April 21, 2011

Cartooning Cactus Pete

Cactus Pete was an old prospector who spent years pannin' fer gold in the desert without much luck, but the other prospectors sure did get a hankerin' fer his grub cookin'.  And so ol' Pete's fortune began to change when he started rustling up them thar juicy steaks for the local cowpokes and prospectors.

Next thang ya know, Pete was wrangling chickens fer fryin' an' a-stewin' and servin' up the bestest ding dang whiskey and the coldest beer in da whole gobdern state o' Texas, DJAAAGNABBIT!!!

Well, that was the back story I dreamt up and presented to the owner of the restaurant after he hired me to create a cartoon character and menus for "Cactus Pete's Steakhouse & Saloon".
I drew the ol' coot on the cover of the menu holding up a sizzling T-bone over an open campfire.  A friendly Saguaro cactus puts a needly arm on his shoulder and a nearby steer's skull gives an approving smile.

Can't ya just hear that coyote howlin' in the distance?

I lettered the entire menu by hand and peppered the inside with various tiny vignettes of Cactus Pete doing things like panning for gold and riding a bull.  Then printed it on old parchment paper.

Yes, I love to do 'toons.  Character creation is REALLY fun and I've come up with lots of 'em like ol' Cactus Pete.  Just need to dig 'em up from whatever drawer they're hiding in.  So stop by again real soon and I'll git aroun' to postin' em.

Y'all come back now... ya hear?

April 14, 2011

When Minimalism goes Wrong

A few months ago in Japan, I bought some T-shirts in a little souvenir shop called Fujidoll in the Narita airport terminal and walked out with them in this bag with a great graphic of a geisha on it.  Here it is months later and I can't even throw it out because I think it's so cool.  I love graphic art like this.  Lines are broken down to whisks of the artist's hand.  The strokes become mere suggestions of a body pose and swirls for clothing portray a mood.  This style works really well for fashion illustration.  It's also the same mindset a designer takes on when creating a logo... to refine and simplify a design while maintaining a style, emotion or meaning.

Which brings the line art of Ty Wilson to mind.  I was immediately impressed the first time I saw one of Wilson's posters.

He has a great knack for using only a few broad strokes of ink and spots of color to represent a scene.  It's what is left out that is most intriguing.  Who needs to draw lips to show a romantic kiss?

The thick and thin of the ink lines are important because of the way they can draw attention TO something or away from something.  They lead your eye to follow the line somewhere.

While I was browsing a few Ty Wilson samples online, I noticed something really strange about one of his pieces...  Titled "Impromptu", it depicts an art deco couple at a table sipping champagne.  She's already had a few and I guess she's knocked over her glass to tickle the chin of her handsome date. 

Apparently, he doesn't notice her glaring physical deformity, a left arm that has a right hand on it.  I have no explanation for this... and I'm left to wonder about it.  Either Ty screwed up or he did this on purpose...
If publishers are selling this print, surely somebody must have pointed it out? 
Now I'm thinking of doing something like this on my own... maybe a painting of a guy with two left feet... just to see if anyone notices!

April 01, 2011

There's a royal palace in Hawaii, a grand residence that was built for the Hawaiian royals, King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani.

On a recent trip to Honolulu, I had a chance to venture off with my camera, snapping at anything that happened to catch my eye. Wandering onto the grounds of Iolani Palace, I passed through the wrought iron gates which had this royal seal mounted upon it. The seal depicts the coat of arms of the kingdom of Hawaii.  
"Ua mau ke ea o ka'aina i ka pono" translated to English is, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness".

A long walkway leads up to the palace with an inviting grassy lawn and huge monkey pod trees. The building was very appealing in character so I approached for a closer look.

The Florentine architecture is unusual in that it has an Hawaiian twist which makes it truly unique. The openness of the lanais on two floors reflects the tropical weather as compared to 19th century buildings in Europe of the same style.

The rectangular palace is the same when viewed from the front or the back.

Built in 1882, it looks the same now as it did then as you can see from this old photo.

Fluted Corinthian columns line the facade adorned with capitals carved into curled acanthus leaves.
 Fine detail in the molding above the capitals.
 As well as the stairs and arches at the entrance and the iron railings above.
 Below, you can see the beautiful corbels, cornices and dentil molding on the top of the central tower.
Looking toward one of the corner towers I suddenly remembered that Steve McGarrett was supposed to have his Five-O headquarters in that upper corner room.
More beautiful design and character in the slate tiles on the turret roof.
These absolutely stunning etched glass windows are perfect examples of Greco-Victorian design, and yet, they're located here in Hawaii rather than somewhere in Europe.
Inside, the grand staircase is like a waterfall running down to a reflecting pool in a forest of koa wood.
Outside on the grounds next to the palace is where the coronation of the king and queen took place back in 1883. A lavish luau was held here to celebrate the event.

A photo taken at the time shows the decorations and another shows the actual event.