December 20, 2009

The Amazing Ray Troll...

Lucky me! I had the chance to attend the museum opening of the new Ray Troll exhibit at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

This is one fabulous show. I'd say it's easily the best museum show I've ever seen at the Burke... (or even in all of Seattle). I can't think of an art show I've ever found more fascinating. This show will NOT put anyone to sleep!

What's not to be fascinated by? Astonishing fossils... fabulous artwork. And the amazing Ray Troll was there in person along with Kirk Johnson, the knowledgeable author. He's also the director of the Denver Science Museum.

Both the author & artist were on hand to deliver a scholarly, yet very fun talk on the opening as they strolled around the gallery.

I was amazed it wasn't more crowded. I felt like a nervous groupie when I got to shake Roy Troll's hand... but then that's how I felt when I met Maurice Sendak.

'Riding the Fossil Freeway' is an amazing book... nearly a decade in the making (and it shows). There's also an awesome huge map of the fossil filled West. Ray signed my wall map 'Scientific Surrealism'... which I find to be a fascinating idea for an art genre.

Ray said it took him years to figure out that 'scientific surrealism' was actually what he had been doing as an artist. Makes sense to me. I can easily understand how an artist might spend years before finally crystalizing exactly what it is that we do. I know I've got lots of half-baked directions waiting for a good descriptive title.

I had read 'Riding the Fossil Freeway' twice the summer before last. I think half the reason I liked the book so much are all the stories about camping and driving through the outback of the West. I've been to many of those locations. It must have been a great road trip, driving the outback of most of the West.

Seeing the artwork all together in the museum on the wall is very powerful. There are way-cool gigantic hand-painted images from the book that line the walls. The show will be open all summer, so anyone in Seattle really must go, imho.

December 14, 2009

Cheeriest of Jollydays...

Tis the season... despite my natural tendency for Scroogitude, I have managed to bring forth yet another Holiday missive.

This is from my new book 'The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington', which looks to be fun... and a lot of work.

I'm thinking I'll do this finish art with plain old real paints... which ought to be a challenge. Despite how much I love digital, I think when you have a 32 page book to do, the frustrations of crunching files all day doesn't match the spontaneous joys of sloshing real paints. Getting down and scrubbing & sanding and repainting can be so theraputic... albeit frustrating at times. It's learning to live with the imperfections that's always the hardest thing.

So it'll be 'cold turkey' for me. But I've got some fun new textures and techniques up my sleeve.

Onwards & Upwards with the Arts! Dash away Prancer, Dancer and Vixen!

December 8, 2009

Barking up the wrong trees...

One advantage of being a freelancer is that you can hop on the bicycle whenever the sun is shining. Also I have been sorely neglecting ye olde blog. But that's okay, since I don't figure anyone actually reads it much anyhow.

In the meantime I have been busy deciding which tree to bark up artworkwise.

Finally, after much kerfuffling, I settled on the characters for a new book. That's always the stickler... This has been a classic case of the 'pre-book' jitters. I guess it's sort of a precipice, where the artist figures they ought to decide to change things now or forever cling to continuity.

So I have jittered and re-jittered umpteen times. All to a worthwhile effect I must say. I have been experimenting to no end with new techniques for painting on various surfaces... sanding, gessoing, different layers, thick, thin and on and on. Very educational. It all brings to mind that saying of Thomas Edison's about invention being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So true.

Usually I have to redraw an idea for a character 25 times... never stopping to realize all along that I'm barking up the wrong tree.

I really busted my backside reworking each version... and my inner critic was merciless. But I'm glad he is such an unrelenting S.O.B. because finally I came up with a new direction that I like much better. Sometimes an artist can be as dumb as a doorbell and not have a clue as to what they're doing wrong. And usually their friends won't tell them either.

Finally I figure out the right tree... then it's simply a matter of scrambling up to arrive where I really wanted to go all along.

That's how it works for me at least...

Weather: freezing cold but gloriously sunny
Wearing: flannel lined everything and long-johns
Drinking: ionized water
Listening: KMRE-LP