Dust Art

Scott Wade
Just for a little amusement on a Friday morning, and to point out that anything that allows you to make a mark can be a medium for visual expression, here’s an article from the Austin American-Statesman about Scott Wade, who draws reasonably complex images in the road dust that accumulates on the back of his Mini Cooper.

Wade uses his fingers, as you might expect, but also paintbrushes, to lightly smear or lift off the dust, and popsicle sticks, I assume for a “palette knife” effect.

Talk about temporary art.

Flight 3

Flight 3
Yesterday was Wednesday, the day when most comic shops get their new comics for the week. I stopped into Between Books, the unique little bookstore/comics shop in Delaware where I buy my comics, and was delighted to find a shiny new copy of Flight 3 waiting for me.

Flight 3 is the third and much-anticipated installment in the Flight series of comics anthologies. The Flight books are about the potential – more than that, the realized potential – of alternative comics, of the revitalization of the anthology as a viable comics format, of the transition of comics artists from the web to print and of the artistic voices of a new generation of comics creators.

If you find superhero comics unappealing (or just a bit tiresome), or if you are just curious about what else the comics art form has to offer, here’s a great place to start: 26 independent comics artists gathered in one volume with fresh, vital and individualistic visions of what comics can do and say.

Among the creators in Flight 3 are a number of artists that I’ve profiled in previous posts here on lines and colors, including Rad Sechrist, Kean Soo, Michel Gagné (also here) and Kazu Kibuishi (also here), who is the driving force behind the Flight anthologies.

For more information see the the Flight blog, and Kibuishi’s Bolt City. Also see my previous post on the preview for Flight 3.

The Flight blog features a terrific Flight 3 Preview section with lots of sample artwork. (There is even a Flight 4 mini-preview on Newsarama.)

Here is an Amazon link for Flight 3, as well as the previous volumes, Flight 1 and Flight 2.

Even if you think you don’t like alternative comics, or especially if you think you don’t like comics at all (I’m talking to the fine art contingent here), try to find a copy in a comics shop or bookstore and just leaf through it. You may be surprised at how you take to Flight.

Brad Aldridge

Brad Aldridge
Utah artist Brad Aldridge paints landscapes that seem at once generalized and specific. They may or may not refer to actual places. He eschews grandiose, dramatic landscapes and opts for intimate, quiet scenes, often of small streams, which I particularly enjoy.

Aldridge works in oil on prepared panels and prefers a muted palette with understated colors, subtle tones and an emphasis on the visual texture of his scenes. There is very often a subtle focal point of an individual shrub or tree. If you study several of his paintings, you’ll realize that his has deftly controlled the path your eye takes around his compositions.

The frames for Aldridge’s paintings are unique and seem specific to the individual paintings, as if they were considered part of the finished work and not simply a showcase for it. Alridge creates most (or all) of these frames himself.

In many cases he has created paintings on panels cut to unique shapes, often incorporating rounded or gothic arches at the top of the panel, that have corresponding frames, cut to emphasize the unusual shape of the panels.

I haven’t found a dedicated site for Aldridge, but he is represented by a few galleries who feature his work in their sites. The Joyce Robins Gallery has a good section of Aldridge’s work, as well as a nice essay on the artist by the gallery’s owner.

Bennett Galleries has a smaller selection. Leslie Levy Fine Art has 7.

Despite an awkward and inconveniently “clever” horizontally scrolling interface (in which you must hover your mouse over a link and wait for the Flash script to scroll the images at its pace, not yours), the Arcadia Gallery site still has the best selection of Aldridge’s work I have been able to find, as well as the largest images.

[Addendum, December 2010: The links provided seem to have gone bad in the past four years. Here are current links to Brad Aldridge on Susan Calloway Fine Art, Gallery 71, and McLarry Fine Art.]

Samuel Michlap

Samuel Michlap
One of the really great trends I’ve noticed in the past year is an increase in the number of animators, production designers, storyboard artists and character designers who are keeping blogs, posting their work and often discussing their creative process.

Samuel Michlap has been a layout artist, art director and production designer, working for companies like Disney and Dreamworks. He has worked on films like The Lion King, Sinbad, Shark Tale, Eldorado and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

He works in acrylic, gouache, and, when time allows, in oil, as well as working digitally in Photoshop. Some of his comps are done in Prismacolor pencil on a heavy toothed board.

He has just recently started a blog, featuring some of his professional work as well as sketches and quick studies, including work done in front of the TV or while riding in the car.

His blog is not currently linked to his web site, which appears to be under construction but still has some of his figurative and gallery work. You can also find some of his gallery paintings, with a nice emphasis on trains from the mid 20th Century, in the Howard Manville Gallery site.

Through the variety of his work, you will find a broad variation in approach in terms of texture, brush handling, composition and overall palette. You will find consistency, however, in his deft handling of color and value. He controls mood, light, the focus of attention with careful color relationships that are sometimes subtle, sometimes bold, but always effective.

I particularly enjoy his evocation of 19th Century Paris (image above), done after visiting Paris while working on Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.

(I just have to take an aside here and say I would have loved to have been at the meeting where somebody pitched the idea for that movie. “It’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame, see, except without so much… well, tragedy.. instead, it’ll be a musical! Right! …with singing gargoyles…” Hello?!)

Anyway, Michlap’s blog is still new, he just started in April, and there isn’t a great deal posted yet, so you may want to bookmark it and stop back to watch for more. I know I will.

Link via John Nevarez.

Thomas Eakins

Thomas Eakins
As a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts I always felt that the great American painter and teacher Thomas Eakins (pronounced A-kins, with a long a) was a presence there, if a somewhat ghostly one.

By that I don’t mean that he walked the halls, palette in hand, offering critiques of student cast drawing from beyond the veil; just that his association with the school was as oddly strained in modern times as it was when he was studying, later teaching and eventually the director there in the late 19th Century.

On one hand the Academy of the 20th Century was proud to be associated with Eakins, who was unquestionably one of the greatest American painters; on the other hand there were the, um… controversies, with which the Academy seemed as uncomfortable in the 20th Century as it had been in the 19th, when Eakins was fired from his position for a history of insubordination to the board of directors and “improprieties”, of which the camel-back-breaking straw was the removal of a male model’s loincloth in a class of female art students.

The Academy’s web site, brushes over this whole era with a few words and little mention of controversy. Read enough biographies of Eakins and you will find mention of Eakins as a champion of the importance of the human form in art and an opponent of repressive attitudes toward teaching figure drawing, side by side with stories of rumored improprieties, rudeness, accusations of abuse and possible mental illness.

Leaving the social drama behind, you will find Eakins’ unswerving commitment to gritty realism, keen draughtsmanship, mastery of painting technique and the revelation of form through value and contrast. His mastery is evident in his portraits, including group portraits of physicians in operating theaters, artists, lawyers, and literary figures (like Walt Whitman, whose portrait by Eakins was said to be his favorite and is still in the collection of the Academy). Eakins was also a master of perspective, as often revealed in his paintings and studies of sculls on the Schuylkill River (image above, with perspective study, inset).

Although his work is highly regarded now, at the time he was something of an outcast from artistic circles. He was apparently very respected by his students, who asked him to carry on teaching after his dismissal from the Academy at drawing sessions arranged by the Philadelphia’s Art Students League.

The sessions were held at what is now the Philadelphia Sketch Club, the nation’s oldest continuing arts organization, which carries on the tradition of life drawing sessions to this day, and over the years has been a great resource for many artists and art students in Philadelphia, including this one.

Sky-Doll in Heavy Metal

Sky DollFor those familiar with Italian comics artist Alessandro Barbucci and writer/colorist Barbara Canepa there is a special treat in the current (Summer 2006) issue of Heavy Metal Magazine.

The issue is a special that collects all three of the French comics albums of Barbucci and Canepa’s Sky-Doll series and presents them together, conveniently translated into English.

If you’re not familiar with Sky-Doll, see my previous post on Barbucci and Canepa.

In addition to Sky-Doll, Barbucci and Canepa are also the artists/writers of the French Witch children’s comics series (from which the American TV series W.I.T.C.H. was adapted) and the delightful Monster Allergy stories (first three issues, I think).

If, like me, you’re a fan of Barbucci and Canepa’s charmingly stylized and wonderfully imaginative comic art, you would be perfectly happy to pay upward of 20 Euros for each of the three French Sky-Doll albums, plus who knows how much for importing and shipping, and be happy to have them in French. To have all three translated in one magazine for $6.95 is an amazing treat.

(You have to ignore the entirely unrelated cover. What were they thinking? With so much striking Barbucci art available, why… oh, it’s Heavy Metal Magazine… never mind.)

There is still a Sky-Doll album not reprinted here, Sky-Doll: Doll’s Factory (Amazon France link here), which is essentially a “making-of” book, with sketches and penciled pages.

Note: Sky-Doll, Heavy Metal Magazine and some of the sites linked here contain nudity and sexually suggestive images. Avoid them if you’re likely to be offended.


Addendum: Hai writes that Barberra and Canepa contributed content to the first six issues of Monster Allergy and supervised the rest. There is new monsterallergy.com web site devoted to the new animated series. I don’t know the degree of B & C’s involvement with development of the show.