Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Life drawing: bellhops and waitresses

Pics taken on my phone, because I'm too lazy to scan them. My scanner is unbelievably slow. It's old. Got it second hand. It once belonged to medieval monks in Glastonbury, who used it to scan holy manuscripts during the Middle Ages.

Poses are either 5 or 10 minutes in length, direct in ink, line work first, then spot blacks.

I feel like a 15 minute pose is a leisurely, indulgent vacation.

Drawings fueled by Long Island Ice Tea and wine gums.






Yes, that's right, they had a midget bellhop sit on the lap of the first bellhop for this pose. It was awkward for everyone.


Monday, 6 March 2017

What is best in life?


To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women?
Not so much, Conan.
According to a Harvard study:
"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."
Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at--or keynoted. Not how many blog posts you wrote or how many followers you had or how many tech companies you worked for or how much power you wielded there or how much you vested at each.
No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.
Specifically, the study demonstrates that having someone to rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier for longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.
The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.
"It's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship," says Waldinger. "It's the quality of your close relationships that matters."
What that means is this: It doesn't matter whether you have a huge group of friends and go out every weekend or if you're in a "perfect" romantic relationship (as if those exist). It's the quality of the relationships--how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another."

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Logan Review: So this is how it ends (SPOILERS)

This is how superheroes die.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

They peter out, wither away, vanish one by one, until only a few are left, and then these too are snuffed out.

This has to be one of the most depressing mainstream superhero film ever made, as well as the most unrepentantly violent. People aren't just punched: they are gutted, eviscerated, decapitated, crushed, shot, incinerated and more. Children commit horrific acts of violence, Hit Girl style. Beloved characters are maimed and mutilated and blown to bits.

They die in each others blood soaked arms.

Because that's life: it often sucks, and no one gets out alive.

The only comparable film I can think of is Super, which is funnier, but in some ways even more cynical.

Director James Mangold (Copland, Girl, Interrupted) does a superb job with the material.

The 'superheroes' of Logan (Xavier, Wolverine, and Caliban) bicker and fight, and while they have a bond, they often don't show each other much consideration. Professor Xavier is a sad, rambling old man with a degenerative brain disease, and he slings barbs at the ornery and put-upon Wolverine, who's unaccustomed to a caregiving role. Nursing is not his calling.

It's like peaking into a really dysfunctional, low budget old age home. Who knew superheroes went there to die, too, like the rest of us? Rotting away inside our meat packages, our minds and faculties and judgement withering like our failing flesh.

I always imagined Xavier would die in that big old mansion, Castle Loma, surrounded by friends, students, and family. There would be high priced doctors nearby, managing his palliative care.

Well, not so much, as it turns out.

It puts X-Men: First Class in a different light, knowing the awful end all these characters will come to. That everything they struggled for, mutant rights, will end in genocide. The virtual extermination of their kind. Professor X has not only seen his life's work annihilated, but he's killed by one of the only friends he has left. Or so he initially believes, in his senility and delirium. What agony that would be.

It's rare to see such an uncompromising superhero film.

Hugh Jackman is great in his final appearance as Wolverine, of course. He's always been a great Wolverine, just as Patrick Stewart continues to sell Dr. X. And the material lives up to their acting caliber.

In their last gore filled road trip, they recklessly endanger a family of farmers and succeed in getting the lot massacred. You just know these hapless good folks are going to die horribly the minute Dr. X accepts their generous invitation to dinner. Dinner and death for dessert. No good deed goes unpunished. But this is the low level to which Professor X's judgement has sunk.

He got them killed so he could have one last night with a family. That's how strong and desperate his desire for a slice of normalcy was. To eat a nice meal, enjoy apple pie, and get tucked into a warm bed.

For that he risked it all. A man who once saved the world on a regular basis risks his life, and the lives of others, for, essentially, a slice of pie.

Logan, too, has lost everything as the film begins. All his friends are dead. His protege is gone. His purpose in life almost forgotten. He's a shell of a man, one bullet and moment of weakness away from blowing his own brains out. The suffering here, the emotional agony of what are usually two dimensional cardboard superhero characters, is palpable. These are people on the edge of despair, staring into the abyss, and they aren't blinking.

Because they no longer care.

Caring hurts too much.

Then Logan gets a daughter, who's almost as reactively violent and filled with rage as he is. Faced with a cruel, callous, heartless world in which she has been endlessly abused by a monstrous and utterly evil corporation, it's easy to understand her anger. She's been betrayed since birth. Only a good hearted nurse, a shining light of decency, helped her escape from an early death.

So Logan and his daughter bond emotionally while slaughtering sadistic mercenaries known as Reavers, who are led by a Southern Gentleman and a Brit scientist who's the very definition of loathsome. None of these people have any conscience. It's almost comical how many heartless human monsters they are able to assemble and throw at ol' knife knuckles. And they're so despicable and contemptible in their lack of humanity you can't help but feel some small satisfaction in their horrible deaths. For they are evil men. Cardboard evil, but evil nonetheless.

The heart of the film is Logan, and more specifically, Logan getting in touch with his. He must learn to be vulnerable, to expose his heart and bond with his daughter. To find another human being worth sacrificing for. Worth loving, amidst all the hate and indifference and disregard and gruesome murder.

It's actually got some touching moments amidst the decapitations.

The Black Knight would love it.

If only we all could bond so, even if only at the end of this life.

Lights in the dark.

A decent send off for a great character and Jackman's inspired portrayal.




Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hell 101: The Lesser Key of Solomon collection


More wonderful artwork depicting these 72 demon miscreants. Fabulous stuff, riffing off of the Louis Le Breton originals. You can find those here.

Doodle for the day


From Drawing with the Nephew.

If you want an explanation of what's going on in the scene, your guess is as good as mine...

Updated: Character walk cycle and parallax




Playing around with character animation (a basic walk cycle) and parallax effect for a project.

His walk is a little herky-jerky. And he's got a limp. And the ending needs refinement and flickering...

But it's getting there.

UPDATED: Changed the ending a bit, adding a flicker to the light... Think it works well.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Piranesi: Then and now, amalgamated

Piranesi  began his Views (Verdute) of Rome series in 1748, and kept at it until his death. The prints were collected by his son, Francesco, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a skilled artist in his own right.

The Prisons (Carceri) series was begun in 1745, of which I have written before and will write again, as it is a source of endless inspiration. Having visited Rome, I have no doubt now that the series itself was sparked by the cyclopean Roman ruins he was spending so much time with. Just as The Prisons series has, in turn, inspired so many others.

I tried to follow in Piranesi's footsteps in Rome. Many of the locations from which he drew are no longer accessible to the public, are underground (within the Via dei Fori Imperiali, for example), in thin air (some thirty feet worth of sediment and debris have been removed from the Roman Forum since his day), or are now blocked by trees. I was far rigorous in my approach. Nevertheless, it was fun to see how much, or how little, has changed.




I've always found this building, Castel Sant'Angelo, fascinating, as it is unlike anything else from the Imperial Period. It was originally Hadrian's Mausoleum (according to some it originally had trees on top); the ashes of succeeding emperors were also placed here, up to Emperor Caracalla in 217AD. You can still visit the cavernous inner chamber, but it's quite bland now. On the other hand, the view of Rome from the top is fabulous.

The building squats just off the river Tiber, and the bridge Hadrian built to reach it, the Pons Aelius, still stands.

It was converted into a fortress in 410, incorporated into Rome's fortified walls, and stripped of statues and decorations. Later it became a castle under the popes, and was the refuge of Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome in 1527.


Veduta di Campo Vaccino (View of the Cow Pasture) was probably drawn from a window of the Palace of the Senators which was built on top of the Tabularium's remains. You can see the very top of the remaining pillars of the Temple of Vespasian in the lower right, which have been almost completely buried. The Colosseum can be seen in the background on the upper left, above the Temple of Antonius and Faustina.



The view of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine is from the Palace of Elagabalus.


The Basilica of Maxentius was completed by Constantine. Most of the structure was brought down by an earthquake in the 10th century.


The image of the Roman Forum below isn't Piranesi, but it's a decent match up and shows the reverse facing of the Campo Vaccino. Between twenty and thirty feet of earth has been removed. Sediment, debris, and silt washed into the low lying forum over the centuries from the surrounding hills.


 The Arch of Septimius Severus was built in 203 AD by his sons. Beyond it are the Gemonian Steps that lead up Capitoline Hill.


The Temple of Antonius and Faustina has become a hybrid of Roman Imperial and Renaissance architecture. Antonius was one of the wise emperors. He fought not a single war during his reign and didn't get within 500 miles of a legion. He and his wife founded charities to help orphaned children. Faustina spent her life assisting the poor. Not stuff that gets the press, as Nero and Caligula do so readily with depravity and hedonism.


The gentlemen below with their mule are walking along (or rather above) the old Clivus Capitolinus road, which ran up the Tarpeian Rock to the Capitolium and the Temple of Jupiter, Best and Greatest. The Temple of Jupiter existed up until the 15th century in reportedly good repair until this priceless monument was demolished to make way for a Renaissance era Walmart.


There are a pair of these so-called Horse Tamers, representing Castor and Pollux, which stand on Quirinal Hill in the Piazza San Pietro. Copied from Greek originals, they now flank an Egyptian obelisk.


The Theatre of Marcellus is the only remaining Imperial or Republican theatre in Rome, it was turned into a fortress and later private residences.

 

Trajan's Column now sports a saint atop, instead of it's namesake. The multistory Trajan's Forum, which surrounded it, allowed the upper sections to be viewed more easily in ancient times. Now, you need binoculars.


The Temple of Saturn once sat atop the Roman treasury. It was destroyed by fire multiple times and rebuilt.


Trajan's Column can be viewed from two angles, both including a church in the background. Piranesi rendered both.


The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is built atop Roman ruins, some six meters below ground now, which can be explored through a series of tunnels. Some murals and mosaics are still visible.


Max was drowned at Milvian bridge after his army was defeated by Constantine. His Basilica was then completed by his opponent, but mostly destroyed later by earthquakes. Only one wing of this colossal building remains standing.


The image below is not a Piranesi, but it's a nevertheless fascinating rendering of what the northern end of the Roman Forum might have looked like at its height. On the upper left, you can see the Temple of Jupiter. The Tabularium runs along to the upper right. Below is the Temple of Concord (of which little remains today, it having been razed in the 15th century and turned into a lime-kiln), and in front of that is the Arch of Severus. The arch is still with us thanks to it being incorporated into a church.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Imaginary Bestseller


This is awesome:

"Shep saw through this hypocrisy and ranted about it at length one night. In a burst of inspiration, he speculated that if enough people requested the same title of a book that didn’t actually exist, it could indeed make the coveted New York Times Best Seller List. The Night People went crazy over the idea; WOR was flooded with calls from listeners pledging their support…

"And sure enough, it happened: by early summer 1956, the book that didn’t exist made The New York Times Best Seller List … and kept inching upward on it. One literary gossip columnist even wrote in a leading newspaper, “Had a delightful lunch the other day with Frederick R. Ewing and his charming wife, Marjorie.”

Of course, neither Mr. Ewing or his wife Marjorie existed, which would make for an unusual lunch date. What did they order?

Eventually a real book was produced by Theodore Sturgeon, working with the original prankster, Jean Shepperd. 

Just inspired stuff.

Check out the article here.