Friday, December 31, 2010

A FUN Game for the New Year

If this were a New Year's Card, here are some of the possible captions it could have:
Have a bang-up New Years! (for the revelers)
Give your dog something to bark about in the New Year! (for the dog owners)
May you stay above the fray in the New Year! (for the blimp pilots)
And so on..

And, of course, I wish you all of the above and more for your New Year.

But this is not a new year's card. It's much more fun than that.

In my December 20th post, here, I said that a partner and I were engaged in a game involving art, and showed you my first panel. If you know of my opponent (and most of you EDM'ers do), then there are clues in the picture above as to who she is. So see if you can guess (of course she let the cats out of the bag in her latest blog post).
[Insert Jeopardy music here.]
Give up? One of the arms and legs in the cloud of contention above is PAMO'S! And the barking dog is, of course, her dog. You can visit Pamo's Blog here.

Pam aka Pamo is a cartoonist of course. She let me know about some books she was reading on cartooning, and in checking out the author's works online I found myself at a blog that described a tic-tac-toe game. The blogger, Matt Madden, and his friend Tom Hart drew a tic-tac-toe grid on an 8-1/2" x 11" paper - one chose "x" and the other chose "o" - and they each drew panels of a 9-part cartoon in their respective squares, passing the page back and forth across a table. Each would incorporate their "x" or "o" in the panel, try to make that panel a part of what would become a coherent (or at least semi-coherent) full-page cartoon, and attempt to win of course!. You can visit Matt Madden's blog, see a full description of his Tic-Tac-Toe Jam, and pictures of what they accomplished here.

Now I have no time for any of this - too many other projects that I have in mind and have no time for either. Still, to do this would not be that different than a story board for a picture book (which I want to do) and besides it sounded fun, so I figured why not, and e-mailed Pam and asked, "Well?"

Of course Pam is in Tennessee and I am in Florida, so our virtual table is large. We are e-mailing each other our panels, identifying the places on the grids (e.g., Queen to Kings 4), and when we are done, Pam will assemble the 9 panels into a grid that we will show you all.

So I ask - HOW FUN IS THAT?!

Thank you Matt Madden!

I have done a lot of sketches this year in my sketch book, but very few are colored. So I have some catching up to do early in the new year. I have some definite thoughts about how to "kick it up a notch" in my art in the coming year, but don't want to jinx it by talking about it.

"Do or do not. There is no try," says Yoda, the wise. And talking about it is even worse.

So here is a rather raw page of floating heads from life from my Moleskine. For the bottom two there was a wall blocking the bottom halves of their heads for rather interesting effect, don't you think?

I owe a debt of gratitude to so many of you for being so generous in sharing of yourselves, your art, and your techniques and ideas. So it is with an earnest nod of my virtual hat that I wish you and yours a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Illustration Friday: Mail

For this week's Illustration Friday topic, "mail", I had a simple idea which I thought would best be illustrated simply. So I drew it rather quickly in ink on a large sheet with a Sharpie.

* * *

A: (Wide-eyed) Is that IT? Is that the whole post? That couldn't be all there is - not in Dan Kent's blog! He always has something to say!

B: (Frowning) Too much to say if you ask me. The man doesn't know when to shut up!

A: (With derision) So, who asked you?

* * *

Well, it does seem like a rather short post, and I do happen to have a true story about the mail that springs to mind.

* * *

A: (Delighted) See?

B: (Throwing up his hands) Oh Brother.

* * *

I remember a sunny day a few years ago when a letter arrived in the mail at our home. The letter was scented with perfume and my name and address were written with beautiful penmanship on the envelope, as only a lady could write it.

"What's this?" my wife demanded. She handed me the letter.

I inhaled the sweet scent and examined the envelope. It was addressed to Fr. Daniel Kent. A small bead of sweat rolled down my forehead, although I knew I was innocent - really I did.

I opened the letter. My wife leaned toward me. I leaned back and cupped my hands over the paper as I read the long handwritten letter. It turns out that the woman was hoping I was the Daniel Kent she had known. She was depressed and wanted help. She was writing to the man that had been her priest.

I handed my wife the letter. "How could you ever have doubted me?" I asked, wondering all the while what would have happened had the contents of the letter been different.

I located Father Kent through the local archdiocese, and forwarded him the letter. He said he'd call the woman. We spoke on the phone and exchanged holiday cards for a few years. And that was that.

Sometimes, even now, on sunny days when the postal worker is walking up our steps, I feel a cold breeze carrying a sweet scent. At those times I shutter, wondering what is about to be delivered.

* * *

B: (Pretending to gag) Shmaltzy. I hope he's done.

A: (Indignant, with hands on hips) Aw come on, that was a great story and you know it!

B: (Brows furrowing, crossing his arms) Hmmmph.

* * *

Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Feel the Beat.


It's morning. My hot tea is next to me. I am in my car in a parking space across the street from a Publix supermarket. My radio is on. Two employees stroll outside, lean back, and talk. They are satisfied - I can tell - to be there at that place in that moment, enjoying the cool air and warm conversation. Despite what the newsman says, all is right with the world. I pull out my pen, and smile.

Two days later I return. Once again I am in my car in the parking space across the street from the supermarket. I sip my hot tea. I pull out my watercolors and dampen the brush. Again the radio is on, but despite what the newsman says, all is right with the world. Again, I smile.

2. A new game. A chance to be creative. Collaboration with a worthy opponent who is enthusiastic and full of ideas. An opportunity to stretch reality, to laugh, to feel joy at the challenge. It feels so good to stretch.

In this game my opponent/collaborator will have an idea, and then it will be my turn to respond. Idea births idea, and neither of us knows how in nine moves it will end. I will tell you more another day and explain the game, but there have been three moves in this game so far. I went first, and this was the first move in our game:

3. Charcoal. My sketchbook. Thinking, an obstacle. Planning, unnecessary. I follow my instincts into the wild. I bury myself in a verdant jungle. But I do not think "verdant", I do not think "jungle", I do not think. I am a wild animal - untrained, unrestrained, and dangerous. An artist. When the charcoal is done, I grab my pen, but it is too late. There is no control in the grand cacophony. Spirited, vibrant, quivering with excitement, the chaos cannot be tamed. It is art, I think. It must be art.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scattered, but Happy. Serious, but Cartoony.

Psst..I've had an idea. (Shocking, isn't it?) More than an idea, really. I've had an idea for a picture book and I've written the first draft.

I would like to pursue this idea. So I need to plan the book, prepare thumbnails, and then draw illustrations. The illustrations will require characters that are somewhat more cartoony than my usual moleskine fare, and also more active. The characters will need to be almost theatrical in their poses. I consider this an opportunity to improve any number of skills. I am going to study bodies and their poses, and perhaps this will get me to buckle down and master the ever elusive hand. It seems to me that I need to know how to draw realistically first; then I can be as cartoony as I want to be.

Every now and then while sketching a target individual in my moleskine, a well-meaning person would lean over me and tell me with great enthusiasm that I was good, and ask have I ever thought of drawing cartoons. I would accept the compliment and then mutter under my breath that I am not a cartoonist. That was not my goal. Not at all. The sketches were to improve my "serious" drawing and painting skills.

But now I've seen that I have improved enough to potentially illustrate, and that means, maybe, in a cartoony manner since that seems to suit best what I have in mind.

How interesting.

Never say never.

And if I never do the book, that's okay. I'll be a better artist for the exploration.

I am scattered but happy. I am also continuing my ink and watercolor sketches, at least one larger watercolor painting, and an even larger acrylic work. I want to paint much more in acrylic.

And I have many more ideas than I have time.

So I am returning to Illustration Friday, a website that provides a weekly topic for illustration. And I'm going to try various styles/ideas. Some will work, and some will not, I guess. My first effort is to illustrate this week's topic of "Prehistoric". You will be proud that it is larger than my pocket-sized moleskine (6-1/2" x 10") In fact, the quote Illustration Friday gave as an example suits my illustration just fine: "Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic." (Keith Haring.)

Painting hasn't changed. The critics have even always been there.

Speaking of critics (of the discerning kind), I am honored to have received the 2010 Top Watercolor Painting Blog Award from a website designed to provide information for online graphic design degrees. In an e-mail they sent me, they say that they consider my blog to be "a resource that explores the art of sketching, or provides inspiration for your next painting..This is why we've featured your blog, as it is one of the best to teach our readers."

Aw shucks.

OK, I accept.

Tell me I'm good looking, and I'll accept that compliment too.

[P.S. - My apologies to the first few folks that commented, but I forgot (how could I?) to mention that if I had a creativity award I would give it this month to Raena for the amazingly creative and magical addition to the page in our joint sketchbook. So if you have a chance, and haven't visited already, please check out our shared blog at 2'nFro!]