Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
Dickinson County saw six new cases of COVID-19 logged by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Thursday. That is a tie for the highest, single-day total in the county so far. I admit, Dickinson County isn't a hotspot at this point. We've only got 34 cases total (as of this post), and 10 have recovered. That said, the summer season isn't quite fully upon us yet, and health officials here are saying the last surge was likely due to increased summer traffic over Memorial Day weekend. Just imagine what will happen after the Fourth of July this year.
Though there's only a couple dozen cases recorded, there's likely a bunch more floating around out there, and I fear the community has become so tired of protecting itself that we will indeed become a hotspot in the very near future.
I have a fair share of dandelions in my lawn, and I have a two-year-old who loves to blow the seeds as children do. That served as inspiration for this piece, obviously.
Unlike a good number of my cartoons, I started with the background – textured again, as I've been favoring more organic brushes lately – and I went with an elongated format this time. Anything less than that would have been a cramped composition (that is, you can't have seeds floating away if they have no room to float). Then I got to work on the actual dandelion. The stem was a good place to start, as I knew there wasn't going to be much color and I wanted to get the right shade of green to compliment the lavender. At that point, it was on to the seed head, and that required the use of a reference photo. In reality, it was the geometric staggering of the seed pods that I found I needed from the photo most – though I fudged it for the composition. I began with a soft brush "halo" for each seed's umbrella structure and then worked in each seed's stem before drawing the individual fibers.
The shape and texture of the dandelion still didn't seem quite right at that point, and looking again at my reference photo showed me the fibers of each seed cluster around the stem at their center. That turned out to be a little thing with a big impact. I carried out the same technique on the six floating seeds (one for each of Thursday's reported cases), and then moved on to the silhouette of the COVID-19 virus.
Without that, this was a nice piece of wall art. With it, the cartoon became a relevant statement with room for interpretation. All that was left to do was find the right balance between transparency and saturation.
All said, this was a pretty quick piece to finish – just short of an hour.