29 September 2009

A Green Rabbit that Speaks Bird.

Molly Fox obviously spends some time in a different world. She she sent me some vital information about that world and asked me to paint something from it.
Here is part of her long request:

There is a hamster who is the founder of the (scholarly research) institute. There's a chipmunk who's his right hand man, he's the administrator and tech guy. There is a green rabbit who speaks bird. They are cute but serious.

This is a lot of characters. I figured I'd better narrow it down because I didn't want to go super miniature. The rabbit speaking bird was intriguing. Somehow translating bird language is part of the research? I don't know, but that seemed the direction to go. It implies an action.
My first reaction was that it would look like children's book. Maybe Frog and Toadish. But, why do all crazy stories have to be geared toward children? I thought it would be more interesting do some pleasing designy thing with this. However, when I made the bird, I instinctively went a little expressionistic and I didn't want to turn back. I landed somewhere strange.
The rabbit is very detailed, the bird cruder, visible sound waves, a stylized yellow sky. Maybe kind of a mess, but I think there is a charm to it. I like the outcome but I feel I should know better.

So far, I've made about thirty paintings for people through this blog and, as far as I know, everyone has been happy with what I've done. ...But this can only go on forever, right? Someone is bound to be upset about the painting I make them. I'm bound to get something wrong or interpret subject matter in a way that they find objectionable. I guess that is just the risk you take. I'll be sure to post any mean comments I may get in the future. (Hopefully not from Molly).

Thank you, Molly! I hope this brings some new inspiration to the mythology you've been creating. ...or at least ...you like it.

21 September 2009

It Could Have Been A Seven Toed Cat.

Several months ago I donated a Panda Gift Certificate to a silent auction benefiting The Bridge for Youth, a shelter for homeless and runaway youth, located in South Minneapolis. Jeremie Holmes was kind enough to support this organization and purchased the certificate.
Here is his request:
Jeremie and his partner vacationed in Key West this last May and wanted something to remind them of their trip. He gave me some words as a guide "smiles, sunsets, love, adventure..." and so on. Nothing very specific.
I've never been to Key West. I started my process by looking up pictures and information about the island. I was instantly grabbed by an article about Earnest Hemingway's inbred cats whose descendants live on his former Key West estate. There are about 50 of them. Many have six or seven toes on each paw. There is a special legal protection extended to them. Really. ...but this wasn't what I was asked to paint.
I quickly found it hard to create a memory for a trip that I wasn't on. If I went too literal, I would get things wrong. Record memories as they weren't. I thought it would be better to make something vague that might provoke memory. Create a mood that may relate to a trip to Key West.
I found some aerial views of the island online that I liked and decided to print them to study. The color ink cartridge on my printer was low, so, they came out kind of washed out and with strange colors. This looked like memory to me.
After painting a very blurry, soft organic island shape, I decided to add lines to suggest buildings and roads. Bustling Key West shouldn't look desolate, right?
I spent a very long time on this painting, working very instinctively, not thinking to much in a logical way, just feeling my way through it.
...I just realized the image looks a little like a single celled organism. I don't know why, but this seems appropriate.

Speaking of trips, last weekend my family and I went to Chicago for the opening of Neolaia/Pathos: new.youth.passion. at the National Hellenic Museum. (I have three paintings in this show.) It was a great experience and the show is very well done...and, more importantly, interesting. The exhibition is running through January 9th, 2010. If you find yourself in the Chicago area, stop by. I love the Hellenic Museum!
Thank you to Curators Diane Katsiaficas and Mary Antonakos.
...and Thank You Jeremie Holmes for this opportunity to paint for you ... and for your support of The Bridge.