“Art that inspires me:”5-Alphonse Mucha

One of my all-time inspirations is Alfons Maria Mucha, known internationally as Alphonse Mucha. He was a Bohemian and Czech painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period, best known for his distinctly stylized and decorative theatrical posters.

While I was still in high school my art teacher noticed that I was good at drawing and particularly during one exercise I chose a postcard with the image of the Night’s Rest (first picture in gallery). My teacher saw me recreating the drawing freehand and chose to introduce me to ink-watercolors at that time to paint it. I loved the brilliance of the colors and it came out a lot more vibrant than the original. My mother decided to have it framed and it is still hanging in out house back home.

This artist inspired me with his beautiful renditions of females and beautiful lines. I had a big poster of the zodiac signs in my room and when I visited New York in 2000 I saw one of his originals in the Metropolitan Museum, that was a moment I will always remember. I could not drag myself away from the painting and I was surprised at its size, it was a lot bigger than I imagined them to be.

His line-work was so exquisite, especially for an animation final-line artist like me, where it is all about the line-work, it was a revelation. No wonder I am influenced by his art. I have come to appreciate the framework he often uses to feature his paintings as well as the main portraits. The graphic design was so ahead of his time and he often used flowers in the frames as well. He used the spiritual meaning of the flower language as much as color to convey his message in the images.

He will always be one of my main inspirations for my personal artwork and I have used his influence to illustrate my personal art-works often.

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Photographer Anastasiya Dobrovolskaya

I found this amazing photographer on Pinterest a while ago and I just love the fairy-tale imagery she captures with posing models and wild rescue animals. It is such a magickal mix, so dreamy and inspiring to me. In-fact one of her images was the inspiration for the painting of my rendition of the Three Sisters from my story of “The Tale of the Tree Sisters”.

The piece I am talking about is called Autumn Equinox and she uses foxes and models to bring to life this incredible world in photographs. Anastasiya collaborates with wildlife rescue and conservancy groups that give her access to the animals for her shots. Both working as ambassadors for awareness creating fairy tale like worlds in pictures.

“But still, I want to assure you that sometimes when animals get to people, they become part of their families and one of the main values ​​in those people’s lives. Such an animal is bear Stepan for Yuri and Svetlana’s family @panteleenko_svetlana, foxes for Olya @olga_lobelia, snakes for Nastya @snakephoto_ru, wolves for Anya and Kolya @zoo_studiya_kovcheg, Titan horse for Arina @libontova, lynx Freya for Nastya @anastasia_nevskystyle, tigers for Misha @mihail_tiger. These are the people whose animals you can see in my photos. I am 100% confident in their honesty and in their sincere love for animals. Almost all large animals live in the countryside, in spacious areas, in specially equipped enclosures with regular walking. Each animal feeds on the basis of its species. For example, owls eat mice, tigers eat raw meat, Stepan loves condensed milk. So the main question is: how did the “animals” get to these people? In most cases the animals were rescued from poor conditions (for example, Stepan and the tiger Chanel were bought out from zoos), from fur factories (foxes, arctic foxes, lynxes), some were abandoned by the owners, and so on. But the most important thing is that absolutely all animals were born in captivity and under no circumstances can survive in nature, without human participation!” Anastasiya Dobrovolskaya

Check her out on Pinterest, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/anastasiya_dobrovolskaya/?hl=en and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photographer.anastasiya.dobrovolskaya/, her work is absolutely beautiful. Especially in this terrible time when her country is at war with Ukraine and people in both lands are struggling, one for being ousted as the aggressors, even though it is beyond their scope of influence, while the other are fighting for survival.

Here is the photograph that inspired me and the final art piece I made.

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Papyrus; from plant to art

Have you ever wondered how the ancient Egyptians made papyrus paper to use in their scrolls and art?

Well I have and to my delight I was able to attend a workshop on how to actually make the elusive paper, just before all the Covid19 madness happened back in March. A friend of mine invited me to go along to the old Getty Villa in Malibu for this workshop and I accepted immediately.

So there we where and surely they had displayed the whole process right in front of us and then we where able to see how it is done and even try our luck in making it ourselves. Believe me, it is a lot harder than it sounds and a LOT of hard work. No wonder they had scores of slaves to do the labor and only the rich and noble could effort to use the paper for writing and art.

Basically you have to cut the plant and strip the outer layer off, to get to the usable part on the inside. Then you have to cut it into strips and soak it for quite some time, to soften the fibers and make them pliable. Next you arrange two layers of strips like a weave and either with a flat hammer or a rolling pin you start hitting, or rolling, applying pressure to the layers. The tricky part is not to do it so strong that you damage the fibers and split them, but just the right amount to start breaking them down to release the juice and ligament in the plant that will bind the layers as you flatten them slowly.

Most people hammered the hell out of the poor samples we where given and split the plants into mush, which is exactly NOT what to do. But me and my friend found that sweet spot, with some guidance from the team instructors and were at it for some time. Unfortunately, we where also told that this process usually takes weeks and we had only a few minutes, so, oh well, at least we understood the theory.

After that, once you have hammered it flat and it starts to bind, it is put between two layers of linen and a hard flat surface, like wood or stone to dry and flatten some more. This also takes days and the pieces have to be turned and put in dry linen every day, till they are dry. Then they are sanded slightly to get that really flat surface. If you want a long scroll, you also start attaching several of those single pieces in the drying process so they can bind together and dry as one. It is quite the process.

Lucky for us they had some pieces ready for us to either write on it or paint on it. I used mine for a call of the Witches poem and then you could seal it with a real wax seal. All in all it was amazing to see and imagine it to be done and you really appreciate the paper so much more when you understand all the work that went into it. It is a piece of art in itself really.

Now imagine after all that you have a scroll to use for recording events or drawing, I am sure they had a good dose of respect for each piece of finished papyrus and used the paper wisely. That makes the ancient scrolls even more amazing and precious. No wonder I was always intrigued and awed by them. They are beautiful and delicate.

In the end we had a great time at the workshop and after that we where able to spend time roaming around the rest of the villa and enjoy some great art and sunny gardens.

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Illuminated Writing

As I was drawing my crest I also started looking into how those where done in the middle ages and I researched a lot of old book art and discovered “Illuminated Writing”. It is the art-form of how all those incredible beautiful old books where done, where the lettering was adorned with gold leaf and some incredible borders and illustrations. Those books took some poor monk or scribe years to finish and that was why they are rare and priceless.

Years ago when I was living in London, I used to go to a lot of museums on the weekends in winter and the British Museum was one of my favored. They have an incredible section on old books and manuscripts there, I saw the Magna Carta and one of the original Gutenberg Bibles and many other extraordinary works.

Calligraphy has always held a strange fascination with me and I was meaning to relearn how to write prettily with a fountain pen, just like I used to do at school when I was a child, yes I am that old… We had fountain pens to write when I was in elementary and middle school, we where not allowed to use regular pens till high school and after that I simply did not need to write anything anymore as I was doing animation and drawing all the time and I am ashamed to say that I forgot how to write cursive over the years, since I never needed to. I also wanted to learn how to write those amazing letters with an old fashion ink pen, where you have to dip it, just like Harry Potter at Hogwarts.

Over the last few years I collected a feather pen that had a nib and a few more simple nibs and holders, I also found an intriguing gold/black ink that you had to dip with and I decided that I would finally learn my letters as I was attempting to create a Book of Shadows. So many things I had to look into, how to do the lettering, how to learn to write with nibs and pens and then start to draw borders and lines and other elements of calligraphy. There is a lot more to it than you think.

So here I was working on my family crest and at that time I was also writing my Book of Shadows. I decided, that if I was going to make it into one of those beautifully illustrated works of art I had to write the contents first, so I could edit and draw the layouts to design the book. You can’t just go back and rewrite everything if you forgot something… We are so spoiled today with our computers, where we can just go in and correct and rewrite, add on and insert art and all sorts and it is no bother. Well back in the day of old, from the ancient Egyptians to even just before modern printing with the help of computers, you HAD to put a lot more effort into planing and editing and designing the artwork before you went ahead to paint, write and draw the final product.

I am retracing the steps of oh so many scribes and monks as I embarked on this mission of working on my book the old fashion way, but I am discovering the joy of making art on specially ordered handmade paper. I am having fun writing in ink and drawing borders and illustrations and using gold paint to make it look precious. I have not yet learned how to work with gold leaf, but you never know, I might in the future. This is a labor of love and there is no time line as the book is just for me, but I am already proud at every little improvement on all those techniques I had to learn.

This is more about the journey than the end result, but it will also be an amazing reminder of that journey every time I turn a page of that book. You can do anything you put your mind to and never be afraid to try new things, it is the stuff life is worth living for.

The Wiccan Rede illustrated by Alexa Summerfield
Book of Shadows blessing illustrated by Alexa Summerfield.
History of Witchcraft illustrated by Alexa Summerfield.
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The Family Crest and Coat of Arms

Back in the days of Kings and Queens every noble family, tradesmen and the like had their own coat of arms and family crest. Europe is still displaying many of them on castles, houses, towers and businesse’s doors.

We all know the famous Hogwarts crest and its four houses, well it turns out that both sides of my family also have their crests and that gave me the idea of making my own.

As I went into studying all the different parts that make up the crest and the coat of arms, I discovered that each section has meaning. They are not just colors, animals and crowns. There are actually very specific rules as to what sort of crown and symbols a family or trades man can use and there are meanings in the shape of the shield and its components as much as the accompanying beasts that seem to hold the shield. My head was spinning with all that information.

So as usual I started with the basics, the colors I identify with, the image of the shield and then the other components. I also went into a bit of research of my families crests. After all I grew up with one of them hanging in our living room…

Coat of Arms drawing from my Great Grandfather

This was the enormous picture hanging on our wall for most of my life, it was drawn by my paternal great grandfather, who was a renowned artist. Unfortunately it was never finished, as you can see there are color markings to show that the scheme was a red and gold.

I also found my fathers actual family crest, also sketched by my great grandfather.

Of course I had to have the one from my mothers side as well and lucky for me, one of my uncles had spent the last 10-15 years researching the family tree and found a black and white version of the crest and he managed to follow that family tree all the way into the 16th century on both my grandfathers and grandmothers side. It is actually very exciting finding out where you come from.

After some research it turned out that the colors for this one are most likely blue and silver. So here was a starting point for me and after a few sleepless nights I deliberated thus.

I am a Ravenclaw, that house crest has an eagle, so does the crest of the city I was born in and I do like those majestic raptors so that would be my symbol. Blue and gold would be my color as it is closest to blue and bronze of house Ravenclaw and I always liked that combination best even as a child. I took the lion of the crest of my mothers family and the mantling for the crown from my great grandfathers drawing. The crown had to be the triple moon for the Witch in me and the supporting animals also had to be a cat and a dragon, that’s just my all-time favored beasts. The helm is inspired by Egyptian elements and the motto is just how I look at life: I believe in the Magick of my dreams.

Well that’s the jist of the process anyway. It is amazing what you stumble onto when you start looking at all those elements of family history and their coat of arms. I found a reference on all the different crowns and which area they belong to and so I found out that our family line probably has noble blood, and Earl or even Duke as that is what the type of crown on the crest symbolizes. I also found that one of the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar in the 13th century had the silver lion on a blue field, I wonder if that is where ours came from?

You just never know what history could tell you about who you are and where you came from and I am going to do some more digging.

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My acceptance letter finally arrived

At platform 9 & 3/4 Kings Cross Station London

Well better late than never, 2015 it finally happened, I went to Hogwarts…

A very unexpected trip to say the least, brought me to London and it just so happened I found the Hogwarts Express portal and went for it. It was amazing, so many people from all over the world where on platform 9&3/4 and not just kids, I mean they where in the minority. I would not have missed it for the world.

That trip opened a real life Pandora’s box for me and sent me on a 360 degree course correction.

This little Witch graduated with honors and went on her way with about 7 or 8 NEWTs to boot. So watch out.

My Ravenclaw robe made by Angi Viper
this one is reversible
for special events
with my fellow Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood at the LADA rollerskating party
my wand from a real wandmaker
the secret entrance for Ravenclaw tower, I got the answer right
first flying lession
sending the trunk up to my room
spending recess at the lake on Hogwarts grounds

Well here you are, everything is possible if you believe in Magick. I certainly do and it manifests in so many ways. But then I’ve always been lucky, I just forget sometimes, so I gave myself a permanent reminder.

I am of the Sisterhood of the Hallows…

The Hallows, because they are the foundation of my strength and Magick.

The first Hallow, the Elderwand, to remind myself that I am stronger than I think I am and that with power comes responsibility.

The second Hallow, the Resurrection Stone, to know that selfsacrifice and even tragedies can be the key to resurrection and that in life nothing is impossible and we say: “Not today”, to the god of death.

The third Hallow, the Cloak of Invisibility, that cloak is our family and our friends, keeping us safe from harm and heartache. With their protection you can do anything.

And finally, Always, for Love is the most powerful force of all, that you are loved and that you can love is more important than anything else in this life. Life has no meaning without Love and those who do not understand that will not survive.

I am of the Sisterhood of the Hallows and I am Magick…

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The Cheshire Cat

Me as the Cheshire Cat from Hullabaloo

2017 was a very good year and I got one of my wishes, to do a professional photo shoot in Cosplay.

I had debuted as the first ever Cheshire Cat from Hullabaloo in 2015 and I reprise the role only once more to have some great pictures.

The costume as ever was made by Angi Viper, also seen here as Veronica Daring, the heroine of Hullabaloo and the Cheshire Cat nemesis. She also made her dress. The pictures where by Casey Kwock @@morbidb.

We had and absolute blast mucking about outside of CTNX in Burbank and I had my wish come true, so here they are. The Cheshire Cat in action and mischief.

Mission accomplished…

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Mary Poppins Returns

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be asked to work on this little beauty for a few month, thanks to an acquaintance I made at CTNX 2017.

I was very happy to have been given this opportunity especially considering the original movie was so amazing. I think the director and everyone that worked on this new adventure of Mary Poppins’ have done an incredible job to tap into the heart and soul of what the original movie represented to millions of people. They found an uncanny new Mary Poppins in Emily Blunt and she could not have done better.

To my delight there was a sequence of old fashion traditional animation to do and I was part of the Clean-Up/Final Line Artist Team, what an honor. It was also like an animation reunion party as I had not seen a lot of the people in quite a few years. It was like the good old times.

I had months of drawing lots of funny animals and my all time favored, the penguins. I got the scene where they form the ladder that Mary Poppins walks up in her song and the scene right after where the penguins clime after her. At least those scenes are recognizable to anyone, a lot of my other work was the crowds at the pavilion and lots of dancing animals in funny outfits.

To my dismay I find I forgot to take copies of my work on this one, so I only have one image I sneaked as I was drawing it, a dancing pig from behind.

Mary Poppins Returns, Clean-Up by Alexa Summerfield

Months later we got a great surprise and where invited to the Walt Disney Studios to have our own crew screening where I took some pictures of me in Mary Poppins shoes, so to speak, arriving with the umbrella as she does.

Mary Poppins Returns invite to crew screening

We also got an official crew credit post from Duncan Studios, who handled all the animation artists on this project and gave every one of us the credit we deserved. Unfortunately not everyone’s name had made it onto to final credits on the actual movie.

For myself I was part of the lucky few who was able to see my name at the end credits and get that extra flutter in my heart when it moves past. It is amazing how that never changes, it’s been 30 years that I have been in animation and every time you see your name on a movie you worked on, is just like the first time. So here it is, a shot I took at the screening.

Theater at Walt Disney Studio Lot
Shot from the crew screening

You can see my name on the right, second line under Clean-Up, Alexa Summerfield, here goes the butterflies and shivers up my spine…

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IMDb and the We Bare Bears

So I just realized that the good folks over at Cartoon Network gave me the official credits for my work on their shows on my IMDb page.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2823724/

I am sooooo excited, that brings my credits up to 14 and I have a very recent one now instead of all the older ones. I am so grateful to whoever put the credits up for me, THANK YOU.

This was such a good surprise today and it made my day completely.

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Hullabaloo at CTNX 2015

Hullabaloo Team

Hullabaloo Team

The Hullabaloo Team at CTNExpo 2015.

What an amazing week end we just had. This year the team was invited to hold a panel about “The Making of Hullabaloo” at the CTN Lounge and it was a success. We had a full house attending our talk about how we deal with the demands of the production and how we got it all up and running. We shared some of the process of film making in traditional hand drawn animation and it’s challenges. The panel was on Friday and for the rest of the week-end people came to tell us how much they had enjoyed the panel and how happy they where to attend it.

Saturday James also held an animation lecture on one of the characters and mesmerized people with the magic of seeing drawings created and then a sequence of them actually moving the character right in front of their eyes. There where quite a few dropped jaws and that indistinguishable ahhh at the end that tells you the audience was enchanted.

What a rush to be there and finally show some of our work in various stages on the screen and getting so much positive feedback. We had people running up just saying how excited they where and asking when it would be available to see. We had people walking by and getting stuck as they looked at the video screen and could not carry on till the loop of artwork came back to the point they had first started. So many times people who had pledged on IndiGogo last year came up and said; wow this is so cool, we can’t wait…

Young and old, students and old timers of the industry have complemented the project and we could not be happier. Thank you for your patience and support and thank you for cheering us on on our way. We are just as excited as all of you and we are working very hard on completing episodes 1 & 2 for the new year.

CTNX was as usual a whirlwind of energy and for us a confirmation that we are doing something right. The work looks great and I want to thank all the team for their contribution, you guys rock. Let’s keep it going and show the world that 2D traditional hand drawn animation is alive and kicking.

Hullabaloo team at CTN panel

Hullabaloo team at CTN panel

Hullabaloo Team at CTN panel

Hullabaloo Team at CTN panel

Hullabaloo Booth at CTN

Hullabaloo Booth at CTN

Hullabaloo Team at the Sunday wrap party toast

Hullabaloo Team at the Sunday wrap party toast

 

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