Nov
07

Video games, romance, parties and the human spirit

art is for closers

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been pouring my heart into work at DoctorBase which has been good. I speak with doctors all day and help them with their marketing efforts and secure patient messaging – it’s a sweet gig and it comes in at about 10-12 hours a day and tons of screentime. Anybody who works in software and says it is easy is either a liar or an enchanted person. Occasionally I am enchanted, but not often enough! The people who live next to me must think of me as the lady who yells “TRY USING GOOGLE CHROME” and “HIPAA COMPLIANCE” at her computer, deep, deep into the night.

Computers, code, and marketing goals rule the world around me, so I try to stay grounded yet free with art every now and then. I often think that software and computers, though driven by math and rules, offer the most flexible forms of information around us, while art, though often thought of as ephemeral, is truly eternal. One thousand years from now, our descendants will not happen across Netscape Navigator, but they might happen across a buried stone carving of Netscape Navigator if we artists can keep it together.

So here is what I have been working on lately.

One of the images that has helped keep me focused is this still from Aladdin below. I return to this image often and used to post it on Facebook about once a year. (I know, I know)

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Touch nothing but the lamp

I redrew this image to keep it in mind. The moment is eternal, Aladdin has just passed through riches galore, yet he managed to focus on his goal and obtain only the modest-looking lamp. The lamp looks simple and dull, yet it turns out to be more powerful than all the gold in the world. Whenever I feel like I have my priorities wrong I just go back to this image.

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Playing space invaders in Tokyo

Watched a documentary with Marco lately about arcades in Japan, and how they’re available publicly within 5 minutes of most people’s homes. Pretty sure it was this documentary, but we watch a ton of documentaries. Also we watched this documentary about all video game music. It was really charming. Some of the music from more underground games was great, and it’s fun to see how a Japanese lady now in her 40s ended up influencing 8-bit artists in New York.

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Playing barnstorming on atari

I’ve gotten into looking at Atari games as the ultimate nostalgic fun that a contemporary audience would find endlessly annoying. Most people can’t even take the stress of Majora’s Mask, or some poor dev somewhere making a minor change to game mechanics, so I wonder what most people would do if they were dumped in a rest home with nothing to play but Barnstorming.

I find I still want to draw about the four basic themes of video games, romance, parties and the human spirit.

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Everyone likes to party

^^^ This one turned out weird and I don’t think anyone liked it that much. I sourced it from a photo of spring break partiers. All the black made it look sinister.

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Dancers are usually very buff

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POWER:::LEVEL:::DISTANCE

This one is sourced from GTA San Andreas, where you can plop CJ on a bike for several hours until he becomes super buff. The grind process was so meta. Pushing a button to make a guy ride a bike.

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The other kind of troubleshooting

I’m not a fan of guns but when making the above drawing, I had this photo of Edward Abbey in mind. Old Ed Abbey had the right idea about a lot of things.

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adorable youtube ravers

Every now and then I source drawings from Youtube videos – this one I took from a video of David Guetta at Ultra Music Miami 2014. Partiers are great to draw because you get to map down a range of otherwise impossible facial expressions. Plus people wearing fur rainbow cloaks. You can’t get this kind of experience in art school.

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Do bankers have souls? Yes

Aside from drawing attractive people and things that pertain to Kirby’s Dream Land, it is good to draw a banker or financial advisor once in a while. Everything ends with a bank anyways.


Jul
15

DIA Bike Installation Project

Lately I was contacted by Plus Gallery Denver to create a sculpture using a bike for the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. Among other art bikes, my bike will be at DIA after the 29th of July.

I decided to fly back to Colorado to sculpt the bike, after much back and forth, I finally made it back home to Leadville with a suitcase full of confetti.

We love Leadville Sign

Not much could be more ‘home’ than the We Love Leadville sign just outside the official town city limits. I grabbed a picture of the sign to commemorate my visit back home.

So here I am in Leadville with my bike, starting out by spray-painting it a nice DIA Bronco Blue

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After a few hours of work it began to look okay, but still needed more paper.

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And more paper…

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Finally after a while it ended up looking pretty cool. The plywood background in this photo doesn’t help much, but ok.

 

 

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And, the bike ended up looking MUCH nicer against a darker, or non plywood background.

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Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. From concept to realization, it developed fairly on schedule and met the concept sketch very closely at 16 hours of work with a few pounds of paper.

At the finish of the construction, the weather began to get cold. Yes, it’s cold in July in the remote Rocky Mountains, so, my mom lent me this retro Trail 100 sweatshirt. It’s at least as awesome as the LT100 belt buckle.

 

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More pictures soon! I can’t wait to unveil the bike.

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Jul
15

What are you chasing after?

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Just this last spring the family and I took a trip to San Diego to see my brother get married. I’d never been in California before. Despite working for two companies based in California, and feeling like I had a deep connection with the entrepreneurial side of the state, I had no understanding of the visual diversity in the natural world there.

I have to admit I had never fully understood one of my heroes in painting, David Hockney, until I visited San Diego for my brother’s wedding. I felt like I suddenly understood all of the Hockney pool paintings once I’d seen San Diego’s variegated foliage.

The whole trip looked like these three more-recent paintings from Hockney:

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These paintings, with their European landscapes and mercilessly bold California colors, have been slapped in my Documents folder for months.

So, this influence is what I’ve been working with lately. That aside, in portraiture I’ve been going after pieces that nail down the physics of an expression, yet leave the feeling of the expression open. I don’t want to communicate the feeling first – the face’s pure appearance must come first and the feeling is up to the viewer. This sounds like an obvious setup, right? Not always. When doing a portrait, an artist may be chasing after “anger” or “sadness” as a priority. Choosing to chase after feelings first, or pursuing exact surfaces first, changes everything.

Or, I almost want to trick people. I want you to look once and say “This is an obvious drawing,” then the second time around, you see there’s something more to it.

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Becky Jewell Art 2014

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Jun
16

New Bird Collages

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It’s June, and the colors that I use year-round finally align with the actual colors in the natural world and fashion. Among other projects, I’ve been having fun creating these lively birds out of colored paper. This time around, the birds are smaller. Only about 4 inches high. In this blog, the photos will be close to actual size if you’re viewing this on ye olde average laptop.

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I sent almost 20 of these birds to Leomyka gallery in Leadville, where about half are still left.

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The process for these remains the same. Step 1: paint a bunch of paper. Step 2: cut the paper into strips. Step 3: reassemble the strips in an interesting way.

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So far overall I’ve made about 30 of these, slowly making each bird a bit more elaborate and definitely not true to a biological species or actual science. Since I am both predictable and obsessive, the next step will likely be different animals or abstracts built from the same process.

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May
02

Fashions from Hong Kong Polytechnic

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One of the greatest things social media has brought to modern life is the ability to connect with worlds that are far beyond our own. This is definitely one of those ‘beyond’ moments.
 
 
Last spring I began following a photographer in China on Twitter and Instagram See-ming Lee. He does great work, and I was glued to my iPhone for a week as he photographed this fashion show.

 
 
Though these photographs are from last year, they showcase some exciting work coming out of China in fashion. Photos here were taken at Hong Kong Polytechnic University during a graduation show for the Institute of Textiles and Clothing.  Here are more photos from the school’s students.
 
 
It seems that over here in the states, photographers and book publishers have made it easy to witness the wild styles of Japan in big coffee table books, and like always, it’s easy to keep up with the fashion trends of Europe.  But check out the work of these young designers in China! You definitely don’t see this every day.
 
 
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Apr
22

Beautiful Things: Chanel Color Palette Dresses

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Remember in high school art class, when, on the first day or the first week, your teacher would have you mix colors to set up a value scale? When I saw this collection from Chanel, I couldn’t help but notice the art-school feeling of the swatches of color.

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These dresses, shirts, and accessories are kind of meta in that way, though most may not see them immediately as palettes. For the entire span of each dress, it looks like a meticulous student was trying to find the perfect color, and, in the midst of it, ended up creating a piece with a mind of it’s own. Palette mixing is a rote exercise, but it looks fun, vibrant, and free as a wearable.

Of course you’ve already seen these dresses everywhere:

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The dreamy dude in the show itself reaches the levels of over-the-top, with the paint brushes he’s toting, but hey, it looks like it could happen in some art world, somewhere. Everyone wants the romantic image of the artist I suppose.

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Apr
21

Atari Manual Art was Aces

 
 
 
Unlike the covers of books or movies, covers of early games had to be super exciting back when all the action involved 8-bit graphics. That said, this illustration below may be the most exciting artwork for backgammon that the world will ever see, 80s or not:

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But I shouldn’t say “80s” – this game’s release date was 1979. So groovy!
 
 
 

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It’s a cross between the Great Gatsby and a Bond movie. Gambling was never so exciting and colorful.
 
 
 
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How could you NOT want to learn to program after looking at this illustration? It’s like living in outer space! The dude has a bionic hand.
 
 
 
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Okay. Totally not an Atari game, but awesome nonetheless. Percy Bysshe Shelley has nothing on this.
 
 
 
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This baseball illustration seems to be painted on glass or mylar, but it’s tough to tell.
 
 
 
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This is my favorite. I have no clue what is happening here, but it’s great.
 
 


Apr
21

Drawings and Noodles: April 2014

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One of my favorite words of the past year? Facepalm. It works for so many situations. And here is a classic facepalm. I tried to keep the right parts of this clean, and the other segments dirty. The feeling that the man has isn’t perfect, so he himself doesn’t look so put together.

 
 
 
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This one was fun. His blazer is made with dry-erase marker, which does some strange stuff on thin paper. There’s no telling what the dry-erase will do, but I like the way it messes up black areas.
 
 
 
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Art school. Hipster. That girl.
 
 
 
 
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Well the blending on this could look better but I liked how her hair turned out.
 
 
 
 
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Though not sourced from it, this one reminds me of a scene from AKIRA the graphic novels, volume 3 I think.
 
 
 
 
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I’ve been looking at a lot of Eric Fischl lately, honing in on the bedroom paintings. The key ace in these pieces are the lines across bodies, created by just-open blinds. Voyeuristic? Yeah. Interesting as art forms? Totally. Though I don’t expect anyone to see the above drawing and say “Those are shadows from barely parted blinds!” I wanted to keep the style and the meaning and keep it weird.
 
 
 
 
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Some people really are modern Midases. Whatever they touch or interact with, it turns into gold. This one ended up looking a bit darker than I wanted it to – originally the idea in mind was drawing the person who jumps from company to company, leaving success and profitability in his/her wake. You don’t really see the person, you see the results and the work.
 
 
 
 
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I didn’t really have a goal with this guy, but his expression ended up being meaningful.
 
 
 
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Marc and I ended up at The Domain mall in Austin while looking for a cable from Apple. Tons of great cars out there, outrageous outfits, and terrible little dogs. We visited Victoria’s Secret in order to laugh at the many provocative phrases you can wear now on your butt. It’s easy to go in but tough to get out of there. When you finally get your underwear, the store makes a ceremony of packing the shopping bag with wads of pink glittering paper. There’s SO much paper in those bags! The bottom of each bag holds a durable cardboard square (great for making art on as well), so, everywhere you go, you’re basically carrying a giant pink box. Forced branding. I couldn’t just throw the bag out, so I made something on it. What’s the opposite of a sexy, frisky Victoria’s Secret girl? A gloomy dude. They go together like a horse and carriage.
 
 
 
 


Apr
11

These Retro Activision Manual Covers (and interiors) are Rad

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While bumming around a Game Over Videogames store in Austin, I came across some of these amazing manuals from early Activision games.

Who made these? I couldn’t find an artist listed anywhere. I dig the late-70s rainbow look, and the animals and trees that try their best to look digital.

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Oh my god, I love the cows. The only thing better than the cows on the cover is the booklet’s interior page where Bob Whitehead gives advice on how to become a Cattle Baron:

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Also, I give you: Pitfall Harry’s Diary.

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Apr
10

Beautiful Things: Rex Ray

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About four years ago I ran into Rex Ray’s work for the first time at the MCA Denver. He had a huge work set up on the second floor of the museum, a technical masterpiece that spanned a full hallway. A few weeks after the opening, the museum hosted a screening of “How To Make a Rex Ray,” where the artist details his process.

The big reveal of the film, if there was one, was that the colors and shapes in his pieces are all paper cutouts, sliced and lacquered to a panel with delicate craft.

An escapee of Colorado Springs, he’s working now in San Francisco. Aside from the pieces you see here, Ray has designed show posters for David Bowie, Radiohead, and The Rolling Stones.

Enjoy.

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