November 30, 2010

Combining Dr. Seuss with Zentangles

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I am utilizing Zentangles into my sketchbook.  I am also focusing on books by the King of Nonsense- Dr Seuss.  From the POV of both illustration and creative writing his work is a delicious plate-full of delightful imagination.  Currently, my sketchbook has the following goals:

1.  Getting back to basics and comfortable again with one or two drawing tools
2.  Drawing becomes fun and relaxing
3.  Draw, Draw, that drawing becomes part of my everyday life
4.  Drawing with imagination

This may sound like a lot of goals, but the Zentangle method is accomplishing numbers 1-3 together, and my current  focus on Dr Seuss applies to number 4.  My sketchbook does not include any drawing of real life figures at this time. 
Here are a few examples from my sketchbook.  If you do not know, it is in one's sketchbook where mistakes can be made. Things don't necessarily need to make sense (artistically) because you are working out an idea.  Technique doesn't need to be wowing because you are learning and growing in technique.  These images are presented with no intention to be impressive; but are simply examples of how my drawing, and thinking, and emotions are moving towards my goal.  
This final image is my version of a Groff found in Dr. Seuss' book Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
Interestingly, I did not set out to create a cute and cuddly creature.  Dr. Seuss' Groff is not cute and cuddly.  I do not think of myself  as one who draws cuddly things.  In fact, I would not have known how to approach that kind of illustration.  It just happened.  It is a combination of Dr. Seuss and Zentangle.  And demonstrates the importance of maintaining a sketchbook. 

Escape from the digital realm for awhile and return to the basics if you need to.  Make your sketchbook a priority. I've read that encouragement so many times from so many sources.  Now that I'm actually doing it I'm seeing and feeling the benefit, and it is good.

The following were used in the images above:
400 Series sketchbook [60 1b./lightly textured/archival quality/premium-recycled paper]
Pigma Micron 01 (.25mm) Blk pen [pigmented/archival quality/non-bleeding ink]
Graphite Drawing pencil [H hardness]
Colored Pencils

Did You Know?
Theodor Seuss Geisel was Dr. Seuss' real name.  He was born in 1904 and died in 1991.  He attended Dartmouth College from 1921-1925 where he became involved in the college humor magazine Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern.  As the result of being penalized for drinking during the Prohibition Laws of the time, he was forced out of all extra curricular activities in college- including the Jack-O-Lantern.  To maintain involvement with the magazine he began using the pen name "Seuss".  Following graduation at Dartmouth, Seuss enrolled in and intended to continue his education at Oxford to obtain a doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature [hence the title Dr].  But while there, he met his wife and returned to the US without a degree.
Seuss submitted both humor articles and illustrations to established periodicals such as Vanity Fair, The Saturday Evening Post, and Life magazine.  During the Great Depression era, he was involved in drawing advertisement for such companies as Standard Oil, General Electric, and NBC.  With the advent of WWII Seuss began drawing political cartoons.  He was very critical of the isolationist movement within the US, and other issues.  Beginning in 1942 Geisel supported the war effort in a variety of ways; he was even a Commander in the Army over the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the USA AF.  He received the Legion of Merit award for his service.  His military work then transferred into the civilian scene and won an Academy Award for both Documentary Feature and Animated Short Film.  Following the war he returned to writing children's books.  He was turned down by 27 publishers!  It was in the mid 1950's when a textbook editor with Houghton Mifflin asked Geisel to write a book using certain words that first graders should know but did not, statistically speaking, and "bring back a book children can't put down"... 

Now Spot and Jane had lost their fame, and
Doctor Seuss became his name.
(written in trochaic tetrameter  )

As mentioned, Dr. Seuss published cartoons before authoring children's books.  His cartoons were his expressions on the current social-political scene.  Therefore, his children's stories carry some themes and many characters which originated in his cartoon era.  Examples:  ballooned whales, long cows with many legs and udders, the tower of turtles, Yertle the Turtle was Adolf Hitler- according to Seuss himself,  two men with connecting beards represented the connection of Nazism and American Isolationists [according to Geisel], elephants for India, insects with huge stingers represented Allied aircraft, and the star-bellied Sneetches story.
Unlike us, Theodor Seuss Geisel pronounced Seuss as we would say 'soyce or soice'.  And despite his success as an author of 44 children's books, he had no children of his own.

All information in the Did You Know section was gathered from Wikipedia

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