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An Artistic Retrospective with Comic Heroes, TV Characters, Portraits, Landscapes and More
An artist's perspective, tempered by age and time...
As a writer and artist, there are few topics I enjoy writing about more than art. It is exciting to look back on work I’ve created over the years and examine what I like or dislike—or ponder what I might have done differently, given the advantages of hindsight. As I reflect on my body of work, it makes great sense to use words to clarify what I wanted to convey in images. Talking about art satisfies both my urge to write and draw; at least a little.
For much of my life, my humble drawings and paintings emanated from me in ways that made it feel as if I didn’t have much control over the finished product—the marks that hit the paper or canvas HAD to look the way they did. Some pieces that cried out with their intensity long ago seem relatively tame to me now, and I would like to believe in retrospect that I was guided at least partially by a sense of composition and color. Hopefully my drawings came to look as they did because it made sense from the artist’s perspective, and I wasn’t relying totally on angst, madness or whatever other wells artists draw from. Time will tell, I guess.
Okay, let’s go. I would like to offer my surface thoughts on a small collection of my drawings, and if anyone wants a deeper explanation or analysis, they should feel free ask through comments.
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1.) Woman in a red dress and boots (Pen and ink, art marker, and watercolor): This was originally a pen and colored ink project, but I returned to the drawing later, first with art markers and then with watercolor paint—making it a true multimedia creation. The subject was an extraordinarily beautiful woman and friend who sometimes modeled women’s fashion. I like the finished drawing, but didn’t do justice to the beauty of this elegant, graceful woman. It seems wrong to confess I looked to Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoons for inspiration, but I did use the manner Watterson drew trees and snow to guide me.
2.) Tree branches (India ink with pen and brush on bond paper): I worked first with ink and a crow quill pen, but the fine lines didn’t give me what I was looking for and I switched to a brush. As the wet brush passed over the relatively thin paper, it created small folds and creases that added greatly to the look and texture of the drawing—something difficult to convey in a digital format. I love the infinite diversity in something as simple as trees and branches, and I draw them often.
3.) Moon rising (Gouache on black mat board): Another drawing I did very quickly, using gouache in thick strokes to establish bold, heavy lines. The white-and-gray-on-black image feels very cold and stark to me—exactly what I hoped for. I lucked into the impression of the moon shining on the mountains, but when I started to see it and realized I had something, I worked it extensively.
4.) Fear (Ink pen on card stock): This was one of my many doodles created while talking on the telephone. I’ve always liked what happens compositionally when you zoom in on part of a face. There is so much to work with in a human face, the composition comes automatically. Faces offer tremendous surfaces to draw and paint, as well as a complete range of emotion. While hardly a great drawing, this evokes fear pretty well, and so I kept it. Another version exists also, with darker shadows indicated in art marker.
5.) Clinton Lake (Watercolor on paper): I rounded up my artist friends and drove out on a sunny day with charcoal and paper to sketch a lake that sits on the outskirts of town. I returned with my drawing and eventually turned it into a watercolor painting. It would have been more successful if I just painted it there, but I wasn’t thinking that day (year?). If I painted at the lake itself I would have muted the colors significantly, but the bright palette pleases me now. The tree and brush details were a dry wash and differ in style from the rest of the painting.
6.) Daredevil in action (Pen and art marker on paper): I can’t stay away from the superheroes for long, I guess. This was on ordinary notebook paper, and I used a computer program to erase the paper’s lines and smooth out the red in Daredevil’s costume. This drawing is reminiscent of the first few years of Daredevil’s comic in the ‘60s, with a smiling hero vaulting over something I didn’t bother to draw. Heroes are fun to illustrate because the exaggerated physique gives the artist a chance to go wild with the human figure.
7.) Angelique (Pencil on paper): This was from a gorgeous photograph of Lara Parker as Angelique, the beautiful witch on the ‘60s gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. I was particularly proud of this drawing, and xeroxed it repeatedly to work it in other media. While the other versions still exist and are fine in their own way, the pencil drawing pleases me the most. It would be pretty difficult for me to dislike any portrait of this lady I had a major crush on, all those years ago.
8.) Snowfall at the cemetery (Art marker on card stock): I drew this shortly after a very close friend died. It is rough and raw, much like my feelings were when it was created. The figure at the gravesite is clumsy, sad and awkward, and he stands alone in a world much colder than it was a short time earlier. The snowflakes were interesting because I drew them first and placed the composition beneath them.
9.) Red sunset (Art marker on card stock): Another sketch that sprang from doodling while on the telephone. I took the drawing home, used a Sharpie for the bold outlines, and finished the job with art markers. The heavy black lines and flat colors were the point of the drawing, and it was fun and challenging to use colors in a manner that supported this bold piece. I liked the finished product enough to make several similar drawings.
10.) Sitting in a field with purple trees and sky (Acrylic on canvas): This small painting pleased me with the feelings of solitude it stirred within me. The painting was very much a product of my conflicted emotional state. The man in the field appears relaxed and serene, but the feelings are counterbalanced by the energy swirling about him. I don’t remember the purpose of the limited palette—perhaps purple and white were the only colors I had at the time!
The drawings displayed here were done over a period of decades, apparent by the variations in style. I am still greatly affected by moods and emotions; landscapes and super-heroes usually reveal my more serene moments, and people represent my more troubled side. Things balance out as I grow older, however, and work I believed to be brilliant blends in with the others. Likewise, works I despised when I created them don’t seem as bad now. Emotion fades and sensibility takes over. I can like more of my work now, for more different reasons. I guess age does have some advantages. I had to dig pretty deep to find one, but I’ll take what I can get.
If you enjoyed my visual presentation, leave me a quick comment. I’ll do it again.
An Artist Retrospective: Review and Update
I wrote this article several years ago and enjoyed writing about my humble drawings a great deal. I considered adding to this retrospective, but elected only to add another drawing or two. To do more takes this article out of that moment (several years ago) and places it in a present-day context. I would feel obliged to update the work and my commentary, essentially creating a new article.
The drawings featured here please me a great deal. There are several portraits, a super-hero, tree branches, a rough sketch of a lone figure in a cemetery, a monochromatic painting with swirling bands of energy (invoking the spirit of Vincent Van Gogh's most dramatic works), a red sunset with thick black outlines around the sun and clouds, a close-up of a face contorted with surprise and fear, and more. It is a nice mixture of themes, each in keeping with my artistic style. It was how I wanted the world to see me at that point. Nothing has changed.
There are a few things I left out that, in retrospect, needed to be included. My update will address this. One of them is a self-portrait. As I showed the world at large how it was perceived through my singular vision, I unwittingly left out how I see myself. This is a glaring oversight that can be corrected without altering the mood of this article. My second omission was an example of fantasy art. Sure, I have a drawing of Marvel Comics' Daredevil, but that isn't my sole avenue for depicting fantasy images. I have therefore included a fantasy drawing, as well. Both were pen and ink drawings. The self-portrait is from several years ago--I would love to look that young again. The fantasy illustration combines cartoon and horror imagery in an unusual way.
With this work included, my article is (again) complete. I hope you enjoy.
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