Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Sheridan Year Wraps Up!

Here's a few pics from this year's 2nd Year of the BAA Animation course at Sheridan College. As the year was winding down to its conclusion last week, the students started to smile with joy once more as the shackles and chains were removed from their ankles and a window or two were cracked open to let in a whiff of fresh Oakville air:
Here's Vanessa and "Shoeless" Johnny from Class 'A' enjoying the way I've made fun of their faces.

Agnes, Nicole and Jen seal their pact to be Best Friends Forever with a caricature from me of all three on one page. You girls better stay friends now, because I'm not drawing you again separately, y'hear!

Here Class 'E' would seem to be a very sensible group of earnest young animation students...

... before showing their true colours as the wackiest class of all!

Earlier this evening I uploaded a bunch of the caricatures I've drawn of my students this year which can be seen in this Facebook Album. (I hope everyone can access that album - I'm not sure how these Facebook things work!)

For all of you crazy 2nd Year students reading this blog, thanks for a fun and lively year. I've enjoyed my classes with you and seeing all the talent on display in your assignments. Mind you, the endless hours spent grading them I didn't enjoy so much....

Anyway, I hope you all have a great summer and a well earned rest. See you next September, 'ya rascals! :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

"The Man in the White Suit"

I watched the 1951 film, "The Man in the White Suit" the other day. It had been many years since I'd last seen it and it was a real pleasure to view it again. It was one of the handful of comedies that Alec Guinness starred in at Ealing Studios in England, and is part of a boxed set of DVDs currently available. In this film, Alec Guinness plays the mild-mannered chemistry genius, Sidney Stratton, who invents a fabric that is impervious to dirt, water, tearing, or wearing out with time. Unfortunately, this puts him in bad standing with both the garment industry and the labour union, who count on clothes needing to be regularly replaced in order to maintain their jobs!

Alec Guinness really was a chameleon as an actor, being able to play so many diverse characters, usually looking so different in each role. Almost unrecognizable as Fagin in David Lean's "Oliver Twist", rather hideous as a bank robber in "The Ladykillers", and playing multiple characters in "Kind Hearts and Coronets". Then of course, later in his career he played an Arab sheik, Prince Feisal in "Lawrence of Arabia". My favourite role of his though, is as Colonal Nicholson in "The Bridge on the River Kwai", particularly in that wonderful scene where he completely turns the tables around on his Japanese captor, convincing him that he will only be able to build his bridge by utilizing British know-how, and that he himself will assume command of the project.

It's unfortunate that many filmgoers today may only know of Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars". As far as I'm concerned, that role is only a small footnote in such a long and illustrious career.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Birthday James Garner!

Here's a guy I never get tired of sketching, and I've done quite a few of him over the years. As I've mentioned before, James Garner is my all-time favourite actor. Last year on his 80th birthday I wrote a more detailed tribute to the man, which can be found here. When I'm looking to just relax in front of the TV and put on an old series from my youth, nothing beats watching an episode of "The Rockford Files". Garner was just so great as Jim Rockford, the LA private detective who lived in a beat up mobile home permanently parked on the beach, never quite sure whether he'd get enough work to cover that month's expenses.

I did this sketch a couple days ago while watching a "Rockford Files" episode, though I had hoped to ink it and colour it up like what I'd done last year. Instead, I opted to leave it as a pencil sketch and just fool around with some Photoshop textures and brushes to approximate the look of a pastel drawing. It's not entirely successful, but I need to practice with those tools some more before I know what I'm doing!

I remember hearing sometime last year that Jim Garner had suffered a stroke that required some surgery to correct, but that he seemed to be recovering. I sure hope he's doing better now and I would love to see him back on screen again someday soon. By the way, in honour of his birthday, Turner Classic Movies is running a bunch of his films today including "The Americanization of Emily", Jim's personal favourite of his films. Though generally light in tone, it has a very serious underlying message about the insanity of war - a sentiment that the liberal-minded Jim Garner shares. I've already got that film in my DVD library, but I'll be setting my recorder for "36 Hours", which I have never seen before.

So, Happy Birthday Jim! I hope you're doing well!

Here's a speech from "The Americanization of Emily" that's very dear to Jim Garner's heart. Please celebrate the man by watching it:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Party Caricatures!

Since last summer, I've been getting more and more into doing "Party Caricatures" again. I used to do these types of events regularly years ago, prior to when I moved down to work for Disney in Florida. I'm real happy to be doing them again, as I enjoy the spontaneity of working from life, as well as being essentially a "performer" with paper and marker. Some caricaturists start out right away with the marker, but I must admit that I need to lightly rough it out with pencil first before finalizing the sketch in a black, flexible tip Markette. That's the only way I feel I can maintain control over the likeness.

Since last summer I've been working through a very good agency called CaricatureCan, based in Ottawa and created and managed by a great guy by the name of Pablo, who's a very talented caricaturist himself. The subjects with their caricatures pictured here are all from an event I did this past Wednesday at a private party in downtown Toronto put on by the TD Bank. There were actually four of us working the event and we had a terrific time with it.

For the record, I am available to work at corporate events, trade shows, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. in the greater Toronto area, including points west like Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville and Burlington. If interested in booking me, please get in touch with Pablo at CaricatureCan to inquire about availability and rates.