Monday, August 30, 2010

Always Be A Good Boy

Here's an oldie but goodie; one of the first prints I ever did in my screenprinting class back when I was a student at the Rest Stop of Life otherwise known as Saddleback Community College. [Long pregnant pause for musings on my misspent youth and how I almost never got back on the road from that 5 year rest stop. You just pull over for a quick snack and to hit the john, and before you know it, it's 5 years later and you forgot where you were heading in the first place. Has this analogy gone way too far yet?] That was such a fun class and I met so many cool people. If you ever take a class at Saddleback, I highly recommend taking Screenprinting with Will. He's barely over college age himself, and comes to class with purple mohawks and punk tees on. Anyways, this is my first print using rubylith, and it's a drawing from Johnny Cash's mug shot. It's called "Always Be A Good Boy," a line from "Folsom Prison Blues." I want to do more art based on vintage mug shots - famous people or otherwise.

Below are a few videos for your viewing pleasure. The first is Johnny playing San Quentin. [Authors Note: I actually got to interview Merle Haggard for the magazine I work for recently because he was playing a show in town - and did you know that amongst all the inmates of San Quentin during the first San Quentin show was ole' Merle? It was what inspired him to start singing! Check out the interview here - his account of it all is much better than mine.] The second video is the first installment of a biography on the Man in Black. Man did he influence a lot of people. You HAVE to watch till the end. He does a hilarious impression of Elvis. Enjoy.

Listening to: Johnny Cash's "Cry, Cry, Cry"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper at MOCA

I believe in the saying "share the wealth." There is nothing worse than some multi-talented, renaissance man/woman stealing more than their share of genius from the cosmic pool. Prime examples include Natalie Portman (talented and successful actress, beautiful, and a Harvard grad), Zoey Deschanel (talented and successful actress, beautiful, and now with a band and records to prove it), Jay-Z (epic rapper, owner of his own clothing line Roca Wear, owner of the NJ Nets [lets hope they fair better this season], and married to Beyonce), and Clint Eastwood (amazing actor, director, and musician/composer). I mean, leave some for the rest of us. [Insert heavy sigh here.] I recently found out that I can add Dennis Hopper to this list of over accomplishers. Turns out the rebel actor was also a director - and get this - an artist. When I say artist, I don't mean he dabbled here or there for a brief time; I mean full-fledged, scaping body of work, master of every medium artist.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA currently has Hopper's work on display. The exhibit is called "Double Standard" and it features an array of Hopper's work throughout his life. Hopper worked with the museum to put the show together, but unfortunately did not live to see it's completion. When describing Hoppers work, you could use all the adjectives that characterized the late, great actor: counter-culture, edgy, yet oozing talent. His photographs were amazing. He photographed everyone from Jane Fonda to Martin Luther King Jr. to Andy Warhol. I love his subject matter: anything counter culture. Artists, musicians, revolutionaries, change, rebels. My sister described it perfectly: "Hopper took blunt photos of the people who punctuated a golden age of cinema and cool. He wasn't a threat, he was one of them. His closeness allowed him to freeze-frame intimate, genuine, hilarious moments of people who we usually only saw in an affected and poised way."

The other amazing thing was that Dennis Hopper always considered himself a jack of all trades, but master of none. He considered himself an amateur at everything he did.

"There are moments that I’ve had some real brilliance, you know. But I think they are moments. And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough. I never felt I played the great part. I never felt that I directed the great movie. And I can’t say that it’s anybody’s fault but my own.” - Dennis Hopper

After moseying through the exhibit, my lovely twin sister Jennifer Hood and I exited through the gift shop (a movie you must see by the way), picked up a book of his photos (Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967, (MOCA Edition)) and headed out to find some dinner. After an hour of checking out the city (a.k.a getting lost and then stuck in the traffic jam surrounding the Sunset Strip Music Festival) we happened upon the legendary Canter's Restaurant on Fairfax in West Hollywood. Turns out this diner and it's adjacent Kibitz Room bar and club are brimming with rock n' roll history. Jakob Dylan used to play the Kibitz Room every Tuesday night, and Guns N' Roses were fed by the Canter family (who's son grew up BFF's with Slash) until they hit it big. If any of this doesn't check out, blame our good friend/waiter/rock n' roll historian, Daniel at Canter's. To this day, you can head down to the Kibitz Room any night of the week and enjoy live music with no cover charge while soaking in a little bit of history.

Feeling sufficiently inspired, I will leave you all with some of my fav Hopper pieces from the show and a couple of snapshots from of our night/adventure and get back to my painting-in-progress.

Listening to: The Band's "Atlantic City"

[Jen in front of MOCA with her new book in hand.]

[Me getting touristy in front of the exhibit.]

[Claes Oldenburg (Portrait with Cake Slices), 1966]

[Jane Fonda with bow and arrow, Malibu, 1965]

[Double Standard (for which the exhibit was named), 1961]

[Biker Couple, 1961]

[Ed Ruscha, 1964]

[Bruce Connor (in tub), Toni Basil, Teri Garr, and Ann Marshall, 1965]

[The famous Canter's]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's In A Name

[The current state of my painting.]

While crunching on my bowl of sprinkles with a side of ice cream and listening to my favorite band of fightin' Scottish rockers, Glasvegas, I was struck by a brilliant idea: for my series "The Beatniks, The Bastards, and The Saints," instead of wearying my brain and fully exhausting my limited vault of wit (which I need to save for these ramblingly endless witterings I call blogs) trying to come up with interesting and smart titles for each of my pieces - I've decided to take a cue from one of my favorite filmmakers, Guy Ritchie. I love his films because they always involve a colorful cast of characters with the greatest nicknames you wish your schoolyard friends had been clever enough to give you. Bullet Tooth Tony, Barry The Baptist, Gorgeous George (which I named my pet plant after) - who wouldn't want a nickname like that? Seeing as my subjects for this series very much resemble the ruffians, variants, and miscreants that Guy Ritchie seems to share my affinity for, I am going to take a page out of his book and give each painting it's own colorful nickname. Whether or not these names will be based on the real life subjects in the paintings - well, that's for me to know and you to wonder about.

All ideas and submissions for bad ass, underworld-worthy, hooligan nicknames are readily and heartily accepted! Here's a little something to get your creative juices flowing my friends. Ole' Statham at his best. "This is an unlicensed boxing match, not a tickling competition." I also included a few pictures of my progress on Matt's portrait. Still haven't decided his moniker yet.

Listening to: Glasvegas' "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry"

[My trusty coke can in the bottom left corner. I can't seem to kick the "juice."]

[A closeup of the unfinished hand. It looks crazy now, but I'll keep layering the colors now that I have a general base laid down and it will eventually end up looking like a hand.]

[My paint palette for the skin tones. I do cheat and premix an empty 35mm film containers worth of a skin tone color so I don't have to keep mixing more up mid-paint. Then I use that and add and mix the other colors (burnt sienna, yellow ochre, titanium white, quinacridone crimson, and ultramarine blue). Check out my amazing skeleton head clock on the table too.]

[My painting teacher that I had for all of the two days it took me to drop the second rate IVC class said that brush cleaner was a sham. I bought this the other day mostly because I liked the graphics on the label, but it is the BEST. Saves so much time cleaning brushes.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jon Lovitz

When I'm not painting and drawing, I have this thing called a 9-5 job. It's hard to say what exactly I do. The title is a hodgepodge of positions thrown together with a slew of backslashes that looks something like this: Social media guru/graphic designer/entertainment editor/interviewer-columnist. I work at a small magazine called The OC Gazette, so we wear many hats.

A part of wearing many hats and having a small office is that everyone has to solve their own problems. No one's got time to help me with my problems because they're busy solving a slew of their own as they try to fulfil their job title with 5 positions and 5 backslashes. My interview column in the magazine is a one page Q&A called Off The Record where I chit chat and shoot the breeze with some of the most interesting people from or passing through Orange County. Interviewees range from The Fonz to Cold War Kids, and Ron Artest to Buzz Aldrin. We've known for some time that Jon Lovtiz went to college in Irvine at UCI, and seeing as he was coming back to Irvine for his stand-up comedy act this September I set out to track his agent or manager down to set something up. Still not sure how it happened, but God smiled down on me that day and caused his people to agree to an interview. The interview came and went without a hitch. {Author's Note: I don't think I've interviewed anyone yet who was so grateful or still so surprised he'd made it after 25 years in the biz. Such a cool guy!} Here's where it got hairy. After days of phonecalls (I was pretty sure Jon's manager's assistant was going to get a harrassment case filed against me), Jon's management just could not provide me with a headshot to use with the story. They tried and tried to find one and get it approved, but for some reason it never came through. I find this out on the day we are uploading the magazine to go to press. Who wants to read a story with no visual aid? It's like the difference between the monotonous, monotone highschool history teacher, and the cool one who doubled as the basketball coach and showed movies and sweet slide shows. World of difference.

How did we get out of this pickle? My very bright partner in crime, Sara Wilkins, reminded me that I know how to draw and how about doing an illustration. Magazine saved! I started on the drawing around 10am and by noon was popping it into the layout. It didn't turn out exactly spot on. His face is a little long, but for a two hour rush job, it ain't too shabby. I wish I took more scans of the piece througout, but here are two photos of the illustration.



You can find it and the interview in the September issue of The OC Gazette, hitting mailboxes and rack locations at the end of this month! There will also be an interview in there that I did with the handsome psychobilly crooner, Nick 13 of Tiger Army. If I ever need a date to a cocktail party, I'm asking him. Talk about a fountain of knowledge. He should be a professor. I'd sit in the front row and hum "Don't Stand So Close To Me" while he lectured if he did.

Alright, this post is fast becoming a delusional, incoherent rambling, so I'll sign off. Enjoy the Lovitz clip. It's got to be one of my favorite moments of his on film. So short, but so sweet.

- Amy
Listening to: Anders Osborne's "My Old Heart"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whatever It Is It's Better In The Wind

I really want to go to this show tomorrow night. Instead, I'll probably be hunched in front of a bright computer screen, finishing up the magazine with my lovely co-worker at The OC Gazette Sara Wilkins. The life of an underpaid and overworked graphic designer in the publishing world. I'll definitely head up to LA to catch this even if I miss the opening though. This guy's photos are amazing. His name is Scott G. Toepfer and his project is called "It's Better In The Wind". He documented his cross country moto adventure with his friends and turned it into a photo essay that - well, just watch the video he created to learn what it is. His way of telling it is way more fun.

I'm definitely getting my grimy hands on one of the photo books he's selling of the project. I'll proudly slide it next to Danny Lyon's The Bikeriders on my bookshelf. I might even razor blade one of the pages out and frame it.

- Amy

Listening to: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Complicated Situation"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Internet Withdrawls

[If I'm Andy Warhol, this is my current Edie Sedgewick.]

I was so excited to post pictures of the progress of my most recent painting last night, only to open my Safari internet browser to the message: "Network Connection Error. You are not connected to the internet." Needless to say, panic ensued. Try going a day without internet access. I thought it would be easy - not so. No blog, no Google searches, no Netflix, no facebook, no email. It was horrible!

What's the saying? Good things come to those that wait? Patience is a virtue? A bird in hand is better than two in the bush? Whatever the lesson, here are the pictures at last. This painting is a part of my "The Beatniks, The Bastards, and The Saints" series. The subject is Mr. Matt Zumberge, my friend, tattoo artist, and now muse. It's always awkward starting a series and trying to find models. For some reason, "Hey, can I paint you?" comes off creeper-ish. You might as well just tell people that you've got puppies and candy in the back of your '89 Astro van that's parked out back. Matt is a Laguna College of Art and Design graduate however, so he understands the woes of an artist first hand in this department and was really cool about helping me out. Plus, he has just the look I wanted to capture on canvas: a tattooed ruffian with a devil-may-care aura. I think it'll be a lot easier asking people to model for me now that I've got someone I can refer to that is also participating. It's the herd mentality.

I work from photos. I get really particular about details - REALLY particular - so instead of asking someone to sit and pose for me for 10 hours until I get the painting exactly perfect or cut off one of my ears, I figure it's better to snap a photo and work from that. I have a pretty snazzy camera (a Rebel XT) that takes some really nice pictures too. Here are some of the ones I took of Matt at the tattoo shop. You can click them to enlarge.

After I weeded through all the pictures and dwindled it down to my favorite (the last photo with Matt puffing away like a little chimney), I sketched out my outline on the canvas. I had to do this three times before I got it right. The first time I drew a different pose and realized I liked the other one better after an hour of sketching. The second time I drew the outline and it looked like Matt with a bad nose job. So I stepped away for an hour, came back, erased my canvas, and remembered some advice from an art teacher I had in high school: drawing the subject upside down. It sounds crazy, but it's so ingenious. When you draw right side up, you're brain sees the picture and thinks it knows what it sees, and you end up drawing more from memory than you should. When you turn it upside down, you're basically tricking your brain to draw the shapes it sees, not to draw from memory. After I drew the outline this way and flipped the canvas over, I was amazed at how well it worked, besides a few minor tweaks. Thanks Mr. Palmer; That highschool art class served me well.

[Upside Down]

[After the flip. Magic, right?]

Then from there I start with the skintones and work from there. I like to work in pieces so I feel like there's something getting accomplished at the end of the day. So yesterday I just focused on getting the left arm done. I'll add the tattoos in last.

I was really frustrated last night after about an hour of painting and a fair amount of expletives, because I thought it just wasn't looking right. But when I woke up this morning and looked at it with fresh eyes, I said to myself, "You still got it, Amy Hood." Then I gave myself the finger guns and a wink in the mirror and headed off to work.

- Amy

Listening to: Whiskeytown's "Here's to The Rest of The World"

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Beatniks, The Bastards, and The Saints

[Click to enlarge.]

My second post. There's always so much more pressure on sequels and sophomore attempts to perform. I feel pretty sprightly and confident however, I'm listening to a little Social Distortion, munching on some tasty french fries, and about to get to work on my current painting. I've started a new series, I don't have a title set in stone yet, but I'm thinking "The Beatniks, The Bastards, and The Saints," kind of like my own current day version of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." It's an ode to the fact that in every person there is a redeeming quality. It's dedicated to the ruffians of society. So far all of my muses are tattooed hoodlums. It's quite beautiful. I already have one painting semi-complete except for the final halo, which I will try to finish tonight. Here's a look at it so far. I'll post a progression of my process on the next blog. It's amazing to see it come to life from a blank canvas all the way through.


Listening to: Social Distortion's "Don't Take Me For Granted" (Quite appropriate for this blog, don't you think?)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hello World

Hello world. I'm Amy Hood, a 23 year old girl just trying to make my dent in the world with my art. This blog will be dedicated to my artistic endeavors: paintings, drawings, stencils, doodles, and everything in between. I promise this thing will get more interesting. Until then, a pencil drawing to hold you over.


Listening to: Richard Hawley's "Tonight The Streets Are Ours"

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