Saturday 15 February 2014

Good on Paper

I've been testing different papers to see what yields the nicest result for printing watercolour paintings and concluded that Hahnemuhle 'Matte Museum Etching 350 gsm, 100% cotton' is the one. It has a silky finish and a texture a bit like watercolour paper.

So - job done - I'll be able to send prints of the fairy-tale tree to all who pre-ordered one.. or you can find a new shop I've just opened here.

I'm also starting a new painting this weekend and will share it here on my blog soon. My aim is to create a lot of new artwork for 'The Hidden World' over the coming months;)

In other news...

Things I love about LA? Aside from accessibility to the film industry, creative people, climate and Mexican food? It's the fact that people host spectacular balls from time to time. I attend the 'Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball' each year (previous post here), but this month I discovered the Edwardian Ball...

Bought a brilliant silk ballgown (which was strictly speaking more Victorian than Edwardian, but the best I could do at short notice) and felt like Deborah Kerr in 'The King and I'. The stage performances were fantastic, the 1920s venue (Fonda Theatre) is a favourite of mine and the DJs were pretty good too. They even had a cocktail which may as well have been tailored for me - something called 'Tea Thyme', which was tea vodka shaken over ice with honey syrup and muddled with sprigs of thyme. Everyone made a huge effort with costumes - much as they do for 'Labyrinth of Jareth' and we all had a ball.

Find out about it at their website and scroll past my print images to see photos from the event. I took some, but the superior ones with copyright notice were taken by a brilliantly talented photographer - Marco Sanchez, who kindly gave me permission to share.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Warts and All

Creating cane toads in miniature is something I never thought I'd become accustomed to.
Two years ago I was asked to create an array of warty toads in various colours and in one inch scale. This week a commission led me to re-visit them and refine the design - making them 15% smaller for this particular client's needs. They're cartoon-ish by design but I tried not to make them look like Kermit. I even did a quick sketch to follow but ended up choosing to ignore it. So... since my 'work in progress' posts always draw a lot of attention, I took snaps of my work-space over two days of last week. Toads small enough to fit onto a penny... but with detail - warts and all.

Who knows who is credited for coining the phrase 'warts and all'? I'm sure everyone knows that it means 'to include imperfections' and is a common phrase back in Blighty. I've heard it used out here in America, but when I asked an American user of the phrase if he knew the origin, he replied "Shakespeare?" It was not Shakespeare. Scroll down past the photos for the answer. 1 gold star if you already know.

Last week, aside from fulfilling this cane toad commission, I went for a hike up to the Griffith Observatory as the weather was overcast and brooding. Whilst walking and stopping to take photos of the brilliant view, I made an important decision. I will never ever make my short film if I am constantly interrupted by commissions and magazine features. I have resolved to slow down the amount of work I do for other people and allow myself time to work on my short film - 'Myrtle the Witch'.

Expect to see much more on this film in the coming months!

Answer: It was Oliver Cromwell who is credited for coining the phrase 'Warts and all'. We are told that when sitting for noted portrait painter Sir Peter Lely, Cromwell said "I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughness, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it." Anecdotes of Painting in England, Horace Walpole.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Annies and Arthur Rankin

At the weekend I attended the Annie Awards, which was a massive thrill for someone like me. I was pleased to see a fair few women collect awards for their contribution to excellent animation and the after party allowed me to meet many hilarious voice artists with their renditions of Scouse and Cockney accents.

The results are available here at the Annie Awards website, and I'm sure you all know by now that Disney's 'Frozen' practically cleaned house including Best Animated Feature. Some fantastic shorts got deserved recognition, but I was a bit surprised that 'Despicable Me 2', 'Monsters University' and 'The Croods' didn't do better. The production design, writing, music and voice talent were excellent. Pleased to say that 'The Croods' did win for character design. If you enjoyed it then check out the website of Chris Sanders who wrote, directed and created brilliant artwork for it - he's also a corking chap!

Anyway, it was also a sad weekend as we lost Arthur Rankin Jr - a pioneer in stop-motion and co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions. He passed away at 89 on 30th Jan. If you're interested in cartoon animation and/or stop-motion animation and are not familiar with his work then I urge you to look him up and his incredible body of work.

Stills from 'Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer' (1964) - an inspiration for my own Santa elves beneath...

'Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer' (1964)
My Elves (2010)

Make sure to watch 'The Last Unicorn' (1982) - a favourite childhood film and incredible animated fantasy.

Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass.

Some stills from the big contenders at the Annies!

'Despicable Me 2', best animated TV/Broadcast commercial
'The Croods', character design win
'Frozen' , best animated feature etc
Monsters University, storyboarding win

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