Monday, January 31, 2011

RIP John Barry

My friend Jim emailed me this morning informing me of the sad news that veteran film composer, John Barry had died at age 77. We're at a time now where many of my favourite personalities are leaving us - I was also very sad to hear of the passing of director, Blake Edwards a couple weeks ago. Both John Barry and Blake Edwards were highly representative of my favourite era of movies: the 1960's. Yes, I know many movie buffs won't share my opinion of the films of that era, but I personally love the STYLE of everything from the 60's - in movies, music and television. And both of these talented men helped to shape that style.

In the case of John Barry, he was one of a handful of film composers that I really admired from that era, the others being Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand, Maurice Jarre, and Ennio Morricone. All of these incredible composers wrote memorable and melodic film scores, often with title tunes that went on to become well loved standards. Barry was of course best known for creating the exciting scores from the James Bond films of the 60's through 80's. He won Academy Awards for both the title song and score to Born Free, about the orphaned lion cub, Elsa. I even have the soundtrack record album for Disney's The Black Hole, a somewhat disappointing film somehow made more interesting through John Barry's imposing and exciting score.

Anyway, I figure the best way to celebrate this legendary film composer is to listen to his music. Here then is the maestro himself conducting his score from Goldfinger, followed by another YouTube clip featuring the wonderful Shirley Bassey reprising her rendition of the title song in concert. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

James Cromwell

The subject of this week's challenge at Caricaturama Showdown 3000 is James Cromwell, the veteran character actor. Oddly enough, despite his extremely notable facial features, I had a tough time getting the likeness to my satisfaction. The caricature was primarily sketched while watching him in Space Cowboys, which starred Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and my favourite actor, James Garner. Cromwell plays an officious head at NASA who is none too happy about letting the quartet of past their prime, ex-fighter pilots/astronauts set out on a shuttle mission to fix a Soviet communications satellite, as there has long been bad blood between he and Eastwood's character.

On the subject of caricature, please take note all local caricaturists, that there will be a first time get together of the new Canadian Chapter of the ISCA this coming Wednesday, Feb. 2. It will be held at The Firehall Cool Bar Hot Grill, 2441 Lakeshore Rd. W. Oakville Ontario (near Bronte Rd.). If you're already a member of the ISCA or are interested in perhaps joining this organization, this would be an opportune time to meet fellow caricaturists in the Greater Toronto Area. I'm planning on going, so hopefully we will see you there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Look Of Quiet Desperation

This week's subject on Caricaturama Showdown is comic actor, Steve Carell. He's got such a great face for caricature and, after searching through many video clips on YouTube, I finally decided to draw him in his most familiar role as Michael Scott on The Office. Ironically, even though The Office is about five years into its run and Steve is about to leave the show, I am only just now starting to follow the series. I recently bought Season One to see what all the fuss was about, and I must say I can see why so many people like it. Steve Carell and all of the ensemble are just great.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Caricaturama Showdown 3000

After many months of looking at all the fun stuff being posted up on Caricaturama Showdown 3000, I finally got around to joining this Facebook group. It's really intriguing to see all the different variations on achieving a likeness of the same subject. In hindsight, I really wish I'd gotten in much earlier, so I could have drawn such subjects as John Cleese, Sophia Loren and Michael Caine.

Anyway, I have now thrown my hat in the ring and here are my first two entries, Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia and Chloe fame, and veteran rocker David Bowie:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Remembering My Dad

Ten years ago today my father, John Emslie, celebrated his final birthday at the age of 78. Two months later he died, after a couple years of health problems and having undergone recent surgery. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since he passed away, and I've been thinking about him a lot lately. The above image was from the card I did for Christmas of that year, 2001, in memory of my dear Dad.

While we certainly had the same father/son tensions and arguments that most guys have, all in all we were pretty close. My Dad was always there for me, supporting my desire to follow a career path in the arts, and always ready and willing to lend a hand with house repair work and such. He put up some insulation and wood paneling in my first townhouse, and I think that was something he liked doing a lot, as our family homes through the years always ended up with many rooms getting wood paneling!

One thing I'll be eternally grateful to my Dad for was his influence on my taste in music. When I was just a young kid, we had this wonderful old hi-fi - pretty much just a wooden box on four legs, containing a radio and felt covered turntable. Dad loved to play music around the house, and mostly he played jazz records. While he never tried to force his music tastes on me or my sister, I was just naturally drawn to such artists as Louis Armstrong and New Orleans clarinetist, Pete Fountain. Also, my Dad was a huge fan of Bing Crosby, so every Christmas, Bing's holiday album containing his classic "White Christmas" got plenty of airplay. To this day, I can't listen to Bing Crosby without thinking about my Dad. Funnily enough, I don't recall Dad ever playing any Frank Sinatra, but I know my interest in Frank was a direct result of all the great music I grew up listening to at home back in the 60s and 70s.

So, as this holiday season winds down, I just wanted to celebrate my Dad's birthday with this posting of that Christmas card illustration I did way back in 2001, as I fondly remember the good times we had and the influence that he had on my life.
Happy Birthday, Dad!