Monday, August 1, 2011

A Guide to The Hobbit

This August I will be exhibiting at Fanexpo Canada for my second year in a row. The four day event promises another weekend of monumental attractions, celebrities, comic creators, artists and as always, a bustling crowd. To the delight of fans anticipating the two-part release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, I have chosen to dedicate my efforts into illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s much beloved novel as a small introductory book. Filled with a compendium of facts from Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythopoeia, fans of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy films and books can learn about Bilbo Baggins’ There and Back Again journey and its major players through pictures and accompanying text. The illustrations will profile each group of dwarves as represented in different scenes from the novel.

Thankfully I am able to design Tolkien’s characters with little to no influence from the film, with the exception of what few images exist from pre-production concept art. Jackson’s dwarves deviate from our pre-conceived notion about the appearance of these underground dwellers and are instead keenly tailored to their personalities as well as culture. There were some reservations, however, about how far the director was willing to tamper with the classic visual characteristics of dwarves and their racial values. Thorin Oakenshield and Kili, for instance, fail to meet the Longbeard standard with their ostensible grooming and lack of facial hair. To be fair, after the handsomeness brought onscreen by Aragorn and Legolas from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he had to appease the female demographic watching for hunks ;).

My dwarves resemble more of the Iron Age Scandinavians I envisioned with my first reading of The Hobbit. In addition to referencing clothing and armour from concept art produced by The Lord of the Rings Trilogy art department, I consulted museum imagery of preserved Iron Age bodies recovered from bogs in Sweden. With their pointed caps and shoes, the bog people embody the true essence of the dwarves Tolkien would have scribed about from Norse mythology.

Sketch for Thorin Oakenshield:

“We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices. We shall soon before the break of day start on our long journey, a journey from which some of us, or perhaps all of us (except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may never return” 
An Unexpected Party; pg. 17

Sketch for Ori, Nori and Dori:

“There was a howl of anger and surprise from the goblins. Loud cried the Lord of the Eagles, to whom Gandalf had now spoken…Other birds flew to the tree-tops and seized the dwarves, who were scrambling up now as far as they ever dared to go” 
Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire; pgs. 100-101

The Space Between Opening Reception July 21

As soon as the activity and splendour of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition subsided, I realized that I had approximately two weeks to prepare my final pieces for The Space Between collaborative exhibition. The race to opening reception taught me more than a few lessons in effective time management. In summary, I am working an entire painting simultaneously rather than allotting my time to marginal, precious details. An obvious suggestion that has only taken hold of my stubborn ways recently.

Thursday, July 21st marked the opening reception of The Space Between at Gallery 1313 on Queen Street West. Rachel Idzerda, Kailey Lang, Celia Krampien and I’s work welcomed an overwhelming crowd of attendees. It was a successful night and I must extend my heartfelt thanks to all the students, faculty, friends, family, Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition goers and passer-bys that came to opening night or visited the show during its 10 day duration. As for my fellow exhibitors, you guys are gold. Working with you was such a joy, thank you for bringing your talents to this experience.

Photographs of pieces exclusive to the gallery show. I will post scanned versions soon!  

In-studio process work for previous postings Prince Lindworm and Oedipus Rex. Notably listening to theYoutube audiobook for The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in both :)

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition July 8-10

I was more than honoured to have had the opportunity of displaying my work as a student exhibitor at the 50th Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition this year. Up until that point the show garnered a considerable reputation among my art teachers and peers in the visual arts field, but I had only ever attended once. The weekend of July 8-10 was ushered in with a great deal of stress, but to much avail. Never had I seen art glorified on such a scale. I spoke with a variety of people from the arts background, gallery owners, authors and collectors, many of whom took enthusiastic interest in my subject matter and endeavoured to help me find new folk tales to illustrate. Unbeknownst to me, more than a few of the tales I painted represented an important era in the lives of those who witnessed them at the show. Show-goers from areas of Eastern Europe especially noted that the stories of their nation’s childhood have long been buried in the graveyard of oral storytelling, but they were once used as subliminal weapons of freedom. More than once a person would thank me for delighting modern eyes and ears with them. Two people signed my guestbook with the comments, “Glory to Slavic Ariyen Culture!“ and “Thank you for bringing them to life again”. This experience reaffirmed what the brilliant Joe Morse noted in one of his lectures, that you never know where stories are going to travel or how and who they will affect. Maybe children’s literature will be my destined path. I want to thank everyone who attended and took the time to visit and assist at my booth area. Your support and thoughtfulness are much appreciated.

I’d like to give a shout-out to a few outstanding student artists I met while at the exhibition. Both are incredibly admirable and talented individuals. Annyen Lam debuted her intricate paper creations at TOAE this year, and I cannot begin to express how meticulous her cut-outs of cultural architecture are. A single artwork would consume nearly a box of exacto blades.

Adrienne Dagg won the student category for Painting at the 50th Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Her understanding of the human body’s form and colour is impeccable.

The weather was excessively hooottt!! Thank you to all you caring benefactors who brought me cold beverages (and my cherished coffee) during the weekend.

Kim and Lindsay dropping pennies into City Hall's interactive wall sculpture :)

On the third day, we experienced our first bout of rain after pure sunshine.