Sunday 8 December 2013

People are Strange

Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, 3 or 4 hours before the alarm is set to go off can be a blessing. Yes, I'm tired after 3 hours sleep, but waking up suddenly and with energy makes me feel like I've stolen time. Magically I have an extra 4 hours to work on something I wouldn't otherwise have had. However I probably wouldn't be writing this drivel if I were better rested and more switched on.

In my stolen time this morning I quickly (emphasis on quickly) finished off that blasted watercolour (mentioned months ago here) which was such a relief. I hate unfinished tasks, plus it was good for me. I'm so completely out of practice (at painting anything and with any medium), so it's good to get back to it, even though the painting isn't what I wanted it to be. I've included some image details, plus entire painting in this post. Last image is just a 5 min mock-up for 'The Handbook to the Hidden World' -for fun.

Found out today that scanning large artwork in LA costs a small fortune, so I captured my painting in a series of photographs taken with my Canon DSLR and then 'stitched' them together in Photoshop. Brought the background to pure white but didn't edit it in any other way. Wondering if I should try to enhance it using Photoshop? Advice on the topic would be great! 

The past week's been fairly eventful. I was granted my Greencard on Monday and met Nicholas Cage and Chris Sanders that evening at a party on Sunset Blvd. On Tuesday I met the remaining members of my all-time favourite band - 'The Doors'. John Densmore and Robby Krieger told stories about how Jim Morrison wrote 'People are Strange' whilst hiking up Laurel Canyon at dawn. He had been feeling completely depressed but that creative outlet - coming up with that song - turned his mood around. Sound familiar to any other creatives out there? Certainly does to me. Next day I met Joe Letteri at a pre-screening of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' and enjoyed hearing him talk about the making of the film, despite the fact that Weta abandoned miniatures after the LOTR trilogy. Had the pleasure of meeting Ralph Fiennes last night and hearing him talk about directing his second film 'The Invisible Woman'.

I love LA.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Pumpkins, Squash and a Magazine Cover

Without realizing it I've somehow become associated with pumpkins in miniature. I suppose I have made them a lot for various projects over the past 4 years, but still it was funny when a magazine editor approached me and asked for high rez pumpkin photos for their November magazine cover.

Thought I'd include some fun pumpkin and squash photos from various projects I've worked on in this blog post. You can see some in the making - starting off as clay forms, then with pigment added, then eyes added, then they're hardened in my clay oven, then paint touches added.

Scroll past these photos to see the magazine cover. It's one I haven't been featured in before - specifically a dollhouse magazine called 'Dollshouse World' and published in the UK by an American publisher.

Magazine cover.
See full 8 page feature here on my About Page.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

From Russia with Love

Been away awhile.... and so to catch up...

Just returned to LA from a 3 week vacation to find my copy of another Russian magazine I am featured in.

The last Russian feature I did was for a magazine called 'The Art of Miniatures' (Nov 2013 issue) and, disappointing to me, was published in English. This last magazine, called 'довольно куклы' was published in Russian (Dec 2013 issue). As someone who is 1/8 Russian I was fairly chuffed to see it. Take a look at the excerpt below!

I also had a few other magazine features (including 2 front covers) lately as well, which I always appreciate. See some snippets below or you can see them all to date on this 'About' section of my blog as well.

Coming up...
I will share photos of the finished miniature model of the thatched cottage (which I actually completed a couple of months ago but haven't had time to write about). Will also post a video demo of myself using Celluclay to achieve the thatch.

And in my personal life...
Holidayed in the Canary Isles with family and returned a few days ago. Only a 4 hour plane trip from London and the weather was very similar to LA, albeit with a touch of humidity. Interesting volcanic landscapes, camel rides and wonderful people. Loved it but still I'm happy to be back here in LA and able to get on with things. 3 weeks away from clay / paints / computers and I start to get really fidgety. ;)

Friday 13 September 2013

Feeling Bookish

It's been a really busy but a brilliant week. I gave my first interview / feature for a Russian magazine ('The Art of Miniatures'), sold a lot of Halloween themed miniatures to collectors worldwide and started on a commission for a Sorcerer's library. The miniature cookbooks I had made a month ago (but never bothered to mention on this blog) created some hype and I was asked to make leather-bound spellbooks (or 'dragonskin' books) and a library to house them. See the cookbooks at the end of this post.

Here are some fun photos of it all in-the-making.

I also got a great new toy to use to help me work with leather (see photo). The books shown here are less than 3/4" in height. The fireplace you see below was wooden (I have made fireplaces before, such as the one used in the Christmas 2012 magazine feature) but this one I acquired in unfinished wood and I painted it to resemble green marble.

Now I better get a move on... doing another magazine cover and the deadline looms... ;)

Monday 9 September 2013

Something wicked this way comes

Had a great weekend here in Los Feliz, working very little on miniatures for a change. The annual street fair arrived on Hillhurst Ave and I braved the 102 degree weather to meet many brilliant artisans and restaurateurs with stands in the throngs of the madding crowd of hipsters and micro dog owners.

Last Friday I took these pictures as part of some Halloween 2013 promotion. One of the images will be making its way into a Russian magazine I am featured in next month. I was thrilled to be asked - being 1/8 Russian and loving so much about Russian culture. I'll share the article on here when I get a copy.
Until then I leave you with pumpkins 12 times smaller than real life...

Friday 6 September 2013

Keeping the Company of Hags and Crones

Another update so soon? This was how I intended to write my blog when I first started it and finally I am having time to work, blog, work, blog and move at the pace I intended!

So today's progress - another witch of the gardening variety - Petunia Ditchwater.
I stood these witches on an existing set which I have out at the moment as it's being photographed for a magazine (the set not the witches!). These are just quick snaps... not studio lit or anything. It's 92 degrees outside and wonderful warm sunlight was flooding all over that set, so that's why I popped them on it.

I'm not in love with the design but as these first witches are very much background characters in 'Myrtle the Witch' it doesn't matter a great deal that I didn't achieve a particularly satisfying result. Besides if there's time I'll re-conceive and re-do.

More characters and sets to come. Big thanks to everyone who has clicked over to the Facebook page to 'like' and those that joined this blog in order to follow my progress and be involved.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

A Spoonful of Crocodile

A background character for the film 'Myrtle the Witch' is now completed. Her character - Gertrude Nettlebed - spends a lot of time gardening (spreading weeds, growing mugwort, mandrake, and digging up flowers) and also rearing crocodiles. She spends time in the company of like-minded brown-fingered witches. Yesterday I finished her and made a baby crocodile for her.

Here are some photos. Thank you for taking an interest in 'Myrtle the Witch' and following the progress as it is made. 'Like' us on Facebook and feel free to comment with suggestions / thoughts / criticism on any of the photos uploaded to that page. The production stage of the film will ultimately be crowd funded, so get involved with pre-production as well, by all means!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Breakfast in the Twilight Zone

I adore Rod Serling, and the following statement kept coming to mind as I was working on this contemporary 'retro' kitchen with a dragon egg fry-up in progress...

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Twilight Zone.
—Rod Serling

I mentioned that I was working on this miniature scale set in my previous post and now that it's finished, photographed and photos have been given to the editor for print, I'm sharing a few images here.

Scroll past the kitchen with frying dragon eggs and see what I was working on yesterday - characters (including Gertrude Nettlebed and Petunia Ditchwater) for the short film 'Myrtle the Witch'. They're very much unfinished - this is just a snapshot of them in progress (by popular request!)

Find updates on the Tall Tales Productions Facebook page as well.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Heads Up!

Yesterday I started sculpting a background character for short film - 'Myrtle the Witch'. Gertrude Nettlebed. She's one of the typically 'bad' witches. In this miniature world 'there are good witches, there are bad witches... and then there's Myrtle'.

I just quickly did her head and arms and will make the rest of her today *if* I have time. Annoyingly other jobs consistently take up my time. I've got two fairly big deadlines tomorrow and am also meant to shoot my finished thatched cottage for a magazine.

Last week I was taken away from 'Myrtle the Witch' by a commissioned scale miniature retro kitchen - for the modern witch. For fun I just thought I'd share some work-in-progress photos of that project too. It's one inch scale, a lot of the furniture was built by me out of basswood... walls paneled by me etc etc - you know the rest! It's not finished of course - I'll share some finished photos as well when that's all wrapped up. Don't forget to find Tall Tales on Facebook for updates there as well. :)

Enjoy the rest of Labor Day weekend (my American friends at any rate!)...

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