National Gallery, London

What might any of this have to do with illustration? First of all, there is the question of influence and the healthy relationship of different generations of artists. Illustration, by its conservative nature, is more aware of this perhaps. In illustration all approaches are valid if there's a place for it in the marketplace (that marketplace is an vigorous and amorphous entity nowadays). So we can stick with Degas and find many workopportunities. Or we can model ourselves after Picasso, consuming many things (think of the internet as a buffet) and in the process making sure to make a brand of ourselves.
These are interesting ideas and this was a fascinating show. It closes in a few days so if you're in the neighborhood, try to see it.
Across town is from the Clark is the Williams College Art Gallery. It has a deep and eclectic collection on display. College museums are wonderful; there is always something unique and unexpected; perhaps, even under-appreciated. I was enchanted by a few things. This large "Portrait of Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia" was made by Franz Pourbus the Younger in 1600. I love how her face is framed (as fruit on a platter!) by the starched lace collar. The rest of her garment is similarly massive, sculpted and impossibly exquisite.
Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia: what's in a name?!

Here's a bicycle rider from Benin. I'm trying to remember the caption that went with it. I think (and may be making all this up) that this figure comes from a tradition of statues that enable communication between kings, Gods, whatnot, and other people. If the sculpture was carved today, we'd see the same guy in a Porto-Novo internet café fixing the president's  facebook account. The reason I was interested in this sculpture is my current interest in bicycles and cars and other things that have wheels.
I was smitten with the work of a conteporary Chinese artist, Nie Ou. She was born in 1948 and had initial art training when her parents moved to Bejing. During the subsequent upheaval of the Cultural Revolution she was sent to a farming collective far away from the capital. She returned in 1978 and resumed studies and began her career as a painter. You can find out more here.
"One Rural Morning" by Nei Ou

"The Pleasures of Farming" by Nei Ou
I love the four donkeys visible on the left of the bottom panel.

Lastly, but really, it would require another blog entry (I'll spare both of us!) I stopped in at MassMOCA in North Adams. It's a huge old mill complex that has been turned into a gigantic venue for gigantic art installations --essentially. On the top few floors is a massive and massively popular installation of wall drawings of Sol Lewitt.
There is a bunch more, most of them more subtle than this one. I love staring at this close-up until the seizures begin ;-p

There was a retrospective of the mixed media sculptures of Petah Coyne. I'd never heard of her before but, on reflection, if you like William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, Victorian funereal displays and taxidermy shops, you might warm up to it pretty quickly. I did. And on further reflection, I'm reminded a little bit of the work of Sam Weber and Yuko Shimuzu (currently on exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York), in it's powerful and theatrical examination of the human figure as a vehicle for for story telling. Although the human body is nowhere evident in Petah Coyne's work, she suggests it by scale, subject matter and her choice of materials. Those materials are quite suggestive!
  • "Eguchi's Ghost" made of wire rendered from an entire Airstream trailer
  • "Untitled # 1240 (Black Cloud)"  [pictured above] velvet, silk flowers, chains, taxidermy specimens (geese, ducks)
Other materials include nails and wire coated in black sand used in iron foundries, candle wax, trees, kitsch madonna statues and silk ribbons, a stuffed bobcat and many other evocative art supplies not available at your local store.
I could go on but I need to get some work done! Let me finish by saying that looking at all kinds of art is an artist's job. It enlarges and refocuses the spirit so we can bring our best, poetic selves to even the most well understood and mundane task.
sketchbook page. These were big abstract things made from wire and coated with black sand

The Unknown Hipster meets the Artistic Enigma
I've been following the blog of illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme for about a year now. He's always entertaining and full of dry commentary on the New York art and fashion worlds. Yesterday's post is one of his best. In it he describes attending performance artist Marina Abramovic's current retrospective at MoMA and in particular her signature performance piece "The Artist is In".  Like any entertaining writer, he knows when to stop and as a result, I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Part 2!
Stay tuned.
The painting above is © 2010 Jean-Philippe Delhomme and used without permission from his website "The Unknown Hipster"
Štěpán Zavřel
Lately, thanks to Puño, I've learned about Štěpán Zavřel. Here are some pics of his work.
There's a big children's book art festival in Sàrmede, Italy (about 60 km North of Venzia) that is kind of dedicated to Štěpán Zavřel. There are some galleries here.

Thanks Puño!

I had to search far and wide for these in the local library network.
spread from "The Bridge Across" about two warring families who become united because of and despite their discord.
from "The Bridge Across"
eventually, a wonderful bridge gets built.
I love the intricate and cozy watercolor technique. It's like stained glass.

This amazing spread is from "The Magic Fish". The story is about a fish that swims out of a painting, down the pipes to the ocean where he helps the little fish get away from the big scary fish.
exquisite spininess!
Evil foiled!
The fish goes back to the city and everyone is happy.
These city scenes are what prompted Puño to tell me about Zavrel. Here are a few more architctural scenes from "The Followed the Star" about the Christian Nativity.

Looks a bit like Paris…!
An angel visits the King while he sleeps.
Here come the Wise Men.
Romek Marber

The Penguin Collectors Society has published a book entitled "Penguin by Illustrators".
One of those designer/illustrators is Romek Marber. A transcript of the article has been published by Creative Review on their blog. Marber is famous for having invented the grid and initial series of designs that defined the Penguin crime novels. After some reflection, it occurs to me that the resulting designs go to the heart of our fascination with crime novels. Most crime novels assume a direction with an ending that makes rational sense and is satisfying at some fundamental level. But the process by which that resolution is achieved is full of twists and turns, red herrings, and self-discovery. The criminals and their crimes are borne out of and represent chaos and irrationality. The genre grapples with this basic part of human experience.
Thanks to Marber's grid, steady typography and consistent stylistic solutions, we see the whole drama explode before our eyes: seething chaos and emotion chained and disciplined, forced to submit to the forces of intellect and creativity (that also include the irrational) that the best detectives embody.
A quintessential Penguin crime series cover design by Marber: a powerful synthesis of irrationality contained by a rational structure.
It's a poster. No it's a book cover. No… it's brilliant!
Periodical covers: it's all about concept. I like the sideways Yes/No face a lot.
Walter Schnackenberg
"The Sleepwalker" 1956
I first ran into Walter Schnackenberg at "A Journey Round My Skull" an excellent blog and flickr compendium of European book arts maintained by "Will".
•a little more info about Walter Schnackenberg
Milton Glaser: "Drawing is Thinking"
Rick Poyner reviews Milton Glaser's new book "Drawing is Thinking" over at Creative Review from the UK.

Sounds like another lovely and provocative volume.

left: Canto v, 1999

Book By Its Cover
"Book By Its Cover" is an excellent book arts (what's that!?!) blog written by New York based designer, illustrator, pattern designer (I'm sure I'm leaving something out!) Julia Rothman.

She recently ran a feature on my sketchbooks. Check it out. Below are a few spreads from the sketchbooks (many of which have appeared here).

Dunlavey/Bakal Sketchbook 2007-2009
2007? Was it 2007 when Scott Bakal and I first talked about sharing a sketchbook? Seems like it wasn't that long ago. Oh well. I DO remember there were lulls in the action and subsequent flurries of fast-paced catching up because I'd held on to the book too long.

left: we'd post little notes to each other mostly to be civil. These got pasted or taped inside the covers with other more lengthy notes, train tickets and post office ephemera. Some of these elements got recycled into the final pages.

The whole thing started out kind of slowly as we built a critical mass of marks, textures, forms, methods of applying media. Gradually, pictures got settled. Some were rather obvious; others not until the last moment when we were ready to be finished with the project. Below are a few of my favorite pages with some commentary.

I think we both collaborated on the overall head concept on the right page. It looked awkward though and unsatisfying. Various attempts at isolating the head only served to highlight it's generally muddled presentation. I think Scott connected the eye to the left page and eventually he painted the irregular blue bands on top. At this point, the picture's needs became clear and I added the collage elements to rescue the face of the man.
This one started with some cartooney elements that just weren't working. One of those elements was an alligator. I got disgusted with that direction so I painted the things out with yellow and gray. A few days later I added a realistic alligator (in black china marker) in this tortured pose. And then the picture was basically done. Scott had nothing to add for a long time. Finally, at the end, he found a new way to contribute with the red dots
Four separate pages that that are equal combinations of both our problem-solving strategies.The figurative ones all involved abstract painting and mark-making. Usually (I think?) I would isolate a profile out of the blobs of marks and scratches. That would stabilize the concept and we'd then tinker on and off for months. Usually Scott had a real knack for finishing images so that our voices were both equally distinguishable. I'm still trying to get used to the red blobs on the crow painting though. I like them but I'd thought that that image was done. But Scott had a different idea… and so it goes!
This one got finished early on. My contribution was the large blocks of color and the black stenciled figures. We started designing spreads pretty quickly. Scott's signature organic line work stitches the painting together. In some ways, the most satisfying pages were the ones that went back and forth constantly as we searched for a way to help each other make a satisfying composition while attempting to put our own individual stamp on it. Below, you can see the book in its entirety.
Doodle Duel #4
This here thing is the starting image: Go get yer own and… DRAW!
Doodle Duel #4 is open for business. C'mon you whiners, get to work!
This Duel will close on Thursday April 16th

Doodle Duel is a friendly doodling diversion. Here's what you do:

1. Make a copy of the Challenge Image
2. Print it out if you want or do it on your computer.
3. Make a doodle that incorporates the lines that are presented on the Challenge. You can rotate your "paper" in any orientation. Use a different color than the Challenge.
4. Do this quickly. No masterpieces. Just quick 'n dirty playtime.
5. Rename and save your file. Upload to add yours to the show.
6. No cuss words, dirty pictures or portfolio padding allowed! These will be shown the door!

100 Crystal Cities
This morning I posted my one hundredth Crystal City painting and I see no end in sight. I hope you don't get tired of them! Here are a few recent favorites. The full set is here

"palace intrigue" (ink, collage, watercolor)
"My alarm clock for you"
"yellow with red trees"
This Just In!
2012 Olympic Typeface To Be Announced CR understands that, later today, the official typeface for the 2012 London Olympics will be announced. Among those being considered are a bespoke face, Gill Sans and Times, but the current favourite is thought to be Comic Sans. READ MORE

This picked up from the UK-based Creative Review newsletter
robd interview
Julien Chung
For those of you who care (Hi Mom!!), Julien Chung, illustrator extraordinaire, has concluded a three-part (but mercifiully brief) interview with yours truly. The focus of Julien's licensed images and his blog is the depiction and use of animals in contemporary illustration and design.
part 1 | part 2 | part 3
Adriane Tomine interview
"Optic" Nerve by Adrian Tomine
There's a nice interview with comic artist Adrian Tomine here.
detail from "Maison du Roi, Brussels (B)" Panoramyx
I've been wasting time ENJOYING the panoramic photos of Panoramyx over at flickr. I open up the largest size of a photo and just wander around like a bug. I imagine I'm in an animated movie. Panoramyx is the nickname of Carlos Iborra and I believe he's from Spain.
Interview: Shepard Fairey
Apologies to Mr. Fairey!! (
Shepard Fairey was interviewed by Terri Gross of NPR's Fresh Air. The interview ran on Inauguration Day Jan. 20th. Check it out.
Europa Film Treasures
still from "Der Einbruch" (The Burglary) 1920.
Came across this website today: Europa Film Treasures. It contains this little animated oddity: "The Burglary": "In the heart of the night, a burglar gropes along towards a newspaper kiosk. A nail puller and a flashlight are all it takes for this crime. All of a sudden, the morning paper is delivered… A punchy publicity stunt for the B.L.A., the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, the Berliner newspaper that fills in its readers in real time!"
Danger: You might waste some time here.
Signless in Sao Paulo
Here's a flickr photoset by Tony de Marco of empty billboards in São Paulo. The government decide that they were ugly and banned them (2007)
São Paulo No Logo
BusinessWeek article
Dinosaur eats presents!
Be careful children!
Toyzilla says "Happy Holidays to all"
The award was accompanied with excerpts from the judges' comments (no, my mother wasn't on the panel!)
A couple of nice things flew in through the transom this week:
1. a Gold Medal from the International Regional Magazine Association for an illustration I did for Adirondack Life last year.  Congrats to the magazine on its gold medal too! I'm big in Cape Breton at least!
2. A book: "100 Habits of Successful Publication Designers" by Laurel Saville and published by Rockport. This well-written and designed  inspiring book features the promised "100 habits"  from contributers such as Aram Duplessis, Luke Hayman, Steven Heller, Arthur Hochstein, Ina Saltz and Jason Treat. There is a section on working with illustrators that features Anita Kunz, Martha Rich, Edel Rodriguez and me.
Habit #71: "Leave Some Thing Out" Good advice from Edel Rodriguez. On the right: illos by Anita Kunz and Rob Dunlavey
A nice spread devoted to Edel's work and thoughts.
The page for Anita Kunz that showcases her range of conceptual approaches and emotion.
I log into my account every couple of weeks and wallow in color combinations. Here's a palette I just made this morning. I started out sampling colors from a jpeg of one of my paintings. I fiddled with a few of the colors in that image but the needs of the colors quickly asserted themselves and I fell into this muted primary thing that has hot little zing.
To the left are a few other palettes I've created. There's definitely a trend and consistency there. What does it reveal about my personality? With an infinite choice of color I still end up in similar waters.
Years ago, I bought a tweed jacket and my wardrobe (such as it is) still carries the scars. There were a few flecks of maroon in the tweed and as a result I have grays and maroons, dark reds and anything else that could reliably harmonize with it. This was back in the days when I wore ties on a fairly regular basis. Hard to believe, I know!
Anyway, back to colourlovers: Once you have an account you can create colors and palettes and then use the palettes in simplified patters if you want to waste more time.
This pattern and palette reminded of some of Seymour Chwast's work.
You have to just get over there yourself and let the bugs bite you. If so, you may want to check out a group started there that I call "ici". It's just a place to share color shop talk and inspiration. I'm hoping that eventually the membership gets skewed toward illustrators of the Drawger-ish persuasion,
Limbo: Leo Espinosa's opening
A view inside through Leo's vinyl critters which has sprouted legs!
Friday night, Alan Witschonke and I ventured out in the gloom and rain to The New England Gallery of Latin American Art (NEGLAA) in East Boston to attend the opening of Leo Espinosa's show entitled "LIMBO". The bright lights and colorful art inside were a joyful contrast to the soggy weather.
There was an appreciative crowd which included a few other artists, illustrators and designers. I even had the pleasure to chat with Leo's sister who told me of the long curly hair he sported in his wild carefree youth! The food was excellent and well appreciated. I am glad that someone whose artistic touch is so assured and captivating has found a collaborative opportunity at NEGLAA to explore, through his unique graphic language, what it feels like to straddle continents and cultures. Perhaps, all good artists straddle the line and live in a kind of Limbo where the personal is public and where the mundane experiences of life can signify and shed light on larger mysteries.
Leo Espinosa
Leo, Alan Witschonke and Cindy Patrick
Rob Saunders, Julia Talcott and Alan
The color is off in this snapshot!
painting by Leo Espinosa
I think Leo had a lot of fun building and painting this relief (multi-panel painting). I'm not sure what it has to do with the experience of being in Limbo. Maybe it's the contrast between architecture and nature, abstraction and the organic. Help me out here Leo!
view from the street.
some assorted images (all vector) left: The Red Sea right t-b: PLANSPONSOR Magazine, End of an Era, Adirondack Life Magazine
Julien Chung, a fabulous and prolific illustrator from Montreal has posted parts 1 and 2 of a 3-part interview with me on the subject of animals in my art. The third installment will be posted sometime in September.
Part 1
Part 2
Here's one of Julien's illustration that wraps around a limited edition Coca Cola glass by Ritzenhoff.
Interesting News
"Bratz Birthday Yasmin" $6.00 at
I came across two Boston Globe articles this week that seem pertinent to what we do as commercial artists. I wonder what you think.

"Rival stole Bratz, Mattel claims (link to article)  At trial, toymaker says it owns doll concept, not MGA"
The first is about the Bratz line of "urban" dolls manufactured by MGA. Mattel is suing MGA for stealing the design it says was created by a staff designer as a sketch. The designer later left Mattel and joined MGA at some point where the design was developed further and found a home. The designer, Carter Bryant claims that he was inspired by caricatures he saw and designed the doll idea in-between two separate stints at Mattel. Mattel has reached a private settlement with Bryant but is suing MGA for copyright infringement that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, creative people, just what is "employment?" Where do ideas come from? Think you're just a cog in the works? Think again. The wheels of commerce can't run without your intellectual property.
source: Virgin Media 2007
The second item is an interview by Joan Anderman with Jack White that ran this morning.
"White changes Stripes with creative focus on the Raconteurs" (link to article)
This Q & A caught my attention:
"Anderman: The Raconteurs recorded the new album in a state-of-the-art studio rather than the makeshift analog playroom you typically hunker down in. Did that change the music or the experience of making music for you? White: We did "Icky Thump" in the same studio and yes, it does change things. It's not my favorite place to be. I feed off limitations in a lot of ways. I structure myself a lot, and in my little world and in my own head I'm telling myself what not to do. It's hard to have all those knobs and buzzers and toys. I'm not good with that. Opportunity kills creativity for me. What most people think is liberating, for me it isn't, so it was a big thing for me to see if I could do it. We still recorded analog on 16 tracks in a soulful way, but there are a lot of traps in that world."
Anderman: The music business is in tatters. Does that affect you much?
White: It doesn't affect me, but I don't envy younger musicians. It's changed so much in the 10 years since I started. The new generation bases their idea of success on totally different ideals, about how many friends or comments you have on MySpace. I look out into a crowd and see hundreds of people holding gadgets in the air. The experience now is about filming the band and putting it on your Web page. People have stopped caring about creativity.

I agree with White that limitations are extremely valuable. And I feel that it is the key to creating mature art that seeks to affect people. It's also interesting to hear his impatience with the current emphasis on technology and MySpace piggybacking. Have people "stopped caring about creativity"?
Visual aid
What unites us is greater than what divides us
Obama's speech in Philadelphia was thought provoking and refreshing.  It cut through the usual media static. Try to listen to it or read a transcript.
Another calendar
2008 studio calendar (18 x 24" poster)
Many of the images on my 2008 calendar have debuted here on Drawger.  A few Drawgers may have already received one. I'm not too systematic so let me know if I  missed you and you want one. (There's an email link below)
This year’s effort is a departure from previous vector-based artwork. These original sketchbook paintings employ mixed media including watercolor, ink, acrylic, tempera, and collage. It was difficult sorting through the books so I just picked twelve of my favorites. I hope you like them.

Would you like a calendar?
Please email me and include your address.
Hope you can make it!
art & design by Rob Dunlavey for SPOPQ. (the Society for the Preservation of Planet Q)
If you're in town, benefit concert will be held at Jordan Hall for the asteroid-ridden residents of Planet Q. Hope to see you there. It's a great cause.
Not Another Saunders!
Not Zina. Not Rob. Nice people truly.
But we're talking George. George Saunders.
I just crawled out from under the log I call home and due to an inexplicable bit of luck, walked out of my local library with a borrowed paperback copy of "The Braindead Megaphone". It'll be under a  few Christmas trees this season if I have my way. It's a tasty and timely tonic in these troubling times!

• more here:
• critical mass (blog)

What does this have to do with Illustration? Absolutely nothing.
Something insane (and very Saunders) from Ask The Optimist.
The Cleveland Caucasians
Shelf Life Clothing Company from Cleveland sells this wearable commentary from their website. (only 24.99 during the ALCS!)
Alright, I'm not ashamed to admit it: I'm a Red Sox fan. And we all all know which team from Ohio the Sox are currently playing for the American League champioship. The suddenly high-profile and well-deserving Cleveland ball team has stimulated discussion across this great land about the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of using stereotyped cartoons of aboriginal Americans as team mascots.
D.B Dowd weighs in with an excellent survey on Cleveland's use of Chief Wahoo in his blog "Graphic Tales".
The use of Native American stereotypes is further investigated by Dowd here ("Wahoo, Yellowpony and Graphic Indians").
Finally, Brian of the Cleveland-based design studio Shelf Life Clothing Co. in a thoughtful comment mentions his own take on the whole issue. What do you think?
left: Sad bunny with a droopy ponytail (Ellen) right: Mad schmoo (Rob)
Last night, Ellen and I played the Doodly-doo game. You probably have another name for it but basically, both players start out with a small sheet of paper with identical markings on them. In this case, we used a red sharpie. Then we both do our own drawings and compare the results. Good clean fun.
left: Elephant brain (Ellen's alter ego is an elephant) right: Tuba player (Rob)
left: seascape (Ellen) right: pirate (Rob)
left: "Hello my name is Kiko" (Ellen) right: Dorky ducks (Rob)
left: Computer table (Ellen) right: Mona Lisa (Rob)
left: Flying a kite (Ellen) right: different things that make smoke (Rob)
left: ghost! (Ellen) right: astronomer (Rob)
left: snake with detachable triangular ears (Ellen) right: cat with trumpet playing bird on tail (Rob)
We had a good time!
Face Machine
The average face is on the upper left. After sliding a few knobs...
Since we're talking about juries and courtrooms and that sort of thing (police line-ups?)  this post may not seem so strange. Face Machine is a JAVA applet that allows you to manipulate elements that differentiate faces. It's mysterious, subtle and strange. And it probably works slow in your browser too. But if you're in-between jobs or need to kill a little time, get away from the mirror and make a few faces on your computer!
John Hersey interview
I recently subjected the witty and ever-so-gracious Bay area illustrator John Hersey to a friendly interrogation for Illoz. So in case you haven't noticed and are interested in this sort of thing you can find it here.

2. illoz
It's all Greek to me
Michael Phelps, the unstoppable American swimmer and Olympic athlete
This little drawing popped out this morning and it reminded me how in debt I am to the masters who painted pottery in the Greek world so many ages ago. The draftsmanship and design of Greek vessels are self-assured and beautiful. The black-figure pieces show what an artist can do when he is working the negative space as well as the positive. The line quality of the red-figure designs is precise and fluid.
I love the figure as a shape. I like the relationship it sets up to other figures and objects in the picture's space. I like that the figures are silhouetted.
The subject matter of Greek pottery is generally theatrical. Many of the images illustrate episodes from Greek plays or Homeric epics. These stories were woven throughout all levels of Greek culture. The illustrations tell the stories that tell the people who they are and who they want to be. I think the best art aspires to hold a mirror to the culture as well as point a way into the land of desire.
Finally, I like the un-ashamed necessity of decoration as a vehicle to communicate important truths.
Today is May 4th
He's happy!
All hail to the Hal - Almighty - Mayforth! He is calendrically un-challenged. Hope everyone's treating you nicely today Hal!
Kazumasa Nagai
posters designed and illustrated by Kazumasa Nagai
I wish I knew more about Kazumasa Nagai. Ever since I saw his work profiled in Creation #5 in 1990, my own graphic design and art, bear his influence. There are other influences to be sure but I always come back to Nagai. The otherwordliness, humor, and compassion evident in his designs are still challenging and fresh to me.
"Starting from his abstract designs through to his current animal series, Mr. Nagai's works can be divided into three periods. Today he is in the process of forging his fourth period. Having known Mr. Nagai from that initial period, the only way I can describe the abrupt appearance of his animal series is as "momentous." But not only was it momentous for Mr. Nagai as one designer; it also constituted a mutation within the design world, in the same way that mutations suddenly take place in the natural world.

The name Kazumasa Nagai now conjures up images of a designer of animal illustrations, but today he has begun dealing with other subjects from the natural world, from insects to plants. Moreover, his descriptive powers have progressed from the earlier days of a ruler and compass, and today he uses a fine pen to fill an entire space with minuscule dots, requiring the time and patience one might have when writing memoirs from a prison cell. His is a micro-dimensional realm that makes mere mortals sigh in despair at the notion of laboring to achieve it.

On further probing, however, we come to realize that Mr. Nagai's micro world has completed a crossover into the macro realm. It is a realm in which a formerly prolix and colorful world has disappeared, to be gradually superseded by a realm of silence and monotones. But don't let down your guard, for without a doubt, Kazumasa Nagai is still hiding his next secret weapon, waiting for a ripe time to reveal it to us." source: The Ginza Graphic Gallery
There was lots of time to sketch in the car ride; my wife likes to drive and we resorted to a portable dvd player for the girls. The juxtaposition of these signs seemed more than coincidental.
Chicago: Had a great and exhausting time saying "good bye" to ghosts real and imagined and "hello" to long lost siblings and a few old friends. Had one full day for sanctioned art experiences and can't recommend a trip to Chicago highly enough.  The city's had her ups and downs over the decades but right now she is poised as total world class and she knows it. Annoying but completely beguiling. Like those Chicago White Sox!  But I digress.
Karl Wirsum
An old friend I said "Hello" to was Karl Wirsum (well, I said hello to his paintings not him actually!). The Cultural Center on Michigan Ave. is hosting a retrospective that runs through April. It's totally fantastic.
I grew up seeing all the Chicago Imagist/Hairy Who work as a kid and I'd forgotten what in influence it is on me. Just stuffed somewhere in my DNA; it was in the water I drank as a kid.
Ohio stuff
scaredy cat head
target practice
The Construction of Boston
musical doodles while waiting for the concert to start
"The Construction of Boston" is a short opera by Scott Wheeler. The text for it comes from a 1962 poem by Kenneth Koch who wrote it for the artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, and Niki de Saint Phalle. They did one sold-out performance in New York. The text was later discovered by Wheeler who orchestrated it for full chorus, soloists, and full orchestra. The Boston Cecilia (with which my wife Stephanie sings)  performed it in Jordan Hall yesterday.

Why might this be interesting to artists and ilustrators today? Who are Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Ste. Phalle? We're illustrators, not artists!

Firstly, the text is funny, accessible and poetically engaging. The music is vibrant and exacting and demands great skill to play while being completely beautiful and tonal. This is a place where art and illustration have an uncomfortable alliance. Art can't be this hermetic thing sealed in its little ivory tower and why should illustration limit its ambition to cereal boxes and lifestyle magazines? Illustration does exist in the world of ideas AND the world of commerce.
"Shooting Picture" 1961 by Niki de Saint Phalle (shot at by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns)
Robert Rauschenberg should be familiar to most of us. He was/IS a provocative painter, printmaker, sculptor who propelled pop art into a more politcal, theatrical and personally charged realm in the 1960s and 70s.
Jean Tinguely
came out of Dada and Contructivism to create fantastic and ungainly metal sculptures that moved, exloded and self-destructed. They exist as potentially threatening (and light hearted!) jokes in urban settings that make the passerby consider their everyday assumptions.
Niki de Ste. Phalle:
  painter, collage, bricolageur, sculptor. One of my absolute favorite artists. As her career started to take off in the early 60's, she was doing these large assemblages that incorporated lots of stuff including balloons filled with paint. These artworks would then be completed by shooting guns at them which made the balloons  burst and covering the assemblage with rivulets of oozing paint.  Right in the middle of New York or Paris, all these luminaries would be  shooting guns at paintings and drinking red wine!
Krista River
Quickly then, back to "The Construction of Boston" (or anywhere for that matter). In the poem and opera, art is used to tell an unconventional history in which artists are colossi engaged in nothing less than Creation (in the Biblical sense). Rauschenberg creates the topography and climate and brings the people. They have no place to live to get out of or enter into the New England climate so the Spirit of Boston (sung by the entrancing mezzo-soprano Krista River) brings the god-like Tinguely on board to build buildings and create  harmony between Nature and City. Soon it is all too apparent that Beauty is missing and the Spirit summons Niki who with her magic pistols creates beauty and hope for the hard working citizens.
Sharla Nafziger
The character of Niki de Sainte Phalle is sung with tremendous feeling by Sharla Nafziger.
The other soloists included tenor William Hite and baritone Christopheren Nomura and contralto Elizabeth Anker.

The long and short of all this (if you kept up with me this far!) is that Art is vital to people as individuals and as communities. Not only does it tell us our history and who we are, Art tells us who we want to be.
Spring Training
I've posted a gallery of baseball drawings I call "Homerun Heroes". Enjoy!

It's that time of year again: the snow is melting, the robins have returned and I'm reading articles in the sports pages: dateline Fort Myers, Florida.

Yup, the annual baseball merry-go-round is getting cranked up and it begins with spring training. I grew up a Cubs fan (I'm from the northern Chicago suburbs after all). My rebellious teenage years saw me crossing over to the more dangerous south side to Comiskey Park and the White Sox. Now I'm a moderately comfortable member of Red Sox nation in Boston.

I cheer on the home team and get in a funk when they're coughing up games like a toothless old tom cat. Ilove the history of the game. I love the drama and the theater of baseball. There's a bit of a sly show happening anywhere you look. And since baseball is kind of a slow game with a lot of intricate "psyops" going on, there's lots of time, if you're watching the games on TV, to draw the athletes and the drama (or lack of it).
W: Portraits of a President
Please enter your favorite caricatures and portraits of the Commander-in-Chief to this new Drawger Show. Open to all.

Go to
"W: Portraits of a President"
"One Time": still from video for NikeLab. Reminiscent of the best illustration of Eric Carle and Leo Lionni and Walden Woods animation.
HunterGatherer is a small design and animation studio that produces animated gems for Nike, MTV and VH1 among other big clients.

I like the simplicity of the concepts and the direct animation techniques. HunterGatherer is a partnership by Todd St. John and Gary Benzel. St. John's work spans silk-screened clothing and furnishings to wooden sculpture, editorial illustration and design, to motion design and animation.
"Robot" still from animation. Before computers we used these things called templates. Remember? HunterGatherer has found a new use for them.
"DJ": still from video. This is from a series of little short things. Painted, cut/torn paper and cardboard puppets with simple articulation animated or just set in motion and filmed. Pretty raw but saved by saturated and limited color.
"BeatEater" still from video. This critter gobbles up musicians. Simple and humorous.
"The Big Kahuna" stop motion animated bits of wood veneer for VH1 I think. I like the colors. I detect an Ikea and Marimekko echo in all this somewhere!
"Cargo Cults" editorial illustration
sculpture by Todd St. John. Didn't you learn elementary band saw technique in illustration school??
Good Morning America. It's a new day!
John Hammond
The beautiful cover art is by fellow Drawger, Joe Ciardello.
John Hammond was a legendary popular music promoter and producer. He started and influenced the careers of many icons of American popular music including Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
The author, Dunstan Prial makes it clear that in addition to his obsessive interest in jazz, blues, roots music and other forms of popular music, Hammond saw that if he could get the music industry to integrate (starting with Benny Goodman's band in  the 1930's) the nation would follow suit.
This book would make a good gift to the music lover on your list this season
"Eclats de suie"
Here's a treat for your Monday morning procrastinating pleasure: "Éclats de suie" or "Soot Giant" a a short gentle animation by Yves Geleyn. It was featured at Pictoplasma.
artist's description: "A friendly long legged giant wanders the streets at dusk, feeding on soot from chimneys…" (live action, oot 2D animation, compositing)

Director / Animation: Yves Geleyn & Julien Genoulaz
Sound Design: Mark Webster
Produced by: Q&chemise

mp4 file (link opens in new window)
Yves Geleyn blog
Jerome Snyder
Snyder's signature faceted style of color is evident in this (admittedly poor) scan of a Santa dressed as an aviator.
Jerome Snyder was an illustrator and art director whose work I dearly love but have found little evidence of it on the web. I'm trying to rectify that with a gallery of images that accompanied an article in CREATION Magazine #12 (1992). An essay by Lou Dorfsman accompanied that feature. [Below is the text of Dorfsman's appreciative (but not very informative) essay]

"Jerome Snyder"
by Lou Dorfsman
© 1992 CREATION Magazine issue 12, 1992

The commercial/marketing environment usually demands and requires "short term" results in its employment of the skills of design, advertising and illustration. In most instances these conditions create ephemeral results. It is therefore the rare exception of work which demonstrates timelessness and integrity. Jerome Snyder's art exhibits these qualities of "staying power."

Snyder was  a man of of superior intellect which he mixed in equal amounts with wit, wisdom, craft and skill. Central to his process was the "idea of an idea." Good ideas enjoy a long life, and represented on these pages are examples of Snyder's thinking coupled with his extraordinary craft. Some pieces shown here were produced about forty years ago and the most recent about fifteen years ago, and yet it all holds up!

Not shown here is the product of Jerome Snyder as Art Director of Scientific American and Sports Illustrated, two distinguished U.S. publications. His literary accomplishments are absent as well, although his literacy is evident in many of his illustrations.

His artistry mirrored his personality as art invariably mirrors the artist. The multi-faceted skills and intelligence of Jerome Snyder are amply reflected in his whimsical, painstakingly careful paintings and drawings.

One sees in an earlier period of his work, drawings of rather abstract shapes and forms where the influence of Miro and Gustav Klimt is visible. Invariably, they delineated humorous and decorative objects, figures or both. Upon closer look one notes larger forms are composed of a myriad mosaic of countless multi-colored smaller forms that are further made up of gemlike, multi-colored forms within multi-colored forms. A Snyder pointillism of sorts.

A delightfully squat shape is revealed as a figure with a face somewhat flesh-colored. But upon closer observation the skin tones turn out to be composed of triangular or square or rectangular shapes made up of bits of pink, yellow, red, probably green, purple and blue.

Another side of Snyder is his delicate and extremely meticulous line drawings. The absence of color provided him with the opportunity to, demonstrate his control of line, his studied craftsmanship, and his thoughtfulness of interpretation as well as  a surprising ability for caricature.

The third aspect of Snyder's art is a later development. A new mood evolves. Refreshing naturalistic paintings of nature's bounty: fruit, fish, flowers, crustaceans --a sudden beautiful realism executed with a sure lightness of touch, in color and rendition. A demonstration of enormous technical facility combined with a poetic reality.

In short, Jerome Snyder has left a legacy of the picture and the word in vibrant unity…of the seminal artist, writer, teacher, whose perceptions were at once intellectual and aesthetic. His art in line and language, exuding clarity and wit. He moved his art from visually brilliant fantasies to neo-classical nature studies --without dropping his 4H pencil. He accepted his talents, he mined his resources, and he used them both for lasting performance.

Nando Costa: nice work for Nike
This is pretty animation. Typical of the genre in a way but still intriguing and beautiful. How do they do that?!

Nando Costa interview and links to Nike "Embrace the Elements" videos: here
Red State, Blue State, Tequilazo State?
The morning after the mid-term elections…
What color is your state?
What color is your mental state?
Not sure? Go to and wallow in beautiful and cleverly-named pure colors.

left: The interface at colourlovers can display random color selections and any associated palette that a user has created. The colors are all submitted by users.
xusen at Woomp
This image is aphotograph by xs (also known as xusen)
There are some nice, um… figurative compositions in xs's  fashion (?) images. Very comic book I think.

Note also the platform for this gallery is Woomp: a flickr-like site that uses Flash in a very clean and efficient way.  Woomp is in Beta.
Stitch 'n Bitch
This is good: Elizabeth Reilly.
knitter, designer, photographer, collector of vintage pit bull photos, entrepreneur.
Puer[s] du Noir: film
"Puer[s] du noir"  (or "Fear[s] of the dark") is a animated film featuring the talents of illustrators and comic book artists. I ran across it at Prima Linea while trying to find contact information for Richard McGuire (who I want to invite to Drawger). Here is a link to the film's website: "Puer[s] du noir".

It is scheduled to be released this winter. The following people are involved:
Time for tea! (Richard McGuire's work I believe)
Is this Lorenzo Mattotti's work? It's neat seeing all this black and white animation.
Charles Burns' contribution
Marius Watz
"System C" gif animation of Java code drawing program by Marius Watz
I  first heard about the Norwegian designer/computer programmer/artist Marius Watz through a "New Talent" type of profile in PRINT Magazine about 5-6 years ago. His work intrigued me then and continues to inspire me. He creates electronic art for print and electronic display. Most of it is generated by various species of unique Java and other complicated programming.

His animated projections are frequently used for ambient light-shows for different festivals throughout Europe. Corporate clients appreciate the cool that having his work on hand provides.

The quality that I like the most in his work is that while being highly abstract, it grows, blossoms, and changes like natural phenomena. By using a few simple structural concepts and running them through some simple but dynamic routines, he creates mesmerizing forms.

Marius Watz website

I found this bio at

"Marius Watz is an artist concerned with generative systems for creating visual form, still, animated or realtime. His signature is a brand of visual hedonism, marked by colourful organic shapes and a maximalist attitude. Most of his works deal with drawing machines implemented in software, live visuals for music or large-scale projections of plastic visual systems.

Watz discovered the computer at age 11 and immediately found his direction in life. At age 20 he defected from Computer Science studies to do graphics for raves, using his programming to create organic shapes in 2D and 3D. In parallel to creating his own work, Watz worked as a graphic designer for many years, probing the limits of design. He ran the studio Products of Play with Erik Johan Worsøe Eriksen before deciding to focus on his art practice."
Saul Steinberg
this image first published in the New Yorker Jan. 30, 1965
Ladies and germs,
Doff your caps, genuflect and stay your writing tools for a moment of sober reflection on the greatness that was Saul Steinberg. Today is his birthday; he'd be 92. Here's a blurb I wrote for his birthday banner this morning:

"Because of Saul Steinberg, we can enlarge and dignify the act of drawing with a new word: doodling. This master observer and draftsman, with the simplest of tools barked out surgical sonnets and sly symphonies with scalpel-like wit. He wore the heavy crown of his accomplishment effortlessly while the jewels eluded (and continue to beguile) our earnest attempts to grasp them. Our clumsy, self-conscious fingers strive to imitate but we can only make a living at drawing. Instead, Saul Steinberg made life with his doodles."
Amen! Now, get back to work!
Animal ABC's project
The Boston Globe ran a beautiful full page feature in the Sunday Magazine on my Animal ABC mugs this weekend. Many orders have come in through my cafepress shop "new world monkey". Hopefully this will lead to some extra exposure and offers for licensing and further development of  the line.

Update: Since this piece ran in the paper, I've sold over 100 items from the cafePress store. It has also generated some interest from licensing agents. I have to get off my rear-end and market this concept!

new world monkey
ABC Animals
Here are some stills from a Superman cartoon: "The Bulleteers" that is podcasting. It's wonderfully dark and full of these angles and primary colors. Like an old comic book only animated.
It is dark and what I mean its that it mostly happens at night or in dark places so you get these marvelous contrasty lighting effects.
The Bulleteers are the bad guys who have this bullet-shaped rocket car who are terrorizing Metropolis. They destroy the power grid and attempt to rob the Treasury. Here they are zooming away from their strike on the power plant.
Lois Lane is quite fetching and always getting into the thick of things.
The cartoon is about 7-9 minutes long I guess. The camera is always sliding this way and that; the action really flows and it's fun to see the transitional devices used to link the different scenes. Here we are looking through the windows of the Daily Planet at the hard-working reporter Lois Lane. Looks like something you see in chrome on mudflaps or painted on the side of military aircraft.
There are many references to WWII era films and film noir conventions.
It's a showdown! But in the end, it's only Superman who can save the city.

Of couse these images make me think of our great contemporary Ross MacDonald!
Thank goodness for newspaper headlines to move the story along and tie things up.
As usual, the episode ends with Clark Kent complimenting Lois on the "great scoop".
Can all you armchair psychologists out there please comment on the dynamic between Clark/Superman and Lois. He IS powerless without her. It's totally Hollywood in an extremely compressed and almost non-verbal format.
Kind of a cool thing
This is my modular BLOCKS design. You can twist the art and mix up the heads, bodies and feet. There are other BLOCKS designs by Skwak and Michael Slack.
A few months ago I created 3 table lamp designs for Moody Buddha. Moody Buddha is the brainchild of the multi-talented illustrator and founder of Nate Williams who is based in Buenos Aires. The Moody Buddha store is online and Nate and his partners are working out the manufacturing kinks. He's always looking for artists to contribute lamp designs.
A unique item is the "BLOCKS" line of lamp shades with three interlocking movable rings that allow the user to play with the art and make new designs.

My Moody Buddha page: robd table lamp designs.
Good Blog!
Robert Ullman's Atom Bomb Bikini blog is a good place to spend some time. In it (lately) he chronicles is disaffection with Entertainment Weekly --for good reason. The comments are even more illuminating: They shed light on how some of our ilk react to the rough and tumble of the current climate of editorial.
Bon gusto!
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