Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting Frosty

Another annual favorite that my 4-year-old watches constantly is the 1969 "Frosty the Snowman" by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. who did a bunch of my favorite classic holiday animations. From Wikipedia: "This special marked the first use of traditional cel animation (as opposed to stop-motion animation) for Rankin/Bass in a Christmas special. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card and Mad magazine artist, was hired to do the character and background drawings. The animation was produced by Mushi Production in Japan, with then-Mushi staffer Osamu Dezaki among the animation staff." Read more about the artist Paul Coker, Jr. here and here. Now that I have seen other images by Mr. Coker, Jr. I am sure the title font is his hand-drawn creation. Definitely a '60s style and the ink blobs and sketchy line work belong to his other work for sure. It just looks like it was outlined on the back of a napkin. I love it! Merry Christmas!

I typically hate animated gifs on web sites, but I couldn't resist. (below)

Frosty the Snowman Graphics provided by

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas fonts

Every year, one of my Christmas traditions is to watch old TV specials. I now have several on DVD so I don't have to rely exclusively on TV programming. One of the things I love about the classics is that the ones who produced them were real artists. I recently took a closer look at the opening title sequences of some of my favorites and was amazed at the precision, beauty and artistry of the hand-lettered fonts. Below are samples from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Notice it aired in 1964... or did it? Anything else important happen that year for historical context? The Beatles were getting huge, I know that. Look closer at the Roman Numerals. "1164" Did anything cool happen that year? haha! I'll post more screen grabs from other favorites. I hope you enjoy this little nugget of nostalgia!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Studies in Expression

My wife has been trying to get me to do "pretty" paintings for decorating. I also promised a painting for the newly remodeled room where our Bible study group meets at church. In researching decorative art that my wife thought was nice, I came across a painting style at Springfield's First Friday Artwalk in November that reminded me of some I'd seen in art history classes.

The "Abstract Expressionist" style was what I would look at and Mark Rothko is the painter who I found most fascinating with his color studies and heavy shapes. It looks easy- like "my kindergartner could do that" kind of thing, so I decided to try to reproduce one of his works.

Once I got into it, I realized there is a lot going on and I found myself frustrated that I could not get the colors or shapes just right. First of all, I was using acrylic paints which is good for all the other stuff I do, but for the kind of soft blends and indistinct edges oils would have been better.

I was trying to reinterpret his painting using his shapes and basic color scheme, but shift the emphasis. There are many ways to do this in color theory and I ended up trying all I could think of. A sharp edge, white, hue, complementary colors, shape, etc. I was amazed at how much I had to mix colors and how much I had to care to make it work. You can't use just any green on just any orangey-red background. There were even reasons for certain outlines and highlights. Amazing. It was like having a Color Theory test all in one painting. Enlightening!

One reason I was drawn to his painter was his philosophy that Rothko saw art as a tool of emotional and religious expression. Since I was going to hang this in a church, I thought it fitting. Plus, it is not too distracting. Hopefully somebody finds it inspirational.
Thanks Mark Rothko for your inspiration to me!