Fun and Funny Caricatures!

Monthly Archives: November 2011

It’s been a number of years since Dancing with the Stars has slipped out of the “must-see-tv” status in our household.  I’m not sure if it’s simply a matter of the novelty wearing off or the fact that the term “star” has become increasingly generously applied.  Probably both.

However, depending on my schedule and what else is vying for my attention on tv, I’ve watched it on occasion.  This season that’s just come to an end featured the usual combination of “stunt-casting” (Chaz Bono, Nancy Grace, some Kardashian sibling). It also featured a young man who I was only vaguely aware of prior to his casting on the show: JR Martinez.  I still don’t know all that much about him except that he was severely burned while serving in the military in Iraq.  After a huge number of surgeries, he still will never blend into a crowd.

But the fantastic thing about this young man is that his personality and positive, energetic outlook on life has not been hampered by his physical deformity.  He has a magnetic personality and it doesn’t take long before the severe burns almost disappear from your awareness.  I’m sure that the combination of this personality and his compelling back-story attributed to JR getting to raise the mirror ball trophy as this season’s champion.  It didn’t hurt that he was a pretty good dancer.

So I decided to select JR as my next celebrity caricature.

It’s a bit touchy to draw a caricature of someone who has a physical deformity. What are you “allowed” to exaggerate? How much can you have fun with their look?  I guess I kind of took it easy on JR (not that my style is very extreme to begin with).  I think I did a pretty good job of capturing his personality.  I look forward to seeing more of this young man.


I saw The Muppets last night and I loved it!  While the plot was the old “let’s-save-the-day-by-putting-on-a-show”, the dialog and scenarios were fresh and fun with plenty of laughs throughout.  The celebrity cameos were surprising and fun and the musical numbers were entertaining and funny.  I’m not going to give a full review here – you can find those elsewhere – I just want to give my recommendation and….

share my next caricature:  Jason Segel

Jason has been a crazy Muppet fan for years and it was his efforts that made this film a reality.  He was a co-writer and star, so I only thought it appropriate that I do a little Jason/Kermit mash-up.

Okay, I’m not really an anti-Thanksgiving nut. In fact I like almost everything about the holiday: gathering with family, eating turkey (why don’t we eat turkey throughout the year?), pumpkin pie – heck, I love the whole meal!  And I enjoy watching the Thanksgiving Day parade (although it’s changed into a bunch of performances from Broadway musicals strung together by floats, balloons and marching bands).  This year one of my daughter’s friends will be in the parade, which should add to the interest in our household.

Fred Willard in "Best in Show"

I love NFL games, and this year will probably be unique in that the games should be competitive and exciting.  I even enjoy the Westminster Dog Show – I kind of wish they’d get Fred Willard to co-host it!  Our family has a tradition of going to see a movie on Thanksgiving evening and this year we’ll be seeing the Muppets, which I’m looking forward to.

And the very foundational reason for Thanksgiving is so important – especially as our society has become more and more whiney and ungrateful.  I’m glad that our year has a built-in, attention-getting, normal-life-halting day to force people to at least consider what they’ve been blessed with and encouraging them to be thankful. I know that many people don’t direct their gratitude toward God, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is the source of every good and perfect gift.

So why did I title this post “Thanksgiving Sucks”?  Because of the subject of my next caricature: Robert Pattinson, AKA Edward the vampire from the Twilight Saga.

I haven’t read any of the books nor have I seen any of the films, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid the hype of this phenomenon. The box office for the latest film, Breaking Dawn, has been impressive, indicating the rabid fan base for the books and films.

I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly in which a NYC obstetrician, Fahimeh Sasan, weighs in on the birth scene in the film (I guess they have a baby vampire – how sweet).  The story definitely strays from the typical experience most women have in giving birth, but I guess, when the father is a vampire, you should expect a few differences.  I guess Edward chews through the amniotic sac… maybe we should swap out our post-Thanksgiving meal movie from The Muppets to Breaking Dawn. tasty.

So, here you have my caricature of Edward saying, “I do” at his wedding in the woods. I wonder what kind of cake they had – type A or B?

My facebook page  is the closest I’ve gotten to having a business site for my JP’s Custom Caricature service. Since all of my work is done in a customized, individually commissioned way, it’s hard to figure out how to take advantage of the “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” Christmas gift shopping season. Any ideas? I’d be open to suggested discounts or other related ideas

A year or so ago I stumbled upon a book by artist Chris Ayers called The Daily Zoo.  The short story is that Ayers, a highly sought-after concept artist in the Hollywood film industry, was diagnosed with leukemia.  On the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis, after a long period of treatment and recovery, Chris started a sketchbook called The Daily Zoo.

Over the next 365 days he would create a daily drawing of an animal (real or imagined, cartoon-y or realistic).  I have the first two volumes of his sketchbooks – as far as I know he hasn’t stopped this daily practice.  I highly recommend them!

I’ve been considering doing something like this for the past year (ever since picking up Ayer’s first book), but never got around to it.  These kinds of “New-Year’s-resolution-commitments-to-do-something-consistently-for-the-rest-of-your-life” things usually end up as a big FAIL… accompanied by guilt, low self-esteem, and movement away from the habit you wanted to move towards.

The other side of the coin is the well-known statement that to become an expert in something requires 10,000 hours of practice put into it.  Whether there’s any quantitative validity to that exact amount of time or not, the principle is pretty self-evident:  you’ll get better at the thing you do consistently.

So I’ve decided to begin an experiment in consistency.  As regularly as I can (daily, every other day, once a week, whatever) I will create a caricature of someone.  My beginning direction will be to select someone who is on that day’s pop-culture radar.

So I begin this experiment with…. Regis Philbin.

I watched the final episode of LIVE with Regis & Kelly last Friday – it was fairly entertaining in a “let’s celebrate Regis” kind of way.  I’ve enjoyed watching the show on occasion over the past 20 years or so, and Regis has an ability to entertain without a whole lot of effort (or so it seems). He simply shows up and humorously chats about his cat, where he went to eat last night, a memory from his childhood, etc.  A pretty sweet gig!  But regardless of it’s difficulty for him, he has been consistent!

Now Regis waves goodbye to this old chapter — and symbolically waves hello to my new chapter!  How will I do at keeping this up?  I have no idea, except that it’s something I enjoy doing, which should make it a whole lot more likely to be done.  But I’m not going to set myself up for disappointment or a sense of defeat by declaring a strict regimen for doing this every single day or else.  I hope it keeps moving right along each day, but we’ll see. I’ll post them when I get the chance – heck! I don’t want to add to the potential guilt-inducing daily requirements! Let me know what you think.

So this past September I attended my 30 year high school reunion.  This was the first one that I even had the opportunity to attend since travel wasn’t an option.

I’d heard a number of reviews of the 10 and 20 year reunions and it didn’t seem that I’d missed all that much: the same cliques were up and running and everyone was out to impress everyone else. Having attended high school in a high-rent suburb in which a new sports car was not an uncommon 16th birthday gift, it’s not that surprising that these kinds of “show me your money” attitudes had continued to color the reunions.  Since I was one of the few “have-nots” in the community, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t make it to those reunions.

But now I was living in my hometown once again and I was actually looking forward to busting into the groups that I wasn’t a part of in high school. This required first deciding to ignor whatever  friendships I hadn’t had with people in high school and to just go up to them and talk.  It’s a little against my introverted tendencies, but there I went.

I found that, although there were some of the same clusters of people gathering together, there wasn’t too much of an “I wasn’t friends with you back then so I don’t want to talk with you now” attitude. It led to plenty of interesting conversations about what they’ve been doing and where they’ve been living. One of my classmates retired as a Microsoft Millionaire back in the 90’s, moved to Tailand, married, had a child, divorced, and now lives with his ex, their child, and her new husband!  Another is a motivational speaker who travels the country and also leads tours of the French wine country with her French husband.  In other words, I had a very interesting time talking with people I hadn’t known.

“My Lover” creepy SNL skit

One semi-creepy moment:  I approached a woman that I didn’t recognized and introduced myself (as I had to everyone I approached – I don’t look all that much like I did in high school). She told me that she had not attended high school with me, but that she was, “Robert’s lover”, pointing to Robert (who I didn’t know either). My mind immediately shot to the SNL skit with Will Farrell and Rachel Dratch creeping out other people in a hot tub and refering to each other as “My Lover”.  Needless to say, I moved along fairly quickly.

Prior to the reunion, I met with the planning committee at the local tavern. I didn’t contribute much to the planning, but it was my opportunity to start intentionally interacting with people I hadn’t in high school. As a result of that meeting, I became a member of the planning team (again, I didn’t contribute any planning work and wasn’t able to attend any more meetings). However, I was contacted by a couple members of the group and asked to create a promotional caricature for the reunion.  I felt it was the least I could do and might lead to more caricature work.

I searched around for inspiration, finally landing on the idea of spoofing a high school movie of the era.  The Breakfast Club came out a few years after we graduated, but it still typified the sub-groups within our high school and the idea of breaking out of those groups.  Plus, it had a fairly iconic poster to play off of.

At first I thought about putting actual classmates into the character poses (rejected: why would I want to perpetuate popular kids vs unpopular kids). Then I considered aging the actors by 30 years (rejected: they wouldn’t look enough like the characters they played in the movie and might ruin

the effect). Finally I hit on the idea of simply dressing them in the garb of my high school: letterman’s jacket, cheerleader uniform, and band uniform.

The final catch phrase was suggested by one of the planning team members “Reunions: They’re not just for Breakfast anymore”.

Anyway, I had a great time during both nights of the reunion and enjoyed a mix of hanging out with my high school friends and with those I never even spoke with in high school.  If you get the chance to attend a reunion, I highly recommend going with the same attitude I had.  Who cares about high school cool?! You may make a new friend if you take a chance.

Dennis and his larger-than-life double

My buddy, Dennis, works for a radio station in Nome, AK, which depends on the financial donations of supporters. One of the main ways he promotes the work of the station and raises funds is by traveling to the lower 48 and cooking up delicious salmon dinners featuring salmon shipped down from AK.

In order to promote these salmon dinners, Dennis commissioned me to create this caricature that he’s used in advertisements and other promotions. Beyond the traditional fliers or magazine ad, he also had a giant cutout created for a convention display.Have