Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blog Name Switch/Thoughts on Color

First and foremost dear readers, you will notice an address change for my blog. The title change is minimal, but in the world of aesthetic politics it is infinite.

As of ... the past year I'd say ... I'm not very comfortable addressing myself as an illustrator. The title has a lot of baggage, particularly amongst posturing fine art circles, but more importantly I find the title to be misleading and inaccurate. I've worked as an editorial illustrator consistently for one publication for about 1/2 years now, with the exception of small gigs here and there. While it's been a great source of funny money, and a good formal exercise, it is, simply put, not where my heart is.

I've been holding back with my passion for comic books and graphic novels for years due to a lack of enthusiasm. This has subsided recently and I've released 3 mini comics in the last year and am revamping the web page to address this as my main focus. My departure from comics is complicated and many factors play into why I've let go to the form, but these reasons are not really important anymore.

So welcome to "Jack Turnbull Studios" - where you can see behind the scenes process shots of the FINALE to THE INVASIVE EXOTICS along with my thoughts on the comic book form. Like Dan Nadel's Comics Comics blog, Brian Chippendale's Marvelous Coma blog and Frank Santoro's Cold Heat Comics blog, this will include more than just process posts; there will also be review posts, thoughts on painting (which I still do even though I haven't done seriously for a year), art, illustration, design, daily life, etc., etc.


As much as I love little mini comics that are published at Kinkos, man, do I ever miss working in color.

6 months out of college I spent 6 months interning at a textile firm in midtown Manhattan. I have no idea why they hired me as my portfolio was entirely made up of cartoonish, ironic illustrations and comic books. My reasons for taking the job were half thought threw and influenced by the struggling economy. Needless to say, I wasn't very good at designing patterns for 13 year old girls and I constantly felt like the office tool. But I was able to get some good design experience out of my time there and was taught to think about color in a new way that wasn't addressed to me while at RISD (not hatin' on RISD mind you).

The color palettes which were used at the textile firm were very specific and decided with the utmost dedication, thought and sincerity. For a while afterwords I would remember color palettes in my head from working there - so for a while I think everything I made had the colors of a springtime dress. Now I have the time and energy to grab my own colors from my own sources.
The above silkscreen is a Brian Chippendale show poster from 2003, a few years after Fort Thunder was turned into a Shaws and right before another mass eviction was conducted in Providence. I'm getting away from the theme of this post, and I'm considering doing a solo post on this subject, but I can't help but mention what's going on visually with this poster. While the colors are a little off for me (I don't think the bottom meshes with the top, but then it wouldn't be a wild-n-crazy Chippendale print without a little "oh the hell with it" thrown in), it's like looking at a "Pop Pollack". 50 years after the American art world was split between Warholians and Abstract expressionists, Chippendale unknowingly bridges the gap by Silk screening these wild brush strokes and placing a He-Man character in the middle in full lotus. F-ing BRILLIANT!

But true to form, this is a color post so let's observe closer to the top of this poster where the color works best.

Now let's go one step further and separate these colors.

My first observation is how feminine this palette is. This could easily be a neon bikini bathing suit textile pattern palette. But Chippendale is unmistakeably masculine in his art and music (it's not just a clever name). He's a comic book artist (amongst other things) and this palette has a breath of warms and 1 cool, but what more do you need if that cool dominates?

Here is a page from Walter Simonson and Archie Goodwin's "Manhunter" anthology which was turned onto me by Frank Santoro. Simonson is a master of the form and is acknowledged as such, but more underrated is his colorist, Klaus Janson. I first was turned onto Janson as someone to look at from a post on Comics Comics. While this palette is more elaborate and has more colors, and one has to take into consideration it must deal with two images in two panels, it is still worth observing and comparing to the Chippendale print. Now - my old textile boss would be throwing a hissy fit at me for scanning straight paper and grabbing color as a scanner will distort the pure color, but you get a gist of what's going on here from above. Chippendale's and Janson's electric blues are very similar as well as their salmon reds. Chippendale is a little more juiced in saturation.

Picasso says "good artists barrow, great artists steal", so I'm going to be playing with these palettes, maybe adding/subtracting to them a bit once the Invasive Exotics is concluded.

Color is used very differently now that mainstream comics are printed digitally. The above page is something that came up when I google searched "Marvel Comics Page". While the colors are more infinite in range (I couldn't possible do a swatch for this page), I find that colors cancel one another out and lack significance. The result is an effect more cinematic and "real" looking, but I don't want my comics looking real! It's a personal preference, I mean, I also like technicolor movies. I could watch Henry V for the colors alone (my modern tounge is way to pedestrine to follow Shakespeare's language ... sorry, I was an art student!). But I like the idea of carefully choosing colors as opposed to having the ability to use every color you want.

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