Saturday, 12 November 2016

Brilliant People

The great Austrian-born filmmaker Billy Wilder once said "The Austrians are brilliant people. They made the world believe that Hitler was a German and Beethoven an Austrian."

On making another European witch - an Austrian this time, I was thinking about how much I loved my trip to Vienna when I was 6 or 7 years old. What a magical place. Plus I just happen to think that the German language is the most attractive, fantastic sounding language. Yes, I know, German is spoken a little differently there, but it's still German, and I love it. ;)

This witch came together very quickly because I'd already designed her and had her clearly in my mind ages ago when I did the witch illustration. Can you point her out?! Unlike most of my character designs which try to embody as much of that culture as possible, this one is a little more vague. I've made her tall, strong, authoritarian, confident and with a big red almost beehive hairstyle. Her Edwardian brooch has a skull on it and she wears stripes. Her 'familiar' (witch's pet) is a black Great Dane. I photographed her next to a can of Red Bull because it's an Austrian drink, created by an Austrian entrepreneur! Didn't know that now did you?! (I didn't either until 2 weeks ago).

I usually share many work-in-progress photos so that you can see how she was created, but this time I am holding some back... partly for this reason! Rest assured, you'll see so much more in my upcoming book. Hope that doesn't cause any disappointment and that you enjoy these photos below.

Don't forget, you can see all my characters from my project - Good Witches Bad Witches ™  here!

In other news.... 

Flown up front with my pilot friend in his Cirrus back to San Francisco again! See the exciting night landing here!

The US election happened earlier this week, which meant that as a Greencard-holding resident here in the US I could observe the election, but not vote. I went to the polling booth here in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, and was thrilled to be invited inside for a minute or two and shown how the machines worked.







And also Halloween, my favourite time of year has come and gone, and I shared a post about what I got up to here.










On work related matters, stay tuned (that means keep checking in on at the Facebook page and Instagram) to see more of the exciting sets I am building for Good Witches Bad Witches  ....!






Please scroll past the note for my Austrian friends to see photos of the new witch - the Austrian Witch (die österreichische hexe)!

Liebe Freunde in Österreich,

hier habe ich eine Nachricht für Euch….

Mit sieben Jahren besuchte ich Wien und verbrachte dort eine ganz wunderbare Zeit. Was für ein schöner Ort ! Dahin möchte ich gerne zurückkehren und mehr über Österreich entdecken.
Als Künstlerin arbeite ich an einem Projekt „ Good Witches Bad Witches“ und modellierte dafür Hexen aus der ganzen Welt. So sind bereits Hexen aus England, Schottland, Frankreich, Italien und anderen Ländern entstanden.

Und diese ist nun die österreichische hexe.Ich stellte sie aus Fimo Material und Draht her. Sie sollte ein bisschen furchteinflößend sein, doch hoffe ich, sie gefällt Ihnen dennoch.

Für Ihr Interesse an meinen Arbeiten und Charakteren möchte ich mich sehr bedanken. Wenn Sie mehr darüber erfahren möchten, können Sie auf meiner Facebook Seite, meinem Instagram, oder über Twitter Informationen erhalten.

Vielen Dank!

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Me and My Monsters

As a seven year old English girl, innocently drawing vampire bite-holes on my neck using my mum's eyeliner, I never imagined living where the screen monsters I adored came from. I loved 'American Werewolf in London' (and anything Rick Baker was involved in) so much that I wore out the VHS tapes. I grew up with Hammer Horrors and adored Bela Lugosi.

This Halloween almost passed me by. Of course I celebrate it all month with as many Halloween themed events I can get around to, but this year was different. Work and deadlines overtook everything and I sat gloomily in front of my computer working on Halloween night. It was at 9 pm that I glanced at a news story which floated my way. "Visit the 'Best Halloween House in LA'" was all I needed to read. Threw on a Snow White costume and was heading there 5 minutes later. That's another thing I love about LA - I'm right smack in the middle of everything worth knowing about, come Halloween.

The house in question belongs to director Rich Correll. For the entertainment of trick-or-treaters he decks his house and garden with his seriously impressive horror film prop collection, complete with lighting and skeletons dancing on the roof. Actors as zombies and terrifying clowns emerge from behind tombstones in the thick fog that passes across his front lawn. An animatronic witch stirs a cauldron at the front door. A towering Bigfoot looms over visitors in the hallway and Jack Torrance (AKA Jack Nicholson as murderer from 'The Shining') grins at you as you leave with sweets. Another sinister costumed character hands out more candy to the massive crowds which gather outside.

Yes - it really is the best Halloween house in LA.

It was too fantastic to share with photos alone, so I took a quick video (which I've uploaded to my personal YouTube account here) as well.


Note that the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel is here.

I was probably away from my work only an hour - but what a cool way to do Halloween in a flash.

Here's a greeting from the Texan witch of Tall Tales ('Good Witches Bad Witches'). Enjoy the photos below and check back soon for more updates on 'Good Witches Bad Witches'. I have a new witch I just finished sculpting which I will share very soon...










Rick Baker, Halloween is Los Angeles, horror collection, Rich Correll, best house for trick or treating, best house in los angeles, house of horrors

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Inspiration : Imitation

If you're an artist then chances are you've read many posts about the dreaded topic of art theft. It's something I'm often sorely tempted to discuss... but don't. Today I will.

A brilliant Disney artist (and lovely chap) Chris Sanders recently wrote about an incident when he was a child and a fellow student in art class copied his idea / design and was given recognition and credit whilst he was not. It's not surprising that he remembers this and wrote about it here.

This did not happen to me when I was a child. It didn't happen to me until seven years ago, which was when I started working as an artist. It was unpleasant.

It's happening more today and with more at stake it is more than unpleasant.

My intellectual property - Good Witches Bad Witches  is the current target. (If you follow this blog then you doubtless know all about this project. If you don't then see more here and here.) Sometimes other artists see my hard work and think "that looks neat, I'm going to do that too"... and that's when the sting that Chris Sanders wrote about comes into play.


My artist friend Stephanie said it better than me when this was happening to her two years ago. She wrote that it's a mistake to confuse theme and style. I agree.

In my case...

Theme
A theme could easily be 'witches'.
Many artists before me have designed their own witch characters. Search Google images and see an array of witch designs. (They don't really resemble my characters).
Now more specifically, search Google images for 'polymer clay witch sculpture' and you'll see some more. (None of them resembles mine).

Style
Again, said so very well by my friend Stephanie, "the style is personal to every artist. It’s his/her own point of view of the world s/he sees."
If I choose to sculpt my witch characters using polymer clay and I give them all my same deep furrowed brow (my signature character style), cute bulbous nose and wide eyes, crazy eccentric hairstyles, put them in layers of fun patterned fabrics, stripes and polka dots, patched fabric, knit finger-less gloves, aprons with pockets including kooky objects such as a pet rat, vial of poison, a bone etc... (all running motifs in my work)... then this is my unique interpretation of a witch.


Creating Good Witches Bad Witches ™, writing the stories, coming up with each character, the motifs that makes them a recognizable brand and developing my own style and methods all represents years of solitary hard work. Years of abstaining from social events, proper vacations, sleeping in. The past few years of my life have been dedicated to Good Witches Bad Witches ™.

Since I started it I've had countless people write and tell me how much they enjoy watching the project unfold. People have written me emails, left comments, asked questions, and all this interest in this world I have been steadily building has been such a joy to me. Every comment and social media 'share' has meant something to me and I've never taken peoples' interest for granted.

Unfortunately, I have also had a few people imitate my work - sometimes creating exact design replicas and going on to sell them for profit! So not only was it plagiarism but in the case of Good Witches Bad Witches ™ - copyright infringement - which led to the unpleasant task of issuing letters to let these people know. It makes me question whether or not to share my work so openly with so many, it distracts me from my goals, it's damaging, frustrating and such a shame. Often the people who do it don't intend any malice, but simply do not consider that what they are doing is so incredibly wrong.


Scroll past the conclusion below if you want to learn more about the personal story behind the brand and me, the artist. *

To finish up...!

I say to artists; if you see another artist's unique work that you like - be inspired! Enjoy what others have done before you and let it feed your imagination. Then go on and create your own things, and in your own style. Tell your stories, your way.

Also spoken by the wise and wonderful Stephanie, "imitation is a valuable part of the learning process". But once you upload a copy to the internet then do give credit (and links) to the artist whose work you imitated. Be wary that it's illegal to profit from another's design. And as soon as you've started mastering an art-form there's no need to keep copying - that's when it's time to develop your own style.



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* For those interested in the personal story behind me and my work, here it is. And it's about to get personal - something I have never done on this blog before.

I was born in a little village in the English countryside. I fought great obstacles and suffered blood, sweat and tears just to be able to live in the United States - so that I could be in Los Angeles and pursue a career here.

It cost me everything I had. I made it. 

I established Tall Tales Productions. And all the while I wrote. I came up with ideas which were entirely my own, did extensive research and arrived at something I fell in love with and live to work on - Good Witches Bad Witches . If you follow my work then you'll know that I've been writing and designing all these characters - also sculpting them using clay to add visuals to my script. 
Each character I make has a different cultural background. So for each one I research a country and speak to natives (to make sure that nothing is culturally insensitive and that I make the most of the best aspects and traditions of a culture). I think about her character and brainstorm ideas to arrive at the quirks you see in her design - such as pockets full of pet rats (this design) or a hen nesting in her hat (this design). I research costuming, types of cultural design such as for the Swedish witch who has a 'Scandinavian' pattern to her cauldron, created after hours spent trawling through images of viking longboats and relics and then incorporating into my own playful design and figuring out how to carve it around a cauldron. Or researching breeds of owls and how an armillary sphere works for this design

I've spent the past few years developing my own style - my own special unique stamp on each character. I've worked to create running themes in my characters so that people will know at a glance that it's part of  Good Witches Bad Witches  - that it's my work. It's a Caroline McFarlane-Watts character. I've also developed my own techniques through trial and error and countless hours of work, failures, successes. I'm accessible on social media - answering people's questions about how I did something, offering advice and sharing techniques and sources for materials. 
Gratitude to the people who realise and respect this (and credit me as a source of inspiration when I am one to them). 
Huge thanks to those who engage with and share my work. 

So there you have it! A personal insight into the person behind the witches and a bit of my journey. Credit to you if you managed to read this entire waffly post. Soon I'll post something much more uplifting - a new witch character (with perhaps fewer of the work-in-progress shots!)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Talk less, Say more

Funnily enough, I made mention of viking raids in my last post about 'Good Witches Bad Witches' (here), so perhaps it's fitting that my newest character I present to you is..... the Swedish witch! AKA den Svenska häxan.

What do I know of Sweden? Aside from pickled fish and raids of the British Isles courtesy of Norse seafarers beginning in the 8th century... I know that today Sweden is a brilliantly modern and progressive country. Only a small amount of Googling will fill you in on why that is, and you may also learn that they're responsible for more than Ikea, Abba and Volvo. Add Skype and Spotify to that list. Didn't know that, did you?!

Okay, last words about Sweden... my best friend, who I met when I was only 19 hails from Eskilstuna, Sweden. The first Swede I ever met, she impressed me with her perfect English, incredible brain and waist length pale gold, lifeless, silky hair. She gave me some advice when creating this character so if anything comes off as offensive as opposed to funny, then do take it up with Ms Jonsson's lawyers. ;)

My Swedish witch!
She has the lightest skin tone of all my witches thus far, icy blue eyes and pale blonde hair. (That part was inspired by my Swedish best friend). She has a typically Scandinavian cleft in her chin and mackerel protruding from her mouth.
She's big-boned because I wanted to create a great strong lass, capable of pulling down trees and building a longboat. Her hair is plaited (US English - braided) in keeping with the crazy hairstyles of all my witches. She wears a leather apron, blue woolen dress (colour of the Swedish flag), furs, carries a bronze cauldron with Norse embellishments, filled with mackerel. Her familiar (witch's pet) is the Swedish wild boar pup.


Scroll past the note for my Swedish friends below to see photos from behind the scenes! Don't forget to follow on Facebook and Instagram!


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Till mina svenska vänner, det här är en kommentar till er…

Om ni kan läsa engelska så vet ni att min bästa kompis är svensk och att jag genom henne blivit utsatt för en massa fina svenska fenomen (mestadels mat och traditioner) och att jag älskar skandinavisk kultur. Jag hoppas att jag har skapat en karaktär som ni ska gilla och ta med en nypa salt. Det här är min svenska häxa!

Jag skapar karaktärer ifrån hela världen för ett projekt med namnet ‘Goda Häxor, Onda Häxor’ och jag har gjort engelska, skottska, franska, italienska häxor etc. och den här gången har jag skapat en svensk häxa. Hon är min egen design till den film jag håller på att producera åt Tall Tales Productions (websida här). Jag skapade henne för hand med hjälp av Fimo lera och ståltråd. Tack för ert intesse för mitt arbete. Om ni vill se mera så besök min Facebook sida (här), mitt Instagram (här) och Twitter (här). En video av när jag gör häxan kan ni snart hitta på min YouTube kanal (här). Med vänliga hälsningar - Caroline
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In personal news, taking advantage of these warm summer nights in southern California, I just went to one of Cinespia's famous outdoor screenings and watched Hitchcock's 'The Birds' with 4000 other people! Fitting since 'Tippi' Hedren is of Swedish descent.



*Final thought*
Post title is from a Swedish proverb - "Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours."

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Dance, Magic Dance...



















We may have lost the irreplaceable David Bowie, but it's a small consolation that thousands can gather annually at the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles and dance to songs he wrote for The Labyrinth movie.

I love the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball and went on Saturday night in a massive sparkly red ballgown. The shows were spectacular and the incredible finale with the smoke-breathing dragon looming over the main ballroom whilst fairies and Voldermort danced in sequence to 'Jump in the Line' reminded me why I live in LA.

Read previous posts about this event I attended before here, and here.

Scroll past these few photos of the magical costumed characters there, and see how I 'made' my dress!

And don't worry - will have more 'work' related posts soon! Hang tight and don't forget to find me on Facebook here - Tall Tales Productions Facebook Page.



And a little clip of part of the event!





My sketch of how I wanted the dress to look...





And a little more info...


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