Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Duck fans Across the "Pond"

We just returned from an exciting adventure to Europe where we had the opportunity to meet the friendliest fans of the Disney Afternoon and Feature work that Patty and I were fortunate to be a part of over the years. Before we set foot into the plane though, we both were working hard months earlier to create something special for the collectors that were already contacting us about the events. In fact more than a year earlier I was commissioned to create an oil painting while Patty was likewise asked to create another of her stunning "cloth creations" which have become so well known and collected at the Disney Parks.


My better half and I began creating some new pieces in our little studios. Obviously a certain miserly mallard from Duckburg, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, is one of our favorite subjects! My painting, "Portrait of Success," is in oil and I actually let it dry for over 8 months before applying the Damar varnish. Patty created her piece, "Number One Dime",  entirely from thread, cloth, and a bit of stuffing hench the branding phrase she uses, "Cloth Creations". She was constantly cutting, re-cutting and trying new cloth and thread combinations over many weeks to get it exactly the way she wanted it.

Carefully adding the varnish

From the ODOR IN THE COURT Dept: After carefully and s-l-o-w-l-y drying the painting in a custome drying box (with side vents) over a period of just under a year it was ready for the final application. Applying a couple of coats of old school Winsor Newton Dammar varnish over my dried oil portrait painting of Scrooge McDuck was a bit daunting. I heated up a jar of Dammar within a bowl of boiling water and just a hint of turpentine in the traditional method to help thin it a wee bit so it would go on smoothly. The varnish really brought all the color back to life! Very happy how it all came together, except for that smell. A day later and the smell is almost gone!
As Scrooge might say, "It all makes SCENTS now."


This photo of Patty and I was taken moments before they open the doors of the event to the public. (They're expecting over 28,000!) The jet lag might be there but hopefully no one will notice. Patty said if I start to get sleepy she'll be happy to pour cold water over my head. (what a doll!)

It's times like this when we're signing with paint pens, that I'm glad my name doesn't have too many letters. And for those wondering, NO, I am not about to sign the tablecloth. They had just removed a stack of glicees I had signed before they took this pic. They did an amazing job reproducing my oil painting 1 to 1 size on heavy weight acid free paper.

But let me tell you about Patty's latest Cloth Creation. I really love what she has created and the photo here on the right really doesn't do it justice. Eveyone's eyes pop and jaws drop when they see it up close. I will say though that the glicee reproductions of her cloth are actually are so sharp you might think they are the original cloth instead of the stretched canvas surface! It is truly a magnificent piece fit for Scrooge's Money Bin Gallery!

An interesting bit of trivia, Patty went with the traditional red coat used in European comics and older Disney editions while I went with the blue coat we used on our original series of DuckTales. (I prefer the red one, but don't tell anyone.)

This event also gave me the opportunity to pay tribute to my old friend Carl Barks and his character creation and the inspiration for our DuckTales series in a sculpted form in addition to the oil painting. This is the first of a series of animated characters I am sculpting that will be released as a resin cast with a gold color finish (what else would Uncle Scrooge have preferred!) and the bronze version will be a later edition.

This wasn't a sketch sent overseas to have someone else sculpt which is unfortunately the norm for most Disney collectable pieces these days. instead, I drew it out in sketches and sculpted this piece myself. Scrooge McDuck and future Disney cartoon animation legends will also be posed atop the sculpted version of my trusty old animation disc. This was my original prototype and I was playing around with tints. The resin will be completely one color (Scrooge McDuck prefers the gold hue) but the later bronze may have value tints and even colors. The resin was reproduced beautifully and is in an even smoother finish than this.
I was surprised that no one I spoke with overseas was familiar with the base that I made which was "based" on an old animation disc.

These are a few of the lovely people we met over the three days we were there.

Patty and I have been blessed to meet so many incredible fans at the event. One person took a boat for 3 hours from the island they lived on to get there to see us and purchase a signed sculpture. Another got up at 5AM and drove over 4 hours for a print of the oil and an original pastel!
Thank you to everyone who has made our visit so memorable including Koushi, Kamilla, Brian, Paw, Tora, Anders, Glenn and especially Niels and to everyone who stopped by our table. We are truly humbled at all of these amazing fans and it is an honor and privilege to be able to spend time with them.


Like all good things, even this lively fan event came to an end but as they say when one door closes, another one opens. Well that doorway was to Tivoli Gardens! Walt Disney visited here many times and found inspiration for his park to be called Disneyland. Patty is waiting for me to take the dern photo so we can get into the park.

The park opened on August 15, 1843 and is the third-oldest operating amusement park in the world. Tivoli is always evolving without abandoning its original charm or traditions. George Carstensen said in 1844: "Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished", a sentiment echoed just over a century later when Walt Disney said of his own Tivoli-inspired themed park- "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world".

It's therefore no secret that Walt was extremely impressed with Tivoli Gardens and studied elements of it as a basis for his future park to be called Disneyland. Lillian and Walt enjoying one of their many visits to Tivoli while Walt trades his usual skimmer hat for a bearskin shako in the photo on the left.


When I was 3 1/2 years old in New Orleans, my dad gave me a bit of his steak at a steak house in the Big Easy. It was the best thing I have ever eaten and have searched with no luck across the globe for that same taste since. Well, we found it in Tivoli Gardens where Patty and I had the most scrumptious birthday dinner at Groften's Restaurant in Tivoli Gardens! The service and meal were the best! What a wonderfully romantic evening!!

As empty as the gardens were, this place was packed, and with good reason. The food was the best I've had in a long time,... outside of Patty's cooking (whew! close call). All those years later and I finally located that delicious steak flavor, in another country!



After celebrating our birthdays with that delicious dinner, we left the restaurant and got something to drink from the local cauldron to wash down a swirl of cotton candy. We got the inside dope where to stand for the animated water and light show and we were not disappointed.

If the place looks fairly empty, it's because being the last day of the season,... it was pretty much was. We weren't complaining as there were no lines for anything, and it was simply beautiful!

Tivoli Gardens is such a lovely park and made even more magical with the cool light mist that was wafting throughout the evening. We got the inside dope where to stand for the animated water and light show and we were not disappointed. If the place looks fairly empty, it's because being the last day of the season,... it was pretty much was. We weren't complaining as there were no lines for anything, and it was simply beautiful! Here is Tivoli's iconic whale's mouth snack stand with the old lighthouse next door still illuminating the area. You can probably tell that it was cold and a light drizzle of a fine mist permeated the park. Patty and I just loved it as it is certainly a change from perpetually warm and sunny Southern California.

It's easy for us folks with squeaky knees to walk around across Copenhagen as it's relatively flat, like a few of my jokes. Patty and walked across this bridge twice a day. The view of Nyhavn, Copenhagen along the canal is lovely, even when it's overcast.
Our lovely Copenhagen apartment is just around the corner but out of respect to the owner who graciously gave it to us during the stay I won't show any photos or give the address.
Every turn in this beautiful city presented us with yet another stunning view of magnificent architecture and friendly people. It's nice to see folks embrace and hold onto their architectural history and culture.

The sign by the way is from a little neighborhood cafe and is advertising their delicious homemade Lentil soup with bread.


We had to visit the Little Mermaid statue while we were here. There was a small group of kind people there that helped us get closer (to Ariel) on those slippery wet rocks without falling into the water, and took the photo for us.

Another checkoff from the bucket list. Well, we have to pack now and head home. SO relieved we don't have Covid!



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Scrooge McDuck!

I was recently asked to do an oil painting of one of my favorite miserly fine feathered friends, Scrooge McDuck. He is of course officially licensed by Disney and will be unveiled in the fall. This is a photo Patty took of me up in the studio tickling old Scrooge with my paint brush.



Friday, September 4, 2020

Disney Publishing, Then & Now

 

My copy is the one on the left

A few of us were discussing the differences in the publishing tastes over the years regarding the classic Disney children's book illustration.

Sleeping Beauty was brought up as an example so I thought I would share my copy (on the left) with the current version on the right. The original employed an artistic take on the film's style for its cover with the other version decades later using essentially a frame of the film as the guide for its cover. Make no mistake, the interior of the original was loaded with art that was true to the film.

You'll have to excuse the tattered look of my copy as it was given to me by my grandmother in 1957. It's a first edition written by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by the key stylist of the film- Eyvind Earl along with another huge talent Julius Svendsen. It's well worn by my reading it many times during my childhood (and still enjoyed by me today!). It also showcases many concept paintings by Eyvind which are stunning!
On the right is the 1986 version. Although it is still published as a "Big Golden Book" it only measures 8¼" x 11" whereas the one of the left was 10¼" x 13". Also the number of illustrations in the later release was cut down by a third from the original edition.

The original was much closer to the film with its dynamic interior illustrations and style then the 80s version which is still being sold by Disney. The later/current edition has also removed all of the Eyvind Earl concept pieces that had earlier been displayed so beautifully in the original edition.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Little Man of Disneyland!

Opening Green Screen test
Since it’s difficult for our family to get together during this pandemic as it is for many, Patty and I thought why not adapt some of our favorite picture books into little animatics that we could share via email? “Walt Disney’s Little Man of Disneyland” is one of the lovely Little Golden Books we used to read to our daughters Kimberly and Kristin at bedtime. With Disneyland’s re-opening delayed to help insure the health of guests and cast members, we decided to share that one.

Our adaptations are not animated but more like simple camera moves across the artwork. The credits title card was fun way of sharing the names of the illustrator, author and composer of the music we used.
In some cases we added and repainted the book illustrations a bit to adapt from a book page image to the video format. Some folks were asking what we changed so here are a couple of examples that will help illustrate what we did. Make no mistake though, Dick Kelsey is a legendary Disney artist who did a magnificent job on the original book. Dick Kelsey is one of my favorite artists from the Little Golden Book era of Walt's day and had quite a successful career in feature animation at Disney.

The frame above by the way is from the opening Patty and I created for the adaptations. I modeled the entire set and Patty did textures and animation. I've always wanted to live in the cartoon world so this was my big chance, lol.
This was our first experience using our cheap little homemade green screen and it was a blast! The only thing that is "real" in this shot is me! In case you were wondering, that's Patty's lovely photo over the fireplace.

For those that have been asking, the last shot at the end of the film is INDEED taken from a photograph of the actual tree that Patrick resides within at Disneyland! Yes, it is a real thing so have fun searching it out with the kids!

We hope children (of ALL ages) will enjoy these stories.

Here's the link to the animatic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FrYhgfPXFM


Drawing Max as Powerline

A frame grab from the drawing lesson with my little buddy, Max
When I was asked to donate a drawing lesson of Max as Powerline, I had to say yes! After all, he is a charter member of the original series “Goof Troop”, that I had the honor of creating and developing for Disney Television years ago. He’s also the son of one of my favorite “Fab-Five”- Goofy, Gwarsh!

I only had a weekend to do the rough sketch, video and editing so it’s a very simple clip. Hopefully it will entertain kids (of all ages) that enjoy drawing him. It’s an effort to get their minds off what is happening right now across the world with the Coronavirus, and while they are quarantined at home, remind them how much fun drawing can be. I hope you will enjoy it and I’ll do more of these when I can. Patty and I wish everyone the best.

Please take care and stay safe.

Here's the link:
https://www.facebook.com/DisneyD23/videos/665416564273272/

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Terrors That Flap in the Night...

This was a very quick little doodle I did for a neighbor's child that is having a rough time with the Coronavirus safety guidelines. His mom was lamenting she had to take him with her to the store to pick up groceries but he refused to wear a mask or use the hand gel. He is a new fan to the original Disney Afternoon. He is binge watching with mom during the quarantine and especially loves the old DuckTales and Darkwing Duck series. I sent this over via email, keeping that 6 foot distance they recommended, and he loved it!

He even washed his hands now!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mickey Mouse D23 90th Tribute

Mark Henn and his official 90th piece
During lunch at the Disney Studio commissary not long ago I was asked by a well known and important member of the Disney company if I would be interested in doing Mickey Mouse’s 90th portrait. I couldn’t answer quick enough, “YES!!” Who wouldn’t be excited for such an honor. I went home and against Patty’s advice, did research, thumbnail sketches, color studies and created an original oil painting over 3 feet tall! Patty scolded me to wait until I had a contract but I ignored her (that can get a husband in trouble!).

3 weeks later I met the same wonderful person and was about to show them the image on my phone of the finished painting when they shared that they had hired “a well known animator” to do the piece. I was shocked and beyond disappointed.
The animator who got the honor, Mark Henn, is an extremely talented fellow and a long time friend so as sorry as I was for me, I was truly thrilled for him. His wonderful and inventive painting was unveiled last year during Mickey's birthday celebration. I went home and wrapped my painting in a ventilated box and stored it into my studio closet.


My tribute to a special little fellow
Fast forward to earlier this year. While attending a group of Disney historians, I was sharing a few photos of what I had been up to. One of the top D23 people (and a very nice guy!) saw the photo. To make a long story short, my Mickey Mouse painting is now out of the bag and will be into D23 EXPO this month!

My painting featured Mickey sitting on one of the old Hyperion era director's chairs on a mockup set from the old Mickey Mouse Club. He's holding an iphone as a nod to his bridging decades of innovation right up to the current class of electronics. It may not be the official 90th portrait of the mouse but it at least will be seen in public. The original painting and limited edition prints will be available for purchase! I’m beyond thrilled, Mickey has been and continues to be a large part of my life! Thank you Mickey and D23!