Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More Green Things

There was a time in my youth when I enjoyed spending an afternoon in the woods identifying plant life. A sure sign of a pathetic, boring childhood. I was a Nature Boy. So I had to get back in touch with that part of me when the LATimes phoned for this story about garden plants and their uses. Here is where a person asks me if domestic plants are easier to draw than wild plants. Yes, they are better at sitting still so I can draw them.

The next question is Do I pronounce them "herbs" or "erbs"? Yes, I do. This page was art directed by Wesley Bausmith.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Green Metaphors

I did some art a few years ago for a new think tank based in Chicago. The name was Greenhouse, so I set to work thinking of every green metaphor and every way I could incorporate greenness into illustrations of other things. Simplicity of line helps a lot. The simpler the drawing the more metaphor it can convey, because concrete art emphasizes the object and its qualities. Simpler art gets the viewers or readers to ask themselves: what else does this mean? Simple, unelaborated line can also suggest other things, other topics, other meanings. Is this simple to do?  Not really. A simple drawing often reaches that nice evocative simplicity after pages and pages of other versions have wound up on the floor.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Hill Town In Italy

 Architecture is a complex enough puzzle when it's looked at straight on, but that complexity increases when you are looking down a hill or along a street. This explains why those views are the most interesting to look at. Capturing that complexity as simply as possible is the trick. Using fewer colors is a start.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Political Ephemera

I am a close observer of events and politics and often go to bed with the latest outrage in my head. Sometimes I wake up in the night with an idea. Sometimes that idea doesn't take shape until I put pencil to paper the next day. But however quick my response is, the lifespan of a political metaphor can be very short. I send new drawings to my usual clients as soon as I draw them because the topic won't be relevant for long. Each outrage seems to be superseded by a new and greater outrage. I drew a lot of political art from 2000  to 2008, then No-Drama Obama calmed things for eight years, except as outrages were hurled at him by the Republicans. Now a strange outrage factory has moved into the White House and Congress. Here is a drawing I did as information emerged about Attorney General Jefferson Davis Beauregard Sessions and his flirtations with the Russians. New outrages have fallen like hard rain in the days since, making this drawing old news. The quote is adapted from an angry disavowal from the late 90s.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ravel's Birthday

I listen to music while I draw. A lot of Bill Evans and quieter, subtler jazz music like that, but also classical music. Among my favorite classical composers I put Maurice Ravel very near the top. Art requires nuance and Ravel is all nuance, subtle variations, nothing obvious or insistent or clichéd or overly sentimental. I've spent years removing these things from my art and listening to Ravel and others like him has helped. Here is a drawing I did from a photograph of Ravel.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

City Landscape

Views like this appeal to me. The receding perspective isn't carried by handsome fronts of houses and boulevard elms, it's garages and garbage cans and telephone poles. This time of year there isn't any softening texture of foliage, it's all lines and planes and fissures.