Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My 20 Favorite Sketches of 2011

Each year I try to do a different top list of something from the previous year. This year I was flipping through my stacks of sketchbooks and decided to scan and upload my 20 favorite sketches from the past 12 months. For those that know me, my sketch books are filled my private thoughts and odd notes about all sorts of things, many times not something I openly share. I often have over 5 different sketch books following me around.

Before we begin seeing all 20 images, remember that these are MY favorite sketches of the year and they are not my BEST sketches and many of them are really rough. I will explain why I choose each sketch, because many times it was because they reminded me of a certain time and place, some sketches led to bigger ideas or projects, and some of my favorites just make me laugh.

In no particular order, we will start with the image at the top of this post.

#1. Basquiat Scribbles
I spent one night watching The Radiant Child documentary, and then Basquiat the movie. During those six hours (i also watched a bunch of bonus features) I was inspired to draw 20 ink sketches just trying to replicate Basquiat's ability to let himself be free with his visual space. In the end this sketch was blown up to poster size and I painted over it to make two larger paintings. Not many people notice that the two paintings come from the same ink drawing, mainly because of the different orientations.

#2. Wolf Angel
I read Zacharia Sitchin books whenever I get a chance. It really inspired me to study Egyptian and Mayan drawings and I was using a lot of that imagery in my own drawings. This wolf angel was a sketch that ended up as a larger painting. I will be posting the finished painting on my facebook Art page (like me on facebook) soon.

#3 Mandala
All day orientation makes Billy a dull boy. However, much like grad school and college, there is something that sitting in a stagnate room for long periods of time just listening to people talk that makes drawing 10 times as fun. I miss school.

#4 Self portrait
Another micron drawing. I almost included a self portrait sketch I did of myself, but the crudeness of my naked body in that drawing, and the fact that the scan was really bad, forced it to not make this list. The drawing of my face will have to do.

#5 Don't Make Me Play a Song
This summer I was invited back to the International Music Camp to teach art class ( GO LLAMAS!). In a camp filled with 95% music students it is always fun in charge of the fun and exciting art group. IT is easy to be inspired by all the music though. This sketch was to prove to my student that I could draw comic style characters. His back story included his ability to defeat bad guys by playing songs that either made them cry, sing, or dance uncontrollably.

#6 Open Mind
In Portland, Maine I had the pleasure of meeting an incredible group of people that would meet every other week and discuss different topics. My notes always became a jungle of sketches. This particular day was about 'using art & music as tools for change'. I remember this was about the time I met artist Abbeth Russell.

#7 Waggly Holes
This crude sketch was one of those middle of the night, lean over in the darkness, and sketch out this brilliant painting idea. These sketches, like this one, usually do not make much sense in the morning. And if they do make sense, they are usually a lot less brilliant the next day. I really like this sketch, and it reminds me of all the times I have jotted down random ideas and how many times those ideas never go anywhere.

#8 Man Planet
Another sketch from the Salon discussions in Portland Maine. This discussion was about Gender Roles and sparked an incredible debate about many different topics. The sketches while interesting are most important to me because I can remember so many great moments during that discussion where I was learning so much from so many people. You have got to love elephant pants.

#9 Lightning Tongue
Random quick drawings can sometimes result in really fun childlike images. This drawing has a lot of elements I would not typically use for a drawing or a sketch. But in the end I really enjoyed this creature and the interesting animals growing on him.

#10 Jesse's Brush Pen
This drawing makes the list because of my friend Jesse who was actually very present in the salon discussions I mentioned above. I did this drawing many states away from Maine, when I was in Minneapolis. Jesse has spent a large part of the year travelling all over the country and she stayed with me for a few days. She played music, I drew pictures, she made prints and earrings and we sock wrestled. It was a lot of fun. I used her brush pen (which i had not used since I was a little boy) to create this drawing.

#11 The Face
Very similar, and drawn right after, the self portrait up above. I remember sitting in my friend Clints' house, with the entire house to myself for a few months. I took a deep breath, finally feeling done with the transition from Maine, to Michigan, to Minnesota, to North Dakota, to Canada, and back to Minnesota. I finally felt I could rest, and I dove right into my sketchbook to draw these faces. Which were the first things to come out of me.

#12 Occupy
I chose this sketch for two reasons. The first reason is because the octopus on the right side was one of my first ideas for the Occupy Octopi which shows up in one of my larger Occupy paintings (click the link and scroll down a bit to see that painting). The second reason, is because the character on the left makes me laugh. I drew his He-Man action figure-like arm first and the rest was just a series of random shapes. What a goofy looking thing he is. Definately a favorite sketch of mine from 2011.

#13 The Immortal Self
This drawing, done on the back of my schedule, is probably the 50th time I have created an entire epic story line for a graphic novel, feature film, role playing game, or book I plan to write while standing in the Walker Art Center as a gallery monitor. Yes, I guard the art...with my life. Almost never do these stories go any further than a few sketches and notes. This story involves a warrior monk who goes back in time to train his childhood self to become a better warrior. He reveals this to his childhood self by cutting the boy's hand and then showing the boy that the scar appears on his own hand magically. I could spend hours telling you about what they learn together about the politics of time travel and how the first time traveler rules the world by sending himself back in time over and over and over to create an army of himself. But I wont.

#14 Crocked Flower
I remember sitting at Local Sprouts, my favorite place to eat in Portland, Maine and drawing this flower. It was one of the first times I met Kelly Rioux who was working behind the counter. She is this beautiful woman who also turned out to be a great artist. We later collaborated on a large window mural of Local Sprouts in support of the Maine Labor Mural being returned after it was unlawfully taken down by the Governor Paul LePage.

#15 Draw A Thon
One of my very first times on Congress Street was attending the Draw A Thon at the Space Gallery. I met a dozen incredibly talented, peace and politically motivated minded people like Kenny Cole, Brian Reeves, Natasha Mayers and Robert Shetterly just to name a few, who continue to inspire me today. Not to mention a great group of people from Code Pink and Veterans for Peace who were also at these events helping out or protesting. These people changed my life in a million ways. The sketch above was my first idea for a poster for Draw A Thon. While I think it had potential as a design, it really had nothing to do with the Draw A Thon and I scrapped it for a big chubby guy with a missile for a head. Which probably would havemade my Top 20 sketches if I could find it.

#16 Masked Rods
A few times every year I try to brainstorm new sticker ideas. This page was a bunch of my ideas for new stickers. Including some rather controversial masked rods. While nothing has come of any of the drawings on this page, I do think I might explore a few of these themes a little further. I got many of these ideas from some train hopping friends who stopped by to see me in Minneapolis. Although they did drink all my beer, but it was great to meet them.

#17 Dive Art
The Heart Opening studio was one of the most inviting spaces I have ever been in. This yoga studio in Portland, Maine was beautiful and relaxing. However the open space often also made me want to dance, do handstands and run from one side of the room and slide headfirst across the wood floors to the other side. In a moment of brilliance, I decided to dive headfirst across the floor with a big sharpie marker and try to draw a picture in the two seconds I was gliding across the floor. This is what I came up with. It is beautiful. Thanks to Ryan, Mike and Ingrid for egging me on.

#18 The Meg Perry Center
I was invited to put up art shows in three consecutive First Friday Art Walks
in Portland, Maine. Thanks to all my friends at Peace Action Maine, and all my other friends (especially those from Staples) who came to support my art shows, I was able to make new work and have it on display almost immediately. This drawing was the first idea in a series of multiple layered drawings which where painted on glass. You could see through certain parts of the art to another layer below.

#19 Body Painting
I have been involved with Body Painting for a number of years. After meeting Kirk from Kirkworx Dupuis who invited meto join in some black light body painting at a show in Hoboken, New Jersey at the Pudding Factory which was set up by my friend and talented model,Shandra Stark (who I body painted a few years ago). At this time I was also just getting to know a beautiful woman by the name of Dawn. Dawn also seemed willing to be painted for this body painted project, but I ran out of time before leaving the East Coast before proposing my project to Shandra, Dawn and a few others I was hoping to propose this project to.

#20 Basquiat Bookends
This list started with an abstract drawing inspired by Basquiat and ends with one. The drawings from that movie marathon are some of my favorites from the entire year. The odd energy and randomness is just so freeing. While I may be the only one that likes these drawings, they represent an ability to make marks that have a life of their own and not previously positioned by my mind.

The amazing thing about this list of 2o sketches is not all the things and people I met and mentioned, but all of the people and places I did not mention. The year of 2011 was filled with so many amazing people and experiences that I could easily pick out 100 drawings just so I could tell you all about Took and the Derby Girls in Michigan, and about Molly McLain and the Buffalo Gals, and the incredible Youth Activist Gathering. I could tell you about Bill Nybo and the kids from Jamestown North Dakota, and sketches inspired by Portland Pastes activist wheat pasting. Not to mention the things I learned from the Punk Patriot and the green party. Or the incredible Art Group at the Minnehaha Free Space. Or the Canvas Killing in St. Paul. Or the radical art of the Bee Hive Colelctive. Or Talib the giant 10 foot paper mache Phoenix. Or the Two Box Art Battle with Matt Semke. Can you believe this was all from my year in 2011?

I guess if you want to hear about those things you will have to start going through this blog post by post and read all about this crazy year. I suggest you subscribe so you do not miss anything in 2012.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's just my computer, but none of the pictures are showing up.

and on another note, I think I have the man with the missile for a head.

Took said...

Wow -- the sketches are amazing. It will take me several visits to take in all of the images and stories.

I feel so honored to be mentioned in your memorable experiences. You certainly made a lasting impression on me and the way I do some things now. What a great time! And who could ever forget Leila!

I look forward to your triumphant return in 2012!

I love your blog -- you are forever an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Wow ... very impressive!

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