Friday, September 22, 2006

Emphasis on likeness

What happened to the flash? Don't know. But I kinda liked this one. I'm working on straight likenesses lately. I don't use a pencil underlayer, so the marker is flying free. Usually this is okay, but occasionally I REALLY would like to make a correction. Oh well. Patrons are really loving this style, almost a portraiture.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Improved Study

The more I looked at the original, the more I was disappointed. I'm inexperienced in this stuff, so that's understandable. So I made some improvements, although the smooth paper wouldn't accept anymore charcoal in the dark values, which I really wanted. (The cast shadows are ink.) Oh, well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shadow Study

With nothing much to do during these long September shifts at Disney, I think fondly of more serious pursuits, to which I'm more suited, I think. Oil painting, maybe? I'm untrained, however. (But I'm working on that.) Anyway, I did a little simple shadow study tonight, with graphite stick and a little black marker, and added some vine charcoal a few minutes ago. The result is a not altogether unsatisfying work, no longer simple, but detailed, and, I think, a rather cool and surreal compostion. This test of my anatomical and realism knowledge is slightly disappointing, but encouraging.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shuttle Launch

I live 50 miles away from Cape Canaveral, but I ran outside and just got a glimpse of the fiery rockets as they disappeared into the upper atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean. Snapped a few pics of the contrail a moment later.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kenny Durkin, Michael Mcelroy, and a boy

I like Kenny's drawing and the boy's drawing (he's from Keelan's book; check-out the glasses' distortion!), but Michael's drawing kind of got out of control; still, it's a fun piece, and I can use it as reference for an improved work.

Redraw of a Rejection: Pleasing Myself

So I'm in Hell. It fells like I'm drawing for the first time. Totally lost, totally strange and weirdness and fear. I can't do it! Or can I? It's such an act of the imagination, and so pleasurable when successful, and so miserable when not. I keep saying I won't draw the old way, the cute uninspiring stuff which everyone seems to LOVE. I'd rather go back to driving a TRUCK, or just sail away and draw what I like. Besides, I just got a certified letter from the IRS, saying they're gonna take my assets. Lovely. What to do? Keep at it, I guess. I'm changing my diet, so I'll have more energy. ... Anyway, so I'm redrawing all my old pictures, and just now was redrawing this rejection, that same semi-exaggerated "Aaron" drawing which I thought was nicely extreme and yet cute, but even that was returned! As all this was going through my head, and I'm drawing the new Aaron (see attached PHOTO), I'm also listening to a Key West rock station on the Internet, and heard this:

Garden Party. Remember that song? Ricky Nelson, 1972, after his glory years. It's about a bitter experience he had when he performed at a Madison Square Garden event. He had wanted to play his new songs, which were a kind of a country rock, but the AUDIENCE just wanted the sweet popular hits from his younger years. It's a perfect comparison to my current state of heart.
Some lyrics:
"Played them all the old songs, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to "Mary Lou," she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky tonk, it was time to leave" (The crowd actually booed Nelson at this point.)
And the last verse:
"If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck"
And the famous chorus:
"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself"

Wow, that might be it. I please myself in my art, and that art will please some, but not all. I use my imagination. I take risks. I fail and fail, but sometimes am successful, and that is so so sweet. But can I do it quickly and not starve? We'll see.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pencil Sketches on my day off (Some of you may recognize some of these models. Albert's in there. Sarah Shepard. Some models from Duron's site. And another guy.) These are just quick studies/experiments, with a little shading.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I saw this 13-ish fella pushing a stroller with his 2 younger siblings in it. He was sweating, miserable, rickshaw-forlorn, and he gravely looked up to me. I saw this image. I jumped to my easel and drew 'im.
It's funny, because for the past day or so I'd been thinking of what I didn't like about my job. What I don't like, I realized, is the Assembly Line and the Need for Manufacturing. The Assembly Line and the Need for Manufacturing is a syndrome of pain. You physically whip-out pale drawing after pale drawing of the universal face. There is no MIND in your endeavor. It is MINDLESS, and your activity is an act for wages only. You need to eat, to buy video games, to subdue your family and the welfare state and collectors; you're proving Marx's point: history is motivated by money. But I disagree with Karl. I think humanity's push is related to what the Greeks called Eros (and who made this quality a god) and by the trauma of great MINDS and by desperate animal masses and perhaps by the hand of suspicious powers/creator(s). But what end does my wage warrant such boring means besides the above mentioned? Perhaps an end called carelessness? Or selfishness? A house and spouse and child? But aren't those things often the result of urge and not mind?... But I digress....
I DO NOT want mindless work. That, technically, is DRUDGERY. I wish to be honored with finanicial reward by the use of my MIND in concert with my art. If drudgery is the only choice, then I'll drive a truck. It's a lot easier, and less hypocritical, less guilt. The mindlessness of typical caricaturing is a horror, akin to digging ditches or making one million cookies. I don't wish to be a factory-worker. Thought, pondering, searching, failing, finding. That's the good work. The work of the artist.
So, when it comes down to it, how do I continue within the current caricaturing business? Well, it's the greatest job in the world, I say. And I say that $20 or $30 is too much for the typical caricature, and not enough for a studied one. I will continue, and will learn, putting much much energy into the thing, and much much mind. I will not let it become an assembly line, and will recognize that while it is an "art job" it is also a form of entertainment, and that it includes a certain amount of selling. But entertainment and salesmanship are just the means to an end: a work of art, the work of the artist, my pleasure.

My Beloved Esly

Ok, so "beloved" is a little overboard, but she is my best friend these days, and we have way too much fun every Monday at Animal Kingdom. Here she is drawing a stud named Tim.

Fast and Cute

OK, so I drew fast and cute this week. I thought this one was pretty. She didn't like it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rejection: I'm ready to quit

Okay, so I got this rejection. No big deal, right? Right. That's what I thought. But now I'm feeling devastating self-doubt. You see, I had LIKED this drawing, had put it on my blog (see "Favorite of the Night"). The family had bought a frame. Passers-by had been commenting happy stuff. It seemed the perfect combination of cuteness, likeness, and exaggeration. I had seen a clear "vision" when I saw this kid, with his head growing up out of the "well" of his tiny chin and conspicuous ears and low baby jowels. And I had drawn this vision exactly as I had seen it. It was so so so pleasant an experience. Oh sure, I thought, I should place the ears much higher and with less floppiness, but that's not the vision, that's not how I saw the kid. And, WOW, I guess my vision sucks. I've been the told the customer was "very unhappy" (but why did they pay $15 for a {$4} frame?) and that the likeness isn't there (by someone who should know). I mean, the likeness isn't the STRONG point of this, but caricaturing is a strange thing, you know, and likeness is fleeting, and subjective: indeed, don't let anyone tell you likeness is objective! Isn't that right? Am I way off here? Of course, sometimes an obvious capturing of likeness occurs, but often it isn't so obvious, especially when exaggeration and humor are goals. Look at some of the great caricaturists' works. Likeness is slippery. But isn't exaggeration supposed to bring forward the likeness? Well, sometimes it does, and in dramatic ways. But sometimes there's another experience. RECOGNITION is want, at first. CONFUSION is the experience, at first. But then the charm of insight slowly washes over the viewer; he sees the artist's vision; he recognizes the subject. This, to me, is the goal of the caricaturist. Not an easy observation of the art, but a discoverying by the viewer. Heck, let's just take a freakin' photograph and Photoshop Mickey in there beside the subject; wouldn't that be easier? Great likeness (usually) and there's Mickey all artificial and cheap.
I mean, heck, what the heck. Am I so out of touch that I can't see that this drawing sucks? I thought it was delightful and a bit tricky, not obvious; I thought it would make the viewer stop and wonder and then take pleasure in my imagination's insight. But no, I guess. I must be way off, fundamentally. And after all my efforts, that just makes me want to quit. Someone else redrew the kid in some normal way, I'm guessing, and now they have my money and my spirit. Of course, it would help if I weren't drowning in debt right now. I realize that. Debt has a way of muddying the colors of your days and of your dreams. And I'm not being given any hint that I'll be making more money in the foreseeable future. Maybe I should be a trucker again. In a couple of years I could pay-off my debts and re-think things. Dead broke, of course, but debt free. Hmm... It's tempting. ...Oh well.