|"Sucker"— graphite and white gouache, 6/3/16|
It's the start of summer, my school visit schedule is winding down, and I'm looking at several months of nothing but working on my next book. Thought I'd do a little stretching this morning—I haven't drawn anything in probably a month, except for student-suggested demonstration drawings in schools.
A small group of characters is beginning to natter at me, searching for a story, and thought I'd explore one of them this morning. I decided to sketch this pensive-looking, suited rabbit, and he ended up on a grassy hillside. There are things I don't like about it, but as it was a "rough draft" and not something I revised the way I do the work that goes in my books, it seems right for the blog.
The title? As I drew, I wondered what he was thinking about. Why has he settled down where he is? What's wrong? I sketched the stump into the background to add interest, and then felt that it looked a little too blasted, too intentional. It needed a little shoot coming from it to make it more individual.
Stuff from life always filters into artwork. We had some trees taken out last spring as a defensive measure against their falling on our house—and one oak stump in particular sprouted dozens of these shoots this spring. As I sketched the shoot here, it occurred to me that in horticulture, these shoots that come from the base of a tree or in places you don't want a branch are called suckers. And I like the sympathetic vibration which that term has with the rabbit's emotional state. I'm thinking he feels as though he was taken in by someone or something, and he's feeling both ashamed, and troubled about what to do.
What do you think?