Sunday, June 30, 2019

Brown-out: "Stately Migration"


As I am frequently fond of lecturing students in studio art course, there are as many reasons to draw as there are ways to make drawings. It's rarely for something by itself, there's usually an amalgamation, or combination of motivations, like how the levels on an old-school equalizer shapes sound on a stereo. For example you might be inspired by emotion, say, love or hate, you could want to change the world, influence how people think, impress someone, earn a passing grade, make some money, satisfy your ego, amuse yourself, or out of sheer boredom, as in why do you even really need a reason? And so on and so on. And not only can the reasons why change, over time or on the spot with a piece in particular, you may not even be aware at all, as was the case with this particular panel. It just simply appeared out the other end of the pen: no doodle, no rough, no thumbnail, just penciled then inked. The line art sat and incubated in the sketchbook without a caption as I chewed it over like a cartoon cud. After a few sessions of consciously attempting to solve the puzzle, again, just like the drawing, the words just came to me, and it all made perfect sense.

For the viewers at home keeping core, there's an interesting meta to the finished piece: I used to use a Photoshop palette that had an amusing range of pre-assigned labels to the swatches, all for browns. As in beaver brown (body + tail), moose brown, bear brown, walrus brown etc. Nowadays I just simply open up any number of published panels and swipe directly from there. But one of the challenges in retraining my eye to discern and utilize colors with watercolors is understanding all the different choices at hand - in particular again the browns. Here we have a total of eleven kinds in just the tails alone: russet brown, chestnut brown, autumn brown, cocoa, cool brown, tan, saddle brown, oak, and baked earth; then either bark or madder brown for the shadow. Then a few blues, a couple greens, some judiciously applied blobs of white-out and one slight digital modification in post-production with highlighting the ripples. And behold, we have before us now not just my personal favorite of the year, but arguably the pinnacle of my career as a cartoonist.  It's the most masterful use of the mediums, the simplest arrangement of elements, and the purest expression of everything about me as an artist.

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