Dec 30 2011

#244 “Renewal”

From Steven in Vasalia, California

After yesterday’s post which focused on the cathartic nature of saying goodbye to times gone by, I thought it would only be appropriate to examine the flip side of that same coin today and concentrate on the excitement of the future. I can’t help but to feel an overwhelming sense of optimism wash over me when I examine this illustration from Steven. This well-dressed creature seems ready to take on the world and displays a sense of jovial buoyancy which should be a lesson to all of us. With a cheery smile, an upright posture, and a friendly gesture, this wolf is ready to face whatever the future may have in store. Sometimes confidence and a positive attitude can make all the difference in life, and with an outlook like the one this wolf possesses, I think I can safely say that his future will be quite bright.

I’m not necessarily one for making New Year’s resolutions, but with the coming of the new year, I hope that we are all filled with the thrill of making a fresh start. While it’s true that the occasion for doing this may seem a bit arbitrary, any occasion to begin again is a valid one. So, as we prepare to begin this new year, I pray that the good cheer and sanguineness of this wolf will go with and guide your steps aright.

Best wishes,

“J”


Dec 10 2011

#224 “Happeh”

From Dreya in Maryland

Happiness is not a response or a destination. It is a decision, a choice.

This is a lesson that I am continually learning, and it’s young artists like Dreya who are often my teachers. In the body of work Dreya sent to me, happiness is a clear theme. It seems that almost all of her wolves are smiling. They are all basking in the glory of a life filled with contentment and tranquility. They trot, they dance, they howl peacefully, they make friends with heart-shaped butterflies. Simply put, they seem to love life. Even the name of this work itself (which was chosen by Dreya) conveys the happiness that fills this young artist’s heart and flows out into her creations.

A few days ago someone posted a piece of scripture on the Wolves by Strangers facebook page. The verse was Isaiah 11:6, and it reads, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” I’m not calling Dreya a child, nor am I assigning any real supernatural powers of Biblical magnitude to her or her artwork, but at the same time I can’t help but to be lead to a more holy place of inner peace when I experience her works of innocence, purity and happiness. In a world that often chooses to focus on negativity and a society that sometimes seems to focus exclusively on entitlement and self-pity, it is artwork like Dreya’s that has the power to work small modern miracles.

Thanks, Dreya. If there’s anything I can say about this illustration, it’s that it truly did make me happy.

To see more of Dreya’s work, check out her dA page here.


Dec 6 2011

#220 “One of the Pack”

From a stranger in Highland Heights, Kentucky

Over the past several months, I have focused quite a bit on this venture’s goal of establishing a loose community of artists and wolf enthusiasts who have all chosen to take part in something fun, simple and a bit unique. Through the power of art and a deep love and appreciation for the lobo, people from all over the world have come together to create something magical: a collection of weird and wonderful wolf-themed artwork that welcomes all submissions as special and important. In the end, nothing sums this up as well as this one simple illustration. With his bright, optimistic eyes and endearing smile, this wolf encourages all of us to find a place where we can belong and also inspires us to open our arms wide in acceptance of others. Let’s face it, we’re all in this thing together, so let me officially say right now that if anyone in the Wolves by Strangers audience needs a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on, I am here for you. You have done so much for me, and I stand ready to return the favor. You know how to reach me….

Howls and Scratches,

“J”


Oct 13 2011

#166 “Head On”

From a stranger in Little Rock, Arkansas

There’s a lot to be said about this illustration in reference to the beauty of the pen strokes and how they flow so freely, creating a face for this wolf that is beautifully honest. The lines are clean and smooth, yet hectic. The strokes add texture and truly bring this portrait to life.

However, what I would like to focus on more than the specific artistic triumphs of this piece is the inspiration that lies in the creature’s gaze. For some reason wolves often seem to be drawn in profile, but when you really examine this wolf’s fixated glare that directly meets your own line of sight, I believe you’ll find a sense of determination and optimism that a profile picture could never so fully deliver. This wolf’s firm and insistent stare encourages each of us to face the day head on, to attack this day as if we are the predator and it is our prey.

In other words, take today by storm; make it your own and don’t look away. And when you lay your head down upon your pillow tonight, you can rest fully in the assurance that if nothing else, you gave this day your all.

May the spirit of the wolf guide you this day and everyday.


Jun 11 2011

#42 “Hope”

From a stranger in an unknown land.

I know that many people scoff or laugh at this project. There are those that treat this experiment with derision and scorn. I also know that some people undoubtedly view me as a creep or a freak. However, when thoughts of the negativity invade my mind, I try to chase them away with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs.”

In other words, Emerson urges us to ignore the disapproval of other people because their opinions and thoughts change without reason or warning. So why put any stock in them?

But despite my success or failure in maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity and negativity, pictures such as this one will always manage to lift my spirits to a higher level. Yes, these types of illustrations and the supportive people behind them make it all worth it. All the shame, all the ridicule, all the derision- it is all swept aside. Notice all there is to be pleased with in this fine piece of artwork: first of all the artist delivers a positive message of encouragement. Secondly, this individual chose to draw an illustration even though the artist thinks he/she is not very talented. This displays a truly sacrificial attitude: this person chose to participate in a generous act of benevolence, even though the task was a struggle. What a selfless attitude. Finally, the genuine effort put forth in the illustration is evident, and as a result the artwork is truly beautiful. I love this wonderful wolf with all my heart and will cherish all of the positivity and hopefulness it has to offer.

May this wolf bless you, too. Have a happy Saturday.


May 20 2011

#20 “You can’t keep a good wolf down”

From a stranger in Traverse City, Michigan.

After yesterday’s post, which featured a fearsome wolf on the brink of rage-filled madness, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a more optimistic and sanguine illustration to lift our spirits today. For although it is undeniable that in life we will all be assailed by unforeseeable troubles and strife, this doesn’t mean that life itself is a continual uphill battle. One merely has to adopt a more useful outlook, and I believe that deep within our hearts we all know that an air of positivity will always benefit us more than wallowing in the pits of despair. One of my favorite quotes goes as follows: “There are only two things in life you can control: your attitude and your effort.” I think that if we examine the masterful lupine work of art that is on display today, we will see this aphorism in action.

This wolf is certainly drawn with great skill, but if you’ll notice, the specific circumstances in which this lobo finds himself appear to be somewhat less than favorable. Observe the conifers in the background of the illustration, how they seem to be afflicted with some sort of blight that is causing their needles to disappear, leaving the trees somewhat barren. Now move your attention to the foreground. Notice how this beautiful wolf appears to be malnourished and slightly emaciated. His torso is lean and thin.

But now, ladies and gentlemen, direct your eyes to meet those of this animalistic wonder. What do you see there? If you are like me, you see hope, determination, passion, and fortitude. Notice also the unwavoring lupine grin. While there is so much in this world to cause dispair, especialy for the wolf, this creature knows the value of emotional fortitude; he understands the vital importance of optimism. What could cause that smile to fade? What could break the spirit of the wolf? Nothing, my friends. Nothing.

In the end we realize that while man is the very creature responsible for so much pain in the animal kingdom, he may also look to this world to gain valuable insight. So in conclusion, the next time you find yourself in troubled waters, think back to the wonderful wisdom of the wolf and be at peace.