Friday, September 8, 2017

Leia On The Rocks...

So continuing with the painted rocks series, here's Princess Leia (again, I know).  I felt that the previous Leia rock was weak and wanted to try for something better.  It certainly is better, but still not as good as I'd like it to be.  The whole painting on a curved surface thing is surprisingly tricky.

To make the hunt for the rock more fun, I created a simple graphic of Artoo projecting a hologram of the local junior college campus.  We printed 5 of these "tickets," and then went to the local library and stashed them inside Carrie Fisher's books.  We then told people that the clue was hidden in the library.

My wife started it officially at 6 pm, and it took about 45 minutes for someone to find it, even though she had hid it well inside some landscaping.  It was a pretty good sized rock too, so maybe that helped-- and that it was glossy.  Oh well, it ended up obviously going to someone who wanted it, so hopefully it will have  a long life.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Latest Rock Painting...

So the first rock that I painted was the one with Moses parting the Red Sea, done in a children's storybook visual style.  I decided to go a bit further with my most recent rock, depicting Jonah being tossed into the sea, and the ominous sign of a fish/whale in the distance behind him.  The interesting part about this project was  trying to tell a series of events with only one image: He was on the boat, then they tossed him into the water, then the fish/whale appeared, and then he prayed to God.  Initially, I had gone with the "praying hands" gesture for him, but it didn't look earnest/panicked enough.  The tightly clasped hands was more like it.

My favorite part is the line that separates the water level from the deep below, and the turbulence of the sea (with stormy sky and apocalyptic red tint in the distance).  My least favorite part?  Jonah himself, whose face didn't turn out as nicely as it had in my initial sketch.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Some of My Painted Rocks for Local Fun

Painting on rocks is as old as... people and.. rocks. Yes, from ancient caves to rocks purchased at Home Depot, people can still be counted on to put an image on a stone. People can also be counted upon to partake in whatever might be the current seemingly pointless activity, or "fad."

So here in the valley, where originality mostly can't be found, it should come as no surprise that people have resorted to painting any rock they can find. Since I'm still a human, for now, I went ahead and had a go. Basically, like in many other parts of the country (probably ten years ago), people are painting and hiding rocks, then giving clues for others to try to find them first.

So here are some of my painted rocks. I'll say this: painting on a pitted, round, uneven surface is not always fun. There. I said it.
The source for this image was a panel from the Marvel Comics Adaptation of "The Empire Strikes Back."  And judging from about 70% of the artwork in that issue, THEIR source for their drawings were still shots from the film!
This image of Vader also came from the same "Empire" issue.  I like the yellow highlight on his helmet, and how it reacts with the vermillion background.
Now, this one is actually a free hand drawing.  His head looks squished in this image, but if you look at it from the right side of the stone, it looks correct.  One of the challenges with painting on a rounded surface.  Leonard Nimoy had rough skin, but no, it wasn't THIS rough!
This was the first rock I painted, of Moses parting the Red Sea.  No pre-drawing or planning, just painted directly on, with a sort of Bible story book style art.  I like the highlights on his hand and shadow on his cheek.
This Princess Leia image was acquired from a freeze frame image from "The Empire Strikes Back."  It took about 13 minutes from the time my wife announced that she'd hid this one that it was declared found.  Really though, it's sort of "meh" as far quality goes.
I couldn't forget Threepio of course.  This source image came from issue #50 of the original run of "Star Wars" by Marvel, an issue with particularly impressive artwork and inking.  My copy is totally trashed, but I still prize it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Experimental Portrait of Julian Edelman... Well, Why Not?

So, after the Jabba the Hutt exercise, in which I utilized white shapes against a black background, I decided to take it to the next level, by introducing color.

I figured that if I chose a subject that was in active motion, and not just a giant slug splayed out on a dias in a palatial throne room in the middle of a Tatooine desert, then perhaps I could utilize color to express motion and energy.

So I took the colors of NFL wide receiver Julian Edelman's uniform and shook them all up, and took the approach that they were sort of shaking off of him as he made his cuts.  If the colors crossed each other, I would treat them as semi-opaque and allow them to blend.

What I most liked about the finished image is that even though there's not a lot of information there, I'm sure that most people who watch football would be able to tell who he is, even though there's a real morass of color mess going on around his face.  Also, I like how most of his shins/calves are not rendered, only barely indicated with a dash here and there.

This is getting fun, it's the absolute opposite of how I've been doing things for all of my life.  I find that it's more interesting to engage a viewer with an opportunity to use their own imagination and fill in the blanks, rather than to force feed them every little stitch and hair.

Who woulda thought?


Friday, September 9, 2016

Ink Portrait of Jabba the Hutt.... Well, why not?

So for some inexplicable reason a few days ago, I began to feel like something was missing from the exterior walls of my workshop.  I'm not sure why, but obviously among all of the posters and models and ephemera that goes with being a Star Wars/Star Trek geek, I had failed to have anything Jabba-related.

I must remedy this matter, I said to myself.  And so I watched Return of the Jedi again, a movie that my 3 year-old is very much into these days, and took some mental notes (as if I needed any), and began work on an 11 x 17 inch piece of bristol paper.

The image, as you can see, is mostly black shadows, as if there's an interrogation lamp in a vast otherwise dark room.  I have always preferred Jabba with one eye squinted, with a sort of look of incredulity.  Sort of a "I know you're lying, but... please continue"  look.

And so now, Jabba lives again!  Realized with black india ink.  He resides on the wall outside my shop, right above my tool rack, in a fittingly dingy environment.

There will be no Salacious Crumb.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Our Visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum

On Monday, my wife and I made our every-six-year-visit to the San Francisco area. Some people do stuff annually; so do we. But when it comes to the Bay Area, with its MENTALLY INSANE street setup and overall oddness, it takes me about six years before I can do it all again. Growing up here in the valley, I've grown accustomed to flat terrain, where I can see the horizon at the end of the road. Therefore, I naturally don't like the feeling that I'm driving/walking on a gigantic rippled blanket, on which I'm just certain that no structure is really stable. It just freaks me out. This may rankle some, but thank God above that the 49ers moved their stadium to Santa Clara (Candlestick Park was always a nightmare to escape from).

 But within the Presidio, off of the "blanket," resides the Walt Disney Family Museum. "The what? Wait, why is it in SF and not Southern California--" Don't ask, I honestly can't tell you. It makes zero sense, but hey, it's his family calling the shots, and they decided to install this museum in what is most certainly a large, brick, probably haunted building. The structure is right in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, amidst beautiful landscaping, a great open area where you can feel the cool breeze off of the bay and feel far from the distorted geography of the city. In short, the location doesn't necessarily rhyme, but the tune is still catchy.

 Right off, contrary to what you might have read online, you ARE allowed to take photos, as long as the flash is off. I went in thinking I couldn't, and was so happy to find out that it was cool. Thank goodness for smartphones. However, if you do go to an exhibit in building 122, you'll not be able to photograph anything, which makes sense.

 I've always loved animation, particularly the Warner Bros shorts, which, like most of us my age, I was solidly exposed to during the late 1970s. In contrast, the Disney shorts were not readily available at that time; no Saturday morning tv show, and if you were a church-going family like mine was, you never saw "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday evenings. So I felt a kinship with the work of Jones, McKimson, Freleng and Clampett.

But fast forward many years, to the mid-1990s (no kidding), when I began to date my future wife. Her family were more Disney-oriented, and one of our early adventures had been to Disneyland, I place I'd only been to twice before that point (and even then, it was at the end of my high school years, long after that "magic age" for that kind of thing). These visits to Disneyland became quite frequent, and always being dangerously curious, I began to read about the history of Disney and his animation operation. It was then that I realized what an innovator his studio was, and what a magical merging of the right man and the right artists at the right time it all was. I began to learn about men like Johnston, Thomas, Kahl, and Marc Davis. I realized, as I watched the classic Disney shorts as they became available, that cartoons of theirs that I thought were from the late 1940s, with their clear sound, bright color and overall high quality, were in fact from the mid-1930s! The Warners toons, which I can usually date within a few years just by looking at them, were stunningly primitive (though I still adore them).

Well, it's been about 20 years since I began my education, and so it made all the sense in the world to visit this museum, regardless of its location. I still didn't know what to expect, but when after I entered I knew that I wouldn't regret this trek. The staff were very friendly, the building is very clean, and in true Disney fashion, there was a gift shop with a lot of temptations.

 I was stunned at times. There really were probably a few times that my mouth hung open. I did not expect to see old animation drawings from the dawn of Mickey Mouse's animation career. I certainly did NOT expect to see the earliest known drawing of a finalized Mickey. I saw cel set-ups from such classic shorts as "The Band Concert." And by God... I saw the multiplane camera.


I know that for most people the multiplane camera means nothing. But I was genuinely shocked to see it. I had no idea that it had survived; Hollywood is notorious for destroying everything the moment they don't need it anymore. And yet here it was, cutting through two floors. It looked pristine, as if it was ready to work at the drop of a hat. I had read about this huge device in "The Illusion of Life" and other books, and just thinking that it had been used on Pinnochio... it was just weird, you know what I mean? Again, it looked brand new.

Another TOTAL surprise was Walt's Carolwood Pacific miniature train, that he used to ride on through his backyard railroad. I was glad to see that it had been kept and not sold off or trashed. I loved seeing the little seat cushions atop some of the cars.  

After a few hours, we entered the Pinocchio exhibit in building 122, where I was further astonished. There was original artwork by Gustav Tenngrenn, and actual animation drawings by Ollie Johnston, Woolie Reitherman, Milt Kahl and others. I could hear the familiar voices of animation historian John Canemaker and animator Andreas Deja talking in the background, which was a nice touch (even if you're in another section, away from the display, it's nice to hear their voices).

The one thing that blew me away though, was a tiny side section that featured the maquettes used by the animators for reference. There was a large Monstro maquette, that showed signs of having been handled often, just there on display. I thought of how odd it was to be looking at something that had been in the old Burbank studio in its early days, back during Disney's golden era, pre-strike and war. For some reason, I really was impressed with being near these things.

 I would absolutely recommend going to the Walt Disney Family Museum if you are a fan of animation and its history. Even if you've become a know-it-all like me, you'll discover that there's more to life than knowing-- feeling is a pretty cool part of life, too.

 I would like to share pics from my adventure there...just CLICK HERE!