Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Illustrations Flying Through the Air!

I am very pleased to report that the illustrations for Wandlore: The Art of Crafting the Ultimate Magical Tool by Alferian Gwydion MacLir are all now finished and whisking their way to my dear friends at Llewellyn even as we speak!

I really have enjoyed this project wholeheartedly, I do think that everyone will really love this book when it makes it's debut in July. This authors work is so inspired, one can't help being enchanted by it. Watch for it this July when you'll get the opportunity to read this wonderful book and get a close look at the details in the illustrations, until then, I offer these shots of the finished project upon my old wooden art table right before I packed them up neatly in their sturdy chipboard package and dropped them off for their trip.

So what's next? Well, I'm assisting with the set design for my sons middle school production of Beauty and the Beast, and there will be some new full color art on the old wooden art table very soon. What else is on the horizon, who knows...well, I know, keep your eye on this space and I'll share more soon!

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Sketches for the Wandlore Book

Hi All!

As many of you know, the project that's currently on my old wooden art table is a stack of illustrations for Wandlore: The Art of Crafting the Ultimate Magical Tool by Alferian Gwydion MacLir. I wanted to share some more of the sketches with you, I'm really enjoying this project, his book is simply amazing, and his wands are gorgeous. This beautiful book cover was designed by the marvelous Lisa Novak, and has been my inspiration. Some of the wands I'm illustrating for the book are his design and I also am doing a few "fantasy" wands, using the style of his work, but with my own designs. This evening I'm fleshing out sketches for the "part pages" they will be fully illustrated images of people with their wands in various magical environments. He gave me wonderful descriptions for these, so I think they will be really cool when they're done. Before I get started for the evening, I'll share a few other sketches with you that are complete. Now I need to put them in my portfolio for safe keeping while I dive into the next set of sketches.

Watch for this book coming this July, you can pre-order already even though I'm still working on the illustrations, how cool is that?!

I hope to return to Magical Movie Monday next Monday, but this evening, I must focus on the job at hand. Blessings! Mickie

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Night Magical Movie: Shadow of the Vampire

This is a movie about making a movie, "Team Edward" beware, this is the original movie vampire, he doesn't sparkle, in fact he's the scariest movie vampire of all time, in my humble opinion. It is true that in 1922 silent film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (played by John Malkovich) tried to get the movie rights to the book Dracula from Brahm Stokers widow, and it's true that she turned him down. He then changed the names of the characters, called it Nosferatu, and made the movie anyway, plagiarising Stokers work, he was later sued by Stokers widow and most copies of the film Nosferatu were destroyed, but it resurfaced and is now a cult classic of Gothic horror.

The premise behind Shadow of the Vampire, which is inspired by actual rumors of the time, is that Murnau didn't hire an actor to play Count Orlok, but used an actual vampire! Directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven Katz, Shadow of the Vampire is a thriller sure to please.

The cast and crew were told Max Schreck was a student of the Stanislovski school of acting, and he would only appear on the set in full costume and makeup, in character the entire time, and that they would only film at night. Eddie Izzard plays Gustav the lead male actor in the movie, and it's perfect casting. Anyone who has seen his stand up show knows that he does lots of exaggerated expressions, exactly like the old silent film stars of the day.

He meets "Max Schreck" for the first time actually in the scene where his character meets the vampire, its an amazing scene to watch, Gustav seems genuinely freaked out, while the director encourages him to follow the ghoul, then he's congratulated on such a great scene! And why shouldn't he be freaked out, under all that Nosferatu makeup is Willem Dafoe! As in, "I can't sleep Willem Dafoe is under my bed." Let's face it, he's very good at playing a really creepy guy. This movie in no exception, you can practically smell death coming from the screen when he appears.

I love this movie, it's equal parts of very fun and totally creepy. Maybe I wasn't supposed to laugh at parts, but I couldn't help myself on occasion. I laughed out loud when they are filming a scene in John Malkavich calls to his assistant in a slightly annoyed and halting tone "Albin... a native... has wondered into my frame!" When Schreck first sees the photo of the lead actress Greta (Catherine McCormack) during a scene, he comments on her bosom the which the director Murnau responds, "Give the lip readers a thrill."

There are some great scenes in which Murnau argues with Schreck over which members of the cast and crew he is allowed to feed on! Murnau says exasperatedly, "Go ahead! Eat the writer! That will leave you explaining how your character gets to Bremen!"

By the end, the viewer finds that they have been wondering for some time, who is the real monster, Schreck or Murnau?

If you think it might be dangerous to make a Faustian pact with a real vampire to star in your horror film, you would be correct. But I won't tell the many ways in which this is true, you'll just have to watch it. After you do, to gain total appreciation for it, I recommend that you watch the old original silent film Nosferatu!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Illustration Project: "Wandlore" by Alferian Gwydion MacLir

Well, my day job as a graphic designer for a display company has been very busy, we had some big reports that we had to pull together for our big national client, and much of it was "creative writing" so I bet you can guess who was heading up that project! It was nothing but work, work, work, I even brought it home! Gah! Now it's done, and submitted, so I can get back to my magical world of art, illustration, and sharing with my dear readers!

And on that note, I have an exciting announcement! I just got my contract back from my publisher for the new illustrations I'm doing for a wonderful new book to be published by Llewellyn Worldwide this July. It's called "Wandlore: The Art of Crafting the Ultimate Magical Tool" and it's written by Alferian Gwydion MacLir. This is going to be a must-have book all about the construction, lore and and use of wands in magical practice. Alferian is the proprietor and master wand-maker of Bardwood Wandry, and I'm here to tell you his wands are gorgeous and inspired, each one a true work of art and skill. His wands are made from the wood of traditional sacred Druid trees and in the Druid tradition and Elvish lore, which after years of research to create The Voice of the Trees deck, was right up my ally!

Of course I'll be creating many, many illustrations of his beautiful hand crafted wands as well as various other illustrations for this magical treatise on wands.
Having made my own wand years ago, I have ultimate respect for this master craftsman. I created mine from a combination of wood and herb infused clay to set my stones in, but he works in the true Druidic method, carving each one lovingly from carefully gathered sacred woods. I've not done much work carving wood, but after I complete these illustrations, and finish reading this wonderful manual, I think I'll be inspired to try my hand at it. I have an unfinished staff that I may complete using his instructional book. What can I say, the guy is inspiring! He's a Druid Companion of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and Chief Druid of Geal-Darach Grove (O.B.O.D.) and he's also a 32nd degree Freemason. He created Bard Woodcrafts in 2001 which is now one of the leading and most respected place to purchase a handmade wand. In short, he really knows what he's talking about.

So you may ask, where can I get this inspiring book? Well, it will be at bookstores everywhere this July, but you can pre-order it from Amazon and be among the first to own a copy! You can actually order it before I finish the illustrations, so how cool is that?!

I have around 30 illustrations that will be in this book, so that being said, I better get back to the old wooden art table!
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