Friday, May 22, 2009

Animazement 2009

Well, I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I feel like I should update the blog more often and perhaps expand some readership? This blog entry is about the only Japanese animation (anime) convention in North Carolina.

I've had an obsession with Japanese culture that started with Pokemon and expanded to Cartoon Network's weekday Toonami anime slot. That eventually expanded to CN's Adult Swim late night block and when I started high school, my anime craze went full throttle. I started buy the comics (manga) and DVDs when I could and soon became an otaku. Summer 2005, I had the opportunity to go to the "only fun thing that happens in Durham," Animazement. The idea of attending a convention where hundreds of other people like me would attend boggled my mind!

And great fun was had. I dressed up as my favorite character from Samurai Champloo, Jin and had a blast runnning around the Sheraton Imperial Hotel with my friends. The next year, I had even more fun. I did a fairly decent Vincent from Final Fantasy 7 (sorry, I had my photos on but it seems like they revamped their photo system and a lot of them were lost in the process...). But every year since then has become a little less fun, a little less exciting.

Enter this year, Animazement 2009. May 22nd through 24th. I wasn't even really 100% sure I was going to go. I suppose college life made me grow up a bit and leave the otaku obsession behind. The sheer madness that occured at the convention every year was starting to wear me down. Part of it was timing- I just got back home from college and am still settling in. I just didn't have time to adjust my costume from last year to fit this year, either.

In the end, I decided to attend the 'con on Friday only with my friend Saiwen for old times' sake. Little did we know the epic journey that awaited us...

Alright, it wasn't that bad. Here's the abbreviated story: As we entered a parking deck in downtown Raleigh, Sai's car started to stall. We pushed it through the deck and to the other side and eventually discovered a leaking tube. Gas was splurting all over the place when he tried to start the car! So, he called a tow truck.

On the way to the auto shop, the tow driver started telling a story.

Driver: "Yeah....I was locked up for 15 months. Aha ha hyuck!"
Me and Saiwen:"....oh yeah?"
D: "Yuuup. I came home one day and saw some boys foolin' with my 11 year old daughter."
Us: " o.O"
D: "Now, I understand if it's just one. I say, 'Aiight boy, you jacked up, but you made a mistake, i'll look past this, let's go get you some help.' But THREE?!"
Us: *crickets*
D: "I lost it and shot 6 times!"
Us: <(O_O;;)>
D: "...yup. That's why I hate the po-leece."

Needless to say, it was an awkward ride. Once we got there, we tried to get a number of friends to swing by and take us back to the 'con. Eventually, we got our good friend Derin to swing by...but by the time she showed up, Sai's car was fixed. The tube that carried gas to some important location split and the replacement was complete. So, Derin drove back to the 'con all annoyed and angrylike (we made her miss her group's photoshoot).

Once we got to the convention, time flew by. We ran into a few old friends and caught up a bit. It was an overall enjoyable experience. It was just enough to satisfy a former otaku's hunger for fandom. Although I wish we could've stayed for the Japanese Pop/Rock group Uchuu Sentai NOIZ. They ran out on stage during opening ceremonies in ridiculous costumes and tried to get the crowd to do a funky anime 'con dance. I've never been to an actual concert before and I feel like it would've been fun. But hey! I go to college in NYC. I'll have another chance to see a show.

Here are some pics. I've always been too shy to ask cosplayers if I can take their photos, so I only ever get crowd shots...

Outside the Raleigh Convention Center

Some random cosplayers

The convention hall was huge- AZ spanned 4 floors!

The other motivation for going: The Dealer's Room. Where we get our crack: books, DVDs, posters, figures...and so much more.

Hello Kitty Panda!

I picked up one thing from the Dealer's Room:
A new Gundam! I absolutely LOVE Gunpla. This is my first "Master Grade" model kit in a very, very long time. It has lotsa little pieces and cool accessories! *nerdgasm*

Look forward to me documenting the construction of this action figure model!

I feel like I forgot to write about something, but I'll update the blog later. For now? Sleep.

Hoping that the truck driver won't appear in my dreams,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Start of Summer!

Well, summer has officially started! I just got back home after a harrowing 11 hour long train ride. The past 36 hours have been very hectic and stressful for me, but it's all behind and done! On to the noteworthy items!

This painting is pretty much finished. I won't be able to work on it for three months, but hey! The only thing I really feel the need to fix is the hand behind the head, which isn't finished. Her face still looks kinda pig-like, unfortunately, but I had a really tough angle with the face. That should count for something! Also note the floor tiles.

Here are some pics of our last sculpture in class. It's a pretty basic reclining nude full figure. In many ways, this was easier to make than Marcel's head. The only really tricky parts were the hands, feet, and face. The base we were working on was something like a 16" square, so small forms like the hands and face were harder to sculpt. One wrong move and hours of work could be undone! Luckily, oil based clay doesn't really dry out, at least not within the time frame we were working in.

Unfortunately, I couldn't take it back with me, so I ended up leaving it behind in the sculpture studio with a big "Give Me a Home!" sign on it.

On another note, I was surprised to see my room rearranged when I got back home! Here are some photos because I feel like it!
The view from the doorway. I get a good view of the neighbor's backyard, full of grass and a storeage shed. And the satellite dish that we never really used. It's so nice to see green on a regular basis again.
Enter my room and turn left to see part of the madness that lies dormant in me. My box-o-swords is just chilling in the corner there. Not that there are any actual swords. Well, actually, there is, but it doesn't count 'cuz it ain't sharp enough! The rest are wooden and props I made for cosplaying.
Right next to my door is my Wall of Nerdiness. Everything from manga to Playstation games to stuffed animals is here. My mom compressed my collections to the max to make room for everything. I'll rearrange it to fit my aesthetics later!
Aaaand the magic area where I usually can be found is here! Directly across from the doorway and facing my bed is my desk! With added shelf! As you can see, my Transformer collection is here. Well, the new stuff, anyways. I have a lot of Beast Wars toys in the clear case next to the desk. I expect the desk to get more and more cluttered as time goes on this summer.

Speaking of summer, I've always associated the season with one thing (and it's kinda silly): VIDEO GAMES! Yes, summer is the one time of year where I can allow my brains to turn to mush and play video games like mad. Speaking of video games, some friends of mine are playing through Persona 3:FES in sort of a MST3k style. Check 'em out, if you will! There will probably be a lot of them, seeing as how the game easily has an 80+ hour play time...

I've got a decent backlog myself...Little time for gaming at FIT! But I also plan on trying to find a job and working on my drawing skills. Can't lose what I've gained! MUST STAY PRODUCTIVE!

That about sums it up for now. I'll make sure to keep everyone posted!

OH SNAP! Almost forgot! OVER 2,000 PAGE VIEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I were any good, I'd have a new banner up to commemorate the event. But I'm not, so meh!

Well, now I'm back at home and
I'm looking forward to this life I live


Sunday, May 3, 2009

All These Things That I've Done

Ok, lessee if I can make a longer post than last time! I have fun, adventurous things to speak of!

First off, I'll fulfill the prophecy foretold in my last blog post: updates on PRINTMAKING!!!!

Currently, we are working on etchings. To the left here is the amazing Renaissance etching Knight, Death, and the Devil by Albrecht Durer. Of course, our professor wasn't expecting us to do anything as intricate as this one.

Initially, I had no idea what to do for this project. There are so many options! Because of the nature of the medium, you can be as fine or loose as you want with the lines. Compare the above etching to this series by Picasso:
Pretty big difference, yeah?

So for inspiration, I was reading this awesome dark fantasy manga called Berserk. The artist, Kentaro Miura, has ridiculous skillz and uses a lot of techniques that would seem to translate well into etchings. In the end, I went with this:
Here, you have a swordsman standing in front of a castle with a solemn look on his face. Pretty simple, right? I feel kinda bad because the cape and the sword is pretty much ripped off of Berserk's main character, Gatts.....But capes and swords are totally badass, so I couldn't not have both of them.

The process of etching is covered pretty well by Wikipedia here. It's a pretty straightforward, but time-consuming undertaking. Here is how my etching plate came out:

I had to transfer the original image on backwards so that it would come out facing the right way (although it probably wouldn't matter since I don't have any words). Shiny, ain't it? This is a zinc plate. You can also use copper, steel, or even plexiglass. The problem with plexiglass is that it'll wear down a lot faster than the others, so you can only run a few prints before they start losing quality.

Anyway, here is a pretty crappy image of the end result:
Not bad, I suppose. The print is in a display case, so my reflection is showing a little bit. I was a bit disappointed in the face. The eyes are completely different and now it looks too anime-ish. Well, it was pretty anime-ish to begin with, but the facial expression is still really different. Luckily, you can still add to the etching after dipping the plate into the acid bath.

So, expect a better picture later on and maybe some touch ups.

And now for some more GanPen prints!

Sorry for the bad pics. Bloody display cases.....Why are my prints so good?
Anyway, this here is an embossing. The idea is to run a print with thick, damp paper and no ink on the matrix at extremely high pressure. The end result is an impression of the raised parts of your matrix that looks really cool under certain lights. It works a lot better with a wood matrix...mine was linoleum. After the paper dried, I took a can of spray paint and painted at an angle to hit certain raised parts and to bring out some really cool shadow effects. Pretty cool, no?
And this is a simple print over a pastel colored background. The linoleum block slid around a bit, so there is a bit of image ghosting, but I think it came out pretty well.

With only 2 weeks left of school, I don't see us doing anything else other than printing more etchings. This is all I really want to do, anyway!


Now for random stuff in my life! Today, I went on an adventure to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Sakura Matsuri with friend Julie. Unfortunately, it was raining, but it was still lots of fun. Despite going to Japan a few years ago, I'd never seen a Cherry Blossom tree until today. Here are some pictures of flowery things!

Mysterious grape flowers!Koi pond!

Closeup of Cherry Blossoms!
Part of the Path of Cherry Blossoms!

Like I said, it was really fun to see. There were a lot of Japanese cultural events, but we both had a lot of work to do so we couldn't stay for very long. If only it were a sunny, windy day so that the petals would fly around and look super-pretty like they do in anime...

That about sums it up! Dunno when the next update will be, or what it will be about, so keep posted!

While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Doing It.

Well, I've been debating on whether or not I should upload these paintings. Being an art student, I have to draw and make paintings of many nude models. But, being a would-be toy designer, I want to keep this site family friendly and paintings of naked people are usually reserved for the high school crowd...

An hour ago, I thought, 'Screw it, I wanna talk about naked people paintings!'

So, here I am! LET'S RAWK! If naked people aren't to your liking, then...suck it up and deal with it! IT'S ART!!!!!!

This is from the first semester. Remember all those fruits and still life paintings from before? Well, this was the final for that class. I think we had two 6-hour sessions to work on it. I'm really proud of the face, but that's about it. It was really tricky to just jump right in and paint.

Fast forward to this semester, after my self-portrait. Our next painting was a sitting nude figure against a backdrop. Initially, I was pretty happy with how this painting came out. But every time I look at it, I become a little less satisfied. I feel like I relied too much on dark brown lines to define the figure, especially around the torso. I also wish that I had a more frontal view of the face. Faces are probably my favorite thing to draw or paint. Something that I benefited from while working on this painting is the drapery. I learned a lot about how to paint folds.

Next up is this fellow! It seemed like every painting pr drawing class had him as a male model. Anyway, here I really started to get a balance with the skin tone. Not too much reliance on lines and more of a tonal shift to indicate form and light, especially at the legs. The mission was to paint a sitting nude in space as opposed to against a backdrop. Some of the space is fabricated or adjusted to fit the needs of the painting, which is pretty cool. We got to drift away from what we see and focus more on the "Plastic Space," as my Professor calls it. This painting isn't finished and I feel like I should put a few more hours into it before it's complete.
Here is a closeup of the figures. Like I said, I love painting faces. The face of the model was mostly done over one class period. Same with my classmate. One day, she decided to get grey/ blueish highlights and I decided to change the painting to reflect that.

We were working on this painting when, seemingly out of nowhere, another model appeared and we started a new one!

And that brings us to my current painting. I believe we have two or three more sessions with it. The assignment was to paint a reclining model. Originally, we were supposed to be able to create a setting for her, but as everyone's paintings progressed, I guess that idea got dropped.

It's really fun to compare this drapery to the previous paintings'. I've still got work to do with the blue-green one and the yellow cloth on the right. Something that's been giving me difficulty is the face. I'm at a really awkward angle. Not only is her face foreshortened, but it's turned to the left and she seems to move her head every time I look. I'm afraid that the nose looks too much like a pig's snout and her chin's shadow looks too much like a goatee. I can't say that it looks very much like the model.

Well, that about sums it up. It's really cool to look back and see how I've progressed as a painter. Next semester, we have two painting classes: Figure Painting and Abstract Painting. Not looking forward to Abstract; I can never seem to wrap my head around abstract art. Honestly, all I can ever say is, "That's interesting," or, "That sucks." Really looking forward to figure painting and working with multiple models.

Look forward to another blog post very soon. Maybe even over the weekend. I have much progress to post about in Printmaking class.

Carry on,

P.S., if you want to see what the last painting looked like on Tuesday, my friend Deanna took a pic of it: