Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Personal Cartoons

"Hey! You should do a caricature of us all doing crazy things, then paint it up, have it framed and put it on the wall so everyone can see, it'll be a blast!"

Hmmm. How many times have I heard that one?

I know people mean well and they genuinely think that we cartoonists consider it a blast to the old ego; and why wouldn't we want to put 'pitch work' and paying customers off just to spend hours, days, even weeks getting them all in a caricature that you just know they will all take one look at and say, 'I look nothing like that'. once it's finished and up on the wall.

That is why I---and I suspect a lot of other cartoonists who get asked this question--- invariably just smile patiently, tell you that it's a great idea and that when you have a few spare minutes you'll look into it. Hopefully that is when they walk off with a big smile saying 'You should that. It'll be great.' and then promptly forgetting everything they said.

I get it. It's an honour and a genuine request from a lover of your work. But no matter how many times I tell a plumber how much I think it would be a great idea for him to come and drain my radiators, refill them, install a new boiler and reset and bleed the new radiators, he's still going charge me for it; and rightly so.

But that said, my life isn't just one big, relentless, contract chasing existence. Some of the time ideas just pop into my head. Sometimes we cartoonists can call upon our abilities to make others genuinely happy. And sometimes, our art is seen as a perfect gift. And it is to this point that I dedicate this blog post to.

For quite some time now I've been producing personal cartoons in the form of birthday cards for my loved ones, of which the title picture above is a perfect example. That was a Christmas card to celebrate mine and Jayne's first Christmas together; it went down very well. But more recently I've started producing actual framed paintings and art. Last Christmas Jayne's eldest daughter, when asked what she wanted off me for Christmas actually requested an original painting.

Now I have always thought that giving a piece of my art as a gift is a bit of a cheap get out, but am regularly assured that this is most definitely not the case. So today I have decided to post some examples of my art that no commercial outlet or venture will ever see. These are the personal cartoons that will never be on a billboard, or a tube station poster. These pictures will never grace the pages of a book or the column inches of a newspaper or magazine. These then are a collection of my most personal of cartoons to the most private and select of markets and published this one and only time.

Another point, they are also the only cartoons that I sign differently. For my daughter's cards I sign them 'Dad' It's how I differentiate between the art and the personal gift and I hope gives that most personal of personal touches.

So once again, select a beverage of your choice, sit back and enjoy, my friends.

The Personal Cartoon Portfolio

This was a Birthday card for my middle daughter, Kristina. She has her own business, had not long had her second child when her husband went out on his own as a mechanic. Most of these things on their own is enough to concentrate the mind but Kristy took it all in her stride as though nothing was going on around her.

Jayne, as those of you who visit here regularly, would know is a lover of horses. She has two: one of her own and the other her youngest daughter rides. Anyway, they both entered a local cross country ride as rank outsiders. Jayne's daughter wanted to do well, Jayne just wanted to get through it alive. In the end it all went gloriously wrong and this painting came out of their joint experiences.
Its was called 'the Cross Country Champions,,,and the also rans'

My eldest daughter, Hannah was learning to drive. She'd had many false dawns so far as driving was concerned and at least three provisional licenses had expired under her breathtaking levels of procrastination. But this time was to be different, This time she brought a car, caught the bit between her teeth, enlisted Daddy and drove me around the bend and all over town. We had so much fun and so many laughs and giggles, and when it came to her test, she passed. 
This was her birthday card.

Jayne's youngest daughter was, and probably still is, a huge Ed Sheeran fan, so when it came to her birthday I did a caricature of the ginger one. The horse was more to do with her own little mare. I had no idea who Ed Sheeran was, but apparently I got it just right.

I mentioned above that Jayne's eldest daughter wanted an original water colour cartoon off me for Christmas. She loves foxes, she is a qualified vet (although she chose to become a city banker instead) and loves horses; the rest was just pencil and water colour, framed wrapped and merry christmassed.

This little illustration was a gift idea for Jayne last Christmas.

I have spent a fair amount of time helping out and getting to know her horses and the horsey people she knows.

And if there is one thing above all else that I have picked up from these unique people, it is that 'their' horses own 'them'.

The point really hit home when last winter the field we had to go through to get the horses in to feed was turned into part bog and part lake by the seemingly never ending dirge of rain-fall, and getting to and back from the horses became a life threatening past-time. So one day, with the rain beating mercilessly around us and the rain made lake bursting it's own banks, this image flashed in front of my eyes.

Once I got home I drew the cartoon up and had it printed on a sweatshirt: wrapped up as a Christmas present and handed over.

Jayne is not a cruel person. 

I feel I have to make that distinction before going any further with this tale. But the sounds of bird call first thing in the morning drive her insane: actually, if I'm perfectly honest, bird call at any time of the day or night do nothing to soothe the beast within her savage breast. But mornings? That's her worst time. So much so that one day she said if she had a gun she'd blow them all into tiny little pieces! 
That was all I needed to create this card for her birthday.

Faye, my youngest daughter, had Danny brought for her when she was very young. The two of them became inseparable and a life long love of dogs was instilled from that day on. So when after a long life he eventually died, Faye was naturally distraught. 
This picture was her birthday card for that year. She cried. A lot. But she counts it as one of her most treasured possessions. Not just because I drew it, but because it was her Dan-Dans as she called him. A beautiful dog for a beautiful daughter.

So I guess this little old ability of mine is both a curse and a pleasure. And when you see the look of happiness, or the genuine delight that a personal cartoon can bring, then all those free, unbookable hours of soul searching and head scratching and painting into the wee small hours are all worth it.


Come back on Friday when I will be showing you snippet samples and talking about my newest cartoon strip for submission to the big five US syndicates and letting you know when I plan to post them.

I'll also be talking about a change of posting schedules and why I've had to hold fast on what was previously planned. And next Wednesday I'll be going through the process of another watercolour caricature.

All here on your Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer. Please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box and don't miss a single post ever again.

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