Aug 24 2011

#116 “Costume Shack”

From Allie in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Not far from where I live in Chattanooga, there is a costume shop called “Beauty and the Beast.” On the whole I am totally enamored with this little ‘mom and pop’ business, and I often wish that I could think of an excuse to simply stop in and peruse the merchandise besides that one time a year when I make my annual visit a few weeks before Halloween. There’s just something magical about wandering through those aisles piled high with pure imagination. The questions and possibilities flow so freely there. What do I want to become today? A pirate or a pimp? A werewolf or a cyborg? Perhaps a wizard might be nice. Or what about Roman soldier?

With the right amount of imagination and a few additions to our outward appearance, we may transform ourselves into totally new beings. Although we may not have the opportunity to assume these identities in “real life,” the temporary donning of a costume has a powerful effect on our minds, often producing a cathartic experience, a cleansing or purging of the emotions through a temporary changing of identity that is often as simple as putting on a mask. God, I do love to pretend.

As is the case with many pictures that I receive, the illustration above plays on this theme of a wolf dressing up in sheep’s clothing, but what I love about this particular picture is the notion that this act, while being one that is typically associated with slyness and a devious nature, is one that might also be associated with fun… with imagination… with the joy of simply putting on that costume and becoming something new, if only temporarily.

Today, I encourage you: don a costume, wear a mask. Be someone new and unique and creative and interesting and painfully alive. Go shopping and use a faux British accent. Where a suit and tie and carry a briefcase even if you are going nowhere that requires it. Dress like a bum and sit on a street corner downtown. Throw on some khakis and a red polo shirt and go to Target; if someone asks for your help, give them your best assistance. Wrap the top of your head in a bandage and speak with a stutter or a slow drawl.

Try it out. Put on that costume. I promise you won’t regret it.

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.