Friday, February 26, 2010

Dark Knight

Thomas Blackshear's Dark Knight from Ebony Visions,
sculpted by Mark Newman,
 issued 2006. Photo by C. David Claudon.
For the past few months, I've been working on retelling Thomas Mallory's Le Morte dArthur into modern English. I was fascinated, therefore, when I stumbled upon the gallery of sculptor Mark Newman, primary sculptor for Thomas Blackshear's Ebony Visions. As soon as I saw this piece, Dark Knight, I knew I had to have it. 

Newman's works capture attitude and vitality in beautifully realistic sculptures. Dark Knight is 16 inches tall. Sculptor's Corner states that he works with Super Sculpy/Super Sculpy firm gray and oil base clay (Chavant and J-Mac Classical Clay). [I worked with Super Sculpy when I was making miniature cats.] His textures and realistic detail are all excellently rendered.

Beautiful Life did a layout on him a couple of weeks ago and included many of Newman's originals. Note the jacket of the Tuskegee airman or the outfits of the two in Steppin Out.

The California-based Newman graduated from The Art Academy of San Francisco and has 19 years of professional sculpting experience. His website shows work in both bronze and resin. While he works in all sizes, he says he prefers 1/6 to 1/2 life size.

I first saw Dark Knight among the originals shown in Mark Newman's Sculpture Gallery. He does a wide range of figures and animals, but he shows a particular sensitivity to the African American image and attitude.

I was delighted to own one of his pieces.

Dark Knight can be found online at the Collection Shop and First Capitol Trading Inc.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome to the Future

My students are finishing reading Frankenstein and I will next show them A.I.: Artifical Intelligence. Among our discussions is the idea of what kind of responsibility the creator has toward his creation. In response to the movie, I've done some research on current work in the field of robots (a term coined by the Czech play R.U.R. in 1920).


Last year a Japanese company created an android called HRP-4C. Here is her presentation, showing her range of emotions.

Yamaha in 2009 combined her with speech capabilities.

Then we have Aldebaran Robotics' Nao

Robotics are all the rage, according to a recent New York Times article, especially in terms of cooking and restaurants.

Here are two robot chefs in a Ramen noodle restaurant, making 80 bowls of noodles a day.

Click here.

And here's a pancake chef.

ASIMOs new artifical intelligence shows how a robot learns to see.

Here are some Dancing Sony Robots.

You might even want your portrait drawn by one.

How prophetic A.I. seems. Someone has said, if we can imagine it we can make it happen. Well, folks, David may be with us sooner than we think.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let's hear it for the Chanteuse

According to an online dictionary, the word Chanteuse means a female singer, especially a nightclub singer. Here are some of my favorites:

Peggy Lee

Miss Lee could sell a song better than all of them. Even as a kid I understood what they meant by "sultry" when they spoke of her.

Ethel Waters

Miss Waters began in the 1920s, but her performance as Berniece in "A Member of the Wedding" is one of my favorites, especially when she did "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Breaks my heart each time I hear it.

Bette Midler

From the beginning, I loved Bette Midler's sassy style and humor. Her performances as DeLores Delago are a delight. What a great concept: a group of mermaids in wheelchairs.

But Bette can sell it like the best of them.

Edith Piaf sings her signature song, La Vie En Rose.

Judy Garland

Judy's life pain translated into much of her music. But her struggles made for golden moments for her fans.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Sculptures of Adam Beane

Adam Beane does incredible work.
When I wrote him asking if I could include pictures of some of his work here on my blog, he wrote:
"Lately I'm interested in pushing further with the celebrity portrature and I'm quite proud of my latest piece- Barack Obama for Esquire." Only the hands holding the bust belie the fact that the sculpture is a miniature.
I've done some modeling of miniature figures and animals and I know the precision it takes to achieve a good likeness. Beane's pieces, created in CX5, are works of art I'd love to own. His portfolio on his website has additionally fascinating pieces.
Below, at left is his bust of Evangeline Lilly as Kate from "Lost." At right is his detailed model of Alessandro Del Piero for PlanB Toys (2005).
Below is Beane's 1:16 scale work on  Ed and Shaun from Shaun of the Dead for Slideshow Collectibles, 2006.

To learn more, check out the following sites:

Check him out.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

More Things Found on the Net

Here are some more things I found online of interest:

  • One Sentence Archive: True Stories, told in one sentence. So how poignant or thought-provoking do you think a single sentence could be? Can it reveal a story waiting to come to light? Here are a couple of them that seemed particularly effective:
When I asked him how his day had been my father shrugged and said "It was okay," in a non-committal way, because we were still ten minutes from home, and only then would he feel able to tell me my brother had been killed.
My ex-wife would freeze up everytime she told the story of coming home from church as a child and finding all the dolls she had left lined up in tiny chairs replaced by the dead squirrels that her father had killed that morning.
I knew what we really were when I realized we had eaten our Christmas Dinner out of a cooler from the back of a pick-up truck.
  • The above site reminds me of the book, Post Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, compiled by Frank Warren, a collection of post cards where people write their stories on a post card and mail them anonymously to the compiler.
I wish my parents could see me for what I am... instead of what I didn't become.
When i see an ugly bride, what i am really seeing is a glimmer of hope for the future [maybe i will marry, someday].
I'm with the first person I've ever been able to truly trust. He is the only person I have ever cheated on. [Decorated with a statue of liberty sticker and a Los Vegas sticker and a red balloon.]
  • I love miniatures still even though I don't do anymore. Here is the work of Michael Paul Smith  who does incrediblely detail photographs of miniatures. You don't believe it's a miniature until you see the layout.
  • It's always interesting to see what people feel the need to create. Here's someone who makes "Skeletons of Looney Tunes Characters." Okay, so some of them are Hanna Barbara and Disney, but we get the idea.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Photofunia took me to a really interesting site yesterday which allows you to manipulate your pictures into others. I'm showing three examples below. You tell it what pictures to feed in and does it for you. Simple? Addicting. And there are 138 different pictures to choose from. Just select the pictures you want to use and it does the work for you.

More Fun Things Found on the Net

Here are some more links for you check out at your leisure...

  • "It's a Wonderful World" puppet show with music by Louis Armstrong. Over the years I've had countless students fascinated with handpuppets everytime a project light is turned on. Here's someone who goes beyond just playing. It's fun to watch.
  • Oscar the cat who predicts nursing home deaths. I'd known about Oscar for awhile now, but here's a more in depth article on him.
  • The work of artist Liu Bolin, The Invisible Man. He paints himself and then has himself photographed in real settings. It's pretty amazing to see.
  • The face of beauty. How does our perception of beauty change? Here's a video of numerous women's portraits from the Middle Ages on--and it's suprising how similar they tend to look.
  • Josh Keyes' paintings have the disquieting feel of a dreamworld where people no longer exist. His paintings are unique statements of what might happen if we weren't around. An unforgettable artist.
  • Human World Trivia. I love this sort of gallimauphry approach to all kinds of human trivia, from learning that Blackbird, a chief of the Omaha Indians, was buried sitting on his favorite horse or that when Albert Einstein died, his final words died too... the nurse at his side didn't understand German.
I have a friend who thinks I'm slipping into senility because I like Lady Gaga. Anyway, I love the dance number but can't figure out how she can dance in those shoes.
  • Living My Life Faster. For eight years J.K. Keller has taken a photograph daily and in this video he shows how he has changed.
  • Papercraft Self Portrait - 2009. Last Halloween, Eric Testroete made a huge paper self-portrait head which he wore. It's pretty amazing when you see the final product.
  • If you know the work of artist Ron Mueck, you'll find the art of Jamie Salmon equally fascinating.
  • People were fascinated with the damage done to Picasso's The Actor painting, but many have forgotten that the Metropolitan Museum had an even more shattering event in 2002. A 15th century priceless marble statue of Adam by Venetian sculptor Tullio Lomardo stood on a faulty pedestal which collapsed, breaking the statue in dozens of pieces. Here's the original New York Times article, and then a more recent one detailing what they are trying to do to save the work.
  • Was the Nefertiti statue a fake? Passionate about History tells the story.
Again, Lady Gaga doing "Paparazzi" (2009). Very interesting production.
  • Finally a brief look at The French Chef Julia Child introducing Chicken. Every Saturday I watched her show faithfully and it's fun to see this again. 
Well, that's it for the evening. Have fun and let me know what you think.