Multi-talented artist, animator, eFriend, Peggy Fussell, wrote to me the other day that she would be stopping in LA during a family trip last week and might have an afternoon to visit Halfland. I was thrilled to meet her in person as Peggy has been so personally supportive of what I'm doing. She sent me 2 incredible, (1) creative (2) fishes to use the famous underwater scene in the film. I knew she was creative and talented and supportive but what I didn't know until she walked in and gave me a big warm hug, spent the day warmly chatting, tying up her skirts and creating perfect work for Halfland, looking at finished film props on the floor, sharing stories about her life, etc., is that it would hurt when she left.
I literally felt like crying when she said goodbye. Let me tell you, whomever her friends and neighbors are in Maryland are the luckiest people on earth. Peggy is so big-hearted and fun, so sensible and wise, so humble and kind, a loving wife to David, and mother to two flower-like girls (with an add'l lovely girl to spare just for this trip). She is an active and successful freelance illustrator who manages to create wonderful works of art for herself and her family everyday. She has many years of experience in 2D animation and is currently collaborating on a fascinating poetry animation concept.
I wish I photographed Peggy's bag-of-tricks as she calls it. She carries a durable electrician's tool bag filled with drawing supplies with her wherever she goes. She can live without the Internet but not without her journals, she says. She used her pencils to render for me the most graceful and superlative tree trunks out of cardboard. Man, did I pick the right task for the right guest artist. We laid out acres of cardboard panels on the floor and Peggy began sketching with poise and ease. As an illustrator, it was no strain for her to make easy lines that felt real and proportioned properly.
Armed with utility knives, we cut them all out while we talked about life. It was a revelation for me to have professional help on the project. I showed Peggy my paper cutout reference images and discussed the concept and she not only understood my ramblings exactly, but BOOM she quickly executed it without a flaw. I'm spoiled now.
Just as her family arrived to collect her, I violated several child labor laws and recruited the girls to fill in a base coat on Peggy's drawn foliage shapes with white gesso. They all got to sign the Guest Artist board for contributing though.
The next day, I used several greens blended on top as a background for suggestions of leaf shapes. I cut them out, sliced them down the middle, and hot-glued them back on the shape in places to add dimension.
I painted all the trunks with white gesso today, attached supports to the reverse sides so they can stand up. Single-ply cardboard is too floppy to stand on its own.
I propped a few of them up on the edge of the main set to begin to work out what I want to do with them. The idea was to use then as theatrical proscenium and a blending from Halfland's 3D reality to my actress Rose Red's live action 2D paper puppet play version of the tale. But I've got to develop how to marry their 2D cartoon-like form with Halfland's near-realism, at least in part.
Peggy, If there's ever anything I could ever do for you in return, I'd welcome the chance with acute delight. Admiring all you do :)... from way over here :(