As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Joe The Thug

"Joe The Thug"
ACEO 2.5x3.5"
Acrylic on canvas

My friend Christy wanted her cat, Joe to be fat cat! So, in the spirit of Al Capone, with the gangster car, the city background, and the patent leather shoes, I painted Joe, immortalized as the lazy thug that he is.

Christy Dekoning is a watercolor artist living in Ontario, whose portraits will become an heirloom in anyone's family. Visit Christy's blog: Travels in Watercolors

Visit Smelly Rhino Studio or order a Custom portrait!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

#16 The New Yorker; 31 days of rhinos

#16 Ode To The New Yorker; 31 days of Rhinos
Prismacolor on Bristol Smooth paper

#16 in the series, yet another ripoff of one of the iconic images of the 20th century; The New Yorker's highly hatted Mascot!

The New Yorker first hit news stands in 1925, and part of the legacy of this brilliantly written and presented magazine are its cartoons, which have been an integral part since the very beginning. So much so that most identify the magazine with the cartoon logo! They recently compiled a book of all All 68,647 cartoons ever published in The New Yorker! That's a lot of cartoons!

Cartoons, in fact, have become such an important part of our culture, that their influence on us is barely fathomable. Consider that many of our greatest cartoonists perhaps were inspired by The New Yorker growing up, and that alone makes it formidable. Great cartoonists, illustrators and satirists abound here!
Regrettably, and it pains me to say this, but Wikipedia is down today, so I can't give you a fun wee history on The New Yorker and its indelible mark on art history. Perhaps I can add some more tomorrow. For now, below are some of the greats.

Roz Chast is one of many to influence us, and it's great to have a female cartoonist in the mix, because it seems that not many women take the path of cartoonist. Roz first contributed to The New Yorker in 1978 and became a staff cartoonist in 1979, and has contributed over 1000 cartoons to the magazine. [from "
Editor David Remnick wrote that her cartoons convey a comic sense of "domestic anxiety." ]

Robert Mankoff,
is currently the cartoon editor of The New Yorker. He captures that cross section of American business and politics with his humor, as well as every day life in the US. Robert is also the creator of The Cartoon Bank, which is the largest cartoon licensing business in the world. So, if you are a cartoonist, maybe you should start there!

Charles Addams, adored by many as the creator of the Addams Family, spent most of his career drawing for The New Yorker! It all started as the Gothic, dark, bizarre, macabre but humorous cartoon in the New Yorker, which resulted in the beloved TV series and 2 movies! Aren't tidbits fun?

James Thurber, humorist, cartoonist, writer. A distinguished figure of American Literature, He wrote
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", and others, which put him in the history books as more than just a cartoonist!
Saul Steinberg, among the most prolific artists of the 20th century, appeared in The New Yorker for nearly 60 years! Now that's a career! Visit his site and be awed by the archives!
Their cartoons were political, controversial and funny. Satire at its best! Maybe not that well known to the average person, but if you grew up with this magazine, you were influenced by them! And, well, maybe you do really know a few!

The New Yorker has had a profound effect of US Popular Culture since its inception, and I think it is fitting to mention in my 31 days of rhinos series.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

#15 Cave Painting; 31 days of rhinos

So easy, a Caveman really did paint this!

#15 Cave Painting (also mixed media)
Media: Textured stone, acrylic

[Fake excerpt "This amazing piece was discovered in a remote cave somewhere in Arizona. People mistakenly believed that the great Merck's rhinoceros or Rhinoceros merckii must have existed in North America at some point. A better explanation is that the ancient people built really good boats and traveled; and this cave painting was a story of their voyage to Africa or Asia or Eastern Europe. How the heck did they get there? Maybe alien visitors aren't so far fetched after all!

It was originally believed that the markings on the bottom of the picture were fire, but it was later determined that this is grass, because rhinos are herbivores, and at the top of the picture, there is a sun and a moon to depict the sun and moon cycles. The two rhinos are not mirrored, (although abstract art could have existed then.) Instead, these are a mated pair of rhinos, the male on the left. They come together and touch horns as a gesture of affection. Possibly the early people of the land believed that 'Rhino Love' was an example from the gods to be honored as part of the cycle of the seasons; Love is, essentially, part of the cycle of life.

It is also believed that this painting has much more than symbolism, like that of others found nearby. It's symmetry reflects a desire for ordered decoration, and almost resembles ancient Greek pottery examples. Could it be that these people were the lost potters of the Macedonia and this drawing is not a prehistoric example after all, but a cool illustration borrowed from the cave drawings, to be used on the water jug of a soujourner? hmmm!"]

[Wiki " Cave paintings are paintings on cave walls and ceilings, and the term is used especially for those dating to prehistoric times. The earliest known European cave paintings date to Aurignacian, some 32,000 years ago. The purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known. The evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas, since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. Also, they are often in areas of caves that are not easily accessed. Some theories hold that they may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe them a religious or ceremonial purpose.

So, were cave paintings merely decoration? Was it history being recorded? Or perhaps a vigil by shamans to create a larger hunt for the people? We will never know for certain, but Please Read more because it's really interesting!

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

#14 Origami Rhino; 31 days of rhinos

Ancient tradition unfolding here, under protest, on Wordless Wednesday!

Above: #14 Origami Rhino; 31 days of rhinos
Media: Paper

Below: Not my rhino!

This beautiful rhino shown here was "borrowed" from Joseph Wu Origami, and wow, he is good! Unfortunately, he doesn't show you how to fold the damned thing! I printed out his diagram and then stared hopeless at it after creasing every line on the paper.

The only workable tutorial I could find (for free) on YouTube was working great except the occasional floating off the screen while he was folding. Just as I was nearing completion, the artist began folding the back legs, and his hands were entirely out of the camera at that point. Alas, I couldn't figure it out...I have an origami book somewhere up in my library, but it doesn't have a rhino in it. You can see how the hind legs are not finished.....balls!

[Wiki "The Japanese word "origami" itself is a compound of two smaller Japanese words: "ori", meaning fold, and "gami", meaning paper...Japanese origami began sometime after Buddhist monks from China carried paper to Japan during the 6th century." Read more! (it's fascinating!)

My brother introduced me to this incredible short story nearly 20 years ago, and you must read it as soon as you can, because it will make you really feel; love, sorrow, joy and hope:

The Story of 1000 Cranes
(you must read this!)
"The Thousand Origami Cranes has become a symbol of world peace[citation needed] through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who tried to stave off her death from leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II by making one thousand origami cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed and buried them all with her.
Her story is told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for World Peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate Senbazuru to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released. In this way they are related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet." -Wiki excerpt.
Wordless Wednesday didn't exactly leave me speechless...Maybe I should have stopped at hello!
See you tomorrow...
(I will try harder next week not to say anything on Wednesday..I really missed the point, eh?)
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#13 Colored Pencil; 31 days of Rhinos

#13 Colored Pencil; 31 days of Rhinos
Colored Pencil on Bristol Smooth

Pencils are fun, portable and require no water. So, a pretty neat way to do art on the go. It's like crayons for grownups. only harder.

This sketch was done fairly quickly, without as much layering detail as I would normally use. I use colored pencil fairly routinely for miniature portraits, but I often take as long to finish one as I would any painting. This quicker sketch illustrates that you can use a lot of colors to create your tones; blues, tans, yellows, browns, grays. A lot more fun than just Graphite, right?! The only drawback is that you do have to acknowledge that the colors exist in the picture! Do you think that is a funny thing to say? Well, when you see a gray rhino, do you naturally think to apply blue and yellow?

We talked about charcoal being just about the oldest media, probably anyway. Raw charcoal is quite soft and comes in sticks that get our hands very dirty and also in pencil form. Graphite is like the gold standard of coal, the premium stuff and much harder. ...Then there are colored pencils, made from pigments mixed with a binder of resin, wax or gum, then made into the pencil form we get at the art store. I wasn't really able to find much history on the medium and what I did find indicated that as an art form it's only been around about 20 years..Well, of course I had colored pencils 20 years ago, but I am fairly confident that this art form wasn't widely accepted in Galleries. Perhaps it's time is still to come, but it will continue to be a favorite for me as an illustrator, and if you like to draw plants, it's the tops!
Good colored pencils get pricey. If you want to play, you could buy a cheap starter kit for under $20. If you decide you like it you can move forward with the mega sets. The difference is that the cheap kit will have less pigment in it, making it harder even harder to get a nice image, and possibly turning you off colored pencils. But, still, try a little before you invest.

Paper is really important! Did I mention that paper is soooo important. On this piece, I thought I was being clever to use Bristol Smooth, but it became apparent very quickly to me that you can render more lifelike images on regular drawing paper, printmaking paper or pastel paper; something with a little texture and which is porous. I like to use a lot of layers to work the magic. This is where it comes to life. I wasn't able to really accomplish that goal with this exercise.

Colored pencil as an art form is not really well accepted as "high end" to put it gently, but it is gaining in popularity. It's a great media for illustration and cartoon rendering, but I'll be honest with you; it is kinda challenging if you are going for realism. It takes a little practice, but you can get there! Remember, don't be afraid to share. I am (again) finding it liberating to post something that I would otherwise think to be sub par. Let it go, and enjoy the process!

I hope this at least gets you a little interested in this medium!
It's so good to not be sick anymore.
See you tomorrow.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

#12 Negative Space; 31 days of Rhinos

"Look, I'm trying to be positive, but you're in my negative space!"
#12 Negative Space; 31 days of rhinos
Pencil and Ink

If you haven't ever heard of drawing negative space, it's probable that you haven't taken an art class.

This should be one of the fundamental exercises for a beginner. In fact, I remember first drawing negative space in an 8th grade art class. My teacher made us draw from our desk, the view around his head, as I recall. Then, the space around other objects, like chairs, and some more organic shapes. It was eye opening to find that I could render an image by drawing the space around it! The important thing he was always telling us was, "Stop fretting over not being able to draw a chair!! Drawing is about shapes, the shapes that make up the subject, and the shapes that make up the background. The Subject is your positive space, and the rest is your negative space. So, just draw the shapes around your subject, and you will have the chair you are trying to draw! Eventually, you will begin to understand how a given subject is formed and it will become easier and easier!"
[wiki excerpt "
Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real" subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. The Japanese word "ma" is sometimes used for this concept, for example in garden design.[1][2][3][4]
In a two-tone, black-and-white image, a subject is normally depicted in black and the space around it is left blank (white), thereby forming a silhouette of the subject. However, reversing the tones so that the space around the subject is printed black and the subject itself is left blank causes the negative space to be apparent as it forms shapes around the subject, called figure-ground reversal.
Elements of an image that distract from the intended subject, or in the case of photography, objects in the same focal plane, are not considered negative space. Negative space can be used to depict a subject in a chosen medium by showing everything around the subject but not the subject itself. Usage of negative space will produce a silhouette of the subject.
The use of equal negative space, as a balance to positive space, in a composition is considered by many as good design. This basic and often overlooked principle of design gives the eye a "place to rest," increasing the appeal of a composition through subtle means. The term is also used by musicians to indicate silence within a piece."]
When I went surfing to see what was online, I found lots of great articles, blogs, tutorials, and the lot on drawing negative space. Here's just one: Using Negative Space Drawing

The inspiration for the sketch came from a photo by the remarkable photographer, Nick Brandt!
I found his site through a neat blog called Nothing Relevant (which by the way, has lots of relevant on it!)

Although my cold is gone, I'm still fighting a very bizarre fatigue that has been making me nearly unable to function. I taught a little workshop on Saturday and did a fun run with a friend on Sunday. These are the only activities I have been able to accomplish, literally. I hope to be back on track tomorrow.

See you then!

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Things to Ponder

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. -Andy Warhol

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
-Walt Disney
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