sketchbook Feb. 28, 2007 various inks, fabric paint, gouache.
Here is a happy face to brighten up your morning. Spring IS on it's way. The birds are starting to go nuts and there's a familiar scent in the air. Time to wrap up those winter chores, peruse the seed catalogs and bask in the knowledge that is as old as time itself: fickle Spring is on its way!
The great French artist, illustrator and social commentator Honoré Daumier was born today, Feb. 26, 1808. Spend a few moments comparing your puny achievements against the towering tenacious draftsman from Marseille.
I wrote a little appreciation last year at this time: "Daumier! I wish I could pinpoint the moment or the specific work of Honoré Daumier's that so firmly fixed him in my landscape of artistic influences. It was probably quite early because I associate him with Thomas Nast which, for me, dates back to high school. Back then, I really wanted to be an editorial cartoonist and I'm sure in my reading I saw examples of Daumier's work.
The lithographs —there are hundreds— are fabulous caricatures of French politicians and ordinary people. His figure drawing and compositions are so useful and clear; the wit is broad and unsparing. Just writing this, I feel the urge to draw with a litho crayon!"
Every morning I work in my sketchbook. It takes about a month or two to complete one. Part personal journal, part daily to-do list, sometimes sketching for work; the sketchbook has become a huge addictive habit. I can't recommend it highly enough. Everything else may be crashing around me but if I've done something decent in the sketchbook, I can hold my head high as Peter records my passing in his big book.
Anyway, this image started with some angular doodling that became clouds. I then added a line at the bottom and accepted the fact that it had become a landscape. On the page before this, I had drawn a disgruntled dragon so I continued the theme with a parade of depressed and tired dinosaurs dragging themselves across the blighted landscape.
I then painted the sky a raspy pink and wan yellow and started shading the clouds. How depressing should this thing be anyway? Then an angry thought came to me that the dinosaurs were actually America plodding off into the sunset. A sunset brought about by decades of backward political thinking, confused foreign policy and defensive thinking in general. I know this may be a leap and profoundly un-obvious and misguided on my part, but just imagine for a moment if America was known for her brilliant environmental policies and practices, globally helpful foreign policy, ennobling journalism and art and entertainment that actually celebrated the joy of life rather than the live flaying of human beings.
Yes, this is a very interesting time to be alive and I'm sure my kids and yours will basically be fine. I'm basically an optimist. I just hope that a new intelligent consensus emerges from the waning days of the this fraudulent presidency.
Remember how nice we were to each other in the days after 9-11? I hope it doesn't take another event like that to get to nice.
cover illustration of "Rapunzel" in a very tight Northern Renaissance style. Zelinsky works in a number of styles and they are all recognizable as his work. It's worth some study.
Gosh, Paul O. Zelinsky is an impressive illustrator of children's books. Today's his birthday AND it's Valentine's Day. Not bad! My kids and I have loved his books since day one. Paul O. Zelinsky's website
Paul O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, IL which is next-door to Glenview where I spent a few formative years.
That's about it for any personal connections to this wonderful children's book illustrator. Notice the precious awkwardness of Zelinsky's drawing and the fearlessness of his aproach to a text: every book is different (some more different than others) yet somehow they all fit together as having fallen from the same tree. We have worn out several versions of "The Wheels on The Bus". Most Excellent! Happy Birthday Paul O. Zelinsky, may you go from strength to strength!"
a draft of the final illustration. I created it in Freehand and added 1-bit textures I developed in Painter and Photoshop.
PLANSPONSOR Magazine art director SooJin Buzelli contacted me through illoz.com a week or two ago to do a 1/3 page illustration for the April issue. The subject was interesting and SooJin's direction was compelling:
"Explaining the New Statement Explainations". Basically the "How to guide" for another "How to guide". I hope you can come up with some fun solution for this. What I DON'T want to see is any hint in the illustration that the article is about finance. So, no business man, briefcase, $ signs, etc.! Please create something you'd want in your portfolio. I'm attaching some of my favorites from you sites."
Within an hour or two, I had posted a few rough sketches in a newly created illoz Workspace and emailed her that the process was underway.
a first rejected rough concept. I started out with this complicated abstract background and added a book and this figurative element poking through the thicket.
My second sketch in ballpoint pen and colored digitally
I knew the second sketch would work the best but later, I further explored the concept she had given me: "Explaining the Explanation" to see if I could come up with something better or different. Sometimes the solution just happens and other times it's a frustrating fishing expedition. This additional research was just for fun mostly: what other fish were in the pond?
Nope, not this one although I'd like to render it someday. It reminds me of Mark Fisher; he does stuff kind of like this.
Maybe this one. It was closest to the original sketch I liked.
Try a Dalí or Saul Steinberg approach?
PLANSPONSOR was a new client after all and I figured I would try to offer them a variety of approaches. Luckily, SooJIn was certain of her original instinct and we agreed on the sketch we both new could succeed.
the final flipped art.
After I sent the final (above), she wondered if it could be flipped because of the page it was appearing on. That was an easy one. From Freehand I exported the EPS file. I then rasterized it in Photoshop (350 dpi TIFF, CMYK) and uploaded the hi-res files to the Workspace at illoz. End of story!
Norman Rockwell at the drawing board. Photo from the Norman Rockwell Museum website.
Today is the birthday of Norman Rockwell.What ya gonna do about it?! Here's my birthday blurb:
"I don't think about Norman Rockwell too much but I have to conclude that he is a guilty pleasure for me. In some respects his illustrations were (and continue to be) at the center of various debates in American culture that began in the 1960's. Rockwell was a very complex individual who was in the center of a contradiction-laden web of evolving American cultural assumptions. He represents and embodies the contradictions like a character in a drama.
Artists of all persuasions will appreciate Norman Rockwell's draftsmanship, composition, painting ability and, especially, his work ethic. We may be jealous, annoyed or frustrated with his legacy and the effect it has on framing broad conversations on Illustration, but he embodies a heroic stance that the art of Illustration may one day regain."