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Research-Radiolab and This American Life February 1, 2011

Posted by leskanturek in Class Topics, Handout Sheets, Picture files and Reference, Researching for Art.
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Two of the smartest shows I know on NPR: Radiolab and This American Life… Both these shows are explore topics/themes that are researched and  presented in a thought provoking entertaining way.  Sound familiar?  This is just what your goal is when you create an illustration. Something peeks your interest, you research the topic and then develop a thought provoking visually entertaining piece of art.

Radiolab is hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich.  two hosts that have great chemistry together.  “Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we’ll feed it with possibility.”   to quote from their site  http://www.radiolab.org/about/


This American Life – ” The radio show and TV show follow the same format. There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe. Probably the best way to understand the show is to start at our favorites page,”    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/

What I like about both of these shows is their honest exploration of a topic or hypothesis. The obvious answer to a simple question might be dispproved (along with your assumptions…who knew parrasites good be good?), sometimes the show is about solid detective work (why is that goat standing on a cow’s back?), other times episodes bring to light issues , people , and places you never knew existed.

If you become a listener to these two shows you will never again ask your self…what’s a good topic/idea to explore for my project/thesis…(promise)


By the way…if you do want to know why that goat is standing on the back of that cow..listen to this.

Reasearch-The Library of Congress February 1, 2011

Posted by leskanturek in Class Topics, Picture files and Reference, Researching for Art.
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As an illustrator, you will be developing your own projects as well as collaborating with others on their projects. Authors, editors, creative directors, and art directors are all relying on your expertise to bring an idea to visual life. Researching your topic is one of the most important things you can do in developing an illustration. Gathering reference isn’t simply a matter of making sure your subject’s anatomy is correct but becoming enough of an expert on that subject so you can add integrity to your drawing/painting and know where you can take artistic liberties.  The Library of Congress ( LOC)  is an unbelievable resource for visual, and intellectual,research. A visit to the site will undoubtedly give you ideas and topics for projects for years to come. In many cases hi-res  files of the viewed image is available , ( you should be careful to read the copyright info, not everything is in the public domain).  Film, audio recordings… it really is a virtual treasure trove of information and imagery.


A 1910 photo of Dr. Doyen separating “Hindoo twins”,  collections of  baseball cards, What was in Lincoln’s pocket when he was assassinated?  All of the above and a lot more can be researched and viewed online at the Library of Congress’ site   http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Natural History Class Pic November 28, 2010

Posted by leskanturek in Class Assignments, Class Topics, Picture files and Reference, Surreal.
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(above) Some of the Fall ’10 class in front of the reproduction of the Easter Island Moai


This fall we met at the Museum of Natural History to sketch/ gather reference for an assignment exploring surrealism. Surrealism in art portrays the dream, the element of surprise sometimes with unexpected juxtapositions of things within the same space. The museum is an amazing place to sketch , draw and photograph not only animal life (taxidermied) but also exhibits of different cultures around the world. Of course the museum is also extremely surreal it self with it’s own sometimes odd juxtapositions of exhibits. View lowland gorillas and then turn the corner and you’re in Mexico .

We met on the 3rd floor which has displays of Indonesian shadow puppets, pacific islander culture along with other Native American exhibits. The museum is like one big living scrap(reference) file that you can walk through.  I’ve always found their exhibits organized similarly to how a sketchbook could be organized. Details called out from models, notes , captions. Where a part of an artifact  is missing the visual information is drawn in.  Then there is the subway stop with the mosaics depicting the evolution of species.

(above) For Want of a Nail, 2000  Glass and ceramic mosaic, handmade ceramic relief tiles, hand-cast glass, bronze and cut granite floor tiles throughout the 81st subway stop.


A very inspiring place…

Submitting Digital Versions of Your Assignments October 1, 2010

Posted by leskanturek in Class Topics, Handout Sheets, Scanning your assignments.
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You will be  handing in a digital file of all your assignments.  Finishes only not your sketches. This is  along with the original artwork you bring in and place up on the wall at  crits.  You are submitting 2  scans of each assignment, a hi-res and a lo-res.   Your low-resolution files should be derived from your original hi resolution file.   When you’ve finished your scan (color corrected, etc.)  burn your images onto a CD and make sure you test the disk  to make sure it works. On the CD please print please your full name  and email address  in permanent marker. Place your cd in a case or  envelope and hand it in to me.   Below are the specs for your scans:

The hi-res image:

  • RGB
  • Tiff
  • Flattened-NO LAYERS, all type should be rasterized (converted to art and flattened)
  • 350 dpi
  • Dimensions of the scan should be the same size as your original piece. ex.  A 24″ X 36″ painting = a 24″ X 36″ digital image
  • 8-bit , 16-bit

In photoshop go up to thge menu, select “File”  -and select “File info”.   You will get a dialogue box  that looks like this:


Fill in Your name, the title of the piece or what assignment it was for, my name, the semester, and the class and your e-mail or some kind of contact info.

Jane Doe, “I Hate Squid”, pen, ink and collage, 10″ x 16″, Sept.  2010, Les Kanturek, instructor, Soph. Concepts”

The Lo-res image:

  • RGB
  • Tiff
  • Flattened-NO LAYERS, all type should be rasterized (converted to art and flattened)
  • 72 dpi
  • Dimensions of the scan should be the same size as your original piece. ex.  A 24″ X 36″ painting = a 24″ X 36″ digital image
  • 8-bit

File Naming

Label the actual tiff as follows:

last name_first name_HWTitle_lr_Les.jpg (ex: smith_john_POVSquid_lr_Les.tiff)

The “lr” stands for “low-res”- hr- “high-res”

Do not put “untitled” for your work, if it does not have a title then use the name of the assignment    or a short descriptive name (i.e. “Invisible Man”).

You should archive all of your art and have a digital copy of everything you do.

Analogies January 21, 2009

Posted by leskanturek in Analogy, Class Topics, Handout Sheets.
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An analogy is a comparison between different items usually with the idea of explaining something unknown by something known. Analogies provide insight. They can suggest that some how similarities exist between things that might seem to have nothing in common.

Analogies are every where, In literature; “U-boats prowled the coast of the island like hungry sharks…”, or ”He peter-and-wolfwas a tall as a mountain and as strong as an ox”. In music, for example Prokofiev’s musical symphony for children- Peter and the wolf (Peter youtube link) . In PATW  a range of Instruments represent different characters in the story; The Duck is an oboe, Grandfather is a bassoon, the bird is a flute. Philosophy is frequently conveyed in analogies; “be like the sapling in the wind, bending but not breaking…”. For Many years people in business studied “the Art of War” by Sun Tzu and the book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Both books,  detailing strategies for making war on your enemies were seen as  analogies for business tactics (think hostile corporate take over’s  and getting ahead of the competition).

13987779(Above) The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) By Miyamoto Musashi 1645

Below are three types of Analogies:

  • Logical analogies; Seek similarities between things that are different but have some trait in common. i.e.: a duck to an amphibious boat, or the branch system of a tree to the vascular system of the human body.


  • Affective Analogies: Are emotional similarities, ie: a pretty girl is like a flower or someone evil is a snake or a skunk.  A timid person is a mouse.


  • Paradoxical Analogies: Illogical combinations of images that evoke powerful emotional responses; our minds tell us no logical reason exists for these images to be together, yet since they are together we‘re forced to reconcile them. (also see class exercises).


Analogies not only are a way of explaining a  complicated phenomenon or situation in terms we are already familiar with, they also excite our creative spirit.  Here is a link to Pete Seeger’s 1967 song Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. This song was recognized  as a metaphor for the increasingly escalated war in Vietnam, so much so that CBS censored the song prior to it’s broadcast on the Smothers Brothers show.

My Favorite Analogy

Okay this might be a little self indulgent but this is a blog after all. My favorite analogy  (paradoxical  if I’m being precise) is the  “This is your Brain on Drugs ” PSA first aired in 1987. It was used as part of an anti-drug campaign  by the Partnership for a drug Free America ( a non-profit initiated by the American Association of Advertising Agencies) .  The spot invited a number of spoofs and there actually is a Fried Egg Message website.



Here is the original spot as aired.  In 1997 Rachel Leigh Cook performed in an updated version.

Picture Files and Reference July 3, 2008

Posted by leskanturek in Handout Sheets, Picture files and Reference.
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Norman Rockwell\'s photo reference for a painting

Norman Rockwell\

Always start an illustration with as much information as you can possibly get. Notice I’m saying information and not simply reference material. It’s your job….it’s what makes an art director choose you over another illustrator/artist, your expertise. Information is what allows you to collaborate with an author and art director and not simply act as a pair of hands. Have integrity in your work, go the extra mile. Research your subject.

• Viewers out there know when something doesn’t look right, be it anatomy or something technical.
• Looking up scrap helps you generate ideas/concepts.
• Serendipity: you never know what you might find by accident. Sometimes under the same letter heading in a picture file (like “T”) you find your concept. While looking for photos of tanks I passed toys. That gave me an idea for an image. The same thing occurs when you surf the web, some odd things come up that you might never have occurred to you

Here are some resources:

Library Picture Files
PSD /Gimbel Library (Of course)
The Mid-Manhattan (NY Public) Library Picture Collection

Many local libraries have good picture collections(when artists die , many leave their collections to local libraries)
The Queens Borough Public Library in Jamaica Queens has an excellent picture collection

Children’s books
This is a fantastic resource for reference! :ot’s of photos and illustrations. Grouped by subject. Ie: What a fireman does, how cars are made etc.


Sears / JC Penny, IKEA, pottery barn Etc. All catalogs that have general household items in them. And already grouped too. Specialty catalogs: Science equipment, fishing, police uniforms

Stock photos
Photo houses are also a source for royalty free photos for use and reference. Be careful!,there is a very real copyright attached to the images.

Your Client
Ask your client for the reference you need for the job. (They will not do your work for you . Research is your department). Ask particularly if the subject is obscure or technical and your client is a repository of photos and images. Newspapers traditionally have their own Morgue that you might be able to use.

Reference books
Like the illustrators Reference manual of Hands and Faces, or the visual dictionary.

How Too Books
Time life etc. fixing your home , etc.

Keep your Own Picture files
• Spend less time running around town, when you should be drawing.
• Convenient even at 1:00 AM
• You know what you like to draw or have trouble drawing.
• Shoot your own photos, get friends to pose, you should know how to handle a camera anyway to shoot your own artwork and scrap) .
• Suggestions about groupings, follow the model of the Public Library, Occupations: Fireman, nurse etc., Men: Standing, sitting, young old etc.

What does Iron Man and this toaster have in common?

What does Iron Man and this toaster have in common?

When you use reference use it creatively. Can studying an old car’s chrome bumper help you draw Iron Man?  Would looking at the segmented armor of a pangolin (look it up) help?

The Internet
As you all should know, an amazing source of imagery
• Use a general search, Google, Yahoo. Click on images as a view option.
• There are a lot of Stock photo sites you can browse for free. again There is a very real copyright attached to the images. That’s how these agencies make their income. This is for reference only!
• Government sites have in many cases copyright free images and Hi-res that you can use. The Library of Congress, NASA to name a few.

Beware copyright infringement, just because it’s on the web does not make it free, or mean it can be used without permission. .

Free (or Low Cost) Image Resources

NASA Image Exchange
Typically, NASA information is considered public domain, however for a full understanding of NASA guidelines for use of images, see:

NOAA Photo Library
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. Department of Defense

U.S. Navy

National Library of Medicine

The Library of Congress