Thursday, March 15, 2012

Art Ajar Show

Cartoons in a Jar

Kristin encouraged me to create a piece of cartoon art for the Art Ajar show at the John Almquist Gallery which is located on the campus of North Shore Country Day School. Proceeds from the sale of any artwork, and each artist’s entry fee, are donated to the Northfield Food Pantry. Art Ajar requires that all art must be inside a of a jar with a lid, and no label.
My inspiration for this piece came from my freelance work on the SPOTS page (a dedicated children’s activity page) of the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Comics. I created art and activities for SPOTS from 1991 to 2002, the year the page was discontinued.  

Art Ajar Show Info
Location: John Almquist Gallery, NSCDS, 310 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka, Ill. 
Opening Reception: Friday, March 16, 2012 from 5-8 pm 
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 9-3 pm or by appointment
Exhibit concludes Monday, May 14, 2012.
Weekday gallery visitors are encouraged to check-in at Reception.
Detailed campus map available at

“The Art and Science of Meditation”

Concept Sketches, Rough Drafts, and First-Tries

Developing the Idea

In 1995 I created a “side piece” that featured a pig meditating inside of a glass jar for the SPOTS page of the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Comics.

So, when Kristin told me about the Art Ajar Show, I thought it would be fun to take this idea and ramp it up a bit. Kristin used to work at The Container Store, so just like my mind zeroed in on the Tribune piece, she knew the exact, right jar for the job.

I have always loved seeing the concept sketches, rough drafts, and first-tries of almost any kind of art, especially comics and animation. In the event that anyone reading has similar interests, here’s mine. 

Developing the Animals

My first sketch. All the components of the finished piece are present here.

Developing the Pig

I had the most trouble with the Pig, and I think it shows above in the first two early sketches. Those pigs are okay, but they didn’t have the pop that I wanted.

So I tried a third pig (above, top), which was still not great, but was starting to get the squat, wide look I was going for. I tried a different look for the fourth pig (above, bottom) but I disliked it more than the third pig; it actually made the third pig look really good. After some redrawing, the fifth pig finally came out the way I wanted. And that little piggy went wee, wee, wee, all the way into the jar.

Developing the Back Wall

The Back Wall changed pretty quickly from just something to fill in the background, to a scenic element with a personality of its own. It was clear to me that a lot more was going to happen back there than just a plant in the corner as a source of visual balance. 

The first time I looked through the glass from the front,  I loved how the Back Wall was difficult to see at one glance. It really took some looking to figure out what was going on back there. Trying to see around all the meditators enhanced the allure of the Back Wall, so I wanted to reward the viewer with something fun to see. 

So there is the story about what made it into the jar, now let’s talk about what didn’t make it into the jar. 

Next Up: Animals That Did Not Make the Cut

I’ll let you know when I post some other recent work that I completed for my awesome nieces and nephews for Christmas 2011. 

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unless otherwise stated.