For those of you who do not live in the barn and are not, therefore, able to pick up the painting and peer at it closely, there are two figures in the painting, both dressed in green suits. One is looking (longingly?) out of the window of a rocketship. The other is blasting (gently?) through the vast recesses of empty space with the help of a jetpack.
I told you I was going to let you decide for yourself what to make of this painting, but now I have changed my mind and am going to unload my theory on you after all. Robbi asked me to write a description of the painting, and it seems only fitting that I share it.
The wide, black universe their oyster, the newlyweds decide to settle near the lonely purple planet. While Stanley rocks his sweet new moves, Janet unwraps the salad spinner, lamenting that she had not instead registered for an additional jetpack.
Which is why the painting is called “Honeymoon.” Here it is in all its finished glory.
We all know what happens when I draw. Children cry. Grown men curse the heavens. Fortunately, this family also has an actual illustrator, and she spent yesterday doing what she does.
We are at work on the next Bobbledy title, called Hole in this Book. I’ll get deeper into its stunning philosophical depth in a future post. For now, let’s focus on the book’s main (and only) character (unless you count the goldfish and dozens of cheerful rubber duckies that fall from the sky.
Robbi created most of the book’s illustrations on her computer, building set pieces from sampled watercolor washes painted in advance. And the main character himself was born of sketches on Robbi’s tablet.
But, for the final version that ends up in our books, Robbi likes the main characters to be actually drawn with pen and ink. And painted with watercolors. As good as the drawing tools and digital brushes on Photoshop have become, there’s nothing that can quite imitate that unpredictable, splattery line of a metal nib scratching its way across the porous surface of a piece of watercolor paper.
And so she prints out a copy of her sketches, places it on a light table, and places a piece of watercolor paper on top of it. The light illuminates the line beneath, offering a guide as Robbi creates a final inspired by, but inevitably different from, her original sketch. If Robbi has done her work well, there is something free and breathing about the line as it emerges from the actual pen. It’s that freedom, that inimitable expression that makes her unwilling to forsake the nib entirely.
And if you are wondering why Robbi is drawing so many versions of this boy on one page, it’s because each of these, once scanned, will be placed on a different page. Once they enter the digital realm, anything goes.
But before they leave the paper, they need to be painted. For the sake of consistency, Robbi paints all the faces at once. Then all of the shirts at once, etc.
Presumably this boy will earn the right to colored pants and shirts at some point. I’m guessing that might happen later today.
But for now, the illustrator is at rest. For now, this boy lives on a single piece of paper, his various moods and thoughts, his observations and discoveries all waiting to be freed from the page and sent out across the story.
Perhaps you have been discontent these past many months while the Bobbledy Books original illustration auctions have been dormant. Your long sad wait is over. The artist in question was recently inspired and has recommitted herself to producing one original painting or drawing or whatsuch each month, in keeping with the the current theme.
The current theme is rain, and so we give you this.
And because you are interested in framing and scale, for purposes of gauging long term value as Robbi continues her march toward prominence and fame, I will show you this photo with a thumb thrown in for reference.
“But is it the thumb of a child or a giant?” you’re probably wondering. And although it is a reasonable question, I flatly refuse to answer.
What I will tell you that the reverse side of this painting contains various unfinished paintings of goldfish. Why? Because someone wasn’t paying much attention. And who could that be? I think you know.
If you are intrigued (of course you are intrigued), I invite you to place your bid (http://www NULL.ebay NULL.com/itm/121622082134). The auction ends on Sunday, April 17 at 10:00pm EST. Why? Because that’s what the leading industry research suggests is the best time to end an auction.
And do we always heed the advice of leading industry research?
Robbi has been drawing. Because of various recent high-pressure and time consuming events, the creative and production time for our next Bobbledy book has been compressed from the ideal time frame of roughly two months to about 10 days. And so Robbi has been spending 90 percent of her waking hours here at command central.
Robbi’s job is to sketch, ink, paint, and place approximately 40 drawings. And design a book for them to live in.
My job is to keep the kids fed and amused and otherwise stay out of the way.
Even though Robbi is technically present, I kind of miss her. But she’s doing good work.
The new Bobbledy book is called Even Ninjas Eat Asparagus. It features a star-studded cast. Including an opera singer.
A professional wrestler.
A racecar driver.
And King Kong, in various guises.
And asparagus-eating ninjas, of course, but Robbi hasn’t drawn those yet.
But maybe she will at some point in the night. It’s 11:oopm, and I’m going to bed.
Hello all! It’s me, Robbi. While you have been busy going about your day, working hard, saving the world, what have you, I have been sitting at my desk drawing stuff. Yep! Cuz that’s what I do.
Lately, it’s been cats.
And the things they do.
Yes. The next Idiots’Book is about cats. I must say, it’s quite a challenge to draw “indifferent” in so very many ways.
And so, instead of facing the challenge head on, I find myself perusing the internet and going down google image search rabbit holes (“dead mouse in shower” came up with some pretty disturbing shit).
Some gems that are just too good not to pass on:
A crazy optical illusion. Even knowing it’s an optical illusion from the start still makes my head explode when I see how it technically works. I came across the video on the appropriately named Distractify, where they have a kind of half-baked explanation if you’d like to read it (http://distractify NULL.com/fun/amazing-t-rex-optical-illusion/). The comments are also particularly entertaining, if you ever feel like wondering why people go through the effort of typing something completely useless. Anyway, have a look, have your mind blown, and then make a point of writing something completely insipid in the comments, thanks:
In the same general department, here are some photos by Michael Paul Smith, who, using scale models of vintage cars, creates little old-timey scenes out of spraypainted plywood and careful camera work:
Magic!! If you have some free time while you’re supposed to be drawing cats, check out his Flickr feed HERE (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/24796741 null@null N05/). I cannot tell you how I love the photos of his giant head popping up from behind the set or his giant hand reaching in from out of frame.
His love for vintage cars almost matches this guy’s unmitigated enthusiasm for vintage trains. Almost. This guy talking about a train and its horn completely makes me love humanity:
And finally, I just learned that our boys of Bombadil (http://bombadil NULL.squarespace NULL.com/) are going to be performing in a show that is described as “a marriage of concert, puppet show, music video and live film.” They’ve been collaborating with a puppeteer for the past year and will be doing three shows in Durham next weekend. If you are anywhere near there – GO SEE IT. They are fantastic live performers, and I think the show will be something really special. For more info about the shows, see Duke Performances here (http://bit NULL.ly/1hZAZja).
Love’s Infrastructure (http://vimeo NULL.com/84038919) from Jon Haas (http://vimeo NULL.com/user3645102) on Vimeo (https://vimeo NULL.com).
Yesterday’s mail brought an exciting arrival, the book Playing with Sketches, a book by illustrator (and head of MICA’s illustration MFA program) Whitney Sherman. The book is a collection of 50 creative exercises for designers and artists.
In part, we are excited because the book is full of beautiful illustrations, great ideas, and lovely design.
But we are also excited because the book contains…US. Yes, we Idiots were asked to contribute an idea, and, of course, we chose five-minute drawings, that mainstay of creative life in the barn. In case you don’t remember, we will periodically put down our work, take up our pencils, blurt out a topic, and spend five minutes (no more and no less) on a related drawing.
And…the rush of hubris makes it difficult to type…as a subset of the five minute drawing section, Whitney did a little write up of Matthew Draws. That’s right, your very favorite part of this blog has garnered the affections of a prize-winning illustrator.
Above I am pointing (can you see the pride? would you describe it as “palpable?”) at my response to the prompt “lotion.” Here is a closer look.
Yes, it is a breathtaking image.
In the spirit of magnanimity, I will also show you Robbi’s and Tilly’s drawings.
It is fine if you would prefer to look at mine again instead. You are, after all, a person of exquisite taste.
But wait! There is a third page of Idiots coverage in Playing with Sketches.
Here I am at my computer.
Here are my (nearly photorealistic) drawings of Lyle Lovett and Meryl Streep.
It is so exciting to finally have my artistic talents be recognized (and celebrated) by so esteemed a person as Whitney Sherman.
And it must be thrilling to you to know that, with a few clicks of your mouse (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Playing-Sketches-Creative-Exercises-Designers/dp/1592538614), you could own my immortal linework. Try to tell yourself you don’t want to. Then try again.
And for those of you who are suddenly itching for heaping plate of Matthew Draws, I have it on good authority that the latest installment will be coming this Friday.
We are Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr - a writer/ illustrator, husband/wife duo who live in a barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with our three small kids and a goofy blue dog. We make books together, all day, every day. Click the image above to learn more about us.
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