The rabbits are gaining

From Aric Olnes on Facebook yesterday, the cartoon / gouache painting “The Rabbits are Gaining” by Greg Stones:

(#1) On a snowy slope, four determined rabbits (their ears streaming back in the breeze) in a canoe are gaining on two penguins on skis (one of them looking back, no doubt in anxiety, at their pursuers)

My alternative title: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” – Satchel Paige (in a June 1953 Collier’s magazine profile of Paige)

The penguins are one of Stones’s recurring creatures, in his charming, pointed, anxious, goofy, edgy compositions. Two examples on a theme…

Two strategies for dealing with a dragon. First, the banner from Stones’s Facebook page:

(#2) The placatory strategy: “Carl Offers Ice Cream”

Then, from the Greg Stones Art & Illustration website, one of his paintings for sale:

(#3) The bellicose strategy: “Sven’s Got This”

The artist on his work. Artists talking about their work are, in my experience, rarely illuminating. Art-world artists tend to talk in abstractions (“the wrenching loneliness of modern life”) or about the materials and surface of their craft (“heavy impasto”, “vertical lines”). Cartoonists are given to antic concealment and jokiness; here’s a (somewhat edited-down) statement from Stones on his website:

About the Artist: What does it mean to be an artist? Well, here’s a thought: WHO CARES? Not me, that’s for sure. You pick up a paint brush, you paint something, and BAM! You’re an artist. Good for you.

Sure, I could have been a doctor, or a nuclear physicist, or possibly even a toll booth attendant, but a) I’m not that smart, and b) I have no commercially viable skills whatsoever. Except for painting. So here I am.

Born in Glocester, Rhode Island where children are sent into the forest at the age of six months to be raised and educated by squirrels, I eventually broke free and went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. While at school, I majored in Studio Art, learned to paint photo-realistically, and was the cartoonist for the school paper. Two years after graduating, I was barely making a living painting miniature landscapes, and it occurred to me: What if I combined my miniature landscapes with my cartooning sensibilities? That’s when I started adding UFOs, aliens, and flying people to my work. Then came the penguins and the zombies. And the hedgehogs and the garden gnomes. And any other random thing that would pop into my head when I sat down to paint.

A common question: “Greg Stones, where do you get your ideas?”

… I don’t know where the ideas come from. …

Here is my favorite thing about being an artist: I get to write and illustrate books.  Chronicle Books has published six of my titles over the years, starting with Zombies Hate Stuff in 2012, and ending with Star Wars: 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire in 2017 …

Well, that’s all I have to say about being an artist and an author and a man who was raised by squirrels.  (Little known fact: Acorns taste like sadness.)

Earlier on this blog. From my 10/7/15 posting “Two recurrent themes”, on the penguin theme in cartoons / gouache paintings by Greg Stones, two more examples, with different emotional tones from the three above:

(#4) “Penguins Hate Dogs” (in the cold snowy world of #1-3): cheap bathroom humor — and the humor of humiliation

(#5) “Penguins Hate Halloween” (in an autumnal field of yellow grasses): the humor of threat and violence

All in absurd situations of course. Vicious anthropomorphic pumpkins are rare enough on their own; the chances of penguins encountering them must be infinitesimal.

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