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November 5, 2017 - No Comments!

NC Wyeth, one of the greatest illustrators

Gosh, I love this illustration by NC Wyeth. I really believe this is one of the finest examples of storytelling in illustration, taken from none other than Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. Let me give you a dissection of this brilliant illustration by one of America’s greatest illustrators.

Before you read on, take a moment to look at this illustration.

On its face, Wyeth resolves the issue of communicating the concept of blindness with a blindfold. Naturally, a blind man wouldn’t need a blindfold, but both the blindfold and a cane clearly make the statement the man is blind. It’s important to understand the visual language your audience knows, and use that visual language to communicate ideas to them. Also, this image takes place in the dark, but darkness is inconsequential to blindness. This is for the viewer; we see the darkness and understand what it is like to be blind.

Here we see Old Pew, a blind man, lost and groping in the darkness; searching for his lost hat, and his way back home. If you look carefully you’ll see that NC Wyeth moved the shadow twice, and eventually placed the shadow of the cane over the hat...it was a stoke of genius. I don’t think this was his original intent -- as the painting seems to indicate -- but it’s a worthwhile reminder to keep ourselves engaged after the initial preliminary idea has been resolved. As Wyeth was painting this image he was still thinking on his feet, able to internalize the character and the moment in order to find better ways to tell this story. He was continually making adjustments.

Now, the illustration brilliantly captures a moment in the story of Treasure Island, but also finds an eternal truth that all of us can relate to. That’s what all great storytellers do. The illustration is about Treasure Island, but NC Wyeth is making a statement about the human condition. He’s talking about you and me! In this way, Wyeth is not only saying something about the character in the story, but also engaging with the audience at an emotional level. We relate to the character Old Pew, and as a result we’re drawn into this story.

In metaphor, Wyeth is saying we are like Old Pew. In our quest to understand the world around us, we venture out and get lost in the darkness of the unknown, and can’t find our way back home. We lose our way, and in doing so we lose bits of ourselves (hat). And this frightens us. We’re left groping around like a blind man, reaching into the darkness ... yet feeling nothing. His fingers reach out in to the sky (breaking the horizon line); but even the stars are just out of reach.

We probe the darkness with our cane (the shadow of the cane touches the hat), but it is of no avail. We unknowingly come close to discovering the truth as we poke and prod, but are completely unaware of how close to the truth we actually come. The cane that supports us, now fails us. The hat remains out of reach.

Curiously, Old Pew is enveloped in his cloak, but the darkness of the cloak is swallowing him up, just as the darkness swallows him. He is a frightened man being devoured by darkness!

The house is home, and it is the lightest part of this image (the vanishing points lead us to the home), yet Pew faces away from the house, ergo facing outside the borders of the illustration. He’s reaching out into our world, begging us to help him!

Cleverly, Wyeth positions Pew’s silhouette over the home, telling us Pew may believe himself to be lost but he never really left…he’s still connected to the home. Various paths, lead us back to the house, but Pew can’t find them. Even the shadow of his silhouette points directly to the path back home.

This is a tragic illustration by NC Wyeth, pointing to our own folly as we fumble in the darkness of the unknown. Old Pew is forever trapped in this moment, just as we’re trapped, lost and fearful. As we relate to the character of Old Pew at an emotional level, NC Wyeth draws us deeper into the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 8, 2017 - No Comments!

Sweating Bullets…

Sweating Bullets was the working title for Disney's Home on the Range.

During the development of Disney's Home on the Range, I was asked to do a series of visual development studies to explore the world of the West. I did a series of drawings to find an appropriate and original way of drawing the West.
 Of the studies, I tried a find a way to preserve the monolithic structures of the desert in a fun and beautiful way.

September 8, 2016 - No Comments!

Hotel Transylvania 2 Artwork

 

Here are a series of visual development paintings I did for Hotel Transylvania 2. Although I'm not listed in the credits, I did do some work for HT2 in the early development stages. In this assignment, we were exploring the world of Johnny's parents, still trying to figure out how to keep the look for this new location consistent in the same HT style.

I thought I would play up the contrast between the Romanesque castle architecture with no windows, to the modern glass wall architecture. What would be worse for a vampire than a glass house?


Poor Dracula, just when he thought he was going to get a little shut eye. What could be more horrifying to a vampire than the morning light?

In this image we can see the hearse driving through the Napa valley. A subliminal cross peaks out over the treetops to torment Dracula.

August 3, 2016 - No Comments!

I've just uploaded my latest video on my Youtube Channel on The Postcard Game. 

The postcard game is game where you trade artwork with your artist friends.

Look at this gorgeous watercolor postcard I received several years ago from my friend Paul Felix...sent to me FROM AFRICA! The Disney Studio sent Paul all the way to Kenya to do research for their upcoming film at the time, TARZAN, and he was taken by guides to a remote mountain where he was able to observe Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat!

I'm including the back of this postcard so that you can see it has the actual postage stamps from Kenya! Sent to me, while I was at the Disney studio in Burbank working on Mulan.
Come check out my video on Youtube!

July 13, 2016 - No Comments!

Stacy, the Barbarian

In this five-minute sketch, I'm showing the simplified building-block structure that I use to balance my figure.

Using this building-block structure, it's easy to balance the figure. You simply stack boxes in a way that looks balanced.

If the boxes aren't balanced, understand you're suggesting movement. This isn't a bad thing, if you're drawing a dynamic pose. But, in a standing pose, you'll want to suggest a steady balance.

May 1, 2016 - No Comments!

Drama Queen

Have you ever felt like you're tied to someone else's drama?

It's a shame, I tried to record this drawing, but somehow the file was corrupted and I lost the recording.

April 22, 2016 - No Comments!

Figure Drawing is our gym…

Here's a seven minute figure drawing sketch from last night, drawn while using my Fractal Method.

Athletes to the gym and train, they build muscles they need and use when performing their activity. Artists are very much the same way, we need to train for our activity -- and going to figure drawing is our gym.

So, if you're an artist, get into our gym and start working out!