Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Dogyard Symphony"

   Set a goal and really pushed myself on this one: flat-out from concept to finish it took ten hours (interspersed with a 5-hour nap). Breaking it down even further, I spent approximately two hours each on the penciling (including roughs), the inking, doing a color wash, then a digital color version from the scan of the line art, and also intermittent cleanup and reformatting of files. BAM.

   A side-note on the meta behind making pieces like this: it was originally created in December of last year, and is indicative of how much work is constantly moving through the production pipeline. In other words, it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally reveal what I was working on long after the fact, kinda like the progress of a glacier, especially in this era of immediate on-line gratification. By the time we'll be reading this post there'll be a corresponding batch of new material in the proverbial works, an endless cycle of renewal that is a byproduct of making art. That is, if one maintains the discipline to always keep as many irons in the proverbial fire as possible, not to mention staying well ahead of the curve in insuring you'll have plenty of backup material to always use.

   My grand vision as sketched out in the initial roughs was to have a dozen dogs - a more accurate portrayal of the average sled-dog yard/mushing kennel. Due to time constraints the logistics of rendering such a relatively complex composition (compared to the majority of comic panels I draw) was a bit much, so the number of actors depicted on the stage was set a bit more realistically.

   Still enough elements, or visual cues, are present to enhance pictorial depth ("spatial recession") through the delineation of foreground, midground and background. After inking it often becomes clearer to what degree color theory will be utilized in helping to emphasize figures and select details, and also to harmonize the piece as a whole. Incidentally I honestly no idea which of the two end results I like better, as I really enjoy both the watercolor version and the digitally colored one.

   Speaking of the background, I spent some time culling together a multitude of reference photos so as to impart an impression of Denali and the surrounding Alaska Range, but the style contrasted with the overall aesthetic of the panel, so I went with an amalgamation. This as opposed to the painstaking lengths I went to in incorporating the local landscapes into even the simplest of cartoons while in coastal Maine.

   It's also a little poke at the pedigree of pieces picked by the section committee of our local PBS affiliate, KUAC, for their annual poster design competition. While the image wound up eventually running in the newspaper as a regular Nuggets feature, it also works perfectly as an illustration of our lifestyle up here in the Interior. The contrast between classical music and dog mushing is indicative of the hybrid culture we embrace in Fairbanks - Carhartts and bunny boots wouldn't be given a second look while attending a symphony. Still given the propensity of many folks in the "Fine" arts towards elitism, it's no surprise to see a parade of the pantheon of painters and their predictable portrayals of stereotypical Alaskana landscapes. So the drawing is also an offhand ironic statement about that inclination, as evidenced by the repeating motifs in not just the poster series, but in virtually every waiting room or business suite in Alaska. And once again we can easily see the connection between conducting and composition. Again and again it brings up the purest pleasure in drawing for me: making something up that wasn't ever there before. It's magic I tell ya...
Posters coming soon!

Update:  For one brief interlude I got to play maestro (hat-tip to George Rydlinski) while on intermission from an exhibition opening: my "Leopold!" moment before the UAF summer music academy chamber wind ensemble. What was really funny was seeing professional musicians still manage to pass wind while simultaneously laughing. least I didn't yell "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"