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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Copying the Sheep Shearers

Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) wanted to paint a woman and a man shearing a sheep.

He started by sketching the scene in pencil on tone paper. The man who is holding the sheep is in the shadow of a tree, while the woman is in light.

He developed the idea into a color study. The woman wears a red skirt, a white apron, and a blue top. The man is still mostly in shadow, though now he's under a rustic awning instead of a tree. 

Millet adapted the idea to a larger composition. Now there are three spots of light: her cap, her right arm, and the sheep.

Van Gogh made a copy of Millet's painting, changing a lot of things. He unified the color of her outfit, lightened all the colors and focused more on the blue/yellow dynamic. The forms are outlined with dark, short, bent lines.

John Singer Sargent was interested in Millet's composition, and he made a sketch in pencil. Is it a copy of the Van Gogh or the Millet? To my eye, it seems closer to the Millet, but I'm not sure. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Oscar Reutersvärd, Master of Illusion

Horn antenna X- Ku-band 9.41 9.90 10.55 GHz WR-90 17dBi 10GHz Mi (1915-2002) has been called the "father of the impossible figure." 

He created many drawings that looked solid, but that couldn't actually be built in three dimensions.

One of his best known illusions is the impossible staircase, made even more famous by Roger Penrose and M.C. Escher.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Vintage Boss TU12 Chromatic Tuner Accustic Guitar Bass

Polenov's watercolor portrait of a another artist at work reminds us of a basic strategy in watercolor painting. In the dress, notice how he laid down the large dark shape first and then defined the smaller folds and wrinkles. Big shapes first, details second.

Vasily Polenov (1844–1927) Portrait of N. Yakunchikova

She's using a wooden box hinged open with an upward extension, and she has her painting surface (probably oil on panel) almost vertical. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly

The new book called Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly takes a fresh look at what's already been published about Frank Frazetta. 

Instead of just adding to "The Legend" of Frazetta, publisher and author Arnie Fenner documents the behind-the-scenes story of how Frazetta and his wife Ellie created and maintained the legend. 

We hear from Frazetta's sisters Carol and Jean, his children Bill, Holly, and Heidi Frazetta, granddaughter Sara, plus collaborators Steve Gordon, Bill Stout, and me. 

I share a few reminiscences about working with Frazetta on the animated film Fire and Ice. The whole article is 18 pages long and includes plenty of unpublished art and photos.

In another feature, artist Kristine Poole interviews award-winning sculptor Forest Rogers.

There's a 10 page article where Cathy Fenner interviews Hugo-Award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett. 

And the book includes;
• Q and A with Lauren Panepinto, Creative Director of Orbit Books
• 28 page feature on Dan dos Santos about his covers for the Mercy Thompson series of fantasy books.
• Gregory Manchess shares ten secrets to painting a successful book cover.
• And remembrances of fantasy masters who have passed this year: Richard Corben, Stephen Hickman, Ron Cobb, and Rowena Morrill

Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly is a full color, 92-page 12 x 12 inch softcover book-like magazine. It's edited by Cathy and Arnie Fenner. The print run is only 1000 copies, there's no online or electronic version.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Self Portrait with Sleeping Baby

There's nothing like a sleeping one-month-old baby to make a new dad sit still for an hour or two. Yeah, that's me, minus 34 years.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Sculpting a Bobble Head Dog

I made a little bobblehead sculpture of Smooth to give my son for his birthday. (Link to YouTube)


There are basically two types of bobble head designs: 

1) Head on a loose, bouncy spring, which works for upright human characters.
2) Head on a counterweight, which works best for animals.

With type 2, the trick is to make the head light enough to balance against the lead weight, so I used craft foam for the head. You also have to sculpt the hollow body with enough space for the counterweight to swing freely up and down and side to side. 

All the materials are linked in the description of the YouTube video. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Koolasuchus Named Victoria's State Fossil

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Car-sized monster amphibian Koolasuchus has been chosen by public vote as the state fossil emblem of Victoria, Australia.

It was one of the subjects of the "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs" stamp issue that I designed for Australia Post.

Museums Victoria: Victoria's 'kool' new State Fossil Emblem Koolasuchus cleelandi

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Anisotropic Material

Some surfaces reflect a different value depending on the angle they're seen by the viewer. This surface property is called Red Branding Design Silk Wild Rag Red

Such materials include brushed stainless steel (above), horse hair, velvet (below), wood grain, or a wet road. 

Bearded Man with a Velvet Cap, 1645, Govert Flinck Dutch, Met Museum, NY

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Bongo, the Plesiadapis

Bongo is a good animal to have on your team. He's 3.5 feet long and likes to eat frogs and nuts. He's good at rock climbing, with a good hand with the lasso. In his backpack tool kit he's got a rope, a grappling hook and a hammer, and he knows how to use them.

In Dinotopia: First Flight, I was excited to include some of the mammals from the fossil record, such as Plesiadapis, since we tend to fixate so much on dinosaurs. I was inspired by Joseph Campbell's idea of hero partners with specific skills and talents who join you on a quest.


Dinotopia: First Flight (signed)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Under a Freezing Waterfall

This Japanese woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) shows a man sitting under a waterfall. 

Here's an explanation: "The priest Mongaku Shonin doing thirty-seven days penance under the freezing Nachi waterfall near Kyoto. He is helped by Fudo Myo-o’s two attendants Seitaka and Kongara seen here top right. This act of self-mortification is because he accidentally killed his beloved cousin Kesa." Source of quote 

The water effects are stylized into four zones: 
1. Vertical curtains of falling water.
2. Radiating spray from his head.
3. Splatters of foam in front of him.
4. Blue billows of water.

The stylization yields a powerful graphic impact. Even if your goal is a realistic approach, it's good to analyze your subject for thematic groups of visual elements.

Book: SAMURAI-YOKAI WARS: Monsters, Ghosts & Demons By Kuniyoshi (Samurai Ghost Wars)