I was watching the very beginning series of Tom and Jerry with my niece and was completely blown away by the gorgeous watercolour background paintings while Tom and Jerry run amok in their usual debauchery. So inspired by the paintings I have decided to adopt a similar more analogue and painterly approach, I think bringing down the complexity of many previous attempts of skies that I painted brings more attention and focus to the foreground elements and works better, that same yellow and pink that Tom and Jerry adopted works well for the Meadow scene, which is a pinnacle part of the film and where the beauty of nature of this world needs to really hit home.
This weeks Kick about was Inspired by Ernst Haeckel and his botanical illustrations showing the intricate microscopic organic matter within nature that might otherwise go amiss. I have always felt sensitive to textures and colours but this year I actually had a camera to capture it with rural Ireland really ramping up my perception towards it. The merging of colours within a few feet of land can completely counteract the next a few feet further and always makes for interesting forms.
I love relishing in the patterns and forms that bloom on a log or that is sandwiched between the trenches of rich brown peat, losing a shoe in the quicksand esque mud with shite up to my knee to get some of these pictures is all part of the pleasure.
Witches broom deformities resembling sea urchins, little pastel snail shells with their inhabitants no more and reindeer moss resembling bleached coral reef all part of the treasures that are nestled within the designs resembling Haeckel’s pieces. Sometimes I would lie on the ground and aim up to the sky to get a certain shot of a branch, plant or twig without it being nestled with its family of flora so that it would be easier to edit and isolate the flora against a clean slate of sky.
A lot of the elements within my designs for this kick about were cut and pasted out of images like the ones above, then significantly editing them by changing the colour and then when all the elements came together I merged them as one and erased half of the image and then copied it one more time to then flip horizontally so they were in exact symmetry.
Following the simple, unadorned charms of our previous still-life inspired Kick-About, in which we were encouraged to turn our creative attentions to objects rather ordinary and domestic, this week’s edition is a good deal more fanciful. With Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature as our collective stomping ground, we’ve generated between us a veritable coral reef of different ideas, processes and creativity.
I was spoiled for choice with this kick about with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes of all the flora and vegetation, feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away, mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion, while twigs, branches and petals looking like spores after some careful manipulation. suffice to say I loved this kick about and loved editing, warping and colour correcting a surplus of photos from recent adventures around Ireland to get a photomontage and mimic Ernst Haeckel’s inspiring Illustrations. I have a real hankering to go on and on with creating more designs like this.
During the summer months when the weather was scorching I was busy animating a music video for a band making waves after initially being featured on BBC Introducing, the band being wildest and the song being the mouthwatering Sugar and I am thrilled to announce that the music video and this labour of love has finally been released and can be viewed here. My good friends @tom_boxx and@ellie_carolyn who I was a VFX runner with came to me with an idea for the music video reflecting stop motion animation and an abundance of collage like elements superimposed on a bright orange background. Obviously I had to jump at the chance!
〰️ Wildest Band Members Jack, Harry & James of Wildest 〰️
In detail to do the song justice and get this music video right was to create the music video in a stop motion, choppy nature and have it reflect Wildest’s signature style – so warm seventies nostalgia, groovy cylindrical patterns and shapes with a swirling psychedelic orange background. The background constantly rotating while the assets in the foreground have a black and white monochrome half tone effect to represent old paper and show stark contrast to the tantalising orange. All the elements combining together to bring everything full circle and complementing that warming nostalgic boppy funk that makes you want to throw some serious shapes to wildest effervescent syrupy coo’s and snappy drums.
Some tidbits in how I figured thing out; A turning point came to me when I figured out how to export all of the videos firstly from premiere to remove the green screen and then after effects to add the half tone effect and then bring that clip into Maya as an alpha channel while having the green screen removed, what figuring that out meant was that I could manipulate the videos as they are now technically 3D objects – extruding, deforming, bending and deleting parts all now achievable and made for some fun experiments. I’ve attached some videos below of having a muck about with stuff that didn’t make the cut.
Now that I knew how to get the videos into Maya I could really play around with the elements, dialling up the surrealism and elements for the foreground for a smorgasbord of intricacies including lightbulbs, scaffolding, cages, trees, stars, floating eyeballs and mouths as well as taking pictures of my own hairy legs and arms to place them into odd angles and add to the mind bending dreamscape of sugar. I took inspiration from Max Erst, Hannah Hock, Dali, Terry Gilliam and the installation art of Tony Oursler, all of which these incredible artists offering some help into the surrealistic collage approach I was going for.
〰️Max Ernst, Hannah Hock, Terry Gilliam & Tony Oursler Mood board 〰️
I liked the idea of in a way breaking the fourth wall by showing the animator making this lucid trip happen by key framing and moving pictures of my hands as they slot the elements into place, including the offering of the sugar bowl before the final pupil dilating adrenaline rush of the end scene.
I was really excited to be given free will from Tom and Ellie to come up with the instrumental end part of the video which starts at the sugar mountain scene where the windmills are made out of spoons and sugar while the lads of Wildest melt into a hallucinogenic Mount Rushmore. The end shot where the camera starts to fly through the mouths of the band members as the sugar follows was one single shot within Maya and was really finicky to animate as Maya isn’t really meant to have high quality alpha map videos of real people within a scene; let alone having many, many duplicates of them and I mean it when I say my laptop nearly melted! Sounding like a jet about to take off as it slogged to painful speeds as I keyed the transparency on and off of every element within that shot. The resulting shot turned out to be my favourite and I am glad I just trusted my gut and went wild (pun intended) what it came to be was a complete sugar rush where the trippy psychedelic nature was dialled up to an climax and in doing so gave the rest of the music video a place to flow towards.
〰️ The Instrumental End Scene 〰️
What I loved about doing this project was that I always crave having people in my circle that get it and go for it. Tom and Ellie get it and they go for it, they just want to create stuff together to build up their roster, by figuring it out as you go which is all part of the fun. I may have been made redundant from the job that we all shared together (thanks Covid) but it’s those relationships that I have made with creative like minded people that is worth its weight in gold – much more than a monthly pay check. If you would like to support this funky fresh band that is wildest, the tantalising sugar can be streamed on all music streaming services now.
The weather here has turned typical and Irish, grey, misty and mild and with it my mood taking a hit. I am just glad I made the most of the frosty golden hour walks and revelled in the gleams of these photos, showing crystallised ice refracting the sunlight like diamonds and sprouting chiselled white coconut flakes.
Icy Escapades; exploring rural Ireland is a frosty delight. White disk bubble explosions mimicking silver dollar plantsbeing trapped among island like greenery underneath the ice, like little moons illuminating the inhabitants of these nebulas as they hibernate.
Milky swirls interrupted by sprouting spiky brambles that loop in and out of the ice like a dragons tail frozen in time or a serpent sinking below the undergrowth along with the limbs of arachnids reaching for something no longer.
This kick-about prompt by Fernand Leger felt very homely; an abundance of food reminds me of home, so I painted a kitchen illustration of a section of our kitchen, mimicking the colour and skewed perspective of Leger’s piece.
After the heightened atmosphere of our last kick-about, and the rich food of the festive season now largely behind us, Leger’s simpler fare was a welcome offering. Leger’s still life was brought to the attention of the Kick-Abouters by artist, Gary Thorne; well, Leger can keep his roast beef. I’d rather get my hands on all those delicious-looking prawns and creamy avocados…
It was lovely and frosty here today, the ground well into the afternoon still having uncracked puddles with white speckly paint strokes and air bubbles frozen in time as icy metallic spirals meander around pebbles.
I continued along the frozen puddles peppered along the backroad until the road disappeared into the vegetation and I where I started to get lost in the forestry ferns, sitka spuces’s and speckled birch trees, where the light of the crisp golden hour evening lit the land in a brilliant gold.