Arts & Culture

‘Baby Blues’ and ‘Zits’ cartoonist Jerry Scott of Arroyo Grande has a side art job

When globally syndicated cartoonist Jerry Scott turned his attention to art that would take him away from “the daily grind” of comics, he couldn’t distance himself from the whimsy that fills his daily life. It found its way into his oil paints and onto his canvases.

“I’m most comfortable when there’s humor involved in the composition,” Scott said in a news release. “Maybe that’s not a surprise, given my day job as a cartoonist, but it’s not something I expected. I’ve found myself looking for the funny in my art, as well. Maybe I’m just wired that way.”

In his show, “Free Range,” at Frame Works in San Luis Obispo, Scott’s 22 paintings feature animals in states of almost emotional expression — a noble pig in, “Pig Be Like, Uh, Huh,” a 48-inch-by-36-inch canvas, and a close-up of an attitudinal rooster in “You Talkin’ to Me?,” a 40-inch-by-30-inch piece. Some depict animals he says he viewed from his studio window.

“For these paintings, I’ve either chosen images, shapes and light that I find interesting, or things that just make me smile — sometimes both,” Scott said. Scott’s paintings do not take a big-picture view of the world, animal life or even farm life. Instead, his paintings are portraits that capture an intimate moment in each creature’s existence. A contemplative pink pig stands solidly in place in “Roy’s Pig,” a 40-inchby-40-inch oil. His head is slightly bowed, eyes full of wisdom and a tinge of sadness as if considering his fate. Scott’s animal work is quite different from his comic strips. Scott is known for “Baby Blues,” which he co-produces with Rick Kirkman, and “Zits,” which he creates in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman.

“Baby Blues” runs in 1,200 newspapers in 28 countries and 13 languages. “Zits” runs in more than 1,700 papers in 45 countries and 15 languages.

Scott lives in Arroyo Grande with his wife, Kim, and their two daughters, ages 13 and 21, from whom, he said in a news release, he “steals ideas daily.”