Let's get something straight. I don't draw for you.
I draw for me
. I draw purely for my own amusement. Sure, I have that little ad
on my illustration website where I offer to draw a portrait for a nominal fee. But, be assured that I will be getting way
more enjoyment out of it than you
I have been drawing since I was a little kid. As would be expected, my style has changed considerably over these many years. A lot of that change, I will admit, has been forced. That's right. I make a conscious effort to change my style. Sometimes, it's based on another artist's influence. Sometimes I change out of boredom. I don't like to keep drawing things the same way over and over again. I like to see if I can draw differently. See? All for my own amusement.
I am also my own worse critic. I am very critical of my drawings. I have done thousands of drawings during my lifetime and I have probably thrown away a comparable amount to those I have shown to other people. I have posted over 1500 drawings on my illustration website
since 2006. There have been many, many
more that never saw the light of day because I didn't think they were good. I know I have posted some that aren't great
, but the ones you've never seen? Trust me..... they were awful.
Along the way, I have done some drawings that have really pissed some people off. I know this, because they took the time to email me and tell me what a terrible, horrible no-talent hack of an artist I am. Some have told me that I have no business calling myself an artist. In some cases, I would tend to agree, but I have made a living in the field of graphic design for over 35 years, so I'm either doing something right or I have only worked for people who wouldn't know good art if it whacked them in the head. (There's another idea for a blog post right there.) One reader once emailed to tell me (and I quote): You suck as an artist too. Find something new to sketch like going back to trees, a-hole.
I actually love those sorts of comments. Sure, I like the praise and the ones that tell me how talented I am, but I relish the emails from folks who were so offended by something I drew that they were driven to put it into a lengthy message. Little do they know that its fairly difficult to insult me and my silly artwork. I don't take any of it seriously and, like I said, I have already critiqued it with more scrutiny that you can imagine.
In 2016, I began a feature on my illustration blog called "Dead Celebrity Spotlight.
" This sub-category combines three of my favorite things — drawing, dead celebrities and storytelling. Kicking things off on January 1 with a portrait of actor Edward G. Robinson, I have told the tales of over 200 folks who fit just two criteria — they're dead
and they're a celebrity
. And, believe me, "celebrity" is used in a pretty broad sense. I have done my very best to spin interesting stories of the famous, the not-so-famous, the unsung and the notorious. I have also tried to rush out a drawing as quickly as I can when a celebrity of note passes. Doing this usually entails a frantic drive home from work, my head filled with various layouts of how I will present the deceased subject. Then I bound up two flights of stairs to my third-floor drawing table, where I sketch out a quick pencil drawing. Then I ink it in with an appropriate weight of Micron or brush pen (that's art talk). Finally, I scan it to my computer, where I import it into Photoshop and color it (if I decide that color is appropriate for the subject). When the drawing and coloring are completed to my liking, I quickly research and write about the celebrity, trying to find an obscure anecdote or maybe I'll relate a personal experience. Then, I hit the ol' "Publish" button and it's posted. I will then cross-post it on my Facebook page
. (I've also gotten into the habit of making a little Instagram story with enhancements and music.... again, for my own amusement.) Soon, a small flurry of folks give me a "thumbs up" or a "heart" or even that little "shocked face" emoji in response to my drawing. Of course, there have been some who are so totally offended by what I have drawn or written, they feel compelled to let me know how badly I am shitting up the internet and my efforts would be better used elsewhere, besides a so-called "creative" capacity.
Case in point.....
|The one you didn't see.|
On Monday, May 13th, Doris Day passed away. I loved
Doris Day. I loved everything
about Doris Day. I loved her movies.
I loved her singing.
I loved her lame TV series in the 70s. I loved her interviews with a leering Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show
. I loved the fact that she just decided to up and abandon the spotlight in 1986 after the abrupt cancellation of her own talk show Doris Day's Best Friends
. Doris Day was a top box office star throughout the 60s, an Academy Award-nominated actress and a Grammy-honored singer until she ditched her public life to spend her remaining days walking her dog through the gardens of the bed & breakfast she co-owned with her son (the late record producer Terry Melcher) in Carmel, California. I felt an obligation to pay tribute to her in the best way I knew.... by drawing her portrait.
When I got home from work on May 13th, I scoured the internet for the perfect picture of Doris Day on which to base my drawing. I went through dozens (not an exaggeration) until I selected one. I hurriedly did a line drawing from the photo and I frowned. I didn't like it. It didn't look like Doris Day. I studied my drawing and I studied the reference photo and I came to the conclusion that pretty Doris Day is pretty difficult to draw.
Nailing likenesses is not an easy thing. As an artist, you've got to focus on particular features to emphasize. Sure, Doris Day is remembered for her blond hair and her radiant smile, but a lot of actresses have blond hair and radiant smiles. Doris Day had unmistakable looks, but nothing specific. Nothing uniquely Doris Day stands out about Doris Day.
|The one you did see.|
I selected another photo and went through the same process. This one was a little bit better likeness, but I was still unable to capture her like I wanted. "Screw it!," I thought, "I'm coloring this one and I'll be done with it." I began the procedure of coloring in Photoshop. Layering. Lightening. Sharpening. Blurring. All the standard techniques I put into a Photoshop illustration. Usually, during this process, the likeness becomes more and more apparent. Usually..... but not this time. I just wasn't getting it. Mrs. P, whose desk and computer is a foot or so away from me, usually turns to take a peek at what I am working on and identifies my subject (if she knows who it is. Some of my subjects are pretty obscure) within seconds. Sometimes, however, it takes her a bit longer and she has to ask "Who is that?" This was one of those times. She remarked that I didn't quite capture Doris Day. And she was right.
But I wanted to finish and, despite knowing full well that this was not my best work, I posted it. When it showed up on my Facebook page, I received the expected reaction. Some "hearts." Some "crying" emojis. Even some "thumbs up," which I assume was for my drawing not an approval of the death of 97-year-old Doris Day. Then I got a comment from Wayne Buna.
I do not know Wayne Buna. He is just one of (at current count) 276 people who "like" the official Josh Pincus is Crying Facebook page. I can only assume that this group likes my drawings, my daily posts of celebrity death anniversaries and my overall skewed sense of humor. Wayne, as it appears, is not a fan of all of my drawings. Actually, Wayne fancies himself a qualified art critic. Wayne took one look at my illustration of Doris Day and was so outraged, so offended, he was prompted to let me know his true feelings, along with a professional assessment of my talent. Wayne — dear, dear Wayne — told me: "That sketch looks nothing like Doris Day. It's in poor taste."
You think I don't already know
this, Wayne? I wrestled with this illustration for hours
, as well as the one I did before
it — the one you never saw. I realize that I didn't quite capture the sweetness, the allure, the appeal of the beloved Doris Day. I tried. God damn
, did I try! I just couldn't
get the lines on the page to duplicate what I saw in my mind. Sometimes that happens. It's the kind of thing that drove Jackson Pollack to drink and Vincent Van Gogh to cut off his ear. Is it a great drawing? No
. I'll be the first one to admit that it's not one of my best. (Did you see the one I did of Amy Winehouse
? I thought that
was pretty good. And my illustration of obscure French actress Renée Adorée
was one I personally liked.) But... in poor taste?
I don't agree with that at all
. I should know. I've done plenty
of drawings that could be deemed "in poor taste," but the drawing I did of Doris Day? I don't think so. Back in 2008, I used to contribute to an illustration blog whose admin reprimanded me about this drawing
I submitted. While I still maintain it is not
in poor taste, the guy who ran the blog thought otherwise. But, come on
.... my feeble attempt at trying to capture the essence of Doris Day was failed, sure.... but "in poor taste?" Please!
(On Instagram, a friend commented on the unnatural look of Doris Day's cheeks in my depiction. "Squirrel cheeks" I believe were the words that were used. Okay! Okay! I get it!
Happily, Mrs. Pincus — my biggest fan — came to my defense. She called out Mr. Buna, citing his comment as uncalled for and demanding to see if he could do any better. As the time of writing this blog post, Mr. Buna has not answered the challenge.
Well, another celebrity had died since Doris Day's passing, plus I have a bunch of ideas for more drawings in the queue. This little episode will all be forgotten soon enough. Unless, of course, someone doesn't like my take on Tim Conway
That illustration is dedicated to you, Wayne.