Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Woolly Rhino for Conservation

 Another May, Another Bowling for Rhinos! After the success of last year, the kind folks at the Los Angeles Zoo asked me if I would do another painting for them to use in their silent auction. I was thrilled to do so. I wanted to come up with something thematically similar to what I did last year, with the idea that over time these rhino portraits might make a good series. Here's what I came up with:

Portrait of Poruchik Anatoli Volosatyy (click to enlarge)

'Portrait of Poruchik Anatoli Volosatyy'

Original Digital Painting, 2017.
Poruchik Volosatyy was one of the last of a long line of defenders of the Mammoth Steppe in western Siberia. He was a bit of a lone wolf, and disappeared some 10,000 years ago. It is unclear what happened to him, but it is thought he died in a skirmish - defending his grazing lands from the bipedal invaders often seen roaming around at that time.

As with last year's portrait of Mr. Eustace Simum, I wanted to do a piece that would look nice on the wall of whoever purchased it while also trying to highlight some conservation issues. I liked the idea of doing an extinct rhino species in order to subtly highlight that rhinos have gone extinct before, and it is likely to happen again. I also liked the idea of doing an extinct woolly rhino in the form of an old portrait, like you might find of a distant relative on a wall in your grandparent's house. I originally wanted to make it look like an old Civil War photograph, but I realized that Woolly Rhinos never made it across the Bering Strait to the US. So Instead of mixing the US Civil War with a species that never lived in the Americas, I decided to make him into an old Napoleonic-Era Russian soldier, since remains of woolly rhinos are often found in that region of the world.

After doing some research on the life appearance of the woolly rhino, and a bit into 18th-19th Century Russian Military equipment (I admit I probably didn't go far enough into this to get something that was truly accurate, but I did at least look at a bunch of things) I did some initial sketches to think this out: 


Just kind of thinking out loud here

 I took the first drawing and refined the shape language a bit to get a cleaner silhouette

I tried a few different compositions to see what I liked the best, but ultimately went back to the previous one.

...and here's a work in progress of the digital painting process
 
The painting was another success! It sold at the silent auction for a couple hundred dollars, all of which goes to benefit conservation of rhinos and the other animals in their habitat. It was a good time of bowling, drinking, and hanging out and catching up with people who care about conservation. If you are interested in this sort of work, but missed the event, I believe you can still donate to the cause here. And if that link is closed, some other reputable organizations I fully suggest you look into and consider helping are the International Rhino Foundation (who I support regularly through AmazonSmile) and the Global Conservation Force (who had an awesome presence at Bowling for Rhinos this year thanks in part to their partnership with Pacific Plate Brewing Co.) Thanks for tuning in, and I'm already thinking ahead to next year!

-Evan

Monday, April 17, 2017

Learn to Draw Dinosaurs: An Introduction to Paleoart - My first event with Pincelbox!

Hey gang!

Last time, I talked about a great website that my friends run, called Pincelbox. It's a site where people can find fun artistic workshops to do in the LA area, which are run by various local artists. I was lucky enough to host the second ever event for the site on Saturday, April 8, 2017- And if that wasn't exciting enough, it was all about Paleoart!


It was a great chance for me to take the research and experience I've gained over the past 7 or so years, and put together a workshop that hopefully inspired those who came. My main goal was to give people an appreciation for the mutualistic relationship between science and art, while also instructing an introductory course on drawing from life.


The workshop took place at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and involved a mix of interpretive talks, a drawing demo by me, and one-on-one instruction for everyone in the class. It was pretty cool to get to directly apply many of the techniques I learned at an intensive Certified Interpretive Guide training I did back in February.

Here I am giving a talk on the history of Paleoart.
Keen observers will see how I'm indirectly giving a shout out to Philadelphia during this portion.

Overall, It was a really  rewarding experience. All of my obsession over what prehistoric animals looked like, and trying to be true to those animals in art suddenly felt validated. A lot of people jokingly give me crap about caring too much about the accuracy of animals in movies. So it was nice to share why such things are important with people who were willing to listen. As a whole, everyone was actively engaged in my theory and history of paleoart presentation, and asking some very good questions. It was an absolute joy to see.

I took about 5 minutes to demo restoring Camarasaurus from a skull on display, before sending everyone off to draw what they wanted

When it came to the actual drawing instruction, it was so incredibly exciting to see people apply techniques discussed in my demonstrations successfully. Seeing light bulbs go off when giving various tips and tricks was very cool.

Priyes checking the proportions on his Majungasaurus


Asking questions and sharing experiences after the first of two class working sessions

I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were brave enough to tackle entire skeletons!

Kirsten's fantastic Edmontosaurus

The T. rex trio was a popular subject




The workshop seemed to get a really great response, with most of the class staying afterwards to continue to chat about various related topics! It was a very inquisitive group of people. I really couldn't have asked for a better first group! Congrats on your first steps into a larger world, everyone!


I will definitely be setting up more instances of this class, so if you missed out, there will be plenty of chances in the nearish future! Just make sure to follow Pincelbox on facebook, twitter, and instagram to stay up to date on upcoming events!

-Evan

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I Draw at Museums, and So Should You!

Hello, All!

I'm glad to see you're all still here. Clearly I need to start posting much more often....

For those who don't know, for almost two years now, I've been spending my Sunday mornings Volunteering at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I'm a Docent, where I do interpretive work in various halls, answering questions, showing people around, and more importantly encouraging people to make their own discoveries and connections from their own observations. It's great fun, very rewarding, and (I think) extremely important work considering the seemingly growing amount of people these days who don't understand how the scientific method works. So I figure if I can help show people how science works, and let them lead their own understanding of it, it will be a more lasting impression than someone simply saying 'you're wrong, this is what it is!'

Anyway, you may be wondering, what the butt does this have to do with Evan's art blog??

Einiosaurus skull sketch by me

Sometimes on Sunday mornings at 9am, the Museum can be pretty empty before people start to trickle in. I'm still stationed in various halls during that time, so what do I do to pass the time?

Sometimes I just really take time with specimens to observe. You'll be surprised that if you spend enough time really looking at something, you'll start to come up with ALL sorts of great questions to look up, even if you're a very knowledgeable person (and if you can't find the answer, then THAT, my friends is how scientific research starts!)

Other times, I take the time to sketch. Often wondering about various things as I do it. Here are just a few of the drawings I've done over the years (as always, click images to enlarge):


Triceratops in the main Foyer, trying not to be attacked by Tyrannosaurus

Sauropods like this Mamenchisaurus have REALLY interesting feet! They are definitely NOT like the over-simplified elephantine feet you often see people depict them as

Often I will try to use mounted skeletons as a starting point and sketch life restorations on top of them. 

Young Tyrannosaurus based one one of the mounts. I added a little tortoise to give it a bit of a story.

Sometimes I'll draw the bones themselves though. Not only does it help to understand the underlying structure of these animals better, but they are filled with all kinds of amazing aesthetically pleasing shapes:

This is the same young Tyrannosaurus the above sketch was made form, just a different angle

Ceratopsians like this Einiosaurus have such cool shapes!

I don't exclusively draw dinosaurs though:


Waterbuck (and the top of a cropped Great Blue Heron's face)

Sometimes I'll even take things I'm looking at and caricature them or just use them as inspiration for my own mind's creations:

Like this Maniraptoran!

I'll try to post more museum sketches as I do them. Museum Drawing is a fun way to work on life drawing skills while also opening your mind to wondering about the natural world. There are infinite questions to ask, and through that combined observation and tactile experience of recording what you see, you never know where you may end up!

Shameless plug time! My activities have been noticed, and I was contacted by my friend and fellow museum volunteer, who runs a website called Pincelbox, a cool new site that helps you find interesting artistic learning events in the area! They asked me if I would be up for developing a class, and so I've reached back to my roots to come up with an event to draw dinosaurs and learn about the very rich (but often overlooked) world of Paleoart in the process! 

Click the image for more information!

The class is being developed to be mindful of people with no artistic or science background, so everyone is welcome! It will be part drawing demonstration, part lecture on history, paleoart theory, and dinosaur anatomy, and mostly hands on drawing time with me giving pointers here and there. It should be fun!


 If it goes well enough I'm hoping to do a series, because there is SO much information on this topic that just can't get crammed into a casual 2 hour class. So don't be shy! This should be a good primer for anyone interested in learning more about how scientists and artists work together to come to the conclusions they do about Dinosaurs and their appearance. You can find all the information you need here.


Until the next time!

  -Evan





Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jack-O-Lantern Designs 2016

Don't worry, everyone! I didn't forget about you! Here we are again! With the 2016 edition of Jack-O-Lantern Designs! I hope you like them!!

(click to enlarge)


The same deal goes as every year: if anybody actually decides to attempt to carve any of these (like Stephanie, Nicole, and Josh, Megan, and I did) please send me pictures at evan.m.boucher@gmail.com and I'll post them up here! That goes for previous years' pumpkin designs as well. You have until the end of the month, which is only about a week and change...(sorry about the delay - I believe you can still do it )! I will post all physical Jack-O-Lantern carvings together on Halloween.

Previous designs are here:

2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Happy Carving!

-Evan

Sunday, May 22, 2016

An Elegy for Rhinos

Hello All! I wanted to share something special today. It involves a bunch of my favorite things, including Character Design, Rhinos, Installation Art, and Conservation.

Some Background


Earlier this year, our Character Rigging department at work pulled together some interest in doing an art show for the studio. The purpose was to showcase the varied and somewhat eclectic art that us 'CharTD's' do in our off time. I happily signed up to participate.

When trying to come up with my content, I realized that I had a huge opportunity here. There are a LOT of people who work at such a big company, so there would be a LOT of eyes on whatever we ended up displaying. This could be intimidating at first, considering that many of these eyes would belong to some of the absolute top artists working in film and entertainment today (Seriously, the amount of talent in the walls of DreamWorks Animation is absolutely incredible). I definitely had to bring my 'A' game.

I decided to take on this challenge and use it to hopefully do something productive. I realized that this was a good chance to use my own skills to try to make a small difference for something I really care about. After all, I already mentioned there would likely be a LOT of eyes on these pieces. With that thought in mind I immediately knew what I wanted my content to address: The rhino poaching crisis.

The Piece


Rhinos worldwide are in big trouble. It's something I've grown increasingly aware of over the last 5 or so years. I've been reading a lot on the subject, trying to stay up to date and informed. When I had the incredible opportunity to visit South Africa last summer, and see both white and black rhinos in the wild, it cemented my concern for what's happening to the poor creatures.

Using the research and experience I've collected over the last few years, I wanted to create a piece that was pleasing to the eye, but also didn't sugar coat anything. It needed to be intense in its message, but also not scare anyone away before they got that message.

Because of this, instead of doing anything that was particularly graphic (although I honestly considered painting an image where rhinos had their faces hacked-off with chainsaws while still alive - seriously this stuff happens regularly), I took a different approach. And this is how 'An Elegy for Rhinos' was born:

(click to enlarge - Image courtesy of Terran Boylan)

The painting was to be charming and eye-pleasing enough to get people interested in taking a closer look. The installation aspect was to get people to instantly recognize the basics of the message.

(click to enlarge)
I used LED candles for fire code reasons...

But you might be thinking, "Wow that's incredibly toned down from the graphic ideas you mentioned earlier!" And you are right. It is. (Part of that is by design so that after the installation, the painting could still make a nice piece to hang on a wall - more on that later) However, once I get the viewer to come close to inspect the art, I hit them with this:

(click to enlarge)

Next to the easel, the rhino's obituary is on the wall. This is where I hit them with the brutal reality of the issues facing rhinos. I wrote a story revolving around this particular character with whom the viewer has hopefully at least found some appeal in, which, in theory, makes his troubles more relateable. The obituary touches on problems with poaching, the issues with legalizing the rhino-horn trade, and big game hunting all within a few paragraphs. I tried to make this text uncompromising. I'm hoping by using a story instead of just a list of stats, that it might help a viewer internalize and feel something about these issues on a more personal level. At the end, I direct them to a real website for the International Rhino Foundation where, if they are so moved, they can actively do something to help the problem. 

Here's a text version of the Obituary in case it's hard to read in the image:
Mr. Eustace Simum died on May 10, 2016 at 12:23 a.m. in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He was found in a pool of his own blood at 12:10 a.m, where his horns and half of his face had been crudely removed with a chainsaw. He was still breathing at the time but passed away soon afterward.
Mr. Simum was in route to find greener pastures. Prior to his passing, he was last seen when his former landlord requested him to remove his horn in order to pay for the ever-increasing rent on the crowded farm where he lived in Klerksdorp. Mr. Simum moved east to be with other members of his family, and to avoid being sold to a trophy hunter - being well aware of his old age at 43. 
His only remaining family was his daughter, Clara, and grandson, Kalimba, who were intercepted by poachers on their way to make preparations for Mr. Simum’s funeral service. Clara didn’t survive the encounter, but 5 week old Kalimba - badly injured and traumatized - is in an undisclosed rehabilitation facility under 24 hour surveillance for his protection. 
Despite the wealth of life’s trials and tribulations, Mr. Simum always had a calm, collected demeanor, and enjoyed the little things in life, such as sharing stories with friends and family over a glass of fine red wine. This is how we will remember him. 
We would like to thank you for coming to his funeral service, where we will celebrate the good times he shared with all of us. If you would like to make a donation to the recovery efforts of Mr. Simum’s grandson Kalimba and others like him, or if you would like to help prevent the rapid-decline of the rest of their kin, please visit www.rhinos.org to see how you can help.
At the gallery opening, our Char TD gallery got a great response! (There was much more than just this piece, featuring a wide range of things, from photography, to welded bike frames, to even custom-built action figures) I watched from a distance as what I set out to accomplish actually seemed to be working! I mean, I have no idea if anyone actually donated to the IRF as a result, but if more people are at least aware of the problem, hopefully that's a good first step.

The Painting


And now for you artsy folks, here is some info on the actual digital painting itself. It was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 (yes I'm very very out of date but hey, it works!) and printed as a digital print. It is 16x20". This is one of the few paintings I've done that actually came out close to exactly how I imagined it. Here's a closer look:

(click to enlarge)
Sorry about the watermark, I never thought I'd be one of those guys 
but this piece took a lot of time and effort and I've had
 my work taken and used without permission before...

And just to show some of the process, here are some rough sketches when I was trying to work out the character design:








...and a work-in-progress painting just for kicks:


Art to Action


I'd like to end this post with something that came about kind of serendipitously. I was in the process of finishing this project when someone at work was asking for people to donate items for a silent auction at a charity event. The event was Bowling for Rhinos - an event happening across the country to raise money for rhinoceros conservation, which is run by the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Talk about a great fit! Since the painting was digital, when I got it printed I made sure to print a second copy to donate to the auction. I actually already had plans to attend the Los Angeles event, so this was just another incentive!

Our team: 'The Original Unicorns.' 
Sorry for the blurry photo - it's the only one I have...

At the event, the painting was a huge hit! I silently watched as many people got into a bidding war over it. It ended up selling for just under $300 - 100% of which was going to rhino conservation! Considering I have never even really attempted to sell a painting before, and usually just paint things for my own enjoyment, this was hugely rewarding. I couldn't be prouder of something I made being used to benefit a cause I am immensely passionate about.

The painting at the Bowling for Rhinos silent auction

And that's where I'll leave you. This was a very rewarding experience, and I'm really glad it got such a great response. The fact that it directly supported rhino conservation is the best possible icing on the cake. 

And remember to donate to the International Rhino Foundation ;)

If this post hasn't convinced you to do so yet, maybe this video I did for World Rhino Day will:


Cheers!

Evan


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday is for Fuzzy Tyrannosaurs

(click to enlarge)

After hanging out with Tyrannosaurs all day I decided I wanted to paint a fuzzy one... Because the world needs more of those. I loosely based it on Gorgosaurus, which is kind of my excuse for not making the skull as short or deep as Tyrannosaurus. Also, it's a cartoon so I was ultimately favoring a certain style over accurate shapes, but wanted to at least stay somewhat true to the inspiration of the animal.

Anyway, that's all I got.

-Evan

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jack-O-Lantern Designs: IRL 2015

Howdy Folks! And HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! (oOOoOOOo spPoOoOOokkKkkyy)

That also means it's time for this year's edition of Evan's Jack-O-Lanterns In Real Life!

This year we had Josh and Megan wanting to try out some designs:

Josh decided to go with the Alfred Hitchcock Silhouette,


which was included in the 2013 designs:



Megan took on the challenge of The Babadook:


And I participated as well, with this dude:

 


The ones Megan and I did were from this year's designs:


And here they all are hanging out together! That's a record 3 this year! And they all turned out great! Good work everyone and Happy Halloween! We'll see y'all again next year!


For Previous Jack-O-Lanterns IRL, See:

-Evan