Monday, January 25, 2010

Krya: Not Watered Down

Though not on the list, took some time to sketch main character, Kyra the black mermaid. Really helpful to discover new things about her so I can make her real. With cocoa-colored skin, she's on shore. In fauvist blue, is how she looks under the sea.

Last week was a Lost Week for me. A dream come true. A full 7 days doing odds and ends, none of which were on any list. Heaven. The only problem with it was that the cold kept me tethered to the computer the whole time rather than active in the workshop finishing fun things. I designed a pro bono logo, mastered folding paper image Kaleidocycles, and stayed bundled up.

I randomly started to create a Kyra close-up portrait. Here's what I knew. I knew I wanted Kyra to be black (There's no Africa nor America in Halfland so, I'll say, racially Negroid, and hope I'm understood.) Mermaids have most often been depicted as Caucasian with long following hair. I wanted Kyra to be a beautiful black-skinned mermaid with short curly natural hair studded with sea snail shells, like a Buddha. (bottom left shows a rare Buddha statue with bright blue snail hair!, things started connect up as I made the sketch) I knew the natural hair should be seen in between the shells, as it looks around the wooden beads bottom center. (I've have gorgeous right-off-the-sheep chocolate-brown wool bought in New York for Kyra's hair that looks for all the world like perfect puppet fro. It'll be so fun.)

I also loved the bright blue pigment on the skin of the African lads, upper left. Something otherworldly about them. African yet unearthly. (Have not/probably won't see Avatar, so this has nothing to do with that.) As I got immersed in the sketch process, and things accidentally took this sharp turn and then that one, it became crystal clear that there would be TWO ways Kyra would appear. One puppet will be painted as you see her on shore, a duplicate will be made with the blue skin and golden snail shells.

We see Kyra in the film series at several times in each mode, above and below waters. At the beach, in full life-size, she'll be black and beguiling. Undersea, she'll be the small-scale puppet, with deep blue skin and shimmering gold-leafed shells in her hair. Visiting Rana at the cottage she'll swim down the stream in blue and be collected in the barrel in brown. Her tail will glisten in her aquas and pale lavender mica scales on both figures.

Bottom left you can see the large scale clay sculpt of the character made in New York in 1993. The two sketches on top were based on the small (10 inch/25.5 cm) smaller pupp, and show how my mind has been developing this character. Can't wait to build and film her. Thank you for watching.


  1. Hey Shelley, well done! The sketches look great!

    Like you I enjoy the design process so very much... Again, it's nice to see that we have a kind of similar workflow... And by the way: I was 12 in 1993... ;)

  2. Jessica! That's just MEAN!!! :) I just got back in touch with a dear old friend from when I studied ballet as a young person, we became very close when I was 17 and she was 14. Now, her youngest sister who studied with us has a 14 year old son of her own! Argh!

    And plus, an entire massive building a giant block long has been built across the road from us in less than one year (!) while my cottage remains roofless!! Argh!

    I can't think about how long this is taking me... lalallll la la la la la.

    Thank you and it is nice to share our same development approaches! xoxo

  3. Shelley, you're doing a great job! Some things just need their time to grow. I suppose we just don't go for a quick return...

    And while you had grown gracefully, you'd collected all your great skills who now make Halfland a unique place!

    Always think positive!

  4. ok. That's very nice. Thank you!

    I am growing Halfland in a satisfying way to myself creatively. That is true.

    BUT I also wonder....

    you know, how the Raschs produce their films with such phenomenal organization and precise scheduling, makes me think that their way is the way to actually get things done. Bravo to them, they're awesome.

    My problem though is, as we've talked about on your blog, that I have to work with a balance of development and action that's oddly challenging.

    As Halfland largely comes out of my unconscious, and that has as you its own pace, I can't always put that on a timetable and get the result I crave.

    I am thinking of hiring/paying for a handiman though to help with the set construction. It's just too damn hard alone.

    But do I call one? no.

  5. Doing it alone is way harder. It has the huge advantage that you can do whatever you like whenever you like it. The Rasch's workflow is completely different as they're we working on a team with at least two people, but often more. They're comitted to each other and and encourage each other if necessary. You as a lone rider have to so all by yourself as well... This is hard and needs a lot of discipline...

    I mostly solved that problem by talking to some friends, and reporting the progress an a more strictly schedule... That works for me but everyone has to find his own pace I guess. And I decided that my project no longer is a kind of hobby but my main business. Again, I guess, that's what the Rasch's do.

    PS we tend do compare ourselves always with the best ones, don't we?

  6. Shelley, this is amazing!!! I realy like how you have been developing this character in your mind over the years and also the pictures you show here present the wise way of you creating her spirit.

    Learning from you again here.. The way you gather information about specific ethnic features tells a lot. Kyra as a mermaid having the hair like Buddha... great symbolism. It emphasizes the character of a mermaid as a creature carrying the features of 2 worlds; above and below water in one body. Those snails also look like little roses to me. So me looking from above the water seeing snails as roses blossoming here :)

    By the way, I have checked out the logo you created. It is looking great and I think the color scheme you chosen with transparency matches that corporation perfectly.

  7. Quite right, Jessica. It's interesting what you say here. Why should I compare myself to the best ones? I do always do that! What ego!

    I don't lack discipline at this point. I'm willing to do anything, and willing to work hard. I'm just missing the gene of knowing how to work within this mystical thing called a strict schedule.

    And you're also right that this film remains a "hobby" for me because I never intend to make a living from this type of work. I feel it the most thrilling and satisfying thing I do in life, but I in no way intend to make it a "job" and impose all the pressures and obligations that come with that.

    I'd love to know more about how you approach your film schedule with your friends! Are the updates done in person or online? What's your chief motivation to produce on a timetable? Is it that you do want to make these films your life's career? Thank you for talking.

  8. Hi Yaz! Thank you so much!!! YES! Kyra is a mystical character definitely! I'm not saying she is Buddha--goodness no! Just that it seemed correct for her to have shells in her short hair.

    I love making a mermaid so untypical! I've seen a couple black mermaids made by artists since I thought of her, but it was an original thought when it came to me.

    The sort of honey-colored beauties that Kyra is based on always seem to have an other worldly quality to me. I'm actually hoping to make people who see 1/2L one day to wonder for a brief moment whether a Kyra-like woman they are looking at in life might in reality be a mermaid somehow. I'd love it if someday children would look hard at a pretty woman to see if shells might be hidden in her hair.

  9. I know that you have shells hidden in your hair :))

    The concept you are creating here is just sooo beautiful. "I'd love it if someday children would look hard at a pretty woman to see if shells might be hidden in her hair."

    Cant wait to see Kyra alive.

  10. So glad you get it, Yazzy. xoxo

    Oh, and thanks for the kind words on the logo. From one designer to another means a lot.

  11. Hey there, again!

    You wrote, "I'm just missing the gene of knowing how to work within this mystical thing called a strict schedule." – And I know that feeling of simply not being able to do something. I'm somehow lacking the party gene... So it's just like this and we have to make the best of it... ;)

    Comparing myself to the best ones made me always feel bad. I try not to do that anymore, I would loose anyway... And often it's a matter of our point of view: you think somebody is a great artist and the artist thinks, that he's a looser and still have to learn a lot...

    I'm updating via my blog as well, but talking to friends in person works great to me, too. Showing my artworks to people, answering their questions and listen to their ideas helps a lot.

    My chief motivation to produce on a timetable springs from my feeling that the most important activities in my life – art, animation and personal development – are given fewest time. I'm doing a lot of creative work for others with my design and teaching jobs which fills the fridge, but it doesn't satisfy me on the long run.

    I simply decided that it will be possible to do things I love and learn a living from them. I personally never divided life into a work or hobby section. Hell, I studied so long just because I'd wanted to be an artist and then did a lot of other things instead. I was so annoyed by myself that I started wondering how I may change that situation. That's why I decided to give my personal work more space, fo finish the project this year and start to be what I always wanted to be. I just changed the focus which sounds easier than it is.

    Shelley, sorry for the long post here... It's difficult for me to explain such a complex situation in a few words...

  12. Are you kidding, Jessica?! Thank you for having this conversation with me here. And your English is superb!

    I understand what you're saying. After mainly only saying I wanted to make 1/2L when this space we're living in became possible I decided to go for it. I asked myself if I were truly serious about it or not.

    And since then I've been cutting away everything else in my life that competes with it for my precious time.

    The only things I left on the plate are ballet (which has become a serious contender for my passion) and housework and a little bit of time for my husband (who is my dream man).

    I was just wondering if you arranged things for your film into periods of time to get certain things done and were perhaps using your friends as "de facto" producers to help yourself be specifically pressured on those things from the outside? And also if that works?!

  13. Good to hear, I'm always afraid of lingual misunderstandings...

    Mainly I do it in a similar way you do. Though I'm thinking about the project all day anyway, I now try to expand the time frames I'm actually working on concrete things like puppets and sets, things that could be done by just doing them. The design process itselfs is more organic thing, it grows sometimes quick and sometimes slowly.

    For the producer thing I have a old school friend who could say everything by a lift of his eyebrow... Scary! No, serious, he's my biggest critic but in a constructive way... And he just ask regularly how the things are going... Admitting to him that they're not moving at all really hurts....

    The other thing is that making my deadline public, it's going to feel very embarrassing if I fail it. If there's pressure from outside like the deadline of a design project, it won't be a problem for me to finish it. But I tend to ignore self-set deadlines... So I tried to make it as public as possible to generate a kind of not-my-own deadline pressure...

    Oh, and it's a great opportunity to have this conversation here!

  14. I love what you said here, Jessica, that the concrete actions such as building can be scheduled on a timetable but that the development is more organic. YES! Exactly! That's what I've been trying to articulate. I know some animators schedule their development as well (hi Justin and Shel!) but I'm loving the surprises of connections that emerge snail-slow, over the years on 1/2L.

    There are things in Halfland that I could NEVER have thought of on a normal schedule. Yes, I may have had the entire film series finished by now if I had made it in a normal fashion. But since my goal is letting it "flower", this is the way to do it.

    Scary though to make sure I do keep a firm progress going so it does in fact get made.

    If I could figure out a way to get, as you say, OUTSIDE pressure deadline, that might really BE GREAT!!!!

    When I've set schedules on the blog, they get pushed back and pushed back.

    I need an outside virtual producer. A website where I can plug in the phases and tasks and a timetable and have some kind of accountability to it publicly, maybe from followers of the project? Some kind of pressure to help me take action when hitting an area of inertia like on getting help building the set.

    What kind of outside pressure online could be employed? Hmmmmm. If you were doing that, putting up your project on a site with a schedule for outside pressure, I would check it daily and watch to make sure you were taking the steps you needed to each day. If you were missing a deadline in it I'd comment and say "GET GOING! What do you need to take this step?" Hmmmmm.

    That might be really good to have on this project.


    Hey, Jessica....

    You want to try this with me? Either on Halfland's next steps or your film's? Or both?

    Is "Produce It Online" born?

  15. Sounds great to me! I guess, Produce it Online™ is born!

    Tomorrow I'll ask a webprogrammer friend how we could implement a plug-in for our websites...

    Up to then we could just announce it via our blogs and see if it works at all. So, what are you going to have finished by the end of the week?

    I'll finish the Hades silhouette puppet (hate his hands...) and start building the armature of Zerberus. Ha.

    But first things first, I need to sleep right now... ;) Good night!

  16. We're on!!! Hooray!

    I was wondering how you were up so late! Normally when I post late here you are just up there. G'night, My Outside Producer Jessica!

    For tomorrow:

    CAN'T WAIT TO SEE what you and your friend come up with! HOOooo BOY!

    I'm so ready for this. Thank you for diving into it with me!

    ok, you work on the Hades hands and the armature for Zerberus for completion (?) by Friday (?) Wasn't sure if progress or completion is the goal.

    And I'd like to do the following (too long a list?):

    • complete the cottage kitchen window curtains incl the brass acorn brackets and branch rods they'll hang on (!)

    • Work on walking mechanism for the marching line of ants (!)

    • Make a call to the recommended handiman Paul told me about to see if he'd come over to see if he'd like to work on the set. (!)

    • Work on the Tudor windows, finish up the 3 panels, ready them to install in the bay window. (!)

    • Finish the chandelier (!)

    • Finish the Birds in Hats puppets (!)

    • Finish the fire and fireplace props (!)

    • Build the loom (!)

    • Plant the landscape (!)


    I think I see my problem! I need prioritizing and yet also need to satisfy my creative pleasure. Can you help with that? Hmmmm.

    On your project, if you had this problem, I'd tell you to pick the task(s) that drove the project phase you were working on toward completion the most. Or I'd tell you to pick one thing at a time, finish it, and then move to the next. That's was helpful to think through. That's what I'll do!

    Ok, I'll pick each item on the list, in order and finish minimally one each day (hopefully more) and then move onto the next and see how far things have gone by Friday. Is that good for external pressure?

    I think a movie producer would have the entire production mapped out first and then break the phases down into time blocks that had to be met in order for the film to be made. That's the source of pressure. If the set and props aren't built by [blank] then the shooting can't start on schedule, etc.

    Then dozens of contracts get blown, $ backers pull out, and films aren't ready for publicity department promotion/festivals, etc.

    In this case, it's just me so there aren't any real consequences to face. Hmmm.

    Here's what I know: I want to finish the set and the last few remaining props and call that phase 100% done.

    Accounting to you on the new site will really assist me with that. Let's ROLL!

  17. Hi Shelley, and good morning!

    My end of the week usually is Sunday, so this is my this week's deadline for the hands of Hades and the armature of of Zerberus.

    I shortly talked to a friend and he wants to support our project but he's quite busy now, so I think we should announce our goals at the beginning of each week (like mondays) on our blogs. At the end (sundays or fridays or whatever) we check up, how everything went. I think goals could be finished things as well as progress in stucked area... What do you think?

    And yes, keep it simple, and one step after another! If I overload myself with things to do, I probably won't even get started. I often do the things I don't like first, and then I reward myself with something I really enjoy. If I had a really good week or two, I'd make myself a gift, like a new papercraft book for example... ;) It's all about having a good feeling while your working on things. There's always something I look forward to next...

  18. Excellent! Good Morning, Jessica!

    I like that very much; Announce goals and area for assistance on Mondays in the sidebar (?) and goal deadlines are on Sundays.

    I said "area for assistance" because I was thinking today that one of the features of the site/blog widget could be to put out something we're stuck on and take input from our worldwide cadre of experts out here about it.

    I also like your idea to check in on Sundays to take stock of where we are and what our new week might hold.

    Oh, and treats! That's a great idea. But I'm no good in postponing reward and just give myself life's treats right away!

    This is kind of a fun thing I do for a mini party when something is completed. It's my friend, Martha's site where she made these adorable videos (on random selection) of her praising or celebrating whatever completion anyone has had. [you type what you finished in the box on her home page] She's especially good at this type of thing...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...