With the recent first birthday of the fortnightly Kick About over on Reds Kingdom I noticed I have a few prompts that haven’t been uploaded here on Gentle Giant, so I will be resolving that in the coming weeks. This prompt being of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) being one of them and one of my favourite responses thus far.
“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I seen the new prompt for this weeks kick about, It was the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment, I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly, was feeling rather shit. Not sure if it was the birthday blues or if was a amalgamation of other things but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting which surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night.
In my garden there is a full length mirror that is perched against a rickety garden shed that is full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbours garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, like the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself “I wish that that was a fucking portal so I could step through, leave this place and see some happy faces”. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.”
Welcome to this first anniversary edition of The Kick-About, a fortnightly blog-based creative challenge in which artists of all stripes come together to present work in response to a given prompt. I asked contributors to choose a favourite work of their own from the previous twenty-five editions so I could celebrate them all together here.
I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
What if Metropolis was my second project in university and the first project where I really dived into 3D. All the students had to dip their hands into a box and pluck an artists name and deriving from that artist – create a city in response. Using the artists techniques to apply that to a 3D universe meant that it was quintessential to the project to not just model a city looking like one of the artists paintings, but learn and apply the reason for the artists techniques and fashion that around a sprawling metropolis.
The artist I plucked from the box was the cubist and fauvism painter George Braque. Braque being one of the founders of cubism alongside the wider known Picasso with cubism being birthed around the notion of observing and painting structures or people from different angles and breaking that object up into different perspectives to have them collate together and belong as one, resulting in unique art with a fresh view that resonated many post art movements.
Utilising Braque’s techniques of multiple views and angles I was heavily inspired by the shapes, structures and contours of brutalist architecture, where I always would imagine brutalist architecture structures moving and slotting into place to then move to a different and new structure once it’s inhabitants were sleeping. I feel like many of Braque’s pieces are puzzles; where you hold your gaze shows one thing with the slight change of eye showing another.
With Braque and cubism in mind I created the city that I thought Braque would have envisioned. A lot of Braque’s paintings feature warming colour pallets of yellows, burnt umbers and terracotta’s so I used a reminiscent warm colour pallet. To make the colour pop, it was decided a night scene brimming of moon blues and sea green rim lighting would materialise the oranges as more vivid.
I wanted to create something that felt romantic – a place of refuge away from the mundane, where the sax was heard from the jazz bar on the right in the foreground and where you could get a bite to eat at the restaurant on the left with museums and art galleries making up the background matte painting as the moon lights the little divots in the cobbled streets.
I have had this post in draft mode for a while but nowadays I can’t help feel a tinge of reminiscence to real world lands of equally warming colour pallets, particular to our first year course trip to Rome where I was mesmerised by the grandeur of the structures, those lit up colosseums plumbing with culture and history and the mild nights all which do feel like a worlds away at the moment and one that I really long for. I will have to look into the archives of one of my many external hard drives to see if I can dig up some of those captured memories.
I am busy designing a pitch document for a fund with The Green Glider with the first page being an eye catching poster that showcases the story of The Green Glider in one vibrant fun image. I am almost done with the pitch document which was really enjoyable to put my designers cap again and I really like how the poster turned out.
This weeks Kick About over at Reds Kingdom is the gorgeous illustrations by Eric Ravilious entitled High Street (1938). I drew one of my favourite places to have a drink or ten with my friends during the Christmas back in my home turf in shop street Galway city – a place that is always bustling with the right amount of life. It will certainly be different this year but Ravilious illustrations made me think back to those bitter winter nights where our bellies would be warm with booze and the sound of buskers filled the cobbled streets.
Ersilia is starting to flourish as I continue to work on it which is a refreshing way to go about things as in this manner figuring it out as I go is proving enjoyable. I really love editing to music where a piano cord or violin screech effects how I interpret the edit, making it so that the music drives the edit and overall feel of the film and that is very much the case with the music accompanying the film created by Sergey Cheremisinov. The song which is entitled “Sleepwalker“has sporadic, creaks, fizzes and pin drop like spot sounds which adds another layer of texture to the music and invigorates a visceral response when animating the accompanying visuals.
The music starts off slow with a mesmerising hum that gradually builds up to water and bird song heard in the distance before transforming into something more violent and throbbing with surges and pulses echoing throughout. I am about to move into the more complex scenes which is the second half of the film and where the music swells and grows as will the visuals and is the part I’m most excited about.
I think because this film doesn’t have any moving characters and isn’t plot driven I want it to feel more ambiguous, more abstract and up to the viewers own interpretation. What I want to accomplish with this film is to feel like you are just experiencing the music, like the film is rhythmic and an extension of the music to embellish the song and work in tangent with it. It is all completely new territory for me and one that is proving invigorating.
Dance of the Happy Shades – a previous kick about over on Reds Kingdom was one of the most enjoyable Kick About’s thus far. I loved this prompt because it came very instinctively where I ended up making a little micro short, filmed from the inside of my bathroom’s poorly painted cabinet in my dingy west London apartment, where the light was shining brilliantly through the dusty bathroom window and in through a crack in the cabinet. I used my phone to film the light as I repeatedly opened and closed the cabinet door – making the light flow across the cabinet and then bringing those clips into after effects and mucking about by using some blend mode trickery, where lights and shadows started to materialise interesting shapes. To the precise eye some of them resembling a shodowy effigy.
The music discovered and accompanied this prompt is by Sergey Cheremisinov, which really drived this short and remembering that I went back to Sergey’s catalog to see if anything would fit the current short that I am working on. I found a piece that made me smile and shiver and after hearing the score it changed the periphery of the film into something a lot less dark, which I think works better (2020 is dark enough!) probably more sombre but I think that will be up to interpretation. Something about Sergey’s pieces with all its the creaks and fizzes overlaid sporadically invigorates a visceral reaction that make it feel like some thing is alive that shouldn’t be. I envision a lot when I listen to his music and like his music I want this film to have a replayability factor, so that really is the mission of this film and a whole new territory for me and one I’m excited to give a whirl.
⌇I have been chipping away at plopping out the worlds for The Green Glider. It has been a bit of a journey to get the Oasis up until this point, in truth I wasn’t a fan of the way the Oasis was sprawling out before me with a previous hodgepodge of attempts, The greenery of the world felt too CG, the treetops resembled blobby forms of plasticine and looked a bit sad. I decided to take a step away and revert back to my kit of tricks and influences, the first being taking a long and thoughtful walk in the crisp Autumn morning, when the air is fresh and the dew sticks to my beard…
I’m fortunate enough living in London that an open tree filled park being that of Gladstone park is a stones throw away from me. As I meandered my way among the many trees I took my time to stop and think about the canopy of trees above me; I noticed where I was going wrong with my previous attempts was that of two things, the first being – Light travels through trees, with the previous renders the greenery was a solid mass of geometry making it so that light couldn’t pass through and the second being… I am a bit baffled that I didn’t realise this, texture! When you really look at untouched nature, flowers, grasses and bark, it is bursting with texture that intertwine and lace to form brush strokes of patterns, Phil Gets it with photographs of his many excursions where the photographs end up looking like a painting filled with brush strokes of pure unfiltered texture.
〰️ Gladstone park 〰️
This can sometimes be something that happens with me and my work, I get so in the zone and have this pin precise tunnel vision of getting stuff done that I don’t take a step back, look and see if I am answering the question that this world is asking. When I was in uni I was modelling a car, I remember distinctly Alan Postings coming up to me and saying “the way that you are thinking is a problem” I needed to hear it because it was, the car was looking like shit because I was clouded by just getting it done. I always think it’s good to remind yourself if this piece is doing it’s job by asking those questions and using everything in your kit of tricks to get it that way – it is something I am getting used of catching and making the necessary steps to remedy, I think intuition gets better with age.
With this in mind I used another trick up my sleeve, my tried and true – alpha maps. I love alpha maps because they are like smoke and mirrors, a magic trick to the eye. Old school video games would use alpha maps to bulk out the background of a scene where the player isn’t supposed to go, so why use resource heavy plethoras of polygons when you can do the same job with just one piece of geometry? Thats the mentality I like to use when making these ambitions worlds in my head a reality, reeling them back to smoke and mirrors to make it look right but at a fraction of the time and when it comes to it – cost.
Making these alpha maps is simple, I used a single continuous line brush stroke painted in photoshop – 1 with colour and 1 with just back and white, then apply that to the geometry of the Trees and what’s lovely is because the geometry is a mound the alpha map wraps around it, it is always a pleasant surprise to see how it turns out! What it gave me was a lot of texture – a single brush stroke that looks imperfect, less CG and more true to nature. It also aloud other flora to peep through and behind it which rings true for my own excursion to Gladstone park.
Because I like that this world is teetering more into the illustrative side I am going to have to dial up the same illustrative style with the other worlds – The Metropolis and The Wastelandso that it all feels cohesive and that they do belong on one single planet – more on how that plays out later…
I was also really inspired by two artists that are also apart of my kit for this project (And many more that is on my ever growing Pinterest board) – Eyvind Earle and Marie-Laure Cruschi, Earles pieces are these stunning whimsical landscapes with a vivid, palpable colour palette, Cruschi’s pieces are these gorgeous illustrations with the plant life in these universes having chunks missing to show a lot of shapely charm.
Now that I understand how the Oasis will look I just need to continue to place the plant life on a shot by shot basis, and finally getting onto opening excel and planning out those shots. ONWARDS 〰️
I’ve missed the realm of blogging and all the inspiration and community driven involvement that it encompasses so I’ve decided to jump back in! While WordPress feels like a bit of eye sore at the moment (I’m sure I will understand all it’s bells and whistles eventually…) I want share the content that I’ve been up to in these bizarre times.
I thought I would kick off my new blog with a Kick About post. The kick about is a fortnightly event over at Reds-Kingdom created by friend Phil Gomm where artists from all around the world create something fuelled by a prompt. This week was the prompt of the Trappest -1e, a planet that is believed to be capable of harbouring life! Another fun prompt as always and anyone wanting to be involved in the shenanigans can do so, we would love to have you on board as a fellow Kick Abouter! You can have a gawk at the full offerings of creations by visiting this link
With this piece for this weeks Kick About I was really inspired inspired by Olafur Eliasson, in particular his exhibition – The Weather Project. I imagine a planet vibrating with orange hues against cool tones, with piercing shadows, and the ground of this planet cracking and buckling.
I initially used Maya by cracking open a simple plane and moving the segments about, then did some renders using a directional light to get some shadows and I simply painted over the render in Photoshop to get some nice contrast and paint that blazing orange against dark chiaroscuro and warming yellow sphere.