Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doctor Jean's Hoodoo Emporium


I haven't "produced" much lately.  Though I did finish a sketchbook and started a new, third book.  Each book seems to take on a consistent style by the end of its life.  My first book was filled mostly with imaginary composed scenes; weird people doing things somewhere, short comics and other "complete" illustrations.  My second book was composed of mostly practice and working on drawing basics.  A lot of it was still from imagination but worked on different styles of people, facial expressions, animals, perspective.  And now my third book is starting to take on the personality of mostly observation drawing-- people I see at bars, cafes, or on the street, a tree, and my hands.  So far for this book imagination drawing is less attractive to me, and much less addicting than trying to draw live people.  I like the pressure of having sometimes only 15 seconds to try to capture someone's pose before they shift weight from one leg to the other, or walk away completely.  There are many starts and stops as that person waiting in line decides to go somewhere else just as I've drawn a shoulder and the curve of their upper back.  It's even more exciting trying to draw people without them catching you looking at them again and again as you draw their brow ridge or double-chin while they read the news and sip on lattes.

Here are two drawings from the end of my second book, the second being screen shots that looked fun to draw from a Jimmy Stewart movie that I saw here:

 I've also tried my hand at Japanese/Chinese brush painting with black ink.  Overall I'm satisfied with my first efforts, though I think I have much work to do.  I searched for sumi images and just tried to copy those, except for the second one below; I made that one up and tried a Van Gogh style sky.  Either way I'm hoping painting with varying degrees of black and grey will eventually translate to my miserable watercolor efforts (explanation below).

I bought a small piece of art from Marcel, who runs Doctor Jean's Second Coming Hoodoo Emporium, during a recent trip to New Orleans.  He wasn't so thrilled with people taking pictures, but I wish I could show what he had at his little stand down by the water, somewhere near the cathedral on Royal St in the French Quarter.  While rather pricey for what they actually are, his pieces looked amazing.  He transferred photographs of blues musicians and old jazz musicians onto rotten pieces of cabinet and door that he stripped from his rotting house (from hurricane Katrina).  The wood had amazing texture because of the damage and the chipped paint, so I think the trick besides having an interesting photo/drawing to transfer, is finding unique looking wood.

The technique is simple and is essentially this or that:  Print out whatever image you want using a laser printer (important).  Using Liquitex Gloss Gel (regular or heavy), coat the surface of whatever you want to transfer the image to, press and smooth the image onto the surface, and let dry completely.  Then once dry, wet the back of the paper and rub off the paper gently.  It should just flake off, leaving your image on the transfer surface.  If you've got $150 dollars laying around I suggest calling Marcel to check availability of his Billie Holiday piece of cabinet.  It looks absolutely amazing, and is probably the size of a standard piece of computer paper...but rotten wood, instead.  Too bad his website doesn't have any images, only a phone number.  Here is my sketch of the Buddy Bolden photo I bought (also on a piece of cabinet).

Hoodoo is essentially the American Southeast's adaptation of voodoo, taking folklore and magic from African slaves and Native American culture to make their own mysterious brew.  According to Marcel, the aforementioned artist in New Orleans, Doctor Jean was a well known black Hoodoo Doctor, making remedies and potions to cure or kill anything.  As his renown grew, so did his wealth and property and slave work-force, until eventually his tangible power was too threatening to the white Southeast political bigwigs and they took it all away from him.  Marcel didn't envision becoming a land-grabbing slave owner, but only to pay homage to the original Hoodoo Doctor who was admired and feared across Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, and to evoke all the African American mystique and pride that came with the name Doctor Jean's Second Coming Hoodoo Emporium.  Anyone have any more info.  Surprisingly hard to find on the net.

Whenever I'm feeling motivated I attempt to watercolor paint, which pretty harshly illuminates how little I know about painting.  I'm happy with the watercolor images I posted here, but the majority of what I make are pretty terrible.  I need to figure out how the pigments interact and how to control the paint.  This week I'm getting together with Paul to learn a thing or two about color theory, and hopefully some watercolor technique.  Click his name to check out his site.  His illustrations are amazing, and to see him draw in person is intimidating.  Efficiency is his game, rarely a single wasted line leaves his pen.


Anonymous said...

I hope that the disappearance of the Wassoulou picture not indicate the total neglect of that music, some still hoping to collect a drop more.
Moreover, I think the wassmusic stimulates inspiration.

Tim said...

No no, not completely gone. Just a fresh face. The necklace in the picture is from Wassoulou still (the mask from southern Guinee).