Point of Exquisite Suspension

Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

31 August 2015

The Joys of Creativity

Artie's Pad Comic Strip on the Joys of Creativity 
Don't you hate it when something interrupts your creative flow? But if you like doing art as much as I do, you won't be sidelined for long.

Years ago, I created a little comic strip series I called "Arthur's Pad" (Later I renamed it "Artie's Pad") about a young artist and his imaginary connection to his drawings. Take a look at a sampling of those comic strips HERE.

24 July 2015

Little Tho'ts on Ant-Man

Quick sketch of the diminutive dude on a Post-it note using pen and color pencil. © O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.
Caught the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe flick, Ant-Man the other day. Terrifically entertaining movie experience overall. It inspired me to do the sketch, above. Although I'm not going to do a full analysis of the movie here, I will mention how it provoked some thoughts and observations. No spoilers.

It seems to me that the concept of Ant-Man is a version of the age-old wish-fulfillment fantasy of having the power of invisibility. In some of the archival film footage of the original Ant-Man shown in the movie, it appears that an unseen force is beating up enemy soldiers. It's not until the camera zooms in on a tiny figure that the entity is seen to be Ant-Man. Yet to the soldiers who engage the character in battle, it seems like an invisible foe.

Being literally able to fly "under the radar" of perception is a basic feature of the Ant-Man's powers and it was fun for me to vicariously live out that ability as I watched the movie.

The added power of commanding all ants is a bonus. It's ironic that the ants, who from ancient times have been noted for carrying out their duties with no leader (see the Biblical verse, Proverbs 6:6) are being harnessed to fulfill the wishes of Ant-Man. This facet of the character has come under some ridicule --much like Aquaman's ability to communicate with fish. But the Ant-Man film makes good use of his skill over the tiny legions of social insects. I can see how the pseudo-scientific aspects of the use of ants might incite a host of Science Fair projects about ants across the country.

The movie was as well-crafted as I have come to expect from Marvel/Disney films. Themes of super-powers entangled with the military arms race were repeated. I enjoyed the performance of the actors in general. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym was totally engaged in the character and did a great deal to carry the film. I give it two antennae up!

19 June 2015

Counting Crows

Post-it Note sketch of crows using gel pen, white color pencil on purple paper. © 2015 by O. Douglas Jennings
A family of crows came to visit my yard yesterday. They spent a lot of time walking around and enjoying the grassy, tree-shaded environs. There were two adults and two "adolescent" crows. I surmised this because the younger crows, although nearly the same size as the adults, were making infantile "feed me" noises and offered wide-open mouths as they badgered the two slightly larger crows to feed them with edible items they found.

24 May 2015

"Abstract Art" before Abstract Art

Entrance to the 19th Century American Art, Sculpture Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago

Before Picasso, Pollack, Klee and other artists of the Modern/Abstract Art era, artist dealt with abstract concepts by using the human figure. An example is the sculpture "Truth" by Daniel Chester French, the phenomenal 19th Century sculptor who also created the famous seated portrait of Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Truth, Plaster, 1900

The following text is from the info plaque next to a plaster working model of the statue at the Art Institute of Chicago:


Daniel Chester French, American, 1850-1931 was commissioned to create six allegorical figures, representing Bounty, Courage, Integrity, Prudence, Truth, and Wisdom, for the facade of the Minnesota State Capitol, in Saint Paul. This plaster statue is a working model and is half the size of the marble figure that appears, paired with Integrity, on the building. In this portrayal of Truth, French used symbols drawn from Classical and Renaissance sources. The mirror she holds reflects life without illusions; her partial nudity alludes to the nature of truth.


If the term "abstract" is taken to refer to such intangible concepts as "Truth", "Beauty", "Wisdom", etc., then I think artists have been making "Abstract Art" long before modern times.

06 May 2015

Schizoid Pop Stars

Twenty One Pilots lead singer Tyler Joseph

I realize I'm always a bit late on stuff like this. But I've recently discovered music by the band Twenty One Pilots. I happened to catch one of their newer songs, Tear In My Heart, on the radio and then looked it up on You Tube.

What attracted me was the rhythm, sound and lyrics of the band which consists of two dudes --a singer/keyboardist/ukelele-player guy and a drummer.

Wikipedia says they have been classified by some fans as being in a subgenre called  "Schizoid pop" due to the mash-up of rap, alternative, ballad and other styles. I guess that's why I like them. I'm crazy about mash-ups.

And I like the intensity of their performances. Both musicians go all out, although lead singer Tyler is the most vocal in interviews. Josh Dun is less animated only when he is not playing the drums. With his sticks, on the skins and cymbals, he's compelling to watch.

And I'd say this is a band to watch. With their sensitive, poetry-based songs, I think they are breaking new ground musically and lyrically.

As I dug around I also found this other song of theirs, Stressed Out:

Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun

27 April 2015

Octopus Days

Sketch book pages from the time a few years ago when I was obsessed with the octopus.

Sporadically over a few months in 2010 I was fixated on drawing the octopus in various poses and configurations. To this day I remain intrigued by that amazing creature, "a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda" according to our friends at Wikipedia.

I checked out lots of children's books about the octopus from my local library. Children's books are a great way to start reading about a subject. They reduce most any matter to it's essence and have lots of pictures!

Youtube videos showing the eight-legged denizen of the deep were also valuable in my quest to absorb information on them. I eventually got my fill. But not before I learned how intelligent they are (at least as smart as a cat). The octopus is also a curious, playful creature. Unfortunately they only live 3-5 years.

In 2014, I created a painting based on one of my octopus-themed sketchbook pages. It was very fun to give the subject a fantasy treatment. 

See an animated gif based on this painting.

You can see more of my sketches inspired by the octopus at my flickr site.

Art and text © 2015 by O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.

16 April 2015

The Devotee

Photo by O. Douglas Jennings © 2015. Taken at the Art Institute of Chicago
I love this photo for several reasons. The gallery was not crowded that day and this young man was free to take in the painting, Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Latrec at his leisure. His kneeling posture connotes devotion. I'm guessing that he is writing a paper about the painting for school.

Another aspect of the photo is that it juxtaposes modern technology with 19th Century artistic legacy.

I cropped the photo but in the original version, it's plain to see the student is alone. Yet he has also isolated himself through his intense and solitary focus. 

This will be my last Gallery Patron Watch post for a while.