Monday, January 31, 2011

Craig Tracy

When most people hear the term, "body painting," they usually think of either that cheezy Pink Floyd poster or a strategically-placed butterfly flitting across some lady's titties at Bonnaroo. At this point, it's safe to say that most of the world can only do so much by painting on a live person, myself included. That is why I was so delighted and surprised to run into the gallery of Craig Tracy in the French Quarter this weekend. Tracy's a New Orleans native, and has actually developed a body painting style that is both captivating and original. Because his work is painted on actual nudes, all of his work is presented as photography. However, without knowing exactly what you were looking at, you may mistake the entire photograph, and the live nude in it, for a painting. They're that good. If you check out his web site, there are of course some duds that come along with this kind of medium, like some generic girls and babies painted gold or striped, but the rest truly make up for it. I'm particularly a big fan of the piece, "Butterfly" that he has on his site. I didn't include it here because the mastery of it is really in the photos he posted of his process more than anything. Few people can hide a girl's booty in a painting without taking something away from the piece. 'Nuff said.

This piece, "Sixtree" is my favorite and the only non-studio photo on Tracy's site. The tree in the center is made up of six painted people. I like it because it is beautifully understated. Hopefully, we'll see more work like this from Tracy in the future.

I have some personal envy for the kid who's mom heard, "I want to turn your womb into a radioactive, glowing space coccoon for hearts," and she was like, "Hell yeah. That'll go great in the blacklight room."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Troll Country

Very few mythical creatures can capture the imagination like those from the nordic tradition. Children the world over can tell you what a troll is, or describe a fairie, without ever opening a text book, or being tested on what Gods control whom. The mysterious creatures of Norse mythology are not sweet little critters like those in Aesop's fables. They are murderous, calculating, ravenous creatures more likely to steal your children than to help you out, and interactions with them mostly result in people wandering around in a fog of confusion in a deep dark forest. While much of this mythology has been replaced by the more macho, modern updates in Lord of the Rings series, a glimmer of the world of trolls and fairies can be greatly appreciated in the work of early 20th century illustrator, John Bauer. His work captures a world of dark winding forest roads with fleeting light, inhabited by creatures born of the imagination. His most notable work, "Among Gnomes and Trolls", while relatively unknown, served as the basis for Jim Hensen's Dark Crystal, and it's obvious. His attention to detail and meticulous articulation of light and texture are breath-taking. It is unfornate that he was able to produce so little work, as his life was cut short in the wreck of the ship Per Brahe, which he ironically took instead of the train, which he thought unsafe. Go figure.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I first ran into the work of French artist, McBess on the now defunct art critique forum, Eatpoo. He was there for critique on his large volume of illustration, I was snooping around for inspiration. To cut a long story short, McBess was one of the people that got me back into drawing again, and renewed my faith in the animation medium. His work has obvious influence from early 20th century animators like Disney and the kids over at Merry Melodies, but his style is unmistakable. Many of his images revolve around a mystical dreamscape, where pirates, ghosts, and dangerously cute topless girls are he norm. The depth of each piece is wonderful, and few people can transfer palpable textures to two-dimensional animation like he can.  Beside his work as an illustrator, McBess has also produced several short animations, mostly surrounding his band, the Dead Pirates. Yes, this man does everything...and he has a wonderful beard.

Check out more work by McBess at his website:

E A Seguy

When considering the art that emerged out of the Art Neuveu and Art Deco periods, several elements typically come to mind: heavy line work, meticulous design, and vivid color, for example. Most people are content to revisit the work of Alfons Mucha as the pinnacle of that era, and leave it at that. That is because they have not been exposed to the understated beauty in the work of Eugene Alain Seguy. Seguy worked in France primarilly as a textile pattern designer, but made numerous books of illustration along those same designs, all surrounding a single topic: bugs. The books of illustration, 'Insectes' and 'Papillons' are masterpieces in themselves, depicting butterflies and other insects with a vivid, scientific accuracy that makes Audubon look like a talentless hack. Beside this, the composition technique of clustering the different creepy crawlies together on each page is unnerving and claustrophic, reminding the viewer that bugs are in fact everywhere, in colors and numbers we cannot begin to fathom.

This is one of his patterns based off a beetle:

Sylvia Ji

A native of San Francisco, Sylvia Ji has been producing amazing paintings for years now, and frankly, it's disappointing how little national attention her work has garnered, despite numerous showings across America. This may be because her subject matter is limited mostly to paintings of women with a Day of the Dead catrina motif, which, without actually seeing them, can sound a little trite and over-worked. I mean, we've all seen Mexican folk art, right?  However, each piece I've encountered is so completely different and more amazing than the next that one cannot help but admire her mastery of the subject. Few people are able to capture both whimsy and a direct sensuality that doesn't beat you over the head in a single piece, but Ji pulls it off nicely. This isn't hurt by a strong collaboration with the bevy of beautiful ladies of alt-porn website , a competitor of the widely loved/hated Suicide girls franchise. Ji worked with several Godsgirls models in creating a portraiture exhibition with fellow artist Joshua Petker entitled, "Behind Bedroom Doors." Steamy and stunning is about all I can say about it, but you can decide for yourself.

For more amazing images from Sylvia Ji's portfolia, visit her website: