Friday, January 25, 2008

Sketchbook Tales: The Natural Evolution of Art and The Artist

Please click image to enlarge and view)

Illustration Friday Theme: Tales & Legends
Artist: Debra Woolard Bender
Title: Sketchbook Tales: The Natural Evolution of Art and The Artist
Medium: Digital, redrawn from a child's drawing
Materials: Paint Shop Pro 9; Font: Ravie; painted using mouse
Category: Children's Art

the monster in my closet
what does it wear in winter
I wonder?

DW Bender, 2002
Haiku published in "Haibun by Contemporary Writers"

Web-browsing tremendously inspiring artworks produced by young children, I happened upon the intriguing site of artist/illustrator, Dave Devries: "The Monster Engine". Dave asked the question, "What would a child's artwork look like if painted realistically?" A cartoonist, he tried fleshing out monsters drawn by his young neice. Now, he does demonstrations for elementary school age children from their drawings to help them learn more about art, and sometimes to help them deal with their fears. Check out his Gallery. He even has a short online movie on what he does and why.

As a mother, grandmother and general admirer of children's artwork (and having once led a school art class for 4th graders), I was fascinated, and had to try a redraw version myself from a child's skeletal sketch. And although a child's artwork surely needs no redrawing, it is a fun challenge. Consequently, because this image is the product of what I'd been working on all afternoon, it has become my entry for this week's Illustration Friday theme: "Tales and Legends" - well, this may be farfetched, but it's not actually a well known legend, even among artists, that every piece of art becomes real, taking on a life of its own. Especially when the sketch is put away in the closet, and lights are turned off for the night. Of course, children naturally and rightly sense such things, before they become too worldly and stop believing in monsters and tooth faeries and fish tales. The five-legged, two-tailed kittycatosaurus in my Illustration Friday submission is such a tale...and so is the mythical book made only of imagination, 0's and 1's.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eustace Tilley IV

This ended up being the last entry for the New Yorker Eustace Tilley Contest; a bit farfetched from a parody on the iconic Tilley, but thinking of Murakami as perhaps the most weirdly iconic in today's pop culture. I found the PSP tool which I used to use for drawing in Version 9's vector-pen tool. I thought it was gone. It's hard to control the drawing using it, but I really liked using it in years past. Without the New Yorker font, instead of copy-pasting from an online image of a past issue, I decided just to put in a decent-looking font for titles and info.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My First Entry for The New Yorker's Eustace Tilley Contest 2008

This is my first entry for the New Yorker's Eustace Tilley Contest 2008. The deadline is the January 24, just a couple days from now. All contestant entries can be seen in the contest pool at Flickr. There are some amazing and funny parodies on the iconic cover. I hardly expect to win with my rough cartoon, but I wanted to enter for the challenge of coming up with something appropriate and fun.

In the process, I learned much about 'Eustace Tilley,' a character created and named for the New Yorker by Corey Ford. The cover portrait was rendered by Art Editor, Rea Irvin [August 26, 1881 — May 28, 1972] for the first isssue (February 21, 1925). The famous M. Tilley appeared annually on every February issues' cover until 1994. While Ford's memoirs, The Time of Laughter indicate the surname, Tilley was that of a maiden aunt, I can't help but note the likeness of the fictional foppish dandy and his surname to that of the famous Vaudevillian male impersonator, singer and comedianne, Englishwoman, Vesta Tilley [May 13, 1864 – September 16, 1952]; she was likewise immaculately suited in top hat, high collar, ascot, vest, overcoat, monocle, spats, etc.,...for at least one of her popular characters. Her finely-tailored style was so impeccible and admired that she became a trend-setter for the latest in male fashion. I've learned quite a bit about this other chic Tilley and about the "dandy" fashion of that day, as well:

Vesta Tilley had often performed onstage in New York at vaudeville halls such as Tony Pastor's and the Murray Hill Theatre. In 1903, she appeared in New York for "Undercover." The following year she returned to New York, playing the cross-dressing Lady Molly. Highly paid for a woman in her day, it is said "the taste, wit, and social observation of her act transcended vulgarity"; in fact, her successful independence as a female in theatre inspired and helped to pave the way for other would-be working women. When her husband entered politics, Vesta Tilley retired. She was in her mid-fifties, just 5 years before The New Yorker made its debut.

Interestingly, by the 1920's some lesbians, including artist, Romaine Brooks (1874-1970) and her circle, adopted the tailored attire of the dandy as their own; hat, spats, bobbed hair and all, and sported the monocle as a recognizible symbol. In fact, a popular Paris nightclub owned by Lulu de Montparnasse, catering to the lesbian community was named, "The Monocle."

It's just my wild imagination's way of association, but probably too wobbly an association to make anything substantial of. Yet, I can't help but wonder if Corey Ford (and perhaps Rea Irvin) had not seen Vesta Tilley perform as a stylish Edwardian fop in the preceding and recent years, influencing the choice of surname. At the very least, cosmopolitan 'men about town' as they were, the two would have been very aware of Vesta Tilley, and of course, the adoption of the dandy and monocled cross-dressing fashion by the female fringe; in the latter instance, perhaps it would have been too controversial to acknowledge such an inspiration in print, whereas a picture paints a thousand words. And a thousand speculations.

Monkey Sox: Introduction

Note: As of next week, I'll be posting my Illustration Friday submissions here on Monkey Sox. Previous submissions (December 2007-January 18, 2008, can be viewed in the archives of My Hermitude (now reserved as my woodblock printmaking blogsite). View comments on "Socks," the submission for the IF theme, "Plain" may also be found there.

(Please click image to enlarge and view)

Illustration Friday Theme: Plain
Artist: Debra Woolard Bender
Title: Socks
Medium: Digital
Materials: Paint Shop Pro; painted using mouse
Category: Painterly (Style: expressionism)

chill morning—
we all go to dancing
on the roof of Hell

DW Bender
haiku, January 2008
alludes to a haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1763 -1827):

yo [no] naka wa jigoku no ue no hanami kana

in this world
over Hell, we promenade,
gazing at flowers


2 versions: