Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tubee, or Not Tubee

Testing the Tube Solution tonight. I chose a 7 tube, flower pattern for the set support leg solution. My Japanese pull saw ended up doing a better job on the thick, tough board than the hack saw did above.

What's FREE, easy to come by at the factory behind my building, relatively easy to stack, strap, and cut to the sizes needed, to securely support the set's satellite landscape pieces?

The answer is the super idea Downstairs Clare came up with for me today. I went down to ask him about the cool sawhorses he had made to support his painting tables. After he diagramed out how they're made, and he told me how many hinges each would take and how much 1x3 lumber I was going to have to buy, lug up here and cut?! I was not keen on it.

I asked him what he would do if he had to prop up several fairly lightweight cardboard set pieces and he immediately suggested cardboard tubing. Better yet, how about snagging the HUNDREDS of fabric bolt cores the fabric trimming factory behind us puts out by the dumpster each week? You heard the "oh, yeah!"go off in my head, didn't you!? His solution is practically Macrobiotic! How much more locally available could this material be?

I tootled over to ask the factory folks if they had a clean tube batch coming out soon they couldn't have cared less what I was so excited about but kindly offered to hold the next batch of 20 to the side for me in the morning. yay.

I grabbed the few by the trash to test out the idea and I'm happy with it. It looks more humble than I'd like. But then again, it suits in budget and function. I have decided that the sets themselves will be made from lowly cardboard, crumpled newspaper bulges, papier mache substrate, with a plaster topping. Simple, off-the-shelf materials fits my philosophy for this project.

Today's Art is Life Quote (via Daily Poetics)

It is our responsibility to be magicians, to be jesters, to be alchemists, to create hope where there is only illusion, to create reality where there are only dreams. —Marcel Wanders

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Artist Alert: Forest Rogers

Update 10 years later:: Mike just pointed out that Forest Rogers is, in fact, a male. My apologies for my use of the opposite pronouns below. And further heartfelt accolades to Mr. Rogers.

Um, yeah. So I was bloggy linking today... and discovered a new genius artist. No. Really. look:
Her work is more beautiful than beautiful, which to me equals a genius talent. Her name is Forest Rogers and from what I can tell, among other types of works, she sculpts the most exquisite miniature mythical creatures I've seen. There's a transcendent quality in her art, that surpasses the merely human experience for me.

And what's more, she has generously shared one of her methods of making perfect delicate better-than-life-like wings for her beings that sincerely dropped my jaw to the ground.

People, will you please look at these luscious wings!?

Now I know exactly how to make Yanu's wings! And the Queen Bees' and the Handicapped Butterflies!

And then look at the wonderful hip fin she's added to one of her water faerie/mermaids?! And also note the sensational way she's found to cover nude breasts?! I'll be doing and underwater version of this on my Kyra.

I am so thankful to her for these sublime inspirations for the project. These are the kinds of details that make all the difference in making a vision real.

Please visit Forest Rogers for more of her art, tutorials, and tips at her blog.

Still Depressed (the Walls--not me)

Paul caught me plastered today. I took all the moveable panels of the cottage out of their slots and laid them down to have an easier time applying the sticky, messy, stuff to both sides.

Today I took yet another, not skim coat--I wish!--more like a glop coat, to the cottage walls. This time I tinted the joint compound with ochre tempera paint (as a way to color a lot of something with inexpensive pigment). It took far more of the compound than I thought to fill in the depressions and gaps in the walls. For the first hour, I wondered if it will ever be flat and flush with the wood timbers even after another dozen coats. But now I think another pail full should do it. So much for a lightweight set! Woophf.

We spent some time thinking aloud about how I could build the landscape sets around the cottage. Of course Downstairs Clare is a treasure of set building knowledge after all the years he spent as a set constructionist for the Music Center in LA, but his focus these days is on feeling well and resting his bodkin, so that's out. We thought of several semi-skilled (more than me) construction friends we know that we might hire for an afternoon to get me set up, but no one rung a bell.

I need some help in constructing the cottage roof-line beams and some kind of movable bases for the satellite terrain pieces. If no one comes to mind, I may just hack it with recycled kitty litter tubs, hardware cloth, and cardboard!

On another note, I've decided to move Heaven rather than Earth, and will be constructing either a total enclosure or portable sky scape rather than making this massive (holy bajeebies, so massive!) cottage set turn. I plan instead to make the Serpent Musician's desert set the rotating one so the camera can travel ov'r hill and sandy dale to his carpeted holy spot.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Alice thought this a very curious thing."

(Updated a little)

Couch time this month had me making up a few coffee filter paper miniature roses and painting them up today. Reader Ben asked to also see the twig trellis.

I hauled out all the Teacup Roses prop material today and found a beautiful twig trellis, tiny natural vines, and many beautiful fabric and paper flowers in the bag. I think I'll go with my own handmade paper roses in the end because they fool the eye a little better somehow and do a heartskip thing that the little silk roses don't.

After they are dry, I'll make their calyx, stem, and leaves, and get ready to install them on onto the cottage set landscape and window boxes. I may have to cast or sculpt some additional porcelain cups and saucers to add into the bush, perhaps with tiny matching roses painted on the sides.

Added above is the trellis with the newest roses stuck ontop of fake silk leaves just to see how the scale worked. I think this batch was a little on the large side but they may have little cups and saucers put in their middles so it might work out. The finished rose bush element will have hand-placed twig vines and wrapped wire stems--no plastic!-- and lots of paper rose leaves.

Thanks for asking, Ben!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Concentrated Life

(updated a little:)
Justin and Shel, each with adorable babe in arms, show myself, Paul, and Micheal the latest clip from their wonderful film. (photo by Micheal Granberry)

I'm still down on couch time, but I couldn't wait any longer to report that last Sunday Paul and I, along with friend, Micheal Granberry, were invited over to the home of Justin Rasch, his wife, Shel Wagner Rasch, and their three wonderful children (unnamed here for their privacy). It was a total mind blower from beginning to end for every conceivable reason. They showed us all the puppets and pupps in progress for their current film. Justin even acted out the entire film for the assembled crew and did such a great job, I felt like I could see into his mind's eye how he wants to animate it. It's a winner. Everyone will love it and want more from these filmmakers.

I don't know where to begin to describe the devotion and strength these two have in their lives, and by extension, in their film projects. They are both preternaturally beautiful, fit, and athletic. They superhumanly manage multiple full-time jobs, not the least of which is the loving attentive care they provide all three of their kids. Justin and Shel are single-minded, energetic, disciplined, and determined to produce the best work possible in all things. Justin often begins his work day on the film after midnight, putting all normal slacker humans to shame!

Equally inspiring was the series of family nights we heard about that they hold each week. Family Art Night, where the entire family gathers around the kitchen table (or Art Center) and works on whatever they have going. Family Action Night, where they all gather in their supersonic fun action stunt house downstairs (which one has to slide down a fire pole through a trap door to enter by the way!) where bodies go flying over balls, rings, bungees, and trampolines, where people of all ages climb up walls and battle with jousting swords and take flying leaps. I found it a wildly catching energy vortex and spent the last few days recuperating as a result.) So much fun. And Family Movie Night, where they pile onto comfy sofas and watch something good all together. The young people in this home are all well mannered and polite, and yet completely free to express their talents creatively in any way they choose. Having these two for parents was a great plan! Paul and I want to install a tradition of Family Art Nights here too, just us two.

In thinking over what factors in to these incredible people being able to accomplish so much more than seems reasonable, I have to conclude that it is in part due to the partnership Justin and Shel share. It seems, at first glance, that every area where Justin could be spurred on to move forward in the production, Shel is right there pointing the most efficient way. And if Shel were tempted to be distracted by other important things, Justin's passion and drive are right there to fuel her forward on the project at hand.

Having someone that compliments your weak points and fills in the gaps of motivation and ability is such a valuable asset in these huge, long term projects. Paul is beyond supportive to me and I only have the chance to work on my project because he has created the space in our lives for that. But having an art partner who can also enter the nitty gritty of the thousand tasks it takes to make a stop motion film has got to be an invaluable boost. I'm going to buy Paul a block of Super Sculpey and see what happens!

They screened for us Suzie Templeton's Brilliant masterpiece, Peter and the Wolf (watch for your region). In the extras, she makes the observation that what makes stop motion so incredibly alive is that making it requires taking many full hours of intense work in order to create a mere moment of film. Concentrated life. I think that aptly describes stop motion and the people who make it.

Thank you for everything, Justin and Shel. You are awe inspiring.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Moving Heaven and Earth

Today I painted a gradient blue backdrop that curves the full back and top of the test set. Then I took the very cool stretchy sky scrim made yesterday and attached it a few inches in front of the back most layer. The sky illusion is fantastic!

Maybe I'm the only one this happens to, but whenever I drive along a highway where there are mountains in the distance, I always "see" them transform into the contours and curves of a female's body. It never fails that they look like gigantic god-sized women reclining in a sinuous repose. I can't help but imagine them as colossal living beings sleeping or resting across the Earth.

Based on this concept, in Halfland, way off in the distance, in the far back landscape, I plan for the hills to be made from subtle photographic material transferred onto 3D papier mache topography. Made a little mock up of that today with two different paper images I already had around just to see if the illusion would work. I looked at the set up through a keyhole made with my hand and I was startled that it looked exactly as I imagined, very much like it does in my real life visions.

I added these, um, flats to the diagram above to illustrate the idea. My challenge now will be to work out how to create this kind of a backdrop solution on the humongous Halfland set. At first, I thought of a jumbo scrim stretched onto tall curved aluminum conduit on wheeled stands. But tonight I'm wondering if I should go ahead and rig the set to pivot on a turntable instead.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stretchy Sky

It was a smaller step today, but intriguing. I took a scrim of white nylon and stretched it over a piece of plywood. Then I had fun finger-painting a cloudscape with dilute blue acrylics and daubing on titanium white to make fluffy cloud shapes on the bottom half. When dry, this backdrop remained stretchable and offered a lot of effect possibilities.
Here's a little diagram of what I came up with that I'll be testing on my practice area before building full size. Soft lighting thrown on the back most layer, as long as the transparent sky was also front lit, might look interesting. I'll have to try things out.

It occurred to me that I could place a plain cyclorama of gradient blue at the back of my testing set, stretch this new sky scrim onto a wire/or thin pipe structure affixed to the set floor via tiedowns, as a setting for Halfland environment behind the landscapes.

On the full-sized set (and boy, do I mean full-sized, this thing is HUGELY huge!), if this idea works well, I'd create the curved pipes out of gently bent electrical conduit or something equally sturdy and easy to get.

I plan to also experiment with adding a layer of projected sky into this set-up to see if it adds a luminance and a sky-like dimension on camera, in camera, as it were.

The Hills Are Alive:
Tomorrow, I'll show how my wild plan for the distant contours of Halfland hills will look on this schematic. (It involves using the enlarged Xerox nude of me-self that was laying around.) I swear, I have everything around here! Name something, anything used for arts or crafts (I love this game) that you can think of and I'll see if it's in here. If you do manage to "stump the shop" I will admit it publicly and never play the game again... online.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Frog and Toad Are Charming!

One of the surprises of watching some of my new copy of the Frog and Toad films mentioned (after seeing a clip of it at the recent ASIFA expo, scroll to last third of post) was that the main film, Curious George Comes to America, is also a well done stop motion. It was only listed as "animated" and the cover art is line drawn. (Photos are snapshots taken of my computer screen as it ran the disk as I didn't know how else to capture the stills I wanted.)

A new stop motion discovery and now one of my all time favorites. All but hidden on a 1994 dvd release ($7.99 on Amazon) comes several short 4-5 minute vignettes featuring the delightful Frog and Toad characters. I hadn't heard about the series made waaaaaaay back in 1985-87, written and directed by John Clark Matthews, with Jim Aupperle creating the lighting and doing some of the wonderful animation. The difficulty-dauntless filmmakers produced these treasures of the art before computers, framegrabbers (how did they erase the puppet rigs?!), etc. with just good old-fashion, lovingly crafted, sweet stop motion stories for youngsters (Although, I enjoyed these tales myself.)

Look for the inventive beautiful lighting design especially. Each scene takes on the perfect theatrical visual dimension because of Jim's inspired work. The rotating sets are a wonder. I would never have known how the makers achieved the enchanted effect of the Toad riding his bicycle through a hilly garden as we follow along, for example, if Jim hadn't shown some of his own behind the scenes/making of footage at the recent expo.

I can't wait to watch the rest of the stories on the disk. Something to reward myself with after I have completed converting two of the books I've designed into Spanish over the next day or two.

Hope to be back on Thursday to show a nice step having been made on my film's set.

Take Good Care!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Notes, Actual Notes!

A.) Illio by English lass,Louise, of Art and Ghosts, shown here because I'm digging the clouds being on the lower half of the sky. I think it's a new 1/2 Land must. A new fantastic touch.

B.) This little chair was made toot suite from backyard twigs by craft artist, Jennifer Stanfield, giving me courage to make Rana's chairs to scale myself because the ones I have bought are just slightly off scale.

C.) Another image from of pets frolicking on tree in their owner's yard, a tree that is exactly my target surface for Halfland's Listening Tree, including the hollow of the ear.

D.) This window shows the feeling for walls and indoor lighting I'll be modelling for Rana's cottage.

E.) This interior shows the beams in the ceiling, wooden floor and plank furnishings that convey the Halfland cottage ideal. I'll be adding rich fabrics and cluttered detail in addition.

F.) This crop of a Richard Kirk drawing is marvelous in its mood and the careful rendering inspiring. THE BIG NEWS!!: I found this and many other fantastical works from what was eerie to happen across online, my personal creative tribe! Terri Windling's Endicott Studio, A group, that concerns itself with the creation and support of mythic art! Their blog features arts inspired by myth, folklore, and fairytales. So, if you're in this tribe too, go there and revel in finding your people at long last too!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Can a Still Life Move?

I couldn't stop myself from making another detail texture sketch of the Pink Snail....

And then I had to see it move a little, in the rain, with a rocking lantern light fall, and slower body movement.

I made a lot of frame by frame animations of about 12 frames by hand in Photoshop, most of which I didn't end up using. I handmade the slight pan in another Photoshop file to sort of indicate slow forward clomping.

I was completely engrossed trying to figure this out with the tools I have and learned a lot about animation as a result. The chief thing being, that I truly will have the necessary patience required when it's time to animate Halfland. In the meantime, this sort of technique for creating sketch animatics is very helpful to the process.

Halfland Pink Snail Animatic

Friday, May 04, 2007

Snail Trail Tales

Update: I can't stop!! I worked the illustration further and now feel I have final art that I'm even happier with. I gave the snail and her house-shell more gloss, shadow, and texture and reworked her environment for a more storybook mood. It now feels like part of the Halfland button family. (Dear Readers (you), remember to get your name on the private Button List by commenting or emailing at address below. We've got one of these just for you!) *Click image below to see the art in more complete detail.
I knew the second Collectible Halfland Button would feature the background character, the Pink Snail, but it was the beautiful image on the left below that I found on eFriend and reader, Corey Amaro's blog this morning that was so inspiring for how I could portray the character in a more interesting way than I would have thought of.

It's been a year since the first "Highly-Collectible-Halfland-Limited-Edition-Memorabilia-Button" was issued. So, I thought it high time to spend some prime time today making the next in the series! Himself and I have as many buttons as we can made available to readers of this blog at absolutely no charge, no strings, not even shipping, just our big thank you for being out there supporting this project with your interest.

Any reader that would like one of the soon-to-be-rare 1-1/2" buttons (if you got the first button last year then I still have your address in my private file and you'll get this one too!), while they last, simply email me privately at nobledesign [at] sbcglobal [dot] net with a postal mailing address and a new button will be sent to you as soon as they are ready. (These addresses will be used only for this purpose and kept utterly private, guaranteed. This is strictly for the fun of it.) When and if Halfland is really here, these babies may indeed be valuable little bits of new cinematic history! I haven't decided whether to add the blog address to this new art yet, perhaps along the outer rim on the back?

I stuck the puppet into the cat's catnip greenery and snapped a few shots, trying to match Corey's intimate feel but also to present the full picture of the moment in the film when we see the character (film 2; scene 4, in the story outline link at right). I spent many hours, creating and experimenting with new improvised Photoshop techniques for adding golden lantern light falling on the leaves as the snail troops past us in the evening light, raindrops gently fall in the background leaving glossy pearls of water, cozy smoke rises from the old stone chimney, as her window curtains get dirty dragging along behind her in the mud.
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