On the last day of this project I discovered a revelation about this musical.  Fairy tales are often self contained, and Sondheim introduced familiar characters to us.  Familiar, except for two--the Baker and his wife.  These are two characters who spend the first act trying to have a child, and the second act protecting it.  When the Baker's wife dies, the Baker is left to raise the child alone.  The final song brings back every dead character to speak to the audience.  The Baker's wife speaks to her husband.  "Tell him the story of how it all happened"...  She's inside those stories, and the folk tale tradition, which, like a game of telephone, changes and grows with each telling, is planted like a seed. It had never dawned on me the significance, in this musical, of parents telling stories before!

My composition is meant to straddle two worlds and perhaps three.  The mom remains in the book while the husband remains to continue on and grow in the real world.  They still share the sky.  I learned a lot doing this project.  I'd work and refine each image forever if given the chance.  Most would just get tighter, not better.  I think starting and finishing an image is the best practice for achieving a quickly realized finish.  Still working on that.

No One is Alone

The Baker's wife has been killed by a giantess.  Jack's mother is dead.  Red Riding Hood's family, too, is gone.  Cinderella has left her prince.  Together they're bound together to kill the giant's wife because she is wreaking havoc on the land.  They are not alone, even having lost so much.  No one is alone--not even those people you are fighting against.  Life is not black and white.

So many characters were repeated for this image.  I almost wish I'd made the different trees slightly separate color, but I'd decided to make a mass of leaves at the top of the page. Now they remind me of the cotton-y plants in Horton Hears a Who.  I wish some of the tar receded a little better, but I'm still not sure how to achieve that.  The colors here were a challenge, but on the whole I'm pleased.  Perhaps the leaves up top are a bit warm in tone?  On the whole, however, I'm pleased.

No More

Are we here to correct the mistakes of our parents?  A curse has been placed on a baker and his wife.  They cannot bear children because the baker's father had stolen magic beans from a witch's garden.  The witch took the father's unborn daughter, Rapunzel.  The father abandoned his son and wife.  Once the Baker gets his wish and has a child, he loses his wife and runs away.  He has a chance not to repeat some of the mistakes of his father.  Will he take it?

I continued ingraining the figure into his environment here.  It's not perfect, but the Baker's legs feel much more germane to the ground here than it might have been previously.  I was trying to match the character's costume colors and profiles.  The father could have been mossier and the Baker could have been less heroic, but I like the trees and vines in the background. 


The princes, Charming run through the woods seeking their damsel in distress.  In the first act, one brother chases Cinderella night after night, dance after dance.  The other tries his hardest to break Rapunzel free from her tower.  Agony. By the time the curtain falls before the intermission, they've both reached their goal and have married their prizes.  In the second act, however, the thrill of the chase has waned and now each has discovered a new quest.  Cinderella's prince has discovered a sleeping maiden guarded by seven dwarves and Rapunzel's husband has found sleeping maiden high in a tower surrounded by brambles.  Agony again.

I can't believe this painting took the full four hours.  I think I struggled to make it cohesive, and the fighting jabs their fists are meant to portray could have been better rendered.  I like the faces, but I'm not sure they fit in with the style of the other images.  The colors in the illustration are good, tho.  There's always more to criticize, right?

On the Steps of the Palace

Cinderella attends three dances over three nights during a festival. Having run away every evening at midnight, her prince gets smart and spreads sticky black pitch on the palace steps the last night.  While she's standing there stuck, she tries to decide if she wants to be caught or not.  Eventually she decides not to decide, leaving one shoe behind.  It's out of her hands if she's found, but she's still findable.

One of the challenges of painting a single show is that I had to design recurring characters. You'll notice my under-drawing looks nothing like the finished character--this is because I hadn't opened up my first night's drawing again for reference.  I remedied that in the first few minutes of  black and white painting. 

I have to admit I had an image of N Asencios' stuck in my head as I started this painting.  It influenced me too much, maybe.  Also, looking back, I question the warm yellow light behind the prince.  Perhaps a more glowing blue? I'd definitely redden up and lighten that background, especially behind her head, but... hindsight is 20/20.

Stay With Me

Rapunzel has found her prince and the evil witch she considers her mother has discovered the truth.  At first she threatens Rapunzel not to leave, then she begs.  "The world is dark and cruel, stay here where I can keep you safe" she sings.

I'm not sure how much this painting feels like night time, but aside from that, I'm mostly pleased.  The witch was a LOT of fun to paint.  And I think I loosened up on Rapunzel because of the weird contortions a witch's face needs to reflect.  I'm starting to blend some of the edges of the layers too.  I'd do that during the black and white stage if I didn't have to keep the photoshop layering separate for color.  Rapunzel is a little, well, she's more than dumb in Into the Woods, she's blank.  Her whole life has been spent hidden away in a sheltered existence.  Because of that , she doesn't have a lot to add to the play as a personality. The drawing of my maiden became more vacant as I went along.

Giants in the Sky

There's not a lot to describe about the story here.  Jack climbs the beanstalk and steals the hen (yes, it's a hen in this version) that lays golden eggs.

I thought it would be a little funny to have the hen very stressed, laying and dropping eggs on the way down.  The song describes how much bigger life can be when you explore things beyond your front yard.  They can also be scary, of course.

I like the red in Jack's face.  I wish the clouds were a little more solid towards the top, instead of becoming a feeble attempt at atmospheric perspective, but for the most part I'm pleased.

I finish the painting and it looks okay.  I open it the next day, just to glance at it, and I see all the flaws--for example, that bean stalk is very unrefined.  Then two weeks later, it all looks okay again.  I suppose a month from now I'll really know what this thing looks like.

Hello Little Girl

Little Red Riding Hood is wandering through the forest on her way to Grandma's house when she's stopped by the Big Bad Wolf.  Okay, we know this story.  The song  is a seduction for Red to pay attention to the flowers and venture further from the path.

I wish I'd spent a little longer making the colors in the foreground meld a little better with the background.  Almost all of the action in this story takes place at night, and though the values can still reach bright white without confusing anyone, the warm colors distract me now.  It is nice having the time to explore and finish a drawing, however.  Some of the modeling is still rough, and some of the bushes in the back are left undone, but hands look like hands and baskets have threading.  It was a revelation.  If only I'd blended the wolf's tail and feet into the scene a little better.  I learned more about that as the days progressed, however.  Keep reading!

Cinderella at the Grave

My intention was always to change the rules of the game after finishing the first 90 images.  The ultimate goal, as always, was 99, and after a brief hiatus, I'm returning.  These final 9 images will all come from the same show-- Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim's take on the Brother's Grimm.  I also wanted these last paintings to feel more finished.  To get around my two hour rule, I broke up the project into sections.  I spent two hours on the black and white painting, which I'm posting next to the underdrawing (with which, as ever, I could spend as much time as I wanted) and two hours on the final color. 

The first image has Cinderella crying on her mother's grave, which her tears have watered into a giant tree.  The spirit inside the tree grants her her wish-- a dress for the festival.

Someone in a Tree

Day 90.  Easter.  So of course I decided to go with Pacific Overtures, Stephen Sondheim's account of the westernization of Japan.  It makes perfect sense.

Someone in a Tree describes the moment a treaty was signed between the opposing Japanese and American soldiers.  No one sees the event the same way.  A young boy watches the action from a distance, up in a tree.  A peasant listens to the action from underneath the floorboards of the meeting house, and a soldier waits outside.  Each person's memories are faulty and half-informed.  But they all know that the experience was retrospect.

I think some of my lights got a bit bright, and I might desaturate a shade or two, but I like the tree.  And I'm glad I left all the people hidden.

A short hiatus comes now.  I'll return with nine new paintings, each from the same show.  I'm not sure if I will keep the two hour rule, or instead, learn how to push through to a more finished image.  I will have missed a number of great shows-- Gypsy, West Side Story, Mystery of Edwin Drood, Brigadoon, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Chicago and more.  Lots more to learn, yet, however.  Stay tuned.

Over the Moon

Can you believe it took me eighty eight images before I got to Rent?  Can you believe I decided to paint the cow?

A young group of hipsters can't afford to pay the rent on their NYC Village apartment, and want to complain about it.  The premise of the show is an updated retelling of the opera, La Boheme.  Maureen is a performance artist, and to draw attention to the loss of her public performance space, she sings a song about a cow in cyberland with a dream.  She doesn't want to hurt anyone, she just wants to jump over the moon.  A bulldog tries to stop her.

That is one hot moon.  And I decided the 'edge' of Rent might be represented with an earring.  I didn't forget the possibility of a nosering, but I didn't like it.  I don't know if the cow is blue in the show, but I think that adds extra edge too.

River in the Rain

I'm not as familiar with Big River as I'd like to be, but I love this song.  Jim and Huck, from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, sing country song in the rain as they travel down the Mississippi.   

I wish I'd dealt with the rainfall more intelligently.  They seem to be in front of a waterfall, more than in the midst of a deluge.  Perhaps more mist? More edges lost?  Reference might have helped me here.  I was so surprised by the song choice, however.  I have a long-ish list of shows I've yet to paint, but I was still hoping for something unusual and full of imagery.  I remembered this show at the last minute.

Huck and Jim are happy.  They love the rain.  They love the freedom.  They love the night.  I love being so close to achieving my goal.

Move On

Sunday in the Park with George is Sondheim's musical about artistic creation.  George Seuret connects to life through his painting, but real people baffle him.  He's in love with his model, Marie, but she needs more attention than he's able to give.  She becomes pregnant and marries a baker, leaving France (and George) for America.  She is forever held in esteem in his famous painting, Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte, however.  And in act II she returns to tell George's great grandson, a modern artist, to keep creating.

I think this might be the first image I really had to pull reference out for.  I needed a part of the painting for the illustration to make sense.  George looks a little too reminiscent of Van Gogh, and I completely avoided pointilism, but I still like the finish here.  It's obvious I spent more time on faces than anything else, but laying forth for myself unfavorable comparison to a masterpiece might intimidate anyone.

I Want to Be a Producer

Unhappy.  Unhappy.  Very, very, very, very, very unhappy.   Mel Brooks has come to Broadway and it took me a while to come to him.  The movie of The Producers is not wildly lauded--it's a direct transplant from the stage and the performances have not taken the advent of closeups into account.  It's still good, tho.  I probably prefer the musical to the original.  And the original is hilarious.

Leo Bloom is an accountant who has discovered that a producer could make more money from a Broadway flop than from a success.  He and Max Bialystock set out on a mission to mount the worst musical ever created.  They find it, but still miscalculate.

This song comes at the beginning of the show.  Leo hates accounting and feels trapped.  I like the cropping for two reasons--he's getting pushed out of his own picture, and the top of his head is cropped.  It's a major plot point that a producer isn't really a producer until AFTER he produces a show.  Once that's accomplished (midway through act II) he gets to wear the Producer hat....literally.

It's a Maze

For the first time, I've started leaning on shows I'm not strongly familiar with.  I found The Secret Garden in a thrift store several weeks ago, and I know that it's an show many people praise.  I like the story--I've seen several movie versions, but I was resistant to learning something new just now.  I may have been biased by it abbreviated highlighting at the Tonys many decades ago.  I think I was probably rooting for something else that year, and decided I wouldn't like this show.  Once on this Island, likely, seemed a stronger showing.  I've listened to the music several times this month, and tho it hasn't grabbed me the way Superman, most recently, did.  It's good.  I'll give it a few more go's.

I thought I'd totally botched this image.  The background and middle ground DO work better than the foreground.  What I wouldn't give to lush up those silhouetting tree leaves--perhaps pushing them much cooler.  But it's not as bad as I remember.  It still passes and I learned some.

Before the Parade Passes By

Dolly Levi is ready to be remarried.  Widowed for years, and matchmaker for others since, she's set her sights on Horace Vandergelder.  But before pursuing him, she wants permission from Ephram, her dearly departed husband.  She sings for a sign to show that he's willing to let her go so that she can rejoin the living human race--before the parade passes by.

I'd been reading a little of jewelry that day, and was looking for a song that might involve a diamond.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes occurred to me first, but this song from Hello, Dolly felt more emotional and right. I've painted a number of images centering around the wedding ring.  It's potent imagery.  I'm pleased I was able to keep so much of her face in shadow.  My inclination is to draw every detail in and highlight it.  This is one of my favorite images, I think.

The Tornado

Several times I've considered drawing something to accompany The Wiz, but it never felt right.  Home, came up most often, and I considered No Bad News.  When it came time, The Tornado, a short instrumental piece meant to accompany dancing, felt most right.  I'm pleased to do another piece that feels like an actual illustration and not just a study.  I've said before that most of these images are studies for other pieces.  This one feels more complete.  My only regret is that I did not find a way to incorporate an african american sensibility.  Or something that feels like 70s funk.  Those elements are integral to the genesis of the show....and in the movie as well.  I seriously considered turning the house into a tenement, but in researching, I realized that the original stage production was a more earnest adaptation of the Kansas farmhouse, and was not set in NY the way the movie (brilliantly) was. 

His Love Makes Me Beautiful

It took nearing the end of this challenge to finally reach Funny Girl.  Fanny Brice is not a beautiful woman, but she's asked to round out the highlight of Flo Ziegfeld's closing number, singing as tho she were gorgeous.  Afraid she'd get the wrong sort of laughs, she stuffs a pillow under her wedding gown and sings about how her lovers' love makes her gorgeous and glowing.  Hilarious.

Halfway through the composition, I decided the image looked much too much like Barbra Streisand, who starred in the musical and in the movie.  I pushed the likeness more toward Ms. Brice, but I'm afraid now that she's a little too reminiscent of Princess Leia.  It's the curly buns on the side of her head.  There's a certain charm to that too, I suppose.  It would still get laughs, anyway.  The right sort?

Fugue for the Tinhorns

Some days you're just tired.  I don't think this is a bad composition, or a ridiculously bad idea, but man I was exhausted.  Two hours went very fast and I still had a lot more I'd hoped to do.  I'd been to the racetrack to draw and view horses a day or so previous, and I was looking for a good song that might reflect that good experience. I also was well aware that I hadn't worked out a composition for Guys and Dolls yet.  It's a great show (and a mediocre movie).  I went with the song bit that talks broadly about gambling.  I'm not so sure the guy in the red is wearing a very cartoon-ganster style hat, but I like the other guys okay.  It's not my most original composition, but you'll find in these final weeks that a simpler composition has been smartest.  Those giant crowd scenes are fun to do and compose, but look horrible in just two hours.  Still, I tried to create more than just character designs, and put together an illustration.

Wouldn't it be Loverly?

We're in the homestretch for my 90 in 90, and some of the big names have been left undone.  And not on purpose.  Somehow I try and relate what I paint to my day.  Some days that's easier than others.  My Fair Lady has almost been painted several times.  In fact, once I started a drawing, and then got pulled onto another project briefly, where inspiration struck. 

I like this painting.  The character reminds me of the sorts of figures I like to compose most.  There's something archetypical about this stage show, and I love characters who are well rendered, yet paper-thin.  I've heard that description of Dickens' writing as well.  Humorous and broad, yet true.   I don't know how true I'm being, but I did enjoy her expression.  It's tough to imagine this woman dominating a gala event, but...that's the point, right?  I bet we all have untapped resources of charm when forced to smile.  That will make all the difference.

There's Been a Call

Back in high school I discovered the musical of Sunset Boulevard even before I'd had a chance to see the movie.  I much preferred Patti Lupone over Glenn Close.  Maybe Close was the better actress, but on audio, Lupone had a much, much better voice.  Of course, considering the fact that the role of Norma Desmond describes a woman shunned by TALKING pictures.  She doesn't have to have much of a voice, I guess.

A friend and I used to sing this song together.  She was unfamiliar with the show, but I taught her the few lines anyway, and when we couldn't think of anything else to say, I'd start...'There's been a call" and she'd answer "What did I say".  It was fun, and stupid.

I like the color scheme here.  I didn't get much chance to get the Joe Gillis character married into his environment very well, but I didn't forget to give him a farmer's tan.  Priorities.

There's been a call.  What did I say?  They want to see me right away.  Joe, Paramount, they love our child.  Mr DeMille is going wild!  But it was some fool assistant.  Not acceptable at all.  If they want me, then Cecil B. himself must call."

We're In the Money

I had to refresh my knowledge of 42nd Street.  I'd seen the movie, and I knew the general story, but I also was aware that the stage production differs greatly from what made it to the screen.  In the 30s, musicals didn't suffer from too much plot.  Lots of divergent musical numbers were added in as pure entertainment.  They weren't integral to understanding story, but they were well known.  And they became famous.  Apparently this song is sung during the big show, onstage.  Four beautiful chorus women, dressed as tramps find a dime on the street and sing about how their fortunes have changed.  Cheery.

The image is a bit mushy.  I started playing around with the gradients tool, so I learned more about how that works.  I've since learned a bit more about drawing straight lines, and that cityscape could use a couple.  I also am afraid the image got over saturated.  I'd like to desaturate the background and refine a few faces more.  Then we'll talk.

Mountain Duet

I'm fairly new to the world of Chess.  In fact, it took Josh Groban and Idina Menzel for me to get curious enough to really spend some time with it.  ABBA is still considered to have done quality work in music circles, and one of the male lead singers, whose name eludes me, wrote this back in the 80s.  The American representative of the world class chess champion meets the USSR's champion for coffee.  She has come to make amends for her client's bad behavior, in the hopes that a second match can be arranged.  I originally planned for a giant, empty silhouette of a chess piece be seated in the empty chair, but it looked silly.

My mountain range could use definition and atmospheric perspective, but I'm pleased with the American's face.  I like the table as a chess board too, tho it could be more lovingly rendered.

Nightingale Song

The classic story of the princess and the pea is retold with 50s charm and mildly irreverrent humor in Once Upon a Mattress.  Not only is the pea under all those mattresses, but a bird is brought in to help the princess sleep.

Compositionally, this image came together, but I'd still like to finesse that ceiling, and blur areas of that mattress.  I'd also like to play more with the perspectives.  That pile of slumber lumber would look better teetering and atmospheric.  I spent the last ten minutes trying to rescue the princess' face, which had gotten lost as I'd wrestled with her bedding.  There's something about the color scheme that reminds me of the late 90s.  Are they Starbucks colors?  The yellow, green and burgundy?  I've created far worse, but I can't claim this image as a victory.  Live and learn.  Then live some more.

Carousel Waltz

Aside from being a carousel, I don't know what this image has to do with Carousel.  I'm pleased with the image, tho, so I'm not going to complain.  Billy Bigalow is a cryer in a carnival, yelling to draw customers onto the carousel.  He falls for a young customer, and they eventually get married.  He beats her and she loves him for it.  Then she gets pregnant and he dies trying to steal money to support his growing family.  Sent back to earth by an angel later, he sees how his daughter grew up to be just like him and how he needs to stop the cycle.

That's my interpretation of the circular carousel, anyway.  I was playing around with filters here and continued having fun with the cubist color balance shifts.  I'd paint some lights around the edges with ten or fifteen minutes more, and my 'horse' borders on 'dog', but it makes me laugh.  That's a success.

Two Ladies

I don't tend toward the salacious, but if you illustrate Cabaret, how do you avoid it?  The emcee is an imp both fun and frightening.  In the most recent Broadway incarnation, he's openly homosexual and unapologetic for his shenanigans.  The new staging describes a threesome;  the emcee is having an affair with 'two ladies', one of whom is obviously a man in drag.  Pretty risque, even today. 

Or perhaps it's risque especially today.  Does anyone else think this culture is getting a tad too conservative?  I'm not looking for wild, nipple-exposed orgies on NBC, but I'm far more horrified by violence than sex.  Fewer explosions with a side of male on male kissing  to go, please.  Hold the tomato.

I meant to paint the emcee's fly askew, ever so slightly, but I forgot.  I think that's my one regret here.  I also struggled with this version, or another jpeg slightly more yellow.  I'm still not sure.

Wonderful Guy

I may have done the math wrong here.  I finished the first hour and was shocked how far along I'd gotten.  I glanced up again, having barely accomplished anything, and the second hour had passed.  This piece needs some help.  I like the composition okay, but it needs more structure.  The ocean was meant to be more like a giant wheel that would be somewhat reminiscent of a pop up.  I could have done that if I hadn't gotten so distracted with getting the oranges and blues to jive.

At least I still like the compostion.  Nellie Flatbush is stationed as an army nurse on an island in the pacific and falls for a french man in exile.  South Pacific deals with the issues of racism and cultural prejudices.  Nellie finds eventually sees the light, but not everyone finds their way.

If you have a choice in the version to view, go for Reba McEntyre.

Where is the Life that Late I Led?

Kiss Me Kate was one of Cole Porter's biggest hits.  Based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, it puts in parallel the show within a show and backstage exploits.

It's really hard to see any production of this show, or the bard's, without first thinking of Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd.  I don't even think I did it on purpose, but these figures are reminiscent of Moonlighting. 

This also might be one of the few times I actually painted the show alongside its production.  I had the dvd running in a small window while I was working.  Usually I'm watching something completely unrelated as I paint.  Don't get me wrong, they're still showtunes, but tonight, as I watched a birthday tribute to Sondheim, I was painting a quick, cute song from Sunset Blvd.  Not wildly different in tone, but... not exactly the same either.

Being Alive

All these crazy people keep getting married, and all Bobby does is get older.  Sure he's attractive, sure he's well loved, but where does he go from here?  He can't be the third wheel forever.  Company is Sondheim's look at marriage from the perspective of the unmarried.

I was trying to equate the birthday cake with a bomb's lit fuse.  Bobby spends most of the musical wishing he felt different about where he is in life.  But honestly, he doesn't want to change.  He wants everyone else to change.  I'm still playing around with color in the background--very cubist, partly out of interest, and partly because of time constraints.  I do think it gives a strange 3-d effect, which intrigues me.  I snuck in as many wedding rings as I could.  If I'd had more time to refine Bobby, he'd look cleaner, but as a thumbnail, I think these values look pretty good.

I'm Alive

For those of you keeping score, you'll notice the recent titles have read 'You Were Dead You Know', 'Memory', 'I'm Alive', and a second 'I'm Alive'.  This one comes from Next to Normal, a recent musical about a woman with schizophrenia.  She's lost touch with reality and the figure of her perfect son is destroying family life.

I was playing more with a style I'd started back with How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.  I like this weird, cubist purple-green light that feels a little over-digital.  Her mind is fragmented, so conceptually, it felt right.  I only regret that I didn't make her head just a little blockier.  She sticks out as though she's in a different painting, not just a different world.  I wrestled with whether or not to include even a hint of her lips, but in the end, I wanted that cropping to feel as uncomfortable as possible, so I included it.

I'm Alive

Xanadu is complete, total and wonderful ridiculousness.  The movie is a travesty and the musical translation is more than happy to wink at the silliness of it all.  A sign painter is feeling particularly uninspired, and the gods send a muse down to brighten his life.  They fall in love.  And it's the 80s.  Boy howdy is it the 80's.  Rainbows and unicorns and roller skates and legwarmers and...

I never did get that column resolved.  Compositionally, I'd hoped that it would set further in the background, but I couldn't guess exactly what would happen once I'd included the rainbow effect.  I fought most of my two hours to get that thing to 'read' as a column, and I think it does.  Lofty goals.  Perhaps if it had been a twin column, it wouldn't feel quite so blocky, weighing her down and keeping her frozen.  I also might make it symmetrical.  Next!


After a number of broader scale images, I needed to catch my breath.  I tend to pick imagery that relates directly to my day, and I definitely spent some time with some cats last week. 

Grisabella, the glamour cat is past her prime and hopes to be picked in moving on to another plane of existance.  There is to be a chosen one, and she hopes that it's her.  Yes, Cats pretty much has NO plot.  It's basically an excuse for pretty people, dressed in tight fitting leotards to dance around the stage, made up like cats.

I wanted to see how far I could push an image, so a very simple design gave me the chance to really concentrate on an area or two.  I still would resolve a few edges and try to make things a little less computer-y with more time, but this image was a breather.  Also, the longer I look at my cat, the more it looks like an opossum.  Maybe I shouldn't mention that?

You Were Dead You Know

Candide and Cunigunda are childhood sweethearts, reunited after a great battle and many years of travel.  She has grown into an innocent hussy and he, a wide-eyed, trod-upon, rube.  They deserve each other and they know it.  But their travels will pull them apart and push them together several more times before finally settling down for the end of the show. 

The musical is based on the famous text by Moliere, and I suspect he kills and returns Cunigunda without explaining her resurrection.  This is the song they sing about it.  She claims that she'll explain about that later... and of course, never does.  This is another image I'd like to take more time to complete.  I've done a 'hungry alligators in the swamp' image before, but I might be due for another.  I don't know why that silly sort of adventure intrigues me, but it does. 

No Time At All

There's a great big world to explore, and it's hard to find where you belong.  Pippin is born into the right family, with great opportunities, and not much wisdom.  He visits his Grandmother, a woman exiled from his father's court and is told to make the most of the days he's got.  Live in the moment and forget about the future. It's all about instant gratification.  Obviously, this gets out of control very quickly and Pippin's life feels more meaningless than ever.

I'd spend more time making this a real painting--I like it enough.  Her ever expansive dress really feeds into the weird world I hope to create for my own stories.  I designed this page to include stylized faces that wouldn't need much attention.  It gave me time to concentrate on the composition as a whole.  The day after painting this, a friend and I went to the Arboretum and spotted 1/peacocks and 2/the self-same string of lights I'd drawn.  Synchronicity.  Easy, baby.  You're on the right path!


We're your dreamgirls, boy, we'll make you happy.  Did anyone miss seeing the film?  Do I really need to describe the thinly veiled history of the Supremes?  My original thought here was to have all three women's dresses fade completely into the background, but I didn't like it as much.  I also forgot to put in the microphone cords.  It's amazing how fast two hours can go when you're trying to get expression on someone's face.  I like the thin women, but Effie's still a little unresolved.  Looking now, I think she needs eyebrows.  At the last minute, I zoomed in from my original composition.  Perhaps it should also tilt down a little to the right? 

I try not to pick the best known song from any production, instead aiming for something illustrative.  But Dreamgirls is all about singing on stage.  This is what they have to sing about most.  Fortune and fame should make you happy, right?  Right?


Mrs Primrose is a nut, and we get to discover it before anyone is the cast does in On the Twentieth Century.  Lily Garland, the famous movie star is taking the famous rail train cross country, being courted by the man who discovered her for the stage, Max.  He needs her for financing, she needs him to drop dead.  Mrs Primrose holds the purse strings.  In this song, we learn that she's part of an abstract moral brigade, believing that everyone is a sinner.  She slaps 'repent' stickers wherever she goes, on whatever she finds, and runs mad through the railcars in the dead of night.  The original production starred Imogene Coca in the role.  Magnificent.

I'd have liked to have resolved some of the softness that comes with working digitally, but again, I like this image as a comp.  the colors are good and the cutaways always please me.  I might dissolve more train wall with more time.  But I'm pleased on the whole.

No Matter What reprise

In an attempt to work out more variety in compositions, I've been searching for songs that take place in a broader expanse.  No Matter What was added for the stage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  Belle's father is lost in the woods after taking an invention on exhibition.  Eventually, he'll find the Beast's castle, but for now, all he finds are wolves.

I wish I'd been brave enough to go darker, with less moonlight.  His lantern light shadows would have been more interesting, if tougher to conjure.  The wolf's tree, too is overly highlighted.  I do like the mass of tree limbs above, and round horses crack me up.  I was in danger of pushing the contrast up too high, and making everything look much too sharp.  This is a good comp for a real painting later.  I'm quickly learning that most of these images would make better comps than paintings.  The happy thing is--I need to do comps.

A Pretty Little Picture

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a recent discovery.  I may have tried listening to it once, about the time I first heard Evita, but the songs really come alive when you know the story better.  Some albums tell you what you're listening to, others are harder to follow.  The son of a rich master in a Roman household falls for the slave girl next door.  In return for the help in winning her hand, the son will grant Pseudolis, his personal slave, freedom.  When doubts are cast, Pseudolis, desperate to be free, encourages his young master to look to the future and picture how wonderful everything will be once the fruits of his labors develop.

After finishing this, I threw a couple of filters on top, in areas, to blur and soften the image.  It improved it greatly, but, being so far outside my alotted 2 hour promise, I forced myself to throw those files away.  It looked so much better, that it's still a little painful to see it like this, but...  I have my pride.

Good Night and Thank You

Evita Duarte has come to Buenos Aires to make her way in the world.  Along the way, she makes her way with just about anyone of note.  Good night and thankyou, whoever, she sings, as she climbs the ladder of success.  Eventually she makes her way to the bed of promising man of the army.  She'll push him all the way to the office of president.

This may be a favorite piece, thus far.  In fact, I may very well have chosen Evita many years ago as a first attempt at an illustration piece.  The style of the show is dark and foreboding.  Evita's story is a cautionary tale.  Don't get greedy.  And if you rise too far too fast, you're likely to fall and fall hard.

This is also the piece in which I discovered that I paint an awful lot of face closeups.  I've making an attempt to use that more sparingly.  The close up is for impact.  But then, the wide shot is for atmosphere.  No hard and fast rules, of course, but on the whole, I'm aiming more cinematic, and that means a wider variety in composition.

My Husband Makes Movies

Nine is a horrific movie, but it's a great stage musical.  Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of 8 1/2 either, which is its source material.  I respect Fellini, but I haven't felt the need to spend a lot of time there.  Maybe if he sang more...

Louisa is married to Guido, a film maker, and laments the days when she had her own identity.  Now she is wife to a famous, and famously philandering, icon.  She's not sure where he ends and she begins anymore.  I tried to reflect that in the composition.  In the sketch, I tinkered with the idea of giving her no mouth, but her features are still somewhat ghostlike.  The husband and wife share an arm.  It's a little sophomoric, but while he's framing the world for an imaginary camera, she seems to be holding up a very, contemporary 'loser' sign.  Instead, let's just assume she's assisting, helplessly.  I don't believe they used the loser sign in Italy 40 years ago.

I Hope I Get It

The opening song from A Chorus Line cuts its cast in half from the get-go.  All the dancers work their asses off for a chance to make it into a show within a show and our entire evening as an audience is spent with performers desperate for a chance to do what they love to do--dance.

I've been trying to find ways of making the close up on a character's face more interesting.  In the show, some dancers rest on the side of the stage before jumping in to participate in a combination.  A cinematic approach is to throw lots of information in the foreground.  I cannot tell you how daunting it was to attempt painting a mirror in behind this nameless actress so quickly.  But I like the results.  Also, at the same time this was painted, I was fighting for an illustration job.  I chose the song on purpose, obviously.