Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Drawing is Fun, But Also Serious

I'm nearly finished reading Stephen King's latest novel, "Duma Key." Maybe I'll do a review of it once I'm done with it, but for now I'll just briefly say this: after an excellent first half, the plot has begun to unravel a bit. Events that happen in the second half weren't set up very well in the first, and the supernatural universe in which "Duma Key" is set, seems to expand conveniently to suit the needs of the plot. Not totally unlike how some have characterized my own book. Maybe having read and absorbed everything the guy's written over all these years has influenced my own work in ways I hadn't realized; right down to mimicking his weak endings. Ah well.

Anyway, another effect of reading the book is that it's given me a drawrin' itch. And not the kind you can get rid of with various ointments and creams. The hero of the story, Edgar Freemantle, has an accident, loses an arm, and moves to Florida to decide whether or not he wants to keep house on this mortal coil. He soon discovers a latent artistic ability in himself that produces masterpiece after masterpiece. Whether his medium is pencils or paint, he can do no wrong. Of course something else might be at work, but that's for another blog post. King's glowing, some might say overheated, descriptions of the ecstasy of production and the cheering crowd-inducing quality of the finished products incite a kind of "art longing" in me. So, in addition to a few drawing table misfires, I've been daydreamily perusing some websites and blog featuring oodles of fantastic artwork, much of which seems deceptively simple to execute, and saying to myself, "I could do something like that." Well, as Hillary's been saying a lot of late, there's a difference between saying and doing. Here are a couple of sites I've been looking at that you might like to check out.

1.) "The Perry Bible Fellowship." I haven't done much reading on the artist behind it, Nicholas Gurewich, but I've gone through nearly all the comics posted on his site, one by one, and with the exception of Larsen's "The Far Side", I know of no more consistently hilarious comic strip. Many are done in an artistic style specific to the content of the strip, almost always wittily employed to heighten the comic effect. For instance, take a look at this strip entitled "Utter Pig." It's style -- suggesting a children's fable -- smashes up brilliantly with it's dark and subversive content. He makes it look so easy, and he makes it damn funny.

2.) A how-to blog by Mad Magazine caricaturist Tom Richmond. He makes sitting out at amusement parks and drawing bad caricatures of sweaty kids driving tiny cars day all day seem worth it if doing so means that one day you can draw caricatures this funny and this spot-on. He goes through the basics of caricature drawing, talking about the five shapes, head, eye one, eye two, nose and mouth, and that the heavy lifting in caricatures is done when the artist gets the relationship between these shapes right. To the left is Richmond's caricatures of Ben Emerson, the guy who plays villain Ben Linus on "Lost," and Jake Gyllenhaal, he of "Brokeback" fame. Richmond goes on to say that one of the three components of a good caricature is "Statement", or editorializing on the part of the artist. I think I know what editorial comment Richmond's making with the Gyllenhaal caricature. No one said the Mad guys were subtle. Funny, yes. Subtle, no.

And then there's this guy:

3.) Craig Thompson's blog. As anyone who's read Thompson's excellent "Blankets" knows, Thompson has a very unique, very clean style that manages to cut right through all the tricks of technique and style to get to the heart of whatever emotion he's trying to convey. Thompson hasn't put anything out since "Blankets" that comes close in size or scope or ambition (just a couple of his travel journals filled with coffee-shop sketches excellent enough to give any artist sketchbook-envy), but if you're interested to see what he's been up to, and a good sampling of his post-"Blankets" artwork, his blog's a good place to go.

Anyway. I should go and draw something.


blankfist said...

Nice post. Speaking of your novel, I thought you might like to read this and watch this

David said...

Blankets is a really good graphic novel, glad you found it.

In related news today I was going through some stuff and came across one of my old sketch books...Its really weird the perspective you get on your artwork after not looking at it for a few years.

Its really nice and frustrating at the same time. There are pieces that, at the time, I couldnt stand but now seem pretty good to me. And to know what I was able to do is annoying because I havent done anything in years so I know my skillful is probably dreadful at this point.