Mar 31, 2010

Scale Model WW II Town

When I say art is therapy, I'm not kidding. I  sincerely believe in the power of artistic expression to channel and understand powerful emotions.

Another example of this is Marwencol, a fictional scale-model Word War 2 village created by Mark Hogancamp, who was beaten into a coma by five men and emerged brain damaged. When he emerged from his coma he dealt with his difficult recovery by building Marwencol and meticulously photographing the dolls, even aging the vehicles so they would look authentic. The photography is excellent and moving, the stories touching. Mark Hogancamp is selling copies of his photos and stories in book form to finance his difficult recovery from a horrible tragedy.

Do yourself a favor and check out his excellent website, and if you like his work enough, buy one of his books. His photography has inspired me. Some of the photographs can be somewhat disturbing, just a heads up.

Mar 30, 2010

Writer Explaining Censorship and Free Speech


This is a new category on the Magnum Arts blog dedicated to cultural and artistic freedom.

Phillip Pullman is an English author who wrote a book called The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, a controversial title, to say the least. At a book signing he is asked about the potential offensive nature of the title, and his response is brilliant, and captures what a lot of people in society may not want to hear:

"It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read. That's all I have to say on that subject." source: BoingBoing

Check out the video of his response below. All I have to say is AMEN.

Mar 21, 2010

Megacon 2010

Here's my report for Megacon, the state's largest comic book and sci-fi convention, and a mecca for geeks (don't laugh; you may be working for a geek someday, if you aren't already). Events like Megacon, Tampa Bay Comic-Con and Dragoncon are like creative refueling stations for artists, where they can meet and chat with other artists, see their work and broaden their horizons, not to mention rejuvenate their creative impulses. Plus there are the costumes and celebrities! Well let's get to the pictures, shall we?

The 501st Legion squad dinner at Bogard's (the owner gave us the whole top floor) is always a fun event, and is usually attended by a couple of actors from the Star Wars films. Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) are good friends of and to the Legion and we are honored to have them as guests. Here, Jeremy Bulloch is presented with a cake that looks like Boba Fett's spaceship.

Jeremy Bulloch cutts the Boba Fett spaceship cake, then eats a mini-cake of Han Solo in carbonite.

There was also a Darth Maul cake (below).

Also attending was a man named Steve Sansweet, who is George Lucas' right-hand man as far as fan relations, and content management (making sure Lucas' intellectual property is not used incorrectly). Mr. Sansweet travels the country interacting with fans and attending events, and has been a great benefactor to the 501st Legion. He is also a genuinely nice, down to earth person as well.

I went to Megacon on Sunday, so it was less crowded than on Saturday. I chatted with Peter Mayhew about his artistic children, and also met Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the original Star Trek series - a very classy lady! I was also able to talk to several vendors and artists there and picked up a lot of information about earning a living on the comic-con circuit. I've decided that my goal is to have a table to begin selling my artwork and photographs next year at Megacon.

The Pictures

The link to the Orlando Sentinel gallery from Megacon is HERE. Lots of great pics!

Above: A pretty cool (and accurate looking) Luke Skywalker landspeeder, and the Flintstones car (I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which)

This series is the awesome Lego dioramas, made by several individuals.

Here are some pictures (below) courtesy of Pirate Girl and Lady Ghost, two 501st Legion members who were there on Saturday:

RIGHT: The 501st group picture with family and honored guests; LEFT: Peter Mayhew and Jeremy Bulloch in the back behind Boba Fetts, biker scouts and clone troopers

Left: A pair of beautiful Nav'vi from Avatar

Right: Billy Dee Williams after signing a member's TIE fighter helmet

I've never gotten into Speed Racer, but this is very cool: a recreation of the Mach 3 race car. The front rotating blades would even start to turn on and off for display purposes. Very cool ride!

Below: And finally, what con would be complete without droids...??

Mar 15, 2010

Protecting Freedom

I am creating a new category on the Magnum Arts blog dedicated to cultural and artistic freedom.

Although my classes are free from political discussion, it remains important, no, it is imperative, that we defend our rights to free expression. There are plenty of people who would deny us our freedoms as artists, who would censor and silence us, all because they do not like what we have to say, or because our art may make people feel "uncomfortable". If you do not know about these attempts to silence artists, you will not be able to stand up for your rights. And the rights you have, you have because people fight for them. Do not take them for granted.

Sooner or later, you will create something that you will have to justify or defend to someone else because it makes them feel uncomfortable or offended. If they demand that you remove or destroy your art, then they are infringing on your rights.

It is important to understand that as part of a society, we are going to be surrounded by people from all kinds of different backgrounds, with all kinds of different views. Feeling uncomfortable from time to time is inevitable. A person does not - I repeat does not - have a protected right to be free from discomfort at all times, yet increasingly, people behave as if they do, and expect others to modify their behavior to address their discomfort. If we allowed this to happen where would we end up?

We would end up in a society that is utterly bland and drab, where all non-common points of view and art are censored and devoid of humanity, where people dress, act and talk exactly the same and live in fear that something they do or say will be perceived as uncomfortable. Is that the society we really want to live in?
(image credit: THX1138, a film by George Lucas, LINK)

For this first example of this new category, I present a situation that occurred in my old hometown of Burlington, Vermont. A photographer was interrogated by the police at work and banned from several stores, just for taking pictures of people in public. In public. This individual was not in any of the stores, nor on private property, yet he was treated by the police as someone who had committed a crime. This is a constitutionally and legally protected activity, yet the police are enforcing a restraining order against this photographer for doing what he has every right in the world to do. Established law has already declared that a person has no expectation of privacy when out in public. If a person is in a public area, that person can be legally photographed whether he or she likes it or not.

Stay Informed, Protect Your Rights

  • The link to this story is HERE and the second part is HERE.
  • The link to the pictures (which are very good, by the way) is HERE.
  • To find out more about how much photography is under assault, click HERE.
  • To learn more about the history of the poem below, click HERE.
  • Consider making a contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who fight to protect freedom of speech in our country, which is under increasing attack. Their mission is to make all voices, both popular and unpopular, heard. Visit their website by clicking on their logo below:
Click the logo above to visit the ACLU home page. Contribute, help make a difference

UPDATE: In a subsequent follow-up, the amateur photographer shares his photos, tells his side of the story and says he cannot afford to fight this battle, not with a wife and children. Censorship scores another victory, we all lose some freedom, and a creative voice is silenced.

A sad ending.

One of my favorite poems seems to capture this situation, by Pastor Martin Niemoller, originally written about the German citizens' lack of protest about increasing Nazi abuses, but just as relevant today as it was then:

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Mar 1, 2010

A New Year For Magnum Arts

Welcome to 2010 - now where are those jetpacks...?! What's it going to take, people??

Seriously, there are big things planned for 2010. Magnum Arts is expanding and will be launched as an official business this year, branching out into selling original artwork, photography, photography services and, of course, art instruction as always. By the end of 2010 Magnum Arts will be an established business, operating part time until enough revenue is generated to be able to take the business full time, a process expected to take about one to two years.

So what does that mean? It means you will see changes in both this blog, and on the website, which will soon be moved to another hosting service, in order to better display photos, graphics and information, as well as to allow business to be conducted. It means you will see more original artwork that up until now has not been shared, and you will also be able to interact with me in more ways, including my Facebook page which I keep (look up Michael Lyman on Facebook to see it). This is going to be an exciting year and so, artists and cartoonists, let's all make the most of it!

Cartooning Tools To Download and Use

On this blog I upload a lot of material and create posts to expand on what is taught in the Cartooning and Drawing class. Make use of them; they are on this blog for your benefit! Simply click on the category on the right that says Art Tips. The Art Education category is for blog posts that feature artists and art techniques that is worth knowing about; check it out when you have time. The Class Review has descriptions of subjects previously covered in classes, and the Star Wars category are posts that feature the events I participate in with the 501st Legion, a global Star Wars costuming organization. The Events category are posts describing art-related events to keep you aware of what's going on out there.

Sketching - This is a skill that is as fundamental and important to an artists as holding a pencil. For a good tutorial on what sketching is, and how to be comfortable sketching, click HERE.

Your Sketchbook - Do you know how to use it effectively? How to take advantage of it so that you are generating good ideas and trying out concepts and drawings that will take your art in new and better directions? Your sketchbook is one of your most important artistic tools. Find out more about how to use it HERE.

Perspective - Want to learn how to draw scenery that looks real? Check out this step-by-step tutorial I created that teaches you how to draw proper perspective. Click HERE!

This blog exists to support the students (and potential students) of Magnum Arts, and hopefully will be a valuable resource.