Thursday, December 24, 2009

100 Days of Progress: Iron Sides

That formerly too-small soup pot has been successfully transformed into Rana's PERFECTLY-scaled iron tea pot to hang in her hearth. When the little top knob decided it wanted to be a mushroom, the patch of grass decided to grow on the lid beside it. I know grass really couldn't survive the heat of the hearth's fire, but it was one of those Halfland magic things--just had to be this way without reasonable reasons.

I'm proud of the grass especially. I used a small piece of expensive German model train landscaping grass, that is too small for Halfland itself but perfect for the kettle, by pulling out small clumps at a time and hand-applying them into pools of matte medium. The arc of the former handle was bent to be like the Japanese kettles Paul has here. The kettle should now hang nicely on the hearth's iron crane (in progress).

I used air-dry polymer clay to form the spout, sanding down the join when dry to a smooth join. An iron handle was built with a slice off a pvc pipe, cut off with plastic pipe cutter. The snug angles trimmed to fit with scissors. A small bottom loop made from a part stolen from the working inside of a ballpoint pen. After these pieces were glued on with jewelry glue (vapor the only toxic material I allow; using only at window and/or with respirator, depending on how much gluing will be done) the whole pot was painted with iron surfacing paint.

Once dry, the newly iron pot gets a careful treatment of rusting solution to look oxidized where moisture might collect on a real pot. The red spots were made to look like inlay by using dimensional paint that was painted red when dry, with the iron paint applied around them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Fish Arrivals: Jessica Koppe & Rich Johnson

Look what wonders arrived on the same day...
MYCTOPHIFORMES DRACO! (Lantern Fish, foam latex puppet by Jessica Koppe in Germany)
Jessica Koppe's Myctophiformes DracoJessica Koppe's Myctophiformes Draco Details

CUCKOO FISH! (Marvelous build-up puppet by Rich Johnson in Canada)
Rich Johnson's Cuckoo Fish!Cuckoo Fish Details

ZIPPY! (Bonus puppet by Rich Johnson in Canada)
Rich Johnson's Zippy
Click through photos for more details on these WONDERFUL puppets for Halfland's underwater scene! Thank you both some much, I LOVE THEM!

Caterpillar C is Alive!

Caterpillar C is Alive!, originally uploaded by Nobledesign.
I had a magical THRILL today. A thrill I will never forget.

I noticed a hint of color and motion (upper left) inside the jar on my desk. The jar I'd long since assumed held the dead chrysalis of my third captured caterpillar.

I can't describe the wonder and surprise at seeing this brightly-colored and beautiful fluttering creation after being so sure no butterfly could still be alive after looking like a dead leaf for so many weeks!

I took loads of photos, tried to find out if he needed food or water and then decided to release him out the window, even though I don't imagine there are any passion flower vines for him or other Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae around to mate with in his 4-5 days left of life.

I felt it was better to give him a shot at living by some miracle of nature as opposed to certainly dieing. I'd have loved to keep him to admire after his death but knowing him while he's alive, that seemed less than appealing.

But you know I broke out alll the orange silk fabrics I had at hand for a photoshoot first though! Art before all. (lower right) An abstract vapor of his fluttering on orange silk.

Googling made it easy to discover data about my little Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae and what to do when he emerged.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Artists: Cirelle & Nancy Fit in Halfalnd

Lovely Cirelle planted Rana's cottage window box so that it looked exactly as if it were growing. We all loved how the flowers looked from inside the cottage. As creative guests, she and Nancy were asked to sign the artist autograph board.

Darling Nancy got her hands into the sumptuous woolen yarns, hand-dyed velvets and silk strips she used to create little cocoon spool props that will look amazing next to Rana's chairs. Twigs had to be snipped to length for a uniform result.

While standing outside Paul's local book signing the other day, I struck up a conversation with two lovely women, Cirelle and Nancy, whom I've known by sight for many years but hadn't ever gotten to know at any depth. I was stitching a gift to keep busy and Cirelle offered to sew a bit of it. That got my attention as I've not known many people who would want to do anything with their hands like that besides myself.

We started chatting about Halfland and wasn't I surprised when both she and her dear friend Nancy got excited to come to Halfland to help. They could not have been nicer, we really had a lovely afternoon planting a cottage window box and winding hand spun wool yarns onto twig spools as props.

We talked and ate and tried to stay warm, but the best news of all is that THEY REALLY WERE HELPFUL!! They both took wonderful sensitivity and care to the tasks I had planned out for them, each doing a perfect job, such that I won't have to re-do or alter a thing! Ladies, you're talented hands fit right in!

Their coming over gave me the shame leverage I needed to do a major clearing in the workshop. I got all the prop materials organized found that there were in fact several jobs that can be delegated to whomever might come here to lend a hand. No matter the level art experience or skills, it seems all that's needed to contribute in a major way here is a kind, open heart. I'm at the point in the project now where I can clearly see what tasks can be handed over to whomever is offering to help.

In the case of Cirelle and Nancy, I found they both had the detail awareness, patience, and knack for getting inside the project. They seemed very attuned right way to the peaceful, rustic little world being created bit by bit, and craft beautiful things, saving me a lot of time.

It was wonderful having you both here, Cirelle and Nancy. I hope you'll come again!

New Character: UPDATE His new name is Monty!!!

Thought of and sketched this little guy today. The idea came from the dried blowfish I bought from Kit Kraft last week. If Mike Sitkin hadn't had them inexplicably hanging up behind the cash register and priced within reach, I would likely never have thought of adding a guy of this sort to underwater scene. Maybe I should name him Kit?

The dried fish wasn't very photogenic, what with being a long dead dried out Porcupinefish fish from the family Diodontidae, also commonly called blowfish and, sometimes, "balloonfish" and "globefish" (wiki). But after Googling for images of live samples, I had fun imagining how to make a puppet for the film from him.

I thought his sharp spines and puffy balloon-like body made for an ideal Halflandian joke. To me it's as though he's a happy little fellow who can't understand why he's never been able to have an intimate relationship with those of is kind. I won't have to build more than the one to get the concept across. He'll just gently float through the scene and everyone will get it.

ok, dear readers, any name ideas?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Field Report: Kit Kraft Mania*

I have enjoyed perusing art supply stores all my life. It's always the most fun possible to see new material to help make something. Kit Kraft delivers the standard thrill and then keeps out doing itself the longer you stay there. I suggested their slogan be: "Have Multiple Artgasms"

Made my annual blast-o-visit to Kit Kraft the fabulous independent art-supply-of-all-kinds store in Studio City near Los Angeles. I spent several hours and found obscure things I needed for Halfland, things I'd never heard of that I needed for Halfland, things I didn't know I needed for making things for xmas gifts, and things that gave me exciting ideas to make other things. I challenge anyone to go see owner Mike Sitkin and NOT find exactly what they need for any project, no matter how out-in-left-field it might be. (Case in point: I bought a dried real blow fish for $3.50 in addition to excellent hobbyist tools.)

The shop is utterly organized and stocked full with a large variety of product in numerous categories of art products. The service is outstanding and Mike will do anything for you. I asked him where the post office was and he offered to process my package for me in the Kit Kraft shipping department, complete with printed tracking label and fitted packaging, thus giving me luxurious stress-free art supply shopping time instead of PO lines and rushing. Incredible!

The selection is abundant at Kit Kraft. In addition to the drool-worthy modeling and polymer clay section above, they also carry earthen and precious metal clays and all the tools to use it. You see only a portion of the wire section above as well. There I found the PERFECT wire for Time Flies and other insect legs! In black already! I bought a large spool of 34 gauge (USA size) in black for $4.50 and a smaller spool of 34 gauge (Metric size) in gold because it was even finer! Mike explained the difference between the two gauges, how the same numbers are not the same in actual thickness.

How to you figure that this store even had a massive selection of sizes of clear acrylic half domes that are perfect for use as the watch crystal in the Time Frog's belly? He must have had 20 size increments to choose from. I found great new tools. Those yellow straws above are actually micro paint brushes that can be used for application of glues, paints and solvents. The new precision tweezers were just $5.75. The syringes are to help me apply glue to the window panes (post coming).

I also found fun new bits and bobs to make jewelry and gifts. Mike cut a piece of delicious pumpkin shearling that I'm wearing right now as insoles in my slippers in this cold rainy night. My cat really seemed to enjoy the shearling too.

Mike had a lot of new products since I'd been in. One was an air-dry polymer clay that I've already used to make a mold for the tiny green frogs bought there and the spout on Rana's teapot. Glitters! Bright paint for Rana's hearth flames, snow for xmas cards, metal castings from Kit Kraft's attic, where I also found a lovely old carved horse from India (not pictured) for $4. There were fabulous wooden inlay strips and the odd scroll pieces that will be used to decorate Rana's cottage.

I will use everything I bought this trip and look forward to my next one! Thank you Kit Kraft!

*No compensation was paid to me for my raving about the store. I just get genuinely creatively stimulated there.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

100 Days: Mystery Door

The top key, with the heart opening, I made from scratch. The other key under that, with the opening that matches the chalet's eaves, was a doctored store bought. *Have a look at the tiny lines on the palm of your hand to see that the keys are about an inch long.*

Found a little key doodad in a clearance bin for 50¢ that happened to fit 1/2L's scale just right. It was flat on the back so I used layers of glue to build up some dimension. Painted it with iron surfacer and then with rusting solution and got a nice second key for Rana to wear on her waist. I wonder what it opens?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Eureka! New Idea: How Time Flies

The Time Frog catches flies from his spot in the pond but they don't die. Instead they make their way to the Frog's belly, where the gears, levers, jewels and such of a clock works operate in him.

Readers here have heard me fumble around for years about the Time Frog character. My original vision was certain. He was a frog with one of his eyes a clock face. He will sit quietly in his pond, just down the hill from Rana's cottage and all that we know of as time exists because he exists. He is Time itself. (The origins of a frog with a watch in his eye initially came to my mind as I was working on one of the early Mac desktop computers in 1993. I was rendering a large file for a childrens book and the cursor, happened to be placed over an illustrated frog's eye, as it turned into a watch icon during the Hard Drive's slow operation. One dot led to the other.)

Readers will know that the addition of the Time Flys seemed to flow naturally as things developed here on the blog. I knew I wanted them to buzz around and land in the bejeweled spider webs in the corners and be captured in Rana's sewing pin cushion. But I really groped around for how I could connect the Flies, the Frog, and Time in a way that made really good and fun sense. I wondered if the flies dropped watch parts? or somehow built a clock, nothing really had enough logic to me. Finally, in a flash, I got it yesterday morning as I was waking up.

The dots started flying in my head and rapidly connecting themselves as I came to, until I flew out of bed and started constructing what I imagined. A domed plastic packaging from our recycle bin, watch parts Marcie H.O.N. (Halfland's Official Naturalist) sent next to the puppet's sculpt and mold, to start sketching out how to construct clock works in the Time Frog's belly!

I plan to construct this large pocket watch under glass and animate it with rotating gears and busy flies making it all go, like a small cut away vignette.

Readers here will know how exciting this development in the minor character in the story/play is, and how much I thank them for staying around. Now it flows just right. Just right for Halfland. (Readers here will please refrain from noticing that the date on the previous sketch of the Time Frog was October of 2007.)

Eureka! New Idea: Moon Lanterns

I'm over the moon on this one, Gang. I've had two top-drawer ideas for Halfland today. Both are sketched, and I couldn't resist posting one of them before bed.

I had been planning for there to be handmade paper lanterns hanging on the lower branches of the Answer Tree but I never knew before what they should look like. Rustic, yes, and beautiful, as one of the main characters, Yanu, the Moth Man, would be living in the tree on the branches above the lanterns (because we all know how moths feel about light at night, they stay close by.)

But it wasn't until today when I remembered a poem I wrote last year about how the moon looked like welcoming light on a neighbor's porch. I picked up and explored a small paper lantern that I had painted black for Halloween with new eyes. Dots began connecting in my mind and the next thing I knew, I had an element for Halfland that I dearly love.

The main lantern, lit each night by Rana and hung from her porch, will be meant to actually be the moon in all its phases. Every exterior scene in the evening will show the lantern in a different phases of the moon, as I see it each evening from my own window.

It's as if Rana's cottage, with its Answer Tree that knows everything in life, and shall I call it the Stream of Consciousness with its rocks that are aware that runs along side it, and now the moon displayed each night from its porch, becomes grander metaphor than I imagined yet still completely meaningful to me privately. As it should be.

Next Post:
I can show how the Time Flys operate the clock in the Time Frog's belly when he eats them! Another improbable connect-the-dots tale with a very happy ending...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

100 Days: Boring Bowls

I hesitate to show these small thrown porcelain ceramic soup bowls and extra bowl like things that don't have handles or flat bottoms, but I figure this blog documents everything, one at a time, as they are completed so... My initial rough red clay ceramic soup bowl had to be thrown out when the entire plastic bag got filled with mold because I stored the real mini loaf of bread seen in that picture in there with the container of moist hair gel. I thought that bread was petrified after 15 years but apparently there was some vital life left in that whole wheat!

UPDATE: I realized by looking at that old too small soup kettle in the photo linked above that I should add a curvy spout to it paint it a metallic finish and then I'd have Rana's kettle! I was wondering how I was going to build that! Thanks boring blog post!

I filled holes in the bottoms of the bowls with more clay, glue, and stale spices from my kitchen to look like seasoning at the bottom of Rana's soup after the gel and vegetables are put in.

(I have no idea what was making my nails so dirty that day, looks like I was out digging up a field.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 days: Making Miniature Flors

After I added stems and calyxes to my coffee filter paper roses for the Tea Cup Roses prop in the film (stuck into the face of foam block upper right, of photo below). I kept the floral train rolling by creating Rana's floral arrangement prop seen here.

Making Miniature Flors, originally uploaded by Nobledesign.

I used powdered desiccant to dry out every miniature scale leaf and flower I came across for months. At the end of the day, they never turned out fresh-looking enough to use for this. I opted for hand-painting small silk flowers instead.

Each bloom was painted for the cottage palette, glued onto wire stems, calyx and leaves, painted green. The stems, and things like the yellow center stamens (upper left) were bulked up by tinting Aleene's Porcelain-Ize-It silk flower dipping liquid (part of my essential tools. Couldn't locate any link online (?) the small bit in this last bottle may be it on earth?; closest item here).

(center right) I made an orchid-style flower out of real dried petals, cut down and glued around a smaller dried flower base.

I'm thrilled with how I made the vase. I used the crystal drawer pull that was a candidate for Rana's front door knob, hack sawed off its metal bolt on the reverse, before placing it face down. Then I hacked through a clear plastic over-sized Christmas tree light candy box (bought last year to possibly use as the glass chimney on the oil lantern prop.) slicing off the top and the bottom making it a bowled tube. I filled an inch at the bottom of the shape with clear gel glue and flakes of dried flowers to look like vase detritus and held the knob in place with Funtac (as a glue dam) After a couple days, the glue dried, sealing the bowl, and the knob was firmly stuck onto the bottom of it.

I scratched the inside a bit with sandpaper to add age and texture so it wouldn't look like plastic at first glance. When the bottom of the vase is filled with a lump of the clear museum gel that Mike gifted me with thoughtfully, the stems can be secured in it and it should look just like water!

(PS: I used my Flickr account to post some of the blog photos this week because I was so behind in posts. But I'll much prefer using Blogger posting tool alone in the future.)

100 Days: Pluck a Rose for Tea

Tea Cup Roses Progress
I went back to the ceramic studio for the forth time and finally retrieved my tiny thrown cups for the props. I fired the worm-sized handles separately and the clear glass glaze slipped off them during firing and melded many of them to the flint board they were on. I chipped off as many as I could and then had to play match up with whatever cups survived to whatever handled made it through.

The "white" glaze I used came out more like iron ware to me, nice looking on their own, but I really needed these props to be bright white to read as teacups. I painted them with acrylic (I'd use white glossy spray paint if I had to suggest an improvement) and then hit em twice with glossy clear acrylic for a porcelain sheen. Much better.

I love the wonky misshapen quality throwing these cups on a wheel made. I could have sculpted more perfect cups, perhaps even casting duplicates for uniformity, but the way these surprised me works for me. I think that's because these cups are meant to be actually grown as living things.

I added calyx to the cup bottoms to further sell the concept (upper right). When I pair these finished cups with the paper roses on the hand-painted vines I've made, it looks positively magical.

Today, as I was waking up, I solved how I want to construct the bay Tudor window that the Teacup Rose bush will grow on (AND THROUGH!). With all the rose foliage now painted, all the little cups now ready to grow on them, now all the miniature roses finished ready to go on the trellis as well, the brown twig like wire base for it all now ready... assembling this special Teacup Rose set detail is going to be an enormous thrill.

100 Days: Fail Bois

Faux TrunksI bought a real birch tree trunk for visual reference at a local floral design supply in the flower district downtown. To tell you the truth, it looked as though it had a quick sloppy sponged white paint job on it. It looked good but so easy to replicate for the many trucks I'd need to finish the set.

As I started to test making a few out of the tons of free fabric core tubes I had here, I soon realized how insanely complex real tree texture really is.

Making the straight tubes (upper left) zig and zag slightly was the easy part. I used a Japanese pull saw to gouge out small 1/2" HA! wedge shaped sections for the tubes set up between two cinder blocks (center top). Then I forced the tube to collapse at the break point and used my favorite material, masking tape, to tightly wrap the joins. I also added rolled up paper clumps to act as quick branch stubs here and there.

I slathered the armatures with my other favorite material, flexible cement, up and down with a small plastic card to obscure the joins and add bark-like texture, not birch bark texture, but a generic tree impression.

Once dry, the painting tests began and what I thought would be too easy ended up being too hard.

I kept trying to get a decent Faux Bois finish on these tests, going dark light in various browns, taupes, creams, yellow, everything. I simply couldn't get anywhere. Finally, I turned off all the lights at night and took straight white and sponged it on trying to get the values right to my eye in the dark. In the morning the value was better and then it was a simple matter of tinting them over the top with dilute cocoa brown fabric dye mixed with dilute yellow acrylic to stain them for hue. They aren't Birches, but detailed enough to give the feeling of tree trunks to cover the support column on the set.
Here I've quickly hung a panel of sky-blue plastic tablecloth to start to cover the column. I propped the test trunks in front of that and then placed a piece of sheer silk in front of my camera lens on that side to softly blur. Just trying to get an idea of what needs to be done to finish off the background edges of the set.

100 Days: Porch Progress

Building up Porch

Porch progress. I cut out another layer of the porch from 1/8" plywood using a utility knife (lower right).

I had a thrill when I discovered the joys of hole bits for my power drill. I had been wondering how the heck I was going to make the holes in this for the pole supports.

I screwed cross pieces through both top layers to secure it all together and then filled in any gaps with stainable wood glue, wiping away excess with damp towel (lower left).

Once dry, I darkened the whole thing with dilute cocoa brown fabric dye.

Friday, November 13, 2009

100 Days: Tea Tin Time

A lot of floral work has been going on (tease below), but here's a quickie post on a bonus prop just made. It's an old-fashioned red metal tin that will help clutter the tea table in Rana's cottage next to the white porcelain teapot and freshly picked cups (!) The tea bags are miniature versions of Paul's current favorite. I dried his out for several mornings, opened up the little cloths and took 2/3rds of the loose tea out, cut down the stained cloth and retied them with string that had their ply reduced to fit the scale. I hope you'll join Rana for a cup as soon as it's ready.

I used plastic bottles from our recycle bin, cut down with a small hand saw to get their curves. Rolled metal edges were added by carefully gluing different gauges of wire. I made one but it wasn't large enough, so I made another a bit larger and decided to make it operate like a real tea tin with an inner and outer lid. Had to make these a second time out of metal as the cardboard version no longer fit back together after the thickness of a coat of paint.

I went back and forth with finishes, black, red, metallics of all kinds. Seriously. All the metallics in the house, even shiny gold foil at one point. What finally worked for me was to cover the entire container in ceramics finishing, wax-based Luster Paste in a warm red gold (bought every color in New York years ago they are really especially gorgeous in person.) And then painted over that layer, leaving the rolled edges gold, with flat red acrylic. I gave the jars a patina with diluted charcoal gray/black wash to simulate oxidation and wear.

The earth laughs in flowers --e. e. cummings

Friday, November 06, 2009

Special Studio Guest: Increda-Shel!

This bright beautiful creature is Shel Wagner Rasch. She's half (HA!) of the real life Super Hero duo, Justin and Shel Rasch and their amazing animation production company, Stunt Puppet Pictures, where they make heartfelt, creatively detailed, and astoundingly well-performed stop motion animations. Their last short, Gerald's Last Day has garnered numerous well-deserved accolades around the world.

Shel and her family are the most organized, effective, and achieving bunch I've seen. Through a highly efficient schedule structure, Shel and Justin get every important thing actually done and accomplish all their significant dreams, one by definite one.

Somehow, in the midst of all that, Shel wanted to take the time to visit Halfland, see where I was at on the set, and graciously offered to make suggestions. I showed her what was new since her last visit, we ate and yakked about the important things in life, she solved all my worst set problems, and then flew out the window like Superman. Poof! She's superhuman like that.

Before she left, Shel figured out how I could reinforce the cottage set walls with simple hardware (that can be painted up to blend) and secure roof supports solidly to the stationary walls, with removable roof panels dropped into a metal I-beam shaped channel of some kind that I re-purpose from a home improvement store.

These suggestions were incredibly helpful, definitely, but the biggest difference Shel made on this visit was to suggest that I secure the wall panels to the set with long tie-down bolts! That may seem obvious to everyone else, but it would never have occurred to me. I was trying to use lame little pegs in holes that wobbled and never could be made solid in the layered wall material. This new way, allows me to go ahead and trash the wall bottoms and ram them up with a long bolt, slathered in iron-strong Propoxy until you can drive them down the road like a tank--Bouhyah! And then fasten them down from underneath the set with heavy duty nuts until they need to be removed during filming.

Thank you for coming over, Shel. Thank you for being a wonderfully inspiring person, thank you for lending me your able mind for my set, and thank you for speedily putting all things right--in a flash!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tarn has shown up for Halloo-ween

Here's a brand new sketch of a Halfland main character, Tarn, the half-crow woman just in time to wish all visitors here a Happy Halloween! She's a careful blending of human and black crow, split essentially vertically, with her human side visible on her left with it's flesh instead of feathers. Her hair is raven black, long and wavy, tied in low bundles to keep the strands from her face on that side. She's seen here without her typical jet black beaded veil headdress that covers her eyes. Her slick black feathers will mesh her flesh so that one won't be sure if she's a human wearing a feather cloak or a crow whose feathers conceal a human form.

The Tarn character symbolizes deep and permanent depression, the kind of black sticky profound sadness that knows no other reality. There's no terrible cause for it, no any cure per se, it's simply her existing in constant melancholia regardless of circumstances. It's her way.

This new sketch is based on an accidental image I caught of myself as I was photographing a necklace I had made. My bare face profile is not something I have seen too much. My own self image doesn't look like this to me, the nose so strong and the chin so weak. My life long self view of my face has been one of grotesquery that in no way measures up to the view of beauty prevalent in the culture in which I live. I have come to a peace with that by expanding my own definition of beauty to include a broader range of visage. And by focusing on what I do that's interesting more than how I, or anyone else, looks.

I exaggerated my features and melded them into a crow's silhouette to really intensify my feelings about my facial features. In Halfland, there are many many odd looking creatures, all of which are accepted fully for what they are in total. There is no sense of ugliness there, only what is, and all of it appreciated.

Boo! xoxox

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Upstairs Clare

Classic Clare
Artist, friend, and neighbor, Clare, has left this life, leaving behind a wealth of stories and fine artworks. Even the small taste of his life here is still a feast.

Carmine Anthony Joseph (last name withheld--but it's fully Italian!) (aka: "Downstairs Clare") born 1935, moved from Brooklyn, New York to California in 1958. Survived by his loving wife of 32 years, The Jean That Goes With Clare (a faithful supporter and reader of this blog), his younger brother and sister, and three of his four grown children from his first wife, with growing children of their own.

A multi-talented man, Clare could act and sing (good enough at opera to be sought out by scouts from the Met), cook like an artist and create art for those with fine art taste.

The thing one would remember most about Clare, once meeting him in person, was his hearty, belly borne laughter. Stories told from his life were the kind one remembers and repeats all their life, memorable and amazing.

He was a big wonderful bear of a man with the warmest of hearts and the wisdom of much experience.

Clare Sketch
Just a taste of Clare's life drawing skill.

God Pages
When Clare moved in downstairs he was a bit frozen art wise. The thought occurred to me that if I brought him a basket filled with cheap art paper cut down to half-sheet size and various paints with a command to make marks of some kind on a sheet daily that I would come downstairs to see each day, he might get going.

We called them "Go Pages".

Boy! Did that idea ever work! He went crazy and made hundreds of these over the course of 6 months, several each day, each set utterly different, yet all astonishingly glorious.

Making them became a daily spiritual meditation for Clare. He came to call the practice God Pages and published his favorites in a hardbound book given at the holidays to family and friends.

Clare Commission Canvases
In 2005, Clare was commissioned by my husband to create several large works for the newly completed dining hall cafe at his organization's head quarters in Los Angeles.

The pieces are spectacularly beautiful and light-filled, capturing the essence of the location and finishing the space to perfection.

Clare Etch
Equally impressive were Clare's line art works and etchings. He worked behind the scenes for 20 years in the Legitimate Theater Union for the Music Center and touring companies where he had ample opportunity to make quick sketches of dancers during their rehearsals and performances.

Clare Life
This great man's life in triptych.

Clare Great Romance
Jean and Clare's obvious love was affecting to anyone who was lucky enough to see them together. They were a perfect match for each other.

Clare holding a grandchild upper left, Jean and Clare's wedding in 1977, upper right, the way Clare always looked at his Jean said it all, lower left, Jean and Clare sharing a warm laugh after sticking out their tongues at me on his last birthday at home, lower right.

There' s a famous story Clare told me, in his usual entertaining way, that really illustrates the kind of romance Clare and Jean were blessed to have.

They used to meet each week at a little cafe and became regulars there after a while. They would eat and enjoy their time together so much, laughing, talking, telling stories, really into each other. They began to notice the wait staff would gather to peek at them during these lunches and whisper.

Finally, at some point, the head waiter approached them sheepishly to ask permission to ask them a very personal question: were they married? When they both answered yes, the waiter leaned in to ask " each other?"

Goodbye to our dear friend. We love you and were blessed to have known and been inspired by you.

More examples of Clare's artworks, interests, stories of his presence in our lives, and what's happening next with his works here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

100 Days: Perverse Vision = Pervision

I think I'm onto something I like. It not only perverts the scale of a giant miniature stop motion set but also leads to a workable solution for how I can handle the design the edges of the set landscape.

I was experimenting with tilt shift visual effects with Halfland still shots a while ago. Tilt shift is essentially a technique of selective image blurring, directing the viewer's eye towards a middle band of focus that fools the eye into thinking the place depicted is in miniature. There have been several videographers lately using the technique on live action footage to brilliant effect.

It intrigues me that I am building a miniature world, albeit a large miniature world, filled with as minute detail as I possibly can, and then I turn around and use film technique to increase the illusion of scale, making the world I make seem even smaller. This effect on the long shots, like the one above, will make the cottage seem very tiny, too tiny to be as detailed as the macro/close up detail shots will reveal it to be.

It is a perversion of perception, amplified, and I love the idea.

An additional twist will be the obscuring of realism at the large set's edges. I realized the other day that I could simply increase the impressionistic effect of the landscape the further out the view gets from the cottage. In other words, I can approximate the misty hazy look of a blurry vision at the set's edges so that the distant grassy hills, sky, and additional stands of trees are merely suggested. The only detailed area of the set will be its center; Tree, cottage, porch, and middle stream section. The rest will resemble an impressionistic painting, merely suggesting the view continues on endlessly.

This idea enables me to not only the freedom to finish the massive set more crudely and quickly, but also the way I can integrate the 2D cardboard trees at the edges that are meant to parallel/mirror the paper puppets with which my beautiful live actress will be acting out the story in the last sequence.

100 Days: Gay Blades

I've started manufacturing tufts of grass blades out of crepe paper for the main set landscape.

I picked up several shades of green Korean crepe paper at a big craft supply shop downtown just to see what it would do in comparison to plain tissue and colored art paper I was planning on uses. Turns out there is no comparison. The unique texture of the crepe paper twists the individual blades realistically, stands up on its own, is easy to fringe, has the right amount of translucency, is inexpensive enough to mow a lawn, if you know what I mean. It's so fantastic. One style even has an ombre blend of greens giving even more natural color variation for good effect.

This has to be QUICK so I slice off a rough blade high length, roll it up, chomp off the end in an uneven way so the blades won't all be the same length, fringe cut slices, not too precisely. I pick a few strands in each color, roll up the bundle and twist the bottom edge tightly to form a tuft of grass.

When I get a bunch made, I pierce the set floor with an awl and "plant" the tufts where I want them to grow, securing with a drop of hot glue. I twist a few of the blades once cool to vary the state of growth.

Using paper is a new idea for this. I bought expensive synthetic grass swatches for this purpose years ago, but it seems the film is happier being more obviously handmade vs. approximating reality.

The grass-making cuttings make a lot of little pieces that won't waste either. Using Paul J. McConnochie's tutorial from a year ago, only on a larger scale, I daubed fast grabbing white glue onto bare twig branches and sprinkled on the grass clippings to make quickie leaves.

These branches can make up part of the landscape that is less detailed than the Answer Tree, yet still more 3D realistic than the 2D-style paper trees at the scene edges.
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