Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Art, Part 5

(Continued from Part 4)

Acrylic.  Howard Chaykin had recently brought The Shadow back to NYC in the modern world, and I was inspired by it. Withness the twin Ingram machine-pistols which replace his old-fashioned revolvers. This was the same gun featured in the downbeat John Wayne detective film, McQ. This painting was one of a series of three.
"BLUE OYSTER CULT"  (May 1988)
Acrylic.  The assignment for this one was deceptively simple.  Do a painting of music notes on a scale.  The teacher who gave the assignment got VERY annoyed that most of the class took this simple project and did next to nothing with it.  I, meanwhile, threw myself into it with wild abandon, doing one of the most elaborate (yet not all that time-consuming) pieces from around that time. The robed figures bore an uncanny resemblance to the figure of "The Time Trapper" from DC's LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, specifically on a cover done by artist Ken Steacy, which by a wild coincidence came out not long AFTER I did this painting!
Acrylic.  I read a number of books on the train to and from art school from 1986-88, including 3 Jules Verne novels:  20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and The Mysterious Island.  My best friend, Jim, a chronic speed-reader who usually got NO emotional impact from anything he sped thru, told he he'd tried to read the latter book 3 times and was stymied by the bleakness of its first 50 pages.  When I told him I had managed to read the entire thing, less than a week later he announced, so had he.  I guess he saw it as a challenge!
One of the characters in the book conspiciously missing from the Ray Harryhausen version of the story was the orangutan that the castaways train to become their butler.  As seen here, he smoked a pipe, but I also have him reading Jules Verne's book.  The cover comes from the paperback version that was a movie tie-in! Another painting I long considered "unfinished" (it was planned as full color), but now I kinda like it as it is.
"LICENSE REVOKED"  (June 1988)
Multi-media:  acrylic & typesetting.   What a perfect project for me: a contest to design a poster for the next JAMES BOND 007 film.  All I had to work with was the name, and that Bond would team with two girls, named "Pam" and "Lupe".  Two of my classmates, Elaine and Rachelle (yes, the South Philly "Mafia" neighborhood girl!) agreed to model for me.  While I think I captured their likenesses quite well, I had trouble doing the same with Timothy Dalton.
Ironically, in the finished film (whose name was changed to "LICENSE TO KILL" at the last minute), Pam was the one one in black leather at one point, while Lupe, the drug lord's mistress, was the one who tended to wear "filly" outfits.  And yet... while I did NOT win the contest, I was stunned that in the finished poster, the 2 girls WERE dressed as I had painted them, NOT how they were seen in the film! HOW can that be a coincidence?
I went to a "graphics" firm in Pennsauken, NJ, to have the lettering printed out as I designed it.  Although Gladys Knight did a memorable job on the theme song, I kinda wish they'd used Heart (picture Ann Wilson belting out "If Looks Could Kill") and Keith Emerson (whose NIGHTHAWKS score remains a favoirite of mine to this day).
Acrylic.  The 2nd Shadow piece.  You can see how much of a fan I was of the film THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (also with Timothy Dalton), as I used the new Aston Martin he drove in there in this painting.
"TIME AND THE RANI"  (July 1988)
Acrylic.  Sylvester McCoy quickly became my favorite DOCTOR WHO actor, and this was intended as a book cover for his 1st story.  I think I did quite well capturing his likeness, as well as those of Kate O'Mara and Bonnie Langford, the latter of whom I had such a crush on after seeing her onstage in person in New Brunswick, NJ. For awhile, I had a necktie like the one in the painting. The background was meant to emulate the computer-generated opening credit sequence used for McCoy's 3 seasons.
Multi-media: acrylic and guache.  I found this fascinating article and decided to do an illustration to accompany it.  The difference between psychotics and psychopaths, I learned, is that the former have no idea what they're doing, while the latter do, but have no sympathy for other people.  Which reminded me of a number of dangerous types I'd met over the years, including one who I worked with for 3 years, including the whole time I was in art school.  I used myself as the model here, looking as disturbed and detached as I could make it.  This was also done partly as a con. I was convinced, after touring NYC's Museum of Modern Art, that it was impossible to tell if some pieces on exhibit were brilliant works of genius, or con jobs.  My often-conceited classmates all seemed to favor the former.  I did this by painting on top of a board used to CLEAN my brushes-- and no one in the class knew the difference! (Except the teacher, Mike Powell, who got the "joke", but suggested I could have done it better if I'd done it for real.)
"FIRE BRIGADE"  (April 1988)
Guache (I think).  I don't remember the criteria for this one.  Historical context?  Limited color?  In any case, the title comes from a Roy Wood song by The Move.
"THE DEAD RABBIT"  (September 1988)
Multi media:  collage, acrylics, guache & markers.  Another FUN piece.  This combines 2 recent films, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? and THE DEAD POOL.  The background came from The Limeliters LP cover for "Our Men In San Francisco".  I thought it would be clever to render Roger as realistically as possible, while at the same time, turn Inspector Harry Calahan into a cartoon. After teaming Harry up with a Mexican, 2 blacks, a woman and a Chinese cop, I guess he figures this is just too much!
RF PRODUCTS, INC.  T-Shirt  (1988)
The company I worked at for 8-1/2 years wanted do come up with a design for company t-shirts.  I submitted this... which was completely and utterly ignored, in favor of a simple blue shirt with a red company name near the chest pocket.  Oy.

"CHRISTINE"  (April 1989)
Multi-media:  ink, zip-a-tone, white-out, plastic overlay.  Over time, I wound up doing a number of works that features classmates.  This was a girl who started out friendly, then got decidedly un-friendly, somber, etc. Her mood swings left me wanting to avoid her rather than even try to figure out what the heck was going on inside.  I swear she was passing around bad stories about me to everyone she talked to, even though we hardly ever spoke to each other.  Somehow, my teachers wound up awarding HER "best portfolio" when we graduated. Still not sure why. I thought this dark, disturbing piece managed to capture her personality.

All Artwork Copyright (C) Henry R. Kujawa
The Shadow, Blue Oyster Cult, The Mysterious Island, James Bond 007, Doctor Who, Roger Rabbit and Dirty Harry are all the properties of the various Copyright holders.

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