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.

illustration of Tortoise race Whimsical Realism

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.

illustration of globie Whimsical Realism

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.

illustration of toucan Whimsical Realism

Toucan

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

1 Comment

  1. JACQUE KEYSOR
    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.

    Reply

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