Oct 12 2011

#165 “Half Baked”

From J.S. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Have you ever met a man whose three favorite things were wolves, marijuana, and Sponge Bob Square Pants? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I think you have now. His name is J.S. and he lives in Philadelphia. Why J.S. would choose such an unusual focus for his WBS submission is beyond by limited powers of comprehension, but I can only assume that he has a special affinity for these specific items.

I realize that I clearly cannot serve as judge and jury of the normality of this man’s interests. After all, I do collect pictures of wolves drawn by strangers from all other the world, and some would say that it doesn’t get a whole lot weirder than that. But this still doesn’t make the motives behind J.S.’s work any clearer. I suppose there is a part of me that believes that this unusual piece of art might be the result of mere whimsy and randomness. Perhaps it is simply meant to keep us all guessing. But then there’s the drug reference. Could this possibly mean that the artist himself was under the influence when he designed this piece? And if so, is there any way that we will ever be able to interpret its true meaning? Then again, maybe the drug reference is both the inspiration for the picture and the key to interpreting it. Maybe only a mind that is equally as inebriated as that of the artist would be able to shed light on the meaning of this work…

Oct 11 2011

#164 “Trippy”

From Laura in Everett, Washington

As a whole, this picture is difficult to describe, but at the same time, the longer I look at it, the more ideas for strange analyses and interesting interpretations come into my head. Every time I examine it, I notice something new, something more gripping than what I saw before. Ultimately, in an effort to try to put my feelings into words, I guess I would have to say that this piece is a kaleidoscopic rorschach of symmetrical ooze, breathing forth creative energy from every square inch. It bubbles with animated vitality and possesses a musicality that I have witnessed in very few other pieces. The smooth lines and effervescent shapes are soothing, but the barrage of color and shape combinations is also overwhelming, producing in the viewer a unique feeling of peacefulness and disquietude. It is mind-boggling different but strangely familiar. It is an elaborate depiction of a mirrored seraphim-inspired wolf, floating independently from time and space on the craziest ring of Saturn.

As I stare at the wonder that is this piece of artwork, I can’t help but here music in my head. As a result, I have decided to post for you three of my favorite music videos that I believe would serve as a fitting accompaniment for this unique piece of artwork, both in terms of the mood and feel of the music as well as in the uniqueness of their visual components.

#1:  MGMT  ”Electric Feel”
#2:  Julian Casablancas  ”11th Dimension”
#3:  Tommy Sparks  ”She’s Got Me Dancing”

Oct 10 2011

#163 “Night Stalker”

From Samreen

Often times, when an artist includes a personalized note that refers specifically to his/her own creation, I like to let the artist’s words speak for themselves. Such is the case with this morbidly thrilling work contributed by Samreen and entitled “Night Stalker.” While I have many words of praise and many analytical thoughts to offer on the subject of this fearsome creature, I will let a simple poem written by the artist serve as all the commentary that is needed here. I hope you enjoy…

“Night Stalker”

Silently he pads, no disturbance to the night,
Needs to give his prey quite a bad fright.
He is good at this, a very quiet walker,
This handsome wolf is a night stalker.


Oct 9 2011

#162 “White Wolf in a Snow Storm”

From Joy in Brewerton, New York

In an effort to allow the commentary for this illustration to truly mesh with the picture, I have decided to display the accompanying text in a manner that is as enigmatic and mysterious as this piece of art. Trust me, the text is below, but can you find it?

If the viewer of this piece chooses to only undergo a cursory analysis of the artwork displayed here, he will probably walk away with a misguided assumption about either Joy’s skill or her dedication to the creation of true art. Some might simply think that Joy wanted to submit a picture but decided to take the easy way out by only drawing a partial outline of a wolf’s head and a pair of eyes and then calling it “White Wolf in a Snow Storm.” I present to you, however, that there was a much deeper level of thought applied in the creation of this portrait and that the significance of this illustration is actually quite substantial.

After the viewer moves beyond his initial confusion in regards to “not being able to see the wolf,” he is no doubt struck with the eery realization of just how alarming it would be to actually find himself trudging through a Rocky Mountain snow storm and see a pair of piercing, yellow eyes staring at him through the biting wind and blinding snow. Try mentally putting yourself in this situation. Imagine the unsettling loneliness that would descend upon you, the true vulnerability that would creep into your bones. 

Ultimately this piece of art is not so much about the specific visual aspects that make up the picture but about the mood that it inspires in the viewer. And when a picture is able to transcend these artistic boundaries, well then… that is something truly special. 

Oct 8 2011

#161 “Snowflakes”

From Acacia in Nine Mile Falls, Washington

Why do we feel the need to apologize for the ways in which we differ from others? Why do we feel so much pressure to be like everyone else, to see the world through the eyes of the masses, to hold opinions that fit the norm? The answers to these questions are varied and will send the asker on a quest into the very heart of darkness of the “civilized” world. But what is even more important than the answers to these questions is the urgent need for each of us to develop a sense of pride and security in our individualistic nature.

This age-old battle of conformity vs. individuality has been played out for centuries- probably since the very beginning of time. As a result, I don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time and space here treading over already well-worn ground, but I do want to take a moment to urge this wonderful artist to focus on the positive attributes of her work and leave any thoughts of negativity behind. In his soul-stirring self help book entitled “Your Erroneous Zones,” Dr. Dwayne D. Dyer encourages us to deem worry and regret as the two most worthless emotions.

So, my message for Acacia is this: Don’t worry about minor flaws in this piece of art or in anything else that you do. Celebrate your wonderfully flawed self and know that you are special and unique. Let your artwork express how magnificently imperfect you are. Enjoy each moment of life and try to accentuate the positive. I know that when I lay my eyes upon this triumphant piece of lupine artwork, I see a whole host of beautiful qualities. I see a combination of wonderfully smooth, flowing lines and geometric shapes. I see a wolf in a proud stance of self-assurance that engenders in me a feeling of positivity. I see a cleanness and a smoothness and a steadiness of hand that could only be accomplished by a truly talented artist, but above all, I see the generosity of a stranger who selflessly took the time to draw this picture and send it all the way to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Thanks, Acacia. This wolf really made my day. And don’t forget… We’re all snowflakes, each different and unique in our own special ways.

Oct 7 2011

#160 “Spark of Life”

From Cooper in Ft. Worth, Texas

The famous astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, “We are made of star stuff.” But what did he mean by this? Well, I’m not sure that I’m qualified to deconstruct or analyze the words of a man so renowned for his astronomical intellect, but what I believe Dr. Sagan was getting at is the fact that the same basic particles make up every object in our known universe, no matter what that object is. In some ways this statement has the potential to make us feel very small, but in another sense it is wonderful to know that we are able to transcend the boundaries of the known universe simply by examining our own physical makeup.

On another note, even though we might all be made of star stuff, there is a certain magical quality that I will call the “spark of life” that separates animate from inanimate objects. I know that this sounds simple and elementary, but in some ways, it truly is amazing to ponder the fact that there is a certain something that transforms our physical beings from lifeless piles of particles into living, breathing creatures that are capable of thought, love, and the appreciation of beauty. This is perhaps why we find the idea of inanimate objects having the capabilities of conscious thought so intriguing (like in the illustration above): it gives us a chance to break down this natural boundary between us and everything else in the universe and let our imaginations play. We are able to create a unique world in which all objects can interact in a way that is typically reserved only for those beings that are gifted with the spark. What would it be like if ice cream cones could really think for themselves? I’m not sure, but I bet it would make us examine the world around us a little bit differently.

Regardless of what your thoughts are on the human soul, our internal spirit, the spark of life, or the nature of animate and inanimate objects, as you go throughout your day today try to remember this simple phrase: “We are made of star stuff.”

Oct 6 2011

#159 “Trickery vs. Honesty”

From in “A” Wolverhampton, England

Not long ago I received a lovely email from a very personable gentleman who identified himself as being the father of Maddie. For those of you who are frequent readers/viewers of this site, you might recognize Maddie as an esteemed member of a special group of friends formerly known as TEAM WOLF (detailed in post #34). In recent times the full whereabouts of TEAM WOLF and their activities are largely unknown. In some circles it is rumored that their alliance has fallen into disrepair and is now defunct, but this story cannot be corroborated and is largely beside the point.

Anyway, in a brief email correspondence, “A” and I discussed a various elements of wolves in pop culture, focusing primarily on a British Football organization known as the Wolverhampton Wanderers (Also known as the Wolves), and one of the team’s star players whose name is Johhny de Wolf. Throughout the course of this short bit of dialogue, “A” also referenced the above illustration which was drawn by him and mailed in to the project by Maddie. Interestingly enough, “A” told me that Maddie tricked him into drawing the wolf. Ultimately, I took this to mean that she did not divulge the full details of the project to him, and only told him that she would be submitting the picture after he had already drawn it.

All of this raises an interesting question, though. How much does the cognitive act of drawing a picture specifically for this project impact the composition of the illustration, itself? It’s not beyond reason to assume that the expectation that a submitted picture will be displayed on this website has an impact on what an artist ultimately produces. Keeping this in mind, I believe that we really have something special on our hands here when we examine this picture. For this simple wolf was not drawn for personal recognition or for any ulterior motives. It was not created to be a part of this project. It is simply the product of whimsy and a desire to fulfill the small and simple wish of a loved one. Certainly it was an odd request and one with an undertone of deception, but the result speaks for itself and in the end this may be the most “honest” wolf that I have seen thus far.

Oct 5 2011

#158 “Yuri Gagarin”

From Adam in Alexandria, Virginia

Shortly after this postcard arrived in the mail, I received the following email from Adam:

Hello there!

I recently submitted a WBS postcard inspired by all the stamps I’ve seen from other postcards along with the ones I place on mine. Back in April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, and orbited the earth in his capsule under remote control from earth. Sure, it was completely controlled from the ground and he did not need to navigate while out of earth’s atmosphere, but it marked the first time anyone had left the influence of gravity and ventured outwards. Something a lone wolf might do when wandering from the pack to explore!

Then, there is the lure of the moon, that distant orb still calling us forwards. It wouldn’t be until 1969 until we reached that milestone, with an intrepid pack of American explorers who would venture out towards its barren landscape. I left out a few details that the stamp shows, for simplicity. Plus, I changed the captioning on the inscriptions. The top inscription reads “Three howls for the first cosmowolf!” followed by Gagarin’s name and lastly “Howl if you like the moon!” at the bottom.

There are so many ideas out there for stamp-themed WBS cards! I want to transform the faces of Mt. Rushmore into wolves during a night scene, with at least one of the effigies saluting the moon with a hearty howl! Then there are wolf-themed stamps that might be great if rendered as collages of images or text from newspapers and magazines.


Adam in VA

Not only is Adam’s passion inspiring, but his themed artwork successfully proves that “Wolves by Strangers” has the potential to go so much deeper than focusing simply on random pictures of wolves. This one piece of artwork proves that this project can strike a cultural and historical gong, drawing attention to issues and events that transcend all interests and people from all walks of life.

Lupine artwork that explores deeper social issues, questions of morality, political affairs… Imagine the possibilities!

Oct 4 2011

#157 “Age 12″

From Emily in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, age 12

There are few events in life as magical as that yearlong adventure known as the age of 12. It is precisely at this wondrous stage in life that a whole host of realities begin to converge on a young woman while another set of values is somewhat painfully left behind. It is a time of transition, a time of growth and hastening maturity, a time of paradigm shifts and worldview changes that are so significant that a young lady may not experience anything like it for the rest of her life. At the age of 12 a a young girl still uses her imagination purely for entertainment purposes, but there is also a budding sense of pride in knowing that the desire to participate in such whimsical acts is slowly waning. Simply put, the child is growing up. She is preparing for new challenges and new obstacles; she is learning new skills and new life lessons. It is truly a magical time.

When I look at this illustration, there is not a doubt in my mind that it was drawn by a 12-year-old girl. This inference, however, is not based upon any analysis of the skill level of the artist. No, it is the obvious thematic elements which suggest that the artist is precisely 12 years of age.

First, notice the large, looming moon in the upper left hand corner of the picture. This is clearly meant to symbolize the new world of adulthood into which the child is about to enter, but like the moon, this new arena is foreign and strange. It is mysterious and unusual, and there are many unknown variables at play. The fact that the entire moon cannot be seen only serves to further imply the mysterious nature of this grand adventure upon which the child will soon embark.

But one must also take notice of the countenance and demeanor of the wolf (which is obviously meant to represent the child). Her eyes are focused. Her expression is stern and serious. She is facing her goal with a calm and determined sense of resolve and has turned her back on her childhood in many respects. This adventure might be one that is frightening in some ways, but she has taken on the journey with a purposeful mind and a willing heart. She knows that the change is ahead and she openly accepts it, even longs for it at times.

12 years old. What an age. Would I go back to my childhood again and relive my youth if I had the chance? Certainly not. But I believe there a small part in each of us that longs to walk once again in those shoes of wonder and adventure, a part that yearns to return to an age of discovery and new experiences that can only come in those short-lived preteen years.

So enjoy your 12th year, Emily. Don’t grow up too soon, but don’t hold back either. Let the spirit of the wolf guide you, and I’m sure you’ll turn out just fine.

Oct 3 2011

#156 “Mutually Beneficial”

From Kinan in Indonesia

Kinan, in answer to your question, it feels truly awesome to receive these wonderful letters and illustrations from strangers all over the world. And yes, you are indeed the first Indonesian to contribute to this project. As such, I can promise you that I will cherish your wolf art for years to come. I hope that this makes you happy and proud.

In many ways this simple illustration and short letter are a perfect representation of the uncomplicated wonder of this project. With a few words and small drawing, two complete strangers from across the globe are able to connect, and both lives have been are momentarily brightened because of the interaction. There are no expectations, no judgmental conjectures, no exorbitant requests, not even an assumption of further communication. This is it, and this is enough. A simple request and a simple reply. Two strangers passing on a global street, exchanging a simple nod and a smile.

Kinan, I know that I will never meet you, but I am thankful for your willing heart and youthful enthusiasm. I hope the fact that your artwork has made it to me safe and sound brings you a little bit of joy and peace, and I hope that all the days of your life are filled with wonder and whimsy and that you continue to take small chances and risks. I hope you will always seek the pleasure of new experiences.

May you always be blessed!

Oct 2 2011

#155 “Dressed to Impress”

From Maarit in Finland

Is it merely a coincidence that over the life of this project I have received three wolves from the country of Finland and two of them are wearing a suit and tie? I’m not sure, but the one wolf from Finland that is not formally dressed is portrayed as being naked and pregnant, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

Moving on…

This is the first time that this dignified lobo has been on public display at wolvesbystrangers.com, but whenever I have shown this suave wolf to friends and family members, he has been received with many enthusiastic “oohs” and “awes” of admiration. Young and old, rich and poor… people simply love this wolf. But what is it that draws such passionate praise and gusto from such a wide variety of viewers? Is it the realistic rendering of the stately beast? Maybe. The soft and welcoming color pallet? Perhaps. But what I believe draws the most enthusiastic esteem from the viewing audience is the fact that this creature is particularly dapper and so fashionably clothed.

They say that you should dress to impress, that the clothes make the man. However, when people toss around these statements loosely, it always seems that there is a judgmental crowd of skeptics laying in wait to claim that sayings such as these come solely from a place of outer judgment and are merely superficial in nature. There are always those who say that judging by the outer appearance is inappropriate and simply wrong and that it shouldn’t really matter what we look like on the outside. After all, it’s what is on the inside that counts.

I used to think this way as well. But I have come to realize that I believe there is nothing wrong with judging by outward appearances. Let’s be honest: our eyes were designed specifically to take in outside information and draw specific conclusions based on the data that they receive. Making judgment calls is healthy and necessary and displays a mature level of adaptation that is essential for survival. We all make judgments based on what we see, whether we want to admit it or not. It is extremely natural to do so.

However, what I do not condone is trusting in these initial judgments so readily that we are not willing to adapt to a new point of view when information that contradicts our original verdict is presented to us. Let your eyes do the work they were designed to do. Let your brain take in this information and reach its own conclusions, but always keep a fluid point of view. Go ahead, be impressed with this wolf’s stately appearance and handsome outfits. Let his respectable veneer lead you to whatever suppositions and inferences come naturally. But realize that this gentlemanly appearance may be deceptive. Realize that behind the soft eyes and gently clasped hands may be a gruesome countenance that is far more than you bargained for. Let your eyes speak to you, but don’t trust everything they say…

Oct 1 2011

#154 “Under the Influence”

From Curt in Vancouver, Washington

Just in case you have difficulty reading the attached note, I have transcribed it for you. The message says, “Here’s a wolf on a boat who is rocking out and who also has a unibrow. I drew him when I was drunk.”

Now for a short contemplation on the creative powers of alcohol in relation to this illustration:

Since alcohol is a depressant that alters one’s motor skills and normal brain functions, most artistic creations that are produced under the influence of the drug can reasonably be expected to suffer. When I look upon this particular piece of artwork, I am inspired by its creativity and uniqueness and I love the unusual concept; however, I can’t help but wonder what heights the artist may have been able to reach if he was not impaired during the birth of this piece. In other words, if Curt can produce something as awesome as this picture when he is thoroughly sloshed, just imagine what he could create when he’s sober.

At the same time, though, while alcohol often does impede the physical senses as well as negatively alter our judgment, it also has the capability of inspiring the mind and can lead us into unforeseen realms of philosophical contemplations and theoretical observations. Sometimes these thoughts and impulses are misguided, but this is not always the case. So while I might lament the fact that Curt could have possibly accomplished an even greater artistic feat if he had been sober, I must admit that if he had not been lead by a certain amount of liquid courage, he could have possibly lacked the conviction that seemed to be the inspiration for this venture in the first place.

In the end, I suppose it is left for the reader to decide: Is alcohol an artistic deterrent that causes creations to suffer? Or is it a sacred muse that leads the artist into new realms of creative genius?

Either way, here’s a toast to you, Curt. Cheers!