Pen and watercolor paintings exhibited on
Craig McIntosh has sketched for as long as he can remember.
Whether he’s playing Pictionary with the family, drawing political cartoons for the Star Tribune, or illustrating Sally Forth, the Rosemount resident outlines every opportunity he gets.
MacIntosh is the artist at the Rosemount Area Arts Council gallery at the Robert Trail Library in Rosemount this summer.
Until October he hangs 34 of his watercolor sketches in the library.
During the school year, the Robert Trail Library is home to monthly art galleries featuring students from the area.
âI’m replacing the middle school art,â he said. âIt’s nice stuff. It was difficult to follow. “
Although much of his published work has been titled Political Caricaturist and Syndicated Comic Book Artist, the work exhibited this summer was done in pen and watercolor.
âWatercolor is my favorite medium because of its immediacy; you have to work so fast, âhe said. âI often carry a sketchbook to capture a moment or a particular scene. And for years I’ve been using my phone’s camera to capture places that I might want to paint later. I usually draw with pen or pencil and add watercolor later. “
He remembers taking a drawing class in his senior year at the University of Illinois.
“The teacher said that at the end of the class our grade would depend on a full sketchbook,” he said. “I had been there before. There are people who got the job but then waited and then went crazy the week before the due date. But I immediately started sketching out how you should do it. In the end I filled two books with drawings. “
He said it was the only A-Plus he got in college.
“I’ve learned not to hesitate, and if someone asks you to make one, give them two,” he said. “I’ve shown that I really enjoyed this course, and now I’m really into this genre of sketching and watercolor.”
He said there was something therapeutic about sitting alone drawing a line drawing and then adding watercolors later.
It’s a medium he likes to share with friends and family.
“Anyone can do it, regardless of their ability,” said MacIntosh. âI painted with each of my grandchildren and am now a three-year-old great-granddaughter. This is my idea of ââhow you can spend a few relaxing hours on a summer day or inside when the winter snow is piling up in front of the window. “
One of his pieces was inspired by a photo of an abandoned truck lying in the weeds on a farm in Lakeville.
âWe took our granddaughters to this farm to pet the animals,â he said. âI took my cell phone with me, that’s a great thing. I can take any picture I want. I can go back and draw it later. Nobody has to wait for me. We saw the truck when we drove away. It just sat there. Thatâs what really attracts me. I took a few pictures, made a sketch, and added watercolor. That kind of coincidence happens. I’m working on a series of sketches from photos of my granddaughter feeding goats. “
He also has a number of paintings from Vietnam in the library.
After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Fine Arts in 1966, MacIntosh was drafted into the Army and served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam from 1968-69.
Some of the sketches were made while he was in Vietnam during the war. Others are sketches of photos he took in Vietnam.
In 1970, after the war, his family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he accepted a position with the Morning Journal-Herald. Five years later, he moved to Minneapolis to work as a political cartoonist for The Evening Star.
When the Star and Morning Tribune merged to form the Star Tribune in 1981, MacIntosh became the editorial illustrator. He was also the co-creator of Professor Doodles, a syndicated children’s cartoon strip, along with Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack.
Sack is the current editorial cartoonist on the Star Tribune.
“We’re going way back,” said MacIntosh. âWe’ve come together to do something that goes beyond the editorial illustration. He’s brilliant. He won a Pulitzer for his work. “
MacIntosh realizes that political cartoons are a dying art.
When he started there were about 300 political cartoonists working.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s 50,” he said.
For the most part, he focused on the comedy, but there have been “a handful of times that I’ve really made up my mind about the carotid artery,” he said.
“Every now and then you annoy someone,” he said. âSometimes you’re happy that your work hit a nerve, but then there are the consequences. This time around in Dayton, I did something that upset people so much that I thought my editor was going to fire me. He took me to school and publicly apologized through the school notice system. I had to take care of myself for the next month or so. This is nature. Politics has always been like that. Editorial cartoons go back a long way to the time after the civil war. “
In 1992 he left the Star Tribune to draw the popular cartoon Sally Forth, which is still running.
“Old comic strips never die, man,” he said. “They just keep walking forever.”
MacIntosh withdrew from illustration by Sally Forth in 2013.
“I’m just an old horse in the pasture who now likes to paint watercolors,” said MacIntosh. “I’m just an old relic from the old newspaper days.”
He has lived in Rosemount since 2004 with his wife, Linda.
He also turns his art into note cards, which âis also a dying art. People just send emails now, âhe said. “But I love it. I made them for family and friends.”
His creative endeavors don’t end with illustrations. MacIntosh has also written several detective novels, including the WOLF series starring Navy SEAL Tom Wolf.
They are fiction books with a non-fiction twist. The series is inspired by a real retired Navy seal.
âHe always gives me ideas and he knows a lot of people in special forces. I use his last name, Wolf, because he’s too handsome to pass up, âsaid MacIntosh. âIt’s not a comic. It doesn’t have a large number of bodies. It is very real. He introduced me to people on active duty (to keep the stories correct). I try to keep it as real and likely as possible. “
RAAC will host a reception for MacIntosh at the Robert Trail Library from June 26th at 2:00 pm. All are welcome.