Wednesday, November 30, 2016


-By Jesper Ejsing

Here are 3 easy tricks to getting a clearer read on you paintings. Why? Because you when you spend a lot of hours on a piece, you would like for people to experience your image without having to explain it to them first.

The Focal Point

This is the effect I am going for, but of course, not as extreme. 

The most important part of the picture is usually the facial area of the main character or the area of conflict.

This area should always be dominant to everything else. The focal area should have the most contrast, the most details, the sharpest lines and the strongest colours. Think of the rest of the painting as being submissive to the focal point. The rest should be considered as an area slightly out of focus with colours details and lines draining out of it. Like a camera lens in an old love movie where the edges are blurred and obscured.

The Silhouette

A clearly readable silhouette is, to me, the most important tool in composition. Take a good look at the silhouette of your main character and make sure that every limb is clearly readable, or that the pose and action is clear.

I often start with the gesture and see if I can strengthen it or remove elements and still clearly read what is going on. To me the hardest part is that I usually draw the figures bare/naked at first to get the motion or gesture right and then afterwards dress them in costume or design elements. The hardest part is not to cover up the limbs and the foreshortenings that made the pose read clearly.

In having a clearly readable silhouette you also need to consider the values. Light background with a darker figure, or the other way around, always works well.

Soft vs Hard

Look at the difference between the tail and the face.

I often think of Frazetta´s paintings while rendering. His way of becoming almost sloppy in the edges of his paintings at first struck me as lazy, but as I got older, and a little bit wiser, I came to the conclusion that it might be on purpose. I try to use what I learned from this when I paint backgrounds or lesser important areas of a painting.

If I use softer transitions, and smoother and more chunky strokes, I tend to focus less on that area when looking at the final painting. I call it "painting out of focus". I try to squint my eyes and check to see if I can still read the shapes out of focus?

I use a really big brush, like size 12, to render ALL the background. I use an airbrush to spray water so I can make softer and smoother transitions in colours, all so I do not get too sharp or hard edges where I do not need the spectator to look.

On the other hand when I paint the face of the character I take the little brush and try to be as detailed as I can. In creating a textural difference, a hard vs soft difference, I mimic the way the eye works. The eye, like a camera lens, cannot focus at more than one thing at a time.

The piece above is perhaps one of the clearest silhouettes I ever did for Magic, utilizing all of the techniques mentioned here. It is also the image that reads the best in card size as a result.

Reminder : Rising Stars Deadline!

This is just a reminder to all interested that your Rising Star submissions need to be in before Midnight tonight.

Want to win a FREE EXHIBITION SPACE at the upcoming Spectrum Fantastic Art Live?
All you have to do is email us a picture of your work. Seriously, that's it!

More info here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Varnishing Your Paintings

-By Dan dos Santos

When it comes to varnishing your paintings, there are 2 main types of varnishes you need to know about, Intermediate Varnishes, and Final Varnishes.

'Intermediate Varnish', often referred to as 'Retouch Varnish', is a varnish that is meant to add luster to your painting in between coats. This allows you to better assess colors that may have dried matte, and then work back on top of them. An intermediate varnish forms a semi-permeable layer, which allows your paint to continue drying beneath it. And although you can use an intermediate varnish when you're completely finished with your painting, it's affects will fade rather quickly, likely in a year or two.

The other kind of varnish is what is called a 'Final Varnish'. This kind of varnish is meant to be applied after your painting is completely dry. It not only adds luster back to your colors, but protects the surface of your painting from damage, harmful UV rays, dust and moisture. Unlike an intermediate varnish, a final varnish provides a much more permanent and fairly impermeable barrier, which means you need to be sure your painting is completely dry before applying it.

A final varnish is designed to be easily removed with mineral spirits, so that when a painting inevitable shows signs of yellowing of cracking, conservators can easily remove that varnish and apply a fresh one.

You could achieve similar results by using a coat of medium (such as linseed oil or Galkyd), but this is not advisable. A medium will bond to paint layers, and is therefore not removable. So if the surface of your painting cracks, it's difficult to remedy.

Think of a Final Varnish a bit like waxing your car. It adds shine and protects the surface, but isn't meant to last forever. You will eventually want to reapply it. However, unlike a retouch varnish, that reapplication might not be needed for 50 years or more.

There are all sorts of final varnishes out there. One of the most common being Dammar Varnish. Dammar Varnish has been used for centuries, but is made from natural resins, which means it yellows significantly, is very brittle and is difficult for conservators to remove. Dammar varnish is what adds that antique yellow tinge you see in many classical paintings.

Nowadays, most conservators recommend using a synthetic varnish. They yellow less, are more durable, and easier to remove.

(Above: A painting finished with several coats of Galkyd can create a glass-like sheen over your work, though it is non-removeable)

Still, there are numerous options out there to choose from.

For years, I used a very particular brand of final varnish that I really liked. It provided a sheen that I felt was just right for my work... not too glossy, not too matte. It also had a consistency I really liked, that was thin enough to apply easily, but viscous enough to even the physical surface of the painting. Unfortunately, that brand has been discontinued, so I had to find a newer alternative.

In a quest to find one I really liked, I decided to test just about every varnish I could get my hands on. I tried varnishes in both spray form, and the more traditional brush-on form.

I've now tested 19 in all, and decided to post my results here for you. It is worth mentioning that my preferences here have a lot to do with personal taste, and the particular surface I work on. What works well on illustration board may not work as well on canvas for instance. You may find that a varnish I hate works really well for you.



1. W&N Artist's Picture Varnish Satin:
When I was first starting out, this was my varnish of choice. Unfortunately, it tends to bead up on oily areas, and does not take a second coat very well. If you paint with lots of glazes or thick mediums, this one is not ideal.

2. W&N Artist's Picture Varnish Gloss:
Same as above, but much too glossy for my tastes. The gloss heightens the appearance of surface imperfections.

3. W&N Artist's Picture Varnish Matte:
In general, I do not like Matte Varnishes. They reduce sheen, which is precisely the opposite result of what I am trying to achieve with a varnish. However, I have seen matte varnishes work very well on more fine-art looking works.

4. W&N Artist's Retouch Gloss:
Again, similar to the sprays above, often providing a speckled, uneven surface.

5. Krylon Conservation Varnish Gloss:
Not worth the money I spent on it. Definitely my least favorite of the sprays I've tried. Goes on very unevenly. Beads up in oily areas, and puddles in others. (see video below)

6. Grumbacher Final Varnish Matte:
Very good if you like a matte surface.

7. Grumbacher Final Varnish Gloss:
Perfect for my needs. By far my favorite varnish and very easy to find at your local hobby shop.

8. Grumbacher Damar Varnish:
Similar to above, but contains natural Dammar resin which is not as archival. However, some people prefer still Dammar for it's high viscosity. The added thickness evens the surface a bit more than the non-dammar version.


9. Grumbacher Original Picture Varnish:
Pretty good, but I suspect it may contain Dammar, as it has already shown significant yellowing in just a few years.

10. Grumbacher Damar Retouch:
'Damar Retouch' sounds like an oxymoron to me. Dammar by it's nature is very enamel-like, and does not do what a good retouch should do. That said, this varnish has still impressed me, and has saved my butt more than once. If you work on an oil primed surface, things can get pretty slick pretty quick, making it difficult for new brushstrokes to adhere to previous layers. This varnish dries somewhat 'tacky', which helps the surface grab the paint better. Still, it's final varnish capabilities are less than ideal, which is to be expected from a retouch.

11. W&N Artists Gloss Varnish:
Easy to find at local hobby shops, and pretty decent. However, I found it's binding capabilities to be less than impressive. It removes TOO easily in my opinion. You can easily scratch this varnish off the surface.

12. W&N Artists Matte Varnish:
Same as above, but with a cloudy matte finish. Scuffs easily.

13. W&N Dammar:
Dammar is a staple in the industry for a reason. Even though it yellows and cracks, it's honey-like consistency is really nice and hard to beat for those who like a thick varnish.

14. W&N Artist's Retouch:
If I need to use an intermediate varnish, this is my go-to. However, it is not adequate to use as a final varnish, It's affects will fade noticeably in just a few years and will definitely require a re-application.

15. Weber Synvar:
Undoubtedly the WORST varnish I have ever used. Unbelievably poor adhesion, which is a shame because the luster it provides is quite nice. (see video below).

16. Gamblin Galkyd:
This is technically a medium, which means it will bond to your paint film on a chemical level, and is not removable. It will also yellow slightly with age. However, if you don't care about that, and you want something that looks like a literal layer of glass over your painting, this works surprisingly well. Just be aware that a thick, hard varnish will eventually crack on a flexible surface like stretched canvas. This works best on rigid surfaces like wood. I applied multiple coats, with a light sanding between coats. (see video above)

17. W&N Conserv-Art Gloss:
This is still my absolute favorite varnish. Just the right sheen, and a honey-like consistency that settles into cracks slowly and creates a smooth surface. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued and has become increasingly difficult to find in the US.
(EDIT: Apparently, Conserv-Art has simply been repackaged and is now called "W&N Artist's Varnish")

18. Gamblin Gamvar Gloss:
This is my new go-to for brush-on varnishes since the one above is no longer available. It is not as thick as the Conserv-art, so brushstrokes show more, but thus far, it is the best archival replacement I have found. You can dilute it with Gamsol, or add a cold-wax medium to it to control the level of sheen you desire.

19. Gamblin Gamvar Matte:
The same as above, but with a pre-mixed matte finish. Too matte for my tastes.



The Best Spray-On and Best Overall

Surprisingly, my new favorite varnish is a spray varnish. I never used to like spray varnishes because I felt they never really settled into the crevices of a painting very well, but Grumbacher's Final Varnish Spray (Gloss) has changed my mind!

It coats really evenly, has great adhesion (even in oily areas), and takes multiple coats very well. I find it also evens the sheen of my paintings. Areas that are matte become glossy, but more unexpectedly, areas that I think are too glossy actually get matted slightly as a result of the fine aerosol texture.

I tend to apply this varnish in one moderate coat, going just barely heavier than I need, and then allow it to settle in. If needed, I can give it a second light misting, which binds to the first coat very well and does not matte out the surface as many other aerosols tend do.

The Worst Spray-On

The worst spray varnish I tried was Krylon's Conservation Varnish (Gloss). It beaded really badly in oily areas, and puddled up in the less oily areas, resulting in an incredibly uneven surface. Multiple coats did little to remedy this.


The Best Brush-On

As for Brush-on Varnishes, I'm still not as in love with any as much as the discontinued 'Conserv-Art', but if I have to choose a replacement, Gamvar does a pretty darn good job. If you're looking for something versatile, with a strong emphasis on safety and archival ability, this is a good choice.

The only downside to Gamvar for me is it's thinness. It simply makes your painting look wet again, but doesn't even out the surface any. Many may like it for just this reason, but I personally prefer a little more viscosity and a more enamel-like finish. Galkyd Lite actually does a better job of this in my opinion, but is non-removable.

The Worst Brush-On

By far, the worse varnish I tried was Weber's Synvar. A final varnish is not supposed to chemically bond to paint film beneath it. But this varnish sticks to the surface so poorly, that just the moisture (or maybe the oils) in your hands will cause the varnish to peel off your painting like a bad sunburn. If you hold your painting in one spot for more than a minute, varnish will stick to your fingers instead of the painting. I would avoid this one at all costs. I found that the W&N brush-on varnishes do this to some extent too, but to a far lesser degree.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Anita Kunz

-By Arnie Fenner

I've been a fan of Anita Kunz's for...well...forever, it seems. Upon graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1978 Anita's career took off like a rocket and she's never slowed down. It was easy to follow what she was doing because her art was (and still is) quite literally everywhere: Playboy, Time, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and GQ (among others) have all benefited from her prodigious imagination and unique voice. Book covers, advertising, postage stamps, fine art: she's done it all.

Anita has traveled the world giving university lectures—she even gave a TED talk about her New Yorker covers—and conducting workshops; her art resides in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Archives of Canada in Ottawa, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

And awards? Oh, yeah, she's received a a whole stack of medals from the Society of Illustrators, the Hamilton King Award, the Les Usherwood Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advertising and Design Club of Canada, and an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, the Ontario College of Art and Design University...and that's just to name a few. Anita was named one of the fifty most influential women in Canada by the National Post newspaper and in 2009 she was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada "for her contributions as an illustrator whose insightful works have graced publications around the world."

And now, Anita Kunz has been—or will be early in 2017—inducted into the Society of Illustrators prestigious Hall of Fame. No one is more deserving.

As warm, funny, and friendly as she is fearless and out-spoken, Anita Kunz is, quite simply, one of the best of us, an inspiration to our community. She started her career in a male-dominated profession and, through her tenacity, imagination, and skills, opened every closed door and convinced every skeptical client or art director that she could handle anything they threw her way. Anita's positive attitude ultimately broke down barriers and created opportunities that have benefited many young women that have followed her path.

Over the years I've had the good fortune to spend a little time with Anita (she was a Spectrum juror and graciously attended Spectrum Fantastic Art Live to talk with students) and I'm the better for it—as is everyone that has met her.

But don't take my word for it: this video interview will give you just the slightest indication of what Anita is like in person.

So it's with a great deal of pleasure I say: Congratulations, Anita Kunz, Hall of Fame Honoree!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spectrum 23 Book Signing

If you're in the Los Angeles area this Saturday—December 3—Gallery Nucleus will be hosting a Spectrum 23 book signing event. Admission is free and free refreshments will be available; copies of Vol. 23 will be available for purchase (and autographing  of course) at the gallery. Spectrum Director will be present so feel free to ask him how you can participate in Spectrum 24 (currently open for entries) or pretty much anything else you're curious about.

Confirmed artists to date include Chris Ayers, Julia Blattman, Tuna Bora, J.A.W. Cooper, Alina Chau, Waiji Choo, Craig Elliott, Chuck Grieb, Brian Haberlin, Erik Ly, Victor Maury, Bruce Mitchell, Brynn Metheny, Richard and Wendy Pini, Tooba Rezaei, Joseph Joe Sanabria, William Stout, Shane Stover and Vin Teng. The signing will take place from 7pm-10pm.

Gallery Nucleus has been a welcoming destination for the southern California arts community since 2004. Hit this link for the address and more information about the gallery.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Charity Auction

Appreciation for what we have and charity toward those less fortunate are big parts of what the holiday season is all about. With that in mind, Spectrum Director John Fleskes has something special now taking place:

Flesk Fundraiser for Stoke Out Santa Cruz!

"Just after Thanksgiving I will be going live with a series of auctions (run on Ebay) that will benefit an amazing local youth center here in Santa Cruz, California. This is going to provide shoes, sweatshirts, food, and hope to local kids in need. The amazing people at #Santacruzhope are making this happen and I'm proud to play a small part in the fundraising efforts.
"I'll be making available 13 books with original drawings inside by some of the top names in our field: 100% of the proceeds will go to the youth center. This fundraiser is very personal to me: life was challenging growing up and I can relate to these young people. It's my goal to raise as much as possible to make things just a little bit better for these kids and to let them know, regardless of circumstances, there are good people that care. Check out the link to see how you can donate directly--even $1 helps!
"Thanks to all the artists that contributed and thanks to everyone who bids!"
—John Fleskes

This auction is for a copy of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 with an original drawing by Terryl Whitlatch on the title page of the hardcover book.

This auction is for a copy of Spectrum 23 with an original drawing by Terryl Whitlatch on the contents page of the hardcover book.

This auction is for a copy of Notes From the Shadowed City by Jeffrey Alan Love with an original painting on the page facing the title page by Jeff.

This auction is for a copy of The Art of Brom deluxe edition with an original drawing by Brom on the signature page.

This auction is for a copy of Spectrum 23 with an original drawing by Sho Murase on the back endpaper of the hardcover book. The drawing is done with silver pen and is 11" tall and 5" wide. Also, a set of Sho's prints are included with the book!

This auction is for a copy of Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method Studio Edition with an original Jungle Queen drawing by Frank Cho on the end sheet.

This auction is for a copy of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms signed by George R.R. Martin and with an original sketch on the title page and a full page drawing on the half-title page by Gary Gianni.

This auction is for a copy of the hardcover limited edition of Jungle Girls featuring an original full page portrait of Fay Wray by the author/artist Jim Silke.

This auction is for a copy of Imagery from the Bird's Home featuring an original sketch by the artist/author Bill Carman.

This auction is for a copy of The Art of Craig Elliott featuring an original colored pencil & gouache drawing on the front endpaper by the author/artist.

This auction is for a copy of Terry Dodson's latest art book Bombshell's Sketchbook Collection Two with an original drawing by Terry on the front endpaper.

This auction is for a copy of the deluxe hardcover/slipcased edition of Tribes of Kai featuring a double-page drawing on the end sheet by Daren Bader.

This auction is for a copy of the long-o.p. deluxe hardcover edition of Xenozoic featuring an original full page drawing of Hannah (one of the main characters in the stories) by author/artist Mark Schultz.

Happy bidding everyone!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Solitary Mann Documentary

-By Lauren Panepinto

This summer at Legendeer in Alberta, Canada I had the pleasure of meeting Loic Zimmerman, who is very well known for his illustration and concept art career, but was at Legendeer specifically to speak about his move to working in photography and filmmaking. I found it fascinating to see how his eye for illustration translated into film. I found it even more interesting that he did a documentary about the painter Jeremy Mann, because it was a painter's eye, turned to filmmaking, making a film about a painter. I was very excited to watch it, and after seeing it, I definitely wanted to talk to Loic about the process, and bring it here to the Muddy Colors audience.

You can read Loic's very interesting answers below without having seen the film, but it's absolutely a better idea to go watch the documentary and then come back. It's not only a fascinating look into the painting life, but also a fabulous shot in the arm of artistic inspiration. I don't even paint and I was itching to play with some paint after watching Jeremy and his rollers. The textures!

As a black friday special, Loic was kind enough to discount the download to $4 (usually $5) to the first 50 Muddy Colors readers who buy the film and use the promo code "muddycolors" here: A Solitary Mann

Now, whether you've watched the film or not, on to the questions!

Q: Loic, you’re known for your illustration, especially your concept art work. What about film (both still and moving) attracted you? Do you feel like you have the same vision across mediums, or was the shift from brush to lens a complete restart?

Film was probably the thing I loved most after illustration but for some strange reason I lost track over time and fell down into the rabbit hole. Or maybe it was purely technical. It was easier to grab a pen and a sheet of paper and draw, than to figure out how this whole movie madness worked. The technical evolution of digital cinematography changed a lot of things for people like me. It’s something that Francis Ford Copolla saw coming 30 years ago. I feel close to this little fat girl in Ohio he was talking about…

I really enjoyed my years in illustration, concept, 3D, but after the publication of my art book a few years ago i lost the mojo for it and felt totally empty. I realized that that was it. Getting back into photography only made it more obvious, I wanted to shoot, more and more.

The same rules apply for most artistic medias. Composition is king. Rhythm is everything. you can take what you know and apply it to the next media you choose to communicate with. It’s not like switching from MMA to Violin.

Q: What came first, the decision to document an artist, and then picking Jeremy Mann—or was it knowing Jeremy Mann that inspired you to do a documentary?

I thought I’d listen to the masters, Herzog, Deakins… They all swear by Documentary as the best school to learn the craft of film-making so I went in that direction. I shot a documentary on William Wray a few years back. Painting being a subject that I was familiar enough with, I thought that I could have an interesting angle on the subject.

I met Jeremy during a Massive Black workshop and took a picture that he liked a lot. A year later we met again, in Portugal this time, where he saw a screening of Gamma-Wray. He liked it enough that we started to discuss the possibility of working on a film together.

In January 2014 I was flying to Oakland to shoot A Solitary Mann

Q: The cinema vérité approach, without narration, works very well here. You show the answers to questions an interviewer would ask without having to actually ask them. Mann’s answers seem natural, and throughout the film it really feels like we are sneaking a look into his life, with minimal intrusion. For example, you get so much of his process, without him having to explain it in a tutorial mode. How much of that feeling is how it was shot, versus edited out? Was he going about his day trying to ignore you as much as possible, or did you guys have a rough outline of what was going to happen per scene and follow it?

Films such as Pollock (by and with Ed Harris), Van Gogh (Piallat), Vincent and Theo (Robert Altman), Basquiat (Julian Schnabel)… inspired me to try a fresh take on the documentary genre. I wanted to film something real, non-rehearsed, not staged, but with a strong cinematic approach. Years of street photography definitely helped me in this process.
And luckily the house was a perfect set for this to happen too, with plenty of rooms to choose from, lots of textures (Victorian wallpapers, wooden floors, laces, curtains, paintings, photos everywhere, clothes, accessories).

Neither Jeremy or myself wanted to make a tutorial video. Jeremy was actually hoping for something closer to what I did for the band Dirty Beaches with Time Washes Everything Away, a 15min video I shot in Lisbon. We wanted this “fly on the wall” approach.

I had one evening to familiarize with the place and ask all the questions I could think of to Jeremy. Prior to that we had a series of email exchanges in order to make sure we’d make the most out of this tight schedule.

The deal was, if the camera is on my shoulder, I’m not here and we don’t talk.

Obviously this is not entirely true, I am in the room, I am somewhat disturbing the process, but eventually, it became more natural. Because we started shooting with something Jeremy had done in front of an audience before (the blocking of a cityscape), it gave him a bit of time to familiarize with my presence, and ultimately, he started to act as if I wasn’t here at all, leaving the room to go grab a snack, or take a breather and pet his cat. Each time I would be around, filming.

The one concession he had to make was to listen to music through his headphones so I could capture the sound generated by the painting process. That was probably the main difference with his usual routine.

After a few hours of shooting, I would usually go back to my computer and backup the data, fix myself a snack and go back to shooting. Having lunch together would break this idea that I wasn’t here. I had to stay out of the equation as long as possible. Around 8 or 9 pm we’d finally go out to pick something to eat or sit at a restaurant, and finally talk. I’d do more coverage of the house at night after that, then we’d open another bottle of wine and the interview session would start, comfortably sitting at a table, with an audio recorder between us.

The same way there was no eye contact with me while I was filming, I couldn’t interrupt either by suddenly being a vocal presence. So we would have a discussion, and i’d bring Jeremy to a place where he was speaking about a topic rather than replying to a question, although he actually was. I ended up with hours of material and a couple of headaches.

Q: I was very conscious of parallels when Jeremy was talking about how much work he puts into getting the setup of the reference photos right. His photography sets the tone for his paintings, but it also feels like it set the tone for the whole documentary. How much of the darkness, the color toning, the lighting, was purposefully designed to mimic his paintings? (Or is his house just really that dark?)

Jeremy’s house is a major component of his work. That’s his stage, and it became mine. It was pretty dark to begin with (which is why I rented a camera that could manage low light situations), but I also graded the hell out of my footages.

The film started to mimic the paintings. It just happened organically. It wasn’t premeditated. It just made sense. I wanted to create an immersive experience for the audience and it felt like the right way to do it.

Q: “A Solitary Mann” is a great title because of the play of words, but it also seems to be a nod to the theme Mann talks about a few times throughout the film, about people thinking he has a more glamorous life, or that most of his life is him alone at home with his cat. Do you feel like showing that loneliness of creating art was a theme you set out to reveal, or did it evolve naturally from following the subject? Do you feel like documentaries need to make an overarching statement, or is it enough to just show the subject as they are without drawing conclusions?

So many times I’ve heard the question: “how do you find the right balance between life and work” ? In my twenties I was often criticized for being the guy who stays behind his computer working on some weird shit all night instead of going out. It’s a sacrifice that you have to make if you really want to progress in your craft. Back then I often felt bad about doing this. I didn’t have anyone around me willing to do the same. I met those people later in my life, people like Jeremy, or Alex Zhang Hungtai (musician)…

This film is here to make people feel better about their own journey, and, at times, their own isolation. Jeremy is one of the hardest working man I’ve ever met and I wanted the film to focus on that. Of course he sees people, gets out, takes some time off, travels. You could make a bunch of different films about him. I wanted mine to address this particular topic : dedication. I had the title written down before I started shooting. A lot of documentaries are scripted. This one wasn’t. But it is true that the angle chosen and the editing are very much about me talking through Jeremy in a sense.

Q: Certainly the film is a collaboration between subject and filmmaker, but the music and the design have a great impact on the mood and richness of the film. How did you work with these other collaborators? Were they involved throughout the process or were they passed the finished film to work on top of?

I worked with Kevin Curtin before (sound-mix &score), but up until A Solitary Mann, it was mostly to improve the poor audio of my projects. For this film, I wanted a score. Music is a very important source of inspiration for Jeremy. He listens to a wide range of things when he paints, but rather than using his own selection, I wanted to have something specifically composed for the film. Like a reflection of the mood and the moment.

I sat down with Kevin and explained what I was after. I gave him a few references of styles.
A few weeks later Kevin came to me with a bunch of random tracks and ideas. I started to play with those, place them on my edit, cut them, combine them. I did a very rough maquettes and gave him a temp edit. From there Kevin started working his magic.

The tricky part was to avoid falling into “music”, for say, as I didn’t want the film to feel like a music video. They had to be ambient tracks. I sat with him on several occasions to dial things up. It was an interesting and challenging process.

As a concept artist, and as an art director these days, I get to work on a little chunk of something bigger. Those films I make are my opportunity to be involved into each and every parts of the process. It’s tough, and it’s exciting. It’s about finding the right balance so that the people you work with don’t feel too contrived, yet get what you want, or need (it’s not always the same actually).

Another friend came in later on, after the film festivals run. I had to let go three of the songs used in the film for licensing reasons. So Alex Horn composed a few new tracks to replace them. It was another challenge, as I was attached (married some might say) to those original songs. He did a wonderful job, and Kevin mixed them back into the final version of the film.

Regardong the opening title, I wanted something simple but with a built in story. I mimicked Jeremy’s technique, using animated masks in After Fx. I asked him if he could send me a few marks made with his rollers. A day later I had 15 of them in high-res in my dropbox.

The font of the film was designed by Julien Alday. He went to the “Musée de l’Imprimerie de Montreal” (that's closed since) and worked with a letterpress and some old wooden types . It was a clever touch ; the feeling is very similar to some of the marks from Jeremy.

I learned a lot, working on this film.

You would think that shooting is the toughest part but looking back, it was the easiest by far. The months that followed were much more demanding. I was a tough process, but the reward was worth it : the film festivals, the Premiere in San Francisco, and the Q&A’s that followed … I got such wonderful response and feedback that it gave me the fuel to jump onto the next projects.

I found a medium that I really love. It takes me into places I never thought I’d see. It allows me to collaborate with people I want to spend time with.

And I made a new friend!

Thanks to Loic for answering all the questions and for the discount code!