Whimsical Realism

Reality is in the eye of the beholder. It's whatever you see out there. That subtle subjective factor is what makes drawing and sketching from life both profound and pleasurable. And it can be subtly tweaked in a painting, while maintaining the illusion of objectivity. With these characters, I didn't have to make much more than a few subtle changes to make them whimsical and appealing for my clients. It was not a science book.

Tortoise race

Tortoises training for the race (Harcourt School Publishing)

Realism in art is not just a matter of technical skill, as some academic art critics think. It has to be smart. You are working with small changes is details that have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the entire painting. To see this in action, simply have several realistic artists paint or draw the same subject. You’ll find differences in skill of course. But underneath that is the small differences in how each individual sees and interprets that with handling of the paint. They add up to a huge difference in each painting. No two will ever be alike. Those differences amount to the effect of the individual consciousness of that painter.

red-eyed tree frog

Globie, the red-eyed tree frog who will save the forests

Can reality be whimsical? I painted the red-eyed tree frog for a character that would be branded and used for a line of merchandise. I used a few human gestures, basically “flirting” body language, but otherwise I made it as accurate as I could. This frog is naturally a living cartoon. The adaptations to make it more appealing to humans are very subtle.



For this toucan, I made no attempt at spinning it towards a cartoon. That’s what he looks like.

1 Comment

    April 19, 2015

    I am facinated by how your art naturally draws the eye and makes a person think about how these visual messingers are so readily identified with the rainforest issues.


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