In a development that should shock no one, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning agreed to review the constitutionality of deer crossing signs. It is expected that the hot button topic of speciesism will enter into the conversation.
I needed to build an illustration that represented Obama and his latest attention in regard to the Keystone pipeline. In a nutshell, the President was against extending the pipeline and now he is for it. There is hope that the fossil fuel will get to markets quicker and boost our energy independence. Here is some insight on the story.
Once I have an idea of the written story, I start by penciling down words and phrases. This is more of brainstorming event. In the image, Obama and oil pipeline are listed as main bullet points. Obama is the focal point, or hero of the image. I often ask myself while designing an ad or building a piece of art, “Who is the hero of the story?” Obama=hero, image=story. I also have a “squirrel” list. Remember the dog from the movie Up? Squirrel! The squirrel list is a collection of impulsive words that shoot out of my head. There is a moment where simple shapes are sketched out adjacent to the writing. I write, I sketch and I write. The drawing becomes more frequent and words give way to lines. I constantly will ask “What if?”. There is no solid break from where wordplay ends and the next phase begins.
Describing this process is difficult at best. I draw a series of thumbnails. The miniature drawings may or may not represent ideas I have written down. The quick sketching is lose and akin to chicken scratch. Below are some examples of rough concepts that started to form.
1. Mama Obama Bird
I started thinking of fat colorful birds in a nest. The baby birds have oil logos and corporate colors on them. It’s a good start but felt generic. A BP bird? That’s funny. Mama Obama has a nice ring to.
2. Obama Birthday Cake
I had this quick thought of the President popping out of a birthday cake surrounded by oil executives. The birthday cake is in shape of oil barrel. Barrels and cylinders kept popping up in my notes. The concept is not exciting.
3. Big Gulp
I kept coming back to this. The U.S. consumer holds an obscenely large fast food soda. There is something about a 40oz iced drink in a hand of a person. Diabetes comes to mind. Big cup=appetite=consumer.
4. Obama as a Barista
The president is serving a small cup of coffee to a huge consumer. The oil connection is hard for me. Coffee? How? Coffee pot? I needed a quicker connection to oil. A pattern started to form in regards to food consumption.
5. Cafeteria Food
I had an idea of the hero serving food in a cafeteria environment. Large overgrown people with trays of mashed potatoes are displayed. Gravy represents oil. But just a tiny amount of gravy is being applied to the mounds of starchy heaven. Say what you want but that’s a huge emotional response in my book. If you ever want to crash a Thanksgiving dinner, consume all the gravy.
Here are some elements that kept showing up while I was drawing thumbnails
• Action: Serving
The following paragraph is what was going on in my head while I was sketching. It is condensed and I removed out the sighs, long pauses and finger tapping.
Guy with a “clothing barrel” suspended on him. That won’t fly. Guy pouring a barrel of oil. Maybe the oil can be poured on a griddle to make pancakes. Pancakes. Hmm. Mountain of pancakes. He is standing on pancakes tipping the barrel over. Big consumers carrying trays of pancakes. Consumer needs to be large. Hero needs to be small. Canadian flag on barrel. Nice reference. Its not maple syrup. Its oil. Nice connection. The oil is just trickling (remember emotional mashed potato moment?). It won’t satisfy the consumer. U.S. oil consumption is one of the highest in world second to that China. Sporks! Yes I must have Sporks darn it.
Obama caricature is standing on a mountain of pancakes. He is pushing over a barrel of oil. The barrel is marked with the Canadian Maple leaf. The oil is trickling down the side onto the table. The huge consumers are seated around the focal point. It’s a good idea that is worth exploring.
In short, I start with brief notes and quick drawing. As the thinking process advances, my drawing is more defined. Once the idea is acknowledged I move on to a tighter drawing. The tight drawing phase has been left out of this article. Perhaps I will save that for future content. You can see a final image of the illustration here. For those interested in my illustration work I have a couple more interesting projects on the horizon. Lets just say I’m going to be inspired by the great outdoors and adventure. Take care. Thank you for reading this.
This week I’m going to share how I created this illustration. The article is going to be more focused on developing the concept and less about technique. This is my first semi-realism illustration created digitally. Stay tuned folks.
I’m not worried about Rush Limbaugh’s political views. My focus is creating Illustration and honing skill. Rush is just a reference. I’m on a mini quest of finding the right elements of drawing, color and technique that …feels right. The character image was created with pencil and photoshopped color. I wanted to bend the character and keep it recognizable. I love and hate watercolor. So I started thinking how I could mock watercolor in Photoshop. I only used basic brushes and memory of the physical media. This is the first time I felt ok with just using graphite (then scanned). Normally I will ink. Production time reduced!? Never is.
I do have an Obama sketch in the works as well as a GOP piece.