Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Shocking Discovery...

A Shocking Discovery
watercolor, 12" x 12"

I'm pleased to unveil my finished painting for sculptor Steve Worthington's mouse project!! Just to recap -- Steve decided to publish a book, with proceeds from the sales to go to animal shelters, and he invited a bunch of painters to create works featuring his bronze mice. I picked Nosey Mouse and had a great time brainstorming ideas for this project.

I initially thought to pose Nosey as a cat burglar -- perched high on the roof of a cheese museum on a dark night, looking down through a skylight into an atrium where a rare cheese was displayed in a lighted case with security laser beams, etc. -- but Nosey informed me with a sniff that union rules prevented him from impersonating a cat, regardless of the altruistic value of Steve's mission. No amount of explanation was sufficient to convince him that "cat burglar" is only a figure of speech, so I went back to the drawing board.

I've long admired Arnold Lobel's books for children -- they have a wit that makes them delightful for a child of any age -- and I was pretty sure he'd done something with mice. I lucked out on my first foray to Borders, where I found Mouse Soup front and center on a display as I entered the children's section.

To pose Nosey properly, I needed to have him peering down from a height, so I gathered a stack of books that have meaning for my life: I loved to cook, back when I had more time, and this was my first "serious" cookbook; the author of the design book was one of my college art profs and my watercolor mentor; I'm a longtime knitter and the stitch pattern book has been a great source of inspiration for my designs; I have always loved the elegant watercolors of Charles Demuth; I grew up in a port city on the Great Lakes; and of course -- I love Arnold Lobel's books. (Peeking out from under Mouse Soup is Fables, a storybook really meant for adults I think. I feel very lucky to have a personalized copy with a sketch as well as Lobel's autograph. I was in the hospital many years ago when he did an author tour, so my boyfriend -- Señor Terremoto -- went and stood in line for me!!)

Steve has already received quite a few paintings from the other artists on this project -- and it looks like it's going to be a really fun book. I'll keep you posted as things progress and provide a link when the book appears.


  1. What a delightful piece! I just adore it. That mouse sure has personality.

    I love your book stack and interests which mirror some of mine too. And lucky you with that signed copy.

  2. This is great! In fact, I think it's my favourite so far the Steve W series. Well done!

  3. Hi Chris, this is enchanting and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story behind it.

  4. So creative, so well painted. I always enjoy your paintings!

  5. Chris this is totally delightful and your composition is the BOMB!! Your washes are perfect making this surely a winner!!! Can hardly wait to see the book!

  6. I LOVE the concept for this painting! Too funny!

  7. OH CHRIS !!!!
    This is soooooo super !!!
    I LOVE the whole idea..."plan B" is a winner. I would have liked "plan A" I'm sure, but I love books too and this just all fits together. Well done & I can't wait to see the awards this one piles up !

  8. Hi Chris, Stunning piece...and fun too. I like your discussion of how you chose the particular composition and books. Congrats!

  9. Chris, you've outdone yourself once again!!! Just marvelous. This is going to be some book!!

    Congratulations again on your publication in Daniel Smith's catalog, too.

  10. Nicely done... the background story is really what makes it all come together...

  11. Thanks to everyone for taking time to comment!

    Jeanette, half the fun of this project was to imagine Nosey as a personality!!

    Thanks, Caroline -- glad you like it so much!!

    The backstory is the entire reason I bit the bullet and painted all those book titles, Amanda!! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Glad you like it, Vicki.

    Thanks for the enthusiastic response, Jane!! I know you know what's involved in detailed paintings!! ;-)

    Thanks, K!! I had great fun with this!! Glad it came through!!

    Thanks, Janet! I can only hope this is well-received, but you never know...

    Thanks, Peggy -- glad you appreciated the backstory!!

    R, this just may be the most complicated painting I've ever painted. Despite my initial dithering over all the lettering, I ended up having a ball painting it. Thanks, too, for the congrats on the Daniel Smith catalog -- I finally got my copy on Friday -- quite a thrill to see it!!

  12. Chris - it's so delightful! I've seen several of the paintings done for Steve's book - all of which are fantastic - and yours is certainly one of my favorites. Great idea.

  13. What a stunning piece...loved the story behind it all...the mouse is so entertaining and your artwork always top-notch.

  14. Love it Chris.....cannot wait to hear when this book is out. Am going to surely get a copy and treasure it! You are to be commended, I HATE lettering LOL

  15. Thanks, William -- your comment hadn't come through when I responded before -- glad you like the work!!

    Michelle and Cynnie, thanks for commenting -- I'm so pleased that you were amused by this painting!!

  16. OMG... What a wonderful whimsical and fabulous imagination you have.

    I was smiling the whole way through this post.

    And of course your painting is awesome!! This is sure to be a terrific book!!!

  17. Thanks, Micah -- blogger is doing some strange things today -- comments have been coming through out of order all morning -- so I didn't see your comment until just now. I discovered when I had to take a whole semester of lettering that I'd probably been a medieval monk in a previous life -- lettering was fascinating to me -- but lettering with a pen and lettering with a paintbrush are quite different!! This was an exercise in great control and patience!!

    Thanks for the compliments, Marian -- glad you like the work AND my zany imagination!!

  18. F A N T A S T I C!!!!! (But that's just my opinion - I will be forwarding this post to the REAL critic and will let you know what the verdict is!!!!!)
    I, too, would have loved your first option, but you always have to do what the painting (or mouse!) tells you!!!!! What fun it is to learn "the rest of the story"! Thank you for posting yet another wonderful painting!!!

  19. What can I say?
    I'm floored yet again!
    Thank you so much Chris for an absolutely wonderful painting.
    And a great story. I love pictures with stories.
    Truly remarkable, I am getting so excited about finishing the book in hopefully a couple of months.

  20. Deb, if your "consultant" says it needs more detail, we can both have a good laugh!! Glad you like it!!

    Steve, I can't thank you enough for creating your wonderful critters and inviting me to play in this sandbox!! I had a lot of fun with the whole process and eagerly look forward to the book!

  21. Love it, love it, love it! Can I just echo every other comment here? Enchanting, favorite, delightful.... just The Best.

  22. Fantastic! Great painting, like the perspective.

  23. Thanks, Terry and Susan!! Glad you like it and pleased that you left comments!!

  24. this is such a creative composition, one that brought a smile to me!

  25. Beck

    I think you're right! lol

  26. Thanks, Liana!!

    Micah -- LOL!! -- only 5 degrees of separation!! Maybe I WAS a monk in a past life!!

  27. Magnífico dibujo, composición, y realismo, me encanta.

  28. Absolutely fantastic, Chris! You hit this one out of the park. Wow!!!

  29. Muchas gracias, F.M. -- sus pinturas son muy bonitas también. Gracias por su comentario.

    Liz, I had the best time with this painting, and what they say is true -- passion shows through in the final work!!

  30. Wow Chris!

    This is great on so many levels.

    I really like the bird's-eye-view, er, I mean mouse's eye, looking down over the stacked books.

    The books themselves are playfully stacked almost as if spiraling down.

    And lastly, the books themselves. Not only did you paint the books but managed to represent the style of each individual book as well (both font and illustration).

    That's not an easy thing to do!

    Be proud of this one, Chris!


  31. Well, I'm definitely pleased with this one -- glad you like it too, Dean!!

  32. Beautifully imaginative and wonderful technique!

  33. Thanks, Joanne!! Pleased that you like it.

  34. This is fabulous and the post it just sooooo entertaining. Love it.

  35. Thanks, Mary!! Glad you enjoyed it.


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