Johnny Blue

I learned about “Local Coloring,” a new project by Axle Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, and leapt at the chance for adventure. Axle sent me a short story by a local author: “Johnny Blue,” by Nasario García. The story is written like a folk tale, and it feels mythic, archetypal. I loved it, and got to work.

“Johnny Blue and the Owl of Omen,” illustration for story by Nasario Garcia.

I chose images from the last paragraph of the story, and had a clear vision of what the scene looked like. I resolved to attempt thumbnails of this place from a variety of angles, and followed that resolution as I learned about the elements of my vision that made the images work. Over the course of a couple hours, I began playing with the characters and the symbols, breaking off to research images through the internet. I found “Owl with Pine Tree,” a silk painting by Hiroshige, and really enjoyed the owl’s character. After more searching, I stumbled across the idea of putting Hiroshige’s owl on a cholla, and the final image basically came together. I then began working out the image in fine detail.

The image is supposed to function as a coloring book page. The broad areas of black in the road and the night sky are crucial to defining the vastness of the northern Bernalillo location this is set in. I hope that they don’t prevent the image from being fun to color. Let me know what you think.

Thanks a ton to Axle for creating creating an opportunity for NM artists and writers to interact. Whether or not my piece works for their project, I’ve had a deep, juicy process making the image.

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