New Theme

Huzzah!  After much deliberation, I’ve decided to switch to a one-column theme that is easier to navigate.  Also, a special thanks to Mr. Alexander Hamilton for his Celebrity endorsement.

Personal Project

This video is the result of a helpful conversation with Aaron Greene a good many months ago.

We talked about our plans for the upcoming year and he began to talk about the benefit of personal projects as a means to get work.  Aaron mentioned that he wanted to do a film that could show off his cinematography skills.  Something narrative, but without actors delivering lines.  We both agreed that it would be good if possible to narrow the focus and exclude performance to limit the risks. Nothing’s more forgettable than a nicely composed shot that frames a bad line reading.

I left that day thinking, “What says cinematography to me?”  That night I thought that apart from explosions and cityscapes at snowfall, fabric blowing in the wind says cinematography.  So I tried to think of a story that involved the personification of clothing.

That night I drew out a page of tiny incomprehensible sketches and it sat around for 6 months as I did other things.  This past month I took a couple evenings and put together a story reel.  We’ll see if schedules permit it to be anything more.  But at any rate, here’s a short video I did in imovie of either the first stages or the last stages of a personal project.

Sorry About That

Sorry for those of you who tried to check my blog today.  I decided to update my wordpress with an “error” theme.  While slick, minimalist, and modern, I found the inability to look at anything a little too “high concept” for my taste.

Here are some black and white things.  First, a bearded fella.

Second, Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Death of Princess Katherine

I love doing these little paintings.  I enjoy the immediacy of drawing with the brush, and I like how you can paint over your mistakes, whereas with pencil there’s always mistake residue hanging around.  I took the thing into photoshop and messed with it a bit.

Aleksey Novikov dead at 83

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP)–Aleksey Novikov, famed director of the Moscow Art Theater is dead at 83.  The famous protege of Ivan Polikoff is best remembered for his 1949 production of Hamlet.  The play was interrupted before final curtain, and authorities arrested Novikov and accused him of anti-Soviet propaganda under Article 58 paragraph 10 of the Soviet criminal code.  He was convicted and sentenced to a Siberian labor camp.  In 1959, with the tacit permission of Khrushchev, Novikov left prison and eventually escaped to Sweden where he lived and worked until his death.

In 1999 the Swedish government awarded Novikov the medal of artistic merit.  He directed a revival of his production of Hamlet on its 50th anniversary the very same year.  It featured a Trotski-resembling ghost of Hamlet’s Father, a Stalin-esque Claudius, and a hammer-and-sickle duel between Laertes and Hamlet.  Critics praised the play.  Benkt Fromberg, lead critic for the Postnyhetsbyrå praised the depiction of Gertrude as a Russian Peasant woman.  He wrote, “… investing the capricious and adulterous Gertrude with the dowdiness of a Russian peasant so aptly illustrated the seduction of the Russian people that I could barely watch for fear my heart would break.”  Novikov’s niece commented on her uncle’s death from Taiwan in a telephone interview.  She says that for Novikov, “Hamlet represents the struggle of every artist when faced with concrete wrong and uncertain tools for resistance.”

Memorial Services are on Friday in Stockholm.  Novikov will be buried in his birthplace, Vilnius Lithuania.

It seems fitting to quote the bard, “Now cracks a noble heart.  Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

UPDATE: I should also mention that Aleksey Novikov does not exist.

Alessandro Valencci

I just finished reading a translation (I don’t speak Spanish) of Alessandro Valencci’s 1925 Argentinian horror classic Hellephant: Footprints in Flesh.  For those of you familiar with Italian/Argentinian writer Valencci’s work, you will understand if I say I was scared stiff.  I’m know absolutely nothing about Argentinian fiction.  I gather they’re into magic realism because of the Spanish influences, but I’ve never understood the buzz about Argentinian horror novels … until now.  Hellephant scared me to death.  Immediately after I finished it, I found a picture of the author on the internet and did a small painting of him on a scrap of masonite with a matte medium base.  The values are a little strange because of the scan.

For those of you interested, below are three excerpts from a 1965 interview with Darien Fredricks and Alessandro Velencci contained in “The Orbis Journal of Books.”  I think it’s funny that he thinks we’re too hung up on Hemingway.

I typed out the three most interesting parts (in my opinion).

AV: I’m not a horror author.

DF: You don’t see yourself that way?

AV: No.

DF: But, your primarily–

AV: I don’t see myself that way.  I try to write literature that strikes against time–strikes against the press of time–refutes time.  The dullness.

DF: The weariness.

AV: Yes.  Time dulls our experience of life.  It fogs up our lenses.

DF: Is that why your work provokes fear?  To clarify?

AV: I hope it provokes many clarifying emotions.  Fear is one of many.

DF: Is it the strongest?

AV: For me yes.  I must say yes.

DF: Your work is received very well in Britain, but not so much in the United States.

AV: There is an undercurrent of appreciation, but not mass appeal.

DF: But what about the States prevents appreciation?

AV: They are much into sparseness–Hemingway.  They still have not recovered from Hemingway.

DF: But they have an appetite for fantasy in film.

AV: Juvenile fantasy.  In film.  My novels you cannot make into film.

DF: They’re psychological.

AV: Yes. Yes. Psychological.  The horror films are monster stories.  Juvenile.

DF: Some might say your novel Hellephant is a monster novel.

AV: Some have said it.  But it is more.

DF: Brooks Davis in a review for “The Letter” said, “It satisfies the hole in the modern soul where poetry used to reside.  Reynard’s flight, for I must not say journey, is a meditation on the seemingly reckless, but actually precise force of judgement.”

DF: What made you think of–some might say this idea is far out.  A demonic elephant is–

AV: But is he demonic?

DF: Well, the title is–

AV: That’s a publisher’s title.

DF: Is it accurate?

AV: In Argentina the book is titled Vivir Quiero Conmigo.

DF: Which means?

AV: “I Want To Live With Myself.”  It is much more literary, but Americans prefer action and external emphasis.

DF: How did you come to write the book?

AV: The seed of the idea started when I was a boy in Italy the first time I heard a train whistle.  It was a primal experience.

DF: Did the whistle scare you?

AV: Yes.  I was scared by the sound because it sounded like it came from an animal not a machine.  It sounded alive–an agony of breath.  And yet, the trains traveled very fast–machine-like.  I began to have nightmares of trains leaving their tracks in order to smash me over.

DF:  That does sound like the stuff of nightmares.  How did it turn into an elephant?

AV: Much later I went with my wife on an expedition in Africa.  When I first heard an elephant I thought.  That’s it.  I saw the two in unity.  The elephant seemingly has no tracks, but yet it leaves behind an imprint of destruction.  A physical testimony.  I thought train tracks and elephant tracks might be an interesting spot to start an examination of the fear of judgement.

DF: Do you find one more terrifying than the other?  Because it seems to me that a person hit by a train is a metaphor for fate.  There are tracks.  You know exactly the path of the train.

AV: Yes. Yes.  Exactly.

DF: And yet an elephant is unpredictable.

AV: Yes, but what if the tracks are there with the elephant, but we cannot see them?

DF: And that seems to be the key of your novel.

AV: Yes.  In my mind–the force and purpose of the train placed into a creature to represent the momentum of judgement.

DF: And when Reynard hears the signal of the elephant, or in this case Hellephant, my hairs stood on end.

Mine did too!

UPDATE:

Of course there is no such person as Alessandro Valencci.  It was a late night.

Samples

Here are some samples for a job that didn’t work out.

The one below is one I threw in to suggest a different angle from the one they had me go with.  I don’t think they dug the alternate angle.  The one below that is the one they wanted.  At the very bottom is a tighter version.

Donkeyphant

Here is some Donkeyphant spot art for the cover of a book titled Republocrat.  I’m told it’s like Augustine’s City of God, but updated … and written by a British fella.  The two immediately below were options for the final.  I don’t recall which one they chose.   Below those is the initial painting done with Raw Umber and Titanium White on Paper affixed to masonite.  It was pretty straightforward.  It always happens that the drawing they like the most, I like the least.  Still, the folks at P&R are awesome to work with and they pay on time.  What more could you want?

For the record, here is the drawing I wanted to paint:

And here was the other one that nobody liked, sort of a Mr. Planter’s.