PaintBlog 2008-A: Chapter Three

Well, last week we saw the insidious Riddler laying a deadly trap for Batman and Robin, and the Dynamic Duo were caught unawares!  Only seconds away from being crushed by the giant squid, Batman hatches a desperate plan….

Oh, sorry.  Actually, this is just another Paint Blog update.  Sorry if you were all up for reading about Batman.  Batman’s not here, man.

Lat time around, we ended up with an image that was in the last update.  The last update is almost directly below this one, so you can go down there to see if you like.  Are you back now?  Oh good.

So, now, we made the “hand” on the far right more elaborate, and we added legs to the thing in the upper left.

More elaboration, and another leg.

Legs on the other side of the upper left guy, and a leg on the other side of the center-top-right guy.   Also, some red marks at the bottom right.  Why?  I don’t know the reason for that.

We then gave the legs on the center-top-right guy some lighter highlights, because his legs were clashing with the legs on the upper-left guy.

The red blobby thing got another tentacle.

He also got another tentacle after that, and some areas of variety in terms of light and dark.

And after that, he really started to expand.

Including some (perhaps overly subtle) expansion on the right (the slightly darker area).

That got expanded, and highlights were added.

Suddenly, the crustacean’s elaborate right hand got even more elaborate.  And his far left hand got a bit of fringe.  The middle hand, too, got some spines and things.

Far right hand got even more, um, elaborater.   And some of the red material started climbing up the right side.

Leaving us, finally, with what lies beneath.

Well, so far so good, I think when I look at this, though I’m not exactly sure what it will end up becoming in the end.  Of course, I never am.

Most of the above, by the way, was done while an anime series called RahXephon was playing in the background.  I don’t think the two are related, but one never knows the subtle pressures that the senses place upon the working brain.

Thanks for stopping by.  Tune in next time for the next thrilling chapter.  Or not-so-thrilling.  You never can tell, can you?

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Cloverfield

So, as mentioned in the previous entry, I bought a ticket for Cloverfield a week or so ago (Fandango = cool).  And last night I sat in the theatre (which was nearly empty.  Sunday night showings = cool).   In accordance with what I’d heard about motion-sickness, I was at the far edge of the first third of the theatre, seating-wise.

The short version is, I liked it.

As I’ve said to many tedious degrees, I was worried about the quality of this film for one reason only–the release date.  What studio in its right mind releases a film in the middle of January?  Mid-January is dumping time, when those films that won’t win awards or set fire to the box office are released to wrestle over the tiny post-holiday scraps that folks still have in their wallets.  Maybe the success of this film–$41 million opening weekend–will change that; it would be nice to have an entire year to look forward to, rather than the obvious highs (Summer, pre-Christmas) that the studios typically target.

In a sense, I can see the “logic” of the studio’s thinking.  Here’s a film that’s very low-budget–around $30 million–with no stars and no big names behind the camera, other than co-producer J.J. Abrams.  They had little to lose, again by their logic, by releasing it when the competition would be somewhat sparse and uninspired.  What they didn’t count on, I think, was the incredibly clever marketing that really pushed the film into the public eye.  The advertising for the film seemed designed to intrigue, rather than mystify or annoy, and it avoided the “sure fire” gimmicky nature of, say, Snakes on a Plane.  I knew I wanted to see this film.

As for the film itself…

As everyone no doubt knows by now, the film borrows a page from The Blair Witch Project, in that all the footage seen comes from a singe camcorder wielded by the actual characters, rather than a separate director of photography.   This lends a huge amount of verisimilitude to the story, as well as a certain level of frustration at the lack of “professional” choice.   A number of times, I kept wishing the cameraman would focus on something he’d rapidly panned past (What was that?), rather than the faces of his friends or whatever random image he chose instead.  Still, this is his documentation of what’s happening to him and his friends so his choices were understandable.  Admittedly, like the Blair Witch “film students,” we simultaneously have to admire the willingness of our amateur cameraman to keep shooting, despite the chaos and death all around–long past the point, in other words, when you and I would have tossed the camera aside in order to concentrate on gettin’ our feets a movin’.  But I certainly wouldn’t have minded a little more footage of the monster.

But don’t worry; the monster gets enough screentime, and he’s entirely satisfying.  Because he’s almost always in motion, lurching between (and through) buildings, it’s hard to get a good grasp of exactly what he looks like, but there are a number of good shots of him.  And if you’ve seen the film, you know there’s one extremely good look at his face, from the worst possible vantage point of one of our heroes.

So, yes, I liked it, and I’m glad to see someone was able to wring another variant of the Blair Witch system.  It makes me think that there still are some creative minds in Hollywood who can see the possibilities inherent in an idea that, at first blush, seems unrepeatable.   More fool me for thinking it could not be so.  What’s nice is that there’s a lot less “idiot plot” than there was in Blair Witch; yes, there is an extremely questionable decision made, but the reasons given are valid.  No one acts like an idiot because the movie would be over otherwise.  (There are also some definite echoes of Blair Witch–I’m thinking particularly of a pair of shots toward the end.  You’ll recognize them.)

There are also, apparently, a number of little things that happen to the side of the image at important moments–not necessarily plot points, but things to think about.  I missed one of them (in the final shot) but caught a number of others.  What’s interesting is that these things are tossed in more as food for thought, as a way to keep the story open-ended, than as story elements, though they contribute as well.  It’s up to the viewer, then, to watch the camcorder footage and try to decide what to focus on, much as our heroes had to do.   This is definitely something I’ll want to watch again when it makes its way to home video, if for no other reason than to place all the puzzle pieces into a “narrative.” 

But even if you just want to watch a movie and not worry about puzzles and pieces, it’s still a pretty good film, and a very good addition to the “giant monster” genre.  One of the best of those, in fact, if for no other reason than “camp” is conspicuous by its absence.

Highly recommended.

Paint Blog 2008-A: Chapter Two

Since our last thrilling chapter, Diego found the hidden treasure map, but was betrayed by Warren, who (as it turns out) was working for Mister Redfield the entire time.  Meanwhile, Patricia discovered a hidden room in the attic, with a lock that the key from the kitchen just happened to fit! As she turns the lock, slow, shuffling noises come from inside…

Actually, none of that happened, sorry.  I hope you weren’t expecting to find out what happens to Diego now, let along Roger (who got left out of the update).  No, we just did some more work on a painting.  A step forward, a step back, then some more steps forward.

Just to try and do something with it, I took some red and white, and a bit of burnt sienna, and played over the canvas with more or less random marks.

We ended up with this.

I didn’t like it, so I grabbed more paint and covered it over, so we were (again more or less) back at square one.

Then, while semi-watching 42nd Street, I decided to try some more with white, burnt sienna, and raw umber.  I could still see some of the marks beneath the latest layer of paint, so I decided to play with them.  While doing so, I happened to turn the canvas to a horizontal position, and…I thought I liked it more that way.

The next series of images shows how the work that evening happened to end up on the canvas.  

I’m thinking this is more successful than the last version–at least, I can look at it and not think, That’s all wrong. 

So that’s where we stand, as of today.  I’ll probably do more on it this week (I have more Buzby Berkeley musicals to watch after all).  Probably not tonight, though.  Tonight I’m going to see Cloverfield.

Thanks for visiting, again, and see you soon.  Maybe next time we’ll find out what happens to Diego, eh?

Paint Blog 2008-A: Chapter One

Well, it’s a new year, so how about a new Paint Blog series?  To be honest, I’ve semi-lost track of how many we have in rotation now, though I believe it’s just Paint Blogs II and IV, along with Telephone Girl, who need to be finished up.   The problem with most of these is that the era of discovery is over, and we’re now in the era of refinement.  Well, refinement is kind of dull, because all you’re doing is detailing what’s already been placed before you.   (This, you may have noticed, is my main failing in creativity:  the big initial idea is great, getting it into presentable shape is less great.  In fact, it’s work, and I tend to put things like work off until they’re unavoidable.)

Anyway, where were we?  Oh yeah, a new Paint Blog.  Well, since this is 2008 and I really don’t want to hunt through old posts so I can find out what number to give this one, we’ll call it 2008-A.  This one started because I had some paint on my palette and I wanted to do something with it that didn’t involve details and tiny brushes.

So we started here, with raw sienna patterned on there.

Next, we used alizarin crimson, burnt umber, white and a bit of yellow (barely noticeable) and got a nice pattern.

Then, we spread this to the edges of the canvas.  

Next, you’ll see we pretty much got rid of anything interesting as we spread the pigment evenly over the canvas.  The paint in the previous image, interesting though it looked, was simply too thickly applied to work with easily.  So we smoothed it all out and made it duller. 

That’s okay, though, because usually the preliminary interesting stuff is the interesting stuff that doesn’t stay interesting.  Not all the time, mind you, but largely.  So:

Finally, we ended up with this.

Here’s a shot showing a more severe angle, to eliminate as much of the glare as possible.

Where will it end up?  I have no idea.  I suppose the two of us will find out together as this year begins to shape itself.  More later, as it happens, and thanks for visiting!

Secret Santa Part II

First off, Happy New Year and all that.  So far, five days in, 2008 has been okay. 

Here’s the second of two “Secret Santa” projects.  This one wasn’t secret so I’m not sure if it counts or not, but here it is anyway. 

I’m hoping to have more regular content as the year lurches into orbit.  See ya around, and thanks for stopping by.