Colour My World

You know how some people want to know your star sign? And as soon as you admit you’re a Taurus, they offer a sage nod before telling you stuff you didn’t really need to hear. Or have heard before. A hundred times. We Tauruses are not stubborn, by the way. We’re determined. Huge difference. For stubbornness, look to your neighbourhood Aries.

I don’t make a habit of asking people their star sign. Instead, I want to know your favourite colour. I know the favourite colours of all my friends. I don’t attach any mystical theories to the knowledge but it does come in handy when I’m buying gifts. Also, colour is important to me and always has been.

Orange and purple
Like this, but with more purple in between.

When I was a kid, my favourite colours were orange and purple. Together. My bedroom was a bit of an eyesore, but I loved it. I had these brilliant curtains decorated with huge orange flowers and purple leaves and when the sun shone through from behind, the flowers glowed. My wardrobe was painted bright purple and we called it the Purple People Eater. My chenille bedspread was orange and I had a purple rug on the floor. I loved my room. It was every four-year-old’s dream.

I don’t really remember what came after the orange and purple phase. We moved a lot and usually rented our houses, so I didn’t really get around to a lot of personal space personalization. When we finally settled just outside of Washington DC, however, I finally got to decorate another bedroom and I chose a blue floral pattern. Looking back, I’m not sure why? I think I was heavily influenced by my mother. We’d bought an old farmhouse and she had definite ideas about what it should look like, inside and out.

argyleAlthough I’d settled on blue as my favourite colour during my teens, I did go through an odd phase in eighth grade where I only wore grey and yellow clothes. I even had this amazing pair of grey and yellow argyle socks that I would wash out every night so I could wear them again. And again.

I was so weird.

(To my never ending amusement, Google completed my search for grey and yellow argyle with the word socks and then provided me with dozens of wonderful pictures. I might have to order a pair!)

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“Wagon Wheel” from the grey on grey on grey period.

In tenth grade I chose an art elective because I thought it would be an easy class. This simple choice would impact my life in a number of ways. It wasn’t an easy class. Our teacher was a working artist with an extensive knowledge of art history. We started with hard black pencils and gradually moved through the numbers. Then we got to use charcoal, then conte, then ink washes. Finally, after six months of grey on grey on grey, we were allowed to use colour. My first painting was a black stick figure surrounded by flecks of every colour imaginable. It was my mind exploding—in all the good sorts of ways—and it was during these months that I first thought I might like to be an artist. My love of art has coloured my life ever since.

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“Kissable Lips” from my more colourful period. (Portait of Solange)

One of the things I love to do is sketch the bare outline of a face and then flesh out my portrait with coloured pencils, building layer upon layer of colour until I get the right skin tone, the contours of cheek and nose, and every hint of colour in the hair.

Blue was still my favourite colour when I was a teenager, and I remember associating a lot of my personality with the supposed traits of blue: I was a loyal and steadfast friend. I was honest and fair. Or I wanted to be.

I had also decided around then that yellow was a terrible colour; that it stood for cowardice and shame. And grey wasn’t really a colour at all, was it?

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The Ballroom Forest (Cam Blake Photography)

As I grew into my twenties, my favourite colour changed to green and there’s a simple explanation for this. I traveled a lot and a lot of my travel included hiking up and down mountains and through rainforests. There is a place in Tasmania called the Ballroom Forest and it’s absolutely enchanting. The name comes from the green carpet of moss that covers much of the ground, and the way the trees curve around and up, giving the few clearings the feel of an enchanted ballroom. It’s a beautiful place, as is much of the untouched wilderness of Tasmania, and even now, I can never get enough of those shades of green.

My house now is decorated in a mixture of blues and greens, with blues for the sleeping rooms and greens for the awake rooms (kitchen, dining, family). I have twelve acres of forest behind me and one of my favourite things to do is to look out of the window from the couch to see the green of the forest framed by the green of the family room wall. It’s harmonious.

And right now, if you asked me my favourite colour, I’d probably say green.

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His name is Max.

But I just bought a red car and it’s the most gorgeous shade of red imaginable. Ford calls it royal crimson and it’s like a black cherry—dark and rich and delicious. I also chose red as the colour for the new logo for our bagel shop. A bright, vibrant red. Red is cheery. I always feel happy when I look at red. I like red wine! I also like red apples, but not those cheating red delicious that are never delicious at all. I love Twizzlers. Red is good.

I did think about getting a blue car. My previous car was blue and I loved the deep indigo colour. I also thought about a dark grey. But the other colour I considered did come as a bit of a surprise: competition orange.

competition orangeNow, I don’t really think I could drive an orange car forever, but look at this orange. It’s gorgeous. So warm and sunshiny! It’s a really nice colour and looking at it reminds me that orange is and has been for quite some time, my second favourite colour. It’s warmer than red. Friendlier. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re surrounded by orange. My four-year-old self was on to something.

Is there a point to this post? No, not really, except as an excuse to ramble on, because I haven’t had the chance to do that much lately, and so when I got the idea to write a post about colour, I got all excited. There hasn’t been enough rambling about nothing on this blog!

So, what’s your favourite colour?

A Pantheon of Superheroes

I’m not the first person to draw parallels between superheroes and the gods of classical myth. It’s a subject that’s been written about endlessly! But as happens when I try to educate myself, I want to apply what I’ve learned. Or at least talk about it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on Classical Mythology. I’ve always been interested in Greek myths. They’re an integral part of our culture; they’re the stories nearly everyone knows. Having finished this series of lectures, however, I have gained a sense of just how deep the appreciation and appropriation of classical mythology runs. While these myths didn’t necessarily invent the art of storytelling, the people who wrote them down, or paid homage to them when penning their own epics, used the ideas conveyed by these myths to shape the art of storytelling forever. That might have been to do with the fact once these myths were written down, the act of writing became an act of storytelling, and it had to make sense. Or it could simply be that these tales speak to a need in all of us to make sense of, well, everything.

Our stories of superheroes continue this tradition even if in a more fanciful sense.

On the weekend I watched Justice League: War. I got sucked in by the snarky banter between Batman and Green Lantern. They traded insults throughout the entire movie. It was awesome. I also really liked the interpretation of Batman in this instance. He’s my favourite superhero, so I’m always a little sensitive when it comes to how he is portrayed.

Anyway, at the end of the movie, Wonder Woman makes a comment along the lines how much she enjoyed being a part of the pantheon once again. Superman, the lovably clueless lug, says something like “Huh?” Diana then nods to the heroes lined up beside her, giving each one a Greek name.

This got me thinking.

(here we go…)

Here are her match-ups:

WonderWoman_Diana

Wonder Woman, Alex Ross. Diana the Huntress, Giampietrino.

First of all, for Diana to assume she was part of the pantheon means she must be one of these gods (or goddesses). Given her name is Diana the most obvious choice for her is Artemis, goddess of the hunt. I think it’s a good fit. Artemis (and her Roman counterpart, Diana) is the protector of young women and animals and mistress of the wilderness. This works well with Diana being a warrior princess of the fabled Amazons, which places her in the same category of myth! I could dig deeper, but then this post would get long and boring.

Batman_Hades

Batman, Jim Lee. Hades, Wrath of the Titans

Batman is Hades (according to Diana). I really like this comparison and not because Batman is dressed in black and Hades is overlord or the underworld. Let’s start with Batman’s superhero name. It’s a nod to the fear he has overcome. Hades name ends up becoming synonymous with the realm he rules over. I think there is a parallel there. Moving on, Hades is not an evil guy. He’s actually portrayed as quite altruistic and with a reasonable temperament. He is a god of balance and change. He’s also the keeper of human souls, from the moment they are born until they enter his realm. Batman’s search for balance, or the meaning of his existence, is a key component of his character. He’s also the most human of the superheroes—because he is human, unalterably, using only technology (and oodles of cash) to defeat his enemies.

GreenLantern_Apollo

Green Lantern, Ethan Van Sciver. Apollo, ArcosArt.

Diana called Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) Apollo. I don’t know much about Hal as a Green Lantern, so I had to do a little research for this one (woot)! Apollo is a really complex god who had a finger in a lot of pies. He’s depicted as a patron, leader, defender and oracle. Hal’s a cop and a superhero and, well, a lot of everything. As Parallax he’s one of the most powerful beings in the DC pantheon. Apollo is also extraordinarily powerful. I think the simplest parallel is in the way a Green Lantern uses his powers. He can shape them into anything, and his imagination is fueled by his willpower. This fits with Apollo’s ‘jack of all trades’ godding. (That’s a word. Really. Okay, maybe not.)

Flash_Hermes

Flash, CWTV. Hermes, Unknown.

The Flash is Hermes. This is an easy parallel as both of these guys have winged feet. They’re fast. They’re both supposedly cunning and witty, which Flash, Barry Allen, is in Justice League: War. The Barry Allen of the current TV series is charmingly naïve, but still makes a fair comparison with his other skills—being able to move between worlds and seeing himself as a protector.

Cyborg_Hephaestus

Cyborg, Lee Bermejo. Hephaestus, Riordan Wikia

Cyborg is Hephaestus. Before Googling Hephaestus, I assumed he’d be the burly sort—seeing as Cyborg is big. Hephaestus is the god of blacksmiths, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes, among other things. Greek gods rocked at multitasking. So the similarities are obvious. Blacksmith doesn’t necessarily mean weapon smith, but they are handy with tools. Cyborg pretty much is a tool. He thinks and it is. Also, he’s rather fond of blasting fire at things.

Shazam_Zeus

Shazam, DC Comics. Zeus, Injustice: Gods Among Us

Zeus as Shazam (Captain Marvel). Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They both wield lightning. This connection can be explored on a much deeper level, however. As portrayed in Justice League: War, Shazam is a geeky kid in his human form and a terrifically built dude in his superhero form. Zeus is, at the same time, both the youngest and oldest son of Cronus and Rhea. According to myth, fearing one of his children would grow up to kill him, Cronus swallowed each one as they were born. Rhea substituted a stone for the last, Zeus, and sent her son away to be raised elsewhere. As an adult, Zeus freed his siblings from Cronus (in some stories, they were disgorged, in others they were rescued from his slit belly) and they were ‘born’ again in reverse order, making Zeus the first born and therefore the oldest. I kinda like how this parallels with Shazam being a young kid, and then an adult superhero.

Diana doesn’t match Superman to a Greek god. She instead tells him he’s something else entirely. Which is interesting! In other match-ups, he’s inevitably paired with Zeus. I really like the above comparison, though. So who exactly is Superman? I guess that’s for you to decide. 🙂

(Featured image is from Justice League: War, DC Comics)

Forgotten Landscapes and Imaginary Settings

From an abstract perspective, photographs of abandoned places hold a lot of appeal. Compositions of light and shadow have always fascinated me. Light and dark intersected by fallen beams and vines or framed by ruined archways are visually interesting. High contrast and muted tones lend ambience to these forgotten landscapes. But are the images attractive? Not always, or not to me. I’m not fascinated by abandoned places. Continue reading “Forgotten Landscapes and Imaginary Settings”

Review: Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter

Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter by Dan Luvisi.

I have been excited about this book since I first stumbled across a stunning digital painting featuring a bloodied, bullet-ridden soldier. I immediately researched the artist and discovered Dan Luvisi, who is not only extraordinarily talented, but also a really nice guy, in my opinion. His website will prove the first, his Facebook page the second. He is responsive to his fans, continually excited about his work and supportive of other artists. When invited to review a digital copy of Last Man Standing: Killbook Of A Bounty Hunter, I immediately said yes. I had pre-ordered my own copy months ago and, more recently, got my hands on one at the Dark Horse display at the New York Comic Convention. It’s as gorgeous as I imagined it might be.

Last Man Standing: Killbook Of A Bounty Hunter is difficult to define. It’s an art book; weighty and blessed with a cover that begs to be opened. It’s large enough to require its own space on the coffee table, or stick out from a bookcase, enticing those who thought to wander past. It’s also a story aimed at an adult audience who appreciate pictures with their words. It’s not a graphic novel, though. It’s…a killbook. What is that, exactly? Well, to understand that, you need to know a little about the man it belongs to.

Gabriel is the last of the Paladins, a genetically engineered super-soldier. After winning the ‘Nomen War’ and being awarded the title ‘Protector of Amerika’, he is framed by the terrorist organisation Pandemonium for the murder of his special forces team, Pantheon. The company that created him, Armatech, locks their ‘errant’ Paladin away in the Level-9 facility. There, Gabriel endures (survives?) nine years of torture before his escape is engineered by a former agent of Armatech.

Upon his release, Gabriel discovers Armatech has filled the void left by their Paladin Soldier by over enthusiastically cleaning up the world. Hint: they leave it shiny, but only because the undesirables have been put somewhere else. Out of sight, out of mind, eh? Armed with files, the killbook, on the men and women responsible for corrupting ‘Amerika’, Gabriel embarks on a quest to restore order.

The first two pages of the killbook throw the reader right into the story. There’s a letter from Gabriel that hints at the fact he’s not the most mentally balanced individual after nine years of torture. That is followed by a letter from Agent O, the man who assisted Gabriel’s escape from the Level-9 facility. With the facts from those two brief missives, you’re ready to go and to quote Gabriel, ‘…it’s going to be one hell of a ride.’

This book has everything. Maps, the re-imagined map of New Earth has Mexico labelled ‘El Badlands’. That’s what I’m going to call it from now on (sorry, Mexico). Timelines and snippets of history that tell the story of the ‘Nomen War’ and the events leading up to it.

Then there are the files, which include portraits of each target, dossier-style documentation, detailed illustrated weaponry and known associates. Collected with the files are cards that quickly summarise the facts and…advertising, which gives the killbook the homey feel of a scrapbook. A gruesome scrapbook.

Gabriel, The Last Paladin and ‘Protector of Amerika’

It’s obviously a labour of love, which fits so well with Gabriel’s enthusiasm for it. Throughout, there are notes from the Paladin, comments and observations. His tone is both endearing and disturbing. He sounds idealistic at times, but must be anything but. As I flipped through, I looked forward to these notes. I gained the sense the handsome Gabriel stood at my shoulder, pointing at this page and that in a way that made sure I understood his part in the story.

The file I most wanted to see was on page 192: Gabriel’s file. It’s in the killbook to remind him of who he is and to encourage him to keep perspective. The letter inside has a more sober tone, but his enthusiasm is still obvious.

The last quarter of the book is presented as a package from Little Oak Elementary School. The students are apparently fans of Gabriel and have sent him some of their collectibles. In addition, they have included art of their favourite paladin. This art is actually done by fans of Dan Luvisi and his project and all of it is gorgeous. The fact it is included in the book is stunning and a perfect representation of Dan, himself. How often do you find an artist who pays tribute to his fans in print. IN PRINT! That’s who this guy is. Finally, there is a long dedication and it’s just as awesome as the rest of the book.

Last Man Standing: Killbook Of A Bounty Hunter is well over two hundred some pages of Dan Luvisi’s art, but it’s not just a series of glossy prints with a small paragraph of description; it’s a world created solely by the artist and populated by his imagination, enthusiasm and dedication. It’s all his. Every page is art and it’s all held together by story. It’s a wonderful concept and an awesome book.

Written for and originally posted at SFCrowsnest.

Otherworldly Landscapes

I often feature photographs that seem to capture otherworldly landscapes. It’s a habit and a hobby to look at abstract images and wonder what they might be before finding out what they actually are. I imagine alien landscapes, or apocalypses. Far flung planets or obscure corners of our own. Sometimes the photos depict just that, landscapes that defy human imagination, our own alien landscapes right here on Earth. Sometimes the photos are so abstract they could be anything. Either way, I see stories. I think of these photographs as the landscapes of my many, imaginary worlds. No doubt, the photographers think somewhat the same.

I wonder what Andre Ermolaev saw when he captured this series of aerial photographs? Volcanic Iceland is the simple answer. Art is another. Each photo is art, but could also be a painting, the imagination of another artist preserved for all by the photographer.

Did he imagine a giant paintbrush? The scope of the photographs is amazing. Did he research the natural phenomena behind the artful landscapes? I imagine he did. Did he wonder, even if just for a second, if an unseen hand had shaped the land? That a space ship had left a contrail across the sand, or burned a passage through the ice, forever shaping our planet.

Reading his comments, it seems he was captured the by lines first and foremost. The patterns and the unique perspective of the aerial view. I like to think he imagined something more far-fetched, though, just for that brief second.

To view more of Andre Ermolaev’s stunning photography visit http://500px.com/andreabe and http://andreabe.fishup.ru/.