Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Comfort food, comfort art

Since I was very young, I have always drawn or had a pencil or crayon in hand. Today, the crayon is more likely a mouse with the wire still attached, but I'm still drawing pretty much the same stuff; cartoons, super heroes, plants, flowers, shrubs and non-sense art; also known as abstracts.

I've spoken with many artists who grew up in absentee father homes. Dad lived with us, but he was present to eat, sleep and yell. We never knew what kind of mood Dad would be in so my siblings and I would retreat to our bedrooms, when not eating dinner or watching TV.

TV. There lies the most common theme in so much of my thoughts and art. TV had so much influence, most days I can barely escape it. Not that I try. TV was the escape we needed because 1960s television was all about escape. Who knew? It's old news now, but for me, if I wasn't watching TV, I was drawing on inspiration. Characters add fantasy situations that stayed in my head long after Mom and Dad finally divorced. But there is where my training as an animator was born. The art time for me was comfort time. A time to retreat and dig deeply into all the things that protected me from the reality we had survived.

My first TV experience happened very young before I had a brother or sister. It was the George Reeves' Superman. Although I don't remember much in the way of dialog, I remember he flew, he had a cape and he was real. I never saw the comics or cartoon incarnations until much later. So, Superman became one of my first super hero obsessions, followed a few years later by Batman, an even bigger obsession. Just before Batman hit the airwaves, we moved to Northern California; Vacaville, California to be exact. Dad worked for the "flying colors," Braniff Airlines. These were some pretty good times. We'd run inside every time we knew Batman was about to come on. 7:30 pm PCT. Dad hated Batman, more than that I think he may have hated anything we liked on TV which was pretty much everything until Sanford and Son. We all watched that, but you can forget Bewitched, the Munsters and My Favorite Martian.

The mid-1960s also had a slew of Saturday morning cartoons, which was pretty much the only time you could watch any cool super heroes. It was probably here my mind exploded and my life as a decent, normal person destined to be a car wash worker was over. The cartoon parasite had drained me of my free will to the point that all I could think about was becoming a character designer, color-stylist and later, a full fledged animator.

My world revolved around times I could get away with drawing instead of homework and painting instead of sleeping. It was my wonderful world of color all rolled into my head.

Today, I'm still extracting those images and finding there a lot more room for new things. But all roads lead back to the retro future where people fly, coyotes fall off cliffs and never get hurt and little boys can grow up to live there dreams every day.

See and buy Charlie Rose's Superhero inspired work at here, at The Space Monkey Shop.