Two Illos

Last week I created two illustrations in spite of the relentless flow of my regular duties. I could have declined one of the assignments-- and maybe I should have-- but it's been nearly two months since I was able to draw or paint something for the paper. I fell prey to greedy optimism and I committed to them both. Two months is long time of dull map-making and chart-tweaking with no drawing for relief.
...Ahem. That is to say, charts & maps are fine and necessary and maybe even respectable duties for a newspaper graphicker-- I perform those little works of art all of the time-- but I'm passionate about drawing when I get the chance.
...I confess that each of these illustrative efforts suffers from "first idea syndrome"-- this problem can occur when I read the synopsis of the story or the topic, get an idea for an illustration, and doggedly draw that idea as it first appeared, with no refinements, no growth, no pruning. Sometimes it's not even a fully formed idea; it's the artistic equivalent of a flinch, the result of striking a rubber mallet to the kneecap of the muse.
...So, consider the picture above. The story my painting attempts to illuminate opined that there are too many college bowl games. Once, there were but a few, now every team ends up playing in a bowl game sponsored by weed-eaters, potato chips, restaurant chains, what-have-you.
...The instant I read the story's summary I thought of one of those toy-filled gumball machines full of those little plastic helmets, but in my vision those helmets had bowl logos on the side. The quiet message implied in this concept is "bowl games are plentiful and cheap and probably mostly meaningless." After more careful consideration I suppose the connection is dubious.
...Too late. I jumped into the work with requisite haste. Within two or three hours I had the machine painted, the glass effect figured out-- not to my satisfaction but close enough so that I could "fix it later"-- and I roughed in several footballs, choosing their simple shapes over what would have been a much more labor intensive depiction of little plastic helmets.
...Regular duties demanded my attention and so this fell to the wayside for several days. In spare minutes I sought out bowl logos and experimented with ways of getting them to look like they were on the surfaces of the balls (I never really figured that one out, so don't look too closely.)

The next drawing goes with a front page centerpiece about the wiles, stratagems and possible compromises of principles and dignity people are willing to suffer in order to attend Obama's inauguration. The initial creative spontaneous reactive conceptual blurt? "A crowd of hands reaching for the golden ticket..."
...Bleh. Not great.
...I started working on it, hoping that a more inspired solution would emerge. I'm still stumped. The page designer needed a size and shape a couple of days before it was due, so I quickly roughed an arrangement very similar to the final.
...As I made my way through the week, I refined the rough, redrawing a few fingers, moving the hands around, and that was about it. I wasn't able to really sink my teeth into it. If I were to do it again I wouldn't go the same route with realistically drawn hands, perhaps a more graphic treatment would seem less creepy-- as someone commented, they do look like hands reaching from the grave. Zombies for Obama. (Ooh! I'd love to do that illustration!)
...The weight of the work-week dog-piled any feeble hope I may have had for getting more quality time with these poor illustrations. After the initial push at the beginning of each, I doubt that I was able to find an hour alone with either of them until the final three hours on Friday, when I scrambled to get both of them into presentable shape.

The End