Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jetlag

I did this illustration for the online magazine VIV, art directed by Campion Primm. The topic was avoiding jet lag. The idea had to do with turning the clock ahead. This was the image that came to mind. Again, the sort of thing you can't photograph.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Branding

The term comes from the Texas cattle business. Now, instead of using a red hot iron to show who we belong to, we wear a large identifying label across our chests on expensive t-shirts and sweaters. The shorts with the brand on the seat put the name right about where the cattle wore it. Americans show their independence by identifying themselves as members of herds. Sometimes we belong to several herds at once. I don't think Texas cattle were ever as cooperative or loyal or easily led as we are.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Egyptian

These were two of several illustrations I did for a P. J. O'Rourke piece in the Atlantic. What do I know about Egypt? Well, the pyramids are there, and so is the Sphinx. The article was typical O'Rourke, sardonic and satiric, so the point was to have some fun with the material at hand. Which I did.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Primrose Hill, London

We spent a wonderful week here a few years ago. I don't get to London often enough, except in books. I did this drawing for our hosts as a thank-you. I occasionally get asked to draw pictures of houses. All I need is a snapshot. There is something about a line drawing. My favorite artists of this sort of thing, far better than I am: Edward Bawden, Ronald Searle and Marvin Friedman who used to do those wonderful illustrations for Gourmet magazine.

Dogs As Accessories

This story explained why dogs are such attractive accessories, even more attractive than jewelry or designer handbags in fact. I mean look at this guy; he's smitten. How can there be anything wrong with a person who owns a small cute animal? I think the woman has doubts about the guy though, and with good reason.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Late Night Comedy Without a Net

For a few years I've done regular illustrations for the L. A. Times about the entertainment business. I did this one during the recent writer's strike. The idea was to describe the difficulty late night hosts have being clever without writers to write their repartée, but it's very hard to illustrate something that isn't there. I solved that problem when I realized that without writers there are no cue cards.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Travelers With Dumbbells

Some of the niftiest illustrations are done on topics that are hard to visualize, I suppose because it gives me license to distort reality, to be really imaginative. This, I think, was for an article about exercises you can do while traveling, something I travel to get away from.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Modern Kitchen

I did this drawing for This Old House magazine. The article was about a Kitchen of the Future that had been on display at RISD. The magazine might have wanted to use photography but the exhibit had been taken down, and all they had was a snapshot of it. Luckily the snapshot was enough for me to work with. The resulting image has the offhand charm of a sketchbook drawing and provided a nice contrast with the photography that usually dominates shelter magazines.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Road Rage

The article was about Road Rage. It's what we call behavior that would get a two year-old a time out at pre-school, but it's hard to give someone a time-out when they are driving a full-size motor vehicle at high speed. Road rage is a scary, explosive thing, and I tried to capture that. Looking at the art now I see elements of Picasso's Guernica. I don't know whether that was intentional or even conscious. I've read that Picasso was prone to rages of his own but I don't know whether he drove a car. He never had a driver's license. I do know there is a Citroen automobile named after him. SooJin Buzelli art directed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baseball

The body in motion presents challenges, especially for someone like me who never took a proper life drawing class. If you aren't a trained artist the human figure becomes a set of clothes pieced together, the body and bones inside being incidental. The contortions of a baseball player present this challenge in the extreme. An interesting puzzle to piece together with pencil and paper. I remember seeing the famous photographs of Sandy Koufax and thinking he must have been throwing his shoulder out of joint with every pitch.

This high kicking pitcher I did for Harper's is more reminiscent of Juan Marichal. Few lines, long limbs, an improbable posture, but instantly real. I learned that it became easier to draw an athlete in action if I made a point of loosening up too, giving the hand free play, not worrying so much about the specific points of accuracy in order to capture the larger gesture. Sports are full of exaggeration anyway. The art director was Stacey Clarkson.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's About the Bike

I illustrate a column in the Macalester College magazine, designed by Brian Donahue. This column was about choosing between the car and the bike, an easier choice in places where it doesn't snow six months of the year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shirt & Tie

So many neckties here in Chicago. Which reminded me of this sketchbook piece I did. I own neckties. I collect them. I actually have a few dozen club and regimental ties given me by a physician to the Royal Family. But I seldom wear them. I'd feel silly wearing a tie in my studio. I envy those important and powerful people who do get to dress that way, like my dad did when he worked in one of these big Chicago skyscrapers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Highway Architecture

I didn't draw these while driving to Chicago yesterday, but I could have. Ever since I was a boy I've been looking with a strange fixity at the elements of the landscape seen from the road: pylons, farmsteads, fields, roadside architecture, signage. Each element is a kind of milepost, a punctuation mark. Each diverging road leads off in another direction, vanishing at a horizon that seems more interesting than the one I am driving towards. I have written stories, essays, film-scripts and part of a novel around this lifelong habit of observation. But the pictures contain stories in themselves. Someday I'd like to publish a book with these pictures and no words at all. Interested publishers should feel free to call me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Manhattan Street

For this painting I used a set of colors I associate with the 1950s: grays, yellows, browns, turquoise. Also a style: part Utrillo, part Abe Birnbaum. Something you might have seen in Vogue in 1952. Better than this, of course, but the same feel. At least that's what I was aiming for. This was painted for my wife. A very appreciative client.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Texans

I did this feature illustration for Texas Monthly several years ago. The story was about the teaching of Texas history, so I had the idea of overlapping portraits of ordinary historic Texans with Texas icons I grew up with, namely my tin-toy Alamo and the molded plastic gun-toting cowboy. The art director was D.J. Stout.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mariachi


















I love drawing musicians. I think it's because I love music but can't play anything. But there's also a shapeliness to the instruments. They are beautiful machines with elegant knobs and buttons. I did this mariachi guitarist for Mike Schacherer when he was at Little + Co. The poster is for a fundraiser for a Spanish immersion school. The fun thing about b&w art is seeing what the designer will do with it.