Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Some Rocks" in Art

I've been on a blog-inspired scavenger hunt:
ever since I read about Orange Crate Art's quest to espy “some rocks,” I have been on the lookout for 3 rocks, "the mystical triad that appears again and again in Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy." * 

Turns out, in life and art there are hardly ever only three, no more, no less. I was so excited when I spotted "some rocks" in a painting at the museum the other day, I stopped and sketched them:

Romare Bearden's "Factory Workers", 1942, shows black men who have been denied work at a steel mill. 
The three rocks look ominous to me, like lumps of despair, bumps on the road, and also like objects otherwise powerless people might use as weapons.

They reminded me of the stoning of Saint Stephen, so I went looking for that and found a mother lode of "some rocks":
 "St Stephen" (1476, click to see the whole painting) by Carlo Crivelli, one of my favorite painters.

(So beautiful, but I think that top rock looks more like an Italian pastry than a lethal weapon.)
* From Scott McCloud: 
Why Nancy?
Ernie Bushmiller's comic strip Nancy is a landmark achievement: A comic so simply drawn it can be reduced to the size of a postage stamp and still be legible; an approach so formulaic as to become the very definition of the "gag-strip"; a sense of humor so obscure, so mute, so without malice as to allow faithful readers to march through whole decades of art and story without ever once cracking a smile.
And the 3 rocks:
"It was always three. Why? Because two rocks wouldn’t be “some rocks.” Two rocks would be a pair of rocks. And four rocks was unacceptable because four rocks would indicate “some rocks” but it would be one rock more than was necessary to convey the idea of “some rocks.”"


Zhoen said...

So, guitar, bass and drums?

A rock trio?

The Crow said...

First, to Zhoen - ha-HA! That was good!

Re: rocks - I've started drawing a strip about three rocks in a park, tentatively titled Rocky's World, which was inspired by OCA's homage to Nancy's three and his post "Some Rocks..."

My three are named Rocky Sandstone and the Granites. Having a hard time with their dialogue. Rocks don't have much to say, generally speaking.

Michael Leddy said...

Somewhere, on a perfectly drawn cloud, Ernie Bushmiller is smiling.

bink said...

This makes me want to look through my art and see how many rocks I've used in various pieces.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Very impressive, but you are not a Jedi yet... :)

CROW: oooh, I hope you are going to share your cartoon!

MICHAEL: Maybe sitting next to Steve?

BINK: Hm... and maybe add "some rocks" to the background of the graphic tale you're working on?

ArtSparker said...

Nancy is not funny, but it quite disturbing, as if an alien from outer space was faithfully recording human reality as he sees it.

Fresca said...

ARTSPARKER: Growing up, I always read "Nancy" in the Sunday comics but I don't really remember what it was... and looking at it again, I still couldn't say what it is!

I like your description of it.