Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ugly Old Doodles

I attend a monthly Illustration critique group with some fantastic Austin artists. Last meeting, our fearless leader, Marsha Riti, suggested we bring work which has influenced us and talk about why it's inspired us. It was a great idea. For my part I brought in Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, and a book of illustrations by the amazing William Steig. I told everybody that I enjoy loose drawings with a sort of ugliness. I'm unsure why I like "ugly" drawings. Perhaps because they seem more real? Make you slightly uncomfortable? Or challenge the viewer to search for beauty behind the obvious? Damn, if I had only gone to art school I could come up with an even more pretentious and confusing analysis!!

Anyway, this is a recent doodle from my sketchbook. As strange and perhaps ugly as this old woman is, I love her.

Here are some drawings from William Steig. His loose portraits are downright crude -- and absolutely masterful. Rendering realistic hands are obviously not high on his agenda, but does it matter? With his unchained line these characters feel alive, their personality popping off the page.

I'm slowly learning to tune in to my body as I draw. When working on a drawing I perceive as difficult, my entire body tenses, afraid of making a mistake. Of course nothing good is born of fear.


  1. I love William Steig. Next time I see you I'll have a copy of "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" that you can hold onto for a while.