Robert Rodriguez fineartprintsca

The art and interests of Robert Rodriguez

Tag: visual art

IT WAS ONLY A PAPER MOON

I LIKE THE HIGH LIFE

Paper Moon Graphics, what a great place to work.   Almost complete freedom to do the art the way you wanted it.  I remember you would go in there sometimes with a sketchbook and show them your ideas and they would pick one and tell you to finish it up.  And it worked that way from the beginning, when I started with them.  Linda Barton, Robert Fitch, and Roger Carpenter all went with what worked, and it was a ground-breaking company.  They did often commission you to paint their ideas as well, but they trusted the artists to interpret everything and didn’t over direct.  Artwork is always so much better when the designer and the illustrator work together, rather than the art director telling you exactly how to handle every brushstroke.

I wasn’t in on why it ended, but I have an idea that it was because they were so good, that everyone copied them.  Of course the imitations were never as good, but they were probably cheaper to produce, and cheaper to buy.  But for anyone who worked for Paper Moon, it was something you will never forget.

I just remember, until Paper Moon cards, I used to buy these cartoony cards for whatever occasion, or make my own.  I was never really happy with what I used.  But once I saw the kind of cards Paper Moon was doing, I never bought anything else.  And Paper Moon was more expensive, but it didn’t matter.  It wasn’t even a consideration because the art was so superior, and the attitude was so cool.

COWBOY BOB

LUNCH COUNTER

On the extreme left (mostly cropped off) is a self-portrait.  I am also listed on the menu for $1.10.

adult motel

The bartender, the diner, and the adult motel were all originally done for Oui Magazine.

ESPECIALLY FOR YOU

MERMAID

PRANCING THROUGH THE SNOW copy

THE XMAS EXPRESS copy

Poor Santa, I somehow forgot one of his fingers.  A horrible toy-making accident, I suppose.

SANTA BMXmas

This image was originally an ad for Schwinn BMX bicycles.

TOYS copy

HOLIDAY HEART copy

REINDEER CROSSING

Robert Rodriguez is represented by Lindgren & Smith (212.397.7330)

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Who Is Responsible For This?

I don’t know if it would be the Production Designer or the Director of Photography or the Director himself, but someone is doing a lot of research from a lot of different sources before they make a film.  These are only a couple of the things I have noticed recently.

SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE GARRET

SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE GARRET

When I work, I watch videos…or listen to them mainly.  I occasionally look up at the screen, and that’s when I spotted these frames.  Sherlock Holmes, the one with Robert Downey Jr….He’s in a garret and there is a scene of him sitting by the bed, no question…The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis from 1856!  The window even has the same number of panes and a very similar handle.

DEATH OF CHATTERTON

DEATH OF CHATTERTON

What symbolism attaches, I really can’t figure out except that Chatterton was an unappreciated poet, as Holmes was under-appreciated for his skills?  Probably more for just artistic reasons than anything else.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

The other had a less obvious connection, but Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Donald Sutherland has the family sitting in the background while one of the sisters writes a letter.  They are all illuminated by the fireplace light, a very chiaroscuro effect.  Because of the dramatic lighting and shadows and also because of Donald Sutherland’s hair, immediately paintings by Wright of Derby came to mind.  He would’ve been painting in the late 1700’s while Pride and Prejudice takes place a little later, at the turn of the century.  Though the scene isn’t taken from either of Joseph Wright’s paintings here, I think you can see the similarities in lighting and composition.

AN EXPERIMENT ON A BIRD IN AN AIR PUMP

AN EXPERIMENT ON A BIRD IN AN AIR PUMP

THE ORRERY

THE ORRERY

Always fun to find the inspirations behind various images.

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.

Colorful Expressions

TOCtest

With the decision to concentrate on the more graphic shapes and simplified design of the woman, color was the next step to resolve.  I wanted it to be sophisticated and bright, and I wanted the Hurricane cocktail to read well against the background colors.  So I did a series of color studies and went through the set, discarding the ones I didn’t want.  I actually liked them all for different reasons, but choices had to be made.  There was a reckless moment there when I considered doing a poster of all the various color versions laid out like my color composite above.  But that passed quickly, and I resolved to settle on three variations.  I miss working with other artists and asking for their suggestions.  I can’t say I always took their suggestions, but as soon as they started to answer, I would find myself hoping they would pick a certain one, and then I knew which one I liked myself.  Here are the three finalists.  I am already working on the finished art, so I will make my decision very soon.

The judgement of Paris

The judgement of Paris

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

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