Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Try a New Direction
You know I'm normally a cat artist, but sometimes circumstances compel me to try something different.  I write Nashville Political Buzz for, and I wanted to do a piece on homophobia and how it might affect the current presidential campaign.  Now, for each article you need a picture.  What to do?

Twice before I have had to make my own illustrations, using facial outlines with filled in clothes to cover my deficiency in facial shading.  But how to illustrate hate?  I came up with a one word answer - Beardsley.  I am fortunate enough to own two volumes on this black-and-white genius of the late 19th century.  Beardsley's art is hardly rated 'family friendly'.  My own remarkably laid-back father remarked that 'Aubrey was a little weird'.  Sure enough, I found exactly the image to modify to portray hate.

Aubrey Beardsley was both a phenomenon and a child prodigy.  This latter bit was lucky, because he only lived to be 25 years old.  He was diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 7.  I'll cut a lot of slack for a man who lived like that.  Always weak and lacking in energy, he turned to black and white drawing, with the occasional wash, as the only medium he could master.  In his later works, he created elaborate dresses and settings using tiny dots instead of lines.  I can't see that saving much effort, but it worked for him.

Yes, his vision was often disturbing and odd, as in the Salome drawings.  As an asthmatic myself, I can understand that.  Fortunately, I've never hemorrhaged or suffered the worst effects of tuberculosis, but I know what it's like not to be able to breathe properly.  You certainly don't want to be hugged, and you feel it's unfair that there are so many things you just can't do.  A serious or chronic illness simply give you a different, darker view on life.

If you are a serious artist, Aubrey Beardsley's techniques are definitely worth studying.  If you're an opera lover, you might find it interesting tha Beardsley drew Salome conducting an orchestra, though Strauss wrote the opera four years after his death. 

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