Dec 31, 2009

More Videos

In keeping with the artistic and educational nature of this blog I present the following videos, fun little gems that I encourage you to check out. The first one is called The Dot And The Line, which was a book published in 1963 by Norman Juster. In 1965 Chuck Jones, of Bugs Bunny fame, adapted the book into a ten minute MGM cartoon. It subsequently won an academy award for an animated short film. It's a masterpiece of puns and visual humor.

This cartoon is a trippy, mind-bending ride called Psychedelic Pink, one of the best Pink Panther cartoons made in the sixties, and an example of the 60's mind-altering mindset of the time. Unfortunately, there's a totally fake-sounding laugh track that someone felt necessary to put in, but it is enjoyable anyway. A psychedelic experience refers to an experience where one's mind is freed by the normal discipline and order of society, and experiences different sights and sensations. Psychedelic experiences were a big fixture of the 1960s, and this cartoon is a perfect example of that.

This seven and a half minute film is also a masterpiece. Extremely simple in concept, filled with all sorts of symbolism. Five figures stand on a horizontal slab suspended in a void. If one moves, the slab begins to tilt, endangering the others, who must react to re-establish the proper balance. A new element into their carefully balanced world causes havoc for everyone on this precarious surface. One wonders how did they get there? Are they stranded there for eternity? Thought provoking, this film is.

And finally, a very special treat for fans of Mad magazine, the magazine that helped me learn to draw and inspired me as an artist: an interview with the legendary Mort Drucker, arguably the very best caricature artist ever. His art in Mad magazine over the decades captured movie stars and celebrities perfectly, with enough exaggeration to make them amusing without being insulting. Having your likeness drawn by Mort Drucker was a rare honor. I realize Manga is all the rage these days, but artists as talented and prolific as Drucker should never be forgotten. To learn more about Drucker, click this link.

Dec 28, 2009

Christmas At Disney World

At Disney World

Deb and I spent two days during Christmas break at Disney World; Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom, and the day after at
Hollywood Studios, where there is an incredible holiday Christmas light display that covers every building in the middle of the park. I recently acquired a Nikon D90 digital camera which I'll be using to expand Magnum Arts next year, doing photography, so two days at Disney parks was a perfect place to put the D90 to the test. With my newest camera in hand, I was able to capture the holiday spirit. Enjoy!

Yeah I'm bad...I'm Disney bad!

(Click on each picture to bring up a larger view)

At the Flights Of Wonder bird show in Animal Kingdom, various birds are displayed in an amusing show. I got picked to go up on stage and attempt to photograph a great horned owl as he flies from the rear of the building to a perch on the stage. What an opportunity!

I'm told no one is able to get the picture because the owl flies so fast; I got two (count 'em, two) good pictures! Click on each one to see a large view.

What a beautiful bird. They let me take a few pictures before leaving the stage.

The Automotive Stunt Spectacular is a good show, demonstrating impressive stunts and driving skills using specially modified cars. Here the red "hero" car fires an on-board rocket that splits the black "chase" car in half.

A crew member tries to push the two halves of the car back together again

The stunt show has a fun gag that involves a Herbie the Love Bug car that's been cut in half, with each side fully drivable. I'll bet it's cramped in there. The airplane in the background is Walt Disney's first plane, now on display.

The finale involves a final jump and a huge explosion with lots of flames. Just like my commute to work every morning!

Can you guess what the pictures above are? There was some effluent, or foam, that was sitting atop of the water in the central pond of Hollywood Studios that formed very interesting patterns that caught my eye. This is art in itself, created by natural forces. Click on each one to get a larger view.

The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular is the longest running live show at any of the Disney parks, and also one of the most popular, recreating several sequences from Raiders of The Lost Ark. Lots of explosions and flames in this show.

This is a fun, "forced perspective" picture that makes it look like Deb is feeding Gertie the Dinosaur. Forced perspective pictures are optical illusions that make two objects look closer than they really are, or different sizes than they really are.

See That Which Goes Unnoticed

Do you ever stop to notice the "little" details that surround us? There are things we pass by every day and never notice, things that can be captured by photography to focus attention on life's beauty, hidden in plain sight.

I love this picture of Gonzos all hanging by their noses, outside the Muppet 3D theater

This is the Osborne family light show, the coolest holiday light show I've ever seen. Every square inch of buildings in the middle of the park are covered in Christmas lights that blink in sequence to Christmas music that fills the street. It even put a Grinch like me in the spirit!

To see the entire photo album from the Hollywood Studios album on Webshots, click HERE!

Dec 6, 2009

The Magic Of...

Most of my Cartooning and Drawing students are not familiar with M.C. Escher, and that's a shame, as he was one of the most inventive and original artists of the 20th century. His work is widely recognized, his techniques emulated and studied, his legacy enduring. Let's find out a bit more about this remarkable artist, shall we?

Maurits Cornelis Escher was a dutch graphic artist famous for his illustrations of impossible worlds, and bending of perspective in his illustrations. If you want to read the full biography, click on the picture on the left.

During a visit to Alhambra, palace in southern Spain, Escher noticed the pattern of tiles, common in Islamic architecture. The perfectly interlocking tiles of various patterns caught his attention, and he began creating images that interlocked perfectly (click on the picture of the Alhambra tiled wall on the right to see a larger view). Escher called these drawings plane tessellations. A tessellation is a collection of figures that fills the plane (a plane is a flat two-dimensional surface) with no overlaps or gaps. The tiled patten in the picture on the right is the same wall that inspired Escher.

Escher made sketches of the tiles and began to figure out how to create regular division of the plane in his drawings. He did a lot of sketching before the final pieces for which he is most famous. Pay attention students: use your sketchbook to work out your ideas and perfect your drawings. This is what your sketch book is for. Don't always go for the first idea that comes into your head.

First, Escher made sketches of the tiles while he was at the Alhambra (left). When traveling, keep a sketchbook (even a small one) with may never know when inspiration may strike! Then he did some practice sketches, trying to find a shape that would interlock perfectly (right). Not very good perhaps, but it was an exercise, to see if he could do it.

Here Escher is getting better at creating a regular division of the plane. This smirking little guy interlocks perfectly. You can see the grid lines he used to plan the interlocking points. This was a study for part of a print he did called Cycle. Below is the finished print; click for a larger view.

There's something a little creepy, yet mesmerizing, about this image.

Escher became extremely good at creating images that interlocked perfectly. I've tried copying his techniques; it's not easy at all. Check out the print below: the same print can be viewed upside down!

Right: Angels and Demons, another interlocking picture. Note the grid used to determine the rotation points.

Escher was also known for his works involving impossible worlds; worlds that look real but could not possible exist in real life.


This is probably one of Escher's most famous works, a mind-bending collision of vanishing points and alternate realities, all existing in one world. Look at the two figures on the stairs; one is going up while the other is descending, both occupying different planes of existence. The walls are floors, the floors are walls. Very trippy!

Just for fun, someone created the image in Legos:

And below is an insane interactive panorama created by Nico Roig of Escher's Relativity. By holding the mouse button down you can scroll around the entire scene. Very very cool!!

Tribute to Escher in Barcelona

Ascending and Descending

Escher used a clever visual trick to create a staircase that goes nowhere. The figures climbing and descending this staircase could keeping going forever without getting anywhere.

Below: a sketch Escher made in planning this piece. Once again, do several sketches of your ideas to perfect them before you do the final piece.

Look at Ascending and Descending again. It has three vanishing points. Not one, not two, but three. You can see them in the illustration below:

Which leads me to Escher's work in which he played with perspective like Silly Putty. Some of his works in this area of very clever and very trippy. Here is an example:

High and Low

This is a fun piece that shows the same scene from two vantage the same picture! There are two vanishing points in this picture.

The image on the right is Escher's explanation for how this image works, and how he created it.

There are so many of Escher's works worth looking at that there is not enough room to examine them all here. But now you can say you are familiar with the works of M.C. Escher.