Apr 10 2012

#346 “Roots”

From a stranger in Nashville, Tennessee

To some this illustration may look like just another example of a child’s simple yet imaginative rendering of a wolf in the wild: green grass; yellow sun; fluffy trees; smiling lupine subject. In many ways the simplest analysis of this illustration may very well be the best one, but at the same time I can’t help but be drawn to those thick-rooted trees when I look at this picture and feel that there is some symbolism there. Just as these roots reach deeply into the soil, this simple WBS project has also become firmly rooted into the hearts, minds, and souls of strangers the world over. At first the collection started as a lone sapling, but now- nearly a year later- a veritable forest has sprung up amongst us. And with Springtime in full bloom, the growth of this woodland shows no signs of slowing…

Jan 29 2012

#274 Less is More (29)

From Joanne and Cody in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (both age 7)

With this note:

HELLO my name is joanne! i love wolves, they are my favorite animals. when i fond this site i was so excited!!!! i check it every day.  thought i would try to draw a wolf of my own. i think i did a WONDERFUL job!! i hope you enjoy it and consider putting it on your site. my favorite food is ketchup. i eat ketchup with everything, even on my cake. yum, ketchup cake!! i hope you like margarita(my wolf) she is wearing her winter coat and her pretty bow. i love her. please put her on your site!!!!!!!!!
Salutations! my name is Cody Brown (YES it IS  a girls name) and OMG I AM LITERALLY IN LOOOOVVVEE WITH YOUR SITE!! And just so you know my favorite color is Mahogany. I love that color so much i named my toothbrush Mahogany(i wouldve named my lamp that but mom said thatd be creepy….) Well i hope you put BOTH  of our drawings in……..( my wolfies name is Kathleen but you can also call her Kath or Kat OR ((she pefers this one)) Ka-aaaaa)
P.s. we live in Baton Rouge Mississippi.
We are 7 years old:):):):)::))))))))))))))))))) hereare our wolves:
THANK YOOU (not you YOU)
Joanne&Cody<3 ;)


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.”

Nov 7 2011

#191 “Are You My Mother?”

From Sunny in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I’m not sure if this illustration was intended to be a direct reference to the famous children’s book Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, but it certainly does bring to mind images from this time-honored 1957 tale of a young bird searching for its mommie. If you were to search for parallels between the picture of the wolf and the picture of the little bird below, you would no doubt notice that both the bird and the wolf possess physical traits that seem a bit exaggerated, but are nonetheless endearing. In many ways, the cartoonish representations serve to make the characters more identifiable and appealing to children. Also, the sharpness of the features is quite interesting and creates an artistically distinctive quality within these two illustrated animals that is comically unique.

Similarly, the quirky appearance of the wolf’s smile lends itself to the heartfelt silliness and naivete that is displayed in the young bird’s journey to find its maternal caretaker. And then, of course, there’s the fairly overt statement in the illustration’s corner. But the subtle difference between the question that serves as the title of the book and the definitive answer that is featured in the illustration is intriguing. The viewer is not totally sure whether the wolf is supposed to be the mother or whether it is regarding another being (perhaps even the viewer) as its mother. So in the end, this illustration may have some very significant Romulus/Remus allusions, or it may be a work that is designed to depict the wolf as an animal that is in need of a caretaker. But no matter what, for those of us who remember the original story of Are You My Mother?, the picture no doubt provides a pleasant stroll down memory lane that is a pleasant detour from life’s all too busy highway.

Thanks, Sunny. I’m sure that with this illustration you’ve made your mother proud.

Oct 20 2011

#173 “Hello, St. Louis!”

From “Pseudonym” in St. Louis

I have never been to that sensational city known as St. Louis, but it has long been a dream of mine to visit what I believe to be one of the most vibrant and beautiful metropolitan areas in the heart of America. To see that magnificent arch in person, to stroll through Forest Park on a bright and crisp autumn afternoon, to bite into a juicy hotdog at a Cardinals game- how breathtaking it would all be, how wonderfully “American.” So many incredible aspects of this great country seem to converge in this proud city, this “Gateway to the West” that is nestled peacefully between that mysterious border between east and west.

In many ways this mighty conglomeration of a city is a very suitable place to serve as the birthplace of this unique illustration. The reason for this is because this seemingly simple picture is truly a combination of diverse elements. If you take a good look, you’ll notice that this drawing is unique and interesting, but it is also vaguely familiar. Why? Because the two very different elements that converge to form this one illustration are the very likenesses of our old childhood friends Top Cat and Count Chocula. These two entities are far from similar, but on the Saturday mornings of my adolescence, they blended perfectly in a sugar-fueled binge of wonderment.

I know that I have never actually been to St. Louis and therefore my knowledge of the city is derived mostly from a viewpoint of ignorance, but I can say this: If St. Louis is anything like a crazy combination of anthropomorphic children’s cartoon and a sugary breakfast cereal that turns your milk to liquid chocolate, I’m packing my bags today. Break out the air mattress, Pseudonym. Clear a spot off the couch. I’m on my way!

Oct 19 2011

#172 “Innocence”

From Meagan in Chattanooga, TN (8-years-old)

The wonder of childhood artistry can become a bit mysterious at times. It seems that when we assess or analyze an illustration born from the mind and hand of a child that we tend to polarize our reactions. We either gloss over the details of the work rather quickly and don’t give the piece much conscious thought at all or we peer deeply into the supposed meaning of the work and turn each detail over in our brains with painstaking detail. The problem with the first scenario is that doesn’t adequately address any part of the work, and the problem with the second is that meaning is searched for so fervently that the nature of the art itself often becomes completely lost.

In my opinion, the proper analysis of childhood art is one that is both external as well as deep, and ultimately I feel that the best way to accomplish this is to sets our sights first and foremost on an appreciation of the innocence of the childhood imagination. I fully believe that adults can be just as imaginative and creative as children, if not more so. But over time there seems to be a certain level of innocence that is lost in the imaginative power of adults. Our creative ideas often seem tainted with a hint of depravity or perversion. As we grow older we somehow think that in order to be imaginative we must be twisted, creepy, and perverse. But the beauty of the childhood imagination is that it is creative but also pure and clean.

So in conclusion, when I lay my eyes upon these wonderful illustrations by young Meagan, I don’t gloss over them without a second thought, nor do I try to break down the significance of every line and mark. I simply appreciate it for what it is: imaginative, fun, creative and refreshingly wholesome.

Keep up the good work, Meagan. You’re going to be a great artist someday!

Sep 14 2011

#137 “Construction Paper Memories”

From a stranger in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I did the best that I could in scanning and posting this excellent creation, but I am afraid that I haven’t been able to accurately translate the beauty of this masterpiece onto the two dimensional screen in front of you. Oh well… Moving on…

So many emotions flood through my body when I look at this picture. So many sights. So many sounds. Think back… Can you accurately recall the wonder of your elementary school years? Do you remember the coarse feel of construction paper on your finger tips? The enticing smell of Elmer’s glue and the smooth, sticky texture of it on the palms of your hands? Can you recollect the magical sounds of thick rustling paper or the pleasant crunch of the scissors as they precisely sliced through the various pieces of brightly colored card stock? What about the sweet, musty smell of crayons or the wondrous sparkle of glitter? Can you recall the unusual way that construction would dimple and crease? Or the majestically clean scent of a brand new eraser? Do you remember the way the soft would of a number 2 pencil would give underneath the pressure of your teeth?

Somewhere along the way we have lost of our fascination with creation, and friends, I must say that this is truly a crying shame. When did we stop believing that we are not all artists at heart? I’m not sure, but I do know that it is time to reclaim the miracle of creation. I encourage you… I admonish you… I beg you… create something today. Use a medium from the past or one that is familiar, but make something new this very day, this very hour if the spirit moves you.

Take a cue from this stranger and his magnificent creation of “Sam” and reach down deep inside, snatch out your own construction paper memories from your childhood heart of hearts, and dedicate today to the creation of something unique and playful.

Then… let the world see it!

Sep 5 2011

#128 “Where the WOLF things are…”

From MAK in “East Texas”

As a child, I absolutely loved Maurice Sendak’s soul-stirring book, “Where the Wild Things Are.” But then again who didn’t? The essence of the story was just so alluring. Here is Max, king and leader of this motley collection of wonderfully wild creatures, traipsing through mysterious palm jungles on a distant isle, throwing caution to the wind, and taking the world by storm.

But it isn’t the character of Max that makes the book so endearing, of course. It is those monsters, those Wild Things. What was it about them that grabbed my heartstrings and has refused to let go, even decades later? Was it their appearance? Partly. Their amicable nature? Perhaps. But I believe what was really alluring about these wild wonders was the fact that they were simply so unabashed about their monstrous nature. They had nothing to hide, nothing to prove; they were free. They were in your face and unashamed. They said, “Here I am world. This is my blood. It’s red. Do your worst.”

For some reason, when I gaze upon this beautiful illustration by MAK, I am filled with that same since of childhood wonder that overtook me when I carelessly flipped through that magical book, its pages smelling of mild spiciness and home. Those trees in the background behind the wolf transport me to those mysterious palm-filled forests, and within the eyes of this welcoming wolf, I hear that call of the Wild Things that says, “Come out tonight. Come join us for the Wild Rumpus. Rediscover your lost youth and join us in a nocturnal frolicking of fantastically wild fun!”

Who knows? Maybe I will…

After all, there’s nothing wilder than a wolf.

Aug 6 2011

#98 Stranger Danger!

From Brian

The English language is a mind-boggling entity in many ways. Its rules are often irregular and confusing. The pronunciation of certain letters when used in conjunction with others may vary without rhyme or reason. Grammatical topics are constantly up for debate but rarely solved, and to make matters worse, the language as a whole has the brazen audacity to simply swallow entire words from other languages and incorporate them into itself, further complicating its already glaring problems.

While the preceding paragraph might indicate that these issues are exclusively frustrating and troublesome, it cannot be denied that some the nuances of the English language can also be quite humorous. Case in point is the illustration that is on display today which plays upon one of the oldest tricks in the language book: the homophone. For those of you who have long forgotten the lessons of your elementary language arts instructors, here is a quick review courtesy of our faithful and trustworthy friends at Wikipedia: A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or totwo, and too. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms. Homophones that are spelled differently are also called heterographs. The term “homophone” may also apply to units longer or shorter than words, such as phrases, letters or groups of letters that are pronounced the same as another phrase, letter or group of letters. 

Although I had never really considered it before, the word by is actually a homophone. This is true because the word can be used to refer to attribution of creation as in “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh; but it can also indicate proximity or closesness in phrases like, “The citrus zester is on the counter by the KitchenAid mixer.”

And so… This once again brings us to today’s illustration which is was drawn by the hand of a stranger but also features wolves in close proximity to strangers. It seems that I should have figured all of this out when I first examined the illustration, but no, I successfully made quite a fool of myself by inquiring to Brian about the identity of the two cloaked men in the drawing. He simply replied to my query by saying, “Those would be the strangers.” As you can imagine, I instantly felt my face blush with embarrassment at the realization of my imbecilic misunderstanding.

You will notice that Brian’s work features a wolf defensively poised next to two shifty-looking characters suspiciously clad in long, ominous trench coats. Who are they? What do they want? Will they cause harm? Spread terror? No one knows for sure, and thus the nature of their strangeness is born. In conclusion, I feel that we simply cannot conclude this post without a serious warning about “Stranger Danger” and a quick reminder of a few essential safety tips. 

Parents, run and fetch your children. If you care for them at all, please have them watch this informative yet entertaining video and complete the stranger danger quiz below.

And stay safe out there, everyone!

You can access the “Stranger Danger” quiz here.

Jul 23 2011

#84 “The Miracle”

From Emmi in Finland

We often refer to childbirth as “the miracle of life.” In truth, I believe that this a good moniker for this breathtaking and amazing act. When you really stop to think about it, the very notion that two individual beings can come together and create a new life that is wholly separate and independent from either of them is truly beyond words. I would not trade my place as a male, but I sometimes jealously wonder what it must feel like to experience the creative and selfless power that resides in giving life to another through birth.

Something that I don’t think we often think about, though, is the fact that most other animal species procreate in the same manner that we do. I am not necessarily trying to lower humans to the level of a base animal, but I do think that if we value the process of our procreation and view it in a similar light to that of animals, we may learn to have a deeper love and respect for the creatures that we share our planet with. True, a human child is not the same as a young wolf pup, and I know that there is no bond that truly compares to that of a human mother and child… but to consider the wolf mother… to know that she as well has held her young ones in her belly… to realize that she as well would die for her young… would kill for them… would do anything to protect them… surely this counts for something.

May 1 2011

#1 “Child’s Play”

From Charlotte in the UK…

Is it stretching the limits of human decency to compare the mind of an innocent child to that of a ferocious wolf? Is it insensitive or perhaps distasteful to draw parallels between a small, guiltless babe and a brutal killing machine reared in the savage wilds?

I think not.

Examine this argument if you will: Both child and wolfkin reside largely in a world in which each is driven by its own instincts and inherent values. The child, for lack of a better term, simply is what it is; and the same is the case with the wolf. Both creatures are governed by an inborn compass that is seemingly predetermined by a divine intervention that is beyond the comprehension of man. The child (in the early stages of its development) cannot be anything other that what it is. It has not yet learned to deceive, to lie, to employ ulterior motives for selfish gain. It acts on instinct alone, as does the wolf throughout its entire life.

Now, one may argue the wolf is, in fact, the opposite of the child in that the wolf is the master of deception and slyness; but no one can dispute that this fact is actually in accordance with the inherent nature of the beast. Therefore, the argument that both wolf and child do share a common bond in their ability to allow instinct to serve as a primary guide is sound.

With that fact being firmly established, is it not reasonable to expect that perhaps the truest artistic representation of a wolf may come from the hand of an infant? Examine these illustrations by a young girl named Charlotte from the UK and decide for yourself.

Overall I believe these illustrations represent the figure of the wolf beautifully. This is largely due to the stunning union that the artist creates in marrying savagery with beauty. Notice the wildness of the pen strokes; observe their random and unpredictable nature. In some respects, they appear to be more the work of a wolf itself with claws made of crayons than that of a child. The markings accurately present the beast as untamed and frenzied. The very utensils used to draw the wolves have run amuck on the page, clearly in a manner that could only be described as wild. However, there is also a beauty in this madness. For the true splendor of the wolf may often be found within its violence. Its savagery is by definition its exquisiteness. Examine the explosion of color in the first illustration. Is it not a sight to behold?

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t fear these wolves because of their crazed appearance, love and accept them for the duality they offer.