Friday, April 24, 2009

Sketch Infectus


  Art class in elementary school is all about crafts and stupid stuff. When you've got raw ambition and curiosity coming out of your bullcut; hunched over your child proof desk in the corner furiously into drawing ninja turtles and eating paste, the teacher's into making hand turkeys and Popsicle stick pinwheels. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half-shell, turtle power

  And then comes middle school and you say to yourself, "finally I'll get to have a real art class with a real instructor who understands correct ninja turtle anatomy." But its not to be. Your teacher wants you to draw eggs and make collages from National Geographics. You keep at more important persuits in your less important classes, though, and discover through experience that it ain't about ninja turtles no more, but if you can make the grim reaper with a nine millie you can gain the favor of your rough-neck peers. So, the grim reaper you draw, and the rough-necks you befriend. Through trial and error you learn what the human skull looks like and how to spell out gang names with your fingers.

  Finally high school! You're gonna get to use OIL paint, maybe. Oh, and charcoal! What possibilities! This is when the teacher informs you that you've been drawing what you think you see, but you got it all wrong. You can't be making things up like this. Sometimes she makes you draw photos upside down and sometimes you aren't aloud to look at the paper at all, only the gourds and bottles and conch shells set before you. 
  "What a fine kettle of fish this is!" you say to yourself in an old man's voice turning the crank on your phonograph player. You buy into the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain propaganda as well you should, because it's true. The problem many amature artists have is they think they know what somethin looks like, but it don't look quite like that, and they're just pulling a symbol out of their head, like one does with letters and numbers, and embellishing upon it. 

  And mean while, teacher's flashin slides of Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and Georgia O'Keef, talkin about, art means drawing and painting what you feel. And you're thinking, "I'm feelin some Ninja turtles right about now."


  Eventually, however, you come under the impression that art is a very complex and interesting thing and the journey begins. Finding a new artist or grasping a new idea can drive you for months. The baffling question of what is art becomes a beautiful and intricate manifestation of the complexity of life itself. Or something like that. 

  And then artschool perhaps. And perhaps you forget that you use to draw to entertain yourself. Perhaps it becomes a chore and a burden. Or perhaps you're Joe Bluhm and your mind processes everything you see in a way where it can be translated to paper. Your right brain picks it up maybe. Maybe your left brain makes sense of it, maybe. Maybe your blood courses with the things that once drove mankind to bring this unruley creation under his submission. Maybe your arm is possessed by Norman Rockwell and your eye by DaVinci. Perhaps you'll show caricaturists all over the world, young and old how it can be done. 

  The cartoonist use to be looked on as a rare wizard of a human being. Illustration use to be eye catching and mind blowing. Artists use to be a special people who could draw what they see and then some, but the times are indeed different now and I'm not knocking them, but when the smoke clears there will still be a place for the drawer. Right now, the world is saying "how low can we go? Are kids gonna tune in to see cartoons put together by a popular vote and and drawn by the bosses nephew? Can a photograph catch the eye better than a painting?" Meanwhile we will look at our world and we will draw it tenaciously, and no one is seeing things more objectively and rendering them more poingniently than Joe.

  I just got his book, Sketch Infectus, and its awesome. Its just amazing drawing after amazing drawing after amazing drawing. There's quotes at the bottom of each page if you don't know what this sketching stuff is all about. You get to hear from some big names in the illustration world and me a couple times, but its really all about those drawings. Sketch Infectus shows us where the bar has been set. I say, lets jump it. Let's one-up that cocky so-and-so, right?

12 comments:

Jeff Pecina said...

did you get paid to write that?

Aaron said...

I got a free book

Joe Bluhm said...

hehe. I didn't pay Aaron, that was of his own gumption (he got a free book in exchange for his truisms used in the book). I'm humbled, flattered, and excited, Aaron... thank you. I'm so glad you like the book, and I hope others get some good times/inspirado from it as well.

justfrancesca said...

Those teachers should have let your creativity FLY with those ninja turtles!


Now I want to get a book and get infected with the SKETCH VIRUS! *scary music*

Brian Oakes said...

well done

Aaron said...

Thanks Mr Oakes. I try to be ambitious, now and again.

Jeff Pecina said...

you should shave your head.

Aaron said...

I really want to. I love having a shaved head, and feeling streamlined like that, but I don't think it's a good look for me.

Anonymous said...

Another pointless sketchbook filled with mediocre drawings.

Joe Bluhm said...

I love Anonymous! :D

Aaron said...

Yeah. Get a load of this guy.

Jeffrey W. Meyer said...

What a great rant! Seems we've all lived parallel lives. A lot of really good points...

By the way, your "sketchbook" here has inspired me countless times which would nullify the "pointless" comment made by our anonymous friend. Gotta love the haters! What a douche.