Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pearl of Wisdom

In my last blog I talked about combining my love for the weird with also my artwork instead of creating a separate blog for that purpose. Originally this blog was to be concerned with oddities on the web and such and a combining of the two may disappoint some, if so, my apologies. I am still on the hunt for the bizarre and will post my discoveries as well. Now that all that is out of the way.

Pearl of Wisdom was flawed yet it was also one of those pieces that I couldn't let go off. When I say flawed, I know the disproportions that are present in the piece and they stare at me like the pimple on the forehead of a high school prom queen. Yet, I had to finish it and in the end was pleased with the effect I was trying for. I have always had a love for Albrect Durer's art and his engraving Knight, Death and the Devil remains one of my favorite pieces of art. Though no where near his level, I did like the feel of Pearl when I finished it in pencil on bristol. Yet, I felt like there could be more to cultivate out of the piece. So, like the Mad Hatter I am, I set out to experiment with my Wacom table in Abode. Below is the result. (forgive the water mark but people love to pilfer)

It is a little different than the majority of my work which is primarily Dark Gothic Fantasy and it isn't black and white. But the piece seem to demand more than the black and white pencil version and I believe the color helped with the composition. I am frankly self taught when it comes to Adobe and sometimes it glaringly shows but I love to experiment and I decided to do the majority of the objects and items in layers and then set them to multiply. Items like the robe, face and hands, staff, etc where done on their own layer then the final layer set to normal to add details. Below is a montage of some of the details from Pearl of Wisdom.

Like I mention before this is different than my usual work, but I still consider it a tad like esoteric fantasy. The Hermit has been a symbol for many things including wisdom, solitude, inner knowledge etc. He is often a figure that haunts my subconscious imagery and like many of my renderings of the Grim Reaper, he seems to want me to set him down on paper. Perhaps Jung would have had a field day with me. Below is another depiction of the Hermit I did last summer based on a short story I wrote years ago. (The story needs much rework and editing so please be forgiving.)

This piece, The Hermit and the Elf, was done much the same as Pearl of Wisdom, a digital coloring of pencils, but I didn't take as much time as I did Pearl of Wisdom in setting separate layers for each item. Though I am not quite where I want to be in the digital rendering realm I feel that I am getting closer but I can not forsake my first love which is black and white art. I have to admit though color adds a dimension that I want to explore.

On another note, I have committed myself to a project that will have to be done by next October. It will be a compilation of short stories, poems and of course art and most likely will be self published online. It is called the October Book and I hope that it is done in time for next October.

Note: Pearl of Wisdom both the black and white and the color version prints can be purchased at Deviant Art here and here.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I have to apologize for not blogging as of late. I have been busy working on a project for work that involves me doing artwork for Halloween as well as busy doing digital painting on a pencil piece I recently finished.

I have been toying the idea of either creating a new blog for my artistic exploits or combining it with this one. If I combine them I may change the name of the blog to fit more with the theme.

This is the piece I am currently digital painting in Adobe with my Wacom. It is pencil on bristol and though I love black and white, this piece seemed to demand some color. Also with the background I have in mind it may accentuate the composition more.

Pearls of Wisdom.... by *PoeticCrow on deviantART

I have to confess that much of my digital endeavors are self taught and the coloring I am doing is rather experimental So far I am liking the results but I did commit a cardinal sin of not doing the background first and that may lead me into some trouble and may ruin the effect. So I have my fingers crossed.

Anyway, once again I apologize for the lack of updates and will get back on track soon.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Note: It is now 58 days to Halloween.

When one considers how vampires have changed over the years from their initial conception on screen one could perhaps write a social thesis on how art reflects current society. There is no denying there is a strong sexual connotation embedded in the vampire but also there is an undercurrent of eternal life by the ingestion of human blood. But all this came with a price, your soul, at least that was the how the vampire was viewed in his early incarnations. This view of the vampire was of definitive evil that craved power, longevity and in some cases a youthful appearance by preying on others. In the dark regions of Romania the vampire was repulsive with foul breath, hairy palms, pointed ears protruding fangs that did not retract. Bram Stoker mined much of this lore as well as legends of Vlad the Impaler when he penned Dracula and F. W. Murnau, in 1922, accentuated these details in his film adaption of the novel.

The history of Nosferatu is a troubled one. Names had to be changed to avoid a copyright issue because Prana Films never got the rights to the novel so Murnau and screenplay writer Henrik Galeen had to change key names. Dracula became Count Orlock and Harker became Hutter and Renfield became Knock and so on. Yet even with the changes the plot was so blatantly obvious that Stoker's widow succeeded in winning a law suit that caused Prana Films to declare bankruptcy and the majority of the prints destroyed. Yet Nosferatu survived and has been hailed by Empire Magazine as on of the top 100 films of World Cinema.

Here is a bit of interesting trivia, until Murnau's film, in legend, lore and in literature the daylight did not destroy a vampire. It was Nosferatu that incorporated this detail, even in Stoker's novel, Dracula could travel about by day but his powers were considerably weakened. Munau had to devise a method to dispose of Count Orlock and the idea came to him to have Ellen, Mina in Dracula, read the Book of Vampires and discover " a woman pure in heart must willingly give her blood to him, so that he loses track of time until the cock's first crowing." Ellen offers herself to Orlock who gorges on her until he is unaware of the coming morning and is destroyed by the sun. This has been passed down through film after film, daylight is lethal to a vampire, an example of how Hollywood can retool lore for effect.

In 1979 Werner Herzog remade Nosferatu entitled Nosferatu the Vampire. Considered by many an art film with a very creepy performance by Klaus Kinski, it follows the main plot line of the original film but doesn't disguise many of the names that Murnau's film does. Harker is Harker and Mina is Mina in Herzog's film and Kinski gives at times a sympathetic portrayal of the immense loneliness that Orlock suffers from his longevity and isolation. It is a very poetic film that ends like the Murnau film with Ellen/Mina sacrificing herself to keep the Count distracted until the morning sun destroys him. Herzog's film is a compliment to the original and personally I prefer it but much of my preference lies in the fact that it is technologically superior and gives a richer portrait of Orlock. But if it were not for the original we would not have the 1979 film and even those technical advances make it more preferable to watch, there is no denying that for its time, the 1922 Nosferatu was ahead of of the curve and its contribution to the genre cannot be denied.

In 2000, E. Elias Merhige was selected by Nicholas Cage to direct Shadow of the Vampire to be produced by his studio Saturn Films. With a script written by Steven A. Katz and a cast that included John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier and Eddie Izzard, Merhige created a backstory to the filming of Nosferatu with Dafoe playing Max Schreck, the actor who was hired to play Orlock but there was one catch, Schreck was a real vampire. The result was a dark comedy accentuated by Malkovich ad libbing dialogue in many scenes and a performance by Dafoe that would garner him a nomination for a best supporting actor Oscar. Though the movie is loaded with black humor the ending still results in the pathos of destroying their lead actor at the cost of the films leading lady. Funny and somber the film is required viewing for anyone who has an interest in the original. Of course the movie is entirely fictitious but the atmosphere and watching Malkovich playing the obsessed Murnau as well as Dafoe playing Orlock as a sinisterly creepy but sometimes sympathetic ancient, vampire is a pleasure to watch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Man with the Thousand Watt Stare: Dwight Frye

It is now 59 days to Halloween and keeping with that tradition this is another continuation of Supernatural Horror and the contributions of earlier films and actors to the genre.

In 1931 when Tod Browning filmed the stage adaptation for Dracula the part of Renfield went to a relatively unknown stage and film actor Dwight Frye. Frye's portrayal of conscience conflicted servant of Dracula was at the time so mesmerizing that he became dubbed the Man with the Thousand Watt Stare. Frye portrayed Renfield as a multifaceted individual that it later became the groundwork for other actors in later film adaptations of the Lord of the Undead. At times Frye's Renfield was a sympathetic, broken man tormented by his own dementia and desire to become one of Dracula's legions by a promise by the Count that he would make him immortal but the consequences seem to cost him his very soul. But at the drop of a hat he would succumb to the lure of power and his craving for blood, whether it was insects, small animals or even human, for to him it was the gateway to immortality for as his Master claimed, "for the blood is the life." It was in these instances that Renfield's nature would turn dark and sinister, Frye's performance stealing each scene he was in and literally chewing up the scenery like a madman.

Since he gave such an intense performance as Renfield, Universal would of course capitalize upon it and Frye would be later cast in James Whale's Frankenstein as the sadistic hunchback lab assistant Fritz and again in the sequel as the lab assistant Karl in The Bride of Frankenstein. It is interesting to note that it wasn't until Son of Frankenstein that Bela Lugosi himself played the hunchback with the iconic name Ygor. Though Lugosi's performance as the embittered hunchback with the broken neck is one of his finest, it is Frye who comes to mind at the mention of Ygor. Perhaps in a small ironic way, the servant surpassed the Master.

In each role Frye delivered characterizations of either tormented souls or characters that danced on the lunatic fringe. As a results of his performances being so convincing he was typecast in Hollywood but on Broadway he starred in what he really wanted Hollywood to notice, comedies. Sadly though he did not live long enough for Hollywood to take notice for him to make that transition, he died of a heart attack at the age of 44.

Through the years though Frye status has been somewhat elevated by Alice Cooper's song "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" (without the final e).

Here is a very nice video created by "The Smiling Shadow" on youtube. A montage of clips from Dracula set to Mad World.