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Artwork Wednesday – Fandom Crossover Edits!

Once upon a time, I was chatting with Bella  about A Tale of Two Cities.  At some point during the conversation, we realized that lyrics from other musicals like Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera fit the characters from AToTC.  Cue massive feels and fangirling and ideas shooting back and forth–and then a Photoshopping frenzy!  🙂  I began making picture/lyric edits, and Bella has already featured some of them on her Tumblr fan blog, which is here.

Warning: Serious feels and heartbreak ahead for Phantom and A Tale of Two Cities fans.  What do you mean, I’m taking this too seriously?

 

See what I mean?

That crack you heard was the sound of my heart breaking…

SYDNEY

*gross hysterical sobbing*

As much as I love Sydney, Charles and Lucie are an absolutely precious couple, and they also need some love!

How about some Tale of Two Cities + Phantom?

I recently introduced another friend of mine to The Phantom of the Opera musical (the 25th Anniversary Concert, of course.  🙂 )  And she loved it–so much that she made some edits of her own!

#TeamRaoul!!!

*applauds*

Aw, yeessss!!

But it isn’t just musical crossovers I make, oh no.  Here’s Captain America + Bandstand:

I’m sorry.

And then The Alamo:

Now I’ve got to run, ’cause Chris is going to kill me.

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10 Favorite Musicals – Part 2

All right, the next  three musicals in my top favorites list!

#4 Jekyll and Hyde (1994 concept album)

Doctor Jekyll creates a serum that will divide human nature into its good and evil sides, hoping to do away with the evil.  Failing to secure a test subject for his serum, he uses it on himself, creating the personality of Edward Hyde.  But Jekyll finds himself unable to control and do away with Hyde.

This is another musical I never thought I would like, but I listened to it after Bella mentioned it on her blog.  After a few songs, I was intrigued.  After listening to the whole thing, I liked it.  After listening to it a few more times, I became obsessed and lived attached to my laptop via earbuds to listen to the music on a YouTube playlist.  (And then got the CD for Christmas.)  But let me reiterate that this is the 1994 concept album, not the final Broadway version  The Broadway version had dirtier subtext, a choppier story, and didn’t have Anthony Warlow as Jekyll (yes, that’s a deal-breaker here).

The 1994 concept album, however, provides a lot of food for thought.  The musical asks why man’s nature is the way it is, why he is capable of both justice and corruption.  Of both compassion and hatred. “Why does he revel in murder and madness; what is it makes him be less than he should?” Jekyll asks in one of the opening numbers.  But Jekyll is incorrect in his theory about how to fix the problem; his solution relies completely on science and man’s effort.  Not that either of those are bad in and of themselves—but if man’s nature is truly “a deal with the devil he cannot disclaim,” then can man really free himself by his own effort?

On the flip side, Jekyll does not blame the devil or God or anyone for mankind’s sinful nature.  It is something to be overcome, but it is not a victim status inflicted on him by some higher evil.  (I intend to do an in-depth post about this musical and its themes later.)  Jekyll also reexamines himself after his experiment goes wrong.  In the earlier number “I Need to Know,” Jekyll speaks generally of man’s sin, man’s weakness, mankind’s failure.  A sweeping generalization.  But then, in “Streak of Madness,” after Edward Hyde has been created, Jekyll  refers only to himself, his own nature, his own sin.  Hyde is an extension of his own personality, after all.

Ultimately, this story is a cautionary tale.  It shows a man (even a well-intentioned one) who tries to play God and rid himself of his evil nature through his own effort—and this he cannot do, and the experiment fails.  Oops, spoilers, but we all knew the story, right?  Speaking of the failed experiment, the overall feel of this musical is somewhat dark (thanks to the subject matter and to Edward Hyde).  I would have preferred it if it had a redeeming character like the Bishop from Les Miserables as a contrast to the mistakes the characters make.  There are also a lot of caveats: scattered cursing throughout, misuses of the Lord’s name, and a couple of songs with sexual subtext.  I skip the numbers “Bring on the Men,” “A Dangerous Game,” and “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch,” entirely.  And on other in Act II, but I can’t remember its name.

The score of this musical reflects the emotion and undertones of the story remarkably.  Minor chords, minimal orchestration during the quiet, tense moments, swirling, soaring melodies of triumph, blaring chords during Hyde’s rampages, they all compliment the lyrics perfectly.  The piano is a major player (ha!) in this musical score, and I think it contributes to the feel of the story better than another instrument would have done in its place.  Often, a piece starts out with a meditative piano introduction or slow, minor chords, and then builds to fuller orchestration.

It’s incredibly hard to pick a favorite number from this one.  As with Jane Eyre, it would be easier to list the songs I don’t care for, but after some consideration, I’m going with “This is the Moment.”  I’ve heard that this is a cliché number at sports events, but I think it fits writers just was well.  If not better.

#5 Les Miserables

Released convict Jean Valjean returns to stealing, and gets himself arrested again–but a Bishop shows him unexpected mercy.  Thereafter, Valjean resolves to become a better man and build a new life.  But to do so, he breaks his permanent parole and must constantly run from Inspector Javert, a man dedicated to justice, with no room for mercy in his life.

Yes, I left out several other themes of Les Mis.  But it’s hard to describe everything succinctly.  The story has themes of justice, mercy, forgiveness, friendship, redemption, fighting for your freedom, fighting for what you believe in, and probably others I haven’t noticed.

But I’d like to talk about the Bishop.  This character appears only in Act I of the stage show and in only 1—2 numbers (depending on how you count), but his brief presence affects Valjean’s life and therefore, the rest of the musical.  The Bishop probably knew that Valjean was an ex-convict, but nonetheless gave him shelter and food for the night, treated him like an ordinary guest.  And when Valjean was dragged back to the Bishop’s house the next day, with stolen silver in his bag, the Bishop said he gave the man that silver.  Which wasn’t true, and I don’t think the Bishop did the right thing to lie.  On the other hand, if he decided to gift the silver right then and there upon hearing the accusation, then it was technically true.  His intent was to show this convict God’s mercy.  Not only did the Bishop drop charges for the theft, he gave the silver to Vajlean, and also the fine silver candlesticks that Valjean had left behind.

But the Bishop’s mercy comes with a charge: “You must use this precious silver to become an honest man.”  Valjean isn’t getting a get-out-of-jail-free ticket for stealing the silver.  He must repent and change his ways.  Of course, the Bishop has no way of knowing for sure that Valjean will do this—but that almost makes his mercy the more poignant.  This man is willing to give his silver to an ex-convict who might see the treasure, not as a second chance, but as an easy way out.

Though the Bishop has no way of knowing how Valjean uses the gift, Valjean does repent of his ways and use the silver to become an honest man.  He takes the charge so seriously that, when he hears that a man has been mistaken for him and is going back to prison, the real Valjean shows up at court and reveals himself to be prisoner 24601 instead.  Valjean’s kindness and industry and faithfulness uplifts many other characters in the musical.  And it all started with a simple act of mercy.

I do have to mention some problems with the musical: there is scattered cursing through out, some suggestive lines, and a couple of songs inappropriate for general audiences.  “Lovely Ladies” is about prostitutes, and “Master of the House,” is completely inappropriate and does nothing for the story.  We just skip those two songs.  🙂

Having waxed eloquent about the Bishop, my favorite song from Les Miserables is not one of his numbers, but the Epilogue.  It’s a bittersweet ending to the story, but a beautiful one, especially once the choir joins in the melody and the music soars.

# 6: The Secret Garden

Spoiled orphan Mary Lennox comes to live with her uncle Archibald Craven on the Yorkshire moor.  There is nothing to do in that old house with over a 100 shut up rooms—but when she goes outside, Mary discovers the waiting world of the gardens of the manor.

Yech, I did it again.  Turned the story totally cheesy.  Ahem.  This was another musical Bella recommended.  It had to grow on me, but it quickly became a favorite.

Though adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel of the same name, the musical focuses on not only the children seeking a place to belong, but on the grown-ups of the story coming to terms with the past and moving on.  It’s an interesting dynamic that was hinted at in the book, and the musical expands upon it.  Which changes the story a good deal, but I think that expanded them works well in the musical and makes it a good story on its own terms.

The music is my favorite aspect of this musical.  Yeah, I say that a lot, but since these are stories told through music, the music does have to be good.  It has almost a turn-of-the-century opera feel to it, an old-fashioned, classical style of music and singing.

And my favorite number from this story is “Come to My Garden.”  In fact, I was learning to sing that song during voice lessons when the pneumonia hit last year (and lasted for 3 months).  The sickness revived the asthma I had as a kid, and so long story short, I’ve had to quit voice lessons.  And for a while, I feared that listening to that song, the beautiful number I wanted to learn, would just remind me of what I’d lost.  But oddly enough, it doesn’t hurt to listen to that song.  “Come to My Garden,” actually gives me hope that perhaps I can heal from this; something about the lyrics and melody, gentle yet soaring, just says “hope”.

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Picture Saturday: Year-End Art Meme!

First off, a schedule change: I might move my Picture Saturday posts to another day of the week, as I often have a lot of time to draw on Saturday and Sunday.  It makes no sense to post before I have the most time to draw, but I haven’t yet decided which day to show the week’s artwork.

On a totally different note, I went through my folder and sketchbooks the other day and found a shamefully large number of unfinished sketches.  So I’m going to make an effort to finish those before taking on too many new drawings.

And leaving “too many” unspecified creates a handy loophole to exploit.  🙂

Until I get the old stuff finished, all I have to show this week are two paintings.  The first is a freehand…

…meaning, remember, that there’s no line art.  I adapted the landscape from a photograph on my “West, Pioneer!” Pinterest board, and I think the painting turned out pretty well.

The other painting is this…

…one that I rendered in colored pencil, but thought would also look good in watercolor.  And I like the watercolor version better than the pencil version.  Not bad for my first time painting a Mexican character!

But since that’s not much art, I decided to create a year-end art meme.  Feel free to fill it out yourself if you want, but I officially tag Julia, Bella, and Treskie!

Rules:

1.) Insert a picture of your artwork (or quote, if you’re a creative writer) from this year to answer each question.  If, however, you don’t have a picture or scan, or don’t have one of good quality, you can describe the piece.

2.) Drawings and paintings aren’t the only artwork to showcase–you can include pictures of sculptures, jewelry, sewing, knitting, set design, dance, quotes from your writing, anything that requires creative energy.

3.) Tag someone else!

First piece of artwork/writing/performance done in 2016

A colored pencil sketch of the yellow and green rings from The Magician’s Nephew.  I like the way the lighting on the green ring turned out.

Last piece of artwork/writing/performance done in 2016

This one.

Unless I sketch something else right before midnight.

A new medium/style/technique you tried this year

White pencil on toned paper!  I love this mixed media combination because it creates easy shadows and highlights, and it’s easy to sketch on because the colored paper hides accidental dark marks better than white paper would.

For those of you just joining us, those characters are Sydney Carton and little Lucie from A Tale of Two Cities.

A pose you’d never drawn before (or just something in your creative field you’ve never done before)

Actually, I drew several new poses this year:

This is Charles Darnay from A Tale of Two Cities.  I drew a lot of TTC fanart this year.

I discovered with this picture that colored pencil also works on toned paper.

The piece of artwork that others liked the most

Probably this one of Micheal Maguire that I drew for Gingersnap.

Your personal favorite piece from 2016! (Explain why!)

This one, hands down.  It’s my personal favorite because, come on, it’s cute!  (Can I say that even though I drew it?)  Also because I managed to draw a baby that actually looks like a smiling baby and not some weird, more-horrifiying-than-cute humanoid face.  And thirdly, because I drew two of my characters in a pose I’d never tried before, and it turned out “surprisingly okay,” in the words of Sherlock.  🙂

3 things to improve in your artwork in 2017

1.)  Well, I want to improve my colored pencil technique.  It often ends up sketchy when I wanted it smooth, and I often can’t get smoothly blended colors or really dark shadows.  Maybe I need to learn better control?  I dunno.

2.)  Learn sketch more quickly.  The jury’s still out on whether I can but just get caught up in drawing/perfecting details, or whether I truly need to learn this.

3.)  Further polish my watercolor technique.  Specifically, learn to layer color better and to paint a little more loosely without refining details into oblivion.

I’m a perfectionist, in case you couldn’t tell.

Other things to improve: more complex poses, more varied facial expressions on fanart and my character drawings, more figures in one drawing, and more complicated backgrounds.

3 new things to try in 2017 (such as styles, mediums, poses, backgrounds, character to draw, contests to enter)

1.)  More fluid and watery watercolor technique (without obsessing over depicting perfect details).

2.)  Draw and refine my characters’ appearances, facial expressions, and activities.

3.)  Drawing and painting bokah (out-of-focus backgrounds) with an in-focus foreground object.

What do you enjoy most about creating?

The moment when the messy sketch begins to look like the image or character I want!  And of course, the finished product!

 

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Picture Friday

Posting a day early because TOMORROW IS CHRISTMAS!  And I shall be busy either celebrating or chilling with my family–Chris and I have a tradition of watching A Child’s Christmas in Wales together every Christmas Eve.  So, long story short, I shan’t have the time or interest to post on Saturday.

Sydney Carton must be my art muse.  A reasonable explanation for why I draw him all the time.  Wonder what he would think about that if he knew?  He probably wouldn’t care and would ignore me whenever I sat near to draw him.  Which, on the one hand, means he wouldn’t immediately get up and leave in a huff,  ruining the pose and reference.  On the other hand, he wouldn’t necessarily bother to sit still.

It suddenly occurs to me how insane I sound to people who are not writers, and who therefore do not have conversations with imaginary characters, their own or others’, in their heads on a daily basis.  🙂

Anyway, this is the scene from the book in which Sydney wanders Paris the night before Charles’s second trial and after gaining secret entry to the prison if needed.  That wandering scene haunts me; in a way, Sydney is lonely in the sense of being physically alone and also alone in knowledge, having formed his final plan and resolved to act upon it.  But it’s not the utter isolation, the void of comfort and cheerful company, that he faced earlier in the story.  Not to mention the fact that we get a little of Sydney’s backstory here, and that he remembers Scripture for possibly the first time in years.

On a whim, I drew Christine Daae getting ready for a performance.  Hence the slightly exaggerated facial features (I love drawing actor/actress characters in stage makeup).  In my imagination, she’s in a play or opera centering around the Greek myth of Persephone.

Michael Maguire as Enjorlas from the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables.  I drew this as a last-minute present for Gingersnap, and I do mean last-minute.  Around 2:00 p.m. the day of her birthday, I realized I hadn’t gotten her anything–my contribution is usually a decorated cake, which was out of the question due to my recovering from sickness–and the drawing idea popped into my mind.  I found and printed a reference photo, dashed back to my bedroom, and sketched and erased with all haste.  Approximately 5 hours later, the drawing was finished–and even then, I had to dash back to my room while family and guests served themselves dinner (it was a buffet-style spread) and finish the jacket.  But Gingersnap was pleased; Michael Maguire is one of her favorite singers.

I had “Red and Black” in my head almost the whole time I was drawing.  Not that that’s a bad song to have stuck in your head…

Finally, the happy Sydney picture I promised!  Here he is with little Lucie and in a scene that isn’t exactly from the book, but one that might have happened.  And it makes me happy.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

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