The Year of the Dog has started and it promises to be good, if you stay loyal to your friends, true to yourself and innovate. Lets compare notes at the end of this Lunar Year!
Since I woke up this morning I keep seeing posts like "Happy International Women's Day, Dear Women!". They seem well meaning but just don't make me feel the overwhelming happiness for the day that was supposed to celebrate my gender. And what does it even mean to celebrate women?
It reminds me of March 8 in Soviet Union, where those celebrations served as a mix of a Valentine's Day and a ritual of penance and absolution of one's (mostly male) sins. All a man had to do on March 8 was to show up with a bunch of red tulips on the doorsteps of all the females he had wronged and say: " Happy Women's Day, dear women! I love you so much!" and all the abuse he caused for a year was forgiven and forgotten.
I don't want women to be celebrated in exchange for absolution. We need no celebration, no flowers, no sweet greetings. We need true equality. The original March 8 in 1917 showed the power of women. Then the meaning of the day was hijacked and corrupted to keep women placated and away from the real power of governing and wealth.
This March 8 put your marching boots on and join the March forward!
The story goes like this: a small independent animated feature film "My Love Affair With Marriage" is in love and would like to get funded. It decides to propose. Dramatics twists and turns entail.
You can continue to support "My Love Affair With Marriage" on KickstartMarriageFilm.com
A few hours before my HOLIDAY SPECIAL offer expired an order for came in with the following instructions:
"My creature of choice would be a crow. I love crows. People think crows are wise, and mystical, but I reckon that's probably not entirely true. They're grumpy, and badass, and think the world revolves around them. Also they have to put up with an awful lot of bad weather. They have to live up in the trees!"
The description of crows reminded me of this bird:
But that is called Rook or Jackdaw. While THIS bird below is what people in my country call a Crow:
So I sent a message to Richard (the person who ordered the drawing) and asked to clarify. He instantly replied with the image of this bird:
And another image - of the sculpture he made of the bird:
Richard, it turned out, is an accomplished artist who besides all other things does artwork on commission. You can see his work HERE and HERE and HERE. This is the first time he commissioned another artist to make something for him. I nearly fainted from fretting: just one look at my art will make a real artist recognize what a fraud I am! But work is work. I've already spent the money, so I had to deliver the art. I must dazzle Richard with a brilliant idea so that he wouldn't see my failing at the craft. Would he like this:
Oh, no, this can't be good enough. Let me try something more interesting:
Meh. I could do better. There is something to the idea of Richard carving an image of a crow out of wood. He also mentioned that he heats his old cold drafty house with firewood. He is taking away trees from freezing crows to keep himself warm. How about this:
Yeah, but does the idea of a crow related to trees reads well enough in this image? Let me make it more dramatic:
Not sure if the idea reads too well. Its also a touch violent. Let me develop it a little better:
I am afraid I don't have skills good enough to render this idea clearly enough. Lets try to go in a different direction. I liked one of my first ideas of the crow wearing his beak as a mask:
Yes, but. I like that crows are black like coal. Like a shadow on a wall. What if the crow had a shadow? But in place of his heart there is a hole for light?
But black and black on a white wall will not make a lot of color. I think Richard wants color. Lets see if I can make a colorful drawing with trees being the crow's home:
Doesn't seem too exciting. Lets return to that other crow drawing and develop it a bit more:
Looks too flat, too 2D. I need a cinematic approach - foreground interplaying with background. Lets try one more time.
Well, this is not good, but I am running out of time. Let me just stop at this and make the best of it.
The one thing you may not notice at the first glance, that the snow is painted in about 8 layers: first deep purple, then navy blue, then another layer of purple blue, then baby blue mixed with navy blue and so on. You will see all the colors if you pout the drawing in water. But then you may not have the drawing.
Richard liked it.
On December 5th I announced my HOLIDAY SPECIAL: until December 20th anyone for $100 (b&w) or $150 (color) can ask me to draw a picture of their favorite animal if they include one thing they like the best about that animal. There were 3 reasons I wanted to do it : 1) because I am an independent I rarely have to follow other people's guidelines/ideas and this is a good exercise to stay in shape 2) to engage with people who like my work - it's fun to give an opportunity to another person to be an art editor and order me around 3) to raise a little bit of money to be able to feed myself (if you saw my bank account you'd weep).
I got several orders and they were fun to do. But one, although seemingly an easy task, took quite a effort to develop. I wanted to share with you my process.
The original request I received was this: My favorite animal is an octopus, and my favorite thing about them is the way they can do many fun things at once.
- Hmm... - I thought. - Many things at once.
So I sat down and sketched out my first idea on my first impulse:
Look, the octopus is getting her nails done while sleeping, while horsing around, being an angel, washing floors (it can be a fun activity if you treat it as a form of exercise), singing Christmas carols, picking a nose and stuffing a mouth with a cupcake!
The problem with this idea was that it required a lot of small details that may have gotten lost in its acrylic rendering (unless I made the picture really large, but it would be time and cost prohibitive to make it for only $150). So I decided to develop it in larger strokes:
The octopus is getting her leg massaged while checking Facebook on her iPhone and picking nose. But no, this didn't sit with me either: how I will fit the 5 other activities into this picture? Ah... What else is there for an octopus and his legs? Wait, what if the octopus' legs got into things?
The octopus is getting his nails done while his 6 other legs are creeping under women's skirts. But no, this disturbingly reminded me of our President Elect's behavior ("He was like an octopus groping me") so I scrapped that idea. Now: what if instead creeping inside the octopus' legs get outside?
Yeah, but once outside what is there for the legs to do? They kind of aimlessly look around for fun. Eh...
There is very little time to develop ideas in my busy studio, so I took my notebook with me to a screening and started to work on octopus ideas on subway. While drawing feverishly in the crowded subway car, a young woman started to stare at me, then she got up and stood close by to see what I am doing. It made my feel uncomfortable, but I was under a deadline so I continued on drawing.
- Can I ask you a question? - she finally addressed me.
- Go ahead.
- You seem to be so sure when you draw. How do you do it?
- Don't think I am so sure. In fact, I am totally unsure of myself when I draw, especially when people watch me.
- I am an artist myself and I am so timid compared to how you treat your lines.
- I don't care for the lines, I only care for the idea. And I am not afraid to make a mistake. In my world there are no mistakes, only discoveries.
Unfortunately it was my stop and I had to get off, leaving the young artist and her question in the limbo of half-answers. Good news: I had a couple of new ideas for what the octopuses legs could do in my notebook.
Octopus is a master puppeteer in a puppet theater! But wait, the request was for diverse fun the octopus is having simultaneously. Think some more. Woudln't it be fun to have octopus to be part of a human. Like, a human head with 8 legs?
Hmm... Maybe not. What if the octopus from behind the human was making him to do all kinds of fun and stupid things?
But there is not much space on the letter-size paper to show those fun and stupid things.
What if the octopus was sitting at a table like Jesus at the Last Supper but instead of Apostles he had his legs to talk to?
What if the octopus was like Jesus - "I have become all things to all people" (from Corinthians 9:22)?
I like that like Jesus the Octopus can be all things at the same time. Instead depicting simultaneous actions (sleeping, singing, horsing around) shift the focus on being - being all creatures at the same time. But who are all those creatures? I miss some animals here. What else is there? Tiger? Fish? Who has flippers?
Now I was ready to start to finalize the sketch.
And to add color.
Ready to send it off!