Friday, April 18, 2014

If you can't commit, you must a-quit!

Greetings friends! Hope this Easter weekend is kind to you. Mine is off to a great start now that the last patch of snow in the yard has finally melted!



Since last week, I replaced the cloud in the sky with a tree by the house. Clouds are typically associated with foreboding storms, so I thought that this couple would do better to have a tree over them to represent both life and shelter.

I also nixed the distant suburban street and brought the neighbor's house closer to make the back yard seem cozier and put more attention on the couple that this piece is all about. 

I had hoped to have this project finished in two weeks time, but a problem I seem to have with a lot of my work is the emphasis on meticulous composition planning. This can lead to burnout when it comes to committing to putting down lines for the final, especially when I feel very devoted to copying my reference material. 

Now I want to hear my fellow artists out there. How do you best transition from phase one to the final stage?

What are some precautions you take to avoid getting caught up in the little details? 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sketchbook Sharing: Talking Heads (Plus Party Progress!)

Something I've noticed in getting back into daily sketching is that I tend to get caught up in the little details very easily.

It was while watching an interview with Martin Scorsese on TV that I hit on the idea of digging up interviews with people I admire. When the focus is just on a face, moving just casually, I can create a more impressionistic portrait than I can from looking at a photo. It also means I have to pick out which details are important very quickly.

Curiously I noticed that when I draw a face the first thing I render is the eyebrows and nose. No idea why.

Martin Scorsese

Alfred Hitchcock

Orson Welles

Last week asked for feedback on ideas for a new illustration. The responses you provided nothing short of incredible. They were so articulate and encouraging that I was riding high on those replies for the rest of the week.

Based on your comments I've created a more refined scale drawing with more defined character placement, perspective and light-shadow contrast. 

In this upcoming week I plan to practice drawing the figures and experiment with various poses to decide what looks best.

Now I'd like to hear from you. Like I said, I love reading your comments.

Any fellow artists have some quick-drawing tips? Are there some particular people or characters you'd like to see me draw? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

LOEB: If history repeats itself I want a dinosaur

This Week: "Hey, Isn't that..."

During my senior year of high school, the local museum in our small town was visited by a traveling exhibit of the famous "Sue" T-Rex Skeleton. During its time there we were also graced with a guest lecturer who had some experience with dinosaurs; James Gurney, author and illustrator of the award winning "Dinotopia" book series. 

The fellow on the left in the hat

In these pre-Wikipedia days, this was useful for learning key information about his career like his background paintings on the cult film "Fire and Ice", his work for National Geographic, and how in China, the Dinotopia books are printed as "Happy Magic Dinosaur Kingdom". 

At the end he was signing books were I told him I was an aspiring artist. Upon hearing this, he wrote "To Erik, Fellow Artist". 

Fast forward to my senior year at the Columbus College of Art and Design when James Gurney came to campus as a guest lecturer. I got the auditorium early with my copy of Dinotopia in hand. He saw me scoping a seat and said "Hello young man, would you like me to sign that for you?" So I got the chance to open up the book and show him were he had signed four years ago and how his encouragement had inspired me to pursue a career in the fine arts. 

Read about other Leaguers brush with greatness here:

* Geeky Vixen recounts many celebrity meetings
* Space For Rent gets his G.O.A.T.
* Retro Robot gets a case of Tenacious D
* Femme Fandom has an excelsior encounter!
* Dex meets the friendliest famous people
* Miss M parties with a local celebrity

Until next time, I'll leave you with something my father once told me as a child. "Dinosaurs didn't go extinct. They're just hiding ... right behind you! "

Friday, April 4, 2014

Project Progress: Party of Two

Greetings Patient Viewers!

You may have noticed that I dropped off the map for a while, only popping in every so often with editorial posts about design in film and television. The truth is over the past few months I've been involved with a project for Nickelodeon Studios, working on character art for an upcoming "Spongebob Squarepants" product. Thats probably as much as I can say before the official release. Trust me, once I get the A-OK to talk about it, you will all know. 

Now that I don't have my nose to that particular grindstone, I'm trying to get my sea legs back doing daily sketching and weekly blogging. 

Meanwhile, heres some color sketches for a new illustration I'm developing. Its the story of two shy people finding each other slowly getting to know each other away from the crowd. 

Now I'd like to hear from you. Which sketch do you think is the best? What would you like to see me draw for my future sketchbook shares? 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Costumes and Character: Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest

How does a costume reflect a character? I can't think of a better object lesson than Alfred Hitchcock's landmark suspense thriller "North by Northwest" (Warning: The following contains spoilers for a fifty year old film)

When we are introduced to our protagonist, Roger Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) he is walking the midst of a busy crowd, establishing the "everyman" nature that makes him so identifiable, as well as vulnerable. 

Roger is an advertising executive, or as he puts it, "I lie for a living", (a line that was no doubt influential on the creation of "Mad Men") This is further evidenced moments later when Roger takes a taxi from another man, saying that he has to take his sick secretary to the hospital, when nothing of the sort is happening. Since Roger is a businessman he is wearing the expected attire of a man of that position in the 1950s, a gray flannel suit, the most popular fashion choice for men at the time. So popular in fact that everyone was wearing them. Thus we get the first hint of the theme of this film. This could be any man, even you. Is it any wonder that the plot hinges on him being mistaken for someone else? 

This color choice also has a double meaning, Roger wears gray because of his moral ambiguity, as he has to lie in order to get out of trouble so that he can expose the truth. 

The plot thickens when Roger is framed for a murder. He manages to escape custody, and flees to try and clear his name. Despite his picture being in every newspaper in the country, he continues to wear the same clothes, (It may not make sense in retrospect, but it is done to keep the character consistent) although he does don a pair of sunglasses that amusingly fool absolutely no one. 

The one time in the film that Roger deliberately alters his appearance is while escaping from a train. He does the classic bit of knocking out a man and stealing his clothes. However, they're not just any clothes, he chooses the uniform of a station redcap, somebody who is one many anonymous workers at the train station, only identified by their eponymous hats. This frustrates the pursuing police officers who knock off the caps one by one in a failed search for their man. This continues the theme of the everyman who easily blends into the crowd.

Towards the end of the film, Roger is shot. For all intents and purposes after this, Roger has "died". His name is cleared with the authorities and they are preparing move in on the real villains. 

However, this is when there is a distinct change in Roger's character, which is represented by his change of clothes. While recovering from his gunshot wound at the hospital, he is given a new white shirt. Roger has been reborn and his heroic colored apparel has also inspires him to become a proactive figure. No long content to hide, sneak about, he takes charge by going out to rescue his love interest from the clutches of the bad guy's fortress like a classic white knight.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Game is Afoot!

Heres one of a handful of projects I did at the start of the month. The school were my mother teaches was celebrating National Literature Month and she asked if I would help put together some kind of decoration for her door to promote the event. 

Since her room is close to the building entrance, I thought I would depict English Literature's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, investigating the start of a trail that would lead him to other doors that were likewise celebrating great works of fiction. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sketchbook Sharing: Ice Ice Baby

Well Michigan is still experiencing the harsh effects of winter, complete with high winds and frozen rain. Though for all the talk about the "polar vortex", this winter hasn't really given the Great Lakes State much in the way of weather conditions that are out of the ordinary.

But since everyone else can now understand the kind of stuff we deal with every year, heres a good a time as any to share some cool sketches from this past week.

The first thing anyone living were snowstorms are a regular occurrence is learning to rely on your neighbors, so here are some doodles of the Canadian Women's Olympic Curling team. 

Then here are some sketches of Elsa, the Snow Queen from Disney's "Frozen", because I don't think I've given her enough love in my own sketches, editorials, or twitter posts

And it wouldn't be complete with an appearance by the Ice Man himself, stocking shelves at a grocery store. Really, isn't that just the way we always thought Vanilla Ice would end up? 

Stay cool guys!