Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cat Masks

Here are pics of three finished "Sophia" cat masks, named partly for "Wisdom" and partly for my mother's much loved mini-van sized feline, aka Sof the Loaf.

I had way too much fun painting these. Again I got to use some Golden Acrylic iridescent and interference paint, particularly on the main part of the white cat and in the eyes of the black and white cats. I'm in love with that pearly white color!

Masks at the Movies

Imagine my suprise when I was trying to unwind with a movie and not think about masks when I found the movie was actually about... MASKS.

I love Neil Gaiman. His Sandman graphic novels are some of my favorite books of all time. I also have a healthy respect for Dave McKean, one of several illustrators for Sandman. So I was pretty keen to see this movie for which Gaiman did the screenplay and McKean did the artistic direction. While it turned out that I was a little bored by the story, I though it was a real treat to see the masks designed by McKean.

Other mask movies. "The King of Masks", a story about a Chinese maskmaker in need of an apprentice, is one of my favorite movies of all time. I thought "Eyes Wide Shut", directed by Stanley Kubrick with masks designed by Guerrino Lovato (I took a class with him once!) was really, really, really, boring, although the masks were lovely.

However, I'm planning on sticking with anime for the near future for entertainment! Not that it's safe from masks, either, there was that vicious flesh eating Noh mask in "Inuyasha"...

"Scrutinizing Eyes" Masks

Here are pics of the first few finished casts of what is officially known as the "Scrutinizing Eyes" mask. Unofficially, it's called "Paranoid Eyeballs". The gold mask is the finished "Chiesatine" paper mache mask that I posted pictures of earlier, raw and fresh from the mold.

I got to play alot with Golden Acrylics interference and iridescent colors painting these. Way, way, way too much fun!

It's important to me that the mask moves well with the wearer, and the shifting colors of the interference paints in particular add to the mask's sense of movement. Plus, I'm hoping that in some cases they can save me a little time (and thus, production costs) as they can give me depth and interest in the color of the mask without devoting hours and hours to layering, glazing, and shading.

The Winning Mask

While I'm posting pics of my new masks, I thought I'd post this one of the "Rip" mask that won second place at "Face the Nation IV: A National Juried Mask Exhibition" at the Design Museum of the University of California Davis, January 2006. Here it is.

The first place winner was Ned Bear a First Nations maskmaker. I'd be thrilled to come in second to him any day!

The Attack of Shnozzola, or, The Practical End of My 35mm Camera

My main project the past few months has been to try to take some decent pictures of my masks for my website and other promotional materials. I splurged and bought all the photographic equipment I needed (seamless paper, a seamless stand, a reflector, a diffusion umbrella, etc) and set up a lovely little photographic studio in the basement. And then, while tripping over tricycles and stepping in cat poop (every fifth day or so is Litter Box Optional day among the felines here, it seems) I took my pictures. And retook my pictures. And retook my pictures YET AGAIN.

Observe Exhibit A, pictures of a "Sneer" mask, above. The bottom pic is taken with the mask as close to the camera as possible. The top pic is taken with the mask backed off from the camera, and then zoomed in with the telephoto lens. I had read about distortion in photos of three dimensional objects when the camera was too close, but, wow. Needless to say, I had taken pics of all my masks with the camera nice and close before I noticed this distortion was happening, and needed to take them all again.

So my original plan had been to take a set of digital pics with my digital camera, and then take a set of pics on real slide film with my conventional 35mm camera. But my digital camera has the telephoto lens and the 35mm doesn't. I don't want to spend tons of money to get a new telephoto lens. More and more galleries and shows are accepting mostly digital submissions, and I wonder if the day isn't coming soon when slides will be obsolete. And until then, there are places that convert digital pictures into slides. So this may be it, the day when I put my trusty 35mm on the shelf and say sayonara.