Thursday, October 30, 2008

Library Research

Siqueiros - An artist that I had never heard of which blew me away when I realized the size and scale of the works of art. They were huge murals with vibrant, vivid colors and powerful images of oppression and death. These sometimes thousand sq. ft. murals scream struggle and triumph.

Egyptian Drawings - I've had to do projects and presentations about Egyptian art since I was a small child and I never really came across anything that was out of the ordinary of the Egyptian style paintings and drawings that we have all seen many times. However simple they may look, they are anything but. All of the simple images combine together to make up a complex story involving many parts (elements) and themes. The most unique thing I came across during the research time in the library was a drawing of an Egyptian pharaoh titled "Head of a king wearing the blue crown". I have never seen an Egyptian shown with stubble.

William Gropper - His use of stylized characters of all shapes and sizes make up serious and sometimes humorous situations from real life. The expressions are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's paintings. Norman Rockwell on the otherhand had very realistic, mostly humorous paintings of everyday situations with the exception of some more seriously themed commentaries on racial tensions during the time.

James Montgomery Flagg - I learned many things I had never known about Montgomery Flagg. Although he was married for over 20 years he fancied the glamorous glitzy stars of Hollywood and he often had many affairs. He thought of his wife as more of a mother figure to him while they were married. His work reminds me of Norman Rockwell, except his portraits are a little less realistic but the nudes he painted were excellent. Flagg's wartime propaganda enlisting posters have the similar ring of today's television commercials for enlisting in the service. Flagg's famous Uncle Sam "I want you" is actually a self portrait, he gave himself the beard go-tee and longer hair.

The Codex Borgia - A very complex, pictographic language that is still undiciferred (untranslated) It is very mysterious like the American Indian art that has been interpereted.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More on Comics

These are some things that I learned from the critique with the visiting artist about the comic assignment that we did where we had to have made up a word and have a hero and animal character.
A good idea is to start right off with action, especially if it is a shorter comic and you want to grab the attention of the viewer. This is not always the case however, when there is a lot of action it can become jumbled and you do not want to lose the interest of those who are reading and looking at the comic. Starting slowly and then building up to action can be just as effective as massive explosions in the first panel. With that said, it is important to remember that you do not want to ruin the pace with a lack of clarity. Sometimes it can help you if you maybe change the layouts and thicknesses of outlines around the panels and leave some empty space as well.
Xeroxing work is a wonderful way to experiment with color and layouts. You can cut things up and place them anywhere and then make a xerox of the layout you just made. It is really all about finding what works the best for you, what you are most comfortable with. I am not saying "stay in the comfort zone" though. Perhaps try to reach outside of a comfortable boundary by experimenting with different colors and mediums and techniques that you research or come up with by yourself.
When thinking comics it is an important note to keep in mind the balancing of picture and word balloons. It is the combination of style and story and what you are really trying to say. This can incorporate even something as simple as where you use line and where you do not use line in a panels or page layout. A limited palette could help balance forground and background or even distinguish the nature of the characters used, good, evil, neutral etc...
One interesting thought I received from the visiting artist is that not everything in your own comic has to be absolutely inked. Sometimes a pencil can do what inking just cannot accomplish, sometimes inking might ruin the effect that the pencil has given you. Another thing to keep in mind is that too much information can bog the viewer down and make something boring to read or overwhelming to look at. Another way of dealing with this is to not feel confined to having everything stuck in a box or panel at the same time that you need not feel redundant in showing the same backgrounds in every panel.

Things to watch out for would be:
No contrast from one panel to the next
making it look too dense, no varying line weights
Making everything with words be conversational and ranting
having words take over the panels, unless that is your intent
etc... etc... etc...

There are as many diverse comics as there are diverse people and I am not saying at all the some are better then others because that all depends of the side or view that you have on them. They may have been done in similar styles but they are each different in their own ways. Everyone is a critic and it is all opinion.

Monday, October 6, 2008


At just a glance I was unsure and felt disinterested in reading Persepolis because I had made an assumption before I ever lifted the book. I learned that making that assumption would have hurt me in the long run for not having read the book. It's the classic "don't judge a book by it's cover" saying that really applied to me in this situation.
I had just assumed by looking at the outside of the book that it was about the second world war holocaust and the Jewish struggle against all odds. I had mentioned in the class discussion that it gave me an Anne Frank feeling. Upon picking it up I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was the author's personal story about something which I had no knowledge of.
I was very surprised when I opened it to see the simplicity of the drawings and narrative. Right from the beginning it was very easy to follow and it seems like anyone would be able to pick up this book and follow along and understand what is going on. The fact that it is in black and white helps with the simplicity of understanding because the content itself revolves in circles about contrasting meanings and sides. Those who are oppressed and those who oppress, those who are traditional and those who lose tradition because of the influence of another culture; At the same time it deals with hypocritical situations on the part of both sides.
The style alone, however simplistic, says so much to anyone even just looking at the pictures. You can see and feel the emotions that Marjane Satrapi was trying to get across because of the facial expressions and body language used in every situation. Along with this is the use of reversing the black and white whether it be to show night time or day time or features of a character such as eyes that are closed or tears that are flowing.
I am sure that it must have been an ordeal not only to live through all of these situations one time but to have to go back and re-live these things over again in order to present this memoir to the world. Although the style is simple it makes the ideas being put across seem vivid even without the use of any color whatsoever. She presented to us something that actually happened in a way that makes it easy to understand for those who have never been in any situations like what she went through. What she made was only a piece of what was happening and it leaves room for the viewer to use their imagination to add colors or think outside of the small panels used. During an indoor panel with people speaking to one another it might peak the curiosity of the viewer to imagine what was happening outside of the house or down the block or even on the other side of town for that matter.
It was great to read about an experience at that scale through a simple way of showing the events and how they unfolded. Everyone being human can at least relate to certain parts of her tale and take out of it what they will, for better or for worse. Hopefully a work like this will inspire other people to take it upon themselves to either make a physical, graphic narrative like this or if not then just think about their own personal memoirs, just get people thinking and reflecting. It is a great way to find inspiration but at the same time to just maybe learn more about yourself as a human being and ask yourself questions as to why things happened and what you can take out of those events. It is also an eye opener as to the views that people of other backgrounds and cultures have about their own countries and maybe yours as well. If you know people from other countries then ask them, ask them about anything. You might learn a lot that you otherwise would not know just watching the news about situations in other places. Try to learn someone else's view point and put yourself in their shoes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stolen work

Have you ever had your work stolen from you?, ideas or physical work? I have had that happen both here at MECA and another school as well. I sat there watching someone do a presentation of my exact idea that I had discussed with them earlier on. It makes me so angry that I cannot look at that person or even think about them so I won't.
I do not share ideas with other people because of things like this. I am not going to be posting images of things that I have done or ideas for anything that I want to do because I had many paintings and pieces that I had done for a show stolen. I'm going to stop there because I just can't think about it but let me just say this last piece of advice. DO NOT EVER SHARE YOUR IDEAS WITH ANYONE THAT IS NOT A TRUSTED PERSON TO YOU AND NEVER EVER LET YOUR WORK OUT OF YOUR SIGHT!!!


Recently we had a visiting artist come into the illustration majors classes. We did exercises and had some homework assignments dealing with narrative and comics. I had started working on a comic last year and now that my interest in comics is rising again I would like to continue working on it. I might include it in the on-going visual project that we have been working on. I am not sure if I will though because there are some things that I do not like about it so far. I like the working plot so far but it is a struggle.
I was heavily influenced by manga when I started working on it. My favorite manga artist is Takehiko Inoue and he influenced me to start working on a comic of my own. I need to do more character development and work on where the plot will go next because the way it is looking so far is that there will be quite a few characters in this and I am not sure how they will all be introduced. If I could work on this only and nothing else I would. I have an idea I have been saving for another comic but I just cannot find the time to start it. I should just do one thing at a time but it is very difficult. The comic that I had started is an on-going thing but I haven't worked on it recently because of the lack of time to do anything at all it seems. When I finally do get a break it is either to eat or sleep and that's all. I will try to work on it when I can and that is all that can be done


It has been very difficult to find a driving motivation that propels me to create. Writing and re-writing drafts of a face and body paper response was just tiresome at first. I knew why we were writing it but I was not at all sure what I would get from it. Soon after the writing of those drafts began we started a new project in the majors about portraiture.
From the portrait of the celebrated or famous or infamous person I started to become a little bit more interested in drawing people, famous people, not American though, because we have seen millions of drawings and portraits of the same old Hollywood stars and celebrities in music as well.
The few I have done are for the on-going visual project and with so many faces to draw it is difficult to know who to draw next. To me a portrait is a version of a person that we might otherwise not be able to see or recognize. The person does not even have to be living, sometimes I can say more about a person who has passed than about a still living person through a portrait. I do not think that I am very good at drawing people but I'm trying.