Before long my specialty was conceptual illustration: book covers (yes you can judge books by their covers) magazines and newspapers. Eventually I augmented my income by teaching illustration at a local art college. Students often asked me to explain the difference between painting and illustration. This is what I told them: When I finish creating a picture, if the result conveys a logical message and can be easily understood by many people—it’s an illustration. If I’ve created something ambiguous, something that is hard or impossible to understand and is capable of making most people scratch their heads—then I’ve created a painting.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I wasn’t popular with the highbrow instructors who taught painting. I often got into heated discussions with those who looked down their noses at “commercial art,” in spite of the fact that painters like Rembrandt and Rubens also created illustrations.
Over the years I’ve created thousands of images, and some of them continue to confuse even me. Art has a habit of influencing its own creation; the end result is often unexpected. Sometimes this is a problem; other times it feels like a miracle.
I recently prowled through my storage closet and sorted out all of the art, segregating published works (which are usually returned to the artist) from those I couldn’t find buyers for. Some of the unpublished pictures were favorites, even though no useful purpose has yet been found for them. Most of these defy explanation.
I’ve decided to blow away the dust and post some of the curious images from time to time, to see if you can come up with a title or caption. I have a fairly thick skin so I promise I won’t be offended by anything you write. (A lie! My skin is actually as thin as rice paper.) But I’ll try not to be offended. Here’s one of my favorites; it hung on my wall for a while. I like the way it makes me feel when I look at it, but if you ask me what it means, I can’t answer.
What is your opinion; is this a painting or an illustration? Does it make you think or feel anything? Got a title or caption for it?