Thursday, March 20, 2014

A SPARK to Jump Start Your Heart; Illustration Friday!

     YAY! It's Illustration Friday and I, for one, am glad that it is the end of the week.
It's been a great week, but a long one, which makes me a bit tired, but I will be fine with a little R&R this weekend.
This week's topic is SPARK and it took me a while to come up with this illustration... In the end, it seems like it was what I was meant to put together for this from the very beginning. However, it did not come easy and I almost gave up on doing something this week for (and it kills me to say this) lack of a good idea for it.

     All I kept getting in my head was the image of a match that was on fire, at the Starting Line for a Race.  Perhaps I had racing on the mind, as I had just recently finished my first 5K I had ever done before.  It was a doozie of a first 5K as it was a Trail Run through our local Natural Landmark,
Providence Canyon, otherwise known as the Little Big Canyon.  The race is called the Flatlanders Canyon Crash and, if you're local, you should check it out next year and come run it with me! :0)
***I have provided a link to the Facebook Page for the event below for those of you that are interested.

     Also, my partner's daughter had just recently joined her school's track team.  She is doing quite well and I am very proud of well she is doing.  I decided it would be neat to dedicate this week's project to her and her new found passion for running.  So, M, this one's for you! :0)

     I kind of caricatured her, a little, into the matchstick character. I also drew on the influence of one of her favorite cartoon's Adventure Time.  Pendleton Ward Art Direction for the show visually speaks to her,
so I wanted to incorporate that a little into the illustration as well.  I attempted to make my character look like it would fit into that show... and for those of you who watch it, you know that this type of character wouldn't be a far stretch, considering some of the characters I've seen on the show.

     Anyway, the fact that it is a match relates conceptually to the topic.  When people think of Spark, sometimes they think of a spark of inspiration, but to me it's a little more skewed than that. I don't feel that the spark is the inspiration, the spark is the catalyst that gets things moving in whatever direction your inspiration maybe pointing you in.  For me this week's topic is more about motivation than inspiration.  It's about how people can be motivated and driven by just a single Spark.  I was certainly impressed with hoe M ran the 5K with us a couple of weekends ago.  She  honestly could have blown past us and had a better time for the race, but she lagged behind to stay with us old timers huffing it up and down and all around those hills and canyons.  She really is very sweet and I thought that fact that she slowed down to stay with us was a shining example.  There is also something to be said for being inspired by the drive and motivation of others around you. Their force of energy kinda-sorta can spark your own into action. It's just one of those things about humans that are simultaneously intriguing and beautiful yet mysterious because you can't really explain them.

    Also the image nods it's head to the Olympic Games slightly, as it can also represent the tradition of the passing of the torch from one racer to another till it reaches it's destination that signifies and opens the Olympic Games.  It goes back to what I said previously, we all are connected and each of our SPARKS can at anytime ignite, touch, inspire and drive those around us.  It is the Spark that ignites the powder keg of Passion inside us all.

     So here's to M, who's dedication and passion in running SPARKED the inspiration of today's Illustration! I can't wait to see you run your first meet, M!
To the rest of you, I wish you a very Happy Friday and Weekend. I Hope you find a Spark to ignite Passion about Something in your lives.

until next time...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 


[I didn't win any awards, 
but you can see us hiding in the background in this photo ;0) ]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Dream Is A Wish Your ART Makes... Or, Really, the Other Way Around.

     Ive been thinking alot about DREAMS lately...

     Not in a fuzzy-happy kind of sense, but in a strange dystopian sort of way.  Not that I wouldn't love to have happy or sweet dreams...
I just don't, really.  They are not really nightmares either... just unhappy dreams. 

     This is why I have decided to share a design/art project I had done a year or so ago, because it was a logo that I, quite literally, dreamed up.

     In my dreams, there is always an element of tragedy or mischief or just something kinda-off about everything in an unsettling way.  My partner once read to me that most people, when they dream, dream of bad things.  I jibe him about how he planted a subconscious seed in my head to have bad dreams all the time, but this would be unfair, as I have noticed that the only dreams I remember, if I remember them, are sort-of dystopian, if not completely. 

     It's kind of funny because I do dream of far off exotic and futuristic worlds, but everyone in them seems to be unhappy or frustrated or stunted in some way...

     Everything seems sort of OFF and not quite right.  I shared, in detail once one of my more vivid dreams about a dystopian future that had a very rigid and harsh caste system.  Everyone was assigned a color, unless you were part of the upper-most-important class in that world.  Then you could do/wear as you please.  I will share that dream in a follow-up post here, as that dream really has nothing to do with today's posting. (But I will share it, I promise)

     I often have this space or place in my dreams that I call, for lack of a better name, The Dreaming City.  It is the space where all my dreams for the past 5-6 years (or as long as I can remember) have taken place.  I would love to one day illustrate it, or (ultimately) create a cartograph of the city itself.  The only trouble with this, is that it is usually and infinitely changing and morphing.  It appears or seems t be a culmination of places I have lived along with augmentations that, as far as I know, have no reference or resemblance to any real place I have been or seen.  But these could always have been things that I saw as a child in places I lived, before I was old enough to have a conscience memory of places people and things.  Most of the things I recognize are from my life when I lived in Savannah, Georgia.  But those recognizable architectural infrastructures are augmented and shifted into other things that I don't recognize.  Things shift and morph in between my frequent visits to Dream City.  Sometimes they morph and change while I am in there dreaming whatever storyline my subconscious mind has dreamed up.  This is very much like the way the Labyrinth would shift and change as Sarah was trying to solve it, therefore making it more challenging. I never felt trapped in the City, but I would often find myself in need to travel to a far part of it on the other side of where I would be, and find that I have no way of getting there. This would mostly cause stress and anxiety as the need to get to the other location would be dyer.

     There are a few, very few locations that I see often enough to be able to illustrate, I think.  On the outskirts of Dream City there is a field and built at the foot of this field and at the very edge of the City is a structure that very closely resembles the Colosseum in Rome. I've never been to Rome, but of course have seen photos and diagrams of the structure in books.  This Colosseum is a bit different: It's Two-City-Street Stories High and by this I mean that you could fit a 3-4 story building on each level of this one structure. It is as tall as The City itself. I know this from random encounters in my dreams.  There is a road that winds around form the top-most level and ends on the Grand Field.  Sometimes the structure is full of closely constructed city buildings, much like you would see in New York City, but nothing I see in my dreams is recognizably from New York.  This is really more of a general-generic city street shopping place. Other times the Structure is hallow and seems to be made of limestone. The Grand Field that stretches out form the foot of the Structure, I like to call The Fairgrounds. I actually had a dream when there was a huge and colorful festival happening in the Field. 

      The other location in Dream City that seems to remain the same, dream after dream, is the Movie Theater.  The location of the theater may change, but the interior is always the same.  Many of you can attest that this would be a happy dream, if I am dreaming of the movie theater, because I LOVE Movies! However, this is usually NOT the case.  In all honesty, I hate dreaming of the movie theater, as it feels creepy and cold and ominous.  It doesn't feel at all warm and happy, to say the very least about it.  There seems to be only one theater, by this I mean only one area to show a single film, but I "know" that there are more than just the one I seem to always be going to.  The foyer area is kind of old and moldy. Perhaps an influence of the old local theater in Warner Robins (GA) called the Rama (that has since been gutted out and transformed into a doctors office. Which is sad. We all missed our Dollar Movie Theater.  The layout of Dream City's Movie House is not the same as the Rama's was but it has a very same feel and look of run-down and shabby... and VERY Red.  Mostly, as far as the layout is concerned, it reminds me of the Town Movie House in the B-80s Flick, Night of the Comet.  Anyway, once Ive walked through the foyer (sometimes with or without concessions), I enter the Theater Area through a set of red-double doors. On the other side, I would see the largest Theater Screen Area I have ever seen (only in my dreams, right?).

     The width of the room is like the width of 3 professional football stadiums placed side-by-side.  The seats, which really were not seats, stretch and cascaded down and very seemingly steep drop and seemed to vanish into a Silver Screen SO-LARGE you could fit the entire city of Atlanta in it.  The seats were sort of suspended enclosed booths that could fit a single person inside.  They look very much like the video games booths that you would see at an arcade. The ones were you have to sit inside and look and the monitor screen inside to play the game.  Pol-Position is really the only example I can give that explains these booths that were suspended from the ceiling. They looked more futuristic, though. They looked like they belonged on a spaceship from the movie ALIENS.  The booths in the theater also had green monitors inside and you were supposed to wear these special goggles when you got into that allowed you to, somehow, see the large silver screen through booth and monitors themselves.  I NEVER understand the need for such seats at the theater, but they are ALWAYS there.  One day I will draw them and share them on the Blog with you. 

     Most of what I am sharing, is somewhat irrelevant to the particular dream I had when I dreamed about this logo... I just wanted to give you a feel for the sort of cold and detached places my dreams take place in. 

     ALSO, I don't really keep a Dream Journal, as I rarely ever remember my dreams when I awake.  What fragments I do remember are sort of burned into memory, maybe because they are not always nice.  I DO, However, Keep and Idea Journal that I carry around with me to jot in any idea that the Muses of My Own Personal Universe care to share with me.  I quickly jot it down to be used in an art project later.  When I dreamed of the distopian world that this icon comes from, I did just that when I awoke from this dream: Grabbed my Idea journal and immediately jotted down the noted to this icon.  I have scanned in that page form the journal just for fun.

     This Idea Journal entry was written almost 2 years ago... kinda funny It's so Close to that mark.  I don't remember much about the dream other than:
I was in America (United States) and it was the year 1918.  It was an alternate reality of America in 1918, as nothing I am about to describe, in any way, resembles history as we knew it.  Everything seemed distopian. There was a police state in the US and I'm rather certain it might have been implied that it was world wide.  I'm guessing that countries didn't really exist... there was some universal militant government that was running everything.
It wasn't Corporations (which I really think will eventually run and Control this country more openly in the future. Now that they are considered "individuals." Which is insane in my humble opinion)... but anyway. 

     The "People" were mostly poor and harassed and terrorized by their own government.  I am uncertain if this icon was associated with the Militant Government as the soldier/Policemen neither wore this symbol nor did it appear on any of the vehicles they drove.  I remember it raining and I was on a very dirty street.  I remember people screaming because the policemen were beating people out on the street in broad daylight in front of everyone... the people they were abusing didn't seem to deserve the punishment. In other words, I don't think they were guilty of any crime... just gratuitous cruelty and violence. 

     I remember that these people were SO hungry and distraught.  Most seemed homeless and there literally people dying on the streets, either from starvation, exposure or they were just plain beaten to death by the government.  I saw this icon on many posters that lined the sides of some of the buildings.  The government didn't seem to tear them down, as though they were part of a rebellion or that they were illegal. 
The people in my dream, however, seemed to be just as wary of what this symbol represented.  I didn't know if it was some corporation, as if in that reality there was only a single and very powerful company that helped control the country with the government.  Very similar to UMBRELLA in the Resident Evil games and films.  I didn't get that sense, so it is really a mystery to me as to what MIRAGE really represented in that world.  Is it a rebellion that the people around me didn't trust. Was it a clever rouse to pick out possible people that might rebel and take care of them before they actually do.  In any case, it seemed that MIRAGE was also Bad News Bears for these people.  

     I remember waking up, in the middle of the night, very shortly after seeing those posters in my dream and immediately picking up my idea journal to jot down notes so I could recreate this icon.  It was SO very burned into my subconscious that I thought by Creating it into reality that I could somehow understand more of that story... maybe trick my mind into dreaming more about it...

     But ALAS. I have yet to dream anymore to this date about that world.

     My notes were pretty descriptive. Enough so that I was able to complete the icon in one evening.  I did come back the following evening to make a few very minor changes or modifications after "sleeping on it." [Pun Intended]  I'm curious as to how many other artists out there sleep on something  after they tel themselves,"I'm Finished!"  Only to find that they come back the next day and fiddle with it a bit more... sometimes maybe alot. lol  

     I found the trickiest parts of creating this icon were deciding the thickness of the outer square, the distance in between the outer and inner square, the absolute abstractness and angle of
the round shape element that sits atop the squares and lastly the EXACT shade of Blue and the particulars of the gradients.  I recall in my notes that the round abstract shape reminded me of something off a Calder mobile or a shape form a Miro painting.  So I studied a selection of both of their work before building my icon.  In the end I think I just vectorized a direct excerpted shape from one of Calder's mobiles.  I manipulated it slightly and integrated the shape into my design.  I then had to toy with the angles and, as I previously said, the gradients of all the shapes.

 [Alexander Calder]

 [Joan Miro]

     The typography was also not too terribly challenging... I knew from the beginning that I would be working with a modified Avant Garde or Futura.  The font of MIRAGE was certainly a sanserif.  The word is pretty much typed.  I did separate and modify the Kerning of the letters myself as well as stretch some of the letters individually to help match what the icon was in my mind's eye.
 I did have to create the "A" in the word, as in my dream the A was composed of an upside down V with an Upside-Down Perfectly proportioned Triangle that was placed directly at half of the height of the letter and was proportioned to be half the height in both length and height of the shape.  This did take a bit of fooling around but I got it to where it needed to be. I then placed the created letter within the word appropriately and placed it proportionately to the graphic shape I had previously created according to how it looked on the posters in my dream.

     That pretty much sums up the long and the short of how this icon came to be.  The "Just Imagine" was something I scared up based on the fact that this icon came from my dreams.  I hope you enjoy the icon and the story.

until next time,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I SEE What You Mean... LOUD & Clear! It's ALL in My EAR!

     Yay! Once again it is Illustration Friday! It is a space on the web and simultaneously a place in time to let your Artistic VOICE Be Heard!...

And for that, I am quite thankful. 

     These weekly illustration projects are just pure joy to work on, because there is really no pressure or expectation. It is me, as an artist, diving down into the deep side of my Mind-Pool and pulling out whatever I may find.  As you may have guessed, this week's topic is VOICE and at first I didn't really know what to do with that topic.  This concept didn't really come to me till much later in the week.  I thought that maybe I should go with the concept of your visual art being your Voice, as an artist.  The importance and relevance of this principle is something that most all of my professors tried to imbue upon us students when we were at school.  I'm not certain how many of us truly understand and appreciate the statement, that made it's way into this week's submission, until after we leave the parameters of formal education and you find that it is just you and pencils & paper, pens & paint brushes and just some thoughts and ideas in your head. 

      You eventually realize that EVERYTHING you create, as an artist, no matter what it is and what form it takes, says a little something about yourself.  This is, of course, pretty common knowledge amongst creative minds.  They might seem to think to themselves that they are always consciously aware that their art is their voice and that they are saying something every time they put pen/pencil/brush to a white/blank surface.
I liken this to knowing that there are hills and mountains somewhere in this state and that they are "pretty" when I see pictures of them... But, there is just SOMETHING about being outside in the mountains and seeing nature up close and personal.  It's SO Very different than just "knowing" it's there. This is the reason I used this week's topic to visually restate this, not only for myself, but for any artist who sees it.  It can be a visual reminder, right in front of them, whose purpose (I hope) is to inspire them to get more in touch with their "inner artist" and re-discover their Voice, artistically and maybe personally.

      The process behind this week's illustration was a bit different than how things normally go.  Since I was incorporating text into the image, I knew there would be a hint of Graphic Design work that must be done to complete this illustration.  I don't usually integrate typography into my illustration work so I was excited to work on this illustration as Typography was going to be my "Star" this time. The first thing I did was research and find my texts.  I wanted to use fonts that looked hand written or drawn/doodled onto the page.
I was inspired visually to simulated the old sandwich blackboards you would see outside of delis.  This visual style has become quite popular over the last 4-5 years and is finding it's way into other areas in the world besides the exclusive arena of sandwich advertising.  Since my purpose was to feature and visually show an written statement about art, imagination and creativity, I wanted my font choices to also be just as creative and inspired as the statement itself.  In this instance, the words are the SUBJECT of my illustration.  Everything else that surrounds it is there to support and compliment the words.

      After choosing a basket-full of font choices, I typed out my statement and began copying the statement in each font I was interested in possibly using.  I then figured out the layout of how I wanted my text to fit and flow with each other.  Since I do my fair share of Graphic work on a weekly basis, this was kind of a walk in the park for me.  The layout and the emphasis on certain words in the statement allowed for easy and obvious choices in the fonts I had picked out to use.

      After I had my statement more or less the way I wanted it visually, I began work on my Badger Character, or rather I should say the ME Badger Caricature.  I decided to incorporate a separate art project I had in my Idea Journal about caricaturing myself as a Badger.
I meant it to be used as an allegoric self-portrait.  The short and sweet explanation of such is that I have, as of recently, felt like I have a nagging tendency to "BADGER" others.
The context and subject matter of the badgering varies upon the situation and the intended "badgeree."  They say the first step is to admit it, then you can work on it.  So I admit, I have a small bad habit of sort-of badgering or strong-arming others into things.  A small defense, it's not necessarily for personal benefit. A badgering may occur because I believe a particular course of action would help the badgeree... If only they would JUST LISTEN, right? lol.  I confess, it must be annoying, but anyway....

      I remembered a line of dialogue from a scene in one of my favorite movies, Party Monster.  It's the "Jerry Springer" scene where all the Club Kids are discussing who they are and what they do, or a lack of the latter in their cases.  James St. James (played by Seth Green who does an AMAZING job), who is dressed from head to toe like a green and glittering Treasure Troll, says,"It's ALL About EXPRESSION.
If you FEEL like a TROLL, then you should LOOK like a TROLL. Throw some glitter on the humpback, Darling, and go dancing!"  I remember just loving that bit of the movie and always think about what I would look like if I dressed up as the object or thing that I felt like.  So, in this instance, I wanted to dress up like a Badger to express my guilt and acknowledge to myself that I was being one.  Ive also ALWAYS LOVED Disney's adaptation of Robin Hood.  I love Animal Allegories and am always inspired by them and find myself wanting to create them.

      SO, I decided that this particular illustration project would be a great venue for my Badger-Self to make a cameo appearance. It really makes sense to do this, as the statement says to express your inner self and feelings in a visual and creative manifestation.  So HERE HE IS, Lewis the Badger. I dressed him in some of my favorite clothes and he is wearing my custom and very colorfully artsy Chucks.

      Lastly I will talk about the "Doodled" visual metaphor that represents my imagination or just imagination in general.  I wanted to create a sort of visual gradation that shows the beginning words of the statement more or less reside in my imagination and then as the statement progresses in words, it slowly becomes more of a physical manifestation of whatever artistic thought my imagination was trying to create.  As you may notice the words at the end of the statement more or less are linked more to the pencil. 

      By the way, I thought the idea of a pencil that drips out the Art was an interesting idea to illustrate.  This also alludes and visually connects, conceptually, that whatever the pencil is drawing is directly linked and related to the thoughts floating out of Badger-Me's ear.  the "drops" closely resemble some of the Imagination "shapes."  This was intentional.

     The visual thoughts behind why I decided Imagination should look like this, was comprised of 2 separate visual sources.  One was just free from doodles I researched online.  I sow SO many different ones. I felt like when I doodled the Imagination Shapes that seeing all that free-form doodling guided me organically through the process of my doodle choices.
 Here Again, this process is where my illustration process deviated from the norm. After I layed out my Text and drew my badger self, I scanned him in and placed the sketch of him next to the words I typed and layed out.  I then printed this "sketch" and light-boxed the badger-self and the words. Yes, I re-drew the typography, every letter.
I wanted it to be a part of the art from the Very Beginning of the process, since it was the epicenter of the entire illustration.  It was vital to start with the words, since they are essentially where the idea begins.  When I was done light-boxing the Badger and the Typography. I then detached my inked drawing from the light-box and free-handed the doodles over it.  I wanted this part to be as organic as possible, because creating the image in this manner, in some way, honors the process it represents. Sometimes the process that you go through to create the art is just as important as the final image.  An artist's process can have meaning and symbolic relevance, even if just for the artist him/herself.

Going back a bit...  

     The second visual inspiration for my Imagination Shapes, comes from the book and film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (which, incidentally, has been playing in audio book form in my studio all week).  IN the book/film, if you have never read or seen it, there is a concept of what the physical form of a memory or thought could be.  The story describes it as a thin silvery kind of slimy substance.  The film likens it to something that resembles what happens when you drop ink into water.  You can pull these memories out of your head through your ear or even through the side of your eyes.  It's a neat idea to me, visually.  I wanted to use it in my illustration.  So I have my Imagination doodling out of my Badger Ear. 

     This pretty much wraps it up for Illustration Friday's Post this week.  I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Friday and that at some point this weekend, find a way to Let Your VOICE be heard in your universe that you live in. :0)

until next time,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.