Which Came First, the Brush or the Pen?

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday October 4, 2023

“Which came first, the brush or the pen?” The first question in the long-running series, In the Studio with… has steadily drawn readers to its pages. This week, DART celebrates artists who have taken up the brush to make their mark. Whether the brush in hand is a kolinsky sable or a special digital brush for their app, the artist’s impulse for the soft flow of paint is evident.

We start with a watercolor by Rich Pope, which was featured in a gallery show near Orlando. Joining him on this page are some of the other artists featured in AI42, which will be available at the annual AI-AP Party on Thursday November 9 at Angel Orensanz Center. Above: Rich Pope, Sun Soaked, October 2022. Sunbathers enjoying the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. Painted en plein air with gouache from my beach chair.  


Left; Anita Kunz, Mona Lisa raises her hand to block the view of her face. No Photos, Please. The New Yorker, August 2022. For a Celebrity-themed Issue, Anita Kunz created a cheeky modern take on the iconic painting, Mona Lisa. “I used to do a lot of celebrity portraits for magazines, but I was never as interested in the people themselves as I was in the concept of celebrity. Why do we make them famous? Why do we care?”

Right; Leigh Brooklyn, Pietà. March 2022. Inspired by Michelangelo’s sculpture, “Pietà,” where Mary cradled Jesus’ lifeless body after being removed from the cross, my “Pietà” painting is a depiction of the relationship between a mother and her child touching on society’s conflicted relationship with the Black community.


Left: Chris Sharp, Julius', New York City's oldest gay bar, West Village. May 2022 for an ad published in My Comrade Magazine

Right: Rudy Gutierrez, John Coltrane, “Saint Trane”. June 2022 for online  announcement of “Illustrating Race” exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum. 


Left: London Ladd, Based on the novel, “Perish”, by LaToya Watkins. August 2022.

Right: Gil Ashby,  Ferris at the Golden Gloves. Lacing Up to Dance! November 2022. From Direct observation capturing the moments my pugilist friend laces up, preparing to dance a destructive tango in center ring with a worthy opponent-that night long ago at the "Garden" In New York City, in full journalist mode 


Igor Karash, Chapter divider for a graphic novel of Edmund White's “A Boy's Own Story” Chapter Divider: January 2023. A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White quickly became iconic for its compassionate, frank, and revelatory treatment of the challenges gay youth faced while growing up during the oppressive 1950s and 1960s until the Stonewall Revolution of 1969. The graphic novel is an adaptation of the original work by writers Brian Alessandro and Michael Carroll, who also incorporate elements of White's life, culled from his many memoirs, and which advances the story into adulthood from Ohio in the 1950s to New York and Paris in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The illustration work consists of a book concept design, cover art, and 260 pages filled with painted frames visually actualizing Alessandro and Carroll's cinematic script.  


Left: Inma Hortas, For Adidas Running UB22 Shoes Campaign. March 2022. Adidas campaign to promote a new shoe designed by and for women, celebrating the runner’s high and its endorphin boost whilst keeping the Ultraboost 22 Shoe itself central to the illustration. 

Right: Michael Hoeweler, I Hated Fishing. Then Fishing Changed My Life. Wall street Journal Saturday Essay, October 2022. A son's love for fishing allows a father the opportunity to find tranquility in the natural world, transcend his frustrations with his own father, and appreciate just how much a child can teach and change a parent.  


Left: Jody Hewgill, Mutt, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be. January 2023. Mutt is the embodiment of a dog who cannot be restrained by rules. 20” x 20” Acrylic on birch cradle. For “Novel Companions”, a solo show celebrating our enduring bond with dogs through fresh portrayals of literary canine characters. 

Right: Sara Deck, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. September 2022. This illustration of actress Jeon Jong-seo was created for use as key art for the release of Ana Lily Amirpour's film Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. 


Above: Matthew Curtius, Our Uncoolest Selves. August 2022.Sometimes I like to go running or backpacking, and some of those times my mind will wander toward the delicious fruit I'm going to eat when I get home, and then some of those times I'll make paintings inspired by the places my mind and body have gone. 


Left: Polly Becker, The Ephemera of Minim. March 2023. One in a series of improvisations which evolved from teaching demos concerned with marks made according to the laws of chance and pareidolia, our tendency to perceive meaningful imagery in ambiguous or random visual inputs.

Right: Jenn Steffey, Vladimir Putin. Adbusters, March 2023. Commissioned by editor Kalle Lasn and art director James Callaghan who were looking for "a looser, wilder, more anarchic vibe . . . with some real personality shining through." Featured in the printed edition, website and on social media.  


Left: Bill Mayer, Self-portrait for Garden & Gun Contributors Page, March 2022.

Right: Aaron Dana, Welcome Freshmen. Bleacher Report, November 2022. An illustration welcoming a talented freshman class to their first NCAA basketball season.  


Left: Owen Smith, Corvus 2. Blab!, September 2022. Painting for the show and book Blab!, a comic and art anthology edited and designed by Monte Beauchamp.

Right: Nigel Buchanan, Bootsy Collins. Faking Funk. Rolling Stone, December 2022. For years the Funk musician Bootsy Collins was plagued by impersonators who would extract favors and borrow money from people while posing as him.  


Above: Tatsuro Kiuchi: Secret Excursion, Golden Desert, July 2022. Illustrations for a children's picture book written by Sasara Kura.