Nov 25 2011

#209 “A Little Red in the Hood”

From Aaron

One of the most appealing qualities of those classic fairy tales from our youth is that they are familiar but fluid at the same time. We know them all, from The Tortoise and the Hare to Cinderella, but since their origins are usually mysterious, there seems to exist a universal sense of ownership that allows us to take these tales and mold them into very personal interpretations. In other words, the framework of the story is familiar, the individual details and embellishments lie completely in our own hands. When we become the story-teller, we have the unique opportunity to experience a certain feeling of tradition and nostalgia as well as a thrilling sense of freedom and individuality. And likewise, the listener is able to encounter a tale that is both recognizable and new.

This mind-bending illustration perfectly represents that innate desire to become a unique and masterful storyteller, even if the tale itself is one that has been heard a thousand times. With a little twist here and a slight bending of tradition there, the artist of this unparalleled work has created narrative art that is both traditional and unique. His work is relatable, but it is also groundbreaking and remarkably rare.

This astoundingly refreshing retelling allows us as viewers to take a stroll down memory lane and enter a new world at the same time. It offers a chance to relive a little piece of our childhood but also allows us to appreciate the truly individualistic nature of storytelling and explore the boundaries of the human imagination. And in the end perhaps these are the two most universal desires that exist within all of us: the desire for the comfort of routine and familiarity and the desire to be seen as a true individual.

So, while Little Red Riding Hood may not have packed a Glock or had four arms, this wild rendition of a classic tale possesses a special appeal that simply can’t be denied.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a classic… with a new twist.

Oct 9 2011

#162 “White Wolf in a Snow Storm”

From Joy in Brewerton, New York

In an effort to allow the commentary for this illustration to truly mesh with the picture, I have decided to display the accompanying text in a manner that is as enigmatic and mysterious as this piece of art. Trust me, the text is below, but can you find it?

If the viewer of this piece chooses to only undergo a cursory analysis of the artwork displayed here, he will probably walk away with a misguided assumption about either Joy’s skill or her dedication to the creation of true art. Some might simply think that Joy wanted to submit a picture but decided to take the easy way out by only drawing a partial outline of a wolf’s head and a pair of eyes and then calling it “White Wolf in a Snow Storm.” I present to you, however, that there was a much deeper level of thought applied in the creation of this portrait and that the significance of this illustration is actually quite substantial.

After the viewer moves beyond his initial confusion in regards to “not being able to see the wolf,” he is no doubt struck with the eery realization of just how alarming it would be to actually find himself trudging through a Rocky Mountain snow storm and see a pair of piercing, yellow eyes staring at him through the biting wind and blinding snow. Try mentally putting yourself in this situation. Imagine the unsettling loneliness that would descend upon you, the true vulnerability that would creep into your bones. 

Ultimately this piece of art is not so much about the specific visual aspects that make up the picture but about the mood that it inspires in the viewer. And when a picture is able to transcend these artistic boundaries, well then… that is something truly special. 

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 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 30 2011

#91 “Which will you feed?”

From Steven in Ohio

If you’re like me, your first reaction when you saw this picture was one of shock and horror. Truly this beast brutal. Surely he is deranged and psychopathic. Certainly he is cruel and bloodthirsty. Just look what he has done to those poor men: he has devoured their bodies entirely, leaving nothing but gruesome reminders of his awful strength and savagery in the form of their severed heads. And to add insult to injury, there the evil wolf sits, smiling that victorious and toothy grin in triumph over his prey.

But wait… How is it exactly that we know these things? Yes, we do see a wolf that has apparently eaten two humans, but how do we know it is the wolf who is evil? Could it not be that the men were deserving of death and that their punishment was doled out rightfully?

Since we are only capturing one moment in time by examining this illustration, we may never know the answers to these questions, but this conundrum reminds me of an applicable story. You see, we may not know whether or not this wolf is good or evil, but for our own sakes we must try to analyze the “wolves” that live within each of us. We must explore our own sides of righteousness and wickedness. Ultimately, the end of the moral spectrum that this wolf resides upon is irrelevant, but the end that you are on….. well, that could make all the difference.

Examine this story:

The One You Feed”

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.

I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me,  for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”


May 19 2011

#19 “Ragin’”

From a stranger in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Rage \rāj\ n: 1a: violent and uncontrolled anger 1b: a fit of violent wrath

Rage \rāj\ v: 1a: to move, rush, dash or surge furiously 1b: to proceed, continue or prevail with great violence

Rage. It’s the one word that comes to mind when I examine at this illustration. Pure, unadulterated rage. It is certainly true that wolves are violent and savage. It is well known that they are wild and ferocious, but when people think about these characteristics of the wolf, they most likely pair them with the notion that the wolf is also a calculating and shrewd predator. The wolf is smart; he is composed. For it is often through his great cunning that a wolf is able to attain his prey.

But what may be even more terrifying than the actions of a sly and crafty predator is the idea of a wolf gone out of his mind with fury. What could drive a wolf over the edge? What could cause this typically poised and self-possessed creature to erupt into a volcanic explosion of fury? I’m not sure, but when you consider that it is legal in some areas to hunt wolves from helicopters and that nearly 8,000 wolves have been killed by humans since 2006, is it surprising that the wolf is seething with rage? When you understand that certain wolf populations have been infected with parasitic skin diseases in order to control their numbers and that generally the wolf has been one the most abused animals in history, is it any wonder that a wolf would lash out in anger? I think not, my friends.

I’m not an encourager of violence on the part of man or wolf, but I do believe the wolf is a noble savage, and if the facts that I have listed above are indeed the impetus for this wolf’s frenzied wrath, then I say rage on wolf, rage on. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I will leave you with the words of the esteemed poet, Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.