Apr 16 2012

#352 “Masterpiece”

From Hannah in Chattanooga, Tennessee

All great art possesses a sort of timeless quality that simply will not allow it to disappear completely from the public consciousness, regardless of the passage of time. Whether it be some unique visual appeal, some revolutionary social comment, or a brazen disregard for a time-honored convention, each masterpiece has its own hook that sinks deeply into the viewer and simply will not let go. Seeing as how the wolf is the “piece de resistance” of the animal kingdom, it is only fitting that this project has received several artistic mash-ups that feature lupine subjects being inserted into famous paintings. None of these submissions have been more soul-stirring than Hannah’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Thanks, Hannah. This piece is an instant classic.


Dec 22 2011

#236 “Big City Wolf”

From Kusti in Finland

The wildness of nature takes on the hustle and bustle of the big city in this composition by Kusti, and to put it mildly, the results are simply breathtaking. While it takes a fair amount of imagination to dream up images of an untamed wolf leaping about on urban rooftops while cars race below and city lights flash in a crazed blur of color, there’s just something about this picture that feels so right. As humans we long to belong to both of these worlds, and through this ingenious piece of art, Kusti allows us to interact with these two conflicting sides of ourselves simultaneously. We don’t have to choose between the mystery of the deep forest or the excitement of the city; we can have them both.

What this wolf is doing in this environment isn’t entirely clear, but the viewer gets the sense that this animal is on a mission. There’s an urgency in his movements and a determination in his eyes that says that this wolf didn’t just wander off and find himself in the big city at random. Something has been risked. Something is at stake- something large and important. To sum it up in a single word, this picture contains drama. From the moment that I first laid eyes on it, my heart began to beat a little more quickly, and when an artist accomplishes this task, you know that he/she has truly made an impact. In this end, this image may just be a still picture on a screen, but it delivers a wild ride that will leave your head spinning.

Thanks for adding some excitement to my day, Kusti…


Nov 19 2011

#203 “Beautiful”

From Chen in Israel

For those of you who aren’t aware, the name “Chen” means “beautiful” in the Hebrew language.

Chen and I met randomly as I was playing around on the Internet, looking for strangers to contribute their original wolf art to this project. If I remember correctly, she was a bit apprehensive at first, citing the fact that she did not consider herself to be a very talented artist. Well, as you can see (and as is often the case with the humble), Chen’s level of self-awareness and her own analysis of her skill level are clearly inaccurate. This wolf is the very namesake of Chen herself and can only be described as truly “beautiful.”

But what is even more beautiful than the artistic rendering of this marvelous creature is the spirit of benevolence with which it was offered up. The Internet is a often a refuge for depraved predators seeking innocent victims. As a result, Chen’s willingness to hear out my request displayed a natural trust and goodwill that is hard to come by in this day and age and offers a fresh breeze of relief in a world that often times feels like a ship on a stormy sea in a world blown clear of love.

Thanks for offering up your “beautiful” spirit, Chen. As I often say in the email replies that I sent to contributors, this project has become a true passion of mine, but it is only possible because of the kindness and generosity of talented strangers such as yourself.

Thanks very much, and God bless.


Nov 13 2011

#197 “Classwork”

From a stranger in China

Over the past several months I’ve seen wolves printed on a wide variety of canvasses. Artwork drawn on everything from napkins to tampon boxes to Post-It Notes has arrived in my post office box, but never have I received a picture of a wolf that was drawn on the surface of a desk in a Chinese classroom. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

One of the most interesting aspects of this picture is that it possesses both temporary as well as timeless qualities. The picture certainly reflects a level of talent that is praiseworthy; the viewer can easily tell that the artist has a well-defined skill set when it comes to drawing wolves. And so it is a bit of a shame to realize that this wolf will soon be erased or washed away (if it hasn’t been already). But at the same time, the illustration has been preserved with a thoughtful and well-timed photograph that will preserve it for ages to come. Even though the original work will be lost to annals of time, the photograph will endure.

On another note, when I look at this picture, I’m also struck by the universal nature of artistic expression by children, especially in the classroom environment. At one point we were all children working our way up through the grades, anxiously awaiting the day that we would be finished with our formal schooling and free to take the world storm and follow our own individual desires. Along the way we all doodled on desks and scribbled in spiral notebooks and passed notes to friends and wasted time and flirted with the opposite sex. Things haven’t really changed that much, and I suppose they never will. Whether you’re in China or South Africa or the U.S., school is still school, and children are still children, and there will always be that need for distraction and that desire for a personal creative outlet.

But going back to that earlier point about this illustration being fleeting as well as permanent… I can’t help but be reminded of a sonnet by Edmund Spencer which seems to strike a similar thematic chord. Your homework tonight is to read this poem and discuss it with a friend. Now get to work!

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”
“Not so,” (quod I) “let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
.

Sep 30 2011

#153 “Deviant Queen”


From Amuro in Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I first received Amuro’s email asking if I would consider displaying some of the wolf portraits that she had posted on deviantart.com, I must say that my expectations were, well, nonexistent in a way. I was excited to be contacted and was thrilled that another artistic soul had discovered the WBS project and was interested in participating, but I must admit that I didn’t really give the viewing of the artwork much thought at first. I would put it on my “to do” list, and when time allowed, I would take a glance at what she had to offer. You see, even though I find this project to be rewarding and fulfilling (and I truly love every submission), in some ways the continual viewing of art and then posting of it can easily become all just a part of the job.

When I clicked on that first link, however, the situation quickly changed. My heart and mind were swiftly transported into a realm of creative wonder beyond description. Simply put, I wasn’t prepared for the lupine greatness that greeted my somewhat jaded eyes, and I was instantly thankful for the exquisite awakening that was washing down upon me like a deluge of color in a black and white world. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no other way to say it: the times that I have experienced lupine artwork of this caliber are few and far between.

There is a grace and an elegance found in Amuro’s works that is profound that it is somewhat difficult to describe. Her work produces a sense of euphoria and a unique feeling like unto a warm but pleasant darkness. Some of the works are bustling with frenzied hues and manic shades, but they are precise and calming at the same time. When gazing upon these pieces, the viewer experiences an unfamiliar but gratifying sense of being ferried lightly from the familiar to the enchanted. There is a gentle but significant ushering from the common to the mystical. In short, these pieces fill the eyes (and thus the heart and mind) with wondrous lupine magic.

I believe that one of the most significant aspects of these pieces that grant them such an unearthly power over the viewer is the ethereal nature of the background of each portrait. The lack of a clear and decisive setting allows us as viewers to be taken more readily into the mysterious world of the wolf. We are floating in space with it, spinning at dizzying heights with the majestic king of all creatures. In addition to this, there is also a universal sense of loneliness and almost an inherent sadness that is displayed in some of these pieces that creates a bittersweet catharsis for the viewer as he ponders the connection of the wolf to his own life and personal sense of beauty. It almost appears that the wolf is both a source of sadness and a haven from it as well. But perhaps more than anything else, there is a striking yet unexplainable sense of honesty that permeates these works. The wolf is presented as beautiful and elegant and fantastically lifelike. It is delicate yet hardy, peaceful yet proud. In short, these works display everything I thought this project would bring me and much more.

Thanks, Amuro. Never stop following your passion, and always let your talented heart and mind lead the way.

(Check out more of Amuro’s work here)


Sep 27 2011

#150 “A Toast to New Experiences”

From a stranger in Canada

I’m sure that over the past weeks and months many readers of this site have grown increasingly weary of my statements about how nearly every single illustration is “one of my favorites.” But ladies and gentlemen, I take no shame in throwing out this statement once again. Rest assured, If I never meant it before, I mean it now.

You may look upon this illustration and claim that it is not the most unique picture you have ever seen. You may scoff at its lack of color. You may even attack its somewhat traditional rendering of its lupine subject. But when I look upon this simple illustration, all I can see is the beauty and wonder of discovery, the magic of a new experience, and (hopefully) the excitement of a life changed for the better (if even in only a very small way). If you’ll take notice of the remark in the lower right hand corner of the illustration, you’ll see that the artist claims to have never drawn a wolf before. How marvelous! How touching! How inspiring that this simple project which began with a whim and a wish has sparked a new experience for this open-minded Canadian.

And finally, I’ll be quite honest: I think that this picture is actually a very fine rendering of a wolf for a first attempt. It certainly stands head and shoulders above my early attempts at lupine artwork. So bravo, Canadian stranger. Bravo. We could all learn a lesson from your fearless acceptance of a new challenge. If we all approached our daily lives in a manner akin to your bold undertaking of my unusual request, there’s no telling what heights we may reach.


Sep 8 2011

#131 “The Big Fun Party”

From Hannah in Orange, California

It doesn’t get wilder and wackier than this, my friends, but it also doesn’t get any more lupine. For most of you, the last word that you would use to describe this wolf illustration would be “traditional.” I won’t disagree with this; this picture truly isn’t a conventional rendering of the wolf, but it certainly does encapsulate many aspects of the lobo very accurately.

Let’s examine some of the elements of this picture and discover how they relate to the idea of the wolf as a whole.

The burger: This fleshy delight truly represents the carnivorous nature of the wolf, but the fact that this wolf is dining on what appears to be a traditional cheeseburger also represents the fact that we are linked to the lobo by our own carnivorous nature. We don’t necessarily view ourselves as being carnivores because our food is presented to us on classy glass plates. But this doesn’t change the fact that what we are eating is still just a hunk of meat, sometimes still dripping with blood.

The ribbon/hair: While much of this wolf’s coat seems a little straggly, the bow adorned across the top of its brow accentuates the fact that the wolf’s appearance is both beautiful as well as raw and sometimes even crude. The animal is the perfect combination of natural beauty and inherent coarseness.

The feces: Nothing suggests the primal nature of the wolf more than this steamy, stinky pile of refuse. It suggests a nomadic nature and an unrefined and unabashed lifestyle. It suggests that the wolf exists clearly outside of human social norms and suggests and a raw instinctual nature to simple follow the body’s urges to the utmost degree. The wolf does what it wants, regardless of what others may think. It is its own master, and follows the urges and impulses of its own body.

The spots: This aspect of the wolf’s appearance represents the fact that each wolf is unique. With the birth of each creature, the mold is broken. The spots could never be recreated the same way on any other creature. Each one is special. Each is a snowflake of individuality.

The skull mask: This item is indicative of the fact that the world the wolf resides in is one of constant struggle and hardship. Literally, everyday the wolf must make choices, the results of which will result in either life or death. The wide eyes set inside this morbid disguise clearly are meant to point to the stressful toll that a life of daily survival must take on an animal. It’s true that the being is one that is created and equipped with the necessary mindset to handle such pressures, but with the ever increasing encroachment of man into wolf territories and the increased prejudice against the animal, who can blame this particular creature for his apparently worrisome outlook?

Overall, this illustration has to be one of the most beautifully twisted and creative that I have received thus far over the life of this project, but trust me, this picture isn’t the only trick that Hannah has in her bag. If you check out her website here, you will be transported into a world of warped wonder in which you will be introduced to fantastic and whimsical creatures of all shapes and sizes. It’s a “Big Fun Party” of magnificently perverted beauty that will suck you in and dig its claws deeply into you, but trust me: I think you’ll like it just the same.


Aug 31 2011

#123 “Ignis Lupis”


From “Iginis Lupis” in Monterrey, Mexico

Proud. Stern. Fair.

Ignis Lupis: The Wolf of Fire.

The beauty of this breathtaking illustration is not lost on me, but what intrigues me even more is the choice of pen name of the artist. I obviously love the fact that the name reflects the passion and spirit of wolf, but what about the fact that the phrase is in Latin? What connections can be made here?

There are some, in their naivete, who might claim that since Latin is a dead language, it is an inappropriate language to serve as a moniker for a wolf-related artist who is supposed to represent the vitality and virility of the lobo. I, however, would beg to differ. Latin is not dead, but very much alive. It flows through ancient texts and works of art like a beautifully artistic river of history. It is aesthetically pleasing both in its sound and in its lines on the page. It is regal. It is stately. It embodies everything the wolf stands for in a lexical form.

“Ignis Lupis.” The name rolls off the tongue like honey and tastes just as sweet in your mouth. Say it with me. Say it aloud: “Ignis Lupis,” The Wolf of Fire.

 


Aug 30 2011

#122 “Mystique”

From Maj in Maribor, Slovenia

Mystique (n): a fascinating mystery of aura, awe, and power surrounding someone or something

When it first met my eyes, the romantic allure of this illustration struck me as being so intoxicating, so overwhelming, that for many hours I was held powerless in its artful grip and could not even begin to question its meaning or interpret its message. I merely basked in the glow of its grandeur and was content.

Now, many days later, I have adjusted more readily to the comeliness of this incredibly unique masterpiece, but I still find myself unskilled in any interpretation of it. This work defies description and yet incorporates so many elements into its presentation that it encompasses a world associations.

The enigmatic lights that create a chilling silhouette of this tremendous wolf create both the mystery as well as the appeal of this extra-sensory masterpiece. Are these lights the headlights of a vehicle plowing through the thickness of night, preparing to mow down this werewolf-like creature on a windy mountain road? Are they the lights of hunters, seeking out their prey in the dense forests of an Appalachian Mountain hollow? Are they perhaps dim specters of the wolf aura itself that surrounds this beautiful creature as it maneuvers its way skillfully through the dead, still darkness of night?

No matter what the source of these lights might be, they share only a brief glimpse of this magnificent creature; but nonetheless, this is all that is needed to chill the blood, to induce a quickened heart rate and fix the eyes unwaveringly on this lupine wonder. So many questions may be raised about exactly what is taking place here, but one aspect of this illustration rings true: it’s beauty. Fierce or fanciful, tame or terrifying, otherworldly or ordinary, this wolf howls with a poignant magnificence that cannot be denied.

Just one glance at this picture makes me want to brave the midnight forests in search of the lordly king of the natural world. He may greet me with a mystical embrace… or he may rip my throat out with one swift gnashing of his razor-sharp teeth, but this illustration inspires me to try…. regardless of the outcome.


Aug 28 2011

#120 “Joy”

 

From Sandra in East London

In my life I have been blessed to be able to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida several times. It might sound slightly silly for a grown man to admit to this, but I absolutely love Disney World; in many ways I believe that it truly is “the happiest place on earth.” By far my favorite ride in all of the 4 parks that make up Disney World is called Soarin’. The unusual premise of the ride is that you are somehow strapped into a sort of open air flying machine somewhat similar to a mechanized hang glider of sorts. But this isn’t your average roller coaster. In fact, the ride isn’t a roller coaster at all. In reality it’s more like being suspended in front of a giant IMAX screen while various flying sequences and scenic images speed by.

What makes the ride so interesting, though, is how sensory appealing the whole experience is. You not only experience the sensation of flying because of the various tilt angles of the machinery; you can actually feel the wind on your face. You can smell the scents of oranges as they rise up from below you in the Florida orchards. The sounds that greet your ears are true and real and feel like they are coming at you from just the right angle and at just the right time. Everything is perfect. You really feel like your flying.

Ok. Moving on. This is where things might get a little weird. You see, whenever I ride Soarin’, I don’t just like it, I love it. Whenever I ride this ride, I don’t just experience happiness; I experience joy. And in my opinion, happiness and joy are two totally different things. We often think of joy as just a kind of happiness that is a little bit more intense than your average good mood, but I think the definition of joy runs deeper than this. Joy is the emotion that makes you cry for spontaneously at moments when your heart is overflowing with rapture. It’s a feeling that just feels like too much, like you’ve touched something very special, but you’re not actually sure what it is. Like you are nostalgic for something that you can’t quite put your finger on. Like an otherworldly memory of complete happiness is just outside your grasp. Like you have experienced something so beautiful that it has caused you physical pain. Your heart literally aches because of the exquisiteness of what you have encountered. The feeling is often bittersweet, tinged with the slightest bit of heartache, but the happiness of joy is so far beyond any other type of happiness, that even the pain that comes with it puts mere “happiness” to shame.

What does any of this have to do with the illustrations by Sandra that are on display today? Well, simply put, they give me joy. For reasons I can’t explain they carry me back to the warmest childhood memories and call to me with their layers of texture and their elements of magical realism and grounded fantasy. They stir my soul and cause my heart to pang with the deepest feelings of longing and solidify a belief that true beauty is not dead.

Thanks, Sandra. Joy is a rare commodity in this world, but you have given me this gift, and for that I am grateful.

For more great artwork by Sandra, check out her blog, her website, and her twitter account.


Aug 7 2011

#99 “Sassy!”

from Paige in Vancouver, British Columbia

As you might imagine, the number of illustrations in my collection which depict wolves dressed as sheep are not just a few. They decorate my collection like veritable spots on a leopard, sprinkled throughout the pages of my catalogued notebooks like so many clouds in a beautifully dark skyscape. Some of these drawings display great artistry while others are quick sketches. A few depict highly original concepts and new takes on this time-honored idea while others stick strictly to the original notion of camouflage and deception.

Today’s picture, courtesy of Paige, is particularly appealing to me because it seems to combine both the traditional and the contemporary. In a sense, the picture is pretty conventional. It depicts a wolf draped classically in the pelt of a sheep. The “clothing” is ill-fitting, but that is what we would have expected; so in a traditional sense, this illustration meets all of our immediate expectations of a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. There is, however, something a bit different about this piece as well. As Paige noted in the corner of the illustration, this wolf certainly does appear to possess a fair amount of sass. Notice the head cocked high and the eyes that are shut in smug self-assurance. Even the wolf’s whiskers are raised to suggest its cheekiness and smug demeanor. The illustration captures in one still moment on the paper, but I can easily imagine this wolf prancing around, just as pleased with himself as she can be. There she goes, trotting around the wilderness like a lupine model on a forested runway, spurring the other female wolves to cock their heads as well and howl out, “You go, girl!”

Switching gears, I thought that since today’s post featured a wolf in sheep’s clothing that I would include a music video in the same vein. The mood of the video varies greatly from that of the illustration, but I thought if nothing else, the juxtaposition would be interesting. The video is for the song “Someone’s in the Wolf” by Queens of the Stone Age, and the concept can be somewhat difficult to grasp on your first viewing, so I will try to explain it as best as I can. From what I can tell, the video features a group of wolves who have abducted a young girl after apparently killing her parents and have raised the girl to adulthood. At this point, the beautiful, fully grown woman leaves the pack, and the wolves disguise themselves as sheep to go in search of her. The initial concept is sinister enough, but the video itself is truly creepy. Turn out the lights and enjoy.


Aug 5 2011

#97 “Frozen…”

From a stranger in Tuscon, Arizona

When it comes to this piece of art, the illustrator’s words say it all.
So poetic. So moving. So full of imagery.

I think you captured the spirit of this majestic wolf perfectly, my fair stranger. May your spirit echo for ages to come as well; I certainly know that images of this wolf and the words of your eloquent poetry will ring beautifully in my ears for quite some time.

Thank you for blessing us with your talent.