Friday, December 20, 2013

The Joy of Black Friday

I've been thinking about doing comics (as in humorous comic strips or gag comics) again for a while, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them. Then a few ideas hit me around the same time: the Black Friday joke above and using the Brent and René characters from my Wandering Koala Tales in a spinoff comic with a more cartoony and exaggerated style. So I decided to give it a spin. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Art Philosophy: Metaphors in Art

I remember one day in a high school English class we read a poem about dandelions that compared them to an invading army and fighting them to war. I thought it strange, because I love dandelions. They're one of my favorite flowers. I've never understood why people try so hard to fight them. They're pretty, and they grow with no effort. How is that now a perfect plant? (You can even eat part of them.)

I was staring at this page from Wandering Koala Digest 2 and contrasting the friendly, happy snowman with the more menacing version and realized he was a metaphor for snow. Like dandelions, some people see snow as a wonder--pretty and fun. Others see it as a menace. I don't like slick roads, but that is really the only negative to snow I see. I suppose one could say that's why I made the menacing snowman mostly cute and cuddly.

Great art allows viewers to each take something different from a work. Not so great art forcing a particular view on the viewer (such as insisting dandelions are the evil invading army of the enemy). What do you see when you look at snow?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Joy of Christmas

It's been said that Christmas isn't Christmas without little children, and there is a lot of truth to that. To a little child, everything is magical. As we grow older, the world seems less magical. I don't think the world loses its magic, but we lose our innocence and our ability to see the wonder all around us as a result. But when we are around little children, we can see some of that magic once again thru their eyes.

Every year I create a Christmas card, but this year I struggled with what to do. I finally reached back into the magic of childhood and pulled out this: toy trains, alphabet blocks, and cute animals. Cully and the tree were inked with a Japanese brush pen while the train and rails were inked with a Zebra disposable brush pen.

I'll be posting the finished card soon, so keep your eyes open!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Philosophy: Discrimination, Priorities, and the Power of Deadlines

I remember in Art School several professors told us NOT to say we didn't finish a drawing, painting, or other assignment because we were working on an English paper, and yet students inevitably did. Which was funny, because they were Art Majors too. Their Art projects should have had top priority since that's what they were pursuing as a vocation. I'm guessing it was years of brainwashing from the public school system instilling a sense of "important" and "unimportant" and Art was pushed to the backseat.

There will always be more things vying for our attention than we have time to give. Some are important. Some are less important. Some are urgent, and some can wait. If we make a grid with these attributes, we see four categories emerge. The items in the urgent column seem to get done, because there is a pressing deadline. That's good until we realize we tend to sacrifice things that are important but not urgent for things that are unimportant but urgent. The important things that aren't urgent are the ones that get swept under the rug. These include things like improving our skills, spending time with loved ones, and other self-improvement and family improvement activities. Hence the importance of priorities.

In order to make room for all of the important things, we need to be more discriminatory. Discrimination has a negative connotation today because of decades of misuse, but if you look at the actual definition of the word, it's a very beneficial and essential activity. The definition defines discrimination as "the ability to discern what is of high quality; good judgement or taste". We must discriminate, ie. use good judgement, to determine what activities and other things are worth our time and which aren't and choose those that are of worth and discard or ignore those that aren't. Often we equate importance with urgency, but they aren't the same thing. Just because something is due tomorrow doesn't mean it's worth our time to do it.

Other times we may let others determine importance thru deadlines. Deadlines are a powerful motivator. If you never set a deadline for a task, you'll probably never complete the task, because you can always do it "tomorrow" and instead focus on things that can't be put off. Deadlines are an important and powerful tool, but like any tool, they can be used for destruction as much as construction. To avoid this, one needs to discriminate between the important and the unimportant and be willing to ignore the unimportant even if negative consequences follow. One should also realize many deadlines were contrived and can be pushed back without serious difficulty.

One must look at the important but nonurgent tasks and set aside a time to do those. Set a deadline and make them urgent, even if it's artificial and contrived. It will cause conflict with other taks and induce stress, but in the long run you will be grateful you did it. The alternative is looking back with regret, and who wants to do that?

The comic above is a page from Wandering Koala Digest 2 and a perfect illustration of a typical student/worker/person who did not exercise proper discrimination. He traded the urgent but less important for the less urgent but more important. I drew it with a Zebra disposable brush pen and colored it in Adobe Photoshop. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

High Society hits a Low

I love silent films. (Have I mentioned that before?) One of their many charms are the exotic costumes and set dressings.

This is the third page of the story Honorable Mention from Wandering Koala Digest 2 now on sale. The concept for this party was fancy costumes and elaborate hairdos. It was a blast to draw!

I drew the tale with a Zebra disposable brush pen and colored it in Adobe Photoshop. I really like how the icy blue worked with the black and white. It looks like it's been fully colored and not minimally colored.

Feel free to share your comments.