Monday, June 29, 2009

Animation: Beatles Rock Band and Sea Orchestra

This week, crass commercialism wrapped up in awesomeness.

Beatles Rock Band: I watched this commercial for the Beatles Rock Band twelve times in a row. Every scene is drawn so beautifully, and the progression through time is handled so well...and it gets plenty trippy enough to call it sf/f.

Sea Orchestra: United Airlines has a number of amazing commercials, this one by the people that brought us one of my favorite surreal shorts, “The Tale of How.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Animation: Oceansize, Scoop Volante, Next, and Sonnet 138

We have two weeks to catch up with...

Oceansize: When oil fights back. This is a very cool SF adventure story. The setting steals the show. I never thought I’d love the look of an oil rig so much.

Scoop Volante: Photographing aliens. Pure slapstick fun.

And, a Shakespearean couplet with: Next and Sonnet 138.

Next: Shakespeare performs all of Shakespeare in 5.14 minutes.

Sonnet 138: As it says, with lovely imagery by Dave McKean. (1.20 )

As always, you can check out the full list on our Saturday Morning Cartoons Index page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Illustration Master Class Days 6 and day 7's goodbyes.


Last full day. Packed day.

We had three business lectures:

Shelly Bond from DC/Vertigo talked about working in comics, using James Jean and the Fables series as the example. She described what it's like to be a comic editor and talked about how an artist can market themselves to a comic company. The main lesson: drawing, drawing, drawing! My favorite line, "The important thing to know about black and white is, color wont save it."

David Saylor from Scholastic did a presentation on children's picture books, showing a number of examples -- the most exciting for me was a Jon J Muth Christmas book coming this fall. It's drop-dead gorgeous, but then isn't J always drop-dead gorgeous.

Both Shelly and David took time in the afternoon to walk around the studios, look at portfolios, and collect samples.

I gave my formal lecture of the week in the evening. I was, to tell the truth, very nervous about the whole thing (everyone's presentations were so good...a few were even tear-inducing) but I think I did alright. I spoke about my daily work concerns, how I find artists, what I look for in portfolios, my usual website rant, and ran through a project from thumbnail to book cover. The hour and a half flew by.

A quick dinner break. (Shout-out to Amherst's Fresh Side.) And then back to the studios. Back to painting. Back to critiquing. And even a bit of relaxing and talking and feeling sad that it would all be over tomorrow.

At 12;30 in the morning Charles Vess announced that he'd give his History of Fantasy Illustration 1850-2009 lecture. I think that epitomized everything I love about IMC. People were either shutting down, knowing the class was essentially over, or panicked to finish up as much as they could. Either way, everyone was tired. But given the opportunity to learn something new, we jumped at it and spent an hour in the middle of the night ooh-ing and ahh-ing over great and largely unfamiliar art.

I've seen Charles give this lecture before and each time it's been different -- which means I will have see it again at ComicCon this year.


Clean up. Closing remarks, with a few (and a few more) tears. And then we opened the studios as a gallery. A number of IMC alumni, other artists, and art directors drove in from surprisingly far away. Viewers were able to see the paintings created in class and flip through portfolios. Throughout the day everyone started signing each other's sketchbook...hours and hours of sketchbook signing. No one really wanted to leave.

IMC is the brain child of Rebecca Guay. If I sounded overly gushy all week it's because, through her remarkable and generous heart, Rebecca has created something truly special. I know all of the instructors came away supercharged and inspired. I feel confident that all of the students did as well. We are all indebted to her and her assistant, Sara. And being the greedy folk that we are, we're already excited about next year. IMC3, baby!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Greg Manchess painting at Illustration Master Class

Four minutes of bad, low resolution shaky cam! Okay, so this isn't great, it was mostly meant to see if I could figure out Youtube. Tonight I'll try to quick wrap-up of the last two IMC days. (For thems not sick of hearing about it.)

UPDATE: Not to turn this into a commercial but as Chuck in the comments points out, you can get much better video, from beginning of a painting to the end, with the Massive Black downloads, part one and part two.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Illustration Master Class Day 5


OK, I'll admit it, Friday was a complete blur. Luckily I have notes...sorta.

Jon Foster came by for the afternoon lecture. Jon works without as much planning as many of the faculty members do. He talked about hating the process of painting because he kept thinking the painting had to come out "right." He credits Rick Berry with having helped him enjoy the pure process of laying paint down. Playing with pigment. You can always wipe the board down and start over. He talked about learning his chops by working very hard on lower-end black and white work, earning his way up. Jon also talked a lot about doing paintings for yourself -- even small experiments -- to keep your excitement up and new ideas coming.

Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell did the evening lecture. It's clear some students have been timid to place pigment on their canvases. Boris and Julie used a collaborative painting they recently completely as an example and talked through the entire process, piece by piece. Boris freely admitted that, "even after 50 years I'm still scared of a white board -- So get used to it, it doesn't go away." A great and detailed look into building a picture, and a inside into collaborative working.

Beyond that, Thursday's "oh my god we're half way done" giddiness gave way to Friday's "oh shit I better get moving" focus. It was (at least for me) a day were there was little extra energy outside of the task at hand.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Illustration Master Class Day 4


Day four's theme: Holyshititsthursday!

It's both more panicky and more sociable today. Not that it hasn't been sociable before but today's realization that the week will come to an end has pumped up the volume of work and support.

My biggest regret of the week may be missing 98% of Robert Sweeney's lecture and demo today. I knew I missed something right away when walked in and saw that Greg looked like a kid who just met Santa. Sweeney is a local landscape artist with a great ability to articulate the act of painting. The one point I did catch was Sweeney describing painters as dramatists -- every shape, color, value, and object can be seen as a balance of protagonists and antagonists, often changing roles as you paint or view the picture.

The afternoon lecture was by guest instructors Dennis Nolan and Gary Lippinicott, focusing on watercolor painting and children's books.

The evening lecture was by Charles Vess. One of the the great things about this combination of instructors is having so many equally valid yet contradictory styles and methods. Dennis and Gary (along with most of the full-week staff) spoke a lot about planning, sketching, and reference. And then Charles comes along and talks about minimal planning and referencing. More than anyone else, Charles seems to let he picture find him. Calmly sketching and letting the narrative elements, colors, and value grow into place...with the confidence that he can wrangle them in when necessary.

With only three days left, the late night hours have been met with even more frank critiquing, more talking, more painting, a bit more junk food, caffeine, and a dash more wine and whiskey. The push is on.

Tony Deterlizzi dropped by for a few minutes today. Tomorrow we have Jon Foster for a lecture and demo. Saturday is business day -- lectures from art directors at DC/Vertigo Scholastic, and some place called Tor Books. Sunday...frantic touch-ups, open studio, and sad goodbyes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Illustration Master Class Day 3

Day three...

Energy is high even is thoughts are starting to blur. Bonding is....bonded-er. Anyone that did not start painting yesterday has been given gentle-yet-firm pushes. Those that started yesterday have struggled through every painting's inevitable ugly phase and they are starting to see the light again.

Michael Whelan gave the afternoon lecture. He talked about his career and process. About having turned to gallery work as a means to wake himself up from a creative block -- and how his illustration and gallery now work in tandem. Story telling is clearly important to Michael. He talked a lot about being true to the source material but also adding details and nuances to enrich to the narrative of the image.

Donato gave the evening lecture. If you ever need to remember how inspiring and regenerative fantasy can be, call Donato. He was born of Star Wars, Richard Scarry, and Tolkien. (A favorite moment of mine was hearing Charles Vess quietly laugh, "I did one of those" when Donato showed a Balrog/Gandalf drawing he had done as a teenager.) When Donato speak s about influence he isn't talking about technical ability so as much as an ability to inspire imagination and create moments of great emotion. Donato's work is always going beyond the job as required by the client and he spoke a lot about how that has helped him advance, both in terms of his career and creatively. When asked about times of strong growth in his work he replied, "When you are in the midst of it, you can't see if you are successful -- all you can do is be passionate about what you are doing."

And then it was back to work for everyone. Students painted. Michael Whelan did a demo. Charles decide to jump in on the Lady of the Lake assignment and did a large drawing which looks like he's nearly ready to start inking. Instructors continued their hands-on cris. We got collegiate and played frisbee. (Now people can hate Justin Gerard for being a great painter and for being the best frisbee player.) By 2:00 am everyone left to get enough sleep to be productive on day four.

Illustration Master Class Day 2


48 hours, and 30 hours of active instruction time, into the program....

It feels like the students are about a day ahead of where we were last year. By midday most people had finished their drawings and started to prep their paintings surfaces. By late afternoon the smell of turpentine started to slowly rise.

Dan Dos Santos' afternoon lecture focused on utilizing reference photos. He had taken a shot of one of the students and then "frankensteined" various shots together, taking details out of context to create bits of costuming from them, playing around with background elements. Afterwards, he redrew it, making all the pieces coalesce into a unified picture and then jumped into painting it for the rest of the night.

The night lecture was Greg Manchess showing his influences throughout the years, namely focusing on Frank Brangwyn, Sert, Duveneck, Schaeffer, Sargent and other chunky painters, and talking about how they all still play a vital part in how he paints. He also stressed the degree to which getting good is about hard work and constant study, not a passive talent. It was a funny and honest talk and it got everytone jazzed to get back to work for another 5 hours.

Studio time is a mix of some of the instructors demoing and others going from easle to easle giving hands on advice......Then I decided to jump into Allen Williams' armour.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Illustration Master Class Day 1

[IMC 09 Day 1 photos]
[IMC09 Day zero photos]

It's like the first day of school...only with much more work is getting done.

An impressive amount of year-one alumni have returned -- we spent as much time reacquainting ourselves this morning as we did introducing ourselves.

After a few quick opening remarks, and an amazing video of all the instructors work that Rebecca Guay put together, we leaped straight into a six hour sketch critique. After dinner, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Donato, and Dan Dos Santos did a hands-on photo shoot lecture. (Once again unleashing Donato's inner ham.)

Currently, it's midnight. Many of the instructors are demoing while the students either watch and ask questions or work revising their sketches.

For those following along at home, the choice of assignments were:
  • Firstborn: military science fiction story
  • Steampunk Wizard of OZ.
  • Lady of the Lake
  • Berserker Lord: Viking-ish fantasy, two warriors fighting a polar bear.
  • Princess of Mars
There seems to be a whole lot of ringers in this group. I can't wait to see what these rooms look like by Sunday.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Barron Storey Opening

Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of last night's Barron Storey opening, but by the time I walked in everyone was glowing.

The exhibit is a collection of 150 sketchbooks displayed on wall-length shelves. The viewers are invited to thumb through each and every explosive page. It's an extraordinarily intimate to look an artist's work and daily thoughts, and a touching pact of trust between the artist and the viewers. If you are planning to see the show, give yourself a few days -- one viewing is overwhelming.

A few more shots from the opening here.
Sketchbook shot courtesy of Zelda Devon.

Krishnas on Fifth Ave

The smell of the Madison Park barbecue festival couldn't tempt me out of my office but somehow the sound of a thousand Hare Krishnas did.

Flickr set here.

Steve Stroud, the new website on the block.

Outside of family there aren't many people that mean more to me than Steve Stroud. And who here is surprised that he's a great painter? He has, finally, put up a website. Yay, Steve. And Happy Birthday!!

(We'll have you Twittering in no time.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jon Foster's "The City Quiet as Death"

We got a very Lovecraftian story in on, The City Quiet as Death by Steven Utley and Michael Bishop. It involved tentacles and, you know, once that happens any number of artists start looking so very appealing. So of course, I went with one of my faves, Jon Foster. (Its only just occuring to me that Jon lives in Providence. Hmmm?) He did two sketches and I honestly couldn't decide which I liked better. We went with the tall version, but I still like the horizontal equally as much.

Greg Manchess says: Go to the Barron Storey exhibit. Reception tomorrow night.

Barron Storey
Life After Black: The Visual Journals of Barron Storey

Society of Illustrators
June 10 - July 32
Opening Reception Friday June 12

Greg Manchess, guest blogging, sez go!

"I gave up keeping a sketchbook years ago thinking no one would ever see it, or even wanted to. Two days ago I walked into the Society of Illustrators and was astonished at the new show going up. 100 sketchbooks by Barron Storey will open Friday night.

Barron has been filling sketchbooks with his incredible thought processes for decades. Every page a celebration of line, tone, color, and design.

And you can flip through them. It's so inspirational, you'll go home wanting to fill every one of those nice bound sketchbooks you've got laying around gathering dust.


What's the best part? The green wig or the pomegranate juice?

Jay Lake is running a contest to take a photo of Green in the wild. I'd say run and enter but, honestly, can anyone beat this? Kehrli, this is awesome. Dan Dos Santos, you now know where to go for your next model shoot.


Who's cuter than Jack? No one, would be the answer. And Goni Montes knows it.

Goni is doing a series of great drawings for an upcoming Kij Johnson story on It just happens that he included my Jack...if by "happen" you mean I sent him photos of every angle and lighting condition....but to, you know, only include Jack if it was convenient and served the story. Of course.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

More Terrible Yellow Eyes and Happy 81st birthday Maurice Sendak!

A quick follow-up: I have to admit...I alluded to it in my first post...When Cory Goodbey announced his Wild Things tribute site, Terrible Yellow Eyes, I thought he had great intentions that would be really, really, no really, hard to live up to. Maybe it was because he picked the author, and the particular book, that I most identify with my own childhood. But the site has taken off phenomenally well. They are not just "re-draws" of the book. They are true, lovingly conceived and executed continuations of the conversation.

Today, as Cory points out, is Maurice Sendak's 81st birthday. His books changed the landscape of children's literature books and inspired generations. So, today I will:
  • be like an alligator and never nap
  • tell them once, and twice, chicken soup with rice
  • proclaim that milk is in the batter and nothing is the matter
  • and let the wild rumpus begin!
Seen here: Andy Ristaino, Mike Lee. Cory Goodbey. Kevin Ang, Pascal Campion.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Animation: modernist flash cards and obsession.

This week on Tor.
com's Saturday Morning Cartoons:

Kunstbar: Modigliani walks into a bar. Bartender says, “Why the long face?” (3.40 minutes)

The Last Knit: It’s about knitting...and obsession. (6.45 minutes)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Brad Holland on Sidebar Nation

We at the Art Department are great fans of Brad Holland. And by "we", of course I mean me. The good folks of Sidebar Nation have posted a podcast with Brad.

RELATED: interview with Brad Holland, which includes the strangest Slim Pickens story you;re bound to hear.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon and The Dreaded Question

Kurt and Zelda's first (hopefully of many) online comics for You already know Kurt and Zelda are awesome so go check it out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Milky Way Over Texas

"I get milk the Mickey way."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Beatles Rock Band animation

OK, now I want to play Rock Band. Because A) It's the Beatles, B) it's beautifully drawn, and C) it's the Beatles.

I've watched this three times in row...I'm off to watch it ten times more.

Animation: "Fallen Art" and "Canine Goodbye"

This week's Animation picks:

Fallen Art: This is brilliant, albeit difficult to watch. An interview with the filmmaker, including concept drawings, is on CG Society. (5.45 minutes)

Goodbye Canine: And now to lighten things up a bit, a fun adventure story. Apparently in France the tooth fairy is a mouse. (5 minutes)

MoCCA Art Fest

Where all the cool kids will be this weekend.

Alex Kanevsky

I stumbled on to Alex Kanevsky's work in Chelsea a couple of years ago when I was looking for a photographer's show. I forget who the photographer was but Kanevsky became one of my favorite contemporary painters. He now has a new exhibit in Chelsea at the J. Cacciola Gallery, through June 13.

The paintings are mostly figurative with a few landscapes. His shear application of paint becomes the narrative. Seemingly skimmed onto the surface, the paint leaves many layers and impressions of the subjects, often transparent, unfinished, one layer breaking through the form while another redefines it, infinitesimally thin and fragile. The physical act of his painting, like layers of time and memory, come together to build the subject in a manner which is never quite complete or accurate.

Kanevsky maintains an extensive website that includes process shots of some paintings. These are particularly interesting as the paintings seem to come about as a series of shifting impressions rather than a linear progression.

By chance, I saw Synecdoche, New York last week. Early in the film you see an image of a woman embedded in wallpaper. I thought it looked like a Kanevsky painting -- quickly you realize they are Kanevsky paintings attributed to one of the lead charters. And, just as quickly, it becomes the only reason to keep watching the movie.

Last Days of May