Different is good.
Most of you know me as an illustrator of all things weird and spooky, which I really do enjoy, but not many know about my deep and abiding love for the place where I live. Well, I suppose if you enjoyed my stories you might…they all center around the same rural, small town, agricultural area where I grew up. I love this place. I understand its rolling hills, tree-lined fence rows and billowing sky like I do the back of my hand.
And well I should.
My mother and father are from this place. They grew up not more than ten miles from each other, were sweethearts in school, and married just before my dad was drafted into the army. Dad ran a dairy/tobacco farm, so I spent countless days (and nights) in the fields exploring, wandering and…looking.
See, that’s what artists do. By whatever weird gift of God or brain defect, we SEE things, and struggle to reproduce the essence what we see. Even when I do fiction, I try to write, draw or paint some of what I see into it. I suppose that idea is where the old writer’s adage “write what you know” comes from. If you put what you know..or see…into your work it somehow becomes more real or true. And people can sense true, my friend. They know when they are reading or seeing something that is from a genuine experience, and something that was false. They tend not to like the false works so much.
Anyway, that brings me to my latest project. I decided to try a landscape.
Now, I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, but here is how it came to be. Two years ago, I was walking through the streets of my hometown (Flemingsburg, Ky) enjoying the Fall colors, when I happened upon a tall sycamore tree that was reaching up, out of the shadow of the valley, and thrusting its branches into the last, bronze rays of the evening sun. “What a great picture this would make”, I thought, and quickly snapped a picture.
Now, TWO YEARS LATER, I was dissecting the past year in my mind, and the thing that really stood out to me is that I had grown more artistically and gotten more attention (and sold more pieces) by doing large, colored work than by working on my comic. I decided that it may benefit me as an artist (and financially) to do more large, color paintings and less sequential work.
So, I sat down and painted a watercolor. Well, it’s actually a mixed medium, but the watercolor is what makes it interesting, primarily, so watercolor it is. I call it “Stockwell Sycamore”.