Showing posts from April, 2010

DreamWorlds at Art Center College of Design

I haven't yet mentioned our show entitled "DreamWorlds" at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena Ca. It's a collection of concept and visual development artwork from all of DreamWorks Animation films and is displayed at Art Center's Williamson gallery until May 7 (open to the public). I'm pleased to have a handful of pieces in the show but it's all about the collaborative effort to figure out what these films should look like. I'm aware of no other place where you can see a collection of artwork like this and it's only up for another week. If you're local and interested in such things or are an animation student I encourage you to come out and have a look.

Photos by Brad Herman.


Watch the great Dean Cornwell collect the information he will need for a painting.

Cornwell has drawn thousands of hands in thousands of pictures, yet look how hard he still works to get the facts right:

The information in this drawing is different from the type of information that could be collected by a camera. Here is where Cornwell starts to select and digest certain facts to assimiliate them in his own personal style. Here is where he finds the contours of his future design. Here is where he establishes priorities.

Fritz Eichenberg once said, "what makes an artist create in his own particular style is an indefinable gift, almost a state of grace."

Maybe so, but I especially like preliminary sketches where you can see honest artists put that "state of grace" to practical use constructing a picture the way a carpenter might use tools to build a house. I love the candor and unpretentiousness of working drawings. Here is a nice selection by some extremely talented art…

How to Train Your Dragon


How to Train Your Dragon is showing real staying power in theaters, here are a few location design pieces. This is the interior of Dragon Island. I did them in photoshop, they're based on a look created by our Art Director extraordinaire, Pierre Olivier Vincent.


Last week we enjoyed the work of glitzy art superstar Jeff Koons, who employs a factory of artists to create his supersized art. Koons is famous not for his personal hand or eye, but for his "enigmatic otherness" which conceives wry social statements (which others then execute in the form of giant balloon animals).

This week, for a change of pace, we leave Koons and look instead at a talented artist.

This lovely drawing is by the illustrator William Oberhardt.

Oberhardt did not specialize in wry social statements. He did not write the specifications for teams of workers to produce huge ironic paintings. Instead, he specialized in taking a single piece of charcoal in his own hand and drawing portraits which combined sensitivity with boldness and vitality.

After my last post about Oberhardt, I was fortunate to be contacted by his family. Today's images are from their personal collection.

To get a sense for the strength of this drawing, take a closer look at some of the details:

Charcoal Portrait Show at LAAFA!


I currently have an 18 piece show up at LAAFA of my charcoal drawings, if you've ever been curious about what the originals look like, stop on by. It will be up through the end of May.
We're doing this show in conjunction with the portrait drawing workshop I have coming up on Saturday May 1st where I'll attempt to show and tell everything I know about charcoal drawing. More info in the sidebar to the upper right.

Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art
16926 Saticoy Street
Van Nuys, CA 91406


Has every bad thing that can possibly be said about the art of Jeff Koons been said already?

It is worth revisiting this question at regular intervals because you don't want to let an opportunity go by. You never know when someone might invent a new word for "stinks."

There are many reasons for disliking Koons' work. My personal favorite is that he pilfers images from honest, underpaid commercial artists, sprinkles them with an invisible layer of irony and resells them as "fine" art for huge sums.

Nevertheless, a person would need a pretty good excuse to expend fresh energy attacking Koons' work. By now most sensible people recognize that Koons' true talent lies only in his ability to mesmerize the tasteless rich. To revisit such well trod criticisms might cause one to be ejected from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses.

Well, here at the good ol' Illustration Art blog, we believe in accentuating the positive, so I have attempte…

Color keys from How to Train Your Dragon.

The story evolved away from the events depicted in these early color keys but the Dragon Island Caves were a great location to work in regardless. These were done in photoshop and art rage.
We had originally planned to show a step by step demo of the front page painting in my Watercolor Magazine article (see last weeks post). It was decided to show a greater variety of artwork instead, so I thought I'd share it with you here.



The surest way to breach the dividing line between gods and mortals is with girls gathering flowers by a stream.

Vassar college girls practicing their Greek dances, circa 1923

When mighty Zeus spied the beautiful Europa picking flowers by a river, he fell crazy in love and-- adopting the shape of a white bull-- carried Europa off across the waters to Crete (causing pandemonium amongst both mortals and gods).


Zeus and Europa had three legendary children and gave rise to a continent named Europe, a moon of Jupiter named Europa, and a constellation of stars named Taurus (the bull).

Who would have guessed that a girl gathering flowers in a meadow would transform the stars?

The story of Europa and the Bull is hardly unique. Roberto Calasso observed that gods have repeatedly been lured down from heaven by girls picking flowers:

How did it all begin? A group of girls were playing by the river gathering flowers. Again and again such scenes were to prove irresistible to the gods. Persephone wa…