Here is a little surprise for you guys, a layout test of the elements of the Carrie Fisher Tribute. Let me know what you think.
Our illustrious leader has sent a budget to congress with the idea that we can no longer fund a program without concrete evidence of its effectiveness. Putting aside the reality that many of the programs he plans to cut impact large segments of our population, while requiring less money per person than if the resources were not pulled together by the government, there is the fact that the results of these programs can not easily be distilled down to profit/loss statements. Also, put aside that the so-called savings will be offset by increased military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy. Well one of the programs to be cut is the Endowment for the Arts.
I find it laughable that the President and the people he has surrounded himself with are so clueless as to the amount the arts affect the world around them and us. Do you have an Iphone, twitter account, or television? Well all of these are influenced by the arts. The screens on your Iphone and the layout of Twitter were all designed by graphic artists who may have gotten support or been influenced by someone whom got support from the Endowment for the Arts. Graphic Artists design how our cars, computers, and appliances look. They give your favorite websites the style that catches your eyes.
Musicians make the music for your TV shows and Movies, making them more entertaining and life more enjoyable. They play the songs writers create or create them themselves. The commercials our economy depends upon feature music from all walks of life to connect with customers on an emotional level, including ads for political candidates. Writers come up with the stories that become the movies we can’t wait to see. They also write the commercials that help businesses survive, as well as the manuals that help their customers use their products. Writers even come up with the lines in political ads.
Wow, there sure seems to be a strong case here for the benefits of the arts. Without all the things creative people do for business, our economy would be much weaker than it is. Hell, the Iphone’s ability to stream live music and television is a major selling point and they seem to constantly be trying to improve those abilities. What would be the point of that without the arts? The days of the public being wowed by watching a train arrive at a station, one of the first examples of motion pictures, are long gone. Providing content solely by what we observe is in the past; now the public demands more and you can’t get that without art. So, does funding the arts have an impact? Hell yeah, if you aren’t stupid or greedy.
Tonight I find myself contemplating stars, Star Wars stars to be more specific. Each Science Fiction movie and television show has found their own way to depict the star filled expanse of outer space through which their iconic vehicles wander. From Star Trek’s orbs of light streaming by to Babylon 5’s enveloping nebulae, views of outer space have been varied and beautiful. For my Carrie Fisher tribute I decided to try to capture the kind of starry backdrop seen in the movies. I re-watched my favorite, “The Empire Strikes Back”, yesterday to study the star fields.
Unlike the skies I have done so far, there are no obvious depictions of galaxies or nebula mixed into the star fields, yet there are areas of soft fuzzy light such as you see from a mass of stars together. As I looked closer, I could see a layer of very diffuse stars in clumps behind much sharper stars, which created the glow. In addition, I noticed relatively dark areas creating splotches of darkness throughout the pattern. Now, the trick is to try to recreate this effect decently in the painting. You will have to let me know how I do.
For this week’s $5 reward I uploaded a copy of some fox kits I started working on in watercolor but did not finish. I keep using the wrong paper for working watercolor because I do not like the feel of the paper that should be used. Sigh. Anyway, the image is not too bad and shows some potential. In addition, I uploaded a copy of the Y-Wing image above. For the most part it is the finished version of the ones I will use in the Carrie Fisher tribute I have been working on. I may tweak it a little more but not a lot.
The reason I did not post yesterday was because I have not been working on my art much lately and chose to paint instead. I let life get in the way. I had hoped to have this on the final background before I posted it again, but I did not get that far. However, I can say that I am ready to set up the final canvas and to begin placing the separate components (Carrie Fisher, Y-Wings, Planet). Hopefully soon I will be sharing the complete picture.
I want to make a case for funding the arts for obvious reasons and I don’t mean because I am an artist. Of course, I am an artist so I do lean toward an artistic point of view. Also, the arts are more than just images, they are music, they are writing, and they are theater. How many of these affect your life? Well, by how much money actors, singers, and writers can and do make, I would say a lot.
Where to begin? First, let us deal with the fact that Republicans once again want to scrape funding for the endowments to the arts and public television, which make up a small percentage of the governmental budget. Why do they target these programs? One, they are rich and can afford to get any art, entertainment, and learning for said they want so they feel they shouldn’t have to be taxed to help people who cannot afford access to same. Classic “if it does not benefit me directly, I don’t want to pay for it”. Unfortunately, it does benefit them greatly but they are too myopic and greedy to see that. I will explain later. In addition, they are not the only ones being taxed for these programs and the voters should have more say in what is cut. You know, that whole “taxation without representation” jazz the Republicans spew when it is not in their favor. Two, cutting such programs make them look like they are fiscally responsible without having to dig into programs that benefit their largest donors. Note, I do not say base because their base does not count, only their largest donors. Finally, the artistic community is in general one of their biggest oppositions, so it is logical to do all they can to undermine that sector.
Now, let us focus on why the arts need funded. The basic reason, and one that is directly in their favor, is that the arts take peoples minds off their woes. After dealing with all the pressure of work, what is one of the first things people reach for to relax, TV – entertainment. What makes entertainment possible? Art, music, and theater. The arts help soothe the frustrations we all feel. Music calms the savage beast. Next, the arts directly influence scientific discovery. How many times have you heard that Star Trek has influenced a scientist or astronaut to become who they are? How many ideas have been generated from artistic endeavors? Also, the arts help to relax the minds of people so that they can better focus on the work tasks that are given to them. Finally, by limiting art access to only those you are willing to pay for directly, you risk becoming frozen in a set of artistic values that will eventually erode their worth. You in effect create a stagnant pond that begins to have a negative affect on scientific and technological creation. How many great artistic and technological innovations have come from random citizens in our country? The bigger the pool of talent, the better the results.
So, are the arts important? Hell yes! Where do the Republicans think the ideas for their ad campaigns come from? Where do they think the ideas for wrist watches and cell phones came from? Star Trek and Dick Tracy! How do scientists and movie makers visualize for the public their ideas? Artwork! Where do scientists and engineers get a lot of their ideas about the future from? Science Fiction Writers! Life without the arts would be dull, meaningless, and dangerous. Hey, I can understand that cuts need to be made, but you don’t have to totally wipe out these important programs. Try dipping into all the items in the governmental budget evenly and quit lining your pockets with our tax dollars/future. Quit shifting the burden solely onto the middle class you claim to care for so much. Try trimming some of that corporate welfare fueling the 350 to 1 income differential between the top 1% and middle class incomes. Take your stinking paws off the arts you damn dirty apes!
As I have noted before, I don’t have a problem mixing non traditional/traditional fantasy ideas with science or science fiction. My previous examples were of mixing religious views with scientific theories; now I want to mention the trilogy of short stories with the group title of “Dragon Dreams”.
These stories combined many traditional fantasy elements; dragons, magic, and monsters, along with Star Wars level science fiction tropes such as; space ships, aliens, and technology. However, that is not all. There is a strong underlying nod to a real scientific theory of parallel universes and extra dimensions.
I know there are many purists out there that do not like their fantasy mixed with their science fiction. Believe me, I used to be one, but I have over time changed my mind after reading several good examples. Yeah, I have seen some bad examples; unfortunately, that is part of any genre. So, later this year when I start uploading the “Dragon Dreams” stories to my Patreon page, I hope you will consider reading my science fiction fantasy series.
P.S. Anne McCaffery’s “Dragon Riders of Pern” series and Tracy Hickman’s and Margaret Weis’s “Death Gate” series are good examples of genre mixes.
Here is where I am with the Y Wing part of my Carrie Fisher tribute. I have had to back track a few times and undo parts I was not happy with. I finally decided to work from the cockpit backwards, which seems to be working better for me; however, this will never be an honest reproduction. My goal is to create a strong enough image that at a smaller size will not be off so far that it is jarring. I am glad I was able to finally add the R2 unit and I think the cockpit module looks good although I have to place the forward guns yet.
Speaking of Star Wars vehicles, I tried to make my own Imperial Walker out of cardboard from a picture in my vinyl soundtrack slip cover. I never got further than the head but it wasn’t too bad for the time, given I was in junior high. They are the coolest vehicles in the series.