Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dig Me, I'm Dorothy

UPDATE: A big whew, and thanks for everyone's concern and caring this week. Trees were downed, power was out until late that night, got to try out my emergency butane cook-top and have snacks by candle light, which was somehow enjoyable given that no one was injured. The next day we heard that one of the DWP (power company) men working to restore power to the over 180,000 without it was unfortunately electrocuted. When a severe looking wild brush fire burned the next day through the nearby Hollywood Hills, I did begin to wonder whether I should Google a recipe for chocolate covered locust and frogs.

Downstairs Clare pitched in after the storm last Tuesday. Plate-sized pieces and tiny chips of glass were dumped everywhere, as much as 40 feet away from the window that burst, including a knife blade like shard landing on our bed. (That'll keep me from sleeping in.) Our landlord called for workmen to board up the broken window straight away.

We had a semi-dry Microburst*** here on Tuesday. That's what the professionals call it. I'd call it a tornado; 70 mph wind, black sky around my building, huge glass window bursting from the pressure like it was shot from a canon, glass everywhere through the whole place, howling, roaring wind that I thought was an earthquake. No one here hurt, thanks goodness. I gashed my forehead open (during the continuing clean up).

In keeping with my glass theme, one of the things I was photographing just before the storm hit was a great new Halfland find, large hollow glass ink bottles (see the tiny quill?) to be used as the Writing Mouse character's ink wells.

Last weekend I stopped into one of my favorite art supply/creative inspiration spots, Ritual Adornments, a superb bead shop in Santa Monica. This place sells thousands of types of beads from all over the globe beautifully arranged floor to high ceiling by color. There's something so invigorating about walking into a well-stocked space replete with creative materials. Seeing and touching everything in there can really get me going.

I had been looking for miniature hollow glass bottles to use for oil lamps in Rana's cottage, etc. Short of making friends with a glass blower I resigned myself to using, well, I really hadn't resolved that bit yet. But then I saw these hand made glass beads that seemed the perfect scale, pricey about $6 each, too good though, had to select one, just for a model at least. Surprise! Unbeknownst to me that day was the biggest sale of the year for them, half-off of everything. Ahem, I went back and bought a few more things than I might have otherwise.

I decided while there that the Writing Mouse's ink bottles will mostly be... acorns! yay! (scooped out and cork topped) from the tree and other wooden containers so I also bought a model wooden bead there as well (seen above with a couple of real acorns I had on hand).

I may also experiment with some translucent polymer clays baked over strongly-colored glass beads to see whether that gives a nice liquid-filled bottle look as well.

I bought a few beads to embellish the wonderful felt beads that Hila had sent me in order to make them into three colorful necklaces. Hila can have her choice of the three when they are finished.

(***Microbursts – A small concentrated downburst that produces an outward burst of damaging winds at the surface. Microbursts are generally small (less than 4km across) and short-lived, lasting only 5-10 minutes, with maximum windspeeds up to 168 mph. There are two kinds of microbursts: wet and dry. A wet microburst is accompanied by heavy precipitation at the surface. Dry microbursts, common in places like the high plains and the intermountain west, occur with little or no precipitation reaching the ground.

People hit by a microburst might think it's a tornado. There can be an awesome roaring sound and even a cloud formation similar to a funnel, pushed downward from the cloud to ground by the rush of wind and precipitation.

But the key difference in a microburst and a tornado is that there is no vertical rotation in a microburst. Microburst winds can roll like a barrel along the surface, creating intermittent periods of damage a few miles away until surface friction eventually slows the winds down, but the downdraft itself does not rotate.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Babes in Halfland

These are about my most favorite Halfland shots to date. A special child, lost in the spell of playing in my little world.

Today my good friend, Shari, came over with her kids for one of our much beloved art day excursions to my shop. Last year, we spent the day needle-felting wool roving and learning about hand-felted fiber art. Today's plan was larger in scope and a lot more ambitious. In one day, could I get these two bright kids, ages nine and five, to have a soup-to-nuts taste of making their own stop motion animation?

Somehow the answer to that was YES!

Thea's Animation on Vimeo

Jack's Animation on Vimeo

Be sure to check out the photo set of the day with all the details here.
We all had an absolute blast of a day, learned new things, ate a great lunch (thanks Shari!), and enjoyed being together.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why'd Hila Send Me Shredded Chicken?

Surprise! She didn't! It was the most heavenly, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet Halva I've ever tasted!

I picked up a charming package from Hila today that she sent to me while she was visiting her home in Israel recently. Several months ago she had made me something that I'm certain was also special, as everything she does is, but it never made it all the way here! Other side of the world and all that. This time she put together tiny precious treasures with such (surprise!) attention to detail and loving care that opening all the goodies was the most fun I've had with ma clothes on.

In addition to the Halva (which I ate half of for dinner!), was a gorgeous turquoise inlaid jewel box in my new favorite color, "with love from Temple Street Night Market, Kowloon Hong Kong" the tiny red note attached read. Also inside was a sheer pouch filled with wonderful felt beads from Zefat's Market that I can't wait to use in a necklace! Woo. The coup de grace was a little packet which contained actual bits of "Cluttered" Hila's masterpiece animation film set she constructed over two and a half years and now sits preserved beneath plexiglass cases for safe keeping.

She gave me an "aging" test for her hand-made corridor floor, which if you look in the upper right hand image you'll see the realistic grout detailing she created. I'm looking directly at the thing right now and I can't understand how she's made this floor! It's a corrugated base, with alternating squares of black and white foam core on top of that. I think she actually grouted those tiles with a tinted grout material and then finished it all with an array of surface texturing and varnishes that make the end result look exactly like real vintage tile work. Unbelievable. She sent the floor for me to have as a coaster, yeah, right. Although, that would be kind of cool. And then she has the nerve to tell me to use one of the cushions from the living room set as a pin cushion? No way, that baby's going in some animation tests with the cat and then into a place of honor here. You'd need a macro lens shot to see the level of detailing in this one piece of Cluttered. Her stitching is perversely precise. The print and ruffle are perfectly to scale. The tassels are not only topped with beads the right color and size but their pink bands are ringed with the tiniest gold edging it probably doesn't even show up in photo above!

And all of these goodies came wrapped up in a delightfully crunchie vintage sewing pattern tissue. LOVED IT! (I'm saving everything, all the pretty patterned ribbons and her hand-written notes which, by the way, looked as though they were printed by the world smallest typewriter.)

I've decided that Hila is living in a universe that can fit on the head of a pin. Thank you for sharing your divine treasures with me, Hila.

And Miss Izzy says thank you! for all your kind well wishes. Here's hoping she'll feel better each day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Of Mice and Men

A call for help for Isabella. Thank you. Click to enlarge--if you aren't skeeved out by severe skin rashes.

I've come down with a rough ladies time the last three days. I had some bad pain yesterday and my eyeballs seem to be tracking in different directions. I hope to be better tomorrow and get back to animating as I'd planned.

Something else that has had me preoccupied lately is Izzy. if you have a mind to, I sure would appreciate some good thoughts going to our cat, Isabella, right now. If you would, please see her skin smooth and healthy and free of sores, for the highest possible good of all concerned.

For the last few months she's been suffering from a frightening and nasty skin reaction. Normally, if a cat looked as in trouble as she does it would be taken to a dermatological Vet right away. There's a challenge to do that with Izzy. I'm convinced she would find the experience far worse than her horrible skin condition. She is still so wild and undomesticated, no one, not even me, can ever touch her or get near her. Since capturing her wild from a canyon about 7 years ago, we have been unable to establish any level of trust in her, despite taking great care to provide her a calm and loving environment. Getting her yowling into a carrier and driving far to a skin specialist Vet, and the examination and treatment itself would surely cause her significant trauma that I believe could be worse than nearly anything. She's not like normal cats.

Instead of doing that, I've read up a lot online about what sort of things could cause this kind of skin reaction. Things like allergies, parasites, stresses, diet, deficiencies, etc. Firstly, we upgraded all the cat's food to grain-free, human-grade quality several weeks ago. It started to look like the solution, but then the rash roared back worse than before. I thought it might be a reaction to the perfume in the clay litter we were using, so we switched to a great non-fragrance corn litter product throughout all the boxes, still no sign of improvement yet. We tried to apply gels that are supposed to calm inflammation and mist her skin with enzymatic/mineralized water. This operation took both of us all our brute strength and risked bleeding and scaring, on our parts. That treatment plan lasted only four consecutive days.

Her appetite is at full force, she drinks plenty of fresh water, her eyes are shiny and clear, her elimination is healthy. It's just frightening to see a creature in our care so ravaged by skin rash and so obviously uncomfortable. We're giving her until next week to see if she can do anything to visibly turn things around so we can see some improvement. Otherwise, it's sedation and expensive Vet visits, and possible steroid cream treatment, antibiotics, and plastic cones?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Because I'm a Giver

Because I care for you, my readers, L.A. readers in this case (but also everyone else, if you have a place like this near you you may want to check it out) I will let you in on a real find for stop motion sets. I wish I could say I thought of doing this out right but the truth is I fell bassakwards into this score. I stopped in to House of Hardwood near Sepulveda and Olympic blvds. while running errands, thinking they might have a trim scrap or two that I could use for the new wainscoting paneling I want to put on the interior cottage walls. The guy pointed me to the bin in the giant mill room of this vast resource of exotic hardwoods in Los Angeles and said I could certainly help myself. Next thing I know, I'm looking down into a bin filled with all kinds of beautiful wood scraps in various sizes. This wasn't plywood, this was mahogany, alder, spruce, etc. all fine grain woods, some already cut to the sizes I would want for roof beams and planking.

I found myself uncontrollably making a kind of cross between a whimper and quiet moan, kind of like when a dog sees a bone. Fortunately I was alone in the room. I pounced before anyone realized what they were giving away. I acted like I was on a game show, "NAB THAT WOOD!" where the object was to get as much wood into a cardboard box and skedaddle outta there before a buzzer sounded. I raided two more lumber yards on the way home, but the best treasure was surely there. So, if you go, say hey to the guys and be nice!
Bosq's under belly is now filled in with wool! and his tail can now move. I broke the rigid sculpted tail (seen on left) into segments and filled in with the matching wool. Looks natural fluffy but I felted it down.
In an incredible bit of luck I found a PERFECT color match to the Bosq puppet in Australian wool roving (the dyed raw wool fiber before it is spun into yarn) right here in my stash! The match is absolutely uncanny. I painted Bosq, gosh must be 13 years ago, and I find the exact woolen fluff right here? I must really like these colors. Anyway, what I used it for led to an interesting puppet building technique. I needle felted mixed hanks of the wool and glued them into the spaces where the puppet's joints are, filling in the gaps left between the painted fabric "skin" and the hard sculpt underneath. It gave a wonderful fluffiness that I never would have thought up directly. Now I will want to use this method to build the large scale Writing Mouse puppet for the next Halfland film!

I've had a lot of fun lately finishing the mask puppet I started when Sven was here. I finished the texture to look like rusted iron and glued wire to the reverse in order to be able to change it's expression. When I hold it in hand it gets a great deal of ominous expressions and has a kind of oracle quality, but when I animated it today it came out looking goofy. I dug the way the wire eyes, twisted with black thread for pupils, would move in unison on a toggle though.

Mr. Cow Pie on Vimeo
this clip wasn't worth a download wait so I triple compressed it to the point of no detail and about every 2 out of 3 frames is dropped.

Art is Life Quote:
"Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual." --Arthur Koestler

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Textures and Character Palettes

I have collected nearly everything to dress and finish Halfland's four main characters.

Each of the main characters in Halfland have their own color palette. Kyra, the black mermaid, symbolizing beauty, has delicate sea foam greens and pale translucent aquas with castaway-ragged lavender fabric for her colors. She shimmers with opalescent scales. Rana, goat woman weaver and her cottage interior are kept in a narrow color story of wine, maroon, ocher, and tan. The feeling will hopefully be overwhelmingly earthy, cozy, and warm. Tarn, the wounded crow woman, symbolizes fear and sadness, she is darkly black with ornately ornamented sheer black veiling and deep woven blues, wearing her beak mask. Yanu, moth man hunter, represents joy and laughter, his colors are pale tone upon tone, all light leathers and flaxen wool, with just a shock of goldenrod. He even leaves a trace of moon-colored powder if he's touched, as a moth would. He is, especially in this first Halfland film, only seen in the periphery, like a figment of the imagination.

And more:

A.) This lovely snake lady helps me see how my serpent musician might blend, except Urhu has just one human shoulder and arm. B.) Google "Paper Cinema" and you get more fun movie machines to make like this! C.) The cottage roof will be somewhere betwix these two solutions, she said. D.) I realize that on the low end of the cottage, where the roof line is closest to the ground, I will add sod to the roof in that area, like this Tibetan rock house shows. E.) Rana's sleigh bed in the alcove will have this cozy feel to it, but with loads of soft cattail down blankets and catterpillows. F.) Mmmm, really a perfect forest for the landscape around Rana's cottage. I also want rolling pastoral hills though so the set might have to look like this in one direction and more open space when looking to the other.

Lots of good things happened in Halfland today. More reporting tomorrow.

Art is Life Quote:
"There's nothing more exhausting than doing nothing." --Anon

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lightbox Litany

I didn't plan to, but yesterday's small act turned out to be building an ad hoc ligtbox on the newly made practice animation desk. (note: this post's photos were hacked through Flickr as Blogger's upload was down.)
I attached wooden frames to the desktop with small L-brackets and used tiedowns for the post uprights so they can easily be moved around. You may be able to make out the two sizes of make-shift bracket tripods that the Strider cam o'joy can clip to conveniently. Right now I use odds and ends lamps, which still give a soft pleasing light on objects and puppets in the box (seen on the now completed Bosq sleeping cat puppet.) Later, I can add stronger "can" lights from outside the stretchy white nylon as well. Backdrops and flying rigs can be clipped onto the frame for my animation practice sessions. This will be where I test shooting ideas and special effect techniques on a small scale before building them out larger for the full-sized Halfland set.

I also finally wired Bosq the cat's ears by drilling a small hole through his head (me-ow!) and gluing the ears back onto either end. I filled in the gaps with glued bits of fur from the cat's belly. Now his ears can be animated as though they were alive. It's a remarkable illusion.

Good news on the sound front as well, I borrowed a USB mic and found I could input dialog directly into iMovie. This means I can buy a modest headset and use it to practice dialog and generally add sounds to films at will. It doesn't enable me to distort the voices, like Sven showed me, as there aren't any audio file filters available for iMovie like there are for Garageband. But I can always go large later with more sophisticated applications. Right now I have enough to do with using what's right here on hand.

Art Bonus: The birthday card I made for Corey never made to France, so I'm showing her a saved little picture of what the inside looked like. It was a coin-sized pair of hand-made red velvet shorts (or culottes) on a miniature wire hanger with the line, "C'est le petit Jésus en culottes de velours!". That's a quaint French saying Corey wrote about on her wonderful blog that her hunky French husband might murmur when something is really good, so good he almost can't stand it! It translates to something like, "Holy cow, that's as smooth as the baby Jesus wearing red velvet shorts!" I made these shorts to fit on the miniature soft-sculpture bas relief portrait of her Yann on the front of the card. Happy Birthday, Corey!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Leaf a Question

Today I made a computer sketch of what the Answer Tree from yesterday's post would look like when finished.

I used several [All Mighty] Photoshop techniques, including my first attempt at creating with a displacement map. I am constantly amazed at the depth and power of Photoshop. I learn to do new useful things with it all the time. Adobe coders, you've rocked it hard for twenty years.

And thanks to reader Ben's good suggestion, I've set up a flickr page just for Answer Tree questions on the right in the sidebar. All are invited to leave an important question there and then check back for a photo of an answer, after the tree has grown out its leaves.

Hmm, maybe the dried paper answers should be collected into the leaves of a book?

Update: um, I'm a little (in a good way) freaked out right now... I just figured out who writes the answers!! It's the Writing Mouse, who lives in the chalet in the tree's roots!! What's freakie about this is that I have known the mouse wrote things for 14 years, but I only thought about answers being written on the leaves after making the hollow an ear shape by accident yesterday! And only just now have I connected the dots together to make what I feel is a wonderful folk tale concept. Blogging rules!!! Thanks for being out there everyone!

More:This is like the fifth time I've edited this post in excitement over this new development in Halfland. Listen to this... Now I know why Tarn, the crow woman, is so desperate to reach the cottage. It wasn't the cottage she was after, it was to reach the tree to ask a vitally important question. I also now know that Rana, the goat woman weaver, doesn't ever ask questions of the tree because she IS wisdom itself symbolically. I also realize that the collections of dried paper leaves from the answer tree are the first books ever made anywhere, just as time itself originates in the Time Frog's eye. I have some updating to do in the story outline post.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Answer Tree

Yesterday's small act was to increase the ridge around the opening of the tree's hollow (seen begun on left). As I was taping down newspaper I noticed that when I pushed one side of the oval inward it suggested an ear shape. This was a fun "a-ha" moment for me because the hollow had a lot of great contours and depth to it. As the tree kept being enlarged and made thicker to fit better with the cottage, I always left the same hollow which made it very similar to an over-sized ear canal. I sculpted more paper and tape into a form that I hope will only hint at an ear at first glance after it's all textured and finished out to look like tree bark.

A Very Special Concept Added:

Two years ago, I read a wonderful blog post from photographer Jen Gray describing the way she would have a group of children in her care whisper their most secret wish into what naturally looked like an ear on a tree while at play in the park. She would sometimes position herself to treat herself to hearing the sweet wishes and bit her lip at hearing such things as, "I wish I could fly" or "I wish my daddy would come home." She said the children believed strongly in the magic of this "Wishing Tree" in the playful, marvelous way only children can.

And I've heard too of an ancient, universal tale of the "Listening Tree" where if one closes their eyes and presses their back against a very wise, old tree, they will be allowed to hear forest secrets.

For Halfland, I've taken the spirit in both of these ideas and made one of my own. It will be something that will be spelled out in a short animation after the Halfland story is fully completed, an additional little tale perhaps, made on the same set.

I had always known that the Halfland tree would have a certain percentage of its leaves be made of paper with hand-script writing on them (sketched on the right, above), like the pages of a book. "Leaves" of a tree and the "leaves" of a book being the same word in English being the subconscious fun of it. However now, anyone who comes upon this special Answer Tree in Halfland can whisper the question that they most want answered into the new hollow ear in its trunk. After a long while their answer will appear, written out on a new leaf. Maybe answers grow on all the new green leaves but are only seen as they turn pale to die as paper.

I love this new idea for many reasons. One of which is that I love the concept of a person having to endure calmly while their answer works up naturally through the process of the tree producing its leaves, on a lot of levels. I love the idea of someone having to search for their answer among the thousands of leaves, both green and paper, on a magnificent old tree. I believe that in searching through all the other wanted answers, on the way to finding their's, the original question would become ultimately unimportant. The answer, once sought, is often perceived through the patience of waiting itself.

"Demanding" Work:
While looking for something else I came across an old post on Jaime Zollar's paper blog, Paper Forest, from 2005. A mention of Thomas Demand's masterful paper recreation of a forest made entirely out of paper, all 200,000 green paper leaves, placed by hand. I was so glad to read this for two reasons, one, because now I no longer feel as INSANE!!!! for planning to hand place about 5,000, or perhaps even less, leaves on Halfland's tree. And two, because in viewing the artist's slide show of this work I was inspired to create a sun in the sky.

I'll explain myself. Part of Mr. Demand's "Flare" (paper forest) piece involved photographs of, what I believe to be, a paper sky backdrop with a brilliant glare of the sun flaring through the leaves in the lens of his camera. In looking at that I was reminded of Gilad Arazi's proud description of his talented wife, Hila Rosenberg-Arazi's use of a high intensity pinlight aimed at a certain spot on one of her amazing model sets for it to appear on camera as though the light fixture itself was emitting light.

I pictured myself painting glue and applying shiny, silver leafing (there's that word is again) foil onto my projected sky backdrop, aiming a spotlight at it, and seeing whether Halfland can get a sweet sun illusion that way.

And I didn't even have to wait for a leaf to grow to get that idea... or did I?

And How About You?

All readers of Notes From Halfland are hereby invited to gather up their most important questions, leave them in the comments, and each one will be put on a piece of paper and placed deep inside the Answer Tree through the hollow, as though they whispered it privately. When the set is all built, perhaps their answer will be written on one of the paper leaves. Photos of all answers will appear on a special Flickr page.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More Animation Tests Coming

I got the wonderful framegrabber, Framethief, software that enables a digital camera to capture still images for stop motion animation, to work again yesterday. I was so elated I made this shorty clip:
Happy on Vimeo

I played with unregulated pans, pulled arty focus, and went it without tiedowns. Don't worry though, I wasn't trying to make anything good with this, just messing around in happiness at my renewed abilty to grab frames with Strider's trusty cam o'joy. One great thing, I ditched my tripod and fastened a metal "L" bracket to my peg board base and securely clipped the webcam to it. Much more compact, more stable, and no more legs in the way to bump into.

Next up: an iron mask reads a little poem to you and a mermaid's shimmering tail is spotted at the bottom of the sea (as minuscule mini clips). The idea is to make little sketches with the equipment I have here on hand. In this way, I'll be able to get a better feel for working with various types of puppets and a bit of my first familiarity with character movement.

Just A Second

This is one second. Twenty-four paper frames on a crude make-shift paddle wheel. Making this analog paper device a working movie machine gave me a great feel for animation timing.

The story behind this started with a recent contributing post over on Jaime Zollars' famous paper fan blog called Paper Forest, check it out...

Chris Ware's comic book (on left) has this teeny miniature cinema on its last two pages. (second from left) I got my copy and blew it up to make it easier to put together (seen assembled, second from right). I wanted to a.) see whether such a contraption could work and b.) whether I could understand its mechanism enough to develop my own model that looks more like an antique theater (along the lines of this artist paper piece, seen on right). Not only did it work, it was completely non-mathematical and easy!

I was so stimulated by this new movie making power, I had to go further. Mr. Ware's clever little model contained just 12 "frames" of one of his popular black and white comics. For my next step, I printed out a 24 frame image sequence of an already-made short animation sketch of Halfland's main character, Rana smiling and winking. For such a rough animation method such as this, I see it would have been better to go with broader, more obvious, character movement/action, but I learned the principles involved in its working just the same. I placed each image of Rana onto a single pane of my, now twice as large, paper paddle wheel. A custom cardboard box made in excited haste--and voilá! Showtime...

Minny Cinny Works! on Vimeo

Monday, March 05, 2007

Shaun the Sheep is back

One of six new Aardman Shaun clips. These clips look like the great ol' hand-crafted charm of the stellar Aardman gang is back!

I grabbed all the screenshots I could of the beautiful Aardman backgrounds behind the characters in these six clips. They are precisely what pastoral hills and skyscapes I aspire to create to surround Halfland's cottage. These will be my template to follow, although halfland will be slightly more rough hewn overall, less rounded and smooth. But with the same countryside beauty I hope.

UPDATE!: Reader Ben gave us a great link to a BBC slideshow about the new Shaun series that included this spectacular shot of a large set. I may have to enclose my entire set in a silk bubble to get the overhead sky at least where the shots require looking up. Thank you, Ben!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

An Early Spring

cherry blossom photo by Heather Powazek Champ

It's been in the air. Maybe you've felt it too. A fresh start burgeoning, getting things squared away, ready to rev up once again.

One thing led to another, I found myself Organizing and Cleaning both my studio and computer over the last two days. The morning Sven was here my stalwart computer hesitated to boot up, giving me pause. When it cut out on its own after that, I thought it important to take some time and sort and print an save the hundreds of screen grabs for Halfland reference and art inspiration I had taken from surfing safaris over the last several months. I happened, finally, upon a streamlined method of creating a "contact sheet" from an entire folder that can be printed out, as long as smallish will do. It's in Photoshop's Browse sub-program, under the automate pull down called "Contact Sheet II". It allows you to choose a folder and select how many rows and columns you'd like, the rest is automated and takes a fraction of the time I used to take doing the same thing by hand. [end of tip]Sample contact sheet of a miniature house technique as taught by Rik Pierce. These photos are very very helpful for showing me how I can build my cottage. I've still got many folders yet to compose and print and backup.

Today's Halfland act was to move the huge cottage set out into the hallway a bit in order to make room for building the landscape around it. The other day I stopped at gallery cluster, Bergamot Station for the scrap wood to build the set extensions. They had more clean flat plywood art crates than I could carry away without a truck. (Pay attention LA people, if you can use tons of free wood for your sets, the wood bin is at the far right of the parking lot as you drive in.) Downstairs Clare let me raid his scrap wood for what I hadn't find there. I collected all the lumber into a mini yard ready to build and generally spruced up the whole workshop to make it roomier to actually work in.

I cleared off half of my computer desk to make it a convenient animation exercise area. I hooked up Strider's web cam and all the odd lamps I had lying around. When I tried to make a test clip, Framethief crashed on every capture attempt (?). I'll have to tend to that mogumbow ASAP.

What I used for the first test was a little paper mask that I made during an impromptu workshop on textures and improvisational puppet construction Sven and I did the other day. We tore a manila envelope in to a mask shape, formed it over crumpled pieces of paper, held down with tape. The shaped paper was painted with a mixture of plaster and iron base paint which gave it great texture and structure when dry. So far I've added a coat of black matte gesso and plan to add several acrylic rust tones to make it look like old iron. I like the way the holes on the peg board look like pupils behind the eye opening.
Hello Dali?
The mask shot through poured glass bottles and a magnifying glass. edited in Photoshop

Friday, March 02, 2007

Flowering Thoughts


A.) Over the last few months, I've noticed the symbolism of plant material growing from the tops of people's heads is not mine alone. B.) This is a candid photograph--not staged--of two Russian brides riding a Moscow subway, if you can believe that!?. Seeing this voluptuous black veil inspired me to pump up the one I had in mind for the Tarn (crow woman) character. C.) I was pondering how I could make the wood curve over the cottage door and windows when it finally dawned on me to use a scroll saw and actually cut a curve in sections from a piece of wood, like this real door shows well. D.) I think this is how I'll paint my Time Frog. E.) I'm fixing to construct the cottage roof and shots like this help me get the feel for how I might do it. F.) I just saw this art doll by Johnny Mitchell, and am loving the idea of putting a nest on top of Tarn's head and having her beak be a mask. Of course! [smacks forehead] of course her ugliness would be but a mask! Thank you talented doll artist!

Thanks to online friend, Ulla, who over the last few weeks has posted some especially ravishing images from Russia. What they are for, we can't begin to guess, but many are affecting because of the beauty of their storybook vision. I began to notice a common thread running through the images I was responding to most. They often contained a glass or lens distortion. Readers may remember the telescope lens shot on the left from last year. The over-sized jar of water is one of the new Russian image source and makes me keen to try this effect in Halfland--I can already think of the perfect moment for it. The third image of the child with a magnifier grabs me too. The last shot, also from Russia, is of a young puppeteer visible through her theater curtain in the darkness cast by her shadow puppet. Wouldn't that be a marvelous way to end Halfland? with someone acting out the final scene quietly to themselves with crude paper versions of the characters?! It may be a standard way out of a fantasy, but if handled properly, it could suit Halfland beautifully I think.

Part of the show and tell for dear Sven, some of the finished Halfland props were laid out on display. It was fun to see the little beetles knitting on the arm of the chair and the writing mouse on the left hand corner of the food table. Sven's jaw dropped at the intricate beauty of the huge moth wings I bought for Yanu's (moth man) own wings. The clear translucent "windows" you see in them are natural!! Nature is truly miraculous.
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