Design #288, Portfolio Entry #5
I’ve been on a sales trip in Florida for the last couple weeks and from what I can gather fans and customers have been enjoying my weekly Bird Call Blog. I’ll continue to make time to churn these out whether from bohemian coffee shops drinking overpriced coffee so I can take advantage of their Wi-Fi, or wedged between two strangers on a flight as I write feverishly in my trusty sketchbook between pencil scrawls of race horses juggling mint juleps and monkeys reenacting hear no evil/see no evil for future silk drawings, to as of right now, sitting at a picnic table at Longboat Key’s Coquina Beach, choking back a terrible cup of coffee waiting for the sun to peek over the mangroves. Far from the world of the sporting birds featured in today’s design, unless you consider these two fat seagulls perched on the recycling bin throwing me suspicious looks. Their only sport is endless cawing as I try to finish my equally questionable breakfast sandwich so I can focus on typing this blog on my laptop.
I’ve been drawing sporting birds my whole life, I almost went into the profession of medical illustration in college, never considering myself a great “artist” but more of a technical “illustrator”. I stumbled into my current trade as a necktie illustrator, which happened to be very suiting of my drawing capabilities, while studying art and graphic design at the University of Illinois. While growing up in my small town of Sleepy Hollow, IL I just happened to have one of America’s most renowned bird sculptors, Bob Guge, living down the street. I was always inspired by his work and enamored by his three-dimensional wildlife art. Plus, my father, although mainly a potter, was also a wood sculptor. Surely I was the only kid in town with several potters’ wheels in the basement and an endless supply of fire clays. As a child, I could watch him endlessly as I barked out different birds and animals for him to sculpt while he peddled the wheel and created the entire Lincoln Park Zoo in muddy sepia colors right before my eyes. Unfortunately though, I didn’t pick up the knack for the three-dimensional arts like my father and naturally leaned toward soft leaded drawing pencils as well as pen and ink work. I also grew up with stacks of encyclopedic books on wildlife animals and bird species field guilds for inspiration, books I still have and use today as reference to work out what exactly the visual difference is between a flying grouse versus upland quail.
In today’s featured design you’ll see the flying pheasants that I grew up admiring as my endless line of crazy Irish Setter’s flushed them from the brush in the horse and cow farm in my back yard. Never in all my years do I remember one of our goofy dogs ever catching one mid-flight, just a collection of near misses. I drew this tie to match our new collection of gingham dress shirt patterns. Print ties are traditionally designed as tight step and repeat patterns, but pheasants in flight are so visually impacting I thought this beauty needed a little space to breathe which, in-turn will make it easy to sister with complicated shirting patterns more like a classic English woven club tie. My mill was beating their head against the wall trying to register all the colored screens to hand print this design seeing I drew it without a filetto, the typical black outline that is the original width of my drawing pencil that traps the bleeds of the inks. This affect gives the design a softer appearance, which I try to use whenever possible with animal designs like birds, fox and setters that naturally have a lot of feathering. Either way, I hope you like this one; it even has matching socks for you advanced dressers. Win. Win.
All right, the sun is officially up, I’m down to my last sip of caffeinated swill and my now disinterested feathery companions are pecking at the cool morning sand. Time to head back up to the frozen tundra to start drawing Spring 2016, maybe I’ll draw some new sporting birds for next spring or maybe some fat morning seagulls attacking a hapless typist at the beach in classic hitchcockian fashion. Stay tuned; I’ll keep you posted.