Oct 29 2011

#182 “Instinctual”

From a stranger in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

If I’ve learned anything over the past six months, it’s that Canadians really do know their way around a wolf. A love for the lobo seems almost to be inborn within them. It is innate to their citizens as a whole. It is natural for those born upon Canada’s fertile soils to naturally be in tune with this creature of the wilderness.

Need proof? Just take a look at this illustration from a stranger in Toronto. This man is so at one with the wolf that his hand naturally forms the distinctive lines of the creature even when he is not looking at the paper on which he is drawing. It’s almost as if he is a wolf-Jedi of sorts. Just as Luke used The Force on board the Millennium Falcon to deflect the laser beams with the blast shield on his helmet down, so too does this intuitive artist use the spirit of the lupine to guide his hand in its fluid formations.

It’s a beautiful thing really, but then again, we shouldn’t expect anything less when we consider the power that true unity with the wolf can bring.

And remember…

“Luminescent beings we are. Not this crude matter.”   ~ Yoda


Oct 17 2011

#170 “Mr. Darcy”

From Andrea in Montreal, Canada

I’m not sure if Andrea was aware of my affinity for classic literature before drawing this particular illustration, but regardless of whether she was or not, this piece speaks to my soul in a way that few others can. The poise and elegance of these two magnificent creatures is straight out of the pages of a Victorian novel, and in fact, in her accompanying email, Andrea made reference to the notion that this wolf reminded her perfectly of Mr. Darcy from that triumph of British literature: Pride and Prejudice.

As I just mentioned, I was easily aware of the mood and setting of this piece in reference to Victorian ideals and society, but the idea of a relationship between the illustration and Pride and Prejudice was not instantly graspable in my mind. If anything I believe the standing wolf to be dressed in a military style which would lead to a more natural association with George Wickham instead of Mr. Darcy. Add to this idea that I easily imagine the headstrong Elizabeth to be sitting so subserviently, and I just didn’t see the connection at all.

But then it hit me. Andrea’s connection between the character of Mr. Darcy and the wolf was so astute, so clever and intelligent, that I didn’t even have the wits to see it at first. Ultimately, the wolf is the perfect representation for Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s so insightful yet so simple. Just like the wolf, Darcy flaunted a tough exterior. His desire was to be seen as the Alpha Male, and he carefully crafted all presentations of himself in such a manner as to successfully thwart off any attack. He was rough, crude, violent and dangerous. But underneath this shell of abrasiveness, Darcy was also sensitive and caring. He was calm, cool and composed, and his ultimate commitment is always to the greater good. What better representation of the wolf is there?

Andrea, how could I have been so blind? The connection was there all along. Well done, my talented friend. Take a bow!


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 18 2011

#141 “Security Blanket”

From Natasha in Calgary, Canada

At first, I was a bit taken back by this cartoonish illustration of a “stuffed-animal” wolf. I have received humorous pictures, savage and brutal ones, even satirical illustrations, but when I opened the envelope and found myself staring into the eyes of this little innocent creature, I didn’t quite know how to react. What did it mean? Was there a message to be gleaned here? How was I to interpret this cute and playful offering?

Seeing as how I didn’t quite know what to make of this intriguing illustration, I set it on the back burner of my mind for a while. And then weeks later, without warning, the answer to my questions came down upon me as forcefully but also as soft as being bludgeoned with a pillow. This wolf really represents my relationship with this entire project. It may be difficult to understand at first, but “Wolves by Strangers” has become a security blanket of sorts for me. It is my comfort and my strength. After 140 posts, it has become a regular and familiar part of my daily routine, as natural to me as the very act of rising from my bed or brushing my teeth. But this isn’t to say that the project has become mundane. It also provides an escape from worry and anxiety; it is a safe haven of hope and a corner of the world that is free from anxiousness and despair.

So while the wolf may be viewed by others as a creature of cruelty and brutality, to me the animal is as soft and comforting as a familiar shirt or a quilt handed down through generations. And to think… it took a stranger to point this out to me.

Thanks, Natasha.

“I’ve always depended upon the kindness of strangers…”


Sep 9 2011

#132 “3D Wolf”

From David in Vancouver, Canada

I remember when I was young my overprotective grandmother would continually offer guidance and advice that seemed very obvious and elementary, even to my relatively naive 3rd grade mind. On one day in particular, I remember an urgent warning that if any of my fellow students dared me to stare at the sun for an hour, I should flatly refuse. Now, as I have already said, even as a 3rd grader I realized that staring at the sun for prolonged periods of time would have been anything but beneficial for my wellbeing.

But what does all of this have to do with a 3D illustration of a wolf? Well, simply put, looking at this picture is like staring into the sun, only with one major difference: the more I look at this illustration, the better I feel. Even though this picture is somewhat dark, there is a pleasant brightness that greets my eyes when I look upon it. Simply put, there is a wonderfully perplexing marriage of beauty and savagery presented here that boggles the mind. How can the brain process such wild grace and elegance? How can the eyes comprehend such wild beauty? It’s nearly impossible, but the attempt brings a great sense of satisfaction.

Within the blank eyes of this wolf there is an inherent expression of ferocity, but this is strangely alluring. There is an eagerness in its open mouth, a primal element of the hunt in its predatorial thrusting of its neck, but at the same time, all of this adds up to a beautiful symphony of death. To be eaten by this creature could only be described as a terrifying honor, an orgasmic death of menacing magnificence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the contribution of this picture to the Wolves by Strangers project marks a watershed event. The wheels are in moving. New ground is being broken. Significant steps are being taken. Now that we have entered the realm of professionally created 3-dimensional wolf illustrations, there’s no telling where we’ll find ourselves next, and there’s no going back.

Thanks again, David, for ushering us into this new realm of lupine discovery.

To see more of David’s fantastic work, visit artworkds.com


Jul 31 2011

#92 “The Doctor is in”

From Dr. Clyde Grouser, Jr.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The doctor is in…

Even though my lupine knowledge realistically approaches only a level of green-horned apprenticeship at best, I have always prided myself on being a “wolf expert” of sorts. This probably comes as no surprise, seeing as how the wonderful world of lupine wonder is one that I spent a good deal of time wandering through. Yes, I have explored a variety of dark dens and mountain canyons of wolf wisdom and have collected trophies of lobos knowledge and keepsakes as I went, snatching up these beauteous jewels of knowledge and wisdom like so many piles of wolf droppings serendipitously found on the forest floor. As time passed and I delved deeper into lupine lore and wolfly scholarship, my pride somehow surpassed my knowledge, and I became puffed up and arrogant without reason. I say this with a fair amount of embarrassment, but this is a vice that I have struggled with fairly recently. Yet this is also why I am so pleased to offer you the amazing artwork and commentary which is on display today. For the illustration that makes up today’s post and the commentary that accompanies are provided courtesy of a man who has truly put me in my place. He is the leader of the pack, the alpha-male, and I must submit to his dominance. The man behind the artwork calls himself Dr. Clyde Grouser Jr., and I can truly say that the force of the lupine is strong with this one. Examine his picture above and his commentary below and see if you do not agree.

Greetings,

Canadian wolves are of a special breed. They are much stronger, faster, handsomer, and-dare I say!-awesomer than american wolves.

There are a few key differences between American and Canadian wolves. Canadian wolves, for instance, have powerful razor sharp claws made from adamantium due to a series of experiments in the 1920s. Also, Canadian wolves are much like hydras. If you cut off a Canadian wolf’s head, three more grow in its place (in this way, Canadian wolves are also better than hydras). Canadian wolves are also capable of breathing fire, and some accounts state that some can also fly (I have yet to personally witness this myself.) Most Canadian wolves grow to be ten feet tall at the shoulder.

Some people ask how it is we live day to day in the shadow of such fearsome beasts. The answer is actually rather surprising in its simplicity. Most Canadian wolves do not have opposable thumbs, and thus we have decided to serve them as slaves. In return, most Canadian wolves maintain strict vegetarian diets.

Yours Truly,
Dr. Clyde Grouser Jr.


May 22 2011

#22 “Primary Wolf”

Perhaps the single greatest benefit from the world failing to end yesterday (as was long predicted), is the fact that I now have the opportunity to share with you this beautifully hand-painted wolf portrait. There are many words that I could use to describe its artistic merit, many applications and connections I could make based upon its loveliness, many philosophical viewpoints I could suggest, but in the end I think that my own comments may detract from the exquisiteness of this lupine masterpiece.

Instead, I will simply leave you with the words of artist as they were written in her attached note:

Hello, Stranger!

I hope you enjoy my wolf and add it to your growing collection! He’s a primary colour wolf, and he thinks he’s bada**. He’s way more legit than those secondary colour wolves. He’s smug and a tad pretentious.

…I hope you are expecting all these drawings. If not, you have an amazing collection of wolf art.

Love from Canada,

Cheryl

Well, Cheryl, one thing is for sure: I was (and still am) actively searching for wonderful wolf art from strangers all over the world, but in reference to your last comment, I sure wasn’t expecting anything as beautiful as this. Bravo, my friend. Artwork like this makes one happy to be alive…

 


May 7 2011

#7 “Lucha Libre”


From Simon in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The sport of lucha libre is not one that I am especially knowledgable about, but I do find it to be quite interesting. Let’s be honest, any activity that involves donning a mask but that also seems to strictly forbid wearing a shirt is bound to be intriguing.

In doing a little research on lucha libre, I discovered a few details about the “máscaras” that the brave wrestlers wear, and through my study I have come to believe that this illustration is attempting to make some important statements through the use of this mysterious athletic accessory.

It seems that the wearing of masks in Mexican culture has a historical significance that dates back all the way to the ancient Aztecs. However, when they were first introduced into the lucha libre, their function was relatively simple: they often merely distinguished one wrestler from another through various color schemes. Over the years, though, the masks began to symbolize certain features or character traits of the opposing wrestlers and often were often meant to call to mind images of animals, gods, or ancient heroes.

When we examine specifically the idea of a wolf sporiting one of these máscaras, we must ask ourselves what image or idea the wolf is attempting to evoke. In other words, if a man dons the mask to bring to mind a wolf, what thoughts does the wolf want to induce through wearing the mask?

Here are some of my personal theories about the mask’s significance:

This illustration suggests that there is more hiding underneath the surface of the wolf’s exterior than meets the eye. We think we know the animal, but do we really? What lies beneath?

This picture represents the carnal identity that every man engaged in sport is attempting to take on. By competing against one another, man is transformed into beast.

Could it be that this illustration is suggesting that we are all really animals underneath the “masks” that we wear as members of a “civilized” society?

Or does this picture suggest that we are pitted against the wolf in a battle of survival on this earth? Is this picture perhaps a plea to the viewer to realize that we have made an opponent of our lupine brethren?

Despite the accuracy or inaccuracy of these interpretations, one thing does remain clear, and that is the fact that this illustration is mind-numbingly awesome. I really must offer my most earnest thanks to Simon for contributing this piece; it is truly one of the most unique and creative works I have received. I have a feeling that this young man is going to go far.

Keep up the good work, my friend.

 


May 5 2011

#5 “Graphic Wolves”

From Dale, a graphic designer in Canada.

When I first laid eyes upon these wolves, I was astounded by their beauty and the innate talent that Dale must possess in order to create them. Dale told me in his email that these lifelike depictions are of his own design, and I therefore believe him, but it is still a mystery to me how one goes about constructing authentically beautiful work of this caliber. I have spent as much or more time examining the specific shapes and lines that make up these amazing wolves as I have for just about any other illustration I have received.

However, the more that I studied these wolves, the more I began to wonder why they so readily captivated my attention and seemed to impress me more than certain other pictures of the very same subject matter. In time, I was prompted to ask certain age-old questions about the nature of art and why it is that we appreciate any particular sculpture, painting, or photograph more than another.

Consider these questions: is it originality and uniqueness that cause us to value a piece of art? Or should works that more accurately represent the true nature of life take center stage? Should we praise the surreal? Or pay tribute to the authentic? Do we need to “understand” art in order to appreciate it? Or is art most valuable when its nature is mysterious?

The answers to these queries are ones that are forever swirling around in a frenzy of debate. I remember reading a quote about the nature of art at one time that I quite liked. It went something like this: “Art is what rich people have that allows them feel better than everybody else.” Now, I’m not saying that I necessarily agree with this sentiment. In fact, there is part of me that feels that this person was possibly picked on too much as a child and developed some sort of inferiority complex or exaggerated chip on his shoulder. Maybe he simply wasn’t rich enough for his own liking. But he does bring up a good point, for it seems that much of the reason why many people express such strong views about what is art and what is not art is because they believe that art is somehow intrinsically related to social or economic success. Even if we don’t own any art ourselves, if we can recognize it, it must mean that we are successful. Who knows whether or not this is really the case, but let me say this: with wolves like these in my possession, I consider myself a millionaire.

Thanks again, Dale.

 


May 4 2011

#4 “Je na sais quoi”

 

From Bobbie in Canada

Sometimes a relatively simple picture possesses certain unidentifiable qualities that bring it to life. Such is the case with the illustration of this particular wolf. Many people might assume that the wolf drawings that strike the deepest chord with the viewer would be those that depict the wolf anthropomorphically, or in such a manner that the creature seems to take on human traits or characteristics. There is a certain logic in this. However, in the piece on display today, one will notice that the artist has made no overt attempt to bestow any particular human qualities onto the pictured wolf, and yet there is still something about this animal that makes him distinctly “human” in some intangible way.

I’m not sure if this is caused by the wolf’s steady gave, the exact angle and shape of the mouth and lips, the precise posturing, or a combination of all of these elements, but I do know there is simply something about this piece that speaks to me and says that this wolf possesses a level of awareness that reaches beyond that of your average beast of the field.

This may be a bit of an odd connection, but this illustration reminds me of a cartoon by Gary Larson which is on display below. Notice the facial expression of the dog in this picture. In truth, this animal is really not doing anything, but once again there is a quality in his countenance that displays a true sense of understanding and even pride. Something akin to this is taking place in this wolf picture. I can’t say for sure what it is; I only know that it is there, and this undefinable feature is (in my mind) an indicator of true art.