Visual Artist

Hello there!

Welcome to my blog, where you will find all my work, works in progress, there's always something going on, an ever changing place where the you can stay up to date with my work, from the idea, to the trials and celebrations. Also you can found a wealth of film reviews that influence my work. Follow on Bloglovin

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In Cold Blood (1967)


In Cold Blood (1967)After catching both recent films about Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood I never thought there was a film made about the 1959 Kansas killing. Then again we do have Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). It was only right to see the adaptation of the book itself, made almost 50 years before both Capote and Infamous (both 2006) which focus on the writing of the book that would forever change Capote’s outlook. Never again would he write another novel, just poems after his traumatic experience. I don’t really want to spend this review comparing how both films dealt with the events, as here in In Cold Blood (1967) we don’t see Capote getting close to Dick (Scott Wilsonand Perry (Robert Blake) as he is able to write finally about the murders themselves once the two are caught. Able to complete this new form of non-fiction as it is described by the author. I couldn’t really help but draw on these two later films to inform me of the events ands how they should play out. I should have watched them in chronologically order originally to stop that happen.

With a preconceived idea of what I wanted to happen I was becoming frustrated when the actual act of the Clutter killings was seemingly cut out of the film, leaving it to the viewer’s imagination, something I didn’t expect from a late 1960’s film that were becoming more free of censorship. Not exactly like Bonnie and Clyde 1967) in terms of the volume of violence but to the same extent visually. Instead we have a focus on the two killers as they go on the run, after a failed robbery after a poor tip-off. It’s all about their drives and motives, the life of two convicts evading the law. With a clear focus on Perry as in the two later films

Of course there is no real indication of Perry’s homosexuality which we know of again the later films. Seen more as an unease around Dick at times which sees him lash out and eventually kill. There is however a more liberal use of language and sex which reflects the times more so than if this film was made a decade earlier, then making the events pure fiction and something in the dark recess of a writer’s mind. What is clear is the preference by Capote towards Perry however much is removed you still have a strong emphasis for Perry as someone who has been scarred by his childhood.

On the hunt for the two killers we have the local FBI in the form of John Forsythe as Alvin Dewey and Jensen (Paul Stewart) who most of the film investigating why this senseless killing happened, working from a few clues in the form of bloody footprints. They are the rest of America, who wants to see justice, which comes across cliche today as the film progresses. For me this is the side of the events I knew little about, having only see Capote try his best to get information from the local police, charming his way into the little Kansas community who were at first hesitant to talk. There is none of his charm and humour here, just the cold hard facts and psychology of the outlaws as they hide from the law.

I will always hold this film up to the later to, it would be impossible not to now. Seeing the adaptation of the book does bring everything into perspective, even without reading it. Maybe this is how Capote wrote it? I don’t know. What we have a dark real-life story of a robbery that went wrong. A film that speaks about the power of justice and how far it should go. Are those who send criminals to death-row as bad as the killers, it’s a hard one to call. It still goes on today in some states of America, outlawed in the UK in the early 1970’s. It’s a form of justice that is part of the fabric of modern society that for some is something they can’t give up. However far forward we progress from an eye for an eye still resonates and means justice is done.

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Pericles in the West Update (29/8/14)


After the other days edited photo’s I went back into the next test with more hope, and more or less It turned out well, increasing the colour green, whilst maintaining the cardboard colour. There are still however problems which need to be ironed out, as I lost one of the figures in the last photograph.

This has lead me to adapt the green-screen studio to deflect some of the light that comes to the back. Adding an angled piece. Which I am hoping will solve the problem along with the edit before I go into the next test.

DSCF4281

Moving onto the Walter Mitty inspired models I have started to produce 2 3dimensional pieces, fleshing them out a bit whilst still remaining flat. Working on the general store and blacksmiths, which will take longer to construct as they have more sides. Whilst the first two are coming along nicely, adding a few extra details in places, such as finishing that I usually wouldn’t consider. I’m thinking more than ever that these are the way forward for the finished work whichever form it takes.

I’m looking forward to see how the next test turns out, as I get used to the software and the filter that allows this technique to be possible.

 

Pericles in the West Update (27/8/14)


I started today in reaction to the outcome of the green-screen test I completed last night, which is why I held back the video until now. The process does work, I just have to suck out all the bright light which has come through in the process. I hope todays images that have been edited will fix that. Which means all images will have to be edited before there are put together in the animation process. It’s just something I have to consider, as the green paper I have is slightly metallic, yet the only one I could find near enough green-screen. A small compromise.

Turning my attention to another model design in response to the wild west dream sequence in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) which I spoke about earlier this month. Now I’m in the studio I decided to see if the design could be replicated on a small-scale. And so far so good, having a cardboard frame, working out how to keep all the windows connected I have done ok so far. I’ll add more detail once the balsa is in place. I can see the difference that balsa is bringing to the work, it’s more authentic that just a cardboard box drawn on, which could be seen as too loose and minimal.

 

I’ll be ending the day by looking at todays green-screen test shots to see if the tinkering has paid off and not effected the work too much.

Pericles in the West Update (26/8/14)


There has been a massive change in what I am working with, wanting only a green-screen to work with, the rest of the model studio is now gone, it was another stepping stone really. I can do everything hopefully with my purpose-built studio for these scale models. Which was constructed from the model studio, before it was hacked away. Fixing green paper all over a 4 sided box which I can photograph anything of that scale.

I decided to try out those which have been drawn on, after making a plan of both Lewis, Missouri, and Scottsboro, Alabama. I now have hopefully much better stills to work with. If these turn out well I will be returning to draw storyboards to animate from. I’ll only know when I edit the videos later on. For now I am excited to have these images.

When I started to add the figures the set came alive for the first time. It’s one thing to have an empty model set, when it’s populated it comes alive properly. I am just starting to think about the possible scenarios, when the figures are fixed in such direct positions. It’s something to consider. Also the Walter Mitty design which I am eager to try out now.

I can’t wait to see the results of todays work, which hopefully will progress the work forward to eventual animation.

In Which We Serve (1942)


In Which We Serve (1942)Just recently I have had a growing appreciation for the work of David Lean which really began with The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) unwittingly. Taking on a more conscious form with Brief Encounter (1945) and Doctor Zhivago (1965), both very different films, both about couples making the best of the situation (coincidentally) yet it was a sensitive heart that was beating in both of them.

I’ve just had the chance to catch In Which We Serve (1942) Lean’s directorial debut, in the co-chair with Noel Coward who also stars as the captain of the HMS Torrin centre of this wartime film that sees a crew from different perspective, breaking down the barriers of rank that usually hold the crews together on film, that usually construct a hierarchy that stop crews from interacting on-screen. Here however they’re lives weave together both on and off land.

From Captain E. V. Kinross R.N. (Noel Coward) down to skippers like Shorty Blake (John Mills), this is one crew who are one big family. Taking the form of flashbacks after the demise of the small ship as them serving men make their way to a lifeboat, under constant attack from the sky, we drift back into the recent past of the mens lives. Seeing how they develop from first encounters with new loves, to keeping others still burning in the heat of a looming war which could tear them a part at a moments notice or none at all.

There are clear signs of what is to come from David Lean’s his later films, and the cast he would come to return to again and again, not just reliable but to great effect. Even though Noel Coward is left right and centre in this film, everyone has  decent screen time to develop their stories, having their moments of suffering and joy during the wartime. Also acting to uplift the wartime audience who get to see their screen heroes putting their lives on the line in one of many boats, built and lost along with the men who serve on them.

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Pericles in the West Update (25/8/14)


It’s been well over a month since I have even touched this work. Having a long stint at work and my show in Ilkeston with rEvive. My thoughts have not been far away, wanting to get back to work on the green screen test. A test that I have finally been able to try out. I started out going down the photographic route which turned out to be very unhelpful. Wanting to remove all the green from the image, which I thought may have to be done frame by frame, which I was prepared to do.

After some research I finally found a way going down the video route, which came in the form of a simple filter which removed all of the green from a few photos and a landscape shot from Bradgate Park. It’s not perfect I know, seeing areas faded or blurred around the edges. Yet I am happy at least to see that it is possible using this technique, low-fi as it maybe, it works.

The next stage will be to rethink the whole shooting set-up, as I will probably wanting to wipe out the ground as well. So I will be buying more green material and reworking the set-up, removing the model studio backlot to concentrate entirely on the animation. However there is apart of me that wants to complete it. Working on the other sets, which really are just  now another step towards what was ultimately an animation. Then once I have a working formula I can draw up some storyboards.

Gather at the River (2014) Part 2


A continuation of my Frontier Town work that explores the Western genre, focusing on the river-road.

Gather at the River (2014) Part 1


A continuation of my Frontier Town work that explores the Western genre, focusing on the river-road.

 

 

rEvive (2014)


A joint show with artist Neil Dixon, exhibited in the Cafe revive shop, in the Albion Centre, Ilkeston, Derbyshire (24/7-23/8/2014).

Cafe - rErive

Chaplin (1992)


Chaplin (1992)I began this film knowing that it should be good, coming from the direction of Richard Attenborougha love note to the early days of film, focusing on the UK’s first international stars of first vaudeville and very soon after screen during the silent era. Chaplin (1992) began some what with a clunky beginning for me, after a now dated beginning as we see the man himself played by Robert Downey Jr. taking off his make-up the bare all for the biopic. Which we find is told in fictional retrospect between the aged star and fictional biographer George Hayden (Anthony Hopkins) whose job it seems is to tease more out of the actor/director/comic who now is living in Switzerland with his fourth wife. Probably acting as a way in for a modern audience who have little idea of Chaplin’s private life which would form the basis for this film. I knew somewhat of his past but very little if I’m honest. I vaguely remember seeing his silent films as a kid early in the mornings, wondering more what happened to the sound than anything, yet somehow I remained engaged throughout. The first and only so far (shamefully) that I have seen is Modern Times (1936) during a history lesson.

Once I got over the clunky unsure beginning complete with star wipes etc which feel more at home in Star Wars I realised it was all part of the aesthetic of the early films, still finding their feet and defining their language that we have come to love today. What makes this film have real credibility is the involvement of Chaplin’s daughter Geraldine Chaplin playing her own grandmother, a mark of a strong actress who can recreate her own families history on-screen. It brings another layer of authenticity to the film, that relies mostly on a young Downey Jr. who from the trailer doesn’t do him any favours, mostly a cockney accent. What we have in the film is a decent attempt at the accent. He is a good fit for the role which I really can’t see being played by anyone else, he just embodies him completely, allowing us to follow Chaplin, not realising its Downey Jr. playing him.  

Chaplin delivers what you want in a film about one of the founders of Hollywood, from his first contract with Mack Sennett (Dan Aykroyd) the then king of comedy in film who signs him for a one year contract which allowed him to begin to really flex his creative muscles. It would be nothing without seeing both Douglas Fairbanks (Kevin Kline) and Mary Pickford (Maria Pitillo) who together formed United Artists with D.W. Griffith who we don’t see. Both of them are dead-ringers for the silent film stars, which is a credit to both wardrobe and make-up on the film. No detail is left out.

 With the addition of footage from Chaplin’s films, from the unknown to the later classics such as The Kid (1921) and The Great Dictator (1940) which add another layer of authenticity to the world of a bygone era of film. A chance once more to see his work, combined with his life story. His work even in this fragmented form made me laugh nearly a century later. A story that is anything but just the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Life beyond the cameras with his four wife, all far younger than him. His political views that cause him to be under surveillance by the F.B.I. that possibly leant towards communism, which were never proven. His early stance towards Nazi Germany which was not taken so seriously until the outbreak of WWII. A man ahead of his time in so many ways. 

I always comeback to the flashback format of the film, however much it was based on his own autobiography and biography I am still left feeling unsure. Always bugging me; the fictional biographer teasing out more information to be told for us, when it was already in both sources that were the basis of the film. Feeling unnatural and unnecessary really, just a layer that could be removed to leave his life story to play-out. It does however lead up to the 44th Academy Awards when he is honoured with an honorary Oscar. A moment of melancholy as his past life is now celebrated, whilst he has been living in exile. To be finally be forgiven, having been a victim of the McCarthy witch-hunt which ruined so many lives in Hollywood.

Chaplin however dated it appears today, still works thanks to clever casting, every aspect of this film is near-perfect for a biopic of a film-star of Chaplin’s status. It’s respectful of him, allowing his work to shin through, whilst at the same time not shying away from his private life which lead to his final years.

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