Belleville artist David Carr balances his work with caring for his 2 1/2 -year-old daughter, Aurora.
“When she’s awake during the day, that’s when I do all of my running of errands and answering emails,” said the upbeat 32-year-old divorced dad who shares custody. “When she’s asleep, I am going to focus on getting out oil paints and painting.”
A recent oil painting by David graces the cover of the Aug. 15 Dr. Who comic book. The painting shows four men — representing Dr. Who’s time-traveling Doctor — in a museum looking at a Picasso-like painting. Dr. Who, a long-time British science fiction TV show, follows the adventures of the Doctor, a time-traveling alien who looks human.
“Earlier this year, I had done a painting that was a takeoff of a Norman Rockwell,” said David. “It was an older gentleman standing in front of a Picasso painting. There’s a Dr. Who episode where (the Doctor) met Vincent Van Gogh. I thought maybe we could do something like that.”
Dr. Who’s time-traveling spaceship Tardis is also part of cover art. Tardis, which looks like a blue British telephone booth, peeks from landscapes and still lifes, hanging on the wall next to the Picasso.
“The art for the cover turned out really great,” said Jo Ward, who works at Twilight Comics. “It’s a pretty complete piece with a lot of detail. It’s a limited run of 1,000 copies. We’re the only store that has them.”
David, whose repertoire includes paintings, portraits, digital design, CD covers and theatrical posters, will be at Twilight Comics from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to autograph copies of the Dr. Who comic book. It’s part of Dr. Who Day that will include a costume contest and trivia.
How did you get chosen to create the comic book artwork? “I have been selling my artwork through Twilight Comics in Shiloh for years now. They give me a space on the wall, 8 foot by 8 foot. They’ve been astonishingly wonderful. Every now and then, they get an opportunity through comic book companies to have an exclusive cover available only at their store. Nineteen in the world have this issue. We are one of them. We’re the only one in Illinois. I was talking to owner Brian Hillier who said, ‘We have got an opportunity to do this. Would it be something you would want to do?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? I am always doing Dr. Who fan art and mash-ups (creating something from two or more disparate elements) and, geek camouflage art. You look at a painting. It looks like a mundane still life. Look at that. There’s a doozer from Fraggle Rock sleeping behind the bowl of fruit. I will do a landscape, over by some trees put a Dr. Who Tardis. That’s the kind of artwork I do.”
What kind of time frame did you have? “It was a little bit of a scramble. We had the opportunity for a cover, but have to come up with the idea in 10 days. Not only come up with the idea, but do the art.” One of his ideas was to portray the 13 actors who have played the Doctor character. “I had the idea for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who. That happened two years back. I did a very large painting, 30 by 40 inches, where the Doctors were in the position of the apostles in the Last Supper painting.” When that didn’t fly, he went with his second idea. “Earlier this year, I had done a painting that was a takeoff on a Norman Rockwell of an older gentleman standing in front of a Picasso painting. There was a Dr. Who episode where he met Vincent Van Gogh, Maybe we could do something like that.”
What is the process? “The original painting was 18 by 24. Once you finish, you take a photograph and send it to the comic company at a ridiculously high resolution.” Twilight Comics will auction off the original online.
Why oil paint? “I love the texture. There’s a glow to it when you do it properly, and no one did an oil painting (for the Dr. Who cover). Everything switched to digital. It’s faster and cheaper. I bounce back and forth between oil and acrylic, I can use acrylic around my daughter. It’s safe. When she’s awake, I draw in charcoal pencil or acrylic. I can’t do oil stuff until she’s asleep.”
What got you hooked on Dr. Who? “It’s the premise of the show that he can travel anywhere in time and space. Rather than watching one kind of show, the way it’s set up, you can get horror stories, outer space stories, murder mysteries, comedy. It’s got any genre — Old West, Roman times. It never gets old. ... The style of the show fits my artwork very well. Some days you want to paint Old West scenes; some days, pretty flowers. I want to do all genres of art.”
Who finds your art appealing? “People between 18 and 45 are really interested in something fun, different, a conversation piece. (In the mash-up artwork), I take two totally different things and mix them together. Hagrid from Harry Potter with Toothless, the dragon from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ over his shoulder. Hagrid finally got his dragon. I take two different concepts and mix them together because I can. I like to tell people, ‘Why have one fandom when you can have them all?’”
Anyone in your life who helped make you an artist? “My kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Heise at Franklin School) has one of my drawings in her wallet. I told her I was going to be a famous artist. She said she was going to keep that, and it was going to be her retirement fund. It’s all I have ever talked about doing. At Franklin, they never told me I needed a back-up. That’s a goal no one diminished.” He also gave credit to the late Mary McHugh, his sixth-grade teacher and Bill Evans, an art teacher at Belleville West.
Do you have any artists in your family? “Mom (Sue) was very crafty with paintings. Dad (John) does woodworking. My grandfather could have been an artist. He liked to do it as a hobby. He taught me how to draw. They encouraged me all the time. ... It’s all about putting your mind and heart into it. I don’t want to do anything else. This is what I do for a living. When I’m not painting, I am designing logos and doing portraits and commissioned work. The things I am drawing in the morning don’t necessarily look like what I am drawing in the afternoon.”
What do you like about making art? Whether I paint for a cover of Dr. Who or for someone’s home, I just want to make people happy. The idea that I can do it in any small way makes my day. I am happy.”
What’s next? I am at Chicago with a Wizard World Comic Con, a national comic book convention, next week. I set up an easel and demonstrate. I like telling people who come up to my art booth that I like to paint in different styles, from Norman Rockwell to Vincent Van Gogh. David also will be at the Science Center in St. Louis Sept. 4 for its Dr. Who First Night festivities and at the Strange Folk Festival Sept. 25 to 27 at Union Station in St. Louis.
Dr. Who Comic Book Signing
Where: Twilight Comics, 208 Frank Scott Parkway East, Suite 6, Swansea; 618 416-2797.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 pm. Saturday
Cost: $9.99 for the Aug. 15 edition, or $14.99 signed by David Carr, who created the cover art.
David’s art: Original canvases sell for $60 to $100; prints are $15 each.
Contact David: www.artmonkeyworld.com; facebook.com/artmonkeyworld; or twitter.com/artmonkeyworld