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.