Exhibition, UTPA 2012

Exhibition Overview

2D to 3D is an exhibition that explores the anatomy of process for a visual artist where the commercial arts are used in an industry such as animation, games or creating a 3D product for a toy franchise.  I emphasize the traditional sketch process for capturing ideas and I also show how to use technology as part of composing and painting a traditional canvas with brush and acrylics.

Marketing to Art faculty through LiveStream Broadcast with TriCaster.

I did some marketing for my gallery exhibition by staging a prequel event a week before the opening. Designing and creating the poster was my first objective.

I did a  live stream event using USTREAM from my studio in San Antonio TX and gave the password link for a class room in UTPA, in Edinburg TX, about four and a half hours drive away. The equipment i used to live stream, was NewTek’s TriCaster along with its Virtual Set Editor.

Below are some examples of the virtual set I used in my LiveStream Webcast on the 18th of September.

Above: The Virtual Set called “Atrium”, designed by NewTek’s Carlos Villareal, is the one I used for this particular Webcast. I was also able to see and hear the students live.

As part of my live Webcast to UTPA, I was able to use TriCaster’s camera zoom function to describe my sketch book process.

Turning the Virtual Character into Physical Reality

Fortunately, I have access to two 3D Printers, one at University of Texas Pan Am and the other at NewTek’s headquarters in San Antonio that enabled me to show the transformation of a computer file into a physical product.

Donna Sweigart who teaches jewelry uses the 3D Printer and  first introduced me to this process. These were my first two project files that she printed and used to help me understand the process.

One of the great privileges of working for NewTek is the collection of people who work there. Kevin  Rouviere and Shawn Wisniewski who work in the Engineering department have been using the 3D Printer for a number of years now for prototyping hardware design. I was able to use their experience and advice to help me refine what I had learned with Donna at UTPA.

Sketchbook Display Cabinet

The catalyst of how an idea begins is thoroughly addressed through the display of my sketchbooks. The first spark of an idea, converted into a scribble. Vignettes show where these ideas may occur are grouped to help promote the idea of recording an idea wherever possible.

Through the generosity of the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen, I was able to get the loan of the display cabinet and some of their staff to help with the installation.

In the image above I displayed a grouping of sketch books with each image labeled as to where it was sketched or painted.

Arranging the artwork into groups here with just some of the many volunteers. Invaluable help that saved me many hours of work.

Overview of Concept and Philosophy.

The personal development of an idea may not appear to be logical to the uninitiated, but to the educator keen to reference processes, I chart the idea’s journey to it’s goal: a finished product. The context of why we record an initial idea is addressed and framed.

The context of that initial idea is often lost in the rhetoric – because it is a drawing, the creator must be an artist. The issue is, first and foremost, you are recording ideas as a process of problem solving. The drawing’s benefits are shown to be broader than the context of trying to create pretty pictures, or finished products in themselves.  The student is constrained by this idea — I show, by sheer volume, that the initial idea doesn’t have to be polished, it just has to be expressed.

This exhibition tries to highlight that my drawings are merely a process, my concern is the idea, not it’s aesthetic look. The student liberates himself from the outward appearance of their scribble, by realizing that style and appearance are arbitrary in the process of developing an idea. The ideas are addressed specifically as concept sketches, not finished illustrations.

Second day of setting up the artwork on the walls of the gallery.

That is not to say I abandon a particular methodology or world view when thinking about how to express that idea. Those ideas are drawn with a world view that believes in a universal communication based on a classical understandings of how to describe a 3Dimentional world onto a 2D piece of paper.

That treatment is extended all the way through to my finished 3D product using an advanced 3D Application, whether in creating a character as an asset for a 3D game or a 3D Printed model.

Opening Reception and Audience Participation

My exhibition opening is participatory from the attendee’s experience after I deliver an initial overview of why I use my approach and why the gallery’s art content is displayed in the order it is.

Above: I loved that I could leave my keyboard and go point to the big projector screen and highlight specific aspects of detail. The Colombian Mammoth gave me an opportunity to communicate the importance of research. Studying the characteristics of a particular species of animal and how that gives you latitude creatively.

Above: Scribble warmup exercise. The audience participation begins with me showing some warmup techniques I use to get the artistic juices flowing.

I demonstrated with the aid of a Wacom digital display drawing tablet. The audience could see my mark making and explain my reason for employing a particular approach. A number of tables were brought into the gallery space just for the opening night. Each table was covered with paper and crayons randomly sprinkled on each of the tables.

Above: A scribble doodle jam by artists wrapped up in the moment, I love to see this.

The participants who want to be involved pick up a crayon and go through the basic warmup exercises, then are able to experiment with that technique and play with some of their own ideas.

Graffiti on the BIG wooden work bench!

For the particular exhibition at University of Texas Pan Am, I was fortunate enough to meet Mark Cloet, an incredible artist from Belgium, who was spending time here as a Fulbright Scholar. He suggested I extend my idea of drawing on a linen napkin at restaurants to drawing on a wooden table used in one of the student’s workshops at the University, as part of the introductory segment for the opening night.

Cloet made the initial marks, then I joined in. Mark proceeded to encourage other participants into the communal ‘art jam’. This was odd, but by serendipity, an overlap to some degree in the industrial art I highlight through part of the exhibition display, in particular the Storyboard section, which is a collaborative process. This chap was truly an inspiration in his attitude towards art and how to gently coerce people to be proactive and become involved in the process of art. I could not but be impressed by this rare inspiring individual. Thank you Belgium for sharing him.

Digital Tools and Expanding the Problem Solver’s Horizon

The other crucial aspect of this exhibition’s purpose is to show the process leading to an end product. I touched on some of those end results in order again to frame a context for why we need a defined process. I briefly take the attendees through a series of finished rendered images, but I also show them a sneak look at the 3D Application that is always the hub for my digital process, the Grand Central for the creation of my 3D Assets, LightWave 3D.

Above: NewTek’s LightWave 3D User Interface and the I.K. set up of a Pterosaurs

The above theme I developed, is a series of concepts called Ptolemies travels. This is just one group of characters I rendered in LightWave’s 3D application.

The above image was a concept motor bike I designed, a cross between a Harley Davidson Panhead 1948 and a Tron Bike.

A concept character I developed for a series of paintings for a future exhibition.

All the images above are examples of character development using NewTek’s LightWave 3D, an Emmy-winning modelling, animation and rendering application.

Demonstrating how the digital technology is part of the process and evolution of the design is a crucial element of the exhibition. Therefore, it is another tool at the disposal of the artist. The philosophy remains the same on my approach when involving the technology as part of the process.

Requiem of the Amazon: Journey of a Canvas.

A more unusual category I include in my presentation is how the digital process works for me.  Rather than being the finalizing of an idea from the initial idea created with a crayon, the digital tool can be the initial process that helps me as reference when transferring my idea to a more traditional art form: painting on canvas.

Here was an example of that process. This is a canvas I painted which was graciously  loaned to the University Gallery for my exhibition by Kirk Clark.

A nervous part of the transit of the canvas for me. Too many doors to negotiate.

The painting for the opening night was displayed in the lobby, but the next day moved into the gallery for better security.

This was displayed at the entrance of the gallery.

The mounting area was too big for the poster, so the Gallery assistant, Janette Pena, suggested I draw some characters around the poster on the board. I used chalk and charcoal. A big Thank You to Janette Pena for providing all the photos in this post that show the gallery set up and the reception.

Dr. Susan Fitzsimmons, Department Chair for the UTPA Fine Arts Department gives an overview in regard to the goals of the Exhibition:

Susan Fitzsimmons,

Chair, UTPA

We hit the Jackpot with the exhibit by Graham Toms. He is not only an extraordinary artist but a phenomenal teacher. When I went to his talk at UTPA last spring I noticed how he was able to captivate the entire audience of students in a large auditorium. The idea popped into my mind in late July to invite him to exhibit and work with our students for a longer period of time. Fortunately, he was both enthusiastic and energetic, and we managed to stage a coupe—not only the exhibit created within a few months but the opportunity for students to work with a real professional in the field of animation.

Graham worked collaboratively with students and the audience at his opening exhibit, and this interaction and energy was an exciting performance of process. It is the rare opportunity to see group creation, everyone working on his own path, but collectively to achieve a goal. It was collective dance of joy around a drawing table. Remember when the role of artists was to draw out the beautiful and noble from contemporary life?

Graham is able to work across disciplines, and to communicate with a diverse audience. The young students are enthralled by his images and artistic skills and the sophisticated collector can appreciate the depth of his themes.

The rate of technological innovation has rapidly outpaced social evolution, and in the area of art academic learning, we have been slow to react. Graham Toms models the virtues of “Those who can do” and challenges academics to work outside their silo. As Pearl Bailey said: “Them’s that thinks they is, ain’t.”

It is gratifying to introduce students to a life-long learner, a creator who embodies all that they wish to become. Graham Toms work is the intelligent response to the perception of value, and that is a universal message that has not been lost in the murky waters of contemporary life.

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2 Responses to Exhibition, UTPA 2012

  1. Leah says:

    this is SO COOL! this is the kind of thing i dream about. thanks for sharing the process, how exciting that you can share it with so many people. imagine how many people you will have inspired!! especially when they can get a glimpse into the process to be able to break down the components from creative inspirations through to a finished product/work.

    • Thankyou Leah,
      the blog works as a catalyst in 2x ways, firstly to help me process what I’ve just instructed so there is continuous evaluation and improvement with my own methods. Secondly, the blog acts as a consolidation for students whatthey have just learned.

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