Tuesday, February 3, 2015

danecozens.com and Infected By Art

Hey All,
I have two good pieces of news!

1) Two of my images will be featured in the illustration annual Infected by Art Volume 3! You can check out the website below here: http://www.infectedbyart.com/

2) I recently launched my new website portfolio! You can check it out here: http://www.danecozens.com/

Please stay tuned for some other good news that I hope to hear about soon!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Formative Art Books

Recently I was asked to share a writing sample, and I chose to share about some books that have inspired me.  I'd like to share that text with anyone out there that is interested in reading it:

Home-schooled children can go on road trips at any time of the year. My parents just brought lessons for the hotel room and told my brother and I to fill our backpacks with things to do in the car. At first, they encouraged us to read until reading lead me to be carsick. Then, they were content to let me draw. Traveling across America, I covered reams of computer paper with drawings. As I drew, I began to fill my backpack with books chosen for their illustrations. Through these books, I have learned about art and connected art to life.

 In my elementary years, the book that inspired me the most was James John Audubon’s Birds of America. A children’s book on Audubon explained how he became famous for painting North American Birds for the courts of Europe.  I was fascinated by how his drawings of birds that I saw in every state (such as the robin or Canadian goose) could be exotic to others. This book motivated me to not only draw animals, but to study as I drew. Animal studies became a useful tool for a boy who wanted a puppy. Encouraged by Audubon’s studies of the various bird species, I covered papers with studies of all the various dog breeds. The tactic worked, and my parents caved into buying a puppy. Birds of America fostered my interest in animal anatomy, zoology, and ecology at an early age, which I was able to explore through art. It continues to inspire me. Instead of drawing the culture of Europe, Audubon chose to draw the wilderness he lived in. Similarly, I am inspired to draw from the neighborhoods I live in.

As I drew, my backpack library grew. Two of these books included The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide illustrated by Terryl Whitlatch and Dougal Dixon’s After Man: A Zoology of the Future.  Both of these fictional field guides depict how evolution might affect wildlife on hypothetical worlds. Terryl Whitlatch’s illustrations inventively portrayed the zoology of the Star Wars universe and Dixon depicted how ecosystems on earth might evolve after man disappears. None of my childhood textbooks discussed evolution, but these books opened my eyes to learn more. Although, I hid this scientific discovery from my family, through art, I was free to explore the theory of evolution. My animals evolved into creatures as I imagined ecosystems. Through this practice, I studied anatomy more intensely. The treasure of these books taught me to use art as a language to express more sensitive issues in my life. 

My artistic identity grew, and my backpack library of art books expanded to the size of a bookcase.  This library explained how to draw and paint realistically, but my art only began to be meaningful once I examined my identity and culture through art. My southern roots led me to paint scenes of my hometown rodeo and modern-day farming where cows are milked by machine. Looking for other rural American artists, I bought a book titled Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic. The text explained that Wyeth depicted more than bucolic scenes. He turned his home into a mythological landscape. As my admiration for his work grew, a college concept art class assigned me to develop a fantasy building based on my favorite style of art. The professor was confused by my choice of American Realism. Nevertheless, I endeavored to combine the epic proportions of fantasy worlds with what I understand as the romanticized vision of American Realism. Thus, I created a monolith of wholesomeness. I am still intrigued by this challenge, which has evolved into a desire to portray the myths I witness in suburban America.
The library inside my head transforms these books with my own experiences to make new illustrations.  When they are morphed together, I am left visualizing America’s struggle to evolve and the contemporary myths that impact our neighborhoods. These books have inspired me to create my own art book dedicated to these thoughts. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Crying King Kong - notes on my style

This first image (left image) is one of my earlier attempts at digital painting.  When I say "earlier", I mean it was maybe attempt number 4? At the time, I was beginning to appreciate designed art.

 In the recent image (the right one) I said I was going to upgrade the old one to my current style (dirty word apparently). I thought that just meant giving it a bluer tone and some more realistic anatomy. The more I just tried to refine that, the more unsatisfied I was. This made me think what else is there to my style.  I realized that I'm not just interested in portraying a scene or character.  I want to engage the viewer and understand how I'm engaging him/her.

Thus, I tried to look at my art as objectively as I could.  As a viewer, theres a certain amount of sympathy I feel staring at the crying gorilla's eyes. When, I just see him crying, he seems kinda comical like a big sobbing cartoon. Once I started to think about why he's crying, I experimented with the planes flying at him.  With the planes chopping into his face (compositionally) I feel a lot more sympathy for him.  Some friends have likened the plane wings to prison bars over his face.

So what do I know about my style now? I tend to like cool toned illustrations with anatomy. I also like to think about how the viewer is going to engage the image. ( I think that better art allows the viewer to be an active participant.)  I think that composition is crucial for engaging the viewer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Personal World: Fence Tooth and the Doberman Rider

This is Fence Tooth, an idea that I've been toying with. I'm not totally sure what he's all about, but he's got something to do with the first dog and the struggle between domestication and feralness.

The painting is done using brush pen on a 5"x7" watercolor moleskine sketchbook. Some part of me personally likes the rugged edges of the ink on the paper. It makes it feel more like a field guide documentation. In my fantasy world, Fence Tooth's head is the size of a small Buick.

This is the doberman rider. Yes, it is a portrait of myself and my dog :)
If anyone remembers the riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings, you might remember how they were considered horse people.  In my own fantasy world, I kinda view myself as a dog person.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Who Invites The Grimm Reaper to a Ball?

In this story, the Grimm Reaper  attends a ball. The story is written by the Amazing Peter S. Beagle.

Listen to the story here on this amazing podcast: