Robert Rodriguez fineartprintsca

The art and interests of Robert Rodriguez

Tag: Design

WPA Hurricane Memorial

Memorial in Islamorada, Florida designed by the Federal Art Project, 1937

Memorial in Islamorada, Florida designed by the Federal Art Project, 1937

A little history…in 1932 some 43,000 marchers (about 17,000 were WWI veterans and their families) camped out in Washington, D.C. demanding early payment of their military bonuses.  The Depression had been running its course for a few years and most of these people were desperate for their money.  President Hoover ordered the military in, and the whole thing situation went to hell.  This was one of the reasons for Hoover’s defeat by Roosevelt a year later.  When confronted by another Bonus March soon after his election, Roosevelt offered them the chance to work for the CCC , which most of them accepted.  So in 1935, when one of the strongest hurricanes in US history was approaching the Florida Keys, there were about 400 Bonus Army veterans and their families living in ramshackle camps that no one thought to evacuate until the last minute.  A train was sent to save them on September 2, the hurricane struck on September 2, the train was destroyed on September 2, en route, with only the locomotive surviving and managing to arrive hours later to save the workers.  The Florida Division of the Federal Arts Project designed this memorial to hold the ashes of the 200 victims of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.

I was looking for photos of hurricanes from space, as reference for my Tales of the Cocktail poster, and came across this amazing story and amazing bas-relief carving.

Advertisements

The Curtain is Coming Up.

Not yet, but soon.  Here’s a sneak peek.  A student recently asked me how you know when a painting is finished.  That is a much more difficult question than it seems upon first hearing it.  Of course the answer is so subjective, it would have a different answer for every artist, except to say, it is finished when it is finished.  And that’s no help to a student and would probably be different for every style of art as well.  For instance, I am sure the Impressionists must have called paintings finished that any Academic painter of the period would have considered to be a study.  I guess it has something to do with when the time comes that you can’t imagine any way to make any element of the painting any better than it is, you can call it finished.  Or in the case of an illustration, it is either that, or the deadline looms, whichever comes first.

On this painting, the deadline is getting close, but isn’t exactly looming yet.  So I am still taking everything to the point where I am happy with every little bit.  So far, so good.Image

The Lady in Red

Someone noticed the mention in the last post of the lady in the red dress being a big favorite, and wondered why it was that she had to go.  Sometimes as you work on a painting or the design for a painting, you fall in love with a section and you do everything possible to not destroy that area.  Sometimes it is a brushstroke, a color, a pose, or even the way you painted a certain part of the picture.  But the more you work on it, you realize you are trying to force everything to fit with that bit, to the detriment of the whole.  Then you have to decide to kill your favorite child for the good of the family.  Sorry to be so brutal, but it does feel that way at times.  It is hard to come to the realization that you can’t sacrifice everything for that one area, no matter how much you love it.  It is so difficult that I usually delay the inevitable and try to make excuses, but finally I’ll have to come around.  Besides, with the lady in red, I can try to fit her into next year’s poster and she might be perfect at that time.

In this case her posture was so low that she couldn’t fill the space strongly enough to demand the attention I felt the central figure needed.  I tried making her bigger, but she was more of a horizontal shape and wound up being cropped too tightly.  That’s when it became obvious that what the composition called for was a more vertical pose.  This became the center of focus and the surrounding people became the background elements.

Painting a picture for me is a journey.  Originally I start out thinking, “This is going to be the greatest painting I have ever done.”  Somewhere along the way, I have to admit that I might have painted better things before, but this can still be one of the better ones.  I still don’t give up trying though.  And that’s where the “lucky accidents” come in.  Here I am, trying this, trying that, when all of a sudden something wonderful happens.  I go, “Wow!” Now the painting has direction, now it is starting to work.  Now almost everything I do to it only adds to making it even better.  Once that “lucky accident” occurs, the painting just marches on to completion with no false steps to mislead it.  So I suppose you could call it an Aha! Moment,  a Flash of Inspiration, or a Leap of Faith, but whatever it is, it definitely isn’t me controlling it.  It just happens, and then everything falls into place and I suddenly know where to go from there.

An artist can paint a picture strictly based on knowledge and skill, and it will be a very competent painting, but I don’t believe it will have any soul until that “lucky accident” happens.   At least that’s the way it works for me.

The Lady in Red

Evolution of the Tales of the Cocktail poster 2013

Hopefully, this isn’t too much like pulling aside the curtain to expose the Wizard.  I was just aiming to provide an interesting peek at the path this year’s poster took along the way.  I was putting in old photos, parts of vintage illustrations, and very rough scribbles to start thinking about the direction I wanted to take the art.  As things progressed, I would get one little section working, or one shape, or an area of color, and keep it in mind for the next step in the painting.

Originally in the development there didn’t seem to be any focus, just a scene of a group of people.  The lady in the red dress in the second sketch was a big favorite and stayed around in my layouts for a long time (versions you don’t see here).  But eventually she had to go, a more dominant figure emerged, and I knew I was on the right track.  You can see the color was starting to evolve as well.  I always think it is interesting how lucky accidents occur in the making of a picture, things you expand on until the whole piece is working much better than it was when you started.  I’ve heard stories of artists who know what they are going to do before the first brushstroke hits the canvas.  That has never been my way, though if it were possible, it would make things a lot easier.  My method is to move in little steps until I finally realize it is finished.  Step-by-step discovery, where the painting points the way as it evolves to completion.

TOC EVOLUTION

Tales of the Cocktail poster, 2013

The Gatsby Era.  The Roaring Twenties.  The Jazz Age went bopping right along until the 1930’s, by which time things took a little break for the Depression.  But some might question whether New Orleans has ever let up and Tales of the Cocktail seems to confirm that.

So, in keeping with this year’s theme at the awards dinner, the poster expresses this era in an Art Deco style as well as by depicting some of the classic cocktails of the day.  We have the Mint Julep, the Rickey, the Corpse Reviver, and the El Presidente.  Out on the town with a few classy ladies and gentlemen in the Vieux Carré of old New Orleans, living it up at a balcony bar setting, drinking it in with the music and the spirits, we are looking down on Bourbon Street while late night revelers make their way home in the wee hours before the dawn.

The poster is printed on 80# glossy cover stock with a special UV coating to protect it from fading, dust and moisture.  It comes to you signed by the artist, in a sturdy mailing to insure against damage during shipping.

Print size is:  19″ x 30″
Poster is $30.00
Shipping is $6.00
Total: $36.00

Image