Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Is Coming

"Christmas Gift"
Acrylic on illustration board
32.38 cm x 22.86 cm (12.75 in. x 9.00 in.)

I don't paint very much, not outside of little water color sketches done in life drawing workshops. This is probably only the second painting I've done in eight years.

In all my student and professional life as an artist, I've fought the whole painting process for not being more like drawing. The big issue is one of time. Wet media dries, so on the canvas I rush to push and drag it around before it sets. On the palette, I have to tend to pots of color so they keep flowing and mixable.

I have issues with color mixing, because the color on the palette looks different than the same on the canvas next to other colors. I have issues with acrylic waste, because invariably the amount of color mixed exceeds the amount applied to the canvas. Although the unused portions may be fractions of teaspoons at a time, if you add it up, it's purchased mud going into the trash.

By contrast, on a technical/ process level, I like how it covers a lot of area quickly. Of course, ultimately, I like the way a painted illustration can look; an affinity gained with the Golden story books read in my youth, and as I began to seek art to emulate, '40s and '50s era cartoon characters on cereal boxes, backgrounds from classic animated features, and soda pop advertising.

Lastly, to head off the well intentioned why-don't-you's, there has to be, I think, some struggle, effort, or plain dogged work put into a thing for any good to result. The artistic product is the culmination of choices and decisions and actions; it is a record of those things. Maybe I complain too much about my spars with paint, but maybe that's the way I like it.

The illustration is the third Christmas greeting I've design to feature Tuff-Girl. On the front of the folded card is Tuff-Girl in a winter outfit passing out gifts to a group of kids. She holds high a Wichita plush.

In the planning, the kids were orphans and there was to be forty or so of them. The remaining five kids are a multi-ethnic bunch, as if randomly pulled from the "it's a small world" attraction. The African-American boy started out to be a red-haired, freckle-face kid. The Asian kid in front is based on a design used in my autobiographical comic, "Drawing Conclusions."

On the card's reverse, extends the second half featuring sweater-wearing Wichita looking for a holiday treat out of Tuff-Girl's bag, and a dispatched Rip Tyler temporarily stowed behind the Christmas tree.

The angels circling Rip's head are based on a design doodled on grade school notepaper. Each hold a different instrument: lyre, banjo, saxophone, harp and horn. I imagine a sixth angle has timpani drums.

Hanging out of the sack is a holiday link of sausage, requisite for Wichita's mischief. Although a chronological anomaly for the late '60s based Tuff-Girl stories, the space shuttle toy is there because it's cool. I mean ASTRONAUTS! The orange raccoon plush is a poor stand-in for Benjamin Raccoon from TAGS, the genius behind Happiland.


  1. You don't paint much?! Looking through the few remaining Art Watch designs that are still in the Shop (New Century Timepieces) I'm constantly amazed at your painting ability. All of your watch designs have such a delicate sense of lighting, I imagined that you must have really enjoyed the process.

  2. Gosh thanks, Eric.
    It's all relative really. I still would claim that I don't paint much. However, I think I've developed a pretty strong sense of color and tone over the years, much of which I thank to my time at the Main Street clock shop (no pun intended). It was there and then that I poured as much as I learned from using color pencils as I could trying to keep up with some of the other guys. NCT was a Disney fan artist's dream job to be sure.