Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From paper to stage

Once again, I'm knee deep in Christmas and have been for two months now. I'm involved again in set design/construction and costuming for a Christmas musical set in 1850s London. It's actually a sequel to last year's production. And what started as a paper script in July is rapidly taking shape into something truly special.

What's fascinating this year is the range of experiences we have represented in this year's drama. Creativity is always exciting and to see the various strengths of each person work together is a huge learning experience and an exciting process. I would really encourage you to step out of your comfort zone once in a while and see how this type of collaboration can "enlarge your vision" within your own craft.

Our costume consultant has worked in community theater and has a private collection of over 1000 vintage costumes that she is loaning and adapting to our actors.

Our scriptwriter is a multi-talented man and a fantastic actor with an unerring sense of blocking.

Our director has over 30 years in voice talent, print and movie promotions, acting and decorating, which all adds up to some really exciting possibilities.

Our set builder was a doctor by profession but is also a very creative builder who can see and make anything we've handed to him (including a SHIP!) so far.

And the songwriter has proven again his versatility in stirring the heart with a range of songs and styles.

It promises to be something truly exciting and I hope to post some photos soon. But until then, you are invited:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

People's Choice

Awards are always an honor but I must confess the ones I enjoy watching (and receiving) are People's Choice-type awards. They're a little more unpredictable and a little more exciting and often more surprising.

Today, I was very honored to receive the annual "People's Choice" award for photography from SOSA (Southern Oregon Society of Artists) for my photography "Love Never Fails". A year of juried entries in the quarterly critique categories culminated in today's choice by the SOSA members.

Thank you to my fellow artists, photographers and peers.

I am honored.

(And, it would appear, I am also bragging. ;) )

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ladybug Picnic and Bud Luckey

The Ladybug's Picnic was (and still is) my all time favorite Sesame Street clip. As a child I would sing along and dance in the living room. I still do - though it's not on as often any more. As a child, I never thought much about the person that created it. I just loved it.

Then I grew up and one day went to see Pixar's "The Incredibles" . And fell in love with Boundin' - the short for the movie*.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Bud Luckey, the writer/director/singer/illustrator/etc of Boundin' was also the man that animated The Ladybug's Picnic. It was a moment roughly akin to the day as an adult that I realized Jay Williams, author of The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Fairy Tales was also the author of A Bag Full of Nothing, the story my sister won in first grade and that I'd been threatening to steal every since. It connected a lifetime love where I hadn't know there was a connection.

Mr. Luckey makes a comment in one of the extras about Boundin' that I love (yes, I rushed out to get the DVD). He says of working with a generally younger team,
"I like to think these days that 30 years ago, I used animation to teach kids their numbers. And now these kids are teaching me how to animate with numbers ... So it was a good deal."
I like to think I'm at the beginning of my career as a writer and artist. But if I think about the long term, my real goal is to be like Mr. Luckey - able to look back on a varied career that touches something special in a child. For a lifetime.

Thank you, Mr. Luckey.

*the Academy Award-nominated Pixar Animations Studios Short Film Boundin', to be precise

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Putting it to the vote

At my last public author event, I took along the usual coloring pages, gum balls, postcards and that sort of thing that help catch the eye of parents and children and make great ice breakers. But I also took along a sketch that I'd worked up awhile ago, along with a supply of colored pencils. A fellow author once observed "You're not a real writer until you've been ignored by the public" and the art was a way to pass the time while I was being ignored. It was also "test time" for me - I wanted to experiment with a couple different techniques in the same medium and see which I preferred.

These obviously aren't finished yet and the scan is patchy, but this is where the gaps in two days got me. Keep in mind, I used roughly the same colors (I switched the shadow shade in the darker version from green to purple but otherwise, it's the same colors) just a different technique:

It turned into an impromptu survey. As I chatted with various people, my work was out on the table (each was only 5 x 7 or so) and if people craned their necks to have a look, I'd ask which they preferred, the light touch or the strong arm approach. I have to admit, I usually enjoy the strong arm approach - laying down the color as thick as possible. But with a new drawing in the planning stages, it was time to experiment.

The end result was interesting.

Girls preferred the light touch, almost unanimously. And the younger they were, the more emphatic they were about their preference.

Boys like the brighter color and wanted the dragonfly to be RED.

It was an eye-opener to get their feedback and see where I agreed and where I didn't. I've done the same thing sometimes with story sketches when visiting classrooms but adding the color discussion was a lot more fun.

I think I'll take some new sketches along next time, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Build your vocabulary

Ever needed just the right word but it's simply not there?

Well, chances are it's there, you just don't know what it is.

So here's few random words to help build your vocabulary. Or help you with your morning crossword puzzle.

noun: The part of the body where one cannot reach to scratch.

verb tr.:
1. To mutilate a book by clipping pictures out of it.
2. To illustrate a book by adding pictures cut from other books.

noun: Overzealous censorship of material considered obscene.

cwm: (gotta love a word with no vowels)
noun: A steep bowl-shaped mountain basin, carved by glaciers. Also known as cirque.

adjective: Relating to charity

Now go see if you can put these words to use.