Jon Stewart Getting Things Done

I generally try to avoid wading into the political on Amdall Gallery. I’ve done it occasionally in the past, like my discussions and data analysis on mass shootings. But this blog is mostly about art, data, and random tech stuff, so I try to keep it in those lanes for the most part. Essentially, my thought is that people probably don’t browse art sites in search of political talk. That being said, this post is going to be about Jon Stewart, the former host of the Daily Show. I’ve long been a fan of his, which probably gives pretty clear insight into the direction I lean. Anyhow, this will be only peripherally political, and mostly contain criticisms of Congress as a whole.

Aside from my appreciation of how he spells his name (Jon over John), I loved the old Daily Show when he hosted. I watched it pretty much every evening when they had Jon on the desk, with Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, John Oliver, Ed Helms, and so many other hilarious people contributing. In some ways, the old Daily Show feels like Saturday Night Live in terms of how much of its cast went on to greater fame. Unfortunately, the show seemed to lose what made it special when the new host took over…I haven’t watched it in years. Maybe that group was just special.

Since he retired from the Daily Show, Jon Stewart has been largely absent from the public space. I’ve really missed the biting commentary he brought to the conversation. Recently though, he showed up in a somewhat surprising place – testifying before Congress, advocating on behalf of 9/11 first responders. Funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which was set up to compensate victims of the attack in exchange for them not suing, was blocked in the Senate. Jon Stewart went before Congress and delivered a blistering speech. It’s nine minutes long, but really worth a listen:

Congress would not get this done, too busy trying to be slick. Jon went on a tear, not just in front of Congress in the above video, but also making the rounds all across the broadcasting world. Amazingly, he managed to shame them into passing this funding. A photographer named Bill Clark managed to take an iconic shot of Mitch McConnell walking past Jon Stewart, on his way to vote for permanent authorization of the bill…while Jon wears a proud smirk. The photo is really great, and captures quite a moment. I thought this would make for a cool sketch, if I was up to the challenge.

I’ll share the final version first, then discuss the challenges with this one:

Overall, not a terrible…but not my best. Let’s start with the good; first, I’m glad to say I do recognize Jon Stewart, so I think I captured his look. I’m particularly proud of the smirk; I really think I nailed it. Smirks are really hard to get right…too subtle and they look unhappy, too emphatic and they just look to be grinning. Also, I have to give myself credit for finally managing to blend darker shades of blue to good effect. I’ve had a problem recently relying on dark grays to show shadow, even on bright primary colors. It never looks great, so I was glad I was able to lean more on mixing blues.

Okay, now for what I don’t like. Since we were just talking about blue…let’s continue there. Although I often lament that I settle for dull colors often, this time I don’t really like how bright I went with the blue. It’s overpowering, and takes over the entire scene. I felt so good about the smirk, I was sad that it didn’t end up being the focal point because of all the bright blueness everywhere. Let me show you what I mean by comparing an earlier version:

The smirk wasn’t quite right in this stage, but I can just feel how much more satisfied I would have been with a more muted blue. Well, I don’t have a time machine, so nothing I can do but learn from this as I move to other things. In the interest of piling on, another issue I had with this was the background. I’m never great on that aspect, but this is pretty sloppy. Not my best job. I somewhat tried to stick with the colors from the actual hallway, but didn’t get there…and the result is a mashup of colors that don’t really work.

I didn’t take too many photos, but enough to get a progression .gif at least:

This was a challenging piece, I knew it would be going in. But I’m not overly satisfied with it right now. Maybe my view will change with time – that does happen occasionally. But I might need to retreat to something easier for the next one! Huddle in that comfort zone for a bit.


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