Monday, December 28, 2009

NEW PAINTINGS by Stan Levine

NEW PAINTINGS BY STAN LEVINE



Chicago
16" X 20"
acrylic on canvas
unframed

Broadway Plaza
36" X26"
acrylic on canvas
unframed

Duffy's Tavern
18" 14"
acrylic on canvas
unframed


John Muir Beach Overlook (stretched)
18" x 14"
acrylic on canvas
unframed

SOLD!
Sunset Painting
24" X 48"
acrylic on canvas
unframed


A Bench Portrait By The Grand Canyon

18" X 14"
acrylic on canvas
unframed

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sketches

SKETCHES BY STANLEY LEWIS LEVINE
Now available for hire!



This one is called "Death's Skull." I drew it with a number two pencil in a short time of less than 10 minutes. This kind of sketch would be great to promote your heavy metal band, or maybe it would make a cool tattoo. It could even me modified to make a decent political cartoon.


This one is called "biker Crash." I drew it with a number two pencil. A few years ago I used to ride a motorcycle, and I've been through a few accidents but luckily nothing serious. Although, I will never be able to straighten my left arm due to a injury to my elbow. This kind of sketch would be great for your graphic novel, or comic book. It's got a ninja throwing those those throwing stars at the motorcyclist. Ninjas vs bikers sounds exciting, and action packed. Keep tuned in to what I do with this, because I'm definitely going to do something with it at some point.


My wife and I took a family trip to Disneyland. Our son had never seen Disneyland before, and he was looking forward to this trip for a long time. One thing I hate about Disneyland is the crowds. Being surrounded by a throng of people I don't know gives me anxiety because they sometimes trample you down, or infect you with swine flew (the H1N1 virus) causing bodily injury. This is an graphite illustration I made of my wife and I in the hotel room. She is a writer, and I (as you can see) am an artist. We needed a break from the crowds, and just sitting there for 4 to 6 hours during the hottest part of the afternoon drawing this hotel room scene really helped me relax.

This is my study of Frank Frazetta's "Death Dealer VI." I made light circular motions with color pencils on white paper to achieve the painterly effects. This style of illustration is create for comic books, storyboards, or anything involving an action scene. The use of vibrant colors really works to achieve the effect that something is interesting is happening. The elements in the illustration come to life, and pop right out of the page!

This is an illustration I made using Flash Professional 8 that was published on Ronda Levine's blog where she wrote a story about how Santa Clause bought a woman a "Cheezeborger," somewhere in Michigan. This style of illustration is great for adding original looking graphics to your website. It might also work for a children's book.

This is a Sharpie pen drawing of my son sleeping on the airplane on the way to New Orleans. This style of illustration might work perfectly in your magazine. What do you think? Don't be shy :) I haven't had that many publications, so if you need an illustration that will be published in your magazine I might not even charge or if I do very little...Like $5 or whatever you can afford.


I drew this one in here in my little sketch book I take with me wherever I go with a little black ink pen.
I live with 2 cats. This is what Stripes, the orange tabby cat does. He chases his tail. It's so funny! This style of illustration is create for your comic strip, so if you have an idea for one let me know. I like to collaborate with other people out there as long as they are serious, hard working and dedicated to whatever creative project they need my help working on.



This is my study of Anikin Skywalker's podracer from Star Wars Episode I. I used a reference to accurately copy this illustration using pen and inks from "Star Wars Episode I Incredible Cross-Sections." This illustration demonstrates that my drawing skills are adaptable to any style. If you're a job recruiter from Lucas Arts or ILM, looking for a sketch artist to storyboard or come up with some concept drawings for the next Star Wars movie look no further! I am the man for the job.

I am a very prolific artist, meaning that I draw at least one sketch a day. I did this one on a little piece of scratch paper at the kitchen table one afternoon. Another great example of my cartoony sketchy style I like to use to show humorous situations.

This illustration style would be great for animation or a kids coloring book. It's pen an inks on white paper.


A little water color painting of some frogs I made in my little sketch book.


This is Mr. Stripes doing what he does best...He's an orange tabby cat, part Siamese. I drew this one with color pencils on white paper.

Well...That's all for now. I got to get back to work!

The Everly Brothers Caricature


This is a caricature I, Stan Levine did of the Everly Brothers. I do illustrations for comic books, magazines, or even party events for very affordable prices. If you are an employer for a magazine or book, and are looking to hire an illustrator, I will actually do one illustration for FREE, as long as my work is going to be published either in a magazine, book or website. I value the exposure people out there give me of putting my work out there for people to see. Party Events are a hassle. I enjoy working in the comfort of my home, but for party events I sometimes have to drive an hour a way. For that reason I charge $50/hr to do caricatures for party events plus a $50 travel fee if I half to travel half an hour out of my way. If you're someone who would really like to have a custom portrait or caricature of yourself, or a friend, but don't have all that much money to spend, you can e-mail me a jpg file. Then I can just use that to draw your portrait for the bargain price of just $10. You can use your credit card on Paypal, where I will instantly be able to receive your payment.

The Adventures of Froggie


The Adventures of Froggie

This is the finished comic book cover for "The Adventures of Froggie," a story that originally started out as a flash animation on Youtube at the Stanimatorblue channel. The story is about a frog that seeks adventure in a strange land where anything is possible.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Metropol Updates

The art of animation is painstakingly slow pasted. It can take up to an hour to get one frame looking just right. I began this project with a storyboard, scanned in and keyframed in as an animatic on a timeline in Flash 8. Then I began rendering each frame using various tools the software provides. There are oval and rectangle tools. The Oval tool comes in handy when I need perfect circles for something like wheels of a car, or eyeballs. The rectangle tool comes in handy when I need large areas of color blocked in at once. I started out using this tool to create buildings. Then I had to use the transform tool to skew each shape, so I could make the buildings look 3D by putting them in perspective. Granted, a 3D application like Blender would do this much easier and faster, but jumping around from one program to the next only slows down my mental process. I like my work to be as spontaneous as possible. I like to keep my paintbrush always moving. Have you ever watched the Bob Ross show on KQED? Bob Ross is a painter that demonstrates how he can create entire landscapes in an hour using a paintbrush that looks like something you might paint a barn with. It's impressive and fun to take a tool and see how much detail you can get out of it with as little effort as possible. Being able to do that using Flash 8's digital tools for creating animation speeds up the process saving time. Using the line tool (keyboard shortcut being the "n" key) I can block in shapes of buildings in less than a minute without having to edit the shape with the transformation tools later. The paint bucket tool also saves the time that it would take a traditional animator to hand paint each drawing. Flash 8 has linear and radial gradient shaders to help render things with realistic lighting. The gradient transform tool ("F") allows me to stretch and move a selected area of gradient shaded color to create the desired effects. In the song Collsion by Metropol, the lyrics speak of an untamed woman who can't be controlled that is sought after because a man is driven by an uncontrollable desire to make her his bride. Given the romantic subject matter I decided to give this animated music video a narrative theme. A cartooned digital drawing of Ray, the lead singer, seeks her out. She gets away in her Porsche, and he chases after her on a motorcycle. I don't want to spoil the whole story, so I'll stop with the details there. Basically though, he pursues her, and she evades as the lyrics of the song suggest. Here are some screenshots taken from today's progress:
The oval and radial shader tools came in handy on this rendering of Ray's desire...
I really wanted the Porsche to look awesome, so I spent a lot of time on that. The fleur de lis on the hood of the car is a jpeg file that I downloaded from The Grace Collection of battle shields. Should there be any copyright infringement issues, I can always trace over it to create my own later. I drew the car using the pencil tool, and used the oval tool for the headlights. My inspirations for the car were the Bat Mobile, and various sports cars I've seen in Road and Track Magazine.

I began the animation by rendering in backgrounds for the first scene, but the part where the camera zooms out from the parking garage over the city took the longest. The whole town had to be built, and I wanted for there to be cars rolling up and down the streets as Ray's desire's Porsche can be seen racing through the parking garage levels before making a right turn off screen. It saves time to reuse as many elements as possible. A traffic light or a street light can be grouped, copied and pasted as many times as needed. Then I transform them to face the right direction. The buildings are all in groups in a graphic symbol. In Flash, I can select any object and make it a symbol, which is something that gets placed in a library of images that can be reused as many times as needed. Symbols can have individual animations in them. For example, I could took my drawing of Ray's desire and made her a symbol. Then I can click to enter edit mode of that symbol, and make groups out of her arms and legs. Then I can move and keyframe them on the symbol's timeline to create a walk cycle. Then when I click and drag the lady from the library to the desired keyframe on the main timeline of my scene, I get an instant walkcycle. The walkcycle is built into the symbol. If I need a character to move somewhere on screen, I can copy and paste the keyframe containing the walk cycle symbol, select both keyframes and motion tween them. Flash 8 has a motion tween tool that allows me to create smooth animation very quickly with little effort, but it tends to make the animation too robotic looking. If I really need for a character to emote, I might use a combination of motion tweening and hand keyframing. In some situations like for lip syncing I keyframe all of my character's movements by hand.
Hand keyframing is when I have to spend hours moving things a tiny bit, then creating a new keyframe and move it a little more, before the illusion of realistic movement starts to happen. The process is very rewarding, but painstakingly slow. As an artist I prefer to paint and draw than animate. I like to draw cartoons, and paint with acrylics on canvas, so I am actually phasing out of animation. I am interested in producing or directing an animation or a feature film at some point. I want to spend more time cartooning, maybe even screen writing to come up with lots of ideas. Then try to find people to promote them, so that big animation studios can give my ideas the craftsmanship they deserve. Does that make sense?

Well, That's all for now. I got to get back to work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Metropol Animated Music Video Production Update

Here are some storyboards and concept artwork to show my progress for the Metropol Animated Music Video:











Well, that's all for now. I got to get back to work!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's Next

The Next Stanimation Production

Well, I just finished a 36"X36" acrylic painting on canvas of the Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California. It's always a feeling of relief when a project of that magnitude is finished. It's like a weight lifted off my shoulders, because it takes a lot of time and patience to do quality work. Sometimes I feel like it's never going to be finished, and I have to be okay with that. People always wonder how do you know when a painting is finished. I have to be very patient. Even when I think it's finished I have to be very reluctant before signing my name on the finished piece, otherwise it will be rushed, and I will have sacrificed quality. There's just no point in doing anything in the first place if it isn't going to be the very best job I can do. I want my artwork to reflect the very best of my ability, so that I can look at it a year or so from now and see how I've grown.
So I've got the Metropol animated music video to work on, but I get frustrated, and I lose my focus and my patience when I work on one project for more than 6 hours at a time. It's good to have multiple projects going on to keep my job exciting and fun. The other thing I'm developing is the next Adventures of Froggie Animation.
Froggie is a frog that lives near a pond in a land surrounded by adventure. Up till now, the entire animation has revolved around Froggie and his quest to find the Raspberry Shrubs. Recently I asked myself, what will happen after he finds the Raspberry Shrubs? The entire story will come to an end leaving no room for a sequel. I will definitely have to develop this animation more to ensure it's marketability. Many successful animations revolve around a fully developed world. Matt Groening, creator of The Simpons, invented the town of Springfield. So I have begun the task of putting Froggie in an imaginary world. I haven't thought of a name for it yet, but in this land there will be many challenges. Froggie, our little green friend starts out as being a very self-doubting character, but when faced with a challenge, and with the support of the friends he finds along his journey, he will inspire us as he finds a way to overcome. There will be PIRATES! NINJAS! OUTLAWED BIKERS! DRAGON AND WILDEBEESTS! to confront and subdue in a land that was once a good place until it was invaded by these troublesome enemies.
There was once a railroad that could get you from the big city streets out to the outskirts of a empty and dry desert land, but it was broken. The people of this land depended on the train system to transport their goods and services. Now with a broken economy, many people are hungry and desperate. Deep within the heart of this land, the forest critters and Froggie gradually become aware of the collapsing world around them. Despite how small they are, they are filled with optimism. I anticipate this production to be a very successful and entertaining story that many even have a shot at an award from the Sundance Film Festival. I've just got to keep developing my ideas and go from there. Another thing I've been working on is my graphic design skills on Zazzle.
to upload and slap on my design work to t-shirts and other merchandise. I've also put high resolution photos of my paintings and illustration work on merchandise. So far, nothing has sold, but if nothing else, it's entertaining. I like to come up with goofy, humorous ideas for shirts. Even if nobody buys them, it keep me creative and inspired.

Well, that's all for now. I got to get back to work!

Animation By Stanimation Productions

What is Animation?

I have lots of ideas. I am currently working on an animated music video for a band from Spain called Metropol. They saw the music video I did for Asocietyred, and decided that it would be great if I could make a video for them to submit to MGM for consideration on a record contract. So far, I have the animation storboarded and in Flash Professional 8 in animatic format. For those who don't know much about animation, allow me to explain what it's all about. Animation is a kind of video that is all hand drawn. Video and television is about 30 frames per second (29.7). That means that when you're watching a movie on a DVD you are actually watching 30 still images every second flashing before your eyes. Your brain processes the imagery and give you the illusion of movement. In film, a special camera is used to expose celluloid to light at 24 frames per second. The camera has a motor that pulls the film around a spool, and a predetermined shutter speed opens and closes to expose the celluloid to light. The Disney animators used to take pictures of their drawings and hand paint the film, which was a very tedious process. Now days the use of computers has greatly sped up productions time. The use of CGI (Computer Generated Images) 3D animation has introduced a stop motion meet cinematic style to the medium. In a 3D animation, the animator can position a character on the screen in 3 different directions: X, which is side to side, Y, up and down or Z, forward and back. The CG camera that captures and exports images in a variety of formats during the rendering process, can be placed in any position, and at any angle without the use of expensive equipment that would necessary to film a scene with actors and props. Personally, I like the style of Ray Harryhausen where creatures in animated movies where sculpted and engineered to perfection. I am also inspired by Chuck Jones's 2D animation style used in the WB comics of Bugs Bunny, Wilde Coyote and the Road Runner. I feel that the computer kills the life and spirit of the artist; taking away from the inspiration I need to stick with the project to the end. While I am using computer software to 2D animate my music videos, there are some things I hand draw using the pencil tool (part of the software that allows the artist to hand draw vector lines on the screen). Vector lines are resolution independent. Computer Graphics that are raster images can get distorted when increased in scale, but vector graphics use an algorithm to preserve the crispness and overall quality. In my current animation project for Metropol, I hand drew the storyboards with a graphite pencil, and scanned them into my animation software. Now I have to go over each frame to clean up my line work, and add color. Like a painting, I start with general visual information, and gradually build it up on a time line to the finished product. Storyboards are like a comic book only they have notes around the boxes that contain camera angle information. I like to start out with a plan, before I begin any a painting or an animation, but sometimes when I sketch I just draw the first thing I think of. In animation, an animator can decide weather to draw the major key frames that were pre-planned from a storyboard, or just draw the frames surreptitiously, adjusting scale, position or rotation of the character one frame at a time until the illusion that the character is alive is achieved. Each of these animation styles has a name. Drawing just the key poses, and refining the in-between frames later is called pose-to-pose, and drawing the frames one after another is called straight-ahead. Ideally a combination of these techniques is used to create realism. The Disney Animation Studio actually developed 12 distinct techniques to create realism in animation called the 12 Principles of Animation:

1. Squash and stretch

2. Anticipation

3. Staging

4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

6. Slow In and Slow Out

7. Arcs

8. Secondary Action

9. Timing

10. Exaggeration

11. Solid Drawing

12. Appeal

Learn more about these techniques at http://www.animationtoolworks.com/library/article9.html

Well, that's enough animation talk for now. I've got to get back to work.

New Painting from Stanimation Productions


Broadway Plaza
36"X36"
acrylic on canvas
by Stan Levine
This painting took about three weeks to paint. I used a photograph by my wife, Ronda Levine who is a freelance writer and editor. I originally began the painting by covering the whole canvas with a sky cerulean blue. I often chose the basic atmospheric color for the painting to set the mood, and as a way of just getting into it without having to make any big design decisions so early in the project. I always begin with general elements in a painting before polishing in the final details. When I was a student at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as the California College of the Arts) in Oakland, I took a photography class with Chris Johnson as my professor. Having the experience of watching a photograph develop in the chemical bath has helped me to conceptualize my process with my artwork.
The painting got increasingly difficult to complete, because once all the basic shapes are in place, the challenge of capturing all the little nuances of the light and shadow that coats over all the shapes of various components in the painting. It was especially difficult to understand the spots of light that appear to be caressing over the shadows of the buildings on the lower right hand corner. It took many hours of patience, focus and experimentation to get the painting to a finishing point. This is the sort of painting I can see fitting in well on the decor of someone's dining room wall, or perhaps on the wall of a nice upscale restaurant.

Well, that's all for now. I got to get back to work!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Duffy's Tavern Acrylic Painting by Stan Levine


This is a painting of Duffy's Tavern, located in Chico California. Chico is a little college town where my wife went to school to study Philosophy.
The acrylic painting on canvas is 18"X14."
It took about 2 days to complete, and I used a photo reference that my wife took with her Nikon digital camera. She is always taking pictures with her camera when we go on trips, and I like to paint landscapes using her photos as references. See my Mt.Diablo collection on my website at www.stananimation.net.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

10 secons sketches


Outside the art studio; out in the living world things move really fast. You can't ask the businessman who is already late for work to pose for a 10 minute life drawing. The solution is to get good at doing fast sketches with a black Sharpie Marker. I like these markers because they are permanent, and that forces me to make strong decisive lines in each drawing.
On the left is our cat, Lady Light. She is a Siamese kitten perching at the window sill, but she won't stay there for long. She likes to jump up and paw at things she sees outside the window. Lady Light never sits still for more than 10 seconds, unless she is sleeping. Even then, if you try to draw her when she is sleeping, it always seems like she can feel you studying her. She will wake up and run away to find a place of peace where she can rest undisturbed. To make the 1o second drawing you must have the awareness of a sniper. You have see your subject in the moment of whatever it's doing in that very instant that it's doing whatever it's doing it in. Your mind must be like a camera burning the image from your eyes into an everlasting impression in your mind, that lasts long after the cat has left the stage. You have to see the anatomy, and the size and shape relationships to get the feeling of the spontaneity of the subject's action in the drawing.
I will be doing a series of 10 second sketches of my cats in the months to come, and try to capture the essence of their personalities as a starting point for what may evolve into a series of acrylic paintings, or perhaps even a 2D, Flash animation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fiction Friday Challenge #122

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #128 for October 30th, 2009

A couple of adults get dressed up for some Halloween fun but the night doesn’t go as planned…


I remember when I was 19 years old some friends came over to my parents house to party. We played Dungeons and Dragons and drank shots of Tequila. My dad was worried that the police would arrest him, but my mom was like hell it's Holloween, let the boys have some fun. Then we went out to the local cafe. One of Dave's friends drove my car, and I was in the back rocking my head like I was at a rock concert to some alternative rock station. Everything was all blurry, and they thought it was cool that I was drunk. I had never been that drunk before in my life. When we got there, my friends were out in the middle of the street directing the traffic. I was seeing doubles, and had to sit down. My head felt like a watermelon that could not balance on my shoulders. I put my head down in my arms on the table thinking that I could just pass out for the night here, but even though my eyes were closed I could still feel the world spinning. I felt like I was being flushed down a black hole. The spinning kept getting faster and faster until I just had to open my eyes again to get it to slow down. At some point I just knew that I was going to puke, so I got up and made a mad staggered rush for the bathroom in the cafe. Brown bile spilled out of my gullet into the toilet below me. I was on the floor now. My body was numb. I didn't care what was on the floor. My life was over now. I was so drunk and sick, I thought I might die. The door flew open and everyone was standing there shouting PUKE! PUKE! PUKE! I was touched that my friends thought I was cool for puking. I was glad that I could provide entertainment for them. I stared into the toilet water looking for answers as to what my destiny would be. I began to hallucinate. There were little animated cartoon men dancing around the bathroom, and in the toilet water a reflection of God appeared. In my head I could hear him speak. He said that I need to be careful about the decisions I make. That the course I am going is not where I am supposed to be. Then everything went dark, until I woke up the next evening on the couch of Dave's apartment. "It's about time you woke up man. We thought you were in a comma or something. Scared the sh*t out of us." I was alright...I thought. I went to the bathroom to put some cold water on my face. I looked in the mirror. My skin was pale. "Here man," Dave said. "Have some of this." He had made some Top Romin. Eating would be good. I felt better after. Everyone was smoking. I knew I shouldn't smoke, but I liked having friends that thought I was cool. It would be cool to smoke. Smoking was cool. I took that first cigarette that day, and lit it up with a Harley Davidson Zippo Lighter. It made a cool sound when the lid flew open. It was like a sword being unsheathed for battle, before the flame jumped up with a WOOSH. The paper crackled and turned bright orange, as I inhaled my first drag. The smoke invaded my lungs like a blanket being stuffed down my throat. I coughed for a few minutes. My friends laughed and took their drags all cool without coughing. I vowed to myself that one day I would be able to smoke as cool as them. Then a short fat woman took my arm, and forced me to make out with her. All the guys were watching. If I pushed her away, I would look gay, so I had to go all the way with her. She took me to her room. Their were candles everywhere. She was actually beautiful in the dark with the candles lighter up her skin all golden brown. Her head went down on my neck, and I felt pain. I tensed up, and endured for the sake of maintaining my cool. When she came back up to look at me, there was blood dripping from her mouth. She backed away naked and laughing. She was a vampire! I could see her sharp fangs, and she laughed at me pointing at me as if to remark at how innocent I was. I groaned and closed my eyes to sleep it off. The next evening I woke up on the couch again. My parents must have been worried sick about me. I looked for a phone around the apartment, but there was none in sight. All I saw were empty cigarette boxes, beer cans, and wine bottles all over the floor and counter tops. The place seem to be empty except for one man. He had long dark hair, and wore leather. With an out stretched hand holding a box of Marlbro Reds, he offered me a cigarette. I took one, and he lit it up. I didn't cough this time. "You've come a long way bro." The biker remarked. "Come on. I want to show you something." I followed him out to the parking lot where he stopped to stand by the coolest motorcycle I had ever seen. It was all black and shimmery, with Japanese letters near the speedometer. "What does that mean?" "It means warrior." He remarked. He offered me a helmet. I strapped it on. The bike started up with a roar. "Have you ever ridden before?" "No." I remarked. "Hold on tight, and what ever you do, keep your feet on the foot pegs." "Ok." The world blazed back as cold air rushed in through the helmet. My body was shaking with adrenaline. There was a tall bearded man on the street giving us the middle finger. We stopped. The biker drop kicked him in the chest, and the bearded man hit the ground with a thud. "Kick him." The biker advised me. "I don't want to." "Don't be a wuss." I didn't want to look weak in front of a warrior. We beat the man to death and drank his blood.
All this from one drink of alcohol. Let this be a lesson to all of you. Drink responsibly, and remember: It's not about being cool. It's important to be you, and stick to what you know is right.


What I've been working on


Sunset On Civic Drive
9"x12" pastel painting
I made this in about 10 minutes. It was hard because the sun was setting fast. It's weird how time can pass so slow when you're not doing anything, and so fast when you're racing against it. The light constantly changed like somebody had with remote control on the sun was pulling the sun down like a dimmer switch on a dining room light. I didn't have time to show every detail. My main objective was to capture the way the light effected the street and the general street scene. I feel that I was highly successful in this painting. One of my finest works yet.
This one on the left here is the overlook on Muir Beach. I used a photo reference that my wife provided from her wonderful photography that she does on our romantic getaways. The painting is acrylic on canvas 18"x 14". Painting is something that comes naturally to me. I don't have to think too much about it. I just mix the colors and brush them on. I like to paint because it's exciting to create an imitation of life, or even to invent something purely fantastic from my imagination. Sometimes when I paint things don't go as I expect them to at first. Then something happens by accident that I like. I think, wow, I really like what's happening here, and I'll just try to create more of it. I like to move my body and have music on when I paint. I like to feel excited about what I'm doing and make it a fun enjoyable experience that will show long after I'm finished within the painting. Can you see the fun I had with this Muir Beach painting?

A month or so ago my mom asked me to paint something for her bedroom. She gave me a bag full of fabrics I could use as references, so that I could see the colors of the room. I wanted to make sure that I got all the colors in the room in the painting. Originally she wanted me to paint a Japanese Geisha sitting by a cherry blossom tree, but by the time I got the sunset in over the water with the land form in the foreground, it seemed that including a Geisha and a cherry blossom tree would make the painting too busy. I'm going to bring this painting over to my parent's house tonight. They will hang it up, and see how it feels in the room. If you need a custom painting for your house send me an e-mail, and we'll talk about it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Love Remembered

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #123 for September 25th, 2009

The house lights dim, the curtain goes up… you’re on.

Love Remembered

I can't think of what to say.
I forgot my lines, and everyone is staring at me waiting to see what I'll do.
My scene partner says "Ray what the hell is wrong with you?" In an annoyed, frustrated tone. I begin to improve the scene with the first thing that comes to mind.
"Uh..you're fat."
Her eyes widen as if she was a cat whose tail had just been stepped on.
"How dare you....How dare you call me fat. You're stupid!"
"I hate it when we fight."
"Me too."
"I love you."
"really?"
"Are you sure you wouldn't be happier with someone else?"
"I'm lucky I have you."
"Where's that coming from?"
"I'm a failure. I don't know why you married me."
"Please don't talk like this. You are talented."
"No I'm not. I'm stupid remember?"
"I didn't mean it. Come on let's have a drink and watch a movie honey."
"Yeah. A good drink will kill the pain."
Then we hug for what seems like an eternity. Her hair spray smells like coconut. I'm in love for real now.
"I love you."
"I love you too.
We kiss. Then I say "scene."
The crowd applauds, and what was once an anxiety attack is overcome by a sensation of excitement and accomplishment.
I had forgotten my lines, and had put on the greatest performance of my career.
After the show a fellow actor/friend approached me and said "Joey, your performance was outstanding! Would you be interested in trying out for the part of Dr. Drake Remoria in "Days Of Our Lives?"
"Ha ha..Good one Jim!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fiction Friday Challenge #122 Picture Prompt

Fiction Friday Challenge #122: Picture Prompt: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

It was a calm sunny day that dwindled away they way ice cream melts in your bowl. What was once solid and full of texture became a sweetened liquid stagnant without motion. All the townspeople turned off their lights, and tucked the young into little beds. Just as Papa closed his eyes to rest for the night he heard a howl of wind rush up against the windows. It whistled and rattled around the house like an angry demon looking for a way in. One by one, the lights of the town turned back on illuminating a soft yellow glow from each of the little houses of this once sleepy quiet town. The wind danced and raced around the stars and through the sky like wild kittens at play. The towns people watched from their windows with growing curiosity. The dogs barked and a child's frightened eyes peered cautiously out from under the shelter of his mothers arms held tightly around his fragile body.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stanimation Productions New Update

On July 24, 2009 a heavy metal band from West Virgina messaged me on my Youtube Channel, Stanimatorblue to request that I collaborate by using their music in my animation. I recently responded by creating an animated music video to the song "Bl99ding Into The Sunset" It's a song about mortality,and the perpetual angst of not knowing what the purpose of ones life is.

On September 2, 2009 I entered an animation into the Aniboom/History Channel People Speak Animation Competition. The voting process has begun. The winner gets a cash prize of $35,000, and a further development deal with History and Aniboom. So far, my entry, "Brother Can You Spare A Dime," has a two star rating, and 68 views. Your vote could really help me out here, so please watch and vote. Than you!

On Labor Day, 9/7/09, I was invited to the Congregation B'nia Shalom Labor Day BBQ to draw caricatures. My wife video taped me doing one of the caricatures of a little girl with her parent's permission of course to be part of a series of video demonstrations of my drawing talent.

These videos can be viewed on Youtube on the Stanimatorblue Channel.


My wife and I also found a great book called How To Draw Dragons And Other Mythical Creatures by Emmett Elvin, available at Barnes & Nobel $7.98.

I have never seen a better book on the subject matter for such a great price. Emmett explains how to draw different kinds of dragons, a centaur, a chimera, Medusa, a phoenix, and many more classic mythical creatures using a step by step process that is illustrated in detail. The first step of drawing a dragon is to draw what is called the"line of action." This is like a stick figure only it should be drawn in the pose that the dragon is going to be in the drawing. Then he draws basic shapes over that. A sphere for the head, a cylinder for arms, and cone shapes for claws, etc. Then Emmett explains how to draw the details of each part of a dragon's anatomy.
As a caricaturist I draw with a sharpie marker; without the ability to erase. Emmett's process seemed counter intuitive to me at first, because I have always just drawn what I vision in my minds eye without all the planning and the construction lines. Using a number 2 pencil, I followed along with the exercises in this book. My first dragon drawing looked really messy, and I thought "This doesn't work. I'm going to just draw it my way." Then I ran into the problem of losing the pose. With caricatures all I draw is the face, which is far simpler than dragons. In fact, a caricature of anything is far simpler than the style of illustration Emmett demonstrates in his "How To Draw Dragons And Other Mythical Creatures," book. I found myself having to draw the line of action, and the construction drawing before adding in the details in order to get the super detailed look for the dragon drawing that makes it look convincingly real. I have uploaded my dragon drawings to Flickr here:


Then I used tracing paper to clean up my lines before scanning it in to Photoshop CS. The magic wand tool allows me to select all the negative space around the lines, so I can create a PNG file to import into Flash Professional 8. There's something about Flash that I find far superior to any painting/design application I have ever used before. The pencil tool has three modes: curved lines, straight lines, and freehand mode. Using the curved line mode makes each line so precise, you would think I used french curves to draft them in. The paint brush tool has a "paint behind" feature that will paint behind lines and brush strokes as if they were on a separate layer. Sections of your work can be grouped and pushed back and forward within layers. All of these features, not offered in Photoshop saves hours of time.
After importing my PNG of the cleaned up illustration of my dragon attack scene, I created a new layer and traced over the PNG with the pencil tool. Then I locked that layer, and made a new layer to add in color. The fire spraying out of the dragon's mouth lights up the knight's shield. Making the fire a "movie clip," allows me to access filters where I can blur the flames make them look more convincing. The knight's shield casts a shadow over him. Making the knight a movie clip, allows me to adjust brightness. Toning his shiny armor down gives me the look I'm searching for in this illustration.



You won't find this exact illustration in Emmett Elvin's book, because I have used the lessons I've learned from it to create my own original illustration. I have a hard time with just copying a drawing out of a book, unless it's my first time drawing in a new style. It took several attempts to achieve this level of proficiency in this illustration. I intend on developing my skills more with an ambition to use my skills to draw for role playing games online and children's book illustration.

I am always trying to hone my creative talent into something that will have commercial and public appeal. When you have a wedding how do you proclaim your love for your solemate so that it's perfectly clear to everyone how deeply in love you are to each other? A caricature can exaggerate the expressive features of your face such as eyes, lips or hair, but especially the nose or even the ears! Drawing these features in a way that says who that person is makes it clearer than it could ever be in any photographic medium without computer aide. When you have a caricaturist perform at your party event, you get to see the magic of the artist's creative process.
How do you show your grandfather how much you appreciate the fact that he is still alive on his 80th birthday? Giving information, music selections, photographs, and family video footage, I can create your very own custom 2D animation. This is like a caricature, only it comes to life on camera to tell everyone your grandfather's story or any story for that matter. Animation is the best way to show someone what's on your mind.
Stanimation Productions aims to provide all of these services (caricatures, custom illustration, design, and 2D animation) to help you reach your goals with your family and at the workplace for affordable prices that compete with the more well known studios in your area.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Myrial the Mermaid


The assignment from http://writeanything.wordpress.com is to write 500 words based on this picture. I like doing these sorts of writing exercises because they help me to tap into my creative side, which is really valuable to my career as an artist.

Myrial the Mermaid
By Stan Levine

Eveleen was seven years old. She lived out in the country away from town with her grandparents in a little cabin by a lake. Eveleen was never aloud to be near the lake without an adult. The lake was cold, and people had drowned from hypothermia from being in the 20 degree water too long. Eveleen loved to swim. She could see the lake from the window in her room, and she liked to watch the sunset over it every evening. Sometimes she would wonder if there were mermaids that lived in the lake, or maybe even sea serpents. She had heard about the legendary Lockness Monster from her chapter books that her grandparents got for her from the library. Eveleen wasn't afraid of these things. She thought it would be cool if she could actually meet a real mermaid.

One evening as the sun set, she watched the lake from her room. Eveleen's grandparents had gone to bed early as they often did in the summer, because of the heat. Then she saw a tail splashing out of the water and what looked like a grown woman swimming around near the dock at the lake. Eveleen's heart skipped a beat. She knew she wasn't supposed to be at the lake alone, but she was compelled what she had just seen. She had to know that she wasn't just imagining things. Eveleen had thought she had seen mysterious things going on at the lake before, but every time she had been mistaken. Eveleen had developed a reputation for making up stories about the things she had thought she had seen at the lake, but this time she was prepared. She had brought with her a video camera that she bought with the money she had saved up over the years. She ran with a little awkward wobble as she wasn't the most coordinated of six year olds. She had the video camera recording at the dock by the lake when the mermaid surfaced right in front of her.
"Are you video taping me?" The mermaid asked.
"Yes," said Eveleen. "I hope you don't mind."
"Actually I do. I would appreciate it if you would put that away, and please don't show anyone."
"Aww...It's just that I've been telling people about you for years, and nobody believes me. Can't I have something to show them that I'm not just making all this up?"
"My name is Meryal, what's your name little lady?'
"Eveleen."
"Eveleen, I understand that you want to prove to people that you're not crazy; that you actually have seen a real live mermaid, but please take a moment to consider how this would affect my life. The last time someone got video footage of a mermaid, a group of scientists hunted down my mother and made a public spectacle out of her. The government had her locked away for years. I never did find out what happened to her."
Eveleen began to cry. "Oh..I'm so sorry! I didn't realize...My bad." She put the camera away in her bag.
"Tell you what." Meryal said."
"Don't tell anyone about me, and I'll give you the ability to breath underwater."
"Wow! That would be awesome!"
"Swear to me that you won't tell anyone about seeing mermaids, or show anyone you video...I don't want to see my fishy tail flappin about on Youtube, or I'm going to have to leave my home here and you would never see me again."
Eveleen was a lonely girl. There weren't any children to play with by the lake. It was just her grandparents and the other old people they knew. It was awesome to have a friend closer to her age. Eveleen promised not to tell anyone what she saw. Then Myryal held out her arms and said, "hold my hands, and I will give you the power to breath under water."
Eveleen was so excited about this opportunity that she threw all caution to the wind. She was not aloud to be by the lake alone, and she was definitely not aloud to talk to strangers by the lake, but Myrial was a nice mermaid.
Eveleen reached out to touch the mermaid's hands. Myrial gently grabbed onto Eveleen's hands. They were warm. Myrial drew Eveleen towards her. Then the mermaid's jaw unhooked, and her mouth got really big. Razor sharp teeth raced towards her, as the hungry beast pulled the child in. Blood splattered and sprayed all over the dock, and turned the water red. In the morning the patrolman found what was left of Eveleen's body. Her grandma was so upset, she had a heart attack and died. Eveleen's grandpa was stricken with rage. He was going to find out who did this to his precious grand daughter. Mr.Gratochia, Eveleen's grandfather had a lot of fishing friends that he assembled together to hunt down Eveleen's killer. They had all sorts of guns and explosives. They searched all over the lake with bait and traps, but they couldn't find anything.
Mr. Gratochia was getting very aggravated. Everyday after work, he would meet with his fishing friends at the bar, and drink until he passed out. His friends would have to carry him home, where he would wake up the next day on the porch with a headache.
That night, he decided to go hunting for the monster alone. He sat by the lake in a lawn chair on the dock with a twelve gauge rifle on his lap. As the sun set he saw a tail flap out of the water. He had already finished a bottle of peppermint schnapps, so he was slow on the draw. When he stood up, he lost his balance. The rifle went off in the air, as he fell back into the water. The mermaid devoured his fallen soul like a mad dog. His body flopped around like a rag-doll under the water, before the patrolmen found his body washed up with teeth marks all over his neck with his head missing.
A marine biologist was hired to study the bite marks. Dr.Green could not identify the animal that had killed Mr.Gratochia. Dr. Green took a special interest in this case. He had done a lot of research, and discovered the history of unexplained deaths that had occurred over the years by the lake. His reports convinced the military to set up explosive charges all over the surface of the lake. People around the lake had to evacuate. The government had seized the town by the lake. After the explosives went off several creatures were found, one of them was Myrial the mermaid, but nobody would ever know because the town had been closed off from the world by the government. To this day it remains as a secret base somewhere off the coast of New Mexico.

The End

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hide and Be Seeked



Hide And Be Seeked
By Stan Levine

"One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six-Seven-Eight-Nine-Ten. Ready or not, here I come!" I called out to the hiding children at Mathew's house. It was his birthday party. He was seven today. I was younger than him. The house was quiet. Some of the lights had been turned off, and it was dark. I didn't like the dark, because it was scary there. I could see shapes moving in the dark. Somewhere in between the space between space, i could see little tiny speckles of light clomping together to form shapes. I could see shadows of strange people lurking behind furniture. I walked into a bedroom, not knowing whose it was. Mathew had two older brothers, and a younger sister named Sally. Sally would have been my age, if she hadn't died of cancer last year. Suddenly the door gently closed shut. The room was pitch black, and I panicked. "Hey! Who closed the door?" There was the sound of laughing. "It's not funny! Open the door!" I screamed. The room got cold. I stumbled around blindly feeling out with my hands in front of my body for a wall. I had lost my orientation in the dark, and had no idea where the door was. "Don't be scared." The voice said. It sounded like a little girl's voice. "Let's have a tea party." It was Sally. I collapsed to the floor on my knees, and buried my head in my hands. "MAAAAAAAAAAAATHEEEEEEEEEEEEW!" I screamed in tears. Then something heavy fell, and shattered on the floor. I peaked out from a small crack I made between my fingers from my eyes, and saw the light shining out from beyond a door. I mustered together all of my courage and ran for it, but the door wouldn't open. I was trapped! "It's lonely here...Please don't go." The voice said. I stood still, and looked slowly over my shoulder. There was a glowing blue light hovering over the bed. "Come play with me." Then the furniture started to move again. "EEEEEEEEEEE!" She screamed, "Hide! They're coming for us." I dropped to the ground and crawled as fast as a lizard under the bed. There was stomping and howling and things in the room rumbled about. "It's Fred. He's a big Meanie. Don't let him find you, or he will hurt you to get to me." After a little while, the noises stopped. My heart pounded in my chest. The blue light glowed from under the bed. I saw her face. It was Sally. "Sally...Is it you?"
"Yes. It's me."
"What's it like....Being dead?" I had never spoken to a dead person before, so it took a little while to find the right words.
"It's cool. I can hear my Mommy's thoughts. She misses me. I'm sad here, and I'm afraid of Fred...That Meanie. Thank you for playing with me."
"Um..Sure."
Then she started singing some nursery rhyme as she disappeared. The door opened, and I left the room. Everyone sat around in the living room watching a movie when I walked in. Mathew said "Hey Ben, Where were you? We all got tired of hiding and we couldn't find you."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

The End

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Cave

It was a scorching hot afternoon. The air quivered from the burning hot pavement devouring the moisture in the air. The best place to be on a day like that is a swimming pool, and that's where I was. I stayed underwater with my snorkel, viewing the blurry blue world, floating around. It was hard to move. Moving always in slow motion. Like a dream, deeper I swam. The deeper I sunk, the darker the blue world got, and the sound of bubbles escaping from my mouth tickled my face. It felt like flying. I forgot I was in water, and I began to breath in as if I had gills. There seemed to be no bottom to this pool, as I sunk deeper until the water was almost absent of all light. Then I could feel a current which seemed to pull me towards a cave ahead.

"Should I enter the cave?" I thought. "How do I know if I'll be able to find my way back home?"
Do you think I should enter the cave?
Would you enter the cave if it was you?

You decide.
If I get enough comments encouraging me to enter the cave, I will continue this blog. We will find out what happed if I had entered the cave.
If there are no responses or responses that discourage me from having entered the cave, then this is the end of this story.

Fiction Friday: "Hello Jones"





So there I was in this bar. I can't remember the name of it, but it was on the corner of somewhere near Hyde St, San Francisco. The place was so packed that I had to press my shoulders up against people to get a drink. There were a few couples, and some ladies doing their night out thing. There was a straw-haired woman who gave me a glance from the corner of her eye. I walked up and said what I always say; my opening line,
"How's it going?"
"Good."
"What's your name?"
"Versilie."
With all the noise around me, I had no idea what she had just said.
"That's pretty. Where are you from?"
"I'm from the midwest."
"That's cool. Are you a student?"
"Yeah.."
It was like pulling teeth to get a conversation going.
"What-cha studying?"
"Micro-biology."
"Okay, now were getting somewhere!"
"Excuse me?"
"Oops...Did I just say that out loud?"
"Yeah. You did."
"So what is micro-biology?"
"I got to use the ladies room."
I began to think over the conversation in my head. She came here to relax, not to regurgitate meaningless jargon that she's been learning from her classes at SF State. When she comes back, I've got to get her talking about something she would actually want to talk about, or even better, just ask her if she wants to come back to your little studio apartment for a drink.
I waited by the bar..in the bar. Amusing that I'm by the bar in a bar...How many of these Jack Daniels have I had? I tried to count, but lost track after four. Suddenly, I realized that I had to pee. I walked back past the tables in search of a restroom. There were guys playing pool. A brunette hung her breasts low over the pool table to take her shot. Her boyfriend glared at me as if he was ready to snap his stick over my neck and use the two broken halves as stabbing weapons into both of my eyes. I decided to avert my eyes, that I would continue to enjoy seeing because I like being able to see. The Men's room was clearly not anywhere around here. Then I saw these stairs that went up to this balcony inside the bar. "This is a cool place." I remarked. I used the urinal. Washed my hands. "Damn! No paper towels." I waved my hands back and forth in the air to dry them. It helped a little but not enough. The sensation of having wet hands was really bothering me. "What do I do now?" I thought to myself. "If I dry them on my pants, then people will think I wet myself, and if I don't dry them, I might have to shake someones hand, and then they'll be grossed out by my wet hand. I continued to wave them back and forth, when the toilet flushed from behind a urinal. A moment later, the stall door opened, and this little thin guy dressed in black jeans, and a t-shirt walks out, and sees me waving my hands.
"Dude...Chill out man." He remarks.
He's right though. Why sweat the small stuff. So what if my hands are still wet. No. I remember one time when I had to shake someone's hand when they came out of the bathroom. It really bothered me, but am I the only one?
Feeling very awkward at this point, I decide to just bolt out of the bathroom, and when I opened the door, there were people everywhere. I can't squeeze through. I looked over the railing, and tried to measure the distance to the floor. It's dark, so I can't be sure. Maybe 9 to 10 feet. I can do it. I climbed over the railing and jumped down. The wind rushes past my face. The world is a blur as the darkness of the unknown distance to the floor rushed towards me. I felt the tile floor make contact with my running shoes. I flexed up my legs for the impact. The crushing force is so great, I fell over to my hands. Everyone stoped talking. The bar was silent. Everyone looked at me.
I didn'tt know what to say at that point. All I could think is that I've got to find a way out of here and fast. A bouncer blocked the exit. There was an open window next to the exit. I ran to it, and hurled my body through it. My body moved with the strength and agility of a cheetah into the darkness of the night. I turned left to continue my escape, but the back handed fist knocked me down to the ground. Three men dressed up in armani tuxedos stood over me. One took off his Rayband sunglasses and said
"Hello Jones!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ninjas At The Opera II

Hello. My name is Adam Rock. I'm a computer programmer who just witnessed my wife, Celcelia kidnapped by ninjas at an opera. It's about 11:30pm now, and I just got a text message instructing me to go to the corner of 10th and Howard Street or the next time I see my wife could be in a body bag surrounded by police. Celcelia works for a secret task force team in the U.S Military. She is a highly skilled soldier, but it seems that her identity has been compromised as she has just been abducted by what I suppose are some of her competitors from her job. "Why couldn't I have married a doctor, or someone who lives a less risky life style?" The thought flies through my mind. "Cause then you'd be board in your cubical, living your fantasy life through video games....That and the fact that she has a rock'in tight body!" I get to my car. She's a black Suberu Impreza. She's not the fastest car, but she's got torque and she turns like she's on rails. I turn my key, and she fires up, like a demon waking up from the dead. The opera is all the way across town from 10th and Howard, so I've got to step on it. The wheels spin a little before bolting out of the garage so fast, the car lifts up into the air about half a foot. Oncoming traffic honks and wheels lock, sending white smoke and the smell of burning rubber into the warm summer night air. I turn, and the whole car drifts sideways, but I never loose control. There's some traffic up ahead, so I have to drive up on the side walk and run over a whole bunch of chairs and tables seated outside of a restaurant. A police car observes this from the other side of the street. I see its lights lite up like a Christmas tree in my side view mirror. I turn down an alley near 10th and Howard and stop. I climb up on top of my car, and up on a latter on an apartment building. I find an open window along side of the latter, so I jump out to it, and climb up and through it. A young couple are making out on a red leather couch. "Don't mind me, I'm just walking through!" I shout out as I leave their apartment. 10th and Howard is just on the other side of this building. I take the stairs down to the ground floor. I open the door slowly to scope out the scene. A dark shape moves in the corner of my eye. Something hits my head, and everything goes black. In the darkness of my unconsciousness I hear voices....
"Tell me where the nuclear missiles are or your husband dies."
"They are heavily guarded, so even if I tell you it won't make any difference."
"You're going to help me Mrs. Rock, or my minions will torcher you."
"Go ahead and torcher me. I will never succumb. "
"As you wish..."
There is a silence.
My eyes start to lift. At first everything is bright and blurry, and the room is spinning. Then, gradually the room comes into focus. I am on a cement floor, and Celcelia is tied to a wooden chair. There is a white table in front of the room, and a mirror on the wall. Our captor is dressed in black robes. He is studying the contents of a case on the table in front of him. He walk over to my wife with a shot to drug her. Gunshots echo from somewhere outside the room. The ninja stops in his tracks. He unsheathes his sword, taps a few of the numbered keys on a console on the wall. The door unlocks, and he exits the room. I stand up, and untie my wife. We kiss. It feels good. Real good. Like the first time.
"I love you.." It escapes from my lips.
"I love you too!" She answers. "Are you okay?" She asks.
"I am now."
"I want you so bad..."
There are more gun shots, and sounds of fighting outside the room. We start making out, and wind up on the table making hot passionate love. The sound of people on radios are heard just outside the door.
"Is there anyone in there?" A woman's voice shouts.
The table is making pounding noises on the ground from the passion of our love dancing.
"No, that's just the sound of my jack-hammer!" I joke.
My wife breaks up into hysterical laughter. I can feel her body bounce as she laughs. I am so turned on.
"Well....Stop jack-hammering. We're coming in!"
There is a bang on the door and several people in SWAT gear barge in.
Someone on a radio announces that the area is secure.
We're safe....For now.

The End

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ninjas At The Opera

Dark cobalt-gray clouds swept past the bright yellow moon above the opera-house one warm summer night. A throng of theater junkies, and connoisseurs of great live performances lined up around the block like penguins in their tuxedos and black dresses. The usher showed my wife and I to our seats in the middle of a row towards the back on the ground floor. As soon as everyone was seated, the lights began to dim, and the orchestra began to play. The curtains lifted and the performers began to throw their strong powerful voices into the air like thunder. The couple in front of us leaned back, and the man put his arm around his date, and grabbed onto my wife's nee. My wife is a freakishly strong woman who studied martial arts ever since she was nee-high to a grasshopper. She had served in the Army, and had been transferred to a secret division of the US Government that cannot be named. She reached over with her hand, and pressed down on one of the veins on the top side of the man's hand. The man jumped a little, and pulled his hand away. He gave my wife a look, which was returned by a sinister glare of vengeance. The man whispered something to his partner, and they both stood up and left silently into the darkness of the theater. During the intermission we stretched in the isle. I never did like crowds. All those people rushing about at once made me fearful of being trampled to death in the event of a disaster, but I really had to use the bathroom. The pain in my side felt as though my insides had been lit on fire.
"Cecelia, I've got to use the bathroom."
She was well aware of my phobia of crowds, and she walked with me to find the Mens Room. When we found it I walked in cautiously. I had to maneuver around a blind corner to get to the urinals. Just as I approached the corner, a man dressed in all black robes with a sword strapped to his back rushed out at me. I swiftly glided back against the wall to dodge the shadowy figure, and he flung his leg around at me with a round house kick. I blocked his kick using moves my wife had taught me, and flung my hand out so fast my clothes made a rippling noise, breaking his neck on impact when the base of my palm impacted on the back of his head. The masked warrior collapsed in a heap on the carpet, and I stepped around to continue my quest to the urinal. The bathroom seemed unusually empty. I had anticipated at least twenty people lined up against the wall breathing over each others necks waiting to use the urinals. I hate public restrooms. They have got to me one of the most unsanitary places to be in public, but they are a necessity. Trying to put the incident of being attacked aside for the moment I forced my sphincter to relax, and relieved myself of the bottle of water I had drunk an hour before the show. But my adrenaline levels were pumping my heart like a fat kid on a trampoline. Who was the masked attacker? Is this part of the opera? Is this some sort of retaliation for my wife's aggression towards the man with the wondering hands? As these questions race through my mind, the light against the tile walls moves. My eyes focus on the reflections on the wall, and I see five masked human figures carrying various ninja weapons. They are stalking closer to me as I finish off. His sword is posed to decapitate me, and I strike with my foot as I zip up my zipper. The ninja is flown back, and passes out after smashing his body against a mirror behind him. The other ninjas side step to avoid being hit my their own. The remaining four are surrounding me. The one to my right is twirling nunchuks around, the taller one next to him has little stabbing weapons called sais. The next one over has a staff ready to strike, and the last one on the left is getting ready to fire a crossbow. Just then there is the screaming war cry of my wife. She comes down from a jump in the air, snapping the crossbowman's neck. The one with the staff strikes at her head, but she ducks, and moves in with an uppercut that breaks his jaw. She grabs his staff and pivots it under both of his arms. With a twist, I can hear both of the ninja's shoulders being dislocated. He drops to the ground in agony, as the one with the sais and the one with the nunchucks hide behind a stall.
"Are you okay honey?" She asks
"I'm alright, but what the hell is going on here?"
"I don't know but the intermission is almost over. If I miss a second of this opera, I'm going to be really pissed!"
I walked over to the exit, and she took the staff, and threw it so hard it went through the aluminum metal of the stalls, and knocked out the last of the ninjas that were in hiding. The two of the remaining ninjas collapsed into each other by the blow of the staff. One had fallen to a resting place on the toilet seat, while the other one hit the cold, urine-wet floor, knees first before falling face first into the other ones lap.
We had just made it back to our seats in time as the orchestra began to play. When the show ended everyone stood up, clapped, hollered and whistled out to the performers. My wife and I stood there with them clapping along, but all the time watchful for more ninjas.
There was a chandelier above us that neither of us noticed. The crowd began to move towards the exits. Just then, a shadowy figure swung down from a rope, picked up my wife and disappeared somewhere up and beyond the balcony.
I shouted my wife's name only for the chatter of the masses to swallow up my cry. I stood there in panic now, as there was nothing I could do, but I knew that she had a dangerous job, and that she was a highly skilled professional. I just hoped that she would be okay.
Then there was a call on my cell phone. It was on vibrate, and it buzzed like a pack of hornets. I grabbed it out of my jacket pocket. There was a text message.
"MEET ME AT THE CORNER OF 10TH AND HOWARD STREET OR THE LADY DIES" it said.

TBC

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inspiration: Where Does It Come From?

I recently became a member of a social networking site for artists
www.amateurillustrator.com

http://www.amateurillustrator.com/galleries/index.php?cat=16706

Last week, I was just getting to know the other artists on this site through the forum, and I was introduced to Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity, a podcast on www.ted.com. Elizabeth said in the video that creativity comes from a divine spirit. The Greeks called it a daemon, a sort of muse that would be the source of inspiration to an artist's work. Sometimes I'm up until the break of dawn working on a creative project that I feel will be a success. Then I publish it to Youtube, or send it to be reviewed by a potential employer. If I am rejected, rather than excepting full responsibility, and spending the rest of the week in depression I just accept the fact that the divine breath of the angels of genius wasn't strong enough to make it work. If it becomes a phenomenal hit, and sells for a thousands of dollars, rather than put the pressure on by expecting the same results on the next project, I just give thanks to my daemon for giving me the inspiration to have done such a great job, not knowing if I will ever do such great work again. I have to accept that its just not something in my power to produce every time I pick up that paintbrush; that I alone can not be a great artist, but it is something outside of myself that I have to tap into to achieve success. All I can do is be here at my easel everyday ready to create whatever comes to my mind, and I hope that whatever it is, has genius in it. In a sense, being an artist is a spiritual journey. A quest to be part of that act of creation that defines all things in our imagination.
So now you might be thinking something like, "Okay...So how do I do that?" It's not something we can control really, but it helps to be open. The first step is to believe that anything is possible. The more open we are to new situations and ideas about things, the greater a chance we have of finding inspiration in our work as artists. Being inspired is like being possessed. When Michael Jackson danced his heart out on that movie screen, there was something Godlike in him. Great art comes from powerful creative energies that we allow to take over our bodies. Once the spirit takes you, you are no longer in control of when you eat, rest, or speak. You must surrender your will to the spirit as you are working, because it won't be there for long, and there's no telling if it will ever be there again, but if you are always welcoming the creative energy in your life by forcing yourself to see things in different ways than you would otherwise, then there is a strong chance that you will find brilliance in your work, and become a great artist.

Happy hunting! :)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Santa in San Francisco

One day Santa Clause decided to visit San Francisco. He had heard that people where naughty down there. Every year he had entire books filled with the names of kids that wouldn't behave. He had a special computer that could see what all of the pigeons could see, so he used the birds as spies. Eight year old Billy would beat up the little kids on the playground at school, and seven year old Sally would always be putting her gum in other kids hair in the restrooms. Santa had had enough of it! He came down from the sky on his sled with his reindeers ringing the bells like a troop of soldiers at war. He tied them to a tree in the parking lot and stormed into a classroom and shouted "I've had enough of your misbehaving!" The teacher was right in the middle of teaching a math lesson when he barged in. The classroom got quiet. You could hear the sound of the clock on the wall ticking, TICK-TICK-TICK. The ticking echoed a little, and it reminded Billy of the sound the paddle would make on his hind when he got sent to the principal's office once a week. Santa's cold blue eyes combed the room for any eye-rolls, and he locked onto Sally. Her jaw dropped in disbelief as he approached her slowly. He big black boots made a hard knocking noise against the tile floor.
"Excuse me sir!" Said Mrs.Grophslonovich. "Do you have permission to be here?"
Santa stoped dead in his tracks. He was totally caught off gaurd. Nobody in thirty years ever challenged his authority to go anywhere. His head turned around slowly.
"Excuse me?" Said the white bearded giant.
"You can't just barge into a classroom without permission. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave," Mrs.Grophslonovich siad authoritativly.
"Alice," he called her by her first name. "I know all about you..." The color in her face lifted like an eraser just wiped it all away. "You would best not interfer with official Santa business if you know what's good for you."
"Oh, my God!" Alice remarked. "Ms.Caddle get security," she said gasping for air and swallowed her heart into her stomach.
"Yes mam," the teacher assistant stood up from her chair and head to the door.
When she had left, Santa walked up to Alice, and she watched and she steadily pivoted around him to be closer to the kids. Santa now stood alone at the front of the class, where Mrs.Grophslonovich used to stand to teach her pupils.
"Listen everyone...." Said Santa. "I know all about the bad things you have been doing every year. I have tried to encourage you to improve your behavior by not giving you the presents you ask for Christmas each year, but somehow you keep getting them anyway." The class started to laugh at Santa now, for they all figured he was just some duranged psicho in a Santa suit.
Then Santa brandished a gun, and shot everyone in the classroom. The gunshots echoed all through out the playground. The birds took off flying to save thier lives. The children all lay in a lifeless heap on thier desks. Blood flowed from thier bodies collecting into pools on the cold tile floor. Santa stood there to whitness the aftermath of his actions. "My God! What have I done! My children! My children!!!" He shouted. Just then a police officer cocked his gun at Santa's head, as he had snuck silently in. "Drop it or I'll drop you!" The San Francisco Police Officer shouted at Santa Clause. Santa turned around, and put his hand out to grab the gun out of the officer's hands. The gun fired, and Santa droped to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
The police officer had killed Santa, and that is the true story of how Santa Clause died.
The End

Friday, July 24, 2009

Making Pancakes...The Movie!

Making Pancakes
by Unknown Author


"Six year old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.
Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad.

He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove and he didn't know how the stove worked! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.

And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon 's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess.. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.

Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process!

That's how God deals with us.. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.

Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him.

But just because we might mess up, we can't stop try ing to 'make pancakes' for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried...

I was thinking and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that need rekindling or three words needing to be said, sometimes, 'I love you' can heal & bless! Remind every one of your friends that you love them.. Even if you think they don't love back, you would be amazed at what those three little words, a smile, and a reminder like this can do.

Just in case I haven't told you lately... I LOVE YA!!!
Suppose one morning you were called to God; do all your friends know you love them?
Send this to everyone you love, and send it back to the person who sent it to you.. And never stop 'making pancakes."


This is the story that has made its way all over the internet. It's on Facebook, blogs, chat forums, and now it has come to Youtube!

Here is a link to the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px19H8n-Sh0

Making Pancakes is now on Youtube on the Stanimatorblue Channel.
There are also some great merchandise available that features the artwork of this heart warming story on Zazzle.com. Here is the link for that:

http://www.zazzle.com/making_pancakes_t_shirt_2-235062493931808480

I am a freelance, independent artist. This is what I do for a living. The work I do is the "Pancakes," I bring to you. If you like my work feel free to download it if you know how, but please make a donation. Your donation is a most cherished "Pancake." Give what you feel is right. A pancake for a pancake.

Thank you for your support!


Click here to make your donation

Stan Levine