Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caricatures For Ellie!

The other night I drew caricatures at a bridal shower for one of my former animation students, Ellie Ventura, who is getting married this coming September. I must confess, bridal showers are my favourite type of event to work, as I get to caricature lots of cute girls! Some people believe that it's harder to caricature females, but I think it's still possible to exaggerate and stylize the features while maintaining their attractiveness. Anyway, here is a sampling of the ones I drew that evening. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sketch Ellie herself, though at least she has the one I did from when she was in my class about 5 or 6 years ago. All the best to Ellie and her beau on their upcoming wedding day!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The End Credits Roll On Elwy Yost

Long before the Turner Classic Movies cable channel came along, lucky movie buffs here in Ontario had Saturday Night at the Movies to look forward to each week. Starting in the mid-1970s, it was on this TVOntario show that many of my age were first introduced to all sorts of film classics from the glorious past. And the man who created the show and hosted it for about 25 years running was Elwy Yost, a round faced, enthusiastic, and very genial film connoisseur. Sadly, I learned yesterday that Elwy Yost has just passed away at the age of 86.

Similar to the appeal of Walt Disney coming into our living rooms every week on The Wonderful World of Disney in the 50s and 60s, a decade later Elwy Yost was also like a favourite uncle arriving every Saturday night to sit down and watch with and discuss some of the best movies that Hollywood's Golden Age had to offer. Every week there would be a couple of films screened on a related topic, or perhaps from the same director or starring the same actor. In between the movies there would be pre-filmed interview portion, sometimes with a well-known star, but more often with a director, screenwriter, cinematographer, makeup artist, or other creative person who had long laboured behind the scenes. Elwy would usually film his interviews with them at their homes and, though the interview might start out a bit stiffly, the subjects would always warm up to Elwy as it progressed, when it became quickly evident that Elwy was really interested in their specific contribution to a film classic. I'm certain that many of the interviewees were delighted to be asked questions about their achievements that nobody had ever been interested enough to ask them before. While Elwy did have a tendency to gush in his "Gee Whiz!" manner, his enthusiasm for the films he covered was quite endearing to his loyal viewers, who probably found him very easy to relate to. Elwy was not a film critic so much, but rather, the ultimate film fan. I suspect Elwy Yost never met a movie he didn't like!

Fortunately, TVOntario has just recently been making a number of Elwy's interviews available to watch on their online TVO Archive. I strongly recommend checking out some of these. Animation buffs will probably enjoy Elwy's interviews with Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. Here is a clip from YouTube that shows Elwy Yost in his hosting duties on Saturday Night at The Movies. Yep, we'll miss you, Elwy...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Liam Neeson

Here's my caricature of Liam Neeson, the subject of the week at Caricaturama Showdown. As I've mentioned often on here, I do my caricatures by sketching from video reference rather than from photos, as I find I get a better feel for the design of the face and the personality of the subject. For this caricature, I started by watching Liam in the 1994 film, Nell, which starred Jodie Foster (who was also co-producer) in the title role of a young woman who has been raised in a log cabin in the backwoods of North Carolina, completely isolated from the outside world. Her mother was a stroke victim, paralyzed on one side of her face, so Nell grows up never hearing properly enunciated speech. When the elderly mother dies, Nell is left speaking what appears to be an unknown language when she is discovered by the sheriff and a concerned doctor played by Neeson.

It's a truly beautiful and touching film, even moreso in retrospect, as it was during the filming of Nell that Liam Neeson met and fell in love with his co-star, actress Natasha Richardson, who plays a psychiatrist in the film. They married soon thereafter and had a wonderful, stable, loving marriage until Natasha was tragically killed in a skiing accident in 2009. I acknowledged the tragedy at the time with this tribute, as I believe there were many people who felt so saddened for Liam in his great loss. It's hard to watch the film today and not shed some tears when you can tell how they were falling in love during its production. And in her performance as Nell, Jodie Foster is truly luminous, and shows what a gifted actress she has become in her years before the camera. A lovely and poignant film that I highly recommend if you have not yet seen it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bill Cosby!

The subject this week on Caricaturama was Bill Cosby, and the fellow who chose him knew that this challenge would end on Cosby's birthday. I hadn't been participating in this weekly challenge for awhile now, but I felt compelled to draw ol' Bill, as I consider him the gold standard of stand-up comedians. I wanted to portray him back in his prime of the 1970's/early 80's when he appeared regularly on The Tonight Show while Johnny was still at the helm. Those were the days! In fact I drew this from an appearance in 1983 that Cosby made on The Tonight Show that can be found on this new multi-disc DVD set that came out earlier this year.

Here's a terrific Bill Cosby routine I remember fondly, courtesy of YouTube:

PS: Sorry I haven't updated the blog in awhile. I haven't felt very motivated lately, I'm afraid.