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Desc:'my drawings always look decent'
Category:Arts, Arts
Tags:wesley willis
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Comment count is 23
Sudan no1 - 2014-12-19
What a cool dude.
Scrimmjob - 2014-12-19
Interesting to see normal sized Wesley.
The Mothership - 2014-12-19
His original drawings go for thousands now. I had a chance to get one cheap in the late 90s, but I didn't pounce.
Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-19
Great, I've never seen his drawings, his visual art before. I'm glad that public access was there to record this.

I didn't see people in his drawings, I guess they must move too fast.

WCFL AM 1000, I've heard that station, it was also called WLUP, The Loop.

Reference to Johnny 'Guitar' Watson!

EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
He used to have a website with a whole crapload of his drawings; it was actually one of the first websites I ever bookmarked, way back in 1998 or so. This clip doesn't really go into it, but apparently Mr Willis had an almost photographic memory, and was able to recall all kinds of specific details, like those numbers and signs you see plastered everywhere.

He didn't really do people (at least not that I ever saw); pretty much all of his "released" drawings were cityscapes and traffic scenes. He'd sometimes draw little people in cars and buses (you can see of them during the close-up shots in the video above), but people weren't his focus.

Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-20
Hi Homer, if his website is gone since his death, as some are, maybe it could be found at Archive Org, if you remember its address.

The first place I heard of Wesley was on pirate radio stations that would play his vulgar and humorous raps and music, with the Casio keyboard and the whole thing. He even did Dog songs.

I could see it as therapy, it seemed he had a lot to let out. That was before we had the net at my house, so I heard the announcers and saw his name in the station reports, but didn't know anything about him.

Later I heard from Stern fans that Howard was into Wesley and featured him, getting him loads of fame, but that's all I knew, I didn't know about his art background.

While I can't bark that his music is as much art to me as those drawings, I'm not as surprised as I am impressed. I was in special school facilities with special kids, and some of them had secret and specialized talents like this. It seems he was able to break out of that mess, and find supporters and fans, and that's cool!


EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
I found him totally by accident while browsing around on Napster. "Suck My Dog's Dick". I was a teenager at the time, so there was basically no way I could pass up a song with a name like that!

As to whether his music was art, I honestly don't know! I don't usually get too hung up about that, though. Music's there for fun, and despite being a pretty terrible musician, Mr Willis always managed to make me smile, so I'd take him over Phillip Glass any day! The very concept of "art" vs "not art" is so ephemeral and silly anyway; I think Bill Watterson summed it up best:


Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-20
Cool, I never got to use Napster, but went to Gnutella right after Napster started having problems, but it seems like it must have had the same database of music from Napster people moving over.

Doggy Radio has played Wesley, the song you mentioned and Suck My Rottweiler's xxx before. He also includes other Dogs and animals too, all for a smile and to make the guys who listen to our show laugh.. :)

Thanks for the Watterson Comic, Homer.


Gmork - 2014-12-19
The guy that sings Rock and Roll McDonalds?
EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
Yes, prior to getting into music (as part of therapy, IIRC) and being "discovered" by the punk rock community, the Rock and Roll McDonald's guy was a street artist.

Old_Zircon - 2014-12-20
Most of the album covers I've seen were his drawings.

EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
This was nice! I'm always a bit skeptical when it comes to "outsider art documentaries", mainly because the whole concept of "outsider art" is so heavily steeped in pretense and condescension, being almost invariably viwed through the lens of the educated establishment, and treated like some Victorian excursion into the land of the noble savages - "Behold these wondrous primitives! So simple, yet almost human in their ingenuity and capacity to feel!" Dickery like that is especially common when the artist in question has serious mental and socioeconomic issues, as Mr Willis did. From the point of view of your typical art-school educated critic (the people most likely to be opining on something like this), a homeless schizophrenic black man is about as alien and Other as you can get!

But this clip was awesome! It's done totally in Wesley Willis' own words, and the filmmaker seems to genuinely like him; treats him like a human being who's really good at art, and not just some novelty crazy person who's been taught to do a funny human-trick. Great find, Oktay!
Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-20
I can see that you have an awareness of art, and you do art, so you can see those things, but I'd never thought about how the establishment art world might see outsider art. I would have thought they'd have nothing to say, since they'd feel themselves so far above the talents of the outsiders.

I can see that good tone with access TV though, since they're a people's television that's outside of mainstream TV.

I'll have to look at Wiki to see what outsider art actually means, I'm not totally sure that I could recognize its true form. I've thought of Albert Ducros, an unschooled painter who painted Dog heads on people in old photos, or Thierry Poncelet, painting Dog-headed Victorians, seemingly by the hundreds. Dali and Worhol before they were more accepted?

Art snobbery seems like a dumb concept, when art is just art! Oh well, there's snobbery in Furry places too, like with Furs who build their own costumes, or prize certain makers costumes above others, as fursuiting is a fashion show to some. It's kind of like designer clothes in the Human world, in a smaller way. I don't really know if it's in the Furry art world, where everyone kind of has their own spaces and fans.


EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
Yeah, the established art world knows about guys like Wesley Willis. It's considered "Outsider Art" (a rather marginalizing term in and of itself!), meaning art that is created "outside" of the traditional, academically-trained, gallery-centric art world. "Outsider Art" can be further broken down into various subcategories - such as "Naive Art", a horribly pejorative term usually applied to painters who have a cavalier disregard for perspective, like Grandma Moses - and the critics who exploit these artists are often preoccupied with the work of artists who've got some kind of kooky "hook", like artists who are mental patients, prisoners, or sub-working-class day laborers.

In my experience, "Outsider Art" appreciation is a barbed field, basically an extension of the broader cultural war between "high art" and "low art" and the increasingly frenetic death throws of the Ivory Tower art establishment. It's not always snobby and shitty, as this documentary proves! But I've personally noticed more ironically patronizing shittiness than genuine interest over the years.

EvilHomer - 2014-12-20
That said, there are some really balls-out awesome Outsider Artists whom I would have never heard about were it not for the Outsider Art trend! Like Von Stropp for example, who's basically Albrecht Durer mixed with an acid-dropping hippie:


Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-20
My mom used to talk about Grandma Moses, and somewhere I saw comparisons to centuries old art where the perspective was way off, because apparently artists of one time didn't really understand perspective.

I can see some critics being interested in those odd hooks, I'd be interested in them too, with the art being a further window into what the artist is feeling, especially seeing Wesley's art here in this video!

I checked out Von Stropp, and I see what you mean, I see what looks like a crow in the picture that looks something like a Deadhead image would have.

Thanks for the outsider art info.


EvilHomer - 2014-12-21
Aaahhh. crap on a... I just typed out this big long thing on perspective and the Renaissance, but then my browser erased everything! :(

Just real quick bullet points, then. Yes, perspective wasn't very common in old art, particularly art made prior to the Renaissance, such as this painting from the late Middle Ages:

http://www.electrummagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Tri umph-of-Death.jpg

Perspective was one of the elements that made Renaissance art really "pop". After painters figured out how to use it, perspective became a basic technique taught by every formal art instructor, which in turn made it a kind of artistic shibboleth: any painter who wasn't trained in perspective stood out like, say, a guy who can barely strum a guitar chord standing in a room full of jazz-metal guitar gods. Grandma Moses is immensely respected (one of the best known "Outsider Artists", especially amongst old people for some reason), but her simple perspective led to the modern art establishment classifying her as a painter of "naive" art.

fluffy - 2014-12-21
Of course Renaissance-style one-point perspective art looks incredibly bland compared to real life, where every object has its own vanishing point (since it's not like everything in the world is perfectly axis-aligned), and where perception of space itself is curved and not a rectilinear projection on a perfect grid.

Also it turns out that a lot of the early Renaissance masters weren't actually all that good at visualizing or interpreting - they were using optical replication techniques that basically turned their hands into manual cameras. So them getting perspective (and a boring rectilinear projection) was also just a byproduct of that.

Stars are for Westly Willis still sounding like a musical beat poet even when he's just talking normally about his art.

Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-21
Hi Homer, quicker reply, thanks for writing through the browser errors. Usually this site is easy to post to without problems for me, using simple programming, not having sections of the page reloading during a long post and filling up your browser's memory, it's pretty static.

I like drawing my Dogs and making photo morphs of them, but I've never had training really, no real art after elementary school. What I know is just from reading and self study, seeing those flat pictures, and another type that shows for example a royal family where the children are drawn as small adults and not proportioned like actual young people are.

I'd have to wonder how all artists at the same time couldn't get perspective, or at least so many of them when they can look at the natural world before them, and see it with two eyes. It makes me wonder if there might have been a resistance to depicting the scenes too realistically. I've seen a lot of walls having to be broken down in culture like this, either no one thought past a barrier, or things were blocked for religious or social reasons.

I can think of some in Dogdom, for example, some people didn't like the original CGI talking animals when the movie Babe came out, it apparently weirded people out by being too realistic, not an obvious puppet or film trick. 20 years later, Dog With A Blog is popular on TV, and no one seems to have a problem with it.

Maybe not the best example, but it did break a barrier.

My mom used to mention Grandma Moses, she must have been someone who was in the public thought a lot, and lots of people heard about her. I wonder if Grandma's brain just worked that way, and she saw the perspective as realistic in her own works.

Thanks for that art page too, I read about the scholar translating the tablets and saw that flood painting with the ark. They took more pigs than they did Dogs!


EvilHomer - 2014-12-21
Yeah, the CGI on Dog With a Blog looks very smooth; Stan talks very well, and Avery, you'd almost think she was a real human!

(wink wink)

Boomer The Dog - 2014-12-22
Yeah, outside of Stan, Avery is the one who shines on the show, she's poised for bigger stardom some think.

Interesting about Renaissance painters using projections to draw from, I'm guessing they had prisms and mirrors? If that's so, I can see how there could be distortions in the pictures. It's just like there are all kinds of distortions in photography due to lenses, if you know what to look for. I'd have to think photography changed painting and other arts drastically too.

The first kind of more formal drawing I learned in art class was grid style, to take a small picture and blow it up on a poster board, in 4th or 5th grade.

The subject was a sled Dog, a Malamute, drawing small, fine grid lines on it, then marking the poster board with the same squares in much larger size, and copying over what was in each square to the larger squares. The idea was to only tackle a portion of the whole picture at one time.

I still have that picture, and it needs to be the subject of a blog, some early Dog work.


Shoebox Joe - 2014-12-20
I think Wesley is the quintessential form of punk. That's what I consider art about him. The Ramones were great with how well they rode but Wesley Willis had a lot more to deal with socially, mentally and emotionally.
boner - 2014-12-21
I think I heard about Wesley thru a friend in the 90s. I whipped batmans ass etc. It seemed like novelty music but later I started listening to his huge catalog of music and you get to know all about his daily struggles and it becomes really touching.
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