Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Musher Garage"

Another in a short series of relatively complex scenarios depicting a twist on banal situations with which I have no end of familiarity with. Waiting rooms are rather like banishment to Limbo, or at the least a Purgatory.
In the original version I had Faux News on the tv screen, which injected too much politics into a benign panel - even through I subconsciously associate a monitor with Fox droning in the background of just about every waiting room. Usually then I either turn down the volume, change the channel or wait elsewhere, if not just walk out - so it was artistically analogous to just edit it away (and as with every other alternative image I experimented with, it wound up being to distracting). Also edited out a completely overkilling lens flare (as per J.J. Abrams), which in conjunction with the opacity setting for the background car tipped the panel a little too much into Photoshop-y territory, ie too aesthetically "slick.".

Note on the pencil stage the propensity to sketch right through objects - treating them as if they were transparent - so as to better enable a layering of elements and in turn project a slightly better illusion of a 3-dimensional space on a 2-dimensional sheet of Bristol. One reason to develop a little finesse with line weight, as in learn to not have a heavy hand when initially plotting out the compositional arrangement of visual elements is setting the stage for the actors + their props as it were. And it cuts down on the eraser shrapnel that, aside from crumpled up wads of paper + pencil shavings, are about the only byproduct of the process. That and a sketchbook full of doodles... ideas are everywhere.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nunavut Animation Lab: The Bear

I absolutely love stumbling across things that I hadn't known about, even - or especially - if it's old news. There's so much out there to discover, and speaking of discovering:
"In this animated short, a self-important colonial explorer emerges from a sailing ship and plants a flag on the Arctic ice, as a bemused Inuit hunter looks on. Then the explorer plants another, and another, and another, while the hunter, clearly not impressed that his land has been “discovered,” quietly goes about his business. In this charming and humorous re-imagining of first contact between Inuit and European, Jonathan Wright brings us the story of a savvy hunter and the ill-equipped explorer he outwits." - from the synopsis
Just wonderfully expressive linework and characterization, and I especially dig the juxtaposition against the textured watercolor background coupled with some impressive sound effects and creative camerawork.

The National Film Board of Canada routinely sponsors the production of fantastic work that for the Far North is culturally relevant and diverse - they were behind some wonderful animated shorts with one of my favorite cartoonists Alootook Ipellie (read more about him here in this post with the upcoming game Kisima Inŋitchuŋa: “Never Alone”).
In November 2006, the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board of Canada announced the start of the Nunavut Animation Lab, offering animation training to Nunavut artists. Films from the Nunavut Animation Lab include Alethea Arnaquq-Baril's 2010 digital animation short Lumaajuuq, winner of the Best Aboriginal Award at the Golden Sheaf Awards and named Best Canadian Short Drama at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. - Wikipedia
“It’s the start of a new film industry in Nunavut,” said Okalik Eegeesiak, president of IBC.
The NFB’s plan is to offer three intensive workshops in Iqaluit, Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung on the art of animation, the painstaking drawing or creation of action in sequence, which, when shown at rapid speeds, makes a cartoon or animated action.
Fifteen participants will be selected in each of the three communities. For two weeks, two instructors will teach them about storytelling using animation and filmmaking techniques. 

After the end of each workshop, participants will be invited to submit a proposal for an animated short film. Four candidates will be then chosen to make a short film and will spend a week in Winnipeg, participating in story workshops coordinated by the National Screen Institute to fully develop the proposals into film treatments.
Then, the chosen filmmakers will go to the Banff New Media Institute in Alberta to direct and animate their films, which will be available in French. Inuktitut and English.
- Nunatsiaq News

Friday, February 27, 2015

He Lived Long & Prospered: Nemoy (1931 - 2015)

"I confess I am at somewhat of a loss for words."

This particular postcard has always been tucked away in some corner on the studio wall wherever I've set up shop over the years. "Mal" puts it best:

After binge-watching all of the last season of Game Of Thrones last weekend, guess I know what'll be playing next, starting tonite.
Boldly Gone...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Used Musher Lot"

Tangentially related to the field-trips we took with the Life Drawing class to the animal shelter and in preparation for a very special classroom visit with some fuzzy models, was this idea for a reversal on the all-too common sight of unfortunate impoundment of teams and/or unwanted sled-dogs.
Incidentally I rate this panel as the number-one pain in the butt to draw of the year, mostly based on the ridiculous amount of effort - none of which is apparent - involved in the stupid wire mesh, in conjunction with linear perspective and conversely (perversely?) keeping everything clearly rendered. talk about a First-World Problem... cartooning is haaaard.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Zen Pencil: "It Costs NOTHING To Encourage an Artist"

Image excerpted from Zen Pencils #163 by Gavin Aung Than

Definitely well-worth reposting an excellent, recent piece by Gavin Aung Than from his Zen Pencils cartoon blog. This one features a quote from Kevin Smith, which is timely for me since I just rewatched Clerks again for the upteenth time. And it certainly has direct bearing on teaching art, as well as being in a creative community where the opportunity to offer + receive encouragement can be as much a part of the process as sitting down at the sketchbook is - for both aspiring talents and established professionals alike.

"Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"AK Zodiac"

Oh boy am I ever gonna get a lot of grief about this one, as it's laden with obscurity. But given the surprising results of random field-testing, I went ahead an ran with it anyways. Then again, that might more accurately reflect the demographics of my acquaintances, many, if not most, of whom are impressive repositories of trivia in their own right. The challenge is to identify references to all twelve of the zodiac symbols, which have been "Alaskanized" to varying degrees.
The key is below the fold if & when you give up...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sketching in the Rabinowitz

One of the many little field-trips that were taken over the course of last semester's Life Drawing studio art class was to the Rabinowitz Courthouse in downtown Fairbanks. One you get past the security it's a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand some very nice artwork on display, not the least of which are two pieces in the main lobby of the first floor (PDF). The first is "A Wilderness of Mystery" by Bill Brody (4’ h x 28’ w carved and painted copper mural, 2001):
“ … a panoramic view looking up American Creek to Mount Prindle, the tallest mountain in the White Mountains. The autumn colors of the dwarf birch, berries, and lichen counterpoint the cooler tones of the mountains, granite tors, and blowing sky. The mural is intended to foster the connection between the enduring beauty of the Alaska wilderness and the peole who live and work in Fairbanks, on the verge of the untamed outdoors. The copper panels are carved by techniques derived from printmaking, and the painting was done with small, soft brushes using transparent colors.”
The second is "Sila" by Ron Senungetuk:
"This three-cluster sculpture is suspended from the second story ceiling above the main lobby and softens the formal feeling of the lobby with its asymmetrical design and wash of warm colors. The slow movement of the mobile is intended to mimic the aurora of the northern hemisphere. The term “Sila” is an Inupiaq term for cosmos. The sculpture is constructed of tapered laminated silver maple strips in a variety of lengths and with stainless steel components."
Ostensibly we were there to enact a time-honored role for a special species of artists: courtroom sketchers. 

Clockwise from top: excerpted images from Aggie Kenny, Elizabeth Williams and Mona Shafer Edward.

This particular historically important subgenre in the medium has unfortunately become mostly obsolete what with the advent and acceptance of photography in the courtroom. Still it dovetailed perfectly with my Life Drawing course in that it was an excellent opportunity to engage in not just an outstanding arena for practicing our observational skills as artists, but also to remind us of our civic duty as a citizen.

From the outset of this particular class I was determined not to do the standard default method of basically running a timer (…“change” … “change” etc.) for a model for the duration of the semester. It's LIFE drawing - and life doesn't (normally) present you with nudes who stand around posing perfectly still while you compose artsy-fartsy sketches. After the requisite classical lessons such as formal anatomical studies, in conjunction with crucial drilling in gestures and traditional portraiture leavened with caricature, we left the confines of the department studio and set about integrating with the community at large, sketchbooks in hands. As per the usual MO there is a host of resources available right on campus, such as athletic activities in the Student Recreation Center, folks eating in the cafeteria, studying in the library etc. Even taking a ride on public transportation is a veritable buffet of situational models ie people sitting around, as is any café and/or bar, or workplace.

Anyways, back to the courtroom: Really great accommodation + hospitality from the Administrative Office staff + the presiding judge: we got to observe Superior Court proceedings for a couple hours. Sure scared ME straight, especially when the formalities and legalistic jousting ended and it got real with the appearance of shackled defendants shuffling in for their respective arraignments.
Though I did get some funny ideas for one particular panel... the process for which was previously posted here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Doors of Perception

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."

Obviously still hung over from watching another Nolan mindbender inbetween rereading a favorite Ian M. Banks book. Obscure Huxley reference aside, thought it more appropriate to ponder the meta with a Joseph Campbell quote to accompany this image from one cold afternoon's visit to the local transfer site dumpster.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Glare Ice"

Pretty straightforward gag - simple play on words, but as evidenced by all the chicken-scratching on the pencil version posted below, it was a real pain in the butt to "get right."

Now such comparatively excessive sketching might be evidence of incompetence (it happens) or perhaps not enough (or too much) coffee yet, but more than likely it's a sign I "ain't in the mood" to draw. Which of course is never a reason not to. Never sit around and wait for the muse: chances are she's waiting for you to drop by and take her/him/it out.

All that being said, sometimes it's just better - or safer - to stay right put and work it out at home in the studio...

Image: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner