Real Men Pee Green

Multi-vitamins. Who needs em? Everyone, that’s who!

So today I was searching for a multi-vitamin that would best suit my needs, and naturally, being the virile model of male masculinity I am, my attention was caught by GNC’s Mega Men. Those who witness me downing horse-sized pills dispensed from a bottle which resembles a hand-grenade will have no doubt of my manliness!

The product had amazing reviews, with the only apparent drawback being “you’ll have to use the bathroom frequently and your urine will be lime green.” hmmm… I like my current urine color very much, thank you. (be sure to check out the review and scroll down to see the comments.)

Ultimately I went for the lavender-labeled TwinLab Daily One Caps. I just hope I don’t grow boobs.

Basis for a Boy

Hey, I’ve just had an epiphany! Since this blog purports to be about art, maybe I should post some!

Okay, I’ve been doodling children lately… err… wait… that doesn’t sound right. Let me start again…

Well, as you may know, I’ve been working on concepts for a children’s book, so lately I’ve been drawing children, especially boys, since a little boy will be the protagonist of my first book. There are so many different ways to draw a child, and it’s taken a lot of experimentation to find a character I feel happy with. A few weeks ago I was at work, when I rather absentmindedly drew him:

I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I love this drawing! Of the hundreds of little doodles I’ve made, this one stands apart. I find this boy visually striking (yet simple) and filled with personality.

“Personality?” you ask.

“Yes, personality,” I say.

“But he’s just standing there with a blank look,” you say.

“IDIOT!!” I scream!

It’s easy to draw an over-the-top character with some big, dumb smile; it’s an art to portray more nuanced emotions like indifference, world-weariness, or silent wonder. And this expression fits my character – it is my character – because he is the observer in a strange and wonderful world. The quiet witness of a bizarre cast of characters. He may look rather unassuming, but to me he’s alive.

The above drawing is my basis for a boy. He may change and evolve over time, but don’t we all? Just yesterday I got another favorable image of him (didn’t have paper handy, so he’s on the back of a greeting card), and already he’s changed. The main difference here is his nose. It’s more rounded and less crooked. I think I like it a little bit crooked. I’ll be working on this aspect.

The biggest challenge for me right now is learning to draw him consistently. Just because you draw a character once doesn’t mean you can replicate it with it’s original spirit. It becomes especially difficult when the character is in action poses or viewed from alternative angles.

How many ways to draw a dog?

I volunteer with the Austin Public Library reading books to children. Once a week I receive a new themed “storytime kit” which includes several picture books, some puppets, and maybe even a song or two. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community while learning what children enjoy in their books.

The theme of this week’s kit was Dogs and I became interested in the wide variety of ways our illustrators drew a dog, so I thought I’d do a little critique. Of course, nothing is more subjective than taste, so disagree with me if you’d like, but it’s a fact that I have better taste than you.

Our first dog comes from a book called Pillow Pup, illustrated by Mireille D’Allance.

This was my least favorite artwork mainly because I enjoy line, and as you can see here, the line is very soft and not distinctive. I’m also not a big fan of cute art, and I’m afraid this puppy is much too cute. However, to the illustrator’s credit, the book is about a puppy who steals pillows, so perhaps the soft & cute art works to the story’s advantage. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the story either.

Our next book is called Sit, Truman! and was illustrated by Cara & Barry Moser.

Here the artwork is vastly different from the last book, but I found it only slightly more enjoyable. Clearly the artists are exceptionally gifted at producing realism via watercolor, but I guess realism isn’t important to me when it comes to children’s illustration. As I read this book it felt like I was looking at photographs or viewing a “fine artist’s” work in a gallery. Once the “wow, this looks real” factor wore off, the illustration was a tad boring. But here again, the artwork may have lent itself to the story: the chronicle of a normal, non-fantastical dog’s misbehavior.

Then we have A Dog Needs a Bone, by Audrey Wood.

In this book, unlike the previous two, the dog has human emotions and even the ability to talk (to itself, anyway), therefore giving the character much more personality. Although not a technically skilled artist like Cara & Barry Moser, Audrey Wood’s drawings are expressive and have a certain lovable quality reminiscent of naive art. Even the medium is rather unique: crayon on brown paper bags. The children enjoyed this neurotic dog with it’s silly expressions.

Next we have Sally Goes to the Vet, by Stephen Huneck.

I enjoyed this artwork a lot. It was clear, concise, strong, and folk-arty. It was made using carved woodblocks pressed in colored ink, and the effect is pretty captivating. If the story was a little more exciting, we’d have a real winner.

Speaking of winners, have you heard of Jules Feiffer? Perhaps not, but he has a long and distinguished career as a cartoonist, noted for his contributions to Playboy Magazine, The New Yorker, and for having illustrated many books including The Phantom Tollbooth. I like him because he is very good with line. Just take a look at his picture book Bark, George.

Even though his drawings are clear, they also have a pleasant amount of messiness and uncertainty to them. I’m also amazed by the amount of movement he is able to capture; even though they are perhaps the most simply drawn, his characters come to life more than any of the previous books. The story was enjoyable and the kids went wild at the downright ridiculousness of it.

My only complaint is probably minor to most folks but kind of a big deal to me. Jules Feiffer is a master of line – he doesn’t work in color. The color in this book was done with computer, and even though it doesn’t say who did it, I think it’s a safe bet to assume Jules didn’t. I’ll make another assumption and bet the publisher wanted it in color (because it sells), whereas Jules would have been perfectly happy to leave it in black & white. Personally, I think color is a distraction from masterful line work. A single B&W drawing was included on the front of the hardcover, hidden underneath the colorized dust jacket. Compare.

Random musings about my brother…

My brother is 14 years old and lives with my mother and stepdad in California. Despite the large age difference, we were really close growing up. But since I’ve moved out we’ve grown apart, and now each time we make acquaintance I’m amazed at how much he’s changed, and a little ashamed that I’m not around to be a part of it. If I recall correctly, being a teenager kinda sucks, and I want to help if I can. I want to be a good brother.

This summer I had written him while I was on a farm in Oregon, and with the letter I had included my copy of The Little Prince. Not only is it a must-read for everybody, but I figured if he has any artistic or literary aspirations, I might be able to help guide him down this path.

Today a package arrived with the returned book and a wonderful three page letter. Turns out he doesn’t like school (except electrical class), enjoys skateboarding and playing guitar, and hasn’t had a girlfriend in a whole 4 months! (he said he’s taking my advice from last time we met: he’s going for quality, not quantity! haha!) About The Little Prince, he had only this to say:

“I loved that book. It was kind of random, but I still liked it.”

He cracks me up.

I remember, as a young child, he would love playing with legos, building elaborate robots and such. Now it turns out he likes electrical class… hmmm… sounds like a theme is developing. I wonder what I can do to help him discover himself?

Haha! My mom just called, and when I told her I received my brothers package she said:

“Yes, wasn’t his letter wonderful? He never does anything like that – you really inspired him. Of course we still hear stories about the times you babysit and chased him around the house with a butcher knife. And we all remember when you got him drunk when he was 4 years old… Now that you’re older, will you please inspire him for the good?”

No promises!

Me in briefs.

In case you’re just tuning in, my name is Dallion and I’m 27 years old. A few years ago I quit my comfy job in Los Angeles and moved to Austin, TX to become a famous painter. Ridiculous right? Since then it has become apparent I’d make a better filthy rich children’s book author/illustrator instead. I’ve found my passion and want to be good at what I do. Real good.

So I have a long way to go.

I park cars in the meantime. Valet for a fancy restaurant downtown. I bring folks’ cars with a smile. A sincere one too. And even though I sometimes write in short sentences, I’m not bitter. There’s no reason to be bitter. Life is too short. At times I look upon my job with a certain romantic fondness. Like the other night. It was cold, rainy, no business, making $6 an hour, standing there for countless lonely hours, with only my sketchbook and stories to keep me warm. Sometimes it seems degrading being a pair of legs for some rich guy who doesn’t even tip, and sometimes I wonder if I won’t look back on these years as the best of my life.

So this is my story. The one about the underdog who diligently works on his craft while scraping out a living and enjoying the simple things in life. Eventually he becomes the best at what he does. Not very original, but it’s a feel good story, and who doesn’t like a feel good story?