Western Pleasure

June 27th, 2011

Been a long time since an update, I had the pleasure to teach an Introduction to 2D Design studio class this spring.  Developing a curriculum based on my pedagogical studies at Arizona State University was extremely time-consuming.  However, the 2/3 of the students that stuck through the 10 week course really made incredible advancements both in their craft skills as well as their basic appreciation and understanding of design elements and principles.  I was really blown away with some of their work by the end.

At one point in the quarter, we tackled the element of color with watercolors.  I feel watercolor is far more forgiving and flexible than acrylic, though you have to think about how colors mix in a very different way.  Anyhow, the students did surprisingly well even with my modest personal knowledge of the medium.

Inspired by my students’ experience, as well as needing to provide some work for a show in Helena MT (Horsing Around, curated by Marco Rosichelli), I created a three piece series, Western Pleasure.  It is dedicated to all the middle-aged, single women that have chosen to devote their free time and love to horses.

Western Pleasure

Western Pleasure

The premise of Marco’s show Horsing Around is a response to all the horse art he has encountered in range country.  He invited pieces that were playful but NOT the standard western/country/horse art that is prevalent throughout western US galleries.

My pieces refer to a style of riding competition.  From equiworld.net: “The western pleasure horse must, above all, look like it is a pleasure to ride.”

"Painted Horse"

"Quarter Horse"


The show runs through mid-July.

Popcorn Fist

March 24th, 2011
a fistful of popcorn

Popcorn Fist

This was a Valentine’s Day gift last month for my beloved.  It now hangs in the Projector room in which we watch movies.

The best we can do

February 11th, 2011

Via Americans for the Arts, I drafted a letter to my Senators Cantwell and Murray, as well as to my Congressman Doc Hastings.  Thought I’d share it here, and hopefully inspire some others out there to write in (just head on over to Americans for the Arts and fill out your own! ).  I italicized the text that was generated by the form.
Doc Hastings loves the arts
What Congressman Doc Hastings has never said, but is no doubt thinking.

As a constituent, I hope you will vote against any amendments further cutting the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts during consideration of the FY2011 appropriations package.

Though I agree with Congressman Hastings about the government being far too bloated, completely eliminating any support for the arts is a terrifying prospect.

The grandest cultures that are remembered by history are the ones who funded artists and craftsmen, commissioning and supporting their works. On the other side of the coin, some of the more terrifying cultures of recent centuries suppressed and twisted art to further their own dark philosophies.

Keeping art alive and uncensored in the United States is important.  Though many artworks can be bizarre, many of them might become important future classics that will inform and inspire our populace.

We artists don’t need much to live on.  We are not wasteful, and most of us live in a non-profit world.  The successful among us end up generating wealth for investors and business-owners, and little for ourselves.

As you consider what programs necessarily need trimming or elimination, I hope you go easy on the NEA and the arts. The tiny percentage of federal dollars spent goes a long way in the hands of artists and their patrons, a lot farther than it seems to go with medical care or war.

Thank you!

Some blurbs from Americans for the Arts:

The nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $12.6 billion in federal income taxes. Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one.

Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients—a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least seven dollars from other state, local, and private sources. Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.

Food Cluck Mail Comic!

January 28th, 2011

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One of my oldest internet buddies from the days of Dragon Boy has become a very accomplished artist.  Take a look at Ryan Gillis' art and animations at http://gillizamastudios.com/ .  Anyhow, he and his circle of colleagues have started a comic project that should prove to be a blast.  I get to be a part of it!  We each get to illustrate a couple panels, and then we send the otherwise empty comic book to the next person down the chain in a predetermined list.

Keep an eye on what everyone does over at FoodCLUCK Mail Comic!


November 3rd, 2010

Ichthyo- prefix for fish (i.e. a sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus )

Orthodontics- the branch of dentistry dealing with the prevention or correction of irregularities of the teeth

th- a phoneme that replaces the “s” sound in interdental lisps

Sometimes those who get braces have lisps until they learn to better navigate their new dental situation.  Sheepshead are a kind of fish that have disturbingly human-like “incisoform” teeth.  If there were a field of dentistry that involved putting braces onto sheepshead, it would be called ichthyorthodontics.

If pronounced by a sheepshead with a braces-induced lisp, we’d get the title of this drawing, Ichthyorthodonticth, which has the greatest number of voiceless dental fricatives I’ve ever put into a titular neologism, which illustrates how much of an insufferable smart-ass I can be.

Heck, with the last syllable being identical to the first, I should just print up a long row of these images and call it Ichthyorthodonticthyorthodonticthyorthodonticthyorthodonticthyorthodonticth.


He put the Taz in Taz-mania

October 13th, 2010


Or rather, another tasmanian devil put his cancer in Taz.

About ten years ago the first cases of Devil Facial Tumor Disease were documented, and as of this year it has affected over 60% of the Tasmanian Devil population. It is, in essence, contagious cancer.

Devils like to bite each other.  All the time.  When mating or fighting or for no reason.  At some point one of the devils happened to develop cancer, as all organisms do from time to time.  This sick devil proceeded to bite the face of another, and his tumors BROKE OFF in the facial wounds.

Because the devil population is small and not very genetically diverse, the new devil’s body did not identify the cancerous cells as foreign, and they took root and grew… until they were large and fragile enough that they broke off in the wounds of another devil.

Thus spread DFTD, overwhelming the majority of the devil population.  Already devils are adapting; the females are reaching maturity faster than ever to compensate for shortened lifespans.  However, things look grim.  Devils will likely become extinct in the next few decades without major efforts on our part.

They will join their cousins, the tasmanian tigers, as well as the thousands of other species that have gone extinct in our Holocene epoch.  Hopefully the Dodo has room for Taz at Wackyland.

Learn more about the inspiration behind my piece Tasmalignant and DFTD at http://www.tassiedevil.com.au

A touch more press

October 1st, 2010

Ooh, got a touch more press at the ol’ library, even though I’ve moved across the country!

mural for the Mystery/Crime genre. From BurrRidge.Patch.com


Front page of a sleepy suburban paper!

August 26th, 2010

I had to compete with the high school’s football field completion being delayed and a demonstration from abuse survivors in front of a Carmelite regional office. I’m very flattered, thank you Weekly Doings!

The large doodles (I’d hesitate to call them much more than that) will be up for another month or so at least, though the panels may be moving throughout the library as the remodeling continues.  Check ‘em out at Indian Prairie Public Library if you’re in Darien, IL!

Responses from the Real World

August 25th, 2010

I sent the plush elephant drawing Oh Bother to Sharon Pincott, a naturalist, photographer, and writer that does a lot of work with elephants in Africa.  The video I posted above is hers.  She wrote me back a wonderful note:

Hi Arius,
Your elephant image is really touching. Captioned with something like "Please don't kill or maim me by setting wire snares" it could be a really powerful wildlife conservation message.
With best wishes,
Sharon and the Hwange Estate elephants

Thanks for the response, Sharon, and best of luck with your writing for Getaway magazine and your work with these majestic organisms!

Dr. Phillip Willink of the Field Museum, wadin' around

I also emailed my invasive species drawing Genghis Kharp to Dr. Phillip Willink of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.  He responded thusly:

Hello Arius,
That is a great picture of an Asian carp! Excellent. I hope it was well received at the art exhibition. Surely people enjoyed it.
And thank you for your interest in this topic. It is very complicated, with scientific, biological, political, social, etc. aspects to it. Then again, Asian carp are just the tip of the iceberg. Some of us have been involved with Great Lakes' invasive species for years, and will continue to battle them for years to come.
Thank you for your email,

This is part of the thrill of making art about science.  There are so many gifted people working hard on the problems and issues and research, being able to send them something to acknowledge and celebrate their hard work is a real treat. They are champions, and I'm a damned cartoonist.  It's very affirming to be able to connect with them.

Oh, bother.

August 24th, 2010


HOORAY! I finished another piece! And I’m not talking about the exuberant firefly above, she is a little thank you present I whipped up for my summer zoo camp boss. I threw her in to counter the mood of my new drawing, Oh Bother.

aka eeyorelephant

Oh Bother

Aw, it’s Eeyore!  Except as an Elephant!  Eeyorelephant! But what’s he doing with that wire? Why did he sever his own trunk, and why are his legs so stitched up?

This was about the most digestible way I thought I could illustrate the horrific phenomenon of elephants triggering poacher snares.  The wire snares dig into their legs (here’s a mildly graphic pic of an elephant with scarred legs from africamatters.org), and often in the animal’s attempts to remove the snare they can cut into or even sever their trunks.  It’s horrible business.

I became aware of it by watching a clever elephant successfully removing a snare in the following video:

Apparently it’s not always maiming and death for them, as they are remarkably intelligent.

If you’re hungry for more poacher snare art, apparently if you head to the airport in Zambia you can scoop up jewelry made from gathered snares.  It’s the idea of a co-op called Community Markets for Conservation, who encourage locals to trade snares and firearms for training in a variety of skills to improve their lives.  You can read more here at Newswise.com.

Thomson Tembo in Snarewear, from Newswise.com