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Rob Dunlavey
Before I go to work
posted:
Nifty brush and ink drawings of Canada Geese. Now that Summer is really here, the word has gone out to waterfowl far and near that South Natick is a destination!
There were lots of animals hanging around the South Natick Dam in the last week or two. As the water level goes down (unless we get more early season man-size hurricanes --unlike wimpy Arthur). Families of mallards will start holding swimming lessons, herons will be bumping into each other and children wil splash across the shallows over to the island to look for buried treasure and return home with poison ivy.
You can find me over there most mornings between 7:00 - 8:00 am before I go to work. 
He reminds me of the Marlboro Man: aloof, tall, strong and handsome.
Like just about every day I check these guys out. It's cheap therapy
Take a number! Geese line up on the tip top of the dam across the Charles Rover. Love that dirty water.
Drew this technicolor goose off site. I think it was in church…
The South Natick dam has a fish ladder on one end. I've seen fish trying leap up over the dam. There's no way they can make it over. They really ought to use the fish ladder. What were they thinking?
An Eastern Painted Turtle. His appearance was auspicious: I'm working right now on a painting of a similar type of turtles for a new picture book. More action shots in a facebook album:
These fish are too heavy and they do not spawn upriver as far as I know. They must weigh 10-15 lbs AT LEAST. There were about 15 big carp cruising back and forth along the face of the dam the other day. I blogged about them here
detail of three fish. (charcoal, watercolor)
Another Orphan
posted:
"The Lookout" …or it could have many other different titles: The Astronomer, the Lighthouse Keeper, Where do the stars go in the daytime?, etc. (mixed media, June 2, 2014)
Orphans! My sketchbooks are full of orphans: pictures in search of stories and stories searching for endings. But that's Life: endings, beginnings and endless questions in-between. Perhaps that's why this gentleman is snoozing at his telescope in his perch atop his cluttered beach shack/outpost.  A striped ginger cat keeps him anchored —otherwise, he might just dematerialize in the interminable and hallucinatory waiting.
I'm sorry for this unhelpful but colorful prose: the upshot is that I draw these single images for myself all the time and I successfully resist corralling the ideas into real stories with multiple images that might be enjoyed as a satisfying page-turning experience. Maybe it's time for a workshop or something. 
colophon: This was made with oil pastel, ink, watercolor, colored pencil, graphite and a little latex paint over several days of undisciplined fussing. Size: 11 x 8.5 inches.
Bird Brain
posted:
I draw birds a lot. Most of them are of the imaginary variety. Some of these doodles and personal works have inspired the few children's books I've completed in the last year or are currently working on.
back in 2012 I was sitting in the bar at the Hard Rock near Fenway Park one afternoon doodling in my sketchbook and enjoying a bowl of chili and a frosty beer.
I came up with a few pages of these silly crows. I guess it was my Coco Chanel phase. My lovely agent (Elena at Pippin Properties) loved the image and found the perfect manuscript by Kathi Appelt to go with it. Simon & Schuster is publishing it next Fall. The art is all clean graphite drawings with digital color added. Below we see the dirty dozen (minus two!) palavering about their next meal.
"Counting Crows" is made up of rhyming text about a dozen very hungry crows. Here they are eating stale potato chips and slimy snails.
A few other animals in my portfolio captured the interest of Anne Schwartz, Lee Wade, and Rachael Cole at Schwartz & Wade. "The Dandelion's Tale" written by Kevin Sheehan, was published in March. The reviews have been gratifying to read. People get so much more out of the book than I ever imagined. It's about friendship, loss and grief.
The dandelion complains that she is old and no one will remember her when she is gone. The sparrow takes pity on her and in the process of listening to her recount her favorite memories, they become friends.
This is typical of the images that were in my portfolio in 2010 when I visited Schwartz & Wade. Rachael was drawn to the relationships between the characters. This is from an as-yet unpublished story about a small tern and an owl and their friend, a big red bear. It's all very symbolic.
In "The Dandelion's Tale" there's a big storm one night. Things don't end well but I had fun painting this spread. It's ink, watercolor, charcoal, colored pencil and some digital rain
In the book I'm currently working on for Schwartz & Wade: "Over In The Wetlands" by Caroline Starr Rose there's another big storm (actually a hurricane). Here's a digitally colored pencil sketch of egrets cowering in the face of the intense wind and pelting rain. I'm embarking on the final art this weekend and it will be completed sometime in June.
I'm not crazy about this drawing of owl and tern enjoying a piece of cake around a campfire perhaps but I can call it process work. I post most of my sketchbook pages and doodles online in different places and it piles up like an archive. This is another image from my owl and tern saga that Schwartz & Wade dug up and found compelling. We'll see what happens. The book comes out in 2016 sometime. This new book for very young readers is about an owlet who takes a flight one Autumn night.
procrastination
posted:
Another winter storm is knocking on the door today but it's cozy inside. Winter: another reason to curl up and procrastinate with a second cup of coffee and ponder that teetering pile of books next to my work table and bed.
a Seattle Art Museum monograph titled "Hopper's Women". Inside I found two Hopper sketches of fashionable Parisians (1906-07) that startled me. They remind me the Italian illustrator: Lorenzo Mattotti
from Mattotti's "Private Room" series
This winter I've been leisurely taking in the delights of "À la recherche de la temps perdu" by Marcel Proust. I never knew…! But I procrastinate here too and find at the library a book about Proust and turn-of-the-century Paris. The cover is adorned with an idealized portrait of young Marcel by Jacques-Emile Blanche (which reminds me of our own fabulous Gerard DuBois).
Montaigne was the original blogger. He invented a form of writing we take for granted: the essay. Pretty amazing. His curiosity, sense of humor and fearlessness are inspiring. I see similar traits in Christoph Neimann's "Abstract City". Brilliant work. It gives one faith in humanity while looking it squarely in the eyes.
"Keeper" is in my bedside queue (cover illustration by August Hall). I just finished illustrating a wonderful rhyming picture book by Kathi Appelt so I'm anxious to read this prose work. To the right is a loving biography of E.H. Shepard. Who was E.H. Shepard?
Ernest H. Shepard? He of Winnie The Pooh, Punch, and The Wind In The Willows fame? Of course!
A few more Shepard sketches done in his 90's for Punch. He led an amazing life in a world that doesn't really exist any longer.
Help! I can't keep up! Just yesterday the cursed mailman brought my latest New Yorker with a cleverly sweet cover illustration by Jorge Colombo. It goes on top of the stack (imho: I recommend Sasha Frere-Jones review of the new Beck album).
The bane of my existence and why it takes twice as long to get anything accomplished. Beware of kittens: They distract and turn the brain -and the internet- to mush. Yet another cause of procrastination. OK: back to work!
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