Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Straight for the top/Politically collect

In early 1989, I got a new sketchbook. It was for school. I was in 7th grade and enrolled in an art elective class. Most of the other kids took gym class during this timeslot. Each drawing basically represents one week of class, and most are based off assignments we were given. I was 12 years old.
The last year had found me obsessed with weapons. The incident at Tienamen Square was just around the corner, and Operation Desert Storm almost a year away, but I was ahead of the game. I remember drawing this skeleton dozens of times. The first assignment was of our choosing.

Next comes a different message. My views had started to form already, and I had begun using colored pencils.Next we were supposed to make a still-life with all our favorite things. I chose my fish trophy, my bow & arrow, my ski-boots, and my Nintendo Entertainment System. The composition is pretty boring, but my skills were definitely evolving.

The next assignment was to take an empty 35mm slide frame and find a picture in a magazine to crop. Then we were supposed to add our own elements to fill the entire background. I made a cow into a rocket, going to the MOOOOOOOOON! The original scene was a landscape, but I merged it into the smoke.
Our next assignment involved evolving an old drawing into something new. A few years before, I had developed a cartoon character in another sketchbook, here I revisited the same character, only tried to make it look real.
here's the original:
Then we were told to make a doodle using as many variations as possible. Not my favorite assignment, but I had fun hiding lots of little things. I started with a Lacoste alligator.

We learned about surrealism and were told to make a surrealistic image.
We were told to draw a household appliance, other than a refrigerator.We were supposed to invent an interesting character. Mine was very badass. He's killing a butterfly with numchucks.

The next assignment involved animation, and multiple frames.

We were to blow up one frame on the next page. I learned this knot in Boyscouts.

We were told to do a value study with volumetric shapes.

For this drawing, I went into my dad's toolroom and made individual drawings of different tools, then assembled them all into an absurd weapon. This is a precursor to the found-objects sculptures I would eventually create.Our assignment was to draw a portrait. I chose Morgan Freeman from Driving Miss Daisy.

In Biology class, I was doing a report on wolverines. The classes overlapped.At this point, I had begun working outside of class using pen and ink to make African animals. This Zebra is one surviving example. I was using lots of dots and studying books from the library.
I also made this Rhinoceros, making thousands of little circles to produce the texture of his skin...
...and this crocodile.
I entered it in the Scholastic Arts competition, and received an acceptance letter.
I remember this being quite exciting for the art teachers in my school district, as very few students had been accepted in the past. I was the first in many years. This next sketch represents a milestone in subject choices. Bush Sr.had just won the election and I stepped into the contemporary political arena.
At the end of the year, we were told to design a logo for Youth Art Month, which was held every year at the capitol building in Madison. I came up with the following design.Not only was my logo picked, a facsimile of it appeared on the cover of the brochure, redrawn with additional elements by one of the event staff. I think my original is a better drawing of a hand, but at least I was given credit in the listings.

I would be going to the Capitol to receive awards and recognition.
I got an Award of Excellence from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
I received a Certificate of Recognition from the Wisconsin Art Education Association

In addition, I was sent a letter from the State Superintendent of Schools...

...from State Senator and Assistant Senate Republican Leader Brian D. Rude....
...and from Wisconsin State Assemblyman Virgil Roberts.

To top things off, I was given a hand signed Certificate of Commendation from the Governor of Wisconsin, Tommy G. Thompson. He gave it to me personally at the ceremony, and shook my hand.
Twelve years later, when Bush Jr. was elected President, Tommy became the secretary of Health and Human Services. He ceased to be the governor of Wisconsin. By only one degree of separation, I too have given our President an eskimo kiss.
My last drawing was fitting, as a new member of the Good Ole Boys Club. I had my sights set on grandeur, and no reason to doubt it.

That year, at my 8th Grade graduation ceremony, I was given this plaque, inscribed with my name.

artist of the year

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