Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Murder of Crows

Recently I've been working on a commissioned feature for a magazine - a miniature scene in which the central focus is a scarecrow. A relatively quick job I thought, as I unpacked a tidy selection of materials including armature wire, raffia and air dry clay... of course it's 10 days later and I'm now wading through a mass of black feathers, gauze and superglue.

I managed to take a break from this project to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds perform live at the brilliant Ace Theater (an evening of Black Crow King didn't hurt in terms of inspiration), and ironically enough I just discovered a great bar in my area (Los Feliz / Silverlake) called 'The Thirsty Crow'...!

Here are some pictures of this project in progress. The un-finished scarecrow photos were just taken quickly today whilst glue was drying. You can see the final scene soon as I will blog about it here and upload images to my Tall Tales Facebook page here.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

No Such thing as a Free Lunch

Last Friday was Independence Day in the US. What does that mean to this British girl living on US soil? I had the arduous task of obtaining a Greencard to be here, and so this day of frolics and fireworks doesn't hold any particular appeal. Nonetheless I made new friends and enjoyed the BBQ.

Still, the friendly banter fired in my direction by drunken Yanks, such as "yeah, we kicked your ass on this day" and "how does it feel not to be free - I have total freedom!" evoked a moment of contemplation. What would this country be like if it was still part of the British Empire, or at least, the Commonwealth? This is meant to be a blog about art, film and Tall Tales, so I wont attempt to answer that question here. However, as I upload photos of some miniature food I was commissioned to make for a magazine's Independence Day feature, I wonder how many Americans know that a huge gripe of the colonists was in being overly taxed by Britain... The taxes Americans pay today are lower than many developed countries, but do they know they receive a lot less for their money? Healthcare, much higher college tuition fees, less paid parental leave... it's a lot more out of pocket. (Helpful article here).
As for complete freedom, granted the US had the freedom to establish some popular new religions, and that's just marvellous, but this is still a country that continually reduces civil liberties (National Defense Authorization Act - which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens, Patriots Act - allows government to engage in discretionary surveillance etc etc) and let's face it, you're not free to drink in public here!
Furthermore, do Americans know that Britain enacted the Slave Trade Act in 1807 and then the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 that fully abolished slavery in the British Empire? The US abolished slavery later in 1865.
Independence Day festivities give me reason to ponder about what America would have looked like had we kept the colonies. This map of the continent shows the parts belonging to Britain, Mexico (they would have retained Texas, Arizona and other parts of the Southwest) and Comancheria (the land belonging to the Comanche people, which included New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma and northwest Texas).

That being said, I challenge you to find anyone more in love with Los Angeles than myself. It may not be as totally 'free' as its people claim, but America is one heck of a place, unlike anywhere else, with some of the best and most innovative, incredible people I've ever met and I love the way of life out here. Still attached to Britain, I am not sure it could be nearly as wonderful.

Anyway! Here are some all-American (aka German) foods for the holiday and here's the original posting about that project last year.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Trained Dragons - from France

I've never been a girl to underappreciate a dragon. When 'How to Train your Dragon' was released by Dreamworks in 2010, guess who was first in line to see it? It was of particular interest to me as well because my book 'The Hidden World' has a chapter on dragon rearing! The writing was second to none, the performances great, but it was the character design and visuals that made this film such a stand-out success. Imagine my delight in meeting the lead concept artist behind the film's success - Nico Marlet - just three and a half years later. Turns out we are neighbours - living in the same part of Hollywood.

That's what this little blog post is about. I've been so busy lately (I had to fly back to England only two weeks after I last left, to attend to an urgent matter), so my own creative progress has been rather abysmal of late. I like to keep this blog active, and since I have spent so much time in the company of talented and wonderful Dreamworks artists, mostly Nico Marlet, I wanted to give his work an unneeded 'shout out' (as they say here).

Toulouse-born French artist Nico creates the most incredible and unique characters. He's responsible for Po of 'Kung Fu Panda' (2008), various monsters of 'Monsters Inc' (2001) and 'Monsters University' (2013), the characters of 'How to Train your Dragon' (2010) and the just out 'How to Train your Dragon 2' (2014).

If you enjoyed the first 'How to Train your Dragon' then the sequel is not something you want to miss - go and see it now whilst you're able to see it in theatres in 3D. There are more glorious and colourful dragons which can only have sprung from the imagination of this crazy Frenchman, another interesting and tough female character and emotional twists you wont expect.

This is my fabulous signed dragon print, given to me the other day by Nico. Below are some of his sketches and the last photo shows his sketchbook which is filled with his wonderful drawings which he does in his own time (not commercial artwork).

You can buy a copy at Amazon here.

Funnily enough Nico Marlet doesn't have a website or blog up, but he's mentioned that he's going to have one created in the near future. I'll include his link as soon as he does. Until then you can enjoy his work by watching the mentioned Dreamworks films, the short film 'French Roast' and by buying his 'Sketchbook' as mentioned. It's inspiring stuff! ;)

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