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Another blast from my (artistic) past!

10 Mar

I had originally meant to post about last week’s visiting artist talk, but something really exciting happened today! Lori D., a Portland animator/zinester/skateboarder, came to give us an impromptu talk about her work! Here she is:

Lori D

Lori is a super-talented animator who draws really cute characters doing excellent things. Her work often features mustaches, missing front teeth, cool abstractions, and a lot of mischievous body language. She’s animated stuff for Yo Gabba Gabba, you guys, and that is awesome. She showed us some of her illustration work and some of her animations, which all share the same bright colors and lighthearted attitude. Her gouache paintings are really great, and I like her style a lot.

Part of the reason I was so excited to see Lori is that she used to be my teacher! She’s the Animation Department Chairperson for CSSSA (the California State Summer School for the Arts, which is located at CalArts). I was accepted into the program in the summer of 2004, right before my senior year. She was a fantastic teacher, and that program was quite literally life-changing for me. I’d never been part of such an artistically-driven community before (nevermind living without my family in one), and it was so energizing and inspiring and all-around amazing to me. I worked so hard and learned so much over the course of those four weeks–it was where I made my first figure drawings, my first cut-paper animations, and my first real thoughts about where I’d like to go with my art. I’m going to talk a little more about that on Friday, since I have a mildly self-indulgent How I Got to Where I Am bit in mind, but for now I’d just like to reiterate that I can’t recommend this program more. If you’re a California resident (and even if you’re not, since they admit a few out-of-staters every year) in 8-12th grade, please check them out! They have programs in animation, creative writing, dance, film & video, theater, and visual art, and they’re all fabulous.

A little bit, a little late.

26 Feb

Yikes! Sorry this update is late, guys! I have a big crit coming up on Tuesday, so I spent last night sending all my files off so that people’d have time to read them. I’ll have a lot of good stuff to post during this upcoming week as a result–I have some prep work for Perfectly Fitting that turned out well, plus I’ll have the poster I’m designing for the next Dr. Sketchy’s event.

But first, here’s this week’s visiting artist sketch!

Joe Sacco

This week, Joe Sacco gave a talk to us as well as some of the Dartmouth students about comics and journalism. As the author of PalestineFootnotes in Gaza, and several other journalistic graphic novels, it’s pretty clear that he knows what he’s talking about. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of his work, but I like his style and enjoyed what he had to say. Since the Dartmouth lecture was aimed at a more general audience, he had to spend more time than usual explaining the basic nature of comics and how or why they might be used for journalism. It was still a good talk–I particularly liked hearing him discuss his process and how he defines journalistic integrity (telling the “intrinsic truth” rather than the “literal truth” in some cases)–but I wish I’d been able to make it to his CCS-only talk earlier that day. I’m definitely adding Footnotes in Gaza to my reading list for next week.

A breath of fresh air.

18 Feb

It’s been over forty degrees the past two days, I have totally been sleeping (mostly) at night, I went to my very first Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event, and I’ve gotten to draw a lot of pin-up girls in a fairly short amount of time. Life is good, you guys.

Oh, yeah, and we had a fantastic visiting artist this week, too! Here he is:

Howard Cruse

Howard Cruse, creator of Barefootz, Wendel, and Stuck Rubber Baby, came to talk to us this week. He was one of the most enjoyable guest speakers we’ve had this semester, I think. This is the first time this year that we’ve had a visiting artist who was used to working in different styles and spoke to us about when and why he employs them. (Last year we had R. Sikoryak, but I don’t recall him explicitly speaking about why he used specific styles in his Masterpiece Comics.) I find myself bouncing around from style to style pretty frequently (as you guys may have seen, given the contents of this blog), so it was really great to hear him speak so specifically about how style and content relate to each other and how you can use it to your advantage. I was also excited to find out about his other comic works. I’d only heard of Stuck Rubber Baby, which I read this summer. I thought it was a really interesting story, but I wasn’t as into the art style since the super-crosshatched underground comix look has never done a lot for me. Hearing him talk about the way he adjusted his art style to fit the content of the book helped me to appreciate it a little more (even though it’s not an aesthetic I’ll bring into my own work) and made me excited to read his other series. Guess I’ll be going (back) to the library tomorrow!

Also, I forgot to mention this in my last post, but do you remember that Pearls of Lutra picture I drew? Well, my friends Kevin and Josh have also drawn pictures celebrating the work of the late Brian Jacques. They are both awesome dudes, and you should totally check their work out! :)

Well, this one was almost on time!

12 Feb

Augh! I’m sorry that this post is also late, you guys! This nocturnal schedule of mine has been shifting forward by an hour or two a day, so I keep finding myself with less and less time between waking up and having to hurriedly squeeze in an update before midnight. Alas: sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t.

On time or not, though, here’s this week’s visiting artist sketch:

Tom Gammill

Tom Gammill is primarily a TV writer and producer, having worked on SNL, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Futurama, and more, but he came to speak to us because he’s always loved comics and cartoons. He has a fascination with one-panel gag strips and has drawn them all his life, even while working as a writer–he and his creative partner Max Pross were known as the guys who pitched ideas with corresponding drawings. As of right now, he’s working on his own (self-described) so-bad-it’s-good newspaper comic, The Doozies. He also makes tongue-in-cheek “Learn to Draw With Tom Gammill” videos. He was a fantastic speaker–interesting, dynamic, and incredibly funny. I really like it when writers come to speak with us, since I feel like CCS leans toward focusing on the artistic side most of the time. He didn’t sit us down and say, “Now, listen: this is how you tell a story,” but he talked a lot about the creative process for both drawing and writing and made it informative and funny. A good time was had by all…and not just because he asked us to pose like that for a photograph. :)

See y’all on Monday!

Oh, Vermont. Why are you so snowy?

7 Feb

I know, I know, it’s because we’re so far north. But the snow had been melting so nicely the past few days that I kind of convinced myself that it’d just keep melting until it was all gone! It’s snowing again now, though, so I guess I’ve gotta accept the next several weeks of winter.

Ugh, sorry about that. I know I start, like, every entry with the latest in Vermont weather news, but it’s hard not to when that is basically all that is going on here. The last few days have been pretty solitary–I’ve gotten on this strange, nocturnal schedule, which means I slept through the thundersnow (seriously, it’s a real term!) and have just been sketching and trying to brainstorm story ideas all night. (We’ve also been watching a lot of Deadwood while we draw, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s a decent schedule, but unfortunately it doesn’t inherently lend itself to exciting blog entries. Alas, such is my burden.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Here’s a sketch of our visiting artist from a week or two ago:

Jodie Mack

Jodie Mack is an animator and professor of animation at Dartmouth College, conveniently located just across the river in good ol’ Hanover. She was a pretty great speaker in general. I love it when people are genuinely passionate about their work, and Jodie is nothing if not that! She was super energetic, was always moving, and was the first visiting artist I’ve seen to include a sing-along portion in her presentation. Jodie does a lot of abstract animation but still tries to imbue it with a sense of narrative, which is really interesting to me. I’ve always gravitated towards representational imagery, so to be honest I haven’t thought much about what can be done with abstract imagery when it comes to storytelling. Jodie uses a lot of cut paper in her work, too, so the papercraft nerd in me was super excited about her presentation.

Last week’s visiting artist lecture was canceled due to the aforementioned delights of Vermont weather, so I unfortunately won’t have another one of these sketches until Friday. I’ve been doing some little sketches of the Deadwood characters, though, so I might post those on Wednesday. See you then!

I am running out of cold-weather-related titles for these posts.

4 Feb

This could prove to be a problem as it is only February and we have a lot of snow and wind ahead of us. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have used up my Mr. Freeze puns so early in the year. I suppose I have no one to blame but myself. :P

Anyway, here’s a visiting artist sketch from about two weeks ago:

David Libens

This is David Libens, our CCS student fellow for this year. He’s originally from Belgium, but he’s moved here for the year in order to work with the CCS cartooning community. He’s one of the founding members of the publishing company L’Employé du Moi as well as a prolific comic artist. His most recent work has been mostly autobiographical and has a great sketchy, spontaneous feel to it–I especially like the strips to which he’s added watercolors. It was very interesting to hear him talk because he gave us his whole life story in relation to comics. I’ve heard a lot (especially in the last two years) about how much better the comics culture in Europe is–comics are more widely considered to be a valid art form, many universities offer programs for it, etc.–so it was fun to hear David’s experiences within the system as well as his opinions on American comics culture. It was kind of nice to hear that he took some inspiration from American movies and music when he was younger, too; I know it’s silly, but I was relieved to hear that brash attitudes and guns aren’t our only cultural export.

Okay, I think that’s it for me tonight. I’ll be back on Monday with another visiting artist sketch and maybe a painting or two!

Drumroll, please!

31 Jan

All right, you guys, this is it! These are the last visiting artist sketches of the CCS class of 2011. So, without further ado:

Beth HetlandBeth Hetland will be completing the first two books of Fugue, a three-book series about her mother’s lifelong relationship with music–particularly the piano–and its effect on her family.

Jesse MeadJesse Mead will be working on Where Gods Lie, a fantasy epic/adventure, as well as collaborating with Monty Montgomery on Lincoln and Franklin: Ghost Hunters (whose name pretty much says it all).

And that’s all of us, guys! Come May, there are gonna be some amazing comics on the market. I am super excited! I am also super petrified, because I have a lot of work to do in between now and then. I guess I should probably get back to that.

See y’all on Wednesday!

What is this unfamiliar feeling?

26 Jan

Oh, right. It’s warmth! It has totes been above 0 degrees here for the past two days, which has been positively delightful and has let us all thaw out a bit. Never in my life did I expect to think that 18 degrees was balmy weather heralding the oncoming spring, but I guess that’s Vermont for ya.

You know what else is quintessentially Vermont? Sketches of the CCS students’ visiting artist talks. Here’s the next set:

Betsey SwardlickB. Swardlick will be starting a long graphic novel about the life and times of a man named Frank and all the roles–son, musician, father, lover–he plays throughout it.

Tom CasteelTom Casteel will be continuing work on Low Down, the abovementioned story about a man’s midlife crisis, as well as completing a number of shorter collaborative comics about a guerrilla English Lit class on a subway, meditation, and adoption.

Pat BarrettPat Barrett is continuing work on Petrified Girlfriend (a story about a young New York couple who is forced to come to terms with their faltering relationship when the girlfriend becomes…well…petrified) and contributing to Farmy Acres, a three-person webcomic in which each strip takes place in a different part of the same farm.

Next week is the last set of these visiting artist sketches, you guys! After that, you’ll have met every member of the CCS class of 2011. Then it’s back to regular ol’ artists again. :)

Time to break out the Mr. Freeze puns.

24 Jan

Not very nice, I snow, but it is -12 degrees out right now. I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO COPE WITH THIS WITHOUT TERRIBLE PUNS.

In other news, here’s the next batch of CCS visiting artist drawings. I think they’re pretty cool:

Jesse DuronaJesse Durona will finish a 72-page graphic novel called Capek, a sci-fi story about a robot that finds a human baby in space and makes it his mission to reunite the child with its family.

Ben JuersBen Juers is hard at work on a 24-page silent comic about bower birds engaging in all kinds of Buster-Keaton-like slapstick antics.

Kevin UehleinKevin Uehlein will be working on two projects this year: Life Skills, an autobiographical piece based on his time spent working as a life skills teacher, and Visions of the Aporkolypse, an anthology about the inevitable pig-related death of human society and tyranny.

All right, that’s it–I’m gonna go chill out, cocoon myself in a blanket, and draw morbidly obese cats until spring comes. Get my drift?

…….ICE!

Oh, hey, internets!

21 Jan

Long time, no see! Sorry about the long hiatus. When winter break started, I thought, “Will I have enough time to make a bunch of new art and update the blog regularly while I’m traveling through Charlotte and showing Paul around Del Mar and catching up with my family before I go? OF COURSE I WILL.”

I guess you can see how well that worked out. I was (*shock, gasp, horror*) busier than I thought I’d be, so I didn’t have much of a chance to draw. When I did, it usually went something like this:

WHAT SHOULD I DRAWWWWWI would sit there for a long time, staring down a blank sheet of paper. The longer I sat, the less valid or funny any of my ideas seemed, and eventually I would think, “Well, I’ll just do it tomorrow,” and go hang out with the fam. And the next day, the whole process would start over again.

But now I’m back in the place I work best, hanging out with the people I work best with, and I’m ready to start rocking out the rest of my thesis…well, as ready as I’m ever gonna be. I also have the rest of the CCS visiting artist sketches from last semester for you guys! So, without further ado, three more members of the CCS class of 2011:

Monty MontgomeryMonty Montgomery will be working on two different comics this year: Riot City (the teen kung-fu comic he mentions in the above drawing) and Max and Bosco (a comic about two musicians working at a restaurant in a dying universe).

Andy James ChristensenAndy James Christensen will be continuing work on The Stag, his mini-thesis from last year that dealt with a man living alone in a post-apocalyptic winter world and the strange creature he, for lack of a better word, befriends.

Carl MefferdCarl Mefferd is continuing work on Waking Dreams, his story about a Pacific Northwest town whose residents lead very different lives in their dreams.

I hate to say it, but I’m not as pleased with this set as I am with the previous one. I sat in a different place for the second round of presentations and had to draw everyone straight-on instead of from the profile, and I had a lot more trouble continuing the drawing as people moved their heads and changed expressions. For some reason it’s easier for me to adjust for slight differences in angle or expression from a side view rather than a front view, so I spent way more of the ten-minute sessions redrawing the same details over and over rather than refining them. *shrugs* What do you guys think?

Okay, that’s all from me tonight. I’ll see y’all on Monday–for reals this time!

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