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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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.

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.

Seraphim Falls (2006)


Seraphim FallsI vaguely remember this film a few years back, paying little attention, my interest in the Western wasn’t yet sparked then. However now things are very different, much like this oddity of a film that pits two ex-soldiers against each other across open country. One an ex Confederate colonel Carver (Liam Neeson) and a Union captain Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) the hunted man who we believe is entering his final hours after a shot in the arm sends him running for cover in the snowy mountains. Straight away Seraphim Falls (2006) means business, we find out much later what drives Carver to such lengths to see this dangerous loner be hunted down like an animal in a hunting party.

Usually it’s the union solider tracking down the confederate who has wronged him, yet in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) the tables are turned the other way, justice of a personal nature is being dealt out, and here is no different as we seem to move through the seasons from, Winter, spring to Summer and Autumn. The journey itself is mostly back and forth between the two men as they Carver get’s so close with a drive that more befits that of a man wronged by a Native American depicted as a savage, which is more like that of Gideon in whitens clothes, the way he handles a knife with such skill and cruelty, he has learnt these skills somewhere in his past that is never really raised. A man who wouldn’t think twice from stealing from a corpse he had just left, survival is his main priority. Whilst revenge is that is Carver who is hell-bent on justice, holding his four men to account, reminding them about being paid on the collection of Gideon, shooting him to wound, not kill. Every time one of them wants to leave they are remind of the property that they ride on.

With all the casting which was questionable with two non-americans putting on accents, which they did their best at, until Neeson was faced with an Irishman, which makes you think…why didn’t he play it with his own accent? Whilst Brosnan get’s away with it more, having a gravely voice hardly saying a few words through out. For me however it was the weird casting of Anjelica Huston who literally appears out of nowhere as Madame Louise a travelling saleswoman who is found on the salt-flats, who even’s the playing field, acting almost as the wise Native who knows what is about to happen, so steps into speed things up, get it over and done with. Otherwise it’s just odd casting, then again she is perfect in the Wes Anderson world. I wouldn’t say it was inspired, feeling more uncomfortable in the west. The finale is well deflated no-body really wins, even after the big reveal of the motives behind the chase. It’s like my time has been wasted when there was so much to do.

Unless this was a revisionist western and I didn’t see it, a hunt between white American soldiers, after the civil war, altering their characteristics only slightly to play on the good-old white vs. native cliché which has been done numerous times. Or maybe they just missed a few tricks? I’m not sure, maybe a re-watch is in order already?

 

 

 

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