Jul 11 2011

#72 “A Classic”

From Tim in Tennessee

As much as I love receiving the weird, the wild, and the outrageous, nothing can compare to the joy that fills my soul when a truly classic wolf illustration is bestowed upon me by a thoughtful and talented stranger. Take the work that is on display for example. This picture may not be the wackiest or the craziest piece that I have ever received, but nevertheless, it accurately represents everything that I have come to know and love about the wolf and everything that inspired me to embark upon this epic lupine-inspired journey in the first place.

Notice the pride that fills those piercing eyes. Notice the calmness, the coolness, the collected demeanor and the self-assured posturing. Examine the natural beauty of the soft and welcoming fur and the fearful symmetry of the lupine countenance. Whether you believe that this marvelous creature is the result of millions of years of evolutionary progress or the pinnacle of all predators produced by the artful hand of the Almighty, no one can deny the power and the strength that lies within that stare. Nothing can detract from the beauty that is present here today. Take a moment. Look into the eyes of this classic wolf. Become inspired. And never forget that although we may be bound by physical frames much different than those of the lobos, we can still strive to take on his features of strength, loyalty, oneness with nature, pride and wisdom.

Make the decision today. Live life like the wolf.


Jul 10 2011

#71 “Beyond Words”

From Owen in Cambridge, England.

Sometimes an artistic work comes along that is lightyears beyond what any audience would have anticipated and completely revolutionizes the art world as we know it. These works are so rare, so special, so groundbreaking and important, that they often possess the power to bring people to tears but also drive others to the point of madness. So… feast your eyes on this post if you dare, for today I deliver unto you just such a work.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the sketch that will define the euphoric dreams and worst nightmares of an entire generation. I give you the brainchild of a man in the twisted throes of a beautifully artistic seizure. I give you the bastard love-child of Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss, of Andy Warhol and Where’s Waldo?, of Alan Moore and Jackson Pollock.

I give you… the elegantly disturbing artwork of a man simply known as Owen.

What dark reaches of his brain was Owen forced to explore in order to bring about a piece with such a unique perspective on the wolf? In what realm of surreality did he delve? Did he perhaps wade too deeply in the swamp of a perverse imagination? Examine this work and dare to decide for yourself. Before you lies a world of mechanized madness, of nerdy wolf octopi, of creatures beyond description, of things which cannot be believed and hitherto have not been conceived.

It is yet unclear what the history books of tomorrow will share regarding this revolutionary artwork of today, but I challenge you this: remember this hour, remember the moment that you laid eyes upon this freak of the art world, so that years later as your grandchildren gather at the feet of your hovering jet-powered rocking chair, you will be able to tell them of this momentous day, the day you first made contact with the work of Owen.


Jul 9 2011

#70 “Hermann der Wolf”

From Matthias in Austria

When I was in college I had several friends who used to brag that their pet dogs loved the taste of beer and that they (the friends) would often allow the animals to drink alcohol until they became intoxicated. To be honest, I’m not sure if I actually saw this happen in person or if the images that I have in my brain are simply imaginings that emerged  over time. Anyway, I don’t think that I could really verify whether or not these tales of drunken dogs are true, but ultimately I suppose that I believe them.

Regardless of the truth or falsity of these tales, though, I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether or not I agree with this practice. On one hand, there appears to be nothing overtly “wrong” about it, but at the same time, it seems unfair for an owner to feed a substance to his pet that may affect the animal in a way that it cannot anticipate or understand.  I think, though, that what is even more interesting than trying to decide whether or not this is right or wrong is exploring whether or not these alcoholic animals actually enjoy the altered reality that accompanies excessive drinking.

Oddly enough a very similar question was asked and partially answered in the April issue of Maxim Magazine in the “Ask Maxim” section. Here is the question and the answer:

Do any other animals get high?
Randal Trannel, via email

According to a recent pharmaceutical journal, yes! And on purpose. Researchers concluded that reindeers eat fly agaric mushrooms during long and boring winters. In humans the fun fungi produce the sensation of flying. So if a reindeer asks you for five dollars, you know, because he needs bus money to get back home- Do. Not. Believe. Him.

So there you have it. Take it or leave it. But before signing off, I must say thank you Matthias for this incredible illustration. I raise my glass to you Matthias. Cheers and best wishes!


Jul 8 2011

#69 “Loopy Lupine”

From a stranger in Georgia

Some might take a glance at this cartoonish wolf and quickly pass it by without even a second thought. I must admit that even though I was extremely appreciative of the artistic donation, I fell into this same trap and did not give this illustration its due when I first laid eyes upon it.

We often view cartoons as being a childish form of entertainment that (in some circumstances) might possibly possess a few nuggets of educational value if constructed carefully. In contrast, I believe that cartoons are overwhelmingly deliver more messages than we give them credit for. Also, I think that this often happens without us even realizing that we are making evaluations or gathering information. Some messages that cartoons send may be positive, while others are surely negative, but let’s forget about the goal or the end result of the message for a second and simply use this illustration as an example to see just how many conclusions we can reach based on one simple drawing.

Here is what I walk away with:

1. The skinny frailty but straightness of the neck suggest a creature that is not physically dominant but is straightforward and honorable.

2. The oversized eyes in combination with their inconsistent shape send the message that this wolf is observant and watchful but that his analysis of what he sees may not necessarily be in tune with reality.

3. The alertness of the ears also suggest a desire to learn and a natural curiosity, but once again, they rest askant on top of the head, indicating confusion and pointing towards a disheveled or confused outlook.

4. The collar on the neck implies domestication. It is not sure whether the collar is one that is attached to a shirt or to a tether, but either way, its existence indicates that this creature is tame and somewhat familiar with society.

5. The wolf’s hair/fur is both smooth and disheveled, implying that while this creature does seem to be tame in some ways, it possesses a dual nature that is able to marry wildness with domestication.

6. The nose that rests playfully on the tip of the nose is oval-shaped but closely resembles that of a clown. This may be a hint into the character of this wolf, indicating that he is a playful or goofy sort of animal.

Any other observations? Let me know…

 


Jul 7 2011

#68 “Fiction & Foibles”

From Fiction & Foibles

One of the most gratifying aspects of the WBS project is that it has allowed me to make many unique connections as well as dear friends over the past few months. Case in point is the team of Rory and Wendy from an equally interesting project/site known as Fiction & Foibles. The pair has dedicated themselves to producing fascinating artwork as well as stirring prose to accompany it and has taken upon themselves the difficult task of updating their site as regularly as 5 times a week.

Wendy’s artwork is interesting to say the least, for when I examine her illustrations, I am filled with a sense of nostalgia but am also awed by their uniqueness and originality. Rory’s prose is no less impressive; it contains an imagery and a diction that is accessible but is also intellectual and exciting. I hope you will enjoy their generous submission of both artwork and creative writing that is called ”Blood of the Hunted.”

Additionally, to check out more of Fiction & Foibles’ incredible work, visit their website (www.fictionandfoibles.com), become a fan of their project on facebook (here), and follow the pair on twitter (@FictionNFoibles).

——————————————————————————————————–

Warm rays of light beckon my eyes to open. A cold air tickles my throat as I breath in the first morning breeze.

Soft strands of grass stretch tall in the lazy light when I raise my arms and legs high to do the same, granting my little green friends a much needed reprieve. The night had been cool, but not unpleasantly so, and the steam from the nearby spring, rising to battle the chill, kept a constant blanket of warmth in the low gorge.

Trees full of leaves, waving and shoving about in the soft wind, vying for a spot with a view of the surroundings, crowd in on all sides. Wide oaks with armies of branches standing vigil over their short-reaching kingdoms.

They wrap greedy arms high over the small dell, capturing what heat they can from the happily oblivious spring, and keeping it for us. They protect me form eyes I do not wish to see me, as I protect them from the wild things that lurk in the darker parts of the forest.

I prop myself up to leisurely survey the area. The small brook, born of the seemingly endless spring, flows down and over a small drop-off into another shallow gorge at the end of my own.

Rolling to my feet I can hear the hushed thrashing of the rest of my living bed, rejoicing in the fresh air. I quietly approach the bank of the spring, quietly being the only way to move in the forest, and kneel between a pair of delicate ferns.

The pool greets me with bubbles that rupture the clear surface. I dip my hands into the heated waters in response, scrubbing away the sleep from my face. Quickly cooling water trails down my arms and bare chest, gooseflesh chasing in its wake.

Going back for another handful, my hand stops abruptly as my eyes tell them something is wrong. A subdued red, a color unknown to this part of the wood, reflects off the water to my left. The rippling surface teases me by withholding vital details, yet reveals enough to tell me something hides on the other side of the thick ferns.

No time to reach my blade, still concealed under a series of roots near my bedding, my fingers probe about for a suitable weapon. They earnestly close around a solid river rock, worn smooth and hard.

My heart thumps the opening of a battle hymn that only I can hear thundering in my ears. The muscles in my arms and legs tense in anticipation of the pounce they know I am about to ask of them. Eager to heed my call they surge with strength as I jump through fern fronds, river stone held high.

Swinging wild, my attack fails to connect, given the posture of my intended victim. Curled in on itself, what is left of itself anyways, is the husk of some animal that had been viscously ripped apart. Right next to where I slumbered? How did I not sense this? How did I not wake?

Blood coats the trampled grass and dubiously swaying foliage surrounding the scene. Bits of viscera and gnawed bone litter the ground, which I can feel slip under or jab into the soles of my feet.

In the center of the ring of carnage rests the largest portion of left-overs. A large ribcage, picked clean. Dirty scraps of fur rest nearby. The carcass hasn’t yet begun to smell of decay, which means this kill is recent.

Grabbing a fallen branch near my feet, I kneel down for a closer inspection. With a prod the scrap of fur dislodges from a nest of gore and rolls over on itself. I quickly stand at the sight of a pair of eyes glaring up at me, much like the ones that stare back at me in the water every morning.

Another human! The hunt must have already begun.

I crouch low once more and scan the opposite bank of the spring. The woods beyond echo with all the appropriate sounds – bird song whipped through the rustling boughs by a meandering wind. A strained moment passes.

My nerves loosen as I consider the possibility that I am indeed alone.

Just as I begin to drop my guard a low growl menaces me from behind. Time stops. The bird song slows to a muted hum and I can hear the individual leaves within my guardian trees flail about as if in warning. I can smell the fetid breath of my opponent across the short distance to the edge of the clearing at my back.

I slow my breathing and fully concentrate on the rhythmic thudding of the heart in my chest. It will tell me when to strike.

Little green allies across the lawn cry out in alarm as the beast at my back stalks closer. They whisper to me his proximity. They shout to me when he is about to surge. They wail in protest when he does.

At the last moment I spin around to meet my attacker, using the momentum of the turn to aid the strength of my blow. A monstrous grey ball of fur, fang and claw hurtle towards me, too close to bring my meager weapon to bear – I’d misjudged the speed of my opponent.

The much larger figure cashes into me and pushes me back into the pool, dashing the serenity of my home into the liquid, me along with it.

Completely submerged, I wrestle with the dark form, my fingers tangling in matted hair. Rough padded feet brush past, jagged nails dig shallow furrows into my exposed flesh. I shove away to put distance between myself and the beasts thrashing weaponry. The turbulence caused by our struggle keeps me from seeing where I am in relation to my assailant.

Then, just as quickly as I found myself submerged, the water clears of angry bubbles and dark fur. Spinning in all directions I can no longer see my assailant.

My lungs let me know it’s time to move and I breach the surface with a sputter.

Wiping the water from my eyes I twist about to locate my withdrawn adversary. My eyes narrow when I find him, a massive grey wolf standing statuesquely a short distance away.

“You idiot!”, I hiss, the force launching water-droplets form my lips.

The wolf’s ears perk up and turn forward, listening intently.

“The hunt is upon us and you play games, Fenris?” I continue.

At the mention of his name, Fenris hunkers down with his forepaws while arching his backside high, tail wagging playfully. His tongue lolls form the side of his mouth, an eager pant escaping his toothy maw.

I stride forward, my steps taking me out of the pool. Steam rises from my silhouette. Setting my feet firmly in front of his much larger paws, I plant my fists on my hips and stare accusingly into his white eyes.

After a moment, Fenris yips sharply and smoothly rolls onto his back, exposing his belly and neck to me. I can’t hold out any longer and a wide smile betrays the anger even now slipping from my face. I can’t blame him. It’s been a long winter, with little decent hunting to be had and no battle to speak of. Some fun with the onset of the spring was hardly inappropriate, despite the the fact we were still at war and the cleared snows meant renewed fighting.

Joining him on the ground I nuzzle up to his wet, yet still soft, fur. My fingers know all the best places to scratch.

A few more and I rise back to my feet. He sits up to join me.

I gesture to the human remnants nearby.

“Your handy work?”

He barks out his affirmation.

“Where are the others?”

He looks to the tree line and lets out a clear, but short, yowl. Two similarly coated, yet smaller, wolves bound over the lip of the dell, nipping at one another in a game of tag. They stop their play long enough to say hello with a nudge and receive a quick scratch behind the ears. They are Gorm and Dylla, Fenris’ younger brother and sister. What they lack in size, they make up for in speed and stealth.

I watch them leap away to continue their fun, seemingly careless of the previous night’s encounter with the manling. Uncomprehending of the meaning behind a lone man in the woods. There would be more. This was just a scout and the rest of his hunting party would soon follow.

In response to my dark musings, my large companion nudges my hand with his wet nose. I let my touch follow the familiar curves of his snout, to come to rest on the comfort of his wide brow. We watch the younger of our troupe together.

“They are ready.”

I look down into Fenris’ intelligent eyes.

“Tonight the hunt begins anew. Only this time, we are the hunters.”


Jul 6 2011

#67 “Wolf Wackiness”

From a group of strangers in Georgia.

There’s a lot to be said about the insanity that is apparent in these illustrations and a lot of conjecture that could be presented here in relation to them. Perhaps these pictures are the result of imaginations which simply ran wild, or maybe they represent the whimsical fancy of artistic children. On the other hand, could these illustrations possibly be the offspring of brains that veered off the tracks of normality in a more serious manner? Are they the deranged product of sick minds steeped in an unhealthy surrealism?

The world may never know the answers to these questions, but whenever I encounter something as wild and weird and these pictures, I like to reflect upon the words of one of the most strange and unique writers of all time, Stephen King, who said, “I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better – and maybe not all that much better after all.”

With that being said, I think I’ll go fix myself a heaping bowl of ice-cold Wolf Cream.


Jul 5 2011

#66 “Blueskies”

From the girls at Blueskies

I know it might seem a bit strange to go from faithfully posting only one picture per day to posting nine pictures all at the same time, but I have done this today for two very specific reasons:

(1) This entire series of pictures was drawn by a group of wonderful young ladies that work at a local boutique called Blueskies in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Incidentally, this specialty gift store is one of the most unique places of business that I have ever encountered, and I love that it exists in my own community. If you are ever in downtown Chattanooga (specifically on Frazier Avenue on the North Shore), I wholeheartedly suggest that you stop in.

(2) I believe that these picutres represent everything that I have come to love about this project. These pictures display the fact that we are all uniquely individual but social and communal at the same time. According to a letter that I received from these lovely and vibrant ladies, when they noticed a flier that I had posted near their establishment, they were so intrigued and excited that they ALL decided to draw and submit a picture. And thus a few days later, I received a fairly thick packet of nine pictures. But when you examine this collaborative effort, what you will no doubt notice is a variety of pictures that speak to the individuality of each artist, for each illustration is truly one of a kind.

So, what can we deduce about each young artist based on her illustration? It’s a tough call. In the end we might label these ladies individually with terms like the stoner, the hopeless romantic, the pop culture fanatic, the cool one, the traditionalist, and so on and so forth. These terms may or may not be accurate; as we all know, an artist’s work may give clues and insight into her personality, but nothing truly definitive may always be gathered. One thing we do know, though, is that all these ladies are fun-loving and fantastically artistic and that without willing hearts such as theirs, this project would not be the success that it is today.

Thanks again, ladies.


Jul 4 2011

JULY CONTEST!

WBS is offering a contest for the month of July!

Participation is simple: all you have to do is submit your original wolf picture with a valid U.S. return address (via email or snail mail), and you are instantly entered to win this genuine howling wolf cookie jar that I recently bought at a local yardsale.

That’s right. Believe it!

Submissions will be judged based on originality and creativity, and the winning illustration will be featured on August 1st.

(Note: If you have already submitted a picture during these first few days of July and would like to be eligible, simply email me with a return address. Additionally, I offer my apologies to international submissions; I will try my best to offer an international contest soon.)

 


Jul 4 2011

#65 “July 4th”

From Angela, deployed overseas

The Fourth of July is a day that our nation has set aside for our citizens to celebrate our individual freedoms as well as the independence our country as a whole. It is not, however, a time that I deem appropriate to engage in soapbox speeches or politically charged rants about foreign policy or military procedures, etc.

As such, I will keep this post relatively short and leave the political commentary to others. The illustration that you see on display today from Angela is the first that I have received from a soldier on active duty overseas. As a result, I want to take this opportunity to thank her and our other brave volunteers for their service in our military. I love this country, and I admire and respect those that risk their lives to serve her. This is not a job that I would want, and this fact makes me all the more appreciative of those who do take on this dangerous and often underappreciated task.

Thank you, Angela. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I hope you return home to us safe and soon.

God bless you, and happy 4th of July!


Jul 3 2011

#64 “A new take on an old story”

From Derek in Goodlettesville, Tennessee

Children’s stories and nursery rhymes often hold a special place in our hearts. Whether these timeless tales revolve around bears and bowls of porridge or dwarves and sleepy princesses, we seem to take comfort in their dependability. While the rest of the world zips by at an amazingly speedy pace and is constantly changing, we can rest in the static nature of these time-honored stories from our youth and use them to transport our minds to a simpler time when heros were always brave and true and good always triumphed over evil.

In turn, though, when one of these classic tales is twisted or altered, it can strike us as shocking, grotesque and deeply disturbing. Take the wolf that is on display today for example. Upon a cursory examination, it may appear to be nothing more than a traditional rendering of The Big Bad Wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. However, the more I examined this picture, the more that I realized that this was not an illustration that is true to the original tale. It is, in fact, a disturbingly twisted perversion.

The first indicator that something is off here is the fruit-adorned hat. Popularized by the sexy Brazillian actress Carmen Miranda in her 1943 film “The Gang’s All Here,” the fruit hat is in many ways a symbol of eroticism. The luscious foods that top the hat are swollen and engorged and speak of desire and temptation. They are sweet and their colors are bright and attention-grabbing. Many of the fruits can be perceived as phallic symbols that send our minds wandering into darkened alleyways of sexual fantasy. When you combine this with the piercing green eyes and seductive grin on the face of this wily wolf, you’ll notice a creature that is bent on abating a hunger that goes deeper than merely filling the belly.

Yes, dear readers, this wolf is an evil seductress capable of inflicting more damage than Jezebel herself. I know it may be tempting to wonder what lies beneath those sheets, but don’t be fooled. Don’t deem yourself morally strong enough to resist the temptation. Take one step nearer and you’ll be caught by those viciously enticing claws in an ever-lasting grip of lupine lust from which you may never return.

The thought of a wolf disguised as a grandmother and hiding in a bed to murder an approaching child is bad enough, but to witness one in the guise of a Chiquita Banana seductress laying in wait with a demonic sexual appetite to prey upon those easily led astray… well, that is an image that will stay with me for a long, long time…


Jul 2 2011

#63 “Wolfish!”

From a stranger in “a small town with one stop light.”

“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
-from the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

What is the pinnacle of human creatity? Behold, the answer lies before you. For it is in this one illustration that artistic mystery and lupine majesty become one. It is here that lobo creativity and crosses paths with artistic intellect to produce a piece that is truly for the ages. Ladies, and gentleman, I give you “Wolfish!”

Because of the nature of this project, I typically receive many pictures that spark more questions than answers. This piece is no exception and certainly does offer its fair share of mysteries. Notable among them is the fact that the return address simply states that the painting is from “a small town with one stop light,” and the post office markings are unclear. In addition, there is a note on the back of the illustration which reads, “No one remembers me like they do the others,” and this quote is attributed to Seawolf (which is crossed out), Merwolf (which is also crossed out), and then finally to Wolfish!

When you add the burned corners of the artwork, the neon yellow envelope decorated with hearts, the talented use of watercolor and ink, the wolfish crown made of cutlery, and the sticker for The Lord Weird Slough Feg (a heavy metal band from Pennsylvania that featured picture of a wolf on one of their albums), it’s all enough to absolutely start your head spinning.

I don’t consider myself to be a quitter, and I’m not one who is easily frightened by a daunting mystery that needs solving, but in the case of this wolf illustration/painting, I must say that I was so appreciative for the wildness and the weirdness contained therein that I simply decided to sit back and let the craziness of this picture speak for itself. In fact, it’s greatest asset is its inability to be defined. It’s simply too odd, too weird, too unexplainable.

What I will offer instead of an analysis is a comparison. At the beginning of this post, I referenced a quote from the Romantic poet Percy Shelley contained within the poem “Ozymandias.” In the poem, a giant statue of a king is discovered crumbling in the desert with the quote above transcribed underfoot. The connection here with the painting is actually pretty astounding. Like Ozymandias, most people have probably never heard of king Wolfish. In short many people “do not remember them like they do the others” even though they were/are great rulers. The difference here is that while Ozymandias spoke his words out of prideful arrogance, the words of king Wolfish seem to resonate from a place of mournful but accepting resignation.

Who are you king Wolfish? Where do you come from? Your mysteries are as deep as the ocean itself, but rest assured that the memory of you will never die in my mind, even if my days become as innumerable as the sands of the sea…


Jul 1 2011

#62 “A Wolf at the Door”

From Hannah in Des Moines, Iowa

When I look at this picture, I cannot help but to be reminded of Radiohead’s music video for “A Wolf at the Door.” Like the wolves in the video (illustrated by Gaston Vinas), the creature that is on display today is represented in a cartoonish fashion but possesses an obviously sinister nature that is hypnotizing as well as ominous. I think if you examine the illustration and music video simultaneously, you will see similarities in the penstrokes, as well as in the curvatures and sharpness of the lupine appendages. These traits work together to create a natural fluidity in the features of the animal that is both beautiful and fearsome.

In short, I simply cannot stop staring at this breathtaking illustration. The wolf here is ferocious. He is lunging in aggression with his teeth bared. His concentration is set on one thing: his prey. In short, he is a fierce, focused, bloodthirsty predator, but his awe-inspiring in his strength and naturally sever disposition create a beautiful piece of artwork.

So, I guess the question is… would you want him at YOUR door?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvBPCm25z4I]