This post is dedicated to Mark Aronowitz. I am forever grateful for Mark’s passion and appreciation for the art and artists of Magic:The Gathering and his dedication to fostering and growing the community around the celebration of the arts.
The origins of this post dive back a handful of years ago when the Magic art market was beginning to bloom, 2016-17, as more and more artists were creating quality sketches and art on the backsides of Artist Proofs (for those not familiar with the Proofs, these are a small, limited run of ~ 30-50 cards with the card artwork printed on one side and blank white backs on the other, and given to only the artists for use/resale).
As much as I love drawing and sketching, I am not a great draftsman when it comes to creating the figure out of my head. I never really leaned into cartooning the face and anatomy, thus have difficulty in producing great ‘convention’ sketches on the spot in any regular manner. It is a hit and miss experience if you have ever had me draw something for you, and boy can I really miss!
Thus by the time I meet up with Mark Aronowitz again at a Magic event in 2018 in Hartford, Connecticut, I was no longer providing sketches on cards. I hated giving fans a mediocre product, and found many of the results embarrassing and professional detrimental when they showed up in a very public forum on eBay!
Yet Mark wanted a sketch from me on a proof, badly. He had been hounding me for about a year for something, and I consistently pushed him off. But being a nice guy, I finally relented. I promised to create a sketch for him this one time at the event.
As I finished the sketch, I handed it to another artist friend, Bryon Wackwitz, who wanted to ‘see’ it. While Mark watched in horror, Bryon and I ripped the proof card in two! (Bryon was in on this cruel joke!)
Demonic and mean spirited…I know! But I really hated making those pencil sketches! Mark was stunned. But being the consummate businessman he still wanted the ripped up card… and found a buyer for it within minutes! Damn!
I was impressed by Mark’s dedication and realizing his truly honest and heartfelt plea for a sketch, I promised that I would create one for him in a coming months, one that would do justice for the pain I just caused him.
The point of this story?
That by seeking for a way to create something special for Mark (artistic problem solving), I finally stumbled into a way to make proof sketches fun for myself after two decades of frustration.
I stopped drawing, and started painting.
The world of sketching took on a whole new experience. By leaning into my strengths of mass shape design and abstraction through the medium of fluid paint, I was able to create beautiful and compelling sketches full of freedom, texture, and gesture. Line was no longer ‘king’ as shape and masses ruled the design. I was proud and happy to share these new media creations with fans and collectors!
Recognizing that I wanted to keep this sketching a pleasurable experience for me, I rarely, if ever, take commissions for these ‘Micro Painted Proofs’ as I now call them. This choice allows the use of this process and media as place to ‘play’ as an artist – a way to explore and create challenges or just take it easy and cruise through shapes and forms I know so well.
And to further the fun, I am now reaching out thematically into other areas of interest. Making art that I love, and connecting to the fans who support these visions.
Thank you to all the interested parties to my artistic journeys, and a special thanks to Mark for motivating and helping me find those first steps in the right direction!