Sunday, January 31, 2010

Favorite paintings

Grant Wood is best known by the public at large for "American Gothic", but I've always been more drawn to his Iowa landscapes, particularly "Fall Plowing", from 1931. His sly wit, which is more obvious in "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", "Parson Weems' Fable", "The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover" and "Daughters of Revolution" (the only "satirical" painting he is said to claim as such) has often been off-putting to the more "serious" art world. But it will surprise nobody who knows me that I find that to be one of his pictures' most appealing qualities.
"Fall Plowing" may appear at first to be a romanticized version of the American pastoral ideal. Anyone who has actually spent time plowing a field, even when pulled by a tractor instead of by oxen, knows this subject is very romanticized. I don't think romance is Wood's driving force here, though, instead I think he's acknowledging what hard work such an endeavor would be, and is ridiculing any attempt to make it out to be any kind of worker's paradise.
I've read that Wood's composition and pattern was inspired by quilt designs. I think that's pretty valid, and would add even more of its "Americana" sensibility even as it undermines that sensibility.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sounds good to me, Mr. President.

I would just ask that you go forward, not pull back, just as you demanded of the Congress tonight. Yes, you can. Most of us want to and will do whatever we can to help you.

And after watching your meeting with the Republican Caucus on Friday the 28th, I want to add "Well done, Mr. President". That needs to happen more often.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome to the Corporatocracy.

The Supreme Court's decision in "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission" gives corporations free rein to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence political elections and legislation. It makes corporations persons, just like you and me. Except that you and I don't have billions of dollars to buy politicians with.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Wilderness"

I know this isn't a high concept contribution for "Illustration Friday: Wilderness", but "Outside Ouray" is a painting I've always liked. It's 42 by 60 inches, so it's large for me. The size may have prevented its sale in the past, I don't know, but I'm happy with it being in our living room.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blast from the past

Cover art for Taito video game, "Kiwi Kraze".

Today I received an e-mail asking about buying the original of this illustration for a video game package. Unfortunately I don't have the original, one of the few I don't have. It was commissioned twenty years ago. An interesting sidelight (I hope) is that I was chosen as illustrator for this project based on another piece, pictured below, which I had done for "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine" a few years prior.

While I'm glad to have been considered and chosen for the job (and I knew/know I could pull off such a project), I've always been baffled at how the connection was made from looking at the magazine piece, obviously a moody, low-keyed color, fairly quiet "mystery" thing, to the loud, energetic, cartoon-based cover of the game. There are birds in both examples, I guess.

"The Owl in the Oaks", cover of "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine".

There have been other times when this vision isn't apparent with the decision-makers. Often an artist may have an image of an apple in an illustration portfolio, and be asked straight-faced, "But how do we know you can draw or paint bananas?" I'm glad the people commissioning this illustration weren't so myopic.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Their new homes

Once in a while I have the privilege of seeing my paintings hanging in their new environments.
The top photo shows "Rooster Man 2" at its home in Chicago.
The bottom photo shows "Tiberius" adorning a wall in Dallas.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Favorite paintings

My friend and fellow artist Steve Pietzsch posted this Vermeer painting, "The Milkmaid", aka "The Kitchen Maid" on his Facebook page today. It reminded me of how much I've always been drawn to Vermeer's work. The sideways angle of the light is something I find myself emulating (but obviously failing to achieve at this level), often subconsciously.

"Young Woman with a Jug"

"Woman Reading a Letter"

"The Lacemaker", probably my favorite of any Vermeer painting.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

This week's "Illustration Friday" subject is "Renewal". This piece was created for the cover of a magazine which was unveiling it's new graphic look, renewal if ever there was such a thing.
I'm looking forward to see what this coming year brings.