Graphic Best Picture Oscars 2015 Title Sequence

For the sequence of “Best Picture” nominations during the Oscars 2015 Ceremony, show producer Lee Lodge asked the graphic designer Henry Hobson and animation studio Elastic to create graphic titles for each movie in competition : Birdman, The Imitation Game, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, Selma and American Sniper.

Disney's Pool of Light and Background Theory

Something I’ve been reading up on recently in my quest to provide backgrounds for my drawings is Disney’s focus on pools of light in backgrounds, the idea being that backgrounds, while important and containing valuable information, are set pieces. A background on its own isn’t really complete - it’s a stage without actors. The pool of light refers to the area that is supposed to catch the viewer’s attention, it’s where most of the action in the scene will take place and where the majority of the important information for the viewer is located. Essentially, to continue the theater stage metaphor, it’s the spotlight of your composition.

Cinderella has some really, really excellent examples of this in its background paintings:

These are some more blatant examples, but will work for what I wish to talk about, in that this theory comes down to two things: color and shape.


The pool of light deals not just with making an area in the scene brighter or lighter than another, it focuses on contrasts. While dark/light is part of this, there’s also the contrasts of tone, hue, and saturation. In Cinderella’s palette, this is consistently different warm grays used as the light, while dark blues are used as the shadow. When viewed on a color wheel, the colors are often near-complementary, but not exactly:

What’s important to take away from this is that these colors blend into every object, which allows the whole composition to appear consistent. 

Of course, the shadows/hilights don’t have to be the traditional warm light/cool shadows. This is just what the example uses.


Secondly, and just as important, is the shape of the light itself - because it shows exactly where the character will be moving, and what we should be focusing on. Even when not in animation, this is surprisingly effective. For example, look at the two screenshots of the stairs - would you expect Cinderella to go down the stairs, or across towards the rafters? Would she bring the breakfast up the stairs, or across the hall?

What’s fascinating is that this is absolutely everywhere in old Disney movies and shorts. Literally every background uses this concept. It’s not something you really think about while viewing the film, but as an artist, the ideas employed by these movies are incredibly useful.

(All screencaps used in this post are from disneyscreencaps, which is also a great place to research this further.)

Art has become too ironical and unintelligible for its own communicative good: It only speaks to those in the esoteric know — those willing to play the art game. Narcissistically fetishized, advanced art loses relational purpose. Caught up in itself, it forgets the audience, which is expected to accept it on its own terms, uncritically: Whatever common ground existed between advanced art and the audience collapses. Holding up a mirror to itself rather than to the audience — as art has done since Aristotle noted the cathartic effect of the insight it afforded — art loses its audience. Thus, advanced art loses its foundation in human experience.
—  Taken from A Critical History of 20th-Century Art by Donald Kuspit.

Black Mountain College Bulletin, 1944. Source. Origami construction originally part of the free-style pre-course of Josef Albers at the bauhaus. Included is his revised essay from 1934 Concerning Art Instruction:

When Rembrandt was asked how one learns to paint, he is said to have answered “One must take a brush and begin.” This is the answer of genius which grows without school and even in spite of schooling. At the same time we know that he had a teacher and became a teacher. Delacroix went further when he wrote in his diary: “How happy I should have been to learn as a painter that which drives the ordinary musician to despair.” He meant by this the study of harmony and especially the “pure logic which is the basis of all reason and consistency in music.”

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The Missed Connections - Jarrod Matthew

My piece explores through the medium of glitch art the beauty of the missed connections portion of Craigslist. Everyone for the most part knows what Craigslist is, they think they know the kind of place it is, but how many have been to the missed connections section. For those who aren’t familiar it’s where a person is able to go in hopes of reconnecting with a person they were possibly too shy to talk to in some instant at a super market or something, maybe the conditions weren’t right, one way or another they lost their chance to ‘connect’ with them. This is their second chance, their shot in the dark. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?. If a person falls in love with a stranger because of the way they twirled their hair standing in the line for groceries, does it make it less real?  It’s far and few that they probably check the missed connections but stranger things have happened, and so what this page has become is this giant cache of people leaving messages about secretly admiring someone from across a restaurant. It’s this concept of serendipity that maybe they could find one another again, that if it’s meant to be then they will find one another and It won’t matter that instead of talking to her you decided to dart your eyes away to the tabloid magazines in the aisle. What they’ll do is list all these details to narrow it down, black nail polish, heart necklace, anything and I find it all incredibly fascinating, I have spent hours going through these ads because they are so raw and the persistence in the face of the odds is beautiful even if at the same time it’s a little embarrassing we’re all so afraid to talk to one another. So with The Missed Connections what I wanted to explore was the idea of  a fleeting moment, memory, fear, anxiety, and the fracturing of our relationships to strangers who maybe didn’t have to be a stranger.

Cicely Mary Barker, “The Poppy Fairy”.

Cicely insisted throughout her career that, although she took art classes and experienced artistic inspiration through contemporary art movements, she rejected any specific art theory and remained true to herself and her own aesthetics.

"Judith Slaying Holofernes" - Artemisia Gentileschi

I have been waiting to write about this painting.  Clearly Baroque has and will forever be my favorite movement. Dat Side-lighting.  But to be earnest, I cried at this painting.  It finally is in town for the first time in its existence.  The artist herself was raped and this is by far the most vengeful and female dominant version of this tale.  Most paintings, in contrast - Caravaggio for example - the women shy away from the blood, which tends to be more minimum.  They aren’t exerting force.  Here, we see the two women immersed in the act, almost to the point of bloodlust.  She grips at Holofernes’ hair with total force and control.  It is easy to project the personal experience of Artemisia’s young rape onto this painting as the artist reaping revenge in the best way.  These theories are just starting to form, however.  As an understudy of Caravaggio, Artemisia has been dismissed until the 1970s by the male-centric academia as just a ‘copy’ of her mentors.  I am so happy to finally see her growing recognition and appreciation.  Female Renaissance artists are few and far between so this one deserves her new found, travelling fame.

Art does not reside in the artwork alone, nor in the activity of the artist alone, but is understood as a field of psychic probability, highly entropic, in which the viewer is actively involved, not in an act of closure in the sense of completing a discrete message from the artist (a passive process) but by interrogating and interacting with the system “artwork” to generate meaning. This field provides for transactions to take place between the psychic system “artist” and the psychic system “viewer”, where both are, to use Umberto Eco’s phrase, “gambling on the possibility of semiosis”.
—  Roy Ascott, Towards a Field Theory for Postmodernist Art (1980)