Sunday, May 20, 2018

Wedding Photo 1930

A few weekends ago (5/5-6/18) the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) held its first Juried Art Show at the Monrovia Historical Museum in Monrovia, CA.

(The Historical Museum building was at one time the entrance to the city swimming pool. In my youth I swam there many a summer back in the 1960's. For twenty cent you could swim all day. Now the boys and girls locker rooms are sectioned into mini dioramas highlighting the city's rich history with photographs and artifacts from the late 1800's onward. The pool has been cemented over into a patio forever burying an era. Before I go off on a tangent, let me get back to the Art Show:- ).

I entered the latest piece to be completed a 29" x 23" pen and ink drawing entitled 'Wedding Photo 1930'. (more details about this piece can be read on my blog dated Thursday February 8, 2018).

Saturday evening at the opening ceremonies Christine Geltz, president of MAFA, presented me with a certificate.
Sunday evening when I picked up the artwork from the museum Christine had another certificate for me.

I get comments on my pen and ink work. The commentary usually revolves around the details in the piece and the fine (0 point Koh-I-Nor drafting pen) cross hatching lines that make up the shading.
It is not how much work is involved, it takes about a year to complete one of these pieces. 
The story telling potential is what I see in a photograph. The 'details and line work' are  there to support the story(s) being told in the illustration.

The anatomy of pen and ink line work..
 This was the set up for a wedding photo to be taken as people gathered on and around the bleachers.

I am always on the lookout for a picture to 'jump start' my imagination.When I first saw this picture i I immediately saw the stories it held.
 I realized long ago "there is nothing new under the sun" as Solomon pointed out. My time is not spent trying to 'think up' something original, there is a wealth of ideas and concepts just waiting for a new twist on an old idea.
It is what you do with the subject matter that counts. The camera  and bleachers would unfold it's story (taking a photo) within the many mini-stories taking place.

To truly make your artwork a labor of love, you must invest yourself in the project. You  must have something to 'say' through it.

This is the kind of wedding and festivity my wife LaVonne dreamed about.
We got married while I was in college. From Monrovia she rode a Grey Hound Bus 245 miles to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
I got a friend and fellow football player Milton Leonard, to drive us downtown to the courthouse for the ceremony. There in this little room we stood with this grizzled old man, the justice of the peace, his wife, Milton and a woman we did not know (to be a second witness) reciting vows that have lasted 46 years as of last January. Agapeo love for sure. The details of this is another story for another day :- ).
As wedding that could have been ours in a different time and place is now captured in pen and ink.

One of the many questions that needed to be answered...what kind of cameras would have been in use in that time period?
The start of ideas...
small thumbnail drawings put on scraps of paper exploring the possibilities of believably and entertainment.
Position the cameraman (below) would likely have been in from different viewpoints.
These drawings would help me figure the balance ,weight distribution and lean of the final position of the cameraman...


...should the cameraman's head be seen at all? perhaps a more interesting background building...these thumbnails helped me a plan the composition...

Watching old black and white movies and looking at vintage photographs helped me get the feel and look of 1930's era clothing, hair styles and hats...


 These pages (below) are from my sketchbook.
   Always carrying a sketchbook allowed me to jot down ideas wherever and whenever I got an inspiration related to the planning of the piece.
Mid way down (A) the idea of a lady spanking her child (this is 1930 not 2018)...(B) bottom, a lady falling and a lady being helped up. I would build the attendees around their actions.
If I can get these three extremes of action to work properly then the rest of the characters, no matter their facial expression or movements will seem normal.
Bride and Groom...

Faces of family, friends and miscellaneous people out of my imagination make up this wedding party and yes the bride and groom are a young Ron and LaVonne.

The dress and tuxedo are patterned after these styles...

                                                                        look closely at the illustration, the tuxedo is about a size or two too big for the groom, drawn that way on purpose.
Was it the only one close to his size for rent, was it borrowed from friend or relative?...who knows his story?

Another idea (below) I entertained was to have workers in the background repairing the roof on the church. Penciled them in but a closer look revealed they did not add anything to the composition or entertainment value and would be distracting.

 An idea that did find it's way into the illustration was this tree to balance off the left side of the illustration.
Even a tree has questions to be answered. Of the many kinds of trees that populate our planet, what kind should it be? with or without leaves will give insight to what time of year it is. Would it be with birds or other animals that make trees their homes.
Before pen touches paper much thought and planning should go into any piece of art.

Details from 'Wedding Photo 1930'...
finished/framed (below) and work in progress(right).

until next time...


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Weekend of the Arts...

  Mount San Antonio College (Mt.Sac) , Walnut, CA will be hosting it's 4th Weekend of the Arts Friday, Saturday and Sunday April 20,21, 22, 2018. 
Writers, Creatives of all types, Open Mic Readings, Visual Arts and Theater workshops are some of the activities offered.
I will be conducting a workshop on Saturday the 21st of April, time  (TBD), exploring the relationship between Quick Sketching, Animation and Illustration.
If you are in the area, have the time and interest the flyer has more information.
Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Time to unveil my design of the Land Mark Post...

This Saturday March 10, 2018 the city of Monrovia CA is throwing a Block Party to celebrate the contribution Allen Allensworth made to the community.

If you are in the area this Saturday stop by and join in the festivities. There will be booths, and refreshments, city dignitaries, boosters from northern CA and a great, great nephew of Allen Allenworth.
The street will be blocked off around the Second Baptist Church area and the festivities will start at 11am, so I suggest getting there early.

until next time...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two old friends talking about the past...

 Today, this action would have gotten me (23) ejected from the game...
(Citrus Junior College, Azusa, CA)

Back then, it paved the way for an athletic scholarship and a BA degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.                                 
(# 26 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Traveling to away games I made a habit of taking the Gideon Bibles from the nightstand drawers.
 Didn't read them, just took them.
After two seasons I had quite a collection.

Finally got around to reading the Holy Bible, these pages that inspire faith, influence our world view and how we treat others...changed my whole outlook on life.
If these words had an impact on me, perhaps others also.
I gave all the Bibles away.

February 10th 1975...
My first day in the Disney Animation Trainee program I met Glen Keane. Glen had been accepted into the program six months before. He became my roommate, prayer partner and friend.This encounter led to our life long friendship forged in faith.

(Taken from The Man Who Brought Pocahontas to Life  by Kevin Dale Miller -The Christian Reader July/August 1995)

Who are the The Gideons ???

 The Gideons International heard of Glen's testimony about receiving the bible and wanted to record it for posterity and encouragement of it's members.           

 Several months ago at Glen Keane's studio, The Gideons International sent interviewer Abigail Bass (back to camera) and film crew Sam Marshall, Brian Ellison and Kyle Saunders to film Glen and I talking about this incident in our past.

Our friendship has grown over the years as this article written by Abigail explains in detail...if you haven't read it already, I hope you enjoy.

(Me, Kobe and Glen)

When I see Glen on TV at the Oscars for the animation he did of Kobe Bryant's poem "Dear Basketball"(nominated for Animated Short), I'll not only think of what a great creative talent Glen is but also of his spiritual strength and faith in God.

until next time...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 8th , 2018...


Thank you all for wishing me a Happy Birthday Anniversary we're only born once, the rest are anniversaries of that day:- )

February 8, 2018 6:15am...
I woke up this morning to the smell of my wife LaVonne putting the finishing touches on a Red Velvet cake, read the book of Ephesians, bicycled the streets for 40 minutes,  took the dog for a walk, 120 push-ups, listened to my daughter Melissa her husband Johann and the grands  sing Happy Birthday Dad from Pearl City, Hawaii over the phone,  daughter in law Kay and granddaughter Asher checked in from D.C. and son Jai called from chilly Kentucky to say Happy Birthday,  enjoyed a 80 minute massage at the spa, again, care of LaVonne and now reading all the well wishes from friends and family from facebook and messenger.

My next step on my Birthday Anniversary  is to start inking an illustration I started back in August.

A word about how I start an illustration.
 I refer to my animation background when illustrating. In animation you tell a story with a series of pictures. In an illustration you tell a story with one picture. What and how much can you say in one picture?  A whole lot.
I remember Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and all the older animators giving us younger guys the advice to spend half your time thinking about your scene and the other half animating it.
Time spent thinking about all the possible ways of doing something, then do it in the most entertaining way.

Photos serve as my starting point.
Most photo reference I've had for years. Just sitting in a folder waiting for the right moment. Then the right scenario starts to come into focus and I'm inspired to bring it to fruition.

There is nothing new under the sun, just what you do with it. Take for instance Romeo and Juliet is West Side Story set in modern times. Frankenstein subtitled The Modern Prometheus or Star Wars, a cowboy picture set in outer space. Not to belittle these movies but they serve as as examples of taking something that already exists and presenting it in an entertaining way.

This is the  vintage photo that jump started me on the illustration "Wedding Photo 1930" 23" x 29" pen and ink.

(Completed illustration- "Wedding Photo 1930",  23"x29" pen and ink),
 Just add people...lots of people.

People in interesting, storytelling poses.

(Wedding Photo 1930 early stages of ink)

(Wedding Photo 1930 early stages of ink)

(Wedding Photo 1930 early stages of ink)

 In animation or illustrations I try to make the scene 'eye candy' something interesting to look at.

On this occasion I'll start inking my latest project 23" x 29" pen and ink- 'Circus 1930'...

The vintage photo that I saw years ago served as the foundation of an interesting illustration.

It has taken me since August 2017 to pencil this piece.

 Early pencil drawings...


 My formula just add people...

 in interesting...

 storytelling poses.

Solid drawing makes makes the illustration believable.

These pieces take about a year to complete.
 I'm not working on them continually, just a couple hours here and there. Sometimes more or less time and there may be days that go by without a line drawn.

When I was in animation a great deal of time was spent researching our subjects. These illustrations are no different. Clothing, hairstyles, as well as body types, body language, emotions, solid drawing and more all play a part in storytelling and the entertainment value of the piece.

I'll share how this piece progresses.

9:45 pm February 8th, 2018 my Birthday is almost gone, it's time to ink.

until next time...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Allen Allensworth Monument Monrovia, CA...

  Allensworth Monument...

(Monrovia, CA the city I was born and raised in and and attend The Second Baptist Church there.)

 A few months back the city of Monrovia, CA sent out a Call for Artists: Request for Submittal Monrovia Treasures Landmark Post.

About Monrovia Treasures  Landmark Posts 
To celebrate Monrovia heroes through public art that honor their contributions.

The article (above) says it all, except mention who the artist is whose work was chosen...guess who:-)


until next time...