Ladies I Love: J is for Julie Doucet, Artiste Fantastique

Dirty Plotte No. 1Ready for another A to Z Challenge post?  I have another Lady I Love artist for you!  I first became acquainted with Canadian artist Julie Doucet when I was doing a lot of cartooning in the early 1990’s.  I had immersed myself in underground comics, and was particularly interested in those drawn by women about non-traditional topics, and Doucet certainly fell into that category, writing and drawing about topics such as sex, violence, menstruation and male/female issues.  The first work I read by Julie Doucet was called “Dirty Plotte”, a series that started publication through Drawn & Quarterly in 1991 (although before that it had existed as a photocopied zine as a record of her daily life, thoughts and fantasies).   Similar to her subsequent book, “My Year in New York“, her comics were gritty, loud, messy, honest and just about the exact opposite of “Cathy” (drawn by Cathy Guisewite, remember?).  I loved them because the style was so incredibly new to me, and Julie didn’t seem to shy away from topics that had otherwise been taboo, embarrassing, or atypical of the feminine “ideal”.

Even though Julie Doucet achieved some success with comics (for instance, winning the esteemed Harvey award for “Best New Talent” in 1991), she ultimately tired of that medium and quit drawing comics altogether:

I quit comics because I got completely sick of it. I was drawing comics all the time and didn’t have the time or energy to do anything else. That got to me in the end. I never made enough money from comics to be able to take a break and do something else. Now I just can’t stand comics. — Julie Doucet in “A Good Life: The Julie Doucet Interview” by Dan Nadel

Currently, Doucet writes and makes collage in Montreal; you can see some of her more recent works on her tumblr.  If you’re interested in seeing more of her comics, you can find several of her dream-related comics at the World Dream Bank (search by author – she has several comics on the site).  Additionally, here is a recent interview with Julie Doucet about what she’s been up to in the past few years.  Even though she has abandoned drawing comics, I will always love her drawing style and ability to tell a cringe-worthy story.

Cat Baby

An excerpt from The Recurring Dream (Cat Baby) by Julie Doucet 1994-1995

Ladies I Love: F is for Frida Kahlo

Frida KahloFrida Kahlo is one of my favorite female artists, and is therefore, perfect for my A to Z Challenge theme, Ladies I Love.  Born in Mexico City in 1907, she started painting at the age of 18 while recuperating from a bus accident in which she was impaled through the hip by a metal bar.  While at the National Preparatory School, she met famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whom she later married in 1929.  They had a rather tumultuous relationship, both having affairs outside of the marriage.  A communist political activist and feminist, many of Kahlo’s paintings contained surrealist images that conveyed often controversial images of womanhood, pain (she had three miscarriages) and dreams.  She used bold colors and traditional Mexican elements in her artwork as well.

Frida Kahlo died at the age of 47 in Mexico City after several years of declining health.  Her work continues to grow in popularity, and she is seen as an icon of female creativity.  Her life story was made into the film “Frida“, starring Salma Hayek.  I encourage you to search for images of Kahlo’s paintings and enjoy her creative works yourself!  Here are a few of my favorite Frida Kahlo images:

Ladies I Love: B is for Lynda Barry (who gave me permission to doodle during meetings at work)

Lynda Barry and Marci

Me and Lynda at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008!

Up next in the A to Z Challenge is the letter B! And since my theme is Ladies I Love, I will tell you about one of my all-time favorite artists, Lynda Barry.  I read her first book, Girls and Boys (1981), before I was ten years old and it left an immediate impression on me.  I had never read comic strips quite like hers – funky people, honest stories, smart humor and a fearlessness and vulnerability that I had never seen anywhere else.  While my earlier exposure to Lynda Barry’s work came in the form of comics and drawings, Lynda has diversified her art and interests as her career progresses.  She wrote a couple of novels (Cruddy is one of my favorite works of hers), and more recently, a pair of drawing and writing books called “Picture This” and “What It Is“.  Her research asks “what is an image?” and examines the connection between drawing and writing with brain function and the resulting physiological responses of doing art.  She has done a number of interviews (a couple of good ones are here and here) describing this line of research.  Currently, Lynda teaches classes about drawing and writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; you can follow along with her lessons through her tumblr (which I am obsessed with).

Lynda Barry

Two panels of a comic by Lynda Barry. Child-like and often semi-autobiographical, Lynda tells stories from all of our youth experiences.

I love Lynda Barry.  She has been a creative influence on me since I was a young kid.  I tried to emulate her spirit in my own cartoons.  I met her at Comic-Con.  I’ve bought a couple of her paintings.  I WISH I could take one of her courses.  But because I am not a total stalker, I will, for now, have to settle for taking some of her advice about doodling to a practical level.  Doodling, according to Lynda, can increase concentration and rescue us from tedium.  This advice has resulted in, for you, a small collection of some of my favorite doodles that I’ve done during meetings at work.  You can click on the images to make them bigger, and for a short description of the meetings during which they were yaawwwwnnn…oops…I mean drawn.

There is a kind of monkeying around with our hands that changes our sense of time in a tiny way that can make a big difference. Like doodling in the margins during a very boring meeting. It can make time feel like less of a cheese grater and more like sandpaper. That’s a small but critical difference. People employ doodling all the time, even those who are certain they never draw will make a complicated pattern of marks with their thumbnail on a Styrofoam cup when someone very boring is speaking at length. Nearly everyone does this.  — Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry-inspired work doodles drawn by me:

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Fine Art Felines Friday: A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery

I chose today’s painting, A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery, for Fine Art Felines Friday because when I came across it I was struck by how even way back in the 19th century, when this was painted, cats were still obviously major pains in the asses delightfully mischievous furballs, as evidenced by these two shredding up a letter and making a mess with the ink.  Which I find hil-ar-i-ous, <sarcasm> because I don’t know ANY cats (ahem, I’m looking at you, Samantha, Jesse, Abbey, Momo and ESPECIALLY OLIVER) who would be involved in these types of activities today </sarcasm>.  Anyway, back to this particular painting and a little about this artist.  Horatio Henry Coulder (1832–1918) was an English artist who emphasized cats, kittens and dogs in his subject matter (just image-google his name and you’ll see why I dare you to not call him a crazy cat guy).  I couldn’t find the year that “A Fiver in the Kitty” was painted, but if anyone can tell me what the title means, I will give you a virtual kitten squidgle behind one of your ears.  Deal?

Oh – and PS – Fine Art Felines Friday will be taking a break during the month of April because I will be maniacally busy with the A to Z Challenge.  But we’ll be back in May!  See you then!

A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry CoulderyA Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery

 

Fine Art Felines Friday: Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa

I’m starting a new Fuzzy Undertones feature today: Fine Art Felines Friday!  Every other Friday (my “extra” day off of work, coincidentally), I’ll be posting a piece of fine art that features a cat in some way or another, and tell you a little about the artist.  I stumbled upon today’s featured painting just by googling around the Interwebs, and what made it stand out in the crowd was its bright colors and style.  I LOVE Day of the Dead art, so this painting, Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa, really caught my eye.  In browsing through Laura’s work online, I found her art to be colorful, abstract, emotional and very textural, and I really connected with her style.  Check out her website if you’d like to see more!

Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa

Getting Our Paint On

Look at us getting our painting on!  Chris and I took a painting class at a studio called The Loaded Brush, where you get all the materials you need for a painting, plus beer and wine if you’d like.  It was so much fun!  We signed up for the Chat Noir class, and had a great time.  It was really interesting seeing how everyone’s paintings differed, even though we all painted the same picture.  The instructor was very good and did a great job going step-by-step throughout the process of creating our paintings.  We think we might even go back for another class sometime!