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.

A Gift of Time?

I found this fly (alreedy deed) the other day. I admit I did consider using he and his friend's wings for more time flys/flies puppets. But I couldn't do it. No, I'm afraid I'll have to source wings elsewhere or make 'em.

In any case, my plan is to make future flys closer to his smaller size and fit them into the watch part vials that Halfland's Official Naturalist graciously sent to me. I'm hoping to get really swift at making them so that I can make one for each and every person who took their precious time to make their marvelous puppet contribution to Halfland's underwater scene.**

It's a small gesture to hopefully convey my gratitude to everyone who gave so greatly of themselves. These will be limited edition numbered gifts given to all puppet contributors symbolizing the wish that the time they spent should be returned to them and forever multiplied so they'll have as much as they'd like to do the things they enjoy.

(**I'm toying with skipping my annual holiday mailing this year and spending the time making these instead. They aren't very Christmassy I realize, so I might mail them for a New Years' fresh start. Thoughts?)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

100 Days: Got Cooking!

Continuing my long march toward s COMPLETING all main set props for the film, I've been building these kitchen utensil props slowly over the last few weeks, in between building other things.

I had the rolling pin for years and as such, it's the only prop that's slightly off-scale and too small. The way I'll place it on the table or hang it off the rack as part of the clump of cooking stuff, it won't matter. I filled the hole in the handle and stained, painted and sanded it for wear.

The masher was carved from a wooden candle cup shoved onto an old stripped paint brush handle and stained with raspberry juice.

The long blade whisk was bought in little Tokyo the other day, painted black to match the other pieces and wrapped with cord and stained. The wooden spoon and spatula and metal tongs were also found at that Little Tokyo shop (I think I squealed at my luck). The spoon and spatula only needed beating up and aging. The tongs were all metal so I made them more rustic by inserting the tips into balsa wood squares, filling in with a mixture of stainable wood glue and fine sawdust (to make fake wood), and then staining and charring the edges with black chalk.

I simply used our own wooden spatula's wear and char marks for natural use patterns. (My darling Paul doesn't understand yet that if he's grilling a steak and rests a wooden turning tool on the rim of a hot grill pan it will nearly burn. I like that real use detail.) The other tool I followed from a large one was the herb crusher stick. (There was no label on it in Little Tokyo and no one there spoke English so I don't know what it really is for) I just took a stick and whittled down the ends (including punching out faux branch nub holes. I stained the business end with greens as if it's used to crush fresh garden herbs for cooking.

The ladle took the longest to make. I kept scanning the house for what might be the right thin bowl to scale, finally landing on the white plastic cap of orange air spray. I marked the depth with tape and cut through with a blade all around to make it more shallow. At first I was sassy proud that I'd softened a plastic spoon handle to curve it to a hook at one end. But even after painting up in a metallic finish it wasn't reading right. I tried a twig on a whim and liked it better for this. I curved the end by slicing away segments and filling the seams with wood glue and sawdust. The bowl was ultimately sanded and painted with aluminum paint and attached to the handle through a drilled hole and wire coil through both parts. The ninth tool was made from coiled steel wire fastened to another twig. All utensil handles were waxed with natural beewax.

Roar! Tiger Shark Arrives!

Richard Svensson The Lone Animator in Sweden just sent in his fantastic contribution to the underwater scene, a Tiger Shark! Half tiger, half shark. Perfect!

The Tiger Shark was much smaller than I expected from seeing the detail in the photos of it being built on Richard's blog, which makes it all the most extraordinary! Look at it! How was he able to get such perfect sculpting on its face and mouth and the surface texture perfectly balanced between scales and fur (it could be either)!? It's remarkable to feel and animate as well, fishy-flesh-soft all over except for the perfect sharp claws and teef. Great movement in paws, fins, mouth, and tail.

The little frame grabs showing it's mouth shut were taken from a little clip I made showing how it moves/its texture after I opened the box. I tried to make a quickie stop mo with it too but it's going to take more practice to begin to show it justice. It can do anything; swim with its front paws and swish it's tail, swim towards the camera in a slow roar, etc. This will be very fun to work out schtick for.

Richard, you've gone above and beyond on this. I can't properly thank you, or the many others who have gone to such lengths to make that scene in Halfland a global party under the sea.

Thank you for making this amazing puppet and joining in, in such a big way, all the way from Sweden!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Incident Case Study

Thanks to everyone for your caring comments & emails. Doing great. Paul has been trying to curtail his funny comments but we never realized how often he makes me laugh until this happened. And I was doing great keeping deadpan (until I made these photos.) New Halfland updates coming soon! --xoxox, Gywen

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't Make Me Laugh

No, this isn't my gruesome new mask for Halloween. I just got home from the ER (again!). This is for stitches on my mouth and brow from an extremely poorly timed gesture of love for my favorite cat.

I had just turned off my computer and desk lamp to go cuddle Paul on the couch sleepily, so it was pitch black dark on the set as I walked past my cat in her basket. I leaned down to kiss her in the dark, as I do 10,000 x's a day. Not being able to see her clearly, I didn't understand she was fast asleep. She felt my breath on her in the dark from a dead sleep and lashed out fast with claws and a hiss, splitting my lip nearly clean through and (this is the good news) missing my eye by an inch.

It was entirely my fault. I learned a big lesson--don't be an IDIOT! I doubt I'll be sticking my FACE in on a SLEEPING CAT in the DARK again! Gah!

Paul was here for this emergency and after he flipped out over all the blood, he sweetly drove me 45 minutes each way to the same ER I went to 3 months ago where they gave stupendous care again. I've been Lidocain-ed, saline washed, skillfully needle-sewn (funny after my last post title!) Tetanus-ed, and prophylactic antibiotic-ed. Ice and watch for infection, that's it. Oh, yeah, no smiling for a while!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...