Today marks the first day of my blogging for the exhibition project for 2016, my last year. Min of 3 times a week, I will be uploading a reflection of the day and any updates of research I have been studying.
Weta Workshop. When you hear those words, you think ‘Lord Of the Rings’ and ‘Avatar’, but did you know it all started in 1987 in the back room of a flat of Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger. Little did they know over the course of the next 28 years, their founding company ‘Weta Workshop’ would have helped create multiple box office and oscar award winning films.
In 1989 Peter Jackson hoped on board the Weta wagon, with Richard and Tania helping create some of the props and characters for Jackson’s movie ‘Meet The Feebles’ which was released in 1990.
Four years up the track in 1994, the birth of Weta was announced.
Over time Weta had accumulated 36 awards, 5 Oscars, and 4 BAFTAS. These are some of the concept art produced by the Wellington company;
While I was in Wellington about a week ago, I visited the Te Papa museum and viewed the Gallipoli; The Scale Of War exhibition, and the talent of Weta was clear through multiple sculptures of perished soldiers.
The detail on the soldiers are unbelievable. I almost felt like at some point, one of them would turn their head and wink at me.
Luckily enough, I had the same opportunity to see the trolls from The Hobbit.
Weta never seizes to amaze me, and I’m proud to be a New Zealander.
Half of my semester break, I was on holiday in Auckland. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life, and I’m so glad I was there for Semi Permanent. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically an art conference where successful artists come and speak about their practice and journey in the working working world.
Here are some personal highlights from from trip:
I got to try the New Zealand famous Giapo ice-cream! Personally, it was overpowering sweet. But I did have something to eat previously, so I wasn’t 100% feeling it in the first place. I just HAD to have Giapo!
There was The Food Truck outside the stadium! I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I own two of the cookbooks already, but it was an awesome experience to finally try it for real. The salmon wasn’t all that impressive (too myself) but the pulled pork was delicious.
This was a cafe called ‘Mojo’ that is off the Auckland City Art Gallery building. The presentation of the food cabinet was to die for. I also spotted the blood orange drink that won a place on the Best Awards.
Holla energetic hungover me, you go hungover me!
The ACAG was such a beautiful place! I even got to see a couple paintings by Bill Hammon. I’m not one to stay too long in museums or art galleries, so I just had a quick scope then headed off back home.
Apart from all the fun, I had a pretty sweet thing happen to me while I was at the conference. On day two of Semi-Permanent, I got to meet the man I was mostly looking forward to meeting. Andrew Gordon.
If you don’t know who Andrew Gordon is, he is one of the lead animators at Pixar. He has worked on movies such as The Incredibles, working on Edna Mode. Mike Wasowski in Monsters Inc, and also Bugs Life (which was his big time break getting into the Pixar Company).
While he was setting up for his speech, I was lucky enough to get him alone and greet myself, while I cheekily slipped him a letter I illustrated and wrote for him. Telling him about myself and thanking him for making my childhood special. It is my dream, among many other peoples to become a successful artist, and I let him know that. Hopefully my cockyness will rub off and he’ll remember me. Unfortunately he never emailed the replies to some of the questions I asked him, but he’s a busy man so I understand.
“I cannot rest, I must draw, however poor the result, and when I have a bad time come over me it is a stronger desire than ever.”
― Beatrix Potter
In my current illustrative practice, I am looking closely at the art of the English illustrator Beatrix Potter whose classic children’s books describe a romanticised farm and forest world where animals have anthropomorphic characteristics.
Potter grew up in the country, in the start of the industrial revolution, which was her nostalgia and affected her whole life and her artistic talent and interest in animals. Being a child in social solitude, animals were her company and so, being a child, she anthropomorphised them.
My nostalgia is closely linked to Potter’s as I lived on a farm when I was younger, the childhood that doesn’t exist anymore, where I made friends with rabbits my Dad caught for me, or ducks that roamed our farm named ‘Ridge Farm’. There were also pigs, lots of chickens, and a pet dog so I made friends with all the animals. My country life was one of the best memories I have, and therefore it has influenced my practice to this date.
The concept I have behind my illustrations is to create a magical imaginative world of animals dressed in clothes, or animals with symbolic images to enhance their power or influence.
My art medium includes watercolour paints and Indian inks.
The reason I am using watercolours is because I feel it creates a beautiful depth of field by overlapping and layering colours. The majority of my paintings/illustrations are done on an A4 watercolour strength paper in portrait.
Some of my research has included watching documentaries of Potters life, and reading ‘A Beatrix Potter Treasury’ published by the Penguin Group in 2007.
Some of my images I have used to draw my artworks are by drafting ideas in Photoshop using layers so I can visualise what my final artwork will be. This enables me to have an image to observationally draw from which I finish is visually easier to produce paintings or drawings.
These are a couple examples of my draft ideas.
This is a successful painting (which is featured in one of my previous posts).
I felt like the cat collage didn’t quite work when it came to producing it in watercolour, but I would like to develop the idea.
Working with the idea of rabbits and Potter’s use of anthropomorphism, I attempted to paint myself an example of my own interpretation.
I feel as though my skills and understanding for proportions and scale need to be developed to be where I would like to be visually and conceptually.
Morris has always been a character I’ve wanted to develop into a children’s story. He was a beautiful Morepork that lived in my aunties neighbours letter box, and we all named him Morris. And it’s something I’ve always remembered.
I thought I would have a go at giving him a little bit of life, using the colours that Lynley Dodd would use.
I am definitely going to improve this idea in the future, and he has a lot of meaning to me…and who wouldn’t love a story about Morris The Morepork Who Lived In A Letterbox??
Lynley Dodd was a huge part of my childhood, and a life long inspiration. She illustrated and wrote the Hairy MaClary books, which won many awards including the Margaret Mahy Medal Award in 1999.
I am currently studying her technique and approach to art, not only because she was a childhood idol, but also because her skill with water colour fascinate me.
Also, in 2012 when I was studying for the Diploma of Visual Arts and Design, my group visited the Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North displaying some of her artwork from her various characters. That was the first time I had learnt what gouache was and fell in love with the medium.
Last week I gave it a go at painting again (for the first time in about 2 year might I add), and this was the out come.
I definitely need more practice, but I feel like this was a good start to my beginning of my exploration of gouache and water colours.
Before the weekend, I sent an email to my favourite artist ‘Karl Kwasny’ who also goes by ‘Monaux’ (I have done a previous post on him a couple years ago), in the hope that he would answer. Today I logged into my email, and surely enough, he had replied. It was a huge boost of confidence, and I want to share his email with you all.
Thanks very much for the flattering email! Sorry for the short delay in getting back to you. Here are some quick answers:
When did you start getting serious about your art work?
Towards the end of my graphic design degree I decided that illustration was what I really wanted to be doing, and that I needed to give it a shot otherwise I’d always regret it. So I started emailing art directors at various companies looking for work. I didn’t get many replies initially, but gradually I got a few jobs and then it just sort of snowballed.
What media do you mostly use?
I try to keep my work mostly traditional, although there is a fair bit of Photoshop work involved in getting things to look how I want once I scan everything in. I use a variety of traditional media though – pencils, brushes (#2 – #7 sable), gouache and watercolour mostly.
If you could give advice to a fellow art student, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Being a professional artist in any capacity can be very discouraging, but you’ve got to keep going.
What was your first big time break?
Getting commissioned for Jason Segel’s first book was a pretty big deal for me. The deadline was pretty tight, so Random House had me come into their New York office and work on the illustrations in-house, which sped the process up.
Did you study? If so, where?
Yes, I studied graphic design at QCA in Brisbane, Australia.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
There are always too many to list, so I’ll just mention a few off the top of my head. Shaun Tan, Arthur Rackham, Charles Burns, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Aubrey Beardsley.
Where do you want to be career wise in the future?
I’d like to start producing my own books. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but it hasn’t fallen together in the right way just yet. Being a freelance illustrator for other people’s intellectual property isn’t an ideal situation, because publishers will always want to pay flat fees and won’t give you royalties. So over the next few years I want to come up with a couple of books that deal with subjects that are close to my heart.
What is your favourite piece/project you have completed and why?
Nightmares, because it’s the most ambitious project I’ve actually finished.
What is your latest piece/working on?
I’m working on the second Nightmares book at the moment, which again has a pretty tight deadline so I’ve got to manage my time carefully for the next few months.