Ava Thursday: Self Portrait

Ava Thursday: Self Portrait
This has got to be one of my favorites. Ava drew herself in class earlier this year. She's very proud of it. In fact, I decided to ask her this week what she wanted for me to put up on Ava Thursday, and this is what she chose.

Not only is she proud of it, but I am too. I mean, how could I not, you know? I love how she drew everything as it should be: brown eyes, brown hair with bangs, cute smile with pink lips, red shirt, sweet little nose. I asked her if they used mirrors in class and she said no. She then proceeded to tell me all about her classmates' self portraits and how Jack made his eyebrows like this, and how Nate drew his eyes like that—all the while showing me, hands gesturing wildly. This was done several months ago and I'm amazed by how much she remembers little details of the other kids' drawings. Ava pays attention to such details. More so than me at her age, that's for sure.

And speaking of which, I'm amazed by her talent on a daily basis. She's grown so much as an artist in leaps and bounds, it's mind-boggling to me. And she's always drawing, too. Oh sure, Ava will take the occasional break and play with baby dolls or Polly Pockets, but it doesn't last long. She'll get right back on a drawing jag and suddenly Andrea and I will find ourselves with piles of crayon drawings and marker drawings and pencil drawings in our laps for us to go through and look at.

When I look at this picture, I see a child who is headstrong and happy and full of life. I see a girl who's wide-eyed and taking it all in. I see my girl growing up. I see the future.


I'm koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs!

I'm Koo-Koo for Cocoa Puffs

Finally I can let the cat out of the bag: I directed the most recent installment of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird and his ongoing quest to refrain from his beloved Cocoa Puffs. Titled, "Elevator," it features Sonny trying to keep from going koo-koo by riding in an elevator all day. I know, brilliant, right? Well, little does he know that anthropomorphic words are lurking by on each floor: Munchy, Crunchy and More Chocolately. As they crowd him in the confined space of the elevator, he completely looses it and finally grabs a bowl of the good stuff by the end. Whew!

I plan on talking more in-depth about the making of this spot, but things are a bit hairy here at work—I know, when are they not, right? Anyway, I am currently working on the third post for the Animania Big Wide Action Show Open (previous posts here and here), and once I finish with that, expect some behind the scenes on the Cocoa Puffs spot. Well, once I get everything cleared first (can't just start posting things without checking). Also, hopefully we'll have a nice quality Quicktime of it available to download soon. I'll let you know first thing.

So look for Sonny's latest freak-out on all your favorite cereal-promoting networks like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney, etc.



Sawyer sketch
Yeah, I'm a big fan of the show. Whuddya gonna do about it? Andrea and I are excited about the Big Finale tonight—I'm working on getting Ava to bed earlier than usual. No way am I going to miss a minute of it, that's for sure.

I did this sketch of Sawyer earlier this year. He was just too easy for me—all you have to do is draw the SCOWL.

For more LOST fan action, be sure to visit The Fuselage, the official forum for the show. Watch it, though—if you get out of line, my sister will boot you off. She's one of the Moderators. I'm not kidding. She also heads up The Evil Puppet Masters, a blog devoted to anything associated with Bad Robot productions, the guys who produce the show.

Tons of links related to LOST at Lost Links.

Oceanic Air seems to be having problems, due to the loss of Flight 815.

Funny things are afoot at The Hanso Foundation. Be sure to leave a message for Joop.

Some people have FAR too much time on their hands: The Lost Numbers Blog.

And finally, are you kidding me? There's a website for Drive Shaft, Charlie's band. Ooookay.

Gotta run. I've got to try and decipher Locke's map on the blast door before tonight. Namaste.


Tabulated Fear of the Common Man

I went driving around the other day and took some shots of things that tickled my fantasy. You already saw one of those shots, so here are a couple more:

Some subconscious action going on this garage door in East Atlanta.

Methinks they ran out of space to paint the '-ice' part, as in, 'service.'

And in the same vein:

Looks like they had a break-in, or something, but never bothered to repaint the sign on the window. Kirkwood, Atlanta.

I found some interesting things in Decatur, most of which was the rotunda for the high school:

Some nice, mid-century modern architecture that strangely reminds me of the Legion of Doom.

The title of this post is taken from the title of one of my CD mixes. If you're curious, you can email me your address and I'll send you a copy for free. I love music swaps — I'm open to just about anything. Sometimes it's good to be stretched and pulled from your usual comfort zone when it comes to music and tastes. If you have a cool mix that you think is the shizz, then by all means email me! Let's do a swap.

Some linkage:

My favorite new(ish) animation blog is Michael Sporn's Splog. Sporn is the director of Michael Sporn Animation, Inc. in New York, and has been animating professionally since 1972, working with such animation greats as John & Faith Hubley and Richard Williams. A very prolific blogger, Sporn's posts vary in subject matter—most of which focus on amazingly talented artists, animators, etc. who have inspired Sporn throughout his career, from yesterday to today. It's a fascinating blog and one I highly recommend.

My buddy Justin Winslow, who used to work with me at Primal (see previous post), now has a blog, called Cartoon Curio. He's been posting some great work, vector and non-vector. Dig it.

Another Primate has started a blog, this one more on the tech side of things: Creative Workflow Hacks. Started up by Dale Bradshaw, Primal Screen's Technology Director, Creative Workflow Hacks provides tips, tricks and the like to make your creative workflow a lot less glitchy.

If you live in Atlanta and want to be a part of the animation community, please sign up to be a member of ASIFA-Atlanta. The website's content is dated, but not the contact info. (We are in the process of getting new content up soon.) This year, we are going to be a part of Atlanta Film Festival's Animation Extravaganza on June 15th. It'll be a great evening filled with the best animation around. I had the great honor of helping out in the selection process (along with other members of the ASIFA-Atlanta community) and I have to say that the good folks at Image (the non-profit organization who puts together the AFF) did a fine job of putting together a stunning screening. Buy your tickets now! Oh, and I'll post a more in-depth post about this special evening soon, including a list of what will be screened.

Okay now, don't forget to send me some music!


Ava Thursday: Cool Sneak-Peek Card

Sorry this is a day late, but better than never, right? Ava drew this for one of her teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. The "sneak-peek" part is that there is a secret drawing behind the (real) feather, which is glued on the front there. I think it's a drawing of a heart, or something. I didn't have the chance to make a note of what it was because we were in a hurry to get out the door for school that morning.

There are two teachers in her class, with a third who acts as a helper, mostly for one of the students in the class who is disabled. This card was for that one. When I have the chance, I'll post the rest of the card. It's very sweet.

Things are good. Life is grand. It's the weekend, y'all! Go find a photobooth and take some pics! Scan them in and be sure to tell the wife. She's got a good thing going with Photobooth Friday each week, and she'll post a link to your photo.

Have a great one, guys!



Things that got me through the week last week:

Ezra's recent fascination with wearing a kiddie pirate hat and one biking glove on his hand.
Ava's cards she made for Andrea for Mother's Day.
Painting cards for Andrea and my mom.
An email from my mom.
Knowing that are people out there who have my back.
Poignant words from my man Dan yesterday.

Thank you.

And here's to all the mothers out there, wishing you the best (belated) Mother's Day. Your love, devotion, dedication, and time involved with raising children do not go unnoticed.

Happy Mother's Day.


Some sketches for ya

Got around to scanning some sketches from my Moleskine recently. Here, take a look:

My favorite sketching subject: my wife.

Those odd drawings over on the right are stoplights and a streetlamp or two. I like to draw them while I wait for them to turn green. Passes the time much quicker.

I love drawing Ava and Ezra, especially if they want to draw too. Ezra: "Uunh DAW!"

Some odd characters at the bottom there, and oh, yeah—me drawing.

Just trying something new here.

Welp, there ya go. Hope you enjoy. I'll try and post some more work soon.


Salad Fun

I want to share with you all some great illustrations from this Kroger Salads booklet from 1957:

Man, that's some serious mascara going on there. I like the way the little girl is depicted. Very cute design. And gotta love that lettering. Very suave and sophisticated.

In a comment from one of these Flickr images, theappraiserlady quotes architect Charles Moore: "A good case can be made on evidence collected from all over that the future came and went in about 1957."

If you like more of this type of stuff, check out Vintage Cookbooks.


The Painful Saga of ProPain

Well, it is FINALLY here. After almost 2 years of delays, constant waiting, hardships, false starts, frustration and turmoil, Mars ILL's third album (and arguably their best), ProPain, was finally released to the public last Tuesday, May 2nd. Never has an album been titled so appropriately. Man, I cannot tell you what a mental roller coaster ride it has been for all of us who have a close connection to this album. Originally meant for release back in October of 2004, ProPain hit its first snag when EMI decided (on a fluke) to put this little underground hip-hop album under their all-powerful magnifying glass. What they saw did not sit well with the lawyers (sample issues) and thus, the album was yanked from the shelves. Well, I should say it was yanked two weeks before it was even on the shelves. A couple thousand copies had already been sent to various media outlets and record stores, which, in turn had the album showing up on eBay weeks later. A new release date was set, but again — the album was delayed around two weeks before it was to hit the stores. After about two more false starts, Gotee Records finally set the date for May 2, 2006. Finally!

But why am I talking about all this here? Well, I think you might know who did the artwork for the cover:

Click on image to view larger.

Yup, I did all the artwork that you see on the CD packaging. In fact, I've had the great privilege of doing artwork, photography and graphics for Mars ILL since their genesis in 2000. Mars ILL consists of one DJ and one MC, Dust and manCHILD. Dust is my brother-in-law, Andrea's younger brother, Nate (so you see the connection there). Nate is a true artist in all sense of the word — not only is he an artist on the wheels of steel, but he's also well versed in the visual arts world. He's good when it comes to coming up with a concept for something and knowing if it will work or not. He knows his audience and he knows that they don't want to see the typical rap garbage that others are so prone to doing. I've worked with Nate on three albums so far (along with the occasional print ad or photo shoot here and there) and we have never done the same thing twice. When we work together, Nate acts as art director and I do all the footwork. He'll come up with the initial concept and I simply act as the vessel to produce the final product. Out of all my years in working in the visual arts, never have I had a more comfortable working relationship than with Nate Corrona. He's open to any fresh ideas that I may present to him and is very willing to listen to any thoughts or concerns that I feel might need to be addressed. It's very refreshing to experience a working partnership like this. And boy, do I know what a rare thing that is.

Regarding the cover and concept for ProPain: once the album title was established (thanks to a Mars ILL fan), Nate came to me and said that he had this idea of using an image of one of those car test crashes and he had some images that he found for reference. There were several shots that we liked that had just the right amount of glass and metal shards coming off the vehicle, but we didn't want to use one in particular for fear of copyright infringement (irony notwithstanding). So I cobbled together this grand image of a car hitting a barrier with bits and pieces from various different car test crashes. I dubbed this final image the "Frankencrash." I then took the Frankencrash into Painter and drew over it with an altered brush that made it look like it was graphite pencil on paper. The sad thing is, I really got into drawing all the details, so much so that I probably could've spent several more days on it. Boy, am I a geek.

Next, I painted the background with real paint (gouache, of course) and scanned it in and tweaked it to make it fit with the Frankencrash image. Nate was cool with using real paint — he had seen some of my other painted pieces and wanted that painterly look throughout the entire album. My initial response to him was: "Are you sure?" Pencil drawings over somewhat abstract gouache paintings does not speak "hip-hop" to me. But hey — this was Nate's gig and I wasn't gonna question his authority on this. Needless to say, I was very honored that he wanted to use my paintings for the project.

The rest of the album's artwork was going to be inside the CD booklet, a folded four-panel deal that would be basically eight, if you count front and back. We had done this before for the group's previous effort, "Backbreakanomics," with most of the panels filled with liner notes and track info for the obsessive fan to read over and over.

Continuing with the concept of using real paint, I thought it would be kinda cool if each panel of the booklet would basically be its own separate piece of artwork, as if you were standing in an art gallery, casually looking at paintings on the walls. So I painted five other pieces that would fit within each 4.75 x 4.75 inch panel, with two of the pieces being two panels wide each. One of these images was a manCHILD/Dust portrait, shown below:

Again, click to view larger.
Here, I took a photo that local photographer, Zack Arias, had shot and put together himself and I then superimposed it over my painted background.

The rest of the "gallery" is just abstract watercolor-ish paintings that serve as backgrounds for all the wordage to go over. However, we had enough space to do another 2-panel collage, using photos by Zack superimposed with another drawing of a car crash. I was very happy with the way this piece ended up, and so Nate used it for one of their promotional posters. You can see the poster below. Be sure to click on it to view it larger:

ProPain was a major undertaking for me. (My "ProPain" file took up over 4 GB of memory in my Powerbook.) Even though it was a load of work to do, I was surprised at how well everything came together. And pretty quick, too. I guess after working with Nate for six years (and knowing him for 11 more), we're to a point in our working relationship where we both know what to expect from each other and can get the job done a lot sooner. At least that aspect of ProPain was relatively painless.

And now, I suggest you go buy a copy of ProPain so you can own a little bit of Ward Art (and Dust Music) for yourself. To read more about the story behind the delayed release of the album, be sure to read Lulu's take on the whole deal. She should know just a little more than me about it — she's Dust's wife.


Ava Thursday: Il nvr lev you

Found this on the back of this letter Ava wrote after school one day. Thought it seemed appropriate, since I've been absent recently.

"I'll never leave you," it says. Not sure in what context she wrote this — I'm thinking that it was for some story that she was conjuring up in her head, or something.

I just liked it and wanted to show it to you all today. And it's true: I'll never leave you. I'll be back soon. Promise!