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Lighting Up the Circuit Boards

Nerd alert: the following post is about drawing/painting pictures with hobbits, wizards and dragons. Thus, I dig it.

Justin Gerard, probably my favorite illustrator, joined in this discussion with several visual artists about the ways each of these works sizzle their creative juices differently. As a reader and writer, I like Lord of the Rings better, but I’ve never wondered which would be a deeper visual well. Justin’s answer is insightful.

If you’re like me, pictures like this tickle the story muscle in your brain. Few things make me feel boyish like a well-drawn picture from an adventure story. It makes me want to pack my things and hit the hobbit-trail.

Nobody’s ever asked me about it, but the bridge of the song “Little Boy Heart Alive” is a true story:

I met a kid at the railroad tracks He had a stick and a nylon sack I ran to the house to pack I wanted to follow

Down at the tracks near my house I saw this teenager with a walking stick and a bag slung over a shoulder. I was fascinated. It was like he had stepped out of a storybook and onto my street. I don’t remember much of our short conversation, but I remember him telling me vaguely that he was “just walking”, and he gestured down the track. He was a little bit dirty, but he seemed happy, even without an Atari 2600. I rode my bike home thinking I’d throw a few clean pairs of undies in a book bag and slip into the viny Florida wilderness. When I got back, the boy was gone.

But I’ve never forgotten that kid, nor the trembly feeling I had while I pedaled to the tracks with my bag of Underoos (Captain America, if you’re wondering). The Brandybuck in me was wide awake and kicking, and to tell the truth he’s never stopped. I couldn’t be happier about being a dad and a husband. The romance of the open road has lost much of its power over me, and I have come to learn that there’s just as much (if not more) adventure in staying put. Each human I interact with is a universe of mystery, and my wife and children are often God’s clearest voice in my life.

The pictures Justin paints nudge the sleeping boy awake. The stories Tolkien and Rawlings and Enger and Lewis wrote knock on the door and swing it open. Art is a kind of daybreak. It wakes me up and reminds me of the Kingdom at hand and the battle worth fighting.

I digress. The reason I’m linking this post is that these artists work hard to capture some of that waking wonder. And for me, it works. I nerd out reading about their approaches to creativity, story, and the things that light up their circuit boards.


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