Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Land of BCS

The college football season draws near, and this year there is some actual thought that perennial underdog Boise State just might be able to win a national title. This drawing is for the College Football Preview in Sunday's sports section of The New York Times.

Who is that in the basket? It's the TCU horned frog, another one of a sportswriter's favorite outliers with a real change of going all the way. This is one of the rare occasions when the very first sketch I did was the one I couldn't get away from. The chance to do an OZ homage was too alluring for my steel-trap brain to forget. I don't have an image of it in the page design, but I'll post it when I can.

In regards to my last mascot drawing, you can be praying that no earth-shattering college football news happens before Saturday.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Drawing In Church- 8/22

Jesus once healed a blind man with spit and mud...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vacation Sketchbook

I've taken a week off from studio work and have been able to enjoy some time in my sketchbook (and I've also spoken to my family once or twice). A few selections from the week, with extended thoughts...

I spent the weekend with the Monks at Priory Abby, a nice place to get away from the world for a short time. The chapel, built by master architect Gyo Obata, was a perfect spot to spend time drawing. A woman came in while I was drawing to practice on the organ for Sunday Mass. The songs were unspeakably beautiful- notes made without effort. The residue is a confluence of a space and a time recorded on a notebook. I could have been drawing while perched on Saturn's rings, the point of view felt so fleeting and unlikely. Drawing on location is very different than just visiting a place. Even different than intentional touring, the act of drawing forces you to experience an extended slice of time in a place you normally would not. (On a similar theme but different subject, I think this also happens during prayer, when God is encountered not at a place or by an act, but only in a stretch of time.)

Part of the magic of drawing that I've long since understood but rarely heard articulated is how firmly drawing creates memories. Sure, drawing creates visual libraries of information like "How to Draw a Wood Duck." But, for me, drawing also firmly records my own presence next to the information about that wood duck.

When I draw, I remember.

See, I could draw this abby chapel again and again, perhaps with my eyes closed- because I took time to study how it worked and record it in a space that was connected to my hand. My hand was also connected to my ears, and my ears to my eyes. Drawing, I think, might be valuable to me because of these encoded time capsules. Drawing offers a way to capture the ephemeral in multiple vessels.

A drawing-in-church from today- a familiar parable I'm sure.

I have spoken to other artists about a similar drawing phenomenon, including the great Dan Zettwoch, that has to do with encoded memories in drawings. I have experienced, when looking at an old drawing I've created, a kind of narrative sensation that has to do with the audiobook I was listening to while creating the images. Each section of the drawing can carry a little parcel of the story or reveal a sensation about the narrative that comes to share part of the image's story as well. For example, the American Illustration 28 cover I worked on last year happened to collide with the first time I listened to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can revisit particular sections of the drawing and the story comes rushing back, like a cracker-jack prize. Did that story affect the visual ideas for this cover? Not sure, but they are connected, to me, regardless.

School resumes in a few weeks- and I'll be posting my the final images from my newest book, which I just finished last week, very soon. "Nurse, Soldier, Spy: Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Woman" comes out in January.

Speaking of the end of summer- my pool has a community reading shelf that cracks me up. A few observations:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Oil Spill Op-Ed

Had the pleasure of being on The New York Times Op-Ed page today. A nice personal narrative about a man swimming in his Michigan lake despite a tragic oil spill, though much smaller than the one in the Gulf.

Sent two different ideas that tried to work with the page layout a bit. Loyal readers will remember that I had an oil-related Op-Ed killed a month ago, so I tried to recycle the aesthetic of those ideas.

Art Director Aviva went with A, and my first attempt used bloopy watercolor for the oil plume. It was ok, but I felt like a big black graphic shape was going to be needed to hold the page.

I tried a second time, this time using india ink and it was a big improvement. So here is the final page all together with copy and the swimmer (and buoy).

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The ICON Wrap Up

Before we get too far away from the ICON experience, I wanted to post some images and a few links to other reviews of the events.

A really interesting and extensive wrap-up from SCAD's Atlanta Campus blog.

Thomas James at Escape from Illustration Island, has posted a bunch of great video from the event including some of the keynote session discussion.

Michael Dooley reviewed the event for PRINT Magazine and discussed the big elephant from the weekend conversation- will the necessary future of illustration be animation?

All in all it was a great conference, even though I got zero time to sit and draw during the main-stage sessions. Here is a brief summary, from British phenom Rod Hunt that features a picture of me giving my talk dressed as John Brown. I talked about the six-year journey of my book and gave some modest advice about publishing an unlikely idea... like 'being obsessed with your subject matter.'

One of the many highlights from the main-stage were the lo-fi animated art-director horror stories from Jason Holley. All of them are super funny, at least to illustrators!

The Color from jason holley on Vimeo.

I'm happy to announce that I have been elected as the next ICON President! Now it is time to start the planning for an amazing and inspiring ICON7 in 2012. Anybody have some good ideas?

But, even though the actual conference was amazing, the highlight of the whole week was seeing my young Padawan, Jack, defeat the actual Darth Maul at the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland on his 5th birthday! Wow!