Monday, April 16, 2007

Phoenix Grill - No Spice Rack Here.

I recently did a photo shoot in a Scottsdale, AZ public park. This is not one of the final shots to graduate into the selection pool, but it is one of my favorites. The subject is the owner of a multi-million-dollar company and is a very high-energy "type A" personality. I've worked with him for a few years now, and it was nice to see him in a different light, kicking a ball around in a park with some friends. Photography isn't really as much of a creative end unto itself as drawing or painting is for me, but I do love the capability it affords me to spontaneously capture extremely fleeting moments.

New links in the Sidebar →

Blog links:
• I added Henry Bawden, who I met a few years ago in Southern Utah. He's very dedicated and "muy animado" when it comes to creativity - I suppose that's a good thing, since he's working on a Master's degree in animation. Animado = animation.
• I also added Timothy Barnes' blog link. Tim was my figure drawing and illustration instructor at ArtCenter almost...many years ago. I was attending their weekend program for high school students with a few other young artists from Simi Valley. Now that I think about it, that's where I almost met (we never really met, but we were in Tim's class together) a girl who became a great friend, Nancy Ramirez. I'll see if I can dig up a link to one of her sites in a minute. Tim was working at DIC Animation at the time, and he was an inspiration to learn from. He was nice (and cool) enough to invite some of us down to DIC, which was a thrill.
Another ArtCenter teacher, Michael Deiderich (sp?) was working there doing concept development, along with a crazy Argentine that I would meet years later in the red deserts of Southern Utah, which brings us to...
• Marcelo Vignali. Fascinating how it all comes together. Marcelo was freelancing from St. George, UT several years ago. I moved from So. Cal. to the same town when I accepted a position with Saffire, a game developer based in Northern Utah. They had a development team in Saint George that I heard about from a friend who was working there, Chad Hardin. A few of the artists wanted to get a figure drawing workshop going, and we contacted some ladies that ran a painting/sculpture studio downstairs about it, too. They were on board with the idea, and somehow Marcelo showed up, too. The space was cramped, but we had a model and three hours a week, which was better than a sharp Ritmo in the eye.

Web links:
• I fixed the Ryan Wurmser link. He dropped his URL and now has Morseburg Galleries' site paying for bandwidth. Ryan is a great friend, and I miss hanging out with him. (sniff) We would go over and B.S. with his dad, Terry, serving as the "father-figure/mediator/wiser-than-all-of-you-smart-ass-punk-art-students" sage of wisdom's distillation. What a blast. We'd discuss art, politics, boxing, religion, family concerns, and our hopes for the future. Terry died in his sleep a year ago. He was a great influence on me, a loving father, and caring husband. I'll have to write more about him later. Don't want to get choked up right now.
Ryan was (I'm sure he still is) a great illustrator, and transitioned into fine art several years ago. He's done well, and I really like his more recent work, both subject-wise and technically.
• Added Jeremy Lipking. Jeremy is a great friend, too, and there go two reasons I miss living in CA. It was nice to hang out with those guys. Jeremy's dad, Ron, is a tremendous talent who showed me the ropes as a toy designer/concept illustrator years ago at Applause, Inc. Jeremy hooked me up with the job, where I also worked with Ryan's father, Terry, and later, Josh Lipking, Jeremy's brother and a skilled designer.
• Tony Pro. I met Tony at Ryan's house one night, and then again at school. Tony was also a creative professional prior to launching his successful fine art career. He was a successful graphic designer, and I think his last stint before trading a mouse for brushes was designing DVD interfaces for MGM. Also, take a look at Morgan Weistling's Christ figures from about...oh, eight or nine years ago, and you'll see Tony, sporting a robe and beard in a representation of the Ultimate Creator. Tony, Ryan, Jeremy, and I all attended California Art Institute with Glen Orbik as our instructor.
• Glen Orbik. A great illustrator/draughtsman and a fine instructor. He's able to provide guidance and suggestion for students at every level of development. There are great artists that are lousy teachers, great teachers that are lousy artists, and then there are great artists that are also great teachers, and that's where Glen enters the picture.
• Terry Smith - I also worked with Terry Smith at Applause. Terry's credentials are long and varied, having worked as an illustrator all over the globe. I have one of his figure sketches, done in oil pastel, that I rescued from his trash bin. I thought it was nicely done, and he evidently didn't need it. He's prolific and a great designer with his paintings these days. I learned a lot from him, not from so much verbal explanation on his part, rather by watching him work. He's totally open to experimentation with new materials and has a hard time not cracking jokes and chuckling with a quiet, yet infectious laughter.
• Robert Ennis. This punk is my brother. He's very imaginative and picked up Illustrator in about an afternoon. Two weeks later, he was showing me some features I had never used, that I actually found to be useful. We're putting a couple of websites together right now that should be exciting.
Ignat Ignatov. Iggy, too, worked at, you guessed it, the corner gas station with me. No, it was Applause. He was a sculptor when I arrived, and was eager to get involved in other areas of toy development. He would pinch-hit for the paint master finishing stage of a product whenever needed and got into product design as well. Like Ryan, Tony, and Terry, he has foregone the rigors of product/illustration/graphic work in favor of the challenges of gallery work. He just had a show Meyer-Rive Gauche in Scottsdale. I was able to make it down for reception night and whisper sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear for a moment..."give me the keys to the car". Very tender.
Very nice show. I always enjoy colorful figures, and Iggy's are just that.

Now that I think of it, Jeremy did a few projects as a freelancer, here and there, but never jumped in with both feet. Sometimes I feel like I'm the last kid in the pool, swimming in everybody else's urinarily enhanced water. I can't really complain. I get to design and illustrate all day long. It's a dream come true, honestly. Yet it's an old and broad dream, replaced by more recent and refined visions.
More on that later.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Theater, or is it "Theatre"?

I was recently asked to create a promotional poster for a local theater group's take on the fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. It's community theater, which means it has a very low budget. It's also run by my talented neighbor (who does a great barbecue chicken), whose husband is my sporadically called-upon computer tech, and whose kids babysit mine so my wife and I can get out of Dodge for a few hours, and sometimes days. It's hard to say,"No", when good people like that have an art request. I actually did have to refuse an opportunity to play the beleaguered king, due to some calendar conflicts. Sorry, Christy.

I would have preferred to illustrate the thing, but I was pretty limited on time. I figured my Canon Rebel and a wide-angle lens would do the trick. I went over to the theater on Friday night, toward the tail end of rehearsal, and when they were on a short break, I asked the "Princess", who was in costume, to have a seat at the edge of the stage. Somebody unexpectedly pulled the red velvet curtains shut behind her, and I started snapping.

One challenge was to get the model to stop staring at the lens. She warmed up fairly quickly, and I popped off about a hundred shots. I chose this one because I liked the offset-triangle composition, as well as the foreshortening of the hand. I added the pea after the fact, and painted it up a little. The photo was blurred except for the hand and face, and I screwed around with levels, curves, and some different color layers before landing on this blue. The shot was in full stage light, and I like the dramatic shadows and attenuation across her face. Altering the original color to the blue simplified the scheme, and it reminds me of moonlight, which lends itself to the fairy component of the tale. The title font is a little art-nouveau. I think it contributes to the feeling I wanted. It needs some kerning love, but if I made those adjustments, I wouldn't have time to type a few hundred words for your lovely eyes to gaze upon, would I? Peg leg!

Anyhow, it's fun to work with these guys. We spend billions, collectively, in our country on big-screen films and then buy the DVDs a few months later. Believe me, I'm a contributor.
I love witnessing a well-crafted story unfold. I also don't mind throwing $20 to take my wife out for a night of Ghost Rider, because even a lousy script and non-compelling characters can't detract from the raw awesomeness of a skeletal blowtorch on a Harley. Hearing the graveled bass of Sam Elliott explain to Nick Cage, "You're the Ghostrider", is worth the atrocity that the screenplay was...Like I was saying, we throw money at Hollywood, but I feel more connected to the thousands of years of theatrical storytelling when I see people that I know and interact with, on at least a weekly basis, working through their lines, and laughing, and genuinely enjoying themselves, not for their contract wages or for the self-promotional butt kissing I used to see in L.A., rather they are performing for the pleasure of the performance.

Maybe that's why I don't mind putting these posters together. Remuneration isn't the issue, and although I don't have the luxury of spending three days on the artwork, I do have the chance to do a job for the mere pleasure of it. It's kind of nice. I should probably hook them up with a better website this year, now that I think about it.

Back to work!