This year I want to use Drawger to call attention to the work of a few former students and their early career paths. One student of who has followed an unorthodox path to artistic fulfillment is Stacy Tang.
Stacy came to CCA from Macao. Senior students at CCA do a thesis project of 10 pieces- and although we encourage personal (as opposed to commercial) thematic approaches to the thesis project, not everyone is willing to risk taking a non-commercial approach that might not "pay off" in the short run.Stacy was willing to take the leap, and In her senior year, she decided to make her thesis project about the stages of bereavement in her struggle in coping with the recent loss of her mother.
(Note- Dugald Stermer taught Stacy's thesis class, today it is taught by Bob Ciano. Students have individual faculty advisors for thesis as well).
Stary Tang- Pathalogical Bereavement series-"self-pity" 2006
After graduation in 2006, Stacy worked for a few years as a graphic designer. She did some commercial illustration projects but found that she felt more fulfilled doing more personal work. She kept doing personal paintings while working as a designer, and developing her skills as a painter.
Stacy Tang "freedom" 2008
Somewhere along the way she began to get interested in photography, and she began to make some really remarkable photos. Eventually she had a solo show of her photographs.
Her growing interest in digital photographic process led her to become interested in digital art and eventually in matte painting for motion pictures. She quit her design job, learned Maya and Photoshop, and developed a portfolio of digital matte paintings that led to her employment as a matte artist on a number of recent feature films including Elyssium and The Lone Ranger.
Stacy Tang Matte painting 2013
Stacy Tang: Matte painting 2013
Stacy Tang: Matte painting 2013
The story might end there but it doesn't. Stacy continues to look for artistic fullfilment in painting outside of her commercial work. Her recent show "Dare" showed a number of paintings that the level of her personal work even further. I really liked the show. I am very proud of Stacy, who has the spirit of a real artist and the determination to keep going.
I know many students visit Drawger, and I hope that if you are a student that this story gives you a little inspiration to have faith that what is inside of you is worth something more than money. That is where fulfillment and true happieness lies. It's worth the risk to look for your own path.
I started to do sketches in oil paint, just feeling for what she might look like as she aged- (some terrible results at first) it occurred to me to try to make an animated illustration.
This idea seemed to be good but flawed because the identification of the protagonist of the story as Anne Frank comes at the end of the story, but the illustration runs at the top.
The solution was to reverse engineer the elderly Anne Frank into the girl we all know from the famous photographs. A static version could be at the top and the motion version run at the end.
My final process was to make seven paintings. I photographed each one in various stages of completion, then digitally composited them together. I prevailed upon my son William to compose a 46 second piece of music which I edited into the final piece.
This was a lot of work. I did it because as a teenager I found the story of Anne Frank to be profoundly moving in many ways, and I wanted to do something to honor her and her diary which put the most personal and poignant face on the holocaust.
I test screened this film for a few people, one of them was a unitarian minister (father of an illustrator friend) and I was somewhat taken aback to see tears well up in his eyes. It made me realize that on some level, for this one time I might have accomplished something pretty strong. I hope I did.
I have always been interested in three dimensional artwork - even though I think of myself primarily as a painting illustrator, my painting is evolving towards a more textural, expressive surface...and to the extent that I am a realist, sculptural elements can enforce the notion of realisim, even when the final presentation of the work is two-dimensional.
I have always made reference sculptures and set-ups to help me visualize images that I paint. Lately I have had opportunities to add some three dimensional elements into some illustrations and to create and cast some sculptures as personal work. I thought I would post a few of my recent projects which incorporate a three dimensional element.
A few years ago I had an opportunity to observe my career-long mentor and friend Bruce Wolfe do a portrait sculpture from life-- in one sitting. I was deeply impressed by the experience and it made me consider the possibilities of working three dinensionally in my own work- and perhaps to do some sculpture of my own as well.
The above video was shot by photographer Robert Houser, while modeling for the head of one of the hockey players in Bruce's Pittsburgh Penguins monument (Mr. Houser is seen here modelling). I am the one in the hat- allegedly assisting, but in fact, just learning from Bruce as I always do when I am around him.
Bruce Wolfe's monumental sculpture of Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh.
a reference sculpture for an illustration.
This book cover lent itself to my first opportunity to incorporate a sculpture into a finished illustration. It is in plasticine clay, about 8 inches in diameter, painted with bronze powder.
The finished cover
a three dimensional "sketch" for a recent cover
Another three dimensional sketch, another way to express the same image
In the end I wound up making a wax seal with the image.
Anubis for a recent project
A clay sculpture of a sort of mutant dinosaur. I did this piece some time ago but recently decided to try have it cast in bronze.
A mold is made from the sculpture, then a wax casting is made. This casting then must be worked over for detail.
Wax being worked on. Each casting (this is an edition of no more than ten) has to be worked on individually. For example, the teeth have to be re-done in wax each time.
Each base is also carved and sculpted from wax.
The wax is then placed into a shell filled and then burned away by molten bronze. The result is amazingly accurate...