the art: surreal + symbolic

...MORE Surreal Artwork by
Chris Eisenbraun.

  • Pencil artwork (2009): "The Bus To (Pomona); King To Queen's Rook 13."
  • Surreal pencil (2008): "Instant Karma With Marshmallows. Just Add Water!"
  • Pencil sketch (2007): "Curiouser And Curiouser: 3.1415926535897."
  • Artwork (2006): "Infinity And Jelly Donuts."
  • Artwork (2006): "The Face I Show To You."
  • Surreal ink (1997): "Part III: Denouement: Midnight."
  • The Drawing Board Blog:
    "Act 1: Whisper To The Thunder."

    DRAWING STARTED: Dec. 30, 2009.

    Artist précis.

    COMPLETED: May 31, 2010.
    FINAL UPDATE:July 09, 2010.

    I am DETERMINED to get more than one surreal pencil sketch drawing ...DONE this year!!! BIGtime. I'm fighting an ongoing mind game that I AIM to WIN. This year the artwork is going to be done on a smaller scale...but the content will be as BIG as always. I'm aiming for three drawings this year. I guess we'll see. This would DEFinitely be a LOT easier if I were miserable, lonely and unhappy AND had nothing else to do. Oh darn. Been there, done that and that route is always a temporary one anyway (complimentary flashy finish included). Sheesh. Guess I'll just have to fight it out thisaways. LOL. I am NEVER bored.


  • Artist blog: the drawing starts here...

    (Dec. 30, 2009 - Jan. 24, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010.

    Does size really matter?

    Getting started on a brand new work of art... The previous artwork was completed Dec. 27 (towards the end of the annual artist retreat). That meant there were only a VERY FEW days left to get REALLY STARTED on a new work of art. Ugh. Usually, at least a week or two off is required to replenish the artistic reservoir so this was really going to be a PUSH because I wanted to get a new surreal piece STARTED ...NOW (while the air was still thick with the kind of artistic vibes that allow the muse to dance about wildly)! Soooo, I grabbed my box of photos, some old magazines and started playing around with them. Some of the photos end up in the box (or on the fridge) FOR YEARS before they're used (if ever). Anyway. The initial layout for the NEW SURREAL SKETCH was completed in record time: Dec. 30! LOL. The first brick laid down? Tight rope man. Go figure. It is not mine to question why....

    A quick note: this piece is a LOT SMALLER than previous surreal pencil sketches. Why??? I'd REALLY like to get more than one done this year!!!!! Jeez that would be Awesome! The pencil layers have become so thick and intense that it sometimes takes an entire year to get a larger work completed. Well. I've always been intrigued with small works too. We'll see what happens. Isn't THREE a cool number??? Sheesh. Anyway. This is being considered a challenge too: how to make an intense surreal sketch that captures the attention regardless of size. Sounds good anyway. hehehehe. Tooooo funny.. NEXT >>

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  • (Jan. 4, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010.

    ...pretty bare bones...


    This sketch is take #1, the first of two drawings. ARGH. The main difference between this sketch and the final surreal version is (1) tight rope man becomes much smaller AND (2) the fingers at the front eventually turn into Gary's fingers. The original (hands) photo came from an advertisement and cut off way too early. Since I needed more hand (to get the composition where I wanted it to be), Gary was thrown in front of the camera (once again). Too cool. Masculine hands with bitten down fingernails (guitar player style) work MUCH BETTER here and are more real too. So it works. Thank goodness. Re-shooting can really mess with the intent and flow. Yeah. LOL. Plus: when I asked him to look through his fingers in a mad film director style came out EVEN BETTER than the original lazy, smiling eyeball. hehehe. Gary is SO HELPFUL. But then again, he too is an artist and understands what THE NEEDS ARE in the pursuit of creativity.

    At this point the sketch is still pretty bare bones (comparatively speaking) but nuances are beginning to appear (the flames behind the middle figure, the fish in the bubble, etc.)..

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  • (Feb. 20, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    Going round in circles.


    The layering of many, many pencils has begun. This is the second work of art where the graphite is laid down following an overall (underlying) circular motion. Click the image to see an enlargement illustrating this concept. The pattern is very lightly drawn in but CAN be seen. All the lines circle round the figure rising from the flames. Gary's hands have been sketched in and small fish have also made an appearance on the right hand side of the artwork.

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  • (Feb. 28, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    ...just drawing the words.


    The portrait of John is started and the fish have spread out past his talking bubble (albeit currently drawn in VERY lightly). Again, a small reminder, it REALLY doesn't matter WHO is in the photo. THAT (kinda) has no bearing on the meaning of the artwork. This is a surreal sketch of a conversation after all. Ok? I mean... it seems to fit if you DO know who the person is... but also... REALLY seems to be able to go both ways.... This work of art isn't about John Lennon. It could be a drawing that includes an artistic guy (which is one of many things that John Lennon... easily represents). After all, years from now, eons from now, decades from now.... no one knows ANY of the people in the drawings and they have no REAL bearing (past postscript status) on the work of art. It's the way the light falls on a face, the expression in the eyes, the lines of the body, the clothes being worn, etc. etc. etc. BIGtime. It's almost a coincidence if you happen to recognize one or two of the people in the artwork...but it also isn't. I just can't seem to be able to say this poetically or even in a semi-intelligible straightforward sort of manner...but then again, it's my subconscious that is speaking. I am just drawing the words. PLUS: there are ALWAYS people you don't know in the drawings too.... and they are JUST as IMPORTANT to the composition, etc. This is surrealality, the dream scape of the mind illustrated. A conversation in symbolic measures.

    I think I must have drawn twenty different versions of the path(s) before I came up with one that I was ok with. I FINALLY said "ENOUGH!". Sheesh. Such a SMALL thing to spend SO much time on. Anyway. That is just HOW IT IS :).

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  • (Mar. 14, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    Talking bubbles.


    I really wanted the man's hair to look greasy and messy. Do you think it comes off thataways? hehehehe. The girl on the far right has begun to shape herself too. It appears that she is to have an identically sized talking bubble, with the same content, but an opposite appearance... You'll see. Probably right after I see it enough to know what I am drawing. LOL.

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  • (Mar. 20, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    Too thin paper SUCKS.


    Gary's fingers are started. At this point there are about four or five layers of pencil on the drawing paper. The paper used in this sketch is THICKER than the previous artwork. I REALLY like that piece ("The Bus to (Pomona); King to Queen's Rook 13") ...but there is a small problem. Even though I did NOT erase on it very much AT ALL... the paper is warped over the threefold figure. That SUCKS. Anyway. Past the sidebar... I am DEFinitely using thicker paper nowadays. You can't keep paper from warping (too much ink makes it warp, ditto with dark pencils and erasures, etc.)... but I CAN use slightly thicker paper. The truly ironic thing... the other paper is French and claims to have been made by the same people FOREVER ...and the claims are that artist's like Van Gogh, etc. used it too. Sheesh. I guess those guys just weren't as rough with their art. LOL.

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  • (Apr. 04, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    Seeing with your REAL eyes...


    It's pretty easy to see where all of the layering was focused on during this last stint, eh? The fingers are REALLY starting to shape up. At this point, I'd guess that seven to eleven layers of graphite have been lightly scribbled in. You have to walk away from your drawing periodically. It helps keep the focus TIGHT. Otherwise you start assuming that you KNOW what you are seeing. You want to draw??? You've GOT to LOOK at what you are drawing and you have to LOOK with your REAL eyes ....NOT your mind's eyes. Most people "draw" with the eyes of their mind. You can do that too but FIRST you better practice SEEING what is REALLY in front of you and get that right... before you start working off of lalala land. That's half the battle right there. The seeing. Imagining... that comes later. LOL.

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  • (Apr. 11, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    The fingers and the eyeball.


    AND... even MORE layers of pencil have been added to the fingers and the eyeball portion of the drawing.... but... the effort should be worth it as I don't want these hands to get lost in the drawing. They are supposed to POP. PLUS: The bricks have been started. Once ye ol' subconscious sent the message that bricks were to be drawn in the triangle in the middle..., the internet pict search commenced. The pict that FINALLY drew me in was the one with OLD, crumbly, misshapen and broken bricks. Woohoo. Again with the "Go Figure/Who Knew" stuff. I guess we'll ALL know WHY... later (after the artwork is done).

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  • (Apr. 18, 2010) Posted Apr. 25, 2010

    How NOT to get over-indulgent?


    The (truly) white spot, the bright highlight of the composition, was FINALLY revealed as the flames. Cool beanies. There has been a LOT of internal questioning about HOW that figure is supposed to be drawn in. I had no clue, just a couple of ideas that kept rambling aimlessly around. Sometimes the subconscious just isn't telling until the last minute. I've gotten used to it I guess.... Well, the fingers are doing the talkin' once again and the answers are on the way. Click the pict to see the enlargement and check out the background BEHIND the flames. Wow. Mind boggling. I JUST found out about this part of the drawing. You'd think I'd be told MUCH earlier, but hey... this is fun too. BIGtime. I feel that this one is FINALLY starting to wrap up. I hope it isn't too busy. So many of my works of art, especially the surreal images, seem to ride that fine line of too much and waaaay too much stuff. I guess that's just a side effect of a baroque attitude and leads to the question: how to follow the muse and NOT get over-indulgent??? Oooh. That's a real tuffy and I am NOT the only artist in the world who rides that line. LOL.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    Flowing full throttle.


    For a number of reasons...I was NOT able to get to the studio for the last two weekends. In compensation, this ENTIRE weekend was devoted to ART (I am SERIOUS about making time for ART in my life). As you can image, the energy level was INTENSE when I finally DID get into the art studio. BIGtime. A LOT of drawing got done and an uncommon mellowness flowed full throttle through Monday. Wow. THAT is very rare thing indeed. hehehe.

    That being said, I expected to be almost done with this pencil sketch by now. LOL. But, it turned out that my subconscious had other ideas about WHICH part of the artwork needed to be drawn. In the previous sketch, the surreal art elements are bright, airy and separate. In the sketch above, a very noir element has surfaced (which coincidentally manages to draw all of the surreal art elements together, into one story). Many, many layers of very fine and thin graphite were added, erased and re-added to the drawing. About five different pencils were utilized. I could not even begin to tell you how many layers of pencil work are accumulating. I'll just hazard a guess and say, "It's a LOT." Anyway. I have a number of questions for my subconscious but have decided to put them off and see where this journey ends up. At this point, it has to be about trust between the artist and the muse. The artwork has DEFinitely turned an unexpected corner and that's a fact. But, I'm following a whisper right now...a whisper to the thunder actually.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    "Subterranean surreal."


    Wow. This sketch has FINALLY done it man. We're DEFinitely headed out waaaaaay past Pluto this time. LOL. Usually the word "surreal" is fine and dandy >> it's standard, works well and describes my art without being overly confining. But, right now, the word I keep hearing in my head is "subterranean surreal". This one is going DEEP into ye ol' subconscious territories (re: symbol usage, dream working, storytelling, etc.). But, then again... don't they all? Sheesh. Deep is my favorite place to play :)

    Anyway. The drawing is getting down to the final/last settings and I am trying to WORK it HARD. Focus. Focus. BIGtime. Sooo..., this Sunday was spent working the white space/focal point of the artwork. Because the drawing is SO small, a BIG problem came up re: the facial features of the figure. I am trying to draw this VERY VERY small face and give it expression and life with BIG ol' pencils. Don't get me wrong, these are VERY average sized pencils but the point comes off as HUGE when super fine detail is the zero point of focus. Ugh. The kneaded eraser came into play and the entire face was erased. And then erased again. THEN the sandpaper came out and a constant battle commenced between me, a VERY sharp point on the pencil AND the dulling effect that occurs when pencil touches sketch paper. ROFLMAO. But..., after much-o sharpening (and a LOT of cussing)... a decent effect was achieved. I like the expression on this face more than the previous so that is good. PLUS, the release of ALL that energy caused things to go really crazy and all sorts of unexpected things came into play in the sketch afterwards. Good. I like crazy :)

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  • (May 24, 2010) Posted May 31, 2010



    I'm not sure how I feel about the artwork at this moment. Throughout this ENTIRE drawing... I have had NO idea what was going to happen with the final (female) face. My subconscious has been VERY quiet on the subject. Ugh. BUT...VERY interesting things are happening. BUT I am drawing parts that I have not "seen" up to the VERY minute of accidentally glancing down and LOOKing at the paper. When you're in the zone, details slipstream past silently. It IS the zone after all. This EXACT moment is EXTREMELY nerve wracking and this is where I leave it for the weekend. Not good. I am partially convinced on SOME level that it is all RUINED. TOO much. WAY too much in the foreground screaming for attention. Aaaaargh.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    Ruined? No. Done.


    Ok. So this surreal pencil sketch was NOT ruined. hehehe. I should KNOW better and just trust that little voice. LOL. Don't get me wrong, there were some rough moments at the end. For example: I noticed that her eyes were crossed and her mouth COMPLETELY off center and pointing the wrong way... but those things were caught and fixed. Then the kneaded eraser came out as little fish were drawn, darkened, erased, re-drawn, re-erased, etc. etc. But the drawing of stuff is DONE. The artwork is officially framed and hanging on the wall. AND...I am getting ready to start on a SECOND Work of Art this year. WOOO freaky deakin' HOO.

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  • (July 09, 2010) Posted July 18, 2010

    An artist rambling (and ranting).


    Ok. I got it DONE. The artwork is framed, as in Finished. Over. Completed. Yeah right. There is a lesson to be learned here and I better learn it QUICKLY or I am JUST blowing hot air ALL OVER THE PLACE. Sheesh. Between the "day job" and LIFE... I manage to get (what seems like) SO LITTLE ART DONE... that when I get to the end of a work of art...I am DONE, Over and ready-to-move-on.... That is EXACTLY the moment when things can go BADLY wrong. Ugh. It happened before with (what I affectionately call) the art disaster. The urge to move on and recapture the "prolific" title of youth is fool's gold. I am SO FOCUSED on getting art DONE and trying to get MORE done... that I am loosing focus at the end of the current work.

    Ok. Why all the rambling and ranting???? Look over at the framed work of art over there. Check out the female figure. Because of the way her hair is waving... AND because of the dark lines of the hair... her jaw got REALLY messed up. What looked like a line of her jaw was actually a strand of hair, BUT because the jaw line is NOT showing, the hair line assumes prominence ...and she suddenly has a strangely, non symmetrical jaw line. PLUS, her chin is still slightly off center. AND... what I thought was one of the coolest symbols in the artwork (her talking bubble that is OPPOSITE of the male figure's bubble)... gets LOST. Jeez. AND... I had sprayed a VERY light layer of fixative over the pencil work before I framed it. This translates to the fact that I can't do a whole lot to fix this. Ugh and anyway.

    So, I pulled the artwork OUT of the frame and pulled out my kneaded eraser. I tried to erase around her talking bubble and it worked slightly, enough to matter. Then I added some water lines with the eraser, leading away from the figure (pulling everything to the left). The chin was modified by softening the point on the end of her dainty chin and moving it to the left too. Ditto with the small cleft in her chin (moved to the left). After that I took out my very dark pencil and added more lines to the hair. ALL of the new lines are... (let's say it together): moving to the left. Her face looks more real. Not perfect but more real. It really is a shame that I lost sight of the negative bubble because I REALLY like that symbolism. Oh well. My bad. Time to learn a lesson I guess. @!#$$$^%!!.

    Lesson. Smeshon. Jeez. Anyway. Here's the official link to the actual online gallery page for the artwork. Ok? Have at it babe.

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