Sunday, October 31, 2010


Yesterday I attended Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Sanity Rally in our nation's capital. It was wonderful fun to participate in something socially conscious that had sense of humor and was positive and upbeat, and I had no excuse not to go, since the sainted Arianna Huffington paid to bus New Yorkers down to DC and back for the event, and I even won a contest and was given an official Huffington Post Flipcam to document the event as a citizen journalist.

For my sign I considered doing Blame Canada! or something to honor the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but ultimately decided to make a simple picket that says DON'T PANIC in all caps helvetica, with a small towel stapled to it.Thats a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, which I admit is really letting my dork flag fly, and most people didn't get it, even though there were others with similar signs. Like this guy:

There were a lot of awesome signs, a lot of really funny ones, and a lot of people went very meta with their signs.
For me, I did my sign because I think the message Don't Panic is an important one. We as a nation collectively consented to terrible things during the Bush years because we were afraid, and if the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks of the world have their way we will all stay afraid and be their sheeple.

The new is in. CBS has reported that there were approximately 215,000 people at the rally (which is twice as many normal people as Glenn Beck had nutbags at his rally)
This is the video of us stepping out into the massive crowds on the national mall

and here is a vid I made of some funny people selling Obama condoms

And all in all, I think the rally was big fun. I don't know if it will make a difference in the way our slimy politicians talk or in the way our media covers them, but I'm sane enough not to get too bent out of shape over it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

some naked dood

I had thought that the still life of the week could become a regular thing here at the A.E.Kierenblog, but wednesday night when I showed up to painting studio, there were no bell peppers, and no bananas. Instead we had some naked dude.
Had I known we would be painting a figure, I probably wouldn't have toned my canvas bright turquoise blue. Erik Olsen used to tone his canvases in pthalo blues and he always made it work, but every time I ever tried it it ended in disaster. So I figured, what better opportunity to try to make it work than a dull, compulsory still life. Flesh tones over blue are especially hard to mix and layer, but I'm rather satisfied with it this time. The composition is unfortunate, but I'm pleased with the flesh.
Now what to do with the damn thing?

p.s. I usually link to people in my posts, but it would seem that Erik Olson doesn't have a website, which is very stranger for a professional of his distinction

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

before I ruin it . . .

are these rats not nice? they are part of an in-progress project and I thought they had turned out rather well, so I considered it wise to scan them in, lest I ruin them as the project progresses (which happens to the best of us sometimes)

something I didn't know

I just found out, not 30 seconds ago, that one of my new classmates in the MFA illustration program, Joanna d'Avillez, who I have mentioned previously on this blog, has a very funny and successful web show.

I give you Delusional Downtown Divas. Go watch them all.

Swann's Way (episode 2, season 2) from Lena Dunham on Vimeo.

the things you would never guess . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010

a tad obsessive, no?

Carl Titolo teaches art in much the same way that Pai Mei taught The Bride how to punch her way out of a coffin in Kill Bill.
Though with less beatings.
He wishes us to draw extremely boring objects, from every conceivable angle, at different sizes, in different media, repeatedly again and again and again.
I guess this is supposed to turn us into super-artists.
This week it is hats. I am drawing my plaid flatcap. And a lot of it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

digital doodles

hey team,
this week for Richmond's class we had to make digital illustrations using masks and then we had to print the projects on any two different types of paper, to compare color and resolution of the physical art.
The theme was transportation, so naturally, I did a pair of turban-clad witches in a boat.
I dedicate these illustrations to Krystal Koch, and I hope she likes them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

a humble page from the sketchbook

I doodled this in creative writing the other day. At the time, I had a song stuck in my head, as I often do.
This time it was one of my favorites, Cosmia, by Joanna Newsom
I always thought the title referred to a flower, but actually, cosmia is a genus of moth. That certainly explains the lyric "around the porchlight, we've all been circling"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

alacranes en el techo

hey team
the venerable Marshall Arisman teaches with a certain philosophy to illustration. He believes that an illustrator must illustrate what he knows, and that the best art an illustrator can do will have to be personal.
To bring us out of our shells and force us to get personal and tell the truth in our images, we are spending all this month each week standing in front of the class and telling true stories from our lives, then showing an illustration for that story.
Last week I told this story
When I was in Mexico for a study abroad program in the summer of 2006, I took one of my spare weekends and went to EcoCamp. As it turned out, the rest of the space on the EcoCamp trip that weekend had been booked by a middle school for a sixth grade class trip, so it ended up being just me, the camp leaders, and two dozen 12 year olds camping on a very beautiful, isolated beach on the Pacific coast. I had gone all summer without drinking the water or getting sick, but the first night of EcoCamp I did somehow end up getting very, very sick. I was vomiting and miserable, and when I went to sleep in my tent that night there was talk of a storm coming in. By the time the storm hit us, it had been upgraded to a tropical storm depression, and it rained so hard it literally flattened our tents. We were evacuated and were taken about a half a mile inland to a bungalow style motel for the night. I was put in a room with 5 or 6 of the 12 year olds. I was too sick to sleep, and the kids talked to me for hours and hours about American action movies and the best curse words. After I finally got to sleep, at some point I was awoken by the kids all having a conniption over something. I asked them what was going on, and one of the kids replied "hay un alacran en el techo." I rolled over to look, and just like the boy had said, there was a scorpion crawling across the ceiling. It was unsettling, because it was a small scorpion, two inches long or so, and it would have been very easy not to see it. It could have crawled anywhere. It could have fallen off the ceiling directly on to one of us. One of the kids went down the hall and found one of the camp leaders. She came into the room and killed the scorpion by pinning it to the ceiling with a shovel and cutting it in half. Then she gathered the kids around her to give a little lesson on scorpion anatomy and ecology.

Friday, October 15, 2010

still life of the week

hey team,
another week, another still life
and while painting still lifes still isn't my favorite thing in the world, I just keep telling myself that practice practice practice will only make me better and better.
there are results even now. my bell pepper last week sucked, my bell pepper this week not so bad.
So this week my banana is really stinking up the joint:
hopefully next week the banana will be Titian

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the orange wrappers

Hey team,
for Mr. Carl Titolo's class this week we were asked to do a somewhat unusual project. Most of the emphasis in Titolo's class is to do a ton of experimentation with different media, and not stress too much about having finished hyper-precious portfolio pieces. For this weeks project we were asked to combine the last couple of weeks of workshop tests into a design for an orange wrapper.
What the devil is an orange wrapper?
Apparently in Europe oranges are sold individually wrapped in papers with neato decorative designs on them. It's a grand tradition.
Our project specs were as follows:
the wrapper may be any size, but must be square
the wrapper must be for oranges from a specific country (any country, anywhere in the world)
the wrapper must have a templated element
the wrapper must show an image of an orange
the wrapper must show an image of a gorilla
the wrapper must have text, including the words "orange," "gorilla," and the name of the country you have chosen

now, team, those specs may seem very, very random to you.
and they are. Titolo's philosophy is that the job of an illustrator is to work within artificial constraints, and that it should be our business to be able to make even the most boring things visually interesting.

For the country of my orange wrapper, I did my favorite place in this whole wide world, Mexico

Then, as it turned out, the project was actually due a week later than I thought, so I did a second one for another country of which I am quite fond although I've never been there: Vietnam.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the dark side beckons . . .

Don't worry, team.
I swear I'm not going digital on you, but they are making us take this digital class taught by kinda-genius Matthew Richmond, and he teaches the software in a such a way that the temptation does become significant.
I confess that the pieces I am posting here are digital, but I swear I am only dabbling and won't become an addict.
The topic for the project was "fall." When I was a wee lad, my dad used to look for one tall skinny pumpkin and one short fat pumpkin to carve side by side as Bert and Ernie.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

aren't still-lifes great?

Hey team,
As you may know, we 18 first year MFA illustrators take all of our classes together. All save one. Half of us take painting this year, half take drawing. Then it flips next year. Painting studio is 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday evenings.
Last night those of my classmates who take the drawing clinic on Fridays instead of painting studio on Wednesdays, got free tickers to go see James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave on broadway in "Driving Miss Daisy."
As my privileged classmates enjoyed the show, I spent four hours doing this still life for painting studio:
Let me be frank. Still lifes are not my favorite thing in the world. I must try to remember that this class will make me a better painter.
Because when else am I going to take the initiative to paint a bell pepper on my own?
I thought I might try to sell this on eBay for 5 bucks, but I did my market research and that isn't going to fly.
So who wants it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

dandelion does NYC

hey team,
for graduate critique with the venerable Marshall Arisman, our first project is to illustrate a dog, cut out the illustration and take it around town to photograph it. This project is part of a long and storied tradition in this department, meaning that Yuko and Weber would have once likely also done this project.
As you may know, team, my mom has harassed me for years, saying "why do you paint icky things like snakes and skulls? why don't you paint nice things like my boston terriers?"
Even though I have always refused, and it pains me to gratify anybody's wish that I paint their dog, I went ahead and did an image of my favorite of the boston terriers, precious little Dandelion.
Here are some images we took out and about in NYC:

Monday, October 4, 2010

i entered another contest . . .

ArtPrize, for Gordie and I anyway, has ended. The griffins didn't catch enough votes to stay in the top ten (out of 1700 entries) so for us, the journey is over. Oh well, it sucks to be me. But at least we learned some things about how the game is played and now that we did something for ArtPrize we are in a better position to market ourselves to sponsors and to the downtown power-venues should we choose to participate in next year's competition.
And since we are knocked out of the competition, we are encouraging our supporters to vote for "Svelata" by Mia Tavonatti. We think it especially in the interests of justice that that atrocious steam pig not win, lest we establish the precedent for all future ArtPrizes that SIZE and VENUE are all that matters, not quality or concept or any of that other crap.
In the meantime, I found this other contest to enter, and anyone from anywhere in the world can vote on it, so why dont you pop over there and vote for me. I paid no mind whatsoever to the theme and just uploaded last year's Christmas card, and the voting period was half over by the time I found about it, so I need all the help I can get if I am to have any chance at all.