BLOB #9 – “CHANNELING CHUCK JONES”
I am a composite of skills and knowledge inherited from all those artists who have come before me.
In my most recent incarnation, I am channeling artist Chuck Jones, the world’s most collected cartoonist, animator, filmmaker and Pop art practitioner. The impressions he left on me when I was a “baby” artist, but an artist none-the-less, are indelible. Now that I am more skilled, I am even more aware of how skilled he is. I say “is” because although he passed in 2002 at nearly 90, I speak of him in the present because I continue to “draw” from him.
Portrait of Chuck Jones ©Karen & Tony Barone
Studying his artwork, especially his drawings, made me aware of how rhythmic, lyrical, free and flowing they are and how they contain such exceptional “line quality”. I can see his hand, Blackwing pencil in tow, gracefully sweeping across a blank paper placed on his drawing board. In an almost rhythmic arc his hand pivots from his wrist. I can see how his elbow had to have become the center point for a sweeping radius. The movement is akin to the performance of a virtuoso violinist.
I began by absorbing the essence of his drawing skills through the scrutiny of a copy of a loosely drawn pencil sketch with a red penciled yellow correction tissue overlay. It was sent to Karen and me by Chuck’s grandson, Craig Kausen, President of Chuck Jones Galleries. He sent the drawing shortly after a visit he made to our studio with three other Chuck Jones Gallery professionals including Michael Fiacco, the Director of the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego.
Drawing is the foundation, pillars and cornerstone of Chuck Jones’s artwork. Drawing is also the seminal element for all of Karen’s and my work. Our sculptures, paintings, and architectural design all find their origin in our pencil preliminaries and conceptual drawings. Chuck and I approach our artwork through our ability to draw. We already had whimsy and joy in common. In an eureka moment it all clicked for me. That moment was when I received the copy of that loose pencil sketch of Bugs by Chuck Jones. He and I became fast-dry-glued at the hip.
I am absorbing Chuck Jones just as a l have absorbed artists the likes of Ed Pascke, James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. All, with the exception of Duchamp, were easier to absorb because I knew them personally; they were of my time. Duchamp’s osmosis was not about technique or style; it was purely cranial and conceptual.
However, this time the absorption of another artist is more purposeful. Craig had requested Karen and I create a full size, 4ft X 5ft painting in the trapezoid style of the other 12 paintings to be exhibited in their San Diego California gallery. Only for this painting, could we replace our giant chartreuse “POLKA-POOKA”, which was derived from our sculptures, with a new protagonist – Bugs Bunny, the world’s most famous rabbit?
We accepted the challenging opportunity with excitement. Karen and I would face-off with Bugs every day, drawing and painting to our hearts content. For us, this added an additional endorphin release created by including the personification of Bugs to our trapezoid shaped stretched canvas in our painting studio – recently rebranded: “The Rabbit Hole”
Craig Kausen, Karen & Tony Barone in the Rabbit Hole with Barone-Bugs painting titled: “BUGS IN A HARE RAISING EXPERIENCE” ©Karen & Tony Barone
In our “Polka-Pooka” rabbit paintings, the principle subject(s), the chartreuse rabbit(s), is surrounded by flattened irrelevant and unrelated black outlined objects. The objects are selected because we like the way they look and because they are visually interesting or because they turn the volume up on happy; NOT because they drive the narrative. We call the objects we float around the “Polka-Pooka” rabbits “ready-mades”; a tip-of-the-hat to French-born American surrealist Marcel Duchamp. (1887-1968). The completed painting poses more questions than it answers. The false-cognates pastiche introduction of the ready-mades requires one to linger with the work and experience it longer; perhaps to the point of captivation.
In “BUGS IN A HARE RAISING EXPERIENCE,” the “irrelevant” objects surrounding the irreverent Bugs are anything but irrelevant. They are snippets of costumes and props from the archives of some of the 167 Bugs Bunny cartoons: Rabbit of Seville, What’s Opera, Doc? … The objects are illogically flying towards Bugs in a powerful singularly directional wind from the famous rabbit’s animated past. It’s deja vu all over again!
I have not mentioned the endless wit of Chuck Jones, nor the “Chuckles” created by the twists and turns of his visual puns. They are not only entertaining and funny – they are brilliant! My objective in this issue of The BLOB is to share whom I have become by channeling Chuck Jones through the scrutiny and study of his drawings. His technical mastery as an artist surfaces when one studies his drawings … that’s … What’s up, Doc!
“BUGS IN A HARE RAISING EXPERIENCE” 4ft X 5ft ©Karen & Tony Barone
It is impossible not to be happy. I am living in kindergarten, painting and forming bunny rabbits with my best friend – ever!
We are obsessed with creating “POLKA-POOKA” rabbits in an area of our studio which we have tricked-out for Karen and I to paint together. Unlike our sculpture which draw their color from a carefully developed and tested palette of 10 transparent automotive enamels, the “POLKA-POOKA” rabbits emerging from the “The Rabbit Hole” have always been chartreuse. However, the sound fueling the mood for our creative tango is frequently “White Rabbit” – although lately, an endless loop of Neil Young picking and crooning “Harvest Moon” has re-choreographed our creative tango into a romantic shuffle.
For information regarding the above mentioned exhibit & works by
Karen & Tony Barone
(on exhibit thru April 13th, 2017)
Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego
Michael Fiacco, Gallery Director
The BARONE STUDIO