Wednesday, December 3, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is...

So, now that the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons are upon us, what do you plan to give as a gift?

Perhaps these ideas might help.

How about a nice bottle of wine for your favorite oenophile?

Or maybe tickets to Mr. Jordan's team, the Hornets?

A practical gift, of course, might be a snow blower.

For the adventuresome in you or someone you know, perhaps a flight to a far-off land.

Feeling good about that new promotion?  How about a brand new car?


 For your kids who have been less naughty and more nice, how about a pet?

Whatever you decide to purchase, have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

And I'll look for you again on the other side of the New Year, with more ornamental bric-a-brac from Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Giving Thanks

Welcome to November, pretty much known for one pretty epic celebration -- Thanksgiving.

It's probably my favorite holiday, what with families gathered and turkeys, et al. consumed by the tonnage. Or at least it seems that way when I have to open another one, or two, notches on my belt upon finally pushing away the plate.

Thanksgiving, of course, means just that: giving thanks for our "bounty" -- as Americans who have, whether by the providential dint of being born here...or the self-achieved privilege of choosing to live here... enjoyed a quality of life virtually unmatched anywhere else on the planet.

Welcome to the Thanksgiving edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

According to Wikipedia, "Thanksgiving, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the founding fathers of the United States. Historically, Thanksgiving has traditionally been a celebration of the blessings of the (agricultural) year, including the harvest."

I try not to take that for granted.  I also try not to take for granted the "gift" I come by genetically -- that of being able to draw, and to draw caricatures in particular.

My father Sam was a professional illustrator, comic book artist and commercial art director; my mother Corinne was a skilled painter and sculptress. My two siblings were blessed as well -- my late sister Barbara was a gifted artist and art teacher, and my surviving sister Jean is very talented in her own right and likes to dabble on occasion.

Here, to pay homage to each, are samples of their work:

"Irv Wesley" was a pen name (literally), my father used on occasion when illustrating a series of comic book titles for Stan Lee and Marvel. Here, he was responsible for doing the initial pencil illustration...after which it would be inked and colored by two other individuals.

Here, my mother sculpted the literary figure "Don Quixote." She taught both sculpture and painting to adult students from her studio.

 Barbara's stylized painting of my mother.

Jeannie's rendering from an old photo of our Dad as a child riding a pony.

 I've joined the gallery here with a commissioned work of an engaged couple who enjoy tailgating (with images pertinent only to them).

This month of "Turkey Day" -- and every day of every month -- I give thanks to each member of my family for their support and the measure of their talents that have inspired me.

Happy Thanksgiving...and see you again the first Tuesday of next month for another tryptophan-free helping of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Drawn to Halloween

This month marks Halloween time. So I thought I'd weave in some related Hollywood...and caricature...trivia.

Welcome to the October edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

William Henry Pratt logged a number of years as an extra and bit-part player in the silent and early "talkie" years of film. His family claim to fame was as the great nephew of Anna Leonowens, whose true-life biography was the inspiration for the book, dramatic movie and finally, Broadway musical "The King and I." Finally, at the advanced age of 44, his own moment of glory arrived when he was selected to play a character that he helped turn into a seminal fixture of horror films. 

It was a character that, through the years, has since been lovingly lampooned, along with other creepy icons, by some great caricaturists.

Apropos, here are some by Mad magazine stalwart Jack Davis, and a UK-based caricaturist with whom I was unfamiliar, Paul Garner.

I'll be doing my thing once again at the Halloween festival thrown by Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville (formerly known as The Point), mainly drawing little kids in their costumes and makeup...always cute and fun.

Of course, October is also a great time in general for outdoor events, private and corporate. Here are some happy campers from similar occasions at which I put pencil to paper:


Oh, and as for William Henry Pratt? He wisely decided to change his name to something more exotic, more sinister, more memorable:

Boris Karloff.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another bone-chilling entry from Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Proof is in the Drawing

"The proof is in the pudding."

It's an old colloquialism that, generally, means one has to actually taste/feel/see/experience something to make a critical valuation of that something's worth or merit.

Welcome to the September edition of 
Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Here's an interesting exchange that took place on NPR, when a featured guest used that exact expression.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Next, we have a correction of sorts, though it's also a story of how language evolves. We're following up on a phrase in a commentary by the sportswriter Frank Deford. "The proof is in the pudding," he said. Tim Lowe wrote us all the way from Santiago de Cali, Colombia, and he writes the following: Frank, the proof is not in the pudding. It would be a messy, if not completely silly place to keep it. With that in mind, we called Ben Zimmer, language columnist at the Boston Globe.

BEN ZIMMER: Well, "the proof is in the pudding" is a new twist on a very old proverb. The original version is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." And what it meant was that you had to try out food in order to know whether it was good.

INSKEEP: Zimmer adds that the word pudding itself has changed. In Britain, dating back centuries, pudding meant more than a sweet dessert.

ZIMMER: Back then, pudding referred to a kind of sausage, filling the intestines of some animal with minced meat and other things - something you probably want to try out carefully since that kind of food could be rather treacherous. 

INSKEEP: OK. So, over the years, the original proverb has evolved. The original was "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." It was shortened to "The proof of the pudding," and then here in America, it morphed again to "The proof is in the pudding." Apparently, the proof of the listening is in the correcting.

As for yours truly, I'd like to invoke the colloquialism from a visual standpoint, to display some caricatures I've done, live, at various occasions such as weddings, corporate events, parties and retail grand openings. And hope in this case, the "proof" of their value -- i.e. the likeness of the subject -- is in the drawing.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for what's become another old saying...
Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Anatomy of a Caricature Assignment

Back in March,
I was commissioned by a Mom to draw caricatures for a “Save the Date” announcing an engagement party for her daughter and future son-in-law. 

Mom had these elements in mind for me to creatively integrate, when she sent me their photo as reference: 
· She wanted a “book theme”

· She wanted to indicate the venue for the event

· She wanted the couple’s dog to be included (I was sent a separate photo of “Huckleberry”)

· She wanted green and orange to be the "themed" bridal colors 

Welcome to the August edition of Not Your Usual
Caricature Artist.

I then rough-sketched out how I wanted the couple — and their dog — to appear, and sent the sketch to her for conceptual approval.

She liked the approach, but asked that I change the “title” of the book they’re holding to simply state the “Who,What, Where and When” of the event within the pages of the book.

With that established, I then did a more refined sketch of how the couple actually looks.
Upon further approval, I did a tight pen (Sharpie) outline of the layout on an 11” x 14” Canson art pad “50-pound” sheet.

After which, I colored it in, using Prismacolor (Magic Marker) and fine point Sharpie for incidental, nuanced touches throughout.

Voila — It’s now ready for double duty, come October, as a “Save the Date” mailer before...and as a “Sign-In Board” at the event. 

Want to know more? 

Do I have to draw you a picture..? 

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another illustrated rendering of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Caricature Art: Not Always Politic

As our Nation celebrates its 238th birthday this month, I'm reminded of one of the attributes that makes us great -- freedom of commentary throughout the political process.

More specifically, with regard to the subject of this space, the contributions -- artistically, politically, psychologically and socially -- made by political cartoonists.

Welcome to the July edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

According to various online sites, "Thomas Nast (September 27, 1840 – December 7, 1902) was a German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who was the 'Father of the American Cartoon.'  Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. Nast was associated with the magazine Harper's Weekly from 1859 to 1860 and from 1862 until 1886.

"As a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast wielded more influence than any other artist of the 19th century. He not only enthralled a vast audience with boldness and wit, but swayed it time and again to his personal position on the strength of his visual imagination. 

"Both Lincoln and Grant acknowledged his effectiveness in their behalf, and as a crusading civil reformer he helped destroy the corrupt 'Boss Tweed' Ring that swindled New York City of millions of dollars. Indeed, his impact on American public life was formidable enough to profoundly affect the outcome of every presidential election during the period 1864 to 1884.  

"Tweed ran the Democratic Party in New York. In September 1871, Nast famously depicted Tweed, New York mayor Oakey Hall and several others as a group of vultures surrounding a corpse labeled "New York." The cartoon supposedly upset Tweed so much that he offered Nast a bribe of $500,000 (100 times Nast's annual salary at the time) to leave town. Nast refused and continued to draw attention to Tweed's misdeeds. Eventually, it was Tweed who fled the country, to avoid prosecution."

I'm often asked why don't I enter the political cartooning ring?

Probably because I tend to the more apolitical side of the ledger. And, it's pretty daunting work to come up with something clever, timely and, of course, thought or action-provoking on a daily basis. 

No wonder some of these guys have won the Pulitzer Prize!

Here are a couple of my own flicks of the wrist, though I wouldn't presume to call them political cartoons.

Just caricatures of a couple of famous POTUSes (is that a word?)

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another toss of the hat in the caricature ring, with Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Joel Kweskin