Saturday, September 5, 2009

So, what is a lenticular print?

A Halloween exhibition simply needs more than a row of framed drawings.

I had made small holograms years before, but learned that life-sized holograms are awfully pricy. Prohibitively expense when animated. As I turned to looking into magician and theatre illusions, I came across ‘lenticular printing.’

As advertised, lenticular printing creates the illusion of motion and depth on a single printed image as you walked past. Having contacted National Graphics, I begin work on a couple of projects that resulted into two prints, Janus and Bonfire (though I planned a couple more).

Janus began with a number of short videos I shot of my son, Andrew, wearing two masks while sitting on a chair in the dinning room. Using ImageReady, I selected eight key frames. I used Photoshop to erase the background and then used Corel Painter to paint the masks and figure. The background image is primarily a heavily manipulated collage of photos taken at the Mississippi Valley Fair. Just at twilight. As Andrew’s head turns, the background image was pulled from left to right. The file I sent to National Graphics was in the gigabyte range. They needed a layer for every frame, for every layer of depth and high resolution for the size of the print.

I make it sound so simple, but I really didn’t know what I was doing -though I kept going forward. This took me months.

I wanted the next lenticular print to be the largest size that could be printed. It was. It is. 58 x 38”. This one presented a new problem as I simply couldn’t make a video of a fire that looked right or had details when printed nearly five feet in height. I ended up constructing a bonfire from photos that included details of cat’s fur, masks, and a blurry video shot at Epcot.

The resulting prints are both more and less than what I had expected. I’ve watch people look at them walking back and forth; stepping forward, closer, closer and then back. Sort of like the 2001 monolith. Yet, the motion isn’t as sequential as I envisioned.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Techniques and Approaches

In both Flight and Changelings, I drew with 6B graphite sticks and solid graphite pencils on smooth Bristol paper. I used several different types of erasers –always experimenting with different smudging effects. I began each drawing with faintly drawn marks until I felt I gained control over the composition and developed a strategy for lights and dark. Though I am willing to put in whatever time it takes, I am always on guard not to fuss too much with details. I work towards simplifying the composition to its essential elements. I often draw a closely observed edge and then selectively render a sense of details within and without.

Nearly all of the figures and background objects were drawn from my own photos. I took many, many hundreds of reference photos of houses, walls, street and cats. Lots of cats –laying down, walking, running. Doing cat stuff. I also gathered masks and various Halloween decorations to draw from and for atmosphere. Three of the Changeling drawings are based on photographs by Max Henry. Only a few of the figures and bits of background directly hearken back to images I found on the internet.

I used linear perspective to create most of the houses, fences and streets. Though I went to great lengths to make sure that proportions and perspective lines were consistent, I was more concerned with believability than correctness. Sometimes I would grid an object or figure to keep them in proportion. Most of the skies and trees were only very loosely based on photos or just simply made up. On occasion, I used Photoshop to work out a composition –combining as many as a dozen separate source images. But then again, others drawings were composed without any references -they just popped out of crazytown, my head.


A changeling is the substitute for a human child stolen away by the fairy folk. This second series of graphite drawings is not about this folklore per se, but how a person is simultaneously hidden and revealed by a mask. Ah, the stuff of psychology and symbolism.

In this series, each drawing is of an isolated, masked person against a blank background. The exception is the first drawings -the one with the two popes, "Schism Shmism". In many ways, this drawing is mostly about the unimportance of superficial differences/schisms between us. It is from a photograph of the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village taken a good friend, Max Henry. Two other drawings in the series are based in part on Max's photos. Thank you popes, cat woman and woman in a veil. Thank you Max.

In the next drawings, I contrasted the young women and flowers with their grim makeup. I also contrasted their demeanors. One seems to express that death is a part of life. The other that death is to be feared and hidden.

The rabbit mask has no expression. It tells us nothing about the person wearing it. Personally, I find such neutral masks frightening. I also find the catwoman drawing a little frightening in that the somewhat androgynous person is showing a bit too many teeth.

The drawing, Bumming a Smoke, is from a photo I took of a teen dressed all Clockwork Orangey when he approached me in my car asking for a cigarette. A bit creepy also. The last three drawings hint at a short sequence.

I've also completed a couple of drawings of small, costumed figures. I’m not sure if I’m going to expand –even greatly expand the series- to include these or other drawings yet to be drawn. I am also considering several additional series –one called "The Other' that will focus on exaggerated or missing shadows.