Monday 2 March 2009

Art Monday: making of "Introducing Sara Chasm"

Yesterday saw the debut of ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule, a new paleo-art blog with a whole crew of regular artists. When Craig Dylke approached me about it, I let out a heavy sigh. My commissioned work has been increasingly busy -for which I am continually excited- so could I really contribute to an ongoing group blog?

I just had to. Too exciting, and a lot of my favourite bloggers are present. Now, after the champagne has been smashed against the prow of our Ceratopsian Gallery, I couldn't be happier.

For my contribution, Introducing Sara Chasm, I knew I wanted to do some
thing a little left of scientific illustration. Okay, far off to the side.

I began by scribbling this sketch in my Moleskine on my walk
to work one morning.
It's important to carry around a small sketchbook for capturing tho
se ideas in the moment: when you wake up, when meeting a friend for coffee, after a shower or walking outdoors.

Using my trusty .3mm pencil, I made a more refined sketch. The photo reference is of a real person. I mulled over having Sara's t-shirt read ,"Canadian Grrls Rock", or maybe "Alberta girlz kick ass". Those also would have been good wall tags.For a while, Sara was going to be a hipster-photo-blogger of the kind that dwells on West Queen West here in Toronto, but the spray painted tag added a lot of colour. I drew that using my favourite india ink-brush pen, and erased all the pencilly-bits. A thick black pen (I use Faber-Castell's Pitt pens) like this can be great for quickly dropping in digital paint in Photoshop.I created the background using some rocks I scanned for texture, and embossed them to go with the light direction. With a digital hard brush I spattered paint in yellow-greens. Then, I added a medium-opacity white stucco to the wall.The oil painting. Completed in about 6 hours while listening to M.I.A., Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails and the new Lily Allen cd. I arrived at her name by thinking about Sara from ceratopsian, Chasm from chasmosaurus, and together they both sound a bit like sarcasm.After scanning the wet oil painting, there had to be a lot of clean-up. Using levels, I colour-corrected the blacks and whites. I tried to erase and blur the edges a bit to help it blend into the background.Finally, a bit of lighting to set the mood off. Click to enlarge the final product!
What do you think? I think Ms. Chasm looks a bit more 2-dimensional than originally intended, but the final product has a bit of an anime-feeling I don't see in my work. Will we see Sara Chasm again?

Make sure to check out the other images in the Art Evolved ceratopsian gallery, and leave comments!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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Christopher Zenga said...

Sara is certainly the sexiest Dino-chick-tagger I've ever seen!

I love the color pallet you used for the Dino-head. and those little yellow accents make the whole piece come alive. It is was very jarring at first to see the bright pink and blue graffiti on the finished piece, I'm not used to your working having neon in it. The "TAG" does not look like you painted it, but rather It's style makes you believe Sara herself added that bit to your painting. It comes together nicely.

Later days,

Christopher Zenga

Potential said...

Aw I Love her!
She's fantastic Glendon, really fantastic.

m said...

aw i love this even more now! It's amazing... and so much work went into it, compared to mine. I do wonder how she got her top on though, with that massive cranium!

Glendon Mellow said...

Chris - glad you like it! I'm not used to it having neon in my work either.

Potential - Thanks! I'll settle for "fantastic" I guess.

Mo! My new blog-peep! Obviously the shirt is stretchy.

Anonymous said...

Nice!! I like your unique ideas, Glendon! I think this one is one of my favorites that you've done because it incorporates different media. Very creative. Reminiscent on your "Trilobite/Hominid mutant" awhile back. BTW- "Sarah Chasm" is certainly Hot for a drawing....*drool*.....just kidding, lol.

Anonymous said...

As an Anime fan, as well as Major Paleo-nerd, I don't get an "anime-feel" as you said. So, take it from me, a guy who's best work were fan-made characters from existing manga and anie like Naruto, Dragon Ball Z (which I forgot mention has dinosaurs in it), etc.

traumador said...

i think the best part is how she is aiming the spray paint behind her without looking.

i can't help but picture sam the eagle asking "what sort of freak is this young lady exactly?...[pause though to say about her head]... if she can "tag" the streets so well. one should play such games with good, wholesome people that move and play back. not untrustworth unmoving streets!"

unlike sam, i like the pic, and the piece makes me wonder how it is she is so good at tagging...

Sean Craven said...

Hey, Glendon!

I was very curious as to how you were going to approach this -- I had a hard time imagining you doing a conventional reconstruction.

I sure wasn't expecting this. Very, very nice work here -- a lot closer to conventional illustration than I'm used to seeing from your work. I've got to say, I wasn't as surprised by the dinosaur/girl combination as I was by the well-done graffiti element.

Hey, I'm from the East Bay -- I see a lot of this stuff on the street and Sara's tag holds up. I like this one a lot.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Raptor! I like anthropomorphizing creatures, giving them a touch of human elegance or clumsiness.

It's partly what drew me to Symbolist art of Europe in the 1890's. Lots of tragic Sphinxes, mermaids, and mysterious angst.

Of course, Sara has no mysterious angst.

Glendon Mellow said...

Traumador, Sam the eagle was never more magnificent than when he took on the pirates in Muppet Treasure Island. I'd love to see a Sam/Captain America team-up.

And thanks. Glad the spray paint made the picture. It's largely covering a rushed hand. ;-)

Glendon Mellow said...


Thanks for your kind words. I can can't on you not to hold back.

I think I could do a conventional reconstruction. At first I was just planning to go to the ROM and draw a skull. I really enjoy doing those and looking at others', because I know how hard they are to pull off.

I'm trying to stretch my repertoire and surprise myself. It's something you do very well, Sean, and I want to explore more media this year. I have plans to invest in a digital tablet (hopefully an Intuos) within the month, so I wanted to play a bit.

The tagging I was more nervous about than the rest --! I work and live in downtown Toronto, and there's a series of alleys filled with well done tags downtown. I wanted to keep it legible. Glad it looks alright to a seasoned eye.

Thanks, man.

Sean Craven said...

Glendon, the reason I said I didn't think you were going to do a straight-up reconstruction had to do with your overall artistic approach, not your ability -- the skeletal sketches you've posted show that pretty clearly. I just knew you were gonna bust things up.

And this piece came out great. I know this isn't necessarily the nicest thing to say to an artist, but this illustrator has no problem seeing Sara on a book cover.

And I'd strongly recommend getting a tablet. But you might want to do a couple of in-store tests to see if you'd rather have an Intuos than a Bamboo. The price difference is significant, the difference to the user? Not so much. It depends on the size you like.

I prefer to use the smallest size tablet. It fits into my workspace and allows me to cover large areas of the page with small movements of hand and wrist. This doesn't make for the most exciting drawing -- the kind where you use your whole body -- but it's practical for working at a computer.

There have been times when the resolution on the low-end tablet (I had a Graphire, which is the precursor to the Bamboo) has been an issue -- but it really doesn't come up that often. Like I said, do a little shopping and testing before dropping a few hundred extra dollars.

violetlight said...

You never cease to amaze me, you'd think I'd be used to your talent by now. Sara Chasm needs her own series. I never thought of you as a "tagger", well done! It looks like it came right off of a city wall.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Sean,

Thanks again. I have no problem seeing my work on book covers either! (I'll be announcing another book cover soon -yay! Though it's not Sara.)

I've been reading a lot about the different tablets, and I may get a Bamboo Fun just for the price. But some Intuos are as low as $250, so we'll see. Believe me, I'll be posting attempts.

Glendon Mellow said...

Violetlight! I didn't know you were on blogger.

Thanks for the kind words. I agree: we need to see more of Sara.

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