Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Calvin and Hobbes   1 comment

yukon ho

Some fantastic person (specifically, Nite4awk, AKA freelance photographer Michael S. Den Beste) took illustrations from Calvin and Hobbes and placed the characters into some gorgeous real-life photographs.

These are simply too stupendously awesome not to share.

autumn treehouse

mutant snowmen

living room

log over river


As I was admiring these things, I couldn’t help but think of ways that some of them could be improved even further, and I couldn’t resist throwing them into Photoshop and sprucing them up a little. The following were composed by Den Beste, with a few small embellishments added by myself. Full credit for these belongs to him (and of course to Bill Watterson for drawing the comic in the first place).

snow art

Added color to the comic panels and shadows to the snowmen.

giant city

Added fire and smoke in Giant Calvin’s wake.

tracer bullet

Faded the smoke wafting away from the cigarette.

wagon pond

Added reflections in the water for the cartoons.

You can see all of Nite4awk’s Calvin and Hobbes images in this gallery, including a few others I didn’t post here. He also has a blog where he’ll hopefully be posting more of these in the future.

The Maine Labor Mural is now on display in the Maine State Museum   Leave a comment

Maine Labor Mural - Clarke Canfield, AP

Clarke Canfield, AP

Maine Labor Mural - Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Five years ago, in 2008, Maine artist Judy Taylor completed a 36-foot, eleven-panel mural depicting the history of labor in our state, which was then displayed in the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor in Augusta.

And there it sat until March 2011, when our blustering illustrious governor decided he didn’t like its pro-labor message and had taken from the walls of the Labor Department.

Gov. LePage received an anonymous letter signed by a “secret admirer” who sputtered in outrage at the presence of pro-union, Communist North Korean-style propaganda adorning the walls of a government building. This right-wing mouth-breather’s heartfelt plea for the state government to embrace reactionary anti-union paranoia resonated with LePage’s “Solidarity for Businesses and the People Who Own Them” agenda, and thus Dear Leader declared the mural objectum non grata in the very building it was commissioned to adorn.

It was a nasty if pathetically impotent attack on the labor movement, and it seriously pissed off quite a lot of Mainers.

Of course, it ended up backfiring completely on LePage: he made himself look like an obnoxious, bullying despot, the issue became a distraction for his administration and a rallying point for his detractors, and the mural became famous, celebrated – beloved, even – and is now prominently displayed in the Maine State Museum.

Bangor Daily News: Labor mural unveiled at new home, the Maine State Museum in Augusta

By Matthew Stone

AUGUSTA, Maine — Nearly two years after Gov. Paul LePage had a mural depicting Maine labor history removed from the lobby of the Department of Labor building, the artwork resurfaced Monday at its new home: the Maine State Museum.

Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman unveiled the Maine Labor History Mural in the atrium ofthe state Cultural Building in Augusta, which houses the museum, the Maine State Library and the Maine State Archives.

The Department of Labor has loaned the mural to the Maine State Museum for three years. Fishman, the museum’s director, said Monday that museum staff and others would work to find the artwork a permanent home during that period. The mural’s final home might be the museum, he said, but that would require some renovation.

“The murals, when they first came to public attention, were only contemporary art in a functional office,” Fishman said. “And after their removal became a public issue, they became historic in their own right. They recall and commemorate the past, but they also remind us of the power of art to stir thought and to stir feelings.”

This is a satisfying victory, and even if the  resolution is quiet and a bit undramatic, it’s a wonderful outcome. LePage failed, and the things he attacked came out stronger. It still doesn’t make up for that fact a bullying little puke is our governor, but it’s a nice offset to the damage he’s done to our state.

Maine Labor Mural

Maine Labor Mural 2

ABC African Animal Book   Leave a comment

Hey lookit me I’m on BuzzFeed!

But seriously though, check out this totally sweet book I wrote and illustrated and presented at the ‘96 Viola Rand Elementary School Talent Show.

BuzzFeed: “ABC African Animal Book” By A 7-Year-Old

When I was in first grade, I wrote and illustrated a book which I read aloud at the school talent show. [Ed. note: This spectacular book is part of keepsake show and tell]

Dik-diks happen to be the most painfully adorable antelope ever.

After I’d finished about half the drawings, I started to get bored with rote depictions of animals in their natural habitats, and my illustrations started to get a bit more … creative.

Here, for example, we have an ibis who’s apparently just locked a bad guy in a cage or prison of some sort, and is also dressed to attend a birthday party. Or maybe he’s some kind of rather flamboyant wizard? I can’t recall.

These nyala are apparently sailing to France in the year 1731. Because, sure, why not?

Can you see the ostriches? There’s one in the middle of the page, who’s just punted Scar over a waterfall with a kick of one of his mighty ostrich legs.

Depicted here is some sort of epic battle, featuring ostriches, chameleons, hyenas, characters from The Lion King, and a large arsenal of missiles on both sides.


Now that’s more like it!

This image features, among other things:

  • a lemur with a police badge on his chest and a sign saying “Lemur” taped to his forehead
  • two chameleons gesticulating angrily at some warthogs
  • and a gray character who appears to be either rudely mocking someone, unhinged with fury, or perhaps both simultaneously

Urotriorchis macrourus is the scientific name for the Long-tailed Hawk, and was the closest thing I could find to an African animal whose name started with a U.

“Macrourus” is from the Greek for “long tail”; “uro” is Greek for “tail” and “triorchis” is from the Greek meaning “having three testicles.”

I was unaware of that fact at the time.

So, since this is an alphabet of African animals, you all knew from the beginning that the last animal was going to be “zebra” OH SNAP NO IT’S “ZEBU”!!!

The zebu is a type of domestic cattle originating in South Asia that has been raised in Africa for hundreds of years. It’s pretty obscure; you probably haven’t heard of it.

Oh man, I totally had you fooled! I even tricked you by decorating the “Z’s” with black and white zebra stripes.

This is the back cover. Here we have, let’s see:

  • a white chess piece knight on a checkered path of some kind
  • a bunch of hyenas (they had haunched shoulders and gangly hips in The Lion King,features which I depicted in a manner that makes them look the twin humps of Bactrian camels)
  • and a grey hyena who is A) apparently a good guy, or at least disguising himself as one, B) sporting a purple bandana and cape, and C) also maybe some sort of cyborg, with mechanical spider legs – and maybe that cape is actually an exhaust pipe?

And God only knows what this poor bugger’s deal is.

And finally, my performance at the Talent Show (with assistance from my mom).

Bodies of Olympic athletes   Leave a comment

In anticipation of the upcoming Olympic Games in London next week, here are some beautiful photographs of nude American Olympic athletes. These images are from ESPN The Magazine’s third annual Body Issue, which is that sports media outlet’s classier, artistic answer to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Abby Wambach

Forward, USA Women’s National Soccer Team        Age: 32      5’11”, 170 pounds

Photograph by Carlos Serrao

Danell Leyva       

Gymnast, US Gymnastics Team       Age: 27      5’7″, 165 pounds

Photographs by Peter Hapak

Walter Dix

Sprinter, USA Track & Field Team       Age: 26      5’10”, 195 pounds

Photograph by Olugbenro Ogunsemore

Oksans Masters

USA Paralympic Rower       Age: 23       5’8″, 125 pounds with prosthetics

Photograph by Martin Schoeller

Ashton Eaton

Decathlete, USA Track & Field Team       Age: 24       6’1″, 185 pounds

Photograph by Carlos Serrao

Anna Tunnicliffe

Sailor, USA Sailing Team       Age: 29       5’6″, 146 pounds

Photograph by Stephen Lippman

Tim Morhouse

Fencer, USA Fencing Team, Silver Medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing       Age: 33      6’2″, 200 pounds

Photograph by Peter Hapak

Carlos Bocanegra

Defender, US Men’s Soccer Team      Age: 33      6’0″, 170 pounds

Photographs by Richard Phibbs

Heather Brown, Alisha Glass, Megan Hodge, Cynthia Barboza, Stacy Sykora, Nellie Spicer, Destinee Hooker

USA Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team

Photograph by Art Streiber

Carmelita Jeter

Sprinter, USA Track & Field Team       Age: 32        5’4″, 135 pounds

Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini


A Sound of Thunder   Leave a comment

Ray Bradbury died on Tuesday, June 5. He was 91 – although to be honest, I’d thought that he’d died years ago. It’s just hard to imagine an author of such classic science fiction whose most celebrated works were all written in the early 1950’s and who had such a luddite bent still kicking around in the age of iPhones.

I thought I should post these illustrations for his short story “A Sound of Thunder,” which I drew for a project in my sophomore English class, as a memorial. I’ve come a long way artistically since 2005 – the anatomy in the final drawing makes me want to avert my eyes in horror – but creating these illustrations was a great challenge and a lot of fun for me.

RIP Ralph McQuarrie   Leave a comment


Ralph McQuarrie, the legendary concept artist behind the original Star Wars trilogy, the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Cocoon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Jurassic Park, died at his home on Saturday at the age of 82.

Star Wars wouldn’t have been half the film it was without this guy. The visual style of everything in the Star Wars universe was based on Ralph McQuarrie’s art. The Millennium Falcon, the Death Star, the X-wing, lightsabers, Darth Vader, Cloud City, R2-D2 and C-3PO – all of these were taken directly from his concept illustrations.

Not a bad legacy.

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 1

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 2

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 3

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 4

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 5

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 6

Ralph McQuarrie - Star Wars - 7

Ralph McQuarrie - Empire - 1

Ralph McQuarrie - Empire - 2

Ralph McQuarrie - Empire - 3

Ralph McQuarrie - Empire - 4

Ralph McQuarrie - Empire - 5

Ralph McQuarrie - Slave I - matte painting

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 1

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 2

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 3

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 4

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 5

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 6

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 7

Ralph McQuarrie - Jedi - 8

Ralph McQuarrie - Alderaan

Ralph McQuarrie - Coruscant

“Rhine II” by Andreas Gursky   Leave a comment

The Telegraph: Photograph by Andreas Gursky breaks auction record

By Florence Waters

11 Nov 2011

A landscape so perfectly flat, vibrant and minimal that on first glance it appearas to be abstract now holds the record for most expensive photograph.

The chromogenic colour print, which is mounted on acrylic glass, far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of $2.5m-$3.5m (£1.6m-£2.2m).

Rhine II, 1999, is one of an edition of six photographs by Gursky, four of which are in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London. Gursky’s name already appears in the list of five most expensive photographs with 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), which sold for £2.1m in 2007. With this sale it has been relegated to fourth place.

The previous record was set in May this year by the American artist Cindy Sherman Untitled #96 (1981), also at Christie’s in New York. The dichromatic print which depicts the artist dressed up as a lovelorn adolescent, shot in 1981, fetched $3.89m (£2.4).

Gursky, born in Düsseldorf in 1955, is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential photographers of his generation. He is known for his large scale photographs, which seek out formal patterns in real environments.

The photo doesn’t look like much when viewed alone, but Gursky’s work is actually really great. He takes large-scale photographs of objects in a series (apartments, supermarkets, buildings, crowds of people) and frames them so they appear as rote patterns. His photographs work brilliantly as a series. They’re disturbingly provocative, reducing the wonder of human existence to a series of vast geometric forms on an inhuman scale.


99 Cent




Chicago Board of Trade II




Ratingen Swimming Pool


Tokyo Stock Exchange



Posted November 10, 2011 by benjaminsapiens in art, cool

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The Wrong Barbershop   Leave a comment

I saw Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street when it came out during Christmas break in 2007. I was inspired to do a little comic based off it. I finished the final panel, but then classes started up again and I never got around to finishing it. I had already scanned the drawing and colored it on the computer, however, so whenever I opened my Pictures folder, it was there near the top of the window, taunting me with cries of “Ben! Ben! Finish me!”

Then in spring 2009 a touring company performed the show at the “Collins” Sorry-but-it-will-always-be-the-“Maine-center-for-the-Arts”-in-my-mind-and-I’m-pretty-miffed-that-they-thought-they-could-just-rename-it Center for the Arts. This staging was a bit of an artsy departure from the show’s original version. Sweeney Todd is written for a 27-piece orchestra and a cast of thirty. The minimalist re-imagining of the show that I saw had only ten performers, doubling as actors and as the orchestra, the characters taking their instruments with them onstage. The musical is presented as being performed by the patients and staff of a mental institution, a performance-within-a-performance. The performance opens with white coated assistants bringing a young man in straight jacket onto stage, releasing him from his restraints and giving him a violin. The assistants pick up their instruments, the main characters enter with theirs, and the musical begins.  This all sounds a bit pretentious and confusing, but it worked beautifully.

Personally, I enjoyed the live performance much more than I did the film. Onstage, the sight of a throat being slit with a straight razor is horrifying, as it ought to be; on film, the graphic realism of the scene comes off as more gory than anything else. And of course a performance is always so much more thrilling to see when it’s live.

Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street premiered on Broadway in 1979, with Len Cariou in the title role and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. Sweeney Todd first appeared as the antagonist of The String of Pearls, a penny dreadful serial published from 1846-47. It was adapted as a melodrama for a London theater by George Dibden Pitt in 1847, before the published serial had even concluded. Several versions of the story were published in the years that followed, and it became a staple of British melodrama and an urban legend through the remainder of the century. There were at least a dozen literary, stage, radio, film and television adaptations of the story over the next century and a quarter. In 1973, Christopher Bond play Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street re-imagined the character not simply as a serial-killer but as a wronged man, Benjamin Barker, who has returned to England after years in exile to seek revenge against the judge who conspired to have him wrongfully imprisoned, raped and destroyed his wife and stole his daughter. In 1979, Stephen Sondheim took Bond’s play, turned it into a musical and created a classic.

In the beginning of this August the School of Performing Arts at UMaine put on a performance of the show, which I made certain to attend. It was an excellent performance.

On a related note, watching it  me go back to the piece I’d started four and a half years ago and finally complete it. Boys and girls, attend the tale of Osmond Fuzzbottom and his unfortunate late Uncle Prinkel.

Sea of Green   Leave a comment

I saw Green Lantern back in June, and that got me thinking about the absurdity of a story featuring a hero with almost unlimited power. Green Lantern’s super power is his ring, which enables him to create anything he can imagine (albeit in the color green). This is an amazingly cool power, but a set-up like that seems a bit like those games we would play as children: “I’m as strong as Hercules!” “Yeah? Well I’m as strong as the universe!” “Yeah? Well, I’m as strong as infinity!” “Yeah well I’m as strong as infinity plus infinity!” “I’m as strong as infinity times infinity!” Just what are the limits of Green Lantern’s power? Could he, for example, stop all evil by imagining all the evildoers in the universe locked up inside an un-escapable prison? Do his powers have infinite range, or do they only work within a radius of, say, a lightyear or so?

Then it occurred to me, “Why doesn’t he just imagine a perfect world? The ring is capable of creating anything he can imagine, isn’t it?” Although all the things he creates with the ring vanish as soon as he stops using them, so maybe that’s why he couldn’t do that? I’ve never read any Green Lantern comics, so I wouldn’t know. Anyway, this gag came to me, and I started drawing it, and then I got really into drawing it, and a month later I finally have this to show. Just a really stupid gag, but I had a blast drawing it.

Posted July 21, 2011 by benjaminsapiens in art, cool, geeky

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Don’t Tread On Me   Leave a comment

The Gadsden (Don’t Tread On Me) Flag has been associated almost exclusively with American right-wingers over the past half-century, and it’s as popular as ever with them since the rise of the Tea Party. Of course, conservatives think that they have a monopoly on all things patriotic and American, but the reality is that their ideology embraces most the very worst aspects of American culture while working furiously to undo nearly all the progress that we’ve made in our two and a half centuries of existence. It occurred to me how ridiculous it is for the American right to use this flag while spewing such awful hatred against those who don’t fit neatly into their narrow worldview. And then it occurred to me that the non-lunatics ought to reclaim it. Why should the Tea Baggers have exclusive rights to this flag?

I was certain that someone had created a Gadsden/rainbow flag hybrid already – it’s been done with countless other  flags – but I could only find a couple examples, and they were both poorly done. I thought this was a bit of a shame, so I decided to create it myself. Here it is. Take it and use it, copy it, make it your Facebook profile, show it to the world. Happy Pride Month.

I’d like to think that we didn’t have to fight this fight, and that everyone would just accept homosexuality for what it is, but ignorance doesn’t go away so easily.  I can’t believe that so many people could still be so stubborn and thoughtless about this, but they are, so the rest of us need to keep fighting it.

Just because society doesn’t conform to your tiny-minded worldview doesn’t mean that you’re being oppressed. Stop complaining that the gay agenda is shoving it’s worldview down your throat. If you’re unable to except homosexuality, that’s your fault, not theirs. You have no right to demand that others forfeit their human and civil rights just because you’re unwilling to accept they have these rights. Don’t try to use religion to prop up your ignorance. No one owes your beliefs any respect if your beliefs are wrong. Don’t say, “I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.” Homosexuality is not a sin. It just isn’t. And that’s really all there is to say.