Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Michael Kaluta at SVA

I crashed a Michael Kaluta lecture Monday night. Donato Giancola was having his SVA class create complex futuristic environments and so he had asked Michael to talk about world building in his picture making. Michael showed some of his comic work and then focused on movie concept drawings. Below are some random thoughts and notes.

  • The thing that struck me the most was, how much his drawing looked like reportage. He is creating vast cities and interiors with such spontaneity and freshness that you would think he is simply reacting to what's in front of him.....but none of these worlds actually existed. His understanding of detail (both when to use it and when not to) and perspective is so dead-accurate that you buy every squiggle as information from an existing object.
  • He talked about the rhythm between information and breathing space. And the repetition of abstract forms to give meaning to those forms. (The difference between a single spear and a forest of spears.)
  • He talked a lot about knowing the back-story to am image, even if the viewer will never know it."Knowing what is going on behind every window" in the image. This became particularly clear while listening to Michael and Donato banter about minute details of Tolkien paintings. Clearly, both of them have a love for world building that is strongly rooted in Tolkien.
  • He talked about illustrating some of the more mundane lines of a story. Focusing on a simple statement gives him the freedom to create the world around that line. „Ignore the line and add a layer."
  • He talked about fetishizing various objects within a painting. „Someone spent time designing that sword, that piece of armor." Keeping items from being too generic adds history to them.
  • He talked a bit about the real world issues facing an illustrator -- diversifying your clients, stretching your abilities, always networking and keeping your connections open.
...and....that's all I can remember at the moment. I was truly inspired to see such a fluid hand and facile imagination let loose on pure concept work without the burden and constraints of trying to sell a novel or comic in one image. He mentioned that he is working on a book that will display some of this work, I forgot to ask when it will be published, but I'll be sure to mention it here when it’s out in the world.

Thanks Michael and Donato for letting me crash the party!

Michael. (I got clearer pictures, but I liked the smile in this one.) One of Micahel's Tolkien paintings. And the eating afterwards: Donato, me, Greg Manchess, Kristina Carroll, and Michael.


Kristina Carroll said...

Weee! Great pictures Irene- and great summation of the lecture. That was definately an inspiring evening. It was a pleasure having you and Greg join us too- I look forward to seeing you all again this weekend.

Tracy Flynn Art said...

Any chance that this was taped.....either visually or audibly?

Thanks for the report and isnights on what had to have been a great night.

Rachel AKA said...

Thanks for the report! Have always loved Kaluta's work. Ditto what Tracy said about recording. It should be mandatory that all such things are recorded, but a Kaluta book is good, too... ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this! The last 2 points really resonated with me. Just an amazing artist.