Tuesday, May 31, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 4 (31 - 40)

And now for the 4th instalment of my 100 Days of Old Movies:

31: Smart Woman (1931)

A wife should stick to her husband. If she doesn't, some other woman will!

I drew Mary Astor alone for this movie, mainly because the husband in this film is a total dead loss and I didn't think he deserved to be included. I'm harsh, aren't I?

Mary Astor returns home from visiting her sick mother in Europe, longing to see her husband, to whom she is devoted. She's met a very nice English lord (John Halliday) on the boat, but she's told him that she loves her husband (Robert Ames). However, when she gets home, she's met by her sister-in-law and her husband (Edward Everett Horton) who tell her that hubby dear is off with a new woman she's met. Mary is devastated. But she's also smart (unless you count her unaccountable penchant for that husband of hers...). She acts like she's not upset, invites the gold-digging mistress and her mother down for the weekend, and brings out the big guns - that rich English lord she met on the boat, whom she says she's leaving her husband for - that, of course, is why she's not upset.  She knows her husband didn't read the last three letters she sent, so she tells him that she'd written to say she wanted a divorce. Halliday refuses to pretend to be in love with her, it cuts too close to the bone, but he does help her, drawing away the mistress and helping the Ames to realise that he really loves Mary after all.
I really enjoyed this film, it's full of smart wise-cracks and excellent dialogue for such an early talkie. And while watching it we can lament the fact that tea-gown are no longer wardrobe necessities.

Here is a clip. TCM would choose clips that don't feature wise-cracks, wouldn't they?

More below the cut:

Saturday, May 28, 2016


A quick Colour Collective piece this week. The colour was Pompeian Red and I thought I'd use it as a backdrop for this classic doggy-bribery tactic:

I used this photo I took of Myrna nearly a year ago as a rough reference:

All in all, this took about 2 hours, including far too much spent sketching out a different pose and trying to force it to work. In the end I gave up and switched to this one, and I'm glad I did. =)

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

Monday, May 23, 2016

But it's RAINING....

Here is my 'Velvet Clover' Colour Collective. It was such a lovely stormy-day kind of colour, and Myrna is never happy about walking in the rain, so there was my subject:

Of course, Myrna will happily roll around in all the mud kicked up by footballers on the oval, but getting her out for a walk while it's raining? Sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth, especially as I'm not keen on walking in the rain either... This is rather what the weather is like here today, although we managed a brisk walk in-between heavy showers of rain. There were bits of tree everywhere and Myrna thought it was all Not Usual!

For the purposes of full disclosure: I don't walk Myrna on a collar and leash, we have an easy-walk harness for her. Letting her walk with the lead attached to her collar means she pulls a lot and makes distressing noises as the collar presses on her soft cavalier trachea. We don't like that at all. But for this illustration I just used the collar and lead, as it worked better visually and was much simpler. But I do not drag my dog around by the neck, I promise! =) 

Here's my original sketch:

And here it is in a partially completed stage:

I enjoyed doing that wet pavement. I think they worked well!

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. About 2 hours. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 3

Here is the next lot of my 100 Days of Old Movies sketches for the 100 Day Project:

21: The Little Princess (1939)

My Daddy has to go away, but he'll return most any day. Any moment I may see my Daddy coming back to me.

For a melodramatic kid's movie you really can't go past a 30s Hollywood adaption of a Victorian children's book, starring Shirley Temple. This was her first technicolour film, and she stars as Sara Crewe, a child raised in India and sent to an expensive girl's boarding school in London while her father is away at war. When he is reported as dead and bankrupt, Sarah is forced to work as a servant in the school to pay off her tuition. 

This movie is in the public domain, so you can watch it on Youtube here.

22, 23 & 24: Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)

– I've always let you have anything of mine you want, but you can't have him!
– I've got him. 

Two Girls and a Sailor is a propaganda movie from WW2 - thin plot, lots and lots of cameos. Van Johnson is a sailor (and also a millionaire) who sees the Deyo Sisters performing and falls in love with Jean (Gloria deHaven), sending her anonymous orchids every night. The sisters host parties for servicemen in their apartment every night after their act, and one day they see him and invite him along, not knowing who he is, and he meets Patsy (June Allyson) who mentions that they wish they had a place big enough to let all the servicemen in. So he gives them a warehouse (still anonymously) and decorates it, and it becomes a big draw, with famous names entertaining there every night (Gracie Allen, Jose Iturbi, Lena Horne, Harry James and his Orchestra, Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra....) Meanwhile the sisters try to find out who their benefactor is, while poor Van Johnson realises he initially fell for the wrong sister. Awkward. There is also a dream sequence with a fashion parade that ends in a catfight, because why not?

So it doesn't have much actual plot, but I've always been fond of it. I don't actually require much plot in my movies...

25 & 26: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)


They seek him here
They seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere
Is he in Heaven
Or is he in Hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel.

Merle Oberon and Leslie Howard make their second appearances in my lineup, this time in The Scarlet Pimpernel, my favourite Pimpernel adaption. (I've read most of the books, they are excellent brainless it's-too-hot-to-move summertime reading.)

Leslie Howard is Sir Percy Blakeney, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel - a fop in daily life, to mask the fact that he is actually a decisive and audacious hero rescuing aristocrats from the guillotine over in Paris. And Merle Oberon is his fairly brainless wife Marguerite, who has no knowledge of her husband's adventures, and, to save the life of her brother, accidentally sells him out. Drama!

This too is in Public Domain, and you can watch it at the Internet Archive (or search for it on Youtube, whichever you like) 

27 & 28: The Gay Divorcee (1934)


– I've just had the most embarrassing experience. A man tore my dress off!
– Oooh, anyone we know?

Top Hat is generally regarded as the quintessential Fred and Ginger movie, but I think I prefer the earlier The Gay Divorcee myself (Not that I don't like Top Hat). It was their first movie together as stars (following their appearance in Flying Down to Rio) and is full of mistaken identity. 

Fred Astaire is a dancer who meets Ginger Rogers and is instantly smitten. She's not so keen, especially after he rips her dress. Later, in transpires that she needs a divorce, and has hired Fred's friend Edward Everett Horton to get it for her. He's arranged for a co-respondent to meet her at a hotel, and gives her a pass code so she can recognise him. Naturally, Fred gives the code by accident, and it escalates from there....

29 & 30: Footlight Parade

I played a pair of deuces like four aces, and they paid!

I love a snappy Pre-Code Warner Brothers musical, and this is one of my favourites. We get Busby Berkeley sequences, James Cagney tap dancing and Joan Blondell. All good things. Cagney stages musical reviews, and his job is in jeopardy when talking pictures arrive, so his wife walks out on him. He realises that the musical prologues theatres were toying with putting between acts of films could be cheaper if they were staged once and then travelled to lots of different theatres - this is big business and it takes off. He's got business partners, a sassy secretary (Blondell) and a contract stating he has to put on three new prologues a week, a gold-digging fiancee and a wife who 'forgot' to get her divorce. Cagney and Blondell were a great team and made many movies together, and as this is a Pre-Code movie, she gets some great lines. 

Here's the trailer. And here's the third of the big Berkeley finale numbers, Shanghai Lil. I love this piece of music, and had to track down the sheet music. I think I eventually ran it to earth in Ohio or somewhere. And it's mine now!

Stay tuned for the next instalment when I reach #40!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Anniversary Roses

I needed a 50th Wedding Anniversary card, and isn't that a perfect excuse to play around with creating another floral design?

The flowers for the 50th Anniversary are yellow roses and violets, so they formed the basis for my design. I then filled up empty space with some miscellaneous leaves and some baby's breath, that being a suitably wedding-themed type of flower. 


I approved of being basically forced to put purple and yellow together. I like working with colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel!

The metal for this anniversary is of course gold, so out came the gold glitter again:

In an ideal world I would be able to print all cards properly, instead of printing them out on photo paper and mounting them on cardstock. But until I get so amazingly organised that I have all cards ready a year in advance and can send them off to Moo for printing (i.e. never).... this is the way they are done.

Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blissful Abandon

Another week, another Colour Collective colour - this time it was Light Yellow Glaze, a colour that made me think of spring. 

On lovely days, Myrna likes to roll on the grass. (She also likes to roll in mud when it's been raining and there have been footballers on the oval.... but that wouldn't be a 'yellow' illustration....). She gets greenery stuck in her ears and tail, but she has a lovely time and I'm quite jealous. It looks so blissful and refreshing.

I did google photos of dogs rolling around - it's such a tricky pose - but didn't base this on any one of them. It was hard to get her face and expression right at this angle, though, especially as I was working quite fast - it's been a busy week! I added some butterflies for some extra interest, because why not?

Here's my original sketch. As you can see, I changed her face a bit. 

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.
Two to three hours. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mothers' Day 2016

Here's the card I made my lovely mother for Mother's Day this year. I've been working on creating some more commercial-type illustrations in addition to my kidlitart stuff, and this was one of those experiments. I think it worked quite well!

I chose chrysanthemums because my father bought her a deep pink chrysanthemum as a present (I bought her a blue butterfly bush and put money towards a dwarf mulberry tree, but they didn't all work together....) and added some gerberas in a contrasting colour and some miscellaneous leaves to keep everything bright

And because my mother loves glitter cards, I glittered the text after I had printed it:

I'm pretty pleased with it. I think it looks like something you could buy in a greeting card shop, and I think I shall try more things like this. 

I've also turned it into a repeating pattern:

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. I spent four hours on it, but I was watching tv at the same time, so that wasn't solid work by any means. The fonts are from the Storyteller family. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 2

Here's the next bunch of my 100 Days of Old Movies sketches for the 100 Day Project. You can find instalment one (Days 1 - 10) here.

11 & 12: Romance on the High Seas (1948)

It's Magic

This is my favourite Doris Day movie - and her first, before they'd settled on the ultra sweet and innocent persona - as Oscar Levant (who was also in Romance on the High Seas) said 'I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.' Of course, this is a movie musical we're talking about here, so it's not racy, but it has an extra tartness that many of her other Warner musicals lacked, I think.

The plot is simple: wealthy husband and wife each think the other is playing around. When the husband cancels their 3rd wedding anniversary cruise just after hiring a pretty new secretary, wife says she'll go by herself - and hires nightclub singer Day to take her place on the cruise of a lifetime so she can stay home and catch her husband cheating. Husband, however, thinks her going on the cruise alone is a bit sus, so he hires a private detective (Jack Carson) to keep an eye on her. Complications ensue, in a succession of elaborate costumes that range from nice to completely hideous. Eric Blore also makes an appearance, cementing this movie as a fabulous throwback to 30s musicals.

13 & 14: Spellbound (1945)

My dear girl, you can not keep bumping your head against reality and saying it is not there.

Spellbound is an Alfred Hitchcock movie, made under Brian Selznic, and certainly one of my favourite Hitchocks. It was made in the mid-40s when psychoanalysis was all the rage (The Dark Mirror from 1946 is another film around this theme. There were quite a few.) Ingrid Bergman is the psychiatrist who falls in love with Gregory Peck (and who can blame her?) and attempts to work out what has made him borderline insane and prove that he isn't a murderer. Plot-wise it's fairly straight, but there are a lot of interesting first-person filming effects, ominous music throughout and a dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali (Apparently originally there were two, but one was cut. A pity. I understand that Dali designed a set with grand pianos hanging upside down over dancers in a ballroom, but to cut costs they used miniature pianos and tried to fix the resultant weird perspective by hiring little people as the dancers. And then they cut the whole scene, perhaps unsurprisingly)

15 & 16: It Happened One Night (1934)

The walls of Jericho are toppling.

Can you really go wrong with Frank Capra? When heiress Claudette Colbert is secretly married to a man she has met only once her father imprisons her on the family yacht. She jumps ship and sets off to travel back to her husband via bus, but she's never had to cope on her own and is soon in trouble. Recently-fired reporter Clark Gable takes her under his wing in return for a story. The hitch-hiking scene that I drew here is probably the most famous (It was temping to draw her in her wedding dress, but there wasn't enough room for the veil in this square format I'm using for this series...)

This is currently my least favourite sketch, the perspective didn't work too well when I tried to force it to fit with everything else....

17 & 18: The Court Jester (1955)

Get it? 

Got it. 

This is an excellent movie if you're feeling down. It's a joyful spoof on medieval romances and Robin Hood. Nothing is accurate, and we don't care. Carnival member Danny Kaye joined the Black Fox and his men hoping  to help fight to restore the true King to the throne, but he's stuck entertaining the troops. Through a series of happenings, he's smuggled into the castle disguised as the new Court Jester and is soon in it up to his neck. Lots of opportunities for Danny Kaye double-talk and lots of pretty dresses for Glynis Johns and Angela Lansbury.

19 & 20: The Forbidden Street / Britannia Mews (1949)

I'm always reminding people of someone else. I suppose I have no personality of my own. 

This is an odd little film, but nevertheless one that I enjoyed. I'm not quite sure what genre it is - it starts off solidly as a melodrama, swings past romance and ends with comedy.

Maureen O'Hara is fascinated by the squalid Mews she can see from her bedroom window. When she grows up she becomes infatuated with her drawing master (Dana Andrews), who lives in the Mews, and marries him. This is a mistake. He's a drunk who doesn't want to work - either at his artwork or giving lessons - and spends his time crafting puppets, which she dismisses as a waste of time. One day he falls down the stairs and dies. Maureen thinks she can go home to her family now, but an old women who lives opposite blackmails her, saying she will tell everyone she pushed him downstairs. So she's stuck in the mews, gradually losing hope, until a stranger pops up - looking exactly like her dead husband.

I couldn't find a trailer for this. But searching for Britannia Mews on youtube currently brings up the English dub.

Monday, May 9, 2016

YOU are eating sausages...

For the 'Scheveningen Violet' prompt for Colour Collective I decided to use the colour as a foil for Myrna's orange food bowl. She's a real drama queen, and if she finds her bowl empty, she will bang it around with a paw, mutter away, whine, try eating the bowl as a pointed hint, and finally collapse dramatically from starvation. 

However, you may notice that this bowl is not empty. That's because if she finds boring biscuits* in there, and we are eating something more interesting she will tip out the biscuits defiantly and stare at us in a vaguely affronted way. She would make an excellent stereotypical teenage human in these moments.

*No, she doesn't just get boring biscuits, she has a varied diet - but her mid-evening post-walk snack is just BB. 

The expression was a hard one to capture, especially when simplified down this much. The tiniest tweak of an eyebrow is enough to make or break it, so it took the most time for this illustration. 

Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. About three hours. 


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