Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I've been trying to climb out of a little drawing rut I've been in lately and convinced myself to go to Sketch Night at the NY Society of Illustrators this evening. I was talking to a writer friend of mine afterwards and she commiserated with me on the need to shake things up a bit every now and then.  Drawing from the imagination is not the same as drawing from life and writing book reviews is not the same as writing a short story. But the critical thinking needed to write a book review can help inform a work of fiction, the same way drawing a real person can help you better depict one who is wholly invented.
I am not saying that one night of drawing the figure repaired things for me entirely, but it was refreshing to use a different part of the brain again-- the one that observes rather than the one that imagines. Both are so crucial in this line of work, but it is easy to forgo one for the other, leaving that neglected part of the brain to dry up a little. So here is a single drawing out of only three or four I did tonight that may or may not represent a light at the end of the tunnel.

PS: Sometimes the best models are the ones who aren't posing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Peter Clarke

 My pal, Peter Clarke, is not one of the most talkative guys you’ll ever meet. In fact, when I first met him in the earliest days of the very first Ice Age movie, I got the distinct impression that he would much rather be left alone to do his work than stand around jawing with the likes of me. Well, it soon became clear to me and to everyone else at Blue Sky Studios, that there was a lot going on beneath those still waters. And now, with a massive show in Los Angeles, we can all get to see how very deep those waters run.
   Clarke is what is known in the industry as a “world-builder”; the person a director goes to when he/she wants to finally see the universe in which their story will take place. This happens soon after a script has begun taking shape and will often inform where the story and the “look” of the entire production will eventually go. Clarke has an astonishingly intuitive grasp of perspective and can bend it to whatever suits his purpose. Whether depicting ancient undersea caverns or multi leveled futuristic societies, he makes the impossible utterly convincing. His style is very much his own with one foot planted firmly in the real world and the other in a gnarled, cubist bizarroland. Both his environments and the characters that dwell in them for that matter, are made of simultaneously twisting and chiseled forms that despite their seeming elasticity, are still somehow totally plausible. If you were to look at any frame of the first Ice Age movie without the characters, you would know exactly who designed that world. Imagine being given the assignment to create a fascinating and varied landscape comprised of only ice and sky. Peter embraced the limitations and made a barren landscape his playground with the result being one of the most unique I’ve seen in an animated film. 
  But that was only the tip of the iceberg (ahem) and this sprawling retrospective covering his work in feature films, video games and personal work, will take you to many other worlds, including forgotten civilizations and ones that have yet to be built.
Peter Clarke's show, Past, Pencil and Future, is the inaugural exhibit of Center Stage Gallery in Burbank, California and is a joint effort by CTN (Creative Talent Network), Stuart Ng Books and Wacom.
The show opens on June 6th and will run until June 30th.
For more info, go here.

The Two Petes, back in the Ice Age (circa 2000).
photo by Irka Seng