POP’D FROM THE PANEL
Artist Statement By Tom Everhart
In one of Sparky’s last essays included in his 1999, “A Golden Celebration”, he speaks to the growth of his work:
“It took on a quality which I think is even more important, and that is one which I can describe only as abstraction.”
In Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s 1989, "Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz”, Sparky is quoted to say, “Perspective and detail become unimportant if one knows a table is a table.”
His ability to convert an everyday object into an abstract form without loosing the features that distinguish it as an object separated him from his fellow cartoonist. It actually joined him more with the thinking of the abstract fine artist of his time. Sparky’s abstracting method, like that of these artists, would first identify the object. Then, isolate and identify its singular features. And finally, put them back together according to his own artistic needs.
He used these basic principles of abstracting when he brought us down to the child’s eye level by transforming the conventionally proportioned 7-1/2 head tall person into a 2-1/2 head tall figure. He gave us the opportunity to be close and immediate to his characters by abstracting his conventional perspective backgrounds, in 1960, into flat unconventional environments that stopped us from fading away into the distance of the former surroundings. Thus, and most importantly giving us the feeling of closeness to his subject matter.
In acknowledgement of this, importance, the two works, “Security Blanket”’ and “Woodstock”, were created to be my own abstractions of his abstracted objects. Like Sparky, I have isolated and identified the singular features, such as the colors and textures of Woodstock and his nest, and the folds and stuffing of the blanket, and have put them back together according to my own artistic needs.
Sparky was constantly telling me to see the work in a new way. In Johnson’s, “Good Grief”, Sparky is quoted saying, “A good cartoonist looks at the same thing as everybody else and then produces a drawing of something nobody else saw.”