(This is late, it’s the middle of March, I know that, but it’s SPRING now okay so there are no rules, including rules about comma splices!)
Here we are again at the start of a new year. It happens every year, but it always feels special.
First, I want to reflect on 2017’s goals. Hosting an art show hasn’t happened…yet. Pitching a picture book went about how I expected — the silent treatment. Didn’t stop me from printing off some paperbacks myself and sharing them with the world! The one goal I blew out of the water was finishing a polished piece of artwork for every month. I used streak.club to form the habit as well as to look back on and recognize my progress (which I’ve always struggled with).
Having practiced month-long processes for a year, I’m ready to take on a bigger project this year. I don’t want to say too much just yet, but I’m just crazy about this idea and hope to keep you updated.
I’ve fallen off (yet again) in posting to social media. I have been drawing, though, and not even anything very secret or un-sharable, I just haven’t been showing anybody anything. Maybe it’s important to do that sometimes? I don’t know. It’s just what I tend do — fall off the map intermittently.
Goals for this year: Finish a major project. One goal. Gotta do it. Very excited.
This year, I finally did it! I made an ink drawing for every single day in October. Thirty-one unique drawings with my trusty crow-quill pen (and one in ball point). I’m so proud! I only fell behind twice during the very last week.
Using the “official prompt list” by Jake Parker, I [mostly] based each drawing on events and dogs I’ve seen at my various dog-related jobs. It was the structure I needed to stick with the challenge!
They’re all up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re reading this much later though, save yourself some scrolling and look below.
These are my top six favorites:
All thirty-one (in reverse chronological order):
I even tried a little animatic. Be advised: do not watch this if you are eating!
This month I was honored to be in a juried art show called “Imagine II – The Art of Children’s Book Illustration”
Hosted by The dA Center for the Arts in Pomona with support by the SCBWI, it featured a whole wall of work by Leo Politti, which was awesome to look at, as well as artifacts and sculpture from the Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art. The space was absolutely filled with work from thirty-seven Californian illustrators, including a piece by yours truly!
It was great to come together for the Illustrators Reception and celebrate the art that inspires literacy and piques the curiosity of little humans.
As of this posting, you’ve got just a few days to see the show! The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 12 to 4, and it all comes down after September 23rd.
This year I had the pleasure of contributing to The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity’s annual fundraiser, the Red Dot Auction. All the artists receive the same size square canvas to work with. It’s an anonymous silent auction, so nobody knows who they’re bidding on until after the fact!
My piece was called “Ragtime Ruin” and depicted the tragic aftermath of the classic cartoon, “One Froggy Evening.” Old Michigan J. is a little terrifying when you consider the implication of his immortality.
I had a lot of fun breaking out my oil paints and designing a deco-inspired poster. I normally work in a really high key, so it was fun to push myself with a darker color range.
The painting went home with Ben Olson of 3 Monkeys & Aardvark Studios in Schaumburg, Illinois.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t decorate their space to some extent. Whether we realize it or not, the things we look at have a way of seeping in to the things we create.
Make rules, not copies.
The objects that catch my eye are often unexpected. Each thing is different and seemingly unrelated until you see them all together. There’s an invisible thread running through them all. Hard to identify and even harder to articulate, but if you can and when do, you get a much clearer idea of what you like. Maybe you can even identify why you like them. If you can understand why you gravitate toward certain things, you don’t have to copy them but instead make something that follows the same rules.
Who’s driving the bus?
I like old things, offbeat things, sincere things like folk art, and silly frivolous things.The reason I like an item may be unclear until it is next to the plethora of other items in my studio. Most objects from childhood disappear with time, but what I’ve kept follows a lot of the same rules as the newer additions. How formative are our first possessions?
How much do our surroundings in early life inform our aesthetic preferences? Do we produce art based on those aesthetic preferences? Or do we choose our surroundings according to the art we strive to produce? Maybe, like most things in life, it’s a push and pull.
As humans we are always seeking patterns even when we don’t consciously identify them. By identifying these patterns, we can better understand ourselves.
BIG NEWS! I will be printing 100 paperback copies of a picture book I wrote and illustrated a couple years back. “What is a Dog?” is a project that I’m so proud of and I’m excited to have the opportunity to make this short run of books. HUGE thank-yous to everybody who bought the .PDF version on Gumroad. All the proceeds from that went right into this!
So while we’re waiting for these books to be produced, I thought I should at least get a headcount to get all these books out into the world. Claim your copies by filling out this form — it’s a first-come, first-served kinda deal. I’ll be signing each and every copy!
If you haven’t read the book, I don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you everything. First let me say that it’s not so much a story as it is an exploration. Cute dogs are only part of the equation, and it’s up to the reader to sift through the various tears in both reason and reality. What is a dog, and where do you draw the line?
I’m also gathering reviews to give you the general flavor without giving too much away:
“What is a Dog? Is a fun, kooky, informational, and short journey about something we all love: dogs! It features amazing illustrations and a diverse cast that shows appreciation for every sort and type of pooch. If you love doggos, this book is for you!”
– Joshua W.
“Young kids will love finding the dogs (and non-dogs), but older kids will definitely enjoy its edges.”
If you don’t know, Labeouf, Rönkkö & Turner started a live stream in New York on Inauguration Day, inviting the public to say “He Will Not Divide Us” into the camera and microphone. In under a week, I had collected several screenshots of things I found interesting or funny, and I knew I had to draw what I saw.
People come to the camera for all kinds of reasons. Some people sing, some people stay silent, some people shout vulgar things, and some people say the five words at the center of the project. Through it all there is bad weather, wild costumes, possums, dogs, and lots of food delivery. Just seeing the ebb and flow of this segment of 36th street has been fascinating.
I’m excited to be participating in one of my favorite shows again — this time with not one, but TWO pieces. I love this show because it showcases the incredible range of skill and imagination to be found in our own community [of hundreds of thousands of people.]
I hope you’ll join me (and much of Orange County’s artsy population) at the Huntington Beach Art Center on Main St this Saturday the 28th. There’s sure to be something for everyone in this open-subject, open-medium show!