Here are some key dates for the Floating Shape Workshop this summer.
UPDATE: We have also since booked a workshop at the Price Hill Library on Saturday, July 22, a special flipbook workshop following the screening of "Films for Kids in Spanish / Películas para Niños en Español" courtesy of the Mini Microcinema.
Click here for the detailed full schedule including registration & sign up info. Some workshops, like the Price Hill Library event mentioned above are free and open to everyone!
I will be doing a special reading of "Tunnel-Ball" on Earth Day (April 22) in a few weeks to kick off all of the Earth Day activities at Robot Inside. It's going to be fun!
Coming up in a few weeks on April 8th is "Shelter In Place", a human rights benefit art show at the Thunder-Sky, Inc. gallery.
"Shelter in Place,’ comprised of artists and crafters from across the region, is a fundraiser for a curated group of charitable organizations. Artists and crafters will be donating 100 percent of the sales of their works to a curated group of charitable organizations. Once an artist has agreed to participate they will have a vote as to which three charitable organizations receive the funds. The charities benefiting from ‘Shelter in Place’ are organization engaged in protecting and expanding human rights such as ACLU, Lamda Legal, and Southern Poverty Law Center. Customers purchasing the art and crafts will be able to designate which of the 3 charities the money will be directed."
Here is my contribution. Hope to see you there at what should be a remarkable show for a fantastic cause.
Tomorrow is the opening reception for "Thunder-Snow", the new show at the Thunder-Sky, Inc. gallery in Cincinnati. Myself and several other local artists contributed blizzard-themed pieces in memory of heavy snowfall, other major natural events, and/or the great Cincinnati blizzard of '78. The painting that I submitted is below. I hope to see you there on Saturday (grab a delicious burrito next door at The Comet)! The opening is from 6-10 PM.
- CityBeat has graciously included the show in their "weekend to do list".
- As has Movers&Makers.
- Great article from The Enquirer.
4573 Hamilton Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45223
My extremely hardworking, creative puppeteer pal Terrence and his Wump Mucket Puppet troupe make their PBS television debut this weekend on the season premier of Cincinnati affiliate CET's "The Art Show". I was at the filming at the Taft Museum back in August and the show and turnout was fantastic, I can't wait to see it translated on the screen. It will air on Saturday, January 7th (6PM) and Sunday the 8th (8PM). Check your local listings and try to catch it!
For whatever reason, I have never been the New Year's "resolutions" or looking back, retrospective type. As I sat down on December 31 to make this post about a new book, though, I couldn't help but to ultimately reflect on what has probably been the busiest, most productive year I have had as an artist-educator. So before I get to the book stuff, let me just take a brief minute ...
"Tunnel-Ball" was a truly awesome experience, and it's surreal that it was about ten months ago now that it was published and it seemed like I was spending much of my free time making felt pennants. The release party included the most fun book reading I have ever done to date, the book made it onto the shelves of a few of my favorite stores in the world, and even into the hands of an official MLB mascot. The most rewarding part of all, though, is just hearing the "it has been a bedtime story staple at our house" messages from friends, family, and strangers.
It was also an unexpected year of contributing a couple of pieces to gallery shows in tribute to two musicians who I had always considered massive inspirations (despite obviously bittersweet circumstances). I also did a Kreate-a-Kaiju workshop event, getting to spread my joy of city-crushing Japanese monster creatures with children and adults of all ages in a collaborative setting was simply remarkable.
Another major highlight was/is teaching the Animation Workshop, in which I am doing my best to attempt to create the type of class that I wish had been available to me when I was younger but didn't really have the resources to explore that big, confusing animation realm. I am doing my best to keep the content original, and most importantly: fun. I have big ideas for the AW, starting with gaining some new supplies and materials which should arrive before holiday break is over.
There was also this, which I hope to make in print form at some point in the new year (hopefully by September, which is ITP awareness month). It was also have a new, actual conclusion. would like to print a few copies just to give out or include with regular online store purchases.
Essentially, what I'm getting at is: thank you to everyone for their support in the past year (in any capacity, even if just briefly glancing at this right now), and now, a brief glimpse of one of the things to come in the future.
This current holiday break also means, as I originally eluded to, that I have officialy began the production of a new picture book. I have tentatively had this one in the works prior to Tunnel-Ball coming out, during the final stretch of everything being put together and sent off to the printers. However, as is typically the case, the entire story was reworked numerous times to get to what it is currently. I'm sure there will be plenty of updates here along the way, but all I will say for now is ...
- After a brief hiatus (Tunnel-Ball's b&w), the book will be in color
- It may or may not have words (!)
- There are tentative plans to have a broader scale expansion/"performance" of the book, expanding on how the T-B was done (see link to post above)
- That storyboard in the first picture gives nothing away (unless you can accurately decipher the "TBCP" acronym ... if that is even still the title by the time it comes out)
- The third picture is my brand new lightbox, which I'll mostly be using to make the book. The wooden part underneath was made by my (carpenter) father. I wanted a better solution to keeping the translucent surface underlit without just cramming a desk lamp underneath. This wood panel has a strip of longlasting LED lights that lights it up perfectly.
- Lastly, the final pic (a pencil sketch of one of the earliest pages), also gives virtually nothing away.
A few years ago, I made a post about growing up with the works of Cincinnati-based artist Charley Harper. Thanks in part to things like a lavish coffeetable book of his life's work being published, Harper is no longer a secret limited to the Cincinnatians who witness his murals on downtown buildings and in ever art museum's giftshop.
That said, Harper's wife and collaborator, Edie (1922-2010), does seem to remain largely unknown. That is why I was thrilled to hear that the first ever career retrospective of Edie's just opened across the river in Covington, Kentucky: "E is for Edie".
My mind was utterly blown at all of the different mixed media pieces in this show, from works that mimic Charley's ultra-stylized animals to classic children's book-looking paintings in gouache to woven textile pieces to stylized pen & ink illustrations based on Biblical stories. Check out the slideshow below and please check out this show if you can.
"Prince Prints" ... say that 5 times fast, etc.
Now available in the online store are two 8.5x11" prints of my two Prince tribute show paintings, which are currently on display until the end of the gallery show (see this post from last week). They are $10, signed, and shipped free with the utmost care and gratitude. Just click on the "STORE" link above if you are interested. These were a lot of fun to make and would look great on your wall/shelf/wherever!
Similar to the Bowie show back in April, I contributed a couple of pieces to the Prince tribute gallery show, "The Beautiful Ones Always Smash The Picture", at the Thunder-Sky, Inc. gallery in Cincinnati. The opening reception (as well as the upstairs opening exhibit by Antonio Adams) is tomorrow (August 26) from 6-10 PM. When I dropped my work off to be hung last month, the works were just very slowly starting to trickle in, so I can't wait to go back and see the full walls. Thanks to Bill Ross, Emily Bradenhoff, and all of the fellow contributing artists ... it looks to be a really fantastic event.
Here is "Computer Blue" (a favorite track from Purple Rain), with the blue robot done in Cartoon Colour cel vinyl.
And here is "Starfish and Coffee" (a favorite from Sign o' the Times). I went through about a thousand variations for this one, and maybe I will post some of the outtakes in a separate post later. The original idea included a group of starfish holding umbrellas while coffee rain poured down out of the sky, but once I added the purple rain falling on the "Computer Blue" robot (a last minute addition), I changed things with this one and ultimately went with something really simple (but I really liked the end result). Black gouache on watercolor paper.
Following in the tradition set fourth by Sesame Street, my pal Terrence and his Wump Mucket Puppets troupe will be making their television PBS debut (Cincinnati's local affiliate CET) soon. The taping will be happening today at 2PM during the puppet show at the Taft Museum of Art downtown. See you there!
Update: The performance was great! Can't wait to see it air.
The past few weeks, I have been working on some ideas for a couple of pieces to contribute to the upcoming Prince tribute show ("The Beautiful Ones Always Smash the Picture") at the Thunder-Sky Inc. gallery. This is a show similar to the fantastic Bowie show from back in April.
The main piece I had been toying with in my mind was a robot painting titled "Computer Blue" (a favorite track from Purple Rain). Rather than using watercolor or gouache like usual, it occurred to me that I had a small, 2 oz bottle of blue "cel vinyl" paint lying around. I'll try to be as brief as possible with the background: as the name implies, cel vinyl is what just about every major commercial animated production was colored with before animation switched to digital ink/paint (the paint was applied to the backside of the pre-inked translucent celluloid or 'cel' before being shot on camera).
Essentially, it was used to create a flat (yet vibrant if so desired) color palette that essentially functioned as a physical, painted version of digital color fills, so it was no surprise that the switch to digital color was an easy transition (not to mention that it cut down on the manual labor and costs of having entire ink & paint departments on the assembly line).
Somewhat amazingly, the company who makes the stuff if still alive and kicking, despite the fact that not only the painting process, but cel animation in general has been dead for 15+ years now. And not only is it still surviving as a mailorder for nostalgic artists like myself, but they apparently still operate their brick and mortar storefront in Southern California ... the aptly named "Cartoon Colour Company". I don't doubt that they must be hanging on by a thread (as also evidenced by their website being outdated and a mess to operate), but it is truly wonderful that the stuff is still being produced. There still seems to be a niche market for it among artists, however minuscule that may be.
Not that I have personally experimented with the alternatives, but while paints like designer gouache exist (probably the pre-digital equivalent to cel vinyl for graphic designers and commercial illustrators), I believe cel vinyl's extreme opaque-ness is so unique that it is still very much desired by certain hobbyists. Looking around online, some use it in a similar fashion to what I am doing here (paintings), others use it to paint custom toys and clay sculptures, etc.
Back to the piece ... so I have a bottle of the stuff that I want to try for the "Computer Blue" painting ... but how do you use it, exactly? I grew up reading just about every animation how-to book I could get my hands on, but the processes of ink & paint were typically barely mentioned (if not ignored altogether). This is because, like previously mentioned, they were typically done by entire departments who created the finished, colored artwork once it was out of the hands of those creating the actual animated drawings and backgrounds. However, the process of painting on a clear sheet is not normal unless you previously worked in animation, and cel vinyl is not normal paint. For starters, the consistency of the liquid is thick, almost akin to a cooking batter of sorts. The bottle instructions also advise to "keep the brush wet". Similarly, I also remember reading somewhere to keep the paint diluted with water for best results.
After some initial (but not nearly enough) testing, I realized that the stuff seems to be as advertised re: being compatible with just about any surface. This was a concern, because I was unsure if it would produce the same, extremely opaque effect when applied to a traditional paper surface like watercolor or Bristol as opposed to a clear acetate. The bottle I am using watercolor paper, so I went ahead and dove in.
(the above pic features a pencil drawing of an older design ... most notably, the robot's legs/feet changed, and there were two little television/monitor-type things on each side of the bottom featuring "YES" on one screen and "LISA" on the other, based on the dialogue at the beginning of the song)
I quickly realized that, when covering larger surfaces as opposed to outlines, the process of color filling involves, shall I say ... "glooping" a big hunk of the wet paint into a designated area and carefully dragging the brush around to fill as much as possible before acrylic-looking streaks began to show. The key, here, was choosing the right brush to switch to depending on the size of the area that needed to be filled. This is the only strategy that seemed to be working for me, at least. In these pics, you can see the "drip" method of starting from the top and attempting to guide the wet paint down and spreading it around.
Along the way, I learn that the stuff can be extremely messy, especially when removing the cap (which annoyingly kept getting stuck on very tight) after shaking up the bottle, per the instructions.
This did not end up being the final painting (I will make a second part to this post with further explanation and the final product, which features clouds and purple rain coming down in watercolor), but here was a "first draft" experiment that I was pretty satisfied with. Using the cel vinyl was fun and unique, though a messy and tedious challenge with a lot of trial and error. If the bottles weren't so expensive and becoming increasingly more difficult to come by, I would love to use the stuff more often. I had intended for this post to be more about experimenting with the process (i.e. visual), but it ended up being mostly too many words. Oh well.
Just a reminder that tonight is the opening reception for "Bowie in the Basement", the David Bowie tribute gallery show at the lovely Thunder-Sky, Inc. gallery. I talked about the show here and showed the two pieces I contributed. I still had the finished pencil drawing comps laying around so here are those, too (horrific quality, I know, I snapped them as I as walking out the door rather than scanning). The varied artwork at this show is going to be stunning and just about very piece I have seen has put a big smile on my face. Come on out to the show and grab a burrito at The Comet next door! Also, the show runs through June 25th if you can't make the opening.