99 Paintings of Beer on the Wall (Cat Scott)

In a painting blog variation that combines her interest in both beer and painting, Cat Scott has chosen as her subject a variety of beer bottles. Their different shapes, colors and label designs give a seemingly limited subject more diversity than one might think.

She also employs a variety of media in the works she post on her aptly named blog, 99 Paintings of Beer on the Wall, from pen and gouache or pen and highlighter on bristol or in sketchbooks to acrylic and oil on canvas.

Scott is a graphic designer full time and paints when she can, and maintains another, more general, sketchblog, as well as an illustration portfolio (images above, bottom row). She is also a participant in the Girls Who Draw group sketchblog.

Her portfolio site includes portfolios for illustration and design, as well as a sketchbook section. There is also a profile with some additional images on Imagekind.

Though most of her “99 paintings of Beer on the Wall” are sold or not for sale at the moment, in addition to offering prints, she does apparently put many of them up for sale; in case you’re inclined to take one down, and perhaps, pass it around.

World Builder (Bruce Branit)

World Builder (Bruce Branit)I will sometimes gripe about manufactured culture to the point where it may seem I don’t like certain genres at all, when in fact I do (e.g. CGI animated movies and superhero comic books).

After griping about Hollywood CGI animated features in the course of raving about Sita Sings the Blues recently, I’ll point out that I really do like Computer Generated Imaging when it’s used with intelligence, wit and imagination (The Incredibles is one of my favorite movies); as opposed to being put into service for super-slick formulaic features in which name voice talent is seen as a prerequisite but actual stories are in short supply.

As a case in point, I’ll recommend a wonderful short film by Bruce Branit called World Builder, in which a man builds a holographic 3-D environment for the woman he loves. The live action part of the film was shot in a single day, the CGI post production was done over the course of two years.

The film makes good use of CGI, which, in a way, is part of the subject, and anyone who has worked in CGI applications, even consumer level “world builders” like Bryce or Vue d’Esprit, and users of Google Sketchup in particular, will find entertaining nods to the way these things work.

The real point, though, is that the film is a story, and a touching one at that; and the effects are in the end only tools to enable the telling of the story; something that Big Entertainment tends to forget in the midst of their calculations about box office receipts and visions of sugarplum merchandising returns.

Branit directs Branit/VFX in Kansas City. You can find other films by Branit there and on Vimeo.

[Via Kottke]


Margaret Morrison

Margaret Morrison
Margaret Morrison’s recent works are yummy, both in terms of their frequent subject matter of sweets and candies, and the sumptuous color with which she portrays those treats.

Morrison’s canvases are relatively large, often 4’x4′ (122x122cm) or larger, and put their small scale subjects into large scale relief, sometimes at eye level or above, giving our a glimpse of them a delicious feeling or intimacy.

She takes delight in the surfaces of gummy candies, smooth chocolates and shiny hard candies. The objects themselves are often strongly lit, adding to the impact of their color and the dimensionality of their forms.

Along with the candies, cupcakes and brightly colored Pez dispensers, you’ll find florals, colorful arrangements of fruit and other foods, and, if you go back far enough, a range of figurative work in a more muted palette and with a very different emotional tone.

Morrison has a solo show at the Woodward Gallery in New York that runs from March 7 to May 6th, 2009. There is a selection of her work on the gallery’s site.

There also also a portfolio of her work on the site of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, where Morrison is a Senior Lecturer.

[Via Art Knowledge News]

Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley)

Sita Sings the Blues - Nina PaleySita Sings the Blues is an award winning independent feature length animation by Nina Paley.

The film combines an adaptation of the epic Indian story of Ramayana with a personal story from Paley herself. The film won the Best Feature award at the 32nd Annecy Animated Film Festival (see my post on student films at Annecy 2008, and Cartoon Brew on Annecy 2008), and has been receiving rave word of mouth around the net.

Sita Sings the Blues gets its TV debut tonight on WNET (Channel 13, New York), and may be on other PBS stations as well (though not here in Philadelphia).

After struggling with copyright issues which prohibited release of the film for a time, in which there was an unexpected claim to copyright on 1920’s jazz vocals by Annete Hanshaw, Paley has generously released the film through a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license; so for those of us who can’t catch it on TV or in a theater, it is available in its entirety online.

You can view it on the WNET site, or on the Internet Archive, where you can also download it in a variety of formats and sizes ( and where I watched it and will eventually download a high resolution copy), or through other mirrors or BitTorrent Downloads (see the SitaSites page on the Sita Sings the Blues site).

If you like it, and want to show your support, you can donate to the artist in the kind of voluntary purchase that the internet makes possible.

The film, which Paley made primarily in Flash, with help for a specialized fight scene from Jake Friedman, is a triumph of imagination and writing over fancy technology.

It is a visual delight, with a variety of animation and drawing approaches, from direct sketchy drawing to vector patterns to shadow puppets to scanned and composited photographs, like a combination of Yellow Submarine, Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python “cartoons” and the kind of wiggly line sketchiness (“Squigglevision”) often associated with hand drawn independent animated films.

Sita Sings the Blues is awash with colors, both visual and emotional, and bursting with clever ideas and entertaining notions about how to present various subjects, but always in the service of the story, not for the gratuitous display of technique.

Unlike so many of the formulaic, manufactured CGI films that the big studios crank out to meet their accounting schedules, Paley actually has a story to tell, two of them in fact.

Watchmen as a Saturday Morning Cartoon

Watchmen as a Saturday Morning Cartoon - Harry Partridge
Anyone who is familiar with Watchmen, the darkly dystopian and very adult graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, or the much anticipated feature film adaptation that is being released today; and/or those familiar with 1980’s style Saturday morning superhero cartoons; will get a kick out of this perfect and spot on send-up by Harry Partridge.

He’s got it all down perfect, Ozymandias and his mutant pet recast as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, the light and happy take on Rorschach (“I’m nutty!”), the Josie and the Pussycats girl band version of Silk Spectre, and the gang sitting around eating pizza, encouraging you to say no to drugs and be in bed by 10; plus lots of “in” jokes for those familiar with the graphic novel… absolutely hilarious.

The funniest thing is that you know for certain that it could have happened. The people who made these cartoons were so monumentally clueless about their formulas that they would have cheerfully taken on the material and “cleaned it up” for the little Saturday morning cereal consumers.

Who watches the Watchmen, indeed.

[Via Geekdad/Wired]

Jean-Baptiste Monge

Jean-Baptiste Monge
Jean-Baptiste Monge is a French fantasy illustrator with a specialty in portraying the world of faeries, elves, goblins and related faerie folk.

Monge’s detailed, beautifully rendered paintings have a textural quality and subdued color palette ideally suited to his portrayal of the denizens of the unseen world at our feet and the edges of our vision, living lives in miniature on the floor of the forest.

His images are mercifully free of the cloying cuteness sometimes associated with the subject in the hands of lesser artists, and carry a wonderful feeling of 19th century Victorian art and Golden Age illustration.

Monge is well known in France, where his books are quite popular, with titles like Halloween, Baltimore & Redingote, and In Search of Faeries, Volumes I and II (my loose translation of the titles may not be accurate), and the new Celtic Faerie. Monge also contributed heavily to The World of Dragons and has published a sketchbook (Carnet de Croquis).

Unfortunately for those of us on the other side of the Atlantic, there are no English language editions of his work yet, though you might be able to find a couple of French editions through Amazon’s extended suppliers, such as: A la recherche de féerie, volume 1: La Révélation and Baltimore & Redingote; or through importers like Stuart Ng Books.

Fortunately, however, Monge has a web site with a considerable selection of his work. Non-French speakers will be less put off by any language barrier than by a few navigation quirks. First you need to be aware that the primary navigation on the home page is hidden in a pop-out menu accessed from the little pot-O-gold at the top right of the page.

Journal de Board is the link to Monge’s Blog, Bibliographie & Galeries is where you will find a list of his books. Clicking on their covers gives you access to galleries of art from each title.

There is also a useful list of links (Liens). Interestingly, many of Monge’s links are to American fantasy artists, like James Gurney, Tony Diterlizzi and Peter de Séve (see my posts on James Gurney, Tony Diterlizzi and Peter de Séve). There is also a link to the work of Brian Froud, an artist more English speakers are likely to associate with faerie images, though I have to profess a preference for Monge’s take on the subject.

English speakers can also try a Google Translate version of Monge’s site.

Monge recently received the Spectrum Silver Award (video) for Book Illustration. (Via Tor.com)