Nov 23 2011

#207 “Transcendental Variety”

From Colin in Chattanooga, Tennessee

There are many aspects of this illustration that I find significant and intriguing, but two of the most prevalent features that speak to me are the inherent ideas of transcendentalism and variety that are on display here. Seeing as how the illustration depicts (in some ways) a creature that is a conglomeration of other animals, it seems that the picture comments on the diversity of life in the world around us. But at the same time, when we take a closer look, we see common threads throughout almost all forms of life. We see characteristics and features that are almost universal to all creatures, whether they be wolf, duck, tiger, horse or human.

In the end, as I lay my eyes upon this drawing which is clearly a celebration of life and nature, I am reminded of two of my favorite quotes by some of the world’s leading scientific minds. Ruminate on these thoughts and enjoy!

“I think nature’s imagination is so much greater than man’s.
She’s never going to let us relax.”
- Richard Feynman

“We are all connected:
To each other, biologically; To the earth, chemically; To the rest of the universe atomically.”
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Nov 5 2011

#189 “Nyan Wolf”

From Rebecca in Peterborough, UK

When pop culture references can transcend their typically limited boundaries and become applicable in a variety of circumstances, that is when they achieve true greatness. And this, as it just so happens, is exactly what we have before us today with Rebecca’s Nyan Wolf all the way from Peterborough, UK. Knowing that winter is just around the corner, Rebecca carefully and artfully rendered this version of the Nyan Cat to appear with soft and gentle snowflakes falling through a gloomy but calming grey autumnal sky. Additionally, with the holiday season pleasantly bearing down upon us, she takes the traditional Nyan Cat Pop-Tart and cleverly exchanges it with a piece of pie that looks like it would make a great addition to any Christmas spread (or Thanksgiving, if you happen to be American).

And finally, you can’t deny that the transformation of the cat into the figure of a wolf is fitting as well. This little guy is as sweet as the pie that he is made of, and like the Nyan Cat song, when a love for the wolf becomes stuck in your head and in your heart, you know it will be there for quite some time to come. There is true genius at work, Rebecca, and I thank you for adding your own unique spin on this cultural phenomenon. Keep putting your own mark on all that you encounter in life and never stop living with the playful optimism that the Nyan Cat embodies.

Also, as some of you know, I referenced the Nyan Cat in another post that featured a reference to this same meme a little while back. But for those of you who still might be unfamiliar with this unusual phenomenon, I have included the clip below.

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!

Jul 29 2011

#90 “A simple request and a simple reply”

From a stranger in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Over the past several months, a lot of unexpected items have found their way to my post office box. These items include everything from collages made of magazine clippings to detailed personal letters to magazine advertisements from other countries for my project that I had never seen before to misguided letters from the IRS.

Variety is the spice of life, and the unexpected can often be vey exciting, but most of the time the mail that I receive is more along the lines of what is on display today. This envelope came from a nameless stranger in a far away state. The envelope was simple and undecorated. There was no note, no personal letter, no correspondance of any kind. The picture, itself, is simple and represents what amounts to a quick sketch on a piece of random stationary that was probably just lying around the office/workspace. The entire venture for this stranger probably only took a matter of seconds, mere minutes at the most.

Does this disappoint me? Am I saddened that there is not more to this submission? I answer with a resounding NO! Every wolf is special in my eyes- from the most elaborate to the most simplistic. And as you can see from the title of today’s post, sometimes you simply get what you ask for.

So thank you, stranger in Minnesota. You have fulfilled your duty and granted my request. No more. No less. And for that I am grateful.

Jul 8 2011

#69 “Loopy Lupine”

From a stranger in Georgia

Some might take a glance at this cartoonish wolf and quickly pass it by without even a second thought. I must admit that even though I was extremely appreciative of the artistic donation, I fell into this same trap and did not give this illustration its due when I first laid eyes upon it.

We often view cartoons as being a childish form of entertainment that (in some circumstances) might possibly possess a few nuggets of educational value if constructed carefully. In contrast, I believe that cartoons are overwhelmingly deliver more messages than we give them credit for. Also, I think that this often happens without us even realizing that we are making evaluations or gathering information. Some messages that cartoons send may be positive, while others are surely negative, but let’s forget about the goal or the end result of the message for a second and simply use this illustration as an example to see just how many conclusions we can reach based on one simple drawing.

Here is what I walk away with:

1. The skinny frailty but straightness of the neck suggest a creature that is not physically dominant but is straightforward and honorable.

2. The oversized eyes in combination with their inconsistent shape send the message that this wolf is observant and watchful but that his analysis of what he sees may not necessarily be in tune with reality.

3. The alertness of the ears also suggest a desire to learn and a natural curiosity, but once again, they rest askant on top of the head, indicating confusion and pointing towards a disheveled or confused outlook.

4. The collar on the neck implies domestication. It is not sure whether the collar is one that is attached to a shirt or to a tether, but either way, its existence indicates that this creature is tame and somewhat familiar with society.

5. The wolf’s hair/fur is both smooth and disheveled, implying that while this creature does seem to be tame in some ways, it possesses a dual nature that is able to marry wildness with domestication.

6. The nose that rests playfully on the tip of the nose is oval-shaped but closely resembles that of a clown. This may be a hint into the character of this wolf, indicating that he is a playful or goofy sort of animal.

Any other observations? Let me know…