Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drawing Bunnies

I started drawing bunnies because I was trying to cheer up a friend who had a bad case of the blues. These first bunnies were actually animal shapes with smiley faces in them, hovering around the head. I got a kick out of them myself because up until that point I was mostly drawing erotic fruit, guts and psychedelic bullshit. When I was ten I would proudly draw big nosed cartoon characters. I would practise Daffy Duck as a pre-teen. As I got older, I got more pretentious and it was all gothic eyeballs and stewed intestines.
    In my early twenties, when I drew a funny animal cartoon it was all angst, sweat drops and panicked expressions on the little critters. In hindsight my friend suffering from depression helped turn me around. I let my art be as light as I could be at times. I wasn't a heavy dude but I drew heavy nightmares and visions. The creatures were twisted organic structures bound with straps, existing in a possibly positive space but serving more as gross-out material than anything else. I loved the supple forms of mangos and pears with labial folds and tumescent piping. Fun stuff, alien porn.
    The bunnies, called Glees, trotted in and said, hey bozo, chillax. They pointed their fingers at humanity and mocked us. They mocked me. They turned, like Bugs before them, into tricksters, aligned Chaotic Good with a wicked helping of Chaotic Neutral or just downright Neutral. They took the piss out. Nervy The Dog, a character I created that featured in maybe two stories total, was a stress case freaking out over everything. The bunnies couldn't care less. They were easy going and happy. Happy, gleeful. They were also easy to draw. When I drew human faces, they invariably were streaked with a thousand lines of weariness, shadows and spots - again with the heavy. The bunnies were smooth as the sexy fruit without the naughty bits poking through. Fast and easy, and cheerful.
    I used them in paintings and comics, I had them embroidered, I cut-out tin can collages, I made papier machĂ© bunnies. If I was faced with a new medium I would cut my teeth with a bunny. I knew the design well enough to try it out in any material.
    Of course people thought I had a thing for rabbits. Couldn't give a damn about rabbits. I'm more of a squid or great cat guy. Rabbits and hares are amazing animals of course, like all animals, but I never had a soft spot for them. The very first drawing I did that led to the bunnies actually was a blocky chunk with Mickey Mouse ears. The bunnies I draw today, still called bunnies, look often like mice or dogs or bears or some creature with big ears. My aunt calls the creatures I draw 'bear cubs', she says it in Greek though and I like it. When I first heard her describe them that way a tiny voice almost came up to correct her but it was squashed dead by a greater voice saying, hey that's good.
    I'm not going to start rebranding now, the damned things are bunnies. My wanky side has described them in interviews as not cartoons of rabbits but cartoons of cartoon bunnies. Meta enough for that bong of yours ? In any case the basic bunny form is now a vessel, a vehicle, a platform, a support for any of my scribbling tendencies - unbroken curved lines, sleek and flowing, gestural asemic scratchings, blended gradations, psychedelic auric fade-outs, whatever I want. I can draw a mess of eyeballs and intestines, even some genitalia for god's sake and throw a couple of ears on top and voilĂ , bunny.
    There were some recent years when I felt like Leonard Nimoy fighting off his Spockhood. I kept the bunnies at a distance, they made cameos in comics but not in any serious art (yes, I know how that sounds, I'm a cartoonist, even a graphic novelist). I am still tired of civilians who think that widely varying cartoon bunnies look like mine, or that they liked that TV show I never worked on. Cartoon bunny taxonomy is vast, and it's pearls before swine if I have so explain the difference between a Garfield and a Heathcliff, let alone Krazy and Bill.
    Last year or so, for a lark and to decorate a new snack bar with lots of toys as decor, I banged out a slew of bunny paintings using cheap dollar store paints and repurposed canvas. It was a blast. I've always been aware of artists who never once stopped presenting their stupid cartoon characters as subjects for painting. I took a detour into douchebag land with all that implies about pride and seriousness. I'm back again, reclaiming my art as, you guessed it, mine. I was never on the career track towards the Tate anyway. I'm not doing coke with a curator unless they are also a friend. And every bit of wisdom I have read regarding art most always states something about following your heart, being true to yourself, doing what you love.
    I love the way these critters stare at me with their huge smiles. I love how they judge me and keep me on my toes. If I'm not careful, they may start breeding like rabbits and take over my life.