Friday, May 22, 2015

The Beatles and Aleister Crowely

This Blog is mostly dedicated to animation but occasionally something gets my attention that prompts me to write about it.  This is one of those times and the subject is once again The Beatles. 

I’ve come to believe that the Beatles were more mirrors than innovators, and because of their popularity, they were able to influence a generation with new ideas.  I think they became a conduit for us that reflected their own spiritual quest and made fashion and esoteric subjects like transcendental mediation assessable to everyone.  The Beatles also brought a very British Victorian history with them and tried to reconcile it to a new modern way of thinking. 

The Beatles admiration of occultist Aleister Crowley is such an example of this British integration.  In England, Crowely was infamously known as ‘the wickedest man on earth’ and called himself ‘the Beast’ after the biblical Antichrist. 

After the controlling influence of manager Brian Epstein was taken away by his passing, the Beatles admittedly felt free to pursue more personal subject matter in their work.  The turning point where Aleister Crowley became visible as an influence was the cover of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  Crowley is plainly shown in the upper left hand corner, but there is some speculation that he may appear twice on the album as the partially obscured red-faced figure wearing a fez.   The idea of ‘twins’ would be further built into the Beatle mythology with the whole Paul is Dead rumor, which also began with the Pepper cover.      

Crowely wrote a book he claims to have been dictated to him by the spirit Aiwass.   According to Crowley, the first appearance of Aiwass was during the Three Days of the writing of Liber al vel Legis. His first and only identification as such is in Chapter I: "Behold! it is revealed by Aiwass the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat"  This spirit would later write the book the Beatles would embrace called “The Book of The Law,” which preached the concept of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."

Crowely admonished practitioners of the law to listen to recordings backwards and to practice speaking backwards. An example he gives is “Let him practice speaking backwards: thus for ‘I am He’ let him say ‘Eh ma I’.”  Sounds like ‘I am he, as you are he, as you are me, etc, from “I am the Walrus,” doesn’t it?

How about the image from “The Magical Mystery Tour” showing a sign on Paul’s desk that reads: ‘I Was’?  Now admittedly it reads: ‘I you Was’, but if you just read the bold letters it sounds like Crowely’s spirit guide Aiwass, doesn’t it?

Sir Paul has often stated he believes in magic and he clarifies it’s magic with a ‘K’ spelled ‘magick’.  This is how Crowely spelled it.  Now the Beatles weren’t the only ones to follow Crowely.  Black Sabbath, Lead Zepplin, The Rolling Stones, and many others were adherents, along with the father of solid rocket fuel, Jack Parsons, and the creator of the cult Scientology, L.R. Hubbard, interesting, no?

Friday, May 08, 2015

Will Vinton Making Features Again.

Above is a link to an article from Cartoon Brew announcing the partnering of two companies which will help Will Vinton to make feature films once again.  There are some proposed properties that date back to went I was employed there.  I'm glad to see they may finally get a green light.  But I think there is more to the story. Ideas are free game if someone beats you to the punch, so they say. 

The posted artwork from the decommissioned Digital Domain film, “The Legend of Tembo” has prompted me to write about what I feel may be the origin of other films that did reach the screen, all starting with Will.

 Below the artwork for Tembo I added a concept drawing I did  for one of Will's projects about a baby elephant with a tick bird friend who is hunted by a man riding a Bull Elephant. 

Do you notice the friendly tick bird and Bull Elephant in the Tembo picture?

Just as I suspect Tembo to have had it’d beginnings with Will Vinton, so too do I believe Will may have been the source of several others.  Let me explain.  There was a time feature material was being actively developed at the Will Vinton Studios and the results were three to four ideas that were shopped around Hollywood for financing and distribution.  Nothing came from the effort.  Or did it? 

One idea was about a messenger pigeon that helped win World War One.  Do you recall a film called “Valiant” about a messenger pigeon that helped win World War One?

Another idea was about zoo animals that break out and try to get back to their home in Africa.  Sounds like two films that competed with each other to reach the box office first, “Madagascar” and “The Wild”.  I know first hand both films came from the same script because the lead characters names were the same while I was working on “Wild” and the lions name had to be changed.  Will Vinton was given an executive producer credit on “The Wild” but says he didn’t even know about it till he was told later.

Then there was a musical version of "The Frog Prince" and shortly "The Princess and the Frog " came out.

Lastly an idea was pitched about a tiny action figure and the movie “Small Soldiers” hit the screen not long afterwards. 
I see "Jack Hightower",a comic action adventure about a miniaturized secret agent, is among the ideas in development with this new venture.

Good for you Will, and hope to see you on the big screen again.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Marc Davis Painting

Painting in Pirates of the Caribbean entitled  "A Portrait of Things to Come"
Well, here's a painting from the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride done by Disney artist Marc Davis.  I first saw it in a View Master reel as a boy and looked for it when I finally got to go on the ride.   It was right where it should be over the bar.  This painting is currently my screen saver.

UPDATE:  I learned the title of this painting is "A Portrait of Things to Come". Apparently there is some controversy over who may have done the actual painting.  It's well documented that Marc did the conceptual design (below) but the rather amateurish finished work appears like it was done by another hand.  Was Marc trying to emulate a more primitive style that would fit better with the time period?   Perhaps.

Someone with the handle Jimmydonc.tellnotales did a painting based on the Davis concept art, and it too is a treat.  I don't know what your preference is but I kind of like the native feel of the painting that lives in the park.  

Jimmydonc. painting more accurately following Davis sketch

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Amazing in Nature

How wonderful to see the complex weave of life!  Things that seem beyond probability are made real, and the mind expands a little bigger to embrace new possibilities. Pardon me for waxing poetic but these photos of the amazing creature Glaucus Atlanticus look like something from the terrible mind and agile hand of artist Jim Woodring!  If you are unfamiliar with Jim's candy colored dreamworld, you should check it out here:
GLAUCUS ATLANTICUS on someones hand.

 GLAUCUS ATLANTICUS floating on water
Art by Woodring
Art by Jim Woodring

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Oil Portraiture Price List

Sprinkled throughout this blog are oil portraits I've done, and I considered putting together a brochure to see if there might be some interest. Well, here it is, my price list for portraiture. After doing a lot of price comparisons with other artists, figuring in the cost of shipping and materials, I think this is a pretty good value.

To clarify what I hope the brochure says, I will work off your favorite photos, or do a photo shoot depending on your location. I can work off good quality digital images, if you choose, or scan hard copies you send, and return the originals after scanning.

Please call or email using the provided info, if interested, and we can set up a consultation. There is a payment of half down/half on delivery to ensure the cost of materials, and shipping and handling after completion. I estimate a four to six week turnaround to do the actual painting once images and other considerations have been met. If complications arise, you will be notified. Other considerations are covered in a contract for both of our satisfaction. I'm excited about creating for someone a family treasure and personal heirloom.

 Better quality pictures can be found here:


Thursday, April 02, 2015

Mike Hill

I just discovered the hyper real sculptures of Mike Hill. He's been paying tribute to some of our legendary monsters and monster makers like this charming image of stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen teased by his warring skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts.  Incredible, aren't they?
Ray and his skeletons

Detail of Ray Harryhausen

Dr. Pretorius showing off more of Mikes work

Mike with his Margaret Hamilton

The Wolfman

Friday, March 13, 2015

Beach Boys and Brinkerhoffs

 Well, life is full of surprises and I ran across one quite unexpectedly.  While telling a friend about "Pet Sounds", a revolutionary record by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys which inspired the Beatles to do  Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, I saw this video clip on YouTube.  What leaped out at me was the black & white image of the recording session showing an upside down logo on a piano.  It looked familiar to me, and flipping the image confirmed that it was in fact a Brinkerhoff piano Brian was playing.

I've mentioned in an earlier post called "Self Indulgence" about the impact the Brinkerhoff clan has made from barbed wire, to pianos.  And now we can claim inspiration for the classic "Wouldn't it be Nice" if we stretch the fabric of logic far enough.

I wonder if I'm entitled to any royalties?