Saturday, January 30, 2016

Visual Beauty

My wife and I saw Kung Fu Panda 3 last night. I was visually blown away. I've never seen a more artistically stunning effort before. That is quite a statement considering the graphical beauty of the previous two moves in the series.

While most of the film rendered realistically, in appropriate places the artwork is also stylized, even posterized, employing watercolor and cut paper effects in ways that move the work forward powerfully. And the characterizations -- powerful. Kai is in all ways the villain and the lighting, color, angle, score, and focus amplify that effect.

Most films save money and fade backgrounds to black over the final credits. In this movie the immensely long vertically screen that scrolls in background of the final credits inspires awe. The imagination and raw processing power required to produce it must have been massive -- and expensive. Why did they spend all that money and time to create that? To win awards? Perhaps. I think rather the artists could not settle for less. Their goal was to go for the monumental. In my view, they succeeded, memorably. And that throwaway section of the film kept me in my seat.

The result made me think deeply about the production value and goals I have for my artwork. Can I settle for less than this? Can I create monumental works in all I produce, no matter how inexpensive or small? Can I use their example to make greater, more-memorable images and stories that have impact for good? Can I settle for less?

The Kung Fu Panda 3 team raised my bar considerably. I thank them for it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A New Dark Age

I did the cover art for this first book written by a very ambitious 17-year-old and helped guide him through the creation and publication process. I wish him and his family the best. The art is a combination of photos, 3D modeling, and a lot of Photoshopping.
You can find out more about this author and his book on his Createspace store.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Illustrations

While another day for snow to be cleared from parking lots at work, I've been working on an illustrated book I wrote a few years ago. Examples to follow.

At the same time I've also been listening to a childhood favorite of mine, Leonard Bernstein reading "Peter and the Wolf" as he conducts the New York Philharmonic. I remember listening to the vinyl LP on a phonograph player over and over again at our farm in Eatonville, Washington.

You can hear it online for free.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Stand All Amazed

Today, making use of time off from my day job, I have been working on illustrations for my next book. As I worked, I have been listening to addresses by the newest apostles called by the Lord to help lead His church. The three of them focused on the humbling experience of being called, the basics of their faith, and how the Lord might be able to work through them. This has been helpful for me as I pondered my approach to my own responsibilities. The addresses have been helpful, sobering and inspiring. They have also occasioned more than a little awareness of my need to straighten out my own life. I hope they will help you.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Religion and Life: Why I am Here

I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.

In short, I am here because I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf: On Being Genuine
4 April 2015

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Yocums End-of-Year Summary: 2015

This is our family's summary for 2015 from my wife and my point of view. Happy new year!

 Like with each of you, much happened in 2015. Lindsay has been spending time with friends and gaining new skills and worked at Burlington Coat Factory for 6 months. Ben got his bachelors degree from Brigham Young University in computer science. It has been a tough row to hoe but he made it with honors! He is applying for jobs with several global firms. He and June have now been happily married a year and successfully navigated the channels of being a husband and wife. There have been health scares and sorrows as June's parents did not get a visa to visit the US for Christmas but also great joy as June's brother John did get a visa and was able to join her. Yay!

Isaac got out of the Marine Corps with honor and great happiness. He saved a great deal of money and is combining it with his GI Bill benefits to start college at Utah Valley University, where he is doing very well. He moved in with Ben, June, and June's brother John to save money and is making the transition fine. One highlight of his year was putting his firefighting skills to use at Yuma MCAS by putting out a fire on a crashed jet. What a great cap to his years of patient struggle and learning.

Tam finished two on-line computer courses aimed at helping her move back into the workplace, one in basic computer skills and another in Excel. She has also been doing amazing behind-the-scenes work navigating the many winding labyrinths of government assistance and has done a great deal of work saving us money. She saw the unexpected passing of one cat and a guinea pig and the gaining of two younger, fluffy cats she named Sandy and Buttons and a labrador-weimeraner mix named Tristan that Lindsay may keep. Tam very much enjoys long outdoors walks and this year finally finished walking the last leg of the Appalachian Trail where it crosses Maryland. She is surrounded by many true, good friends who value her a lot.

Les switched jobs after his last position got downsized and, after a very touching sendoff, is now working for Booz Allen Hamilton as a GeoInformation Systems developer. After gaining some slight confidence in his calling in the church, he revised and re-released his Welltower books and revised and gave his book “The Christmas Orange” the more accurate name “Remembering the Child”. He also finished four more paintings, has one on display in Salt Lake City through August 2016 and spoke about his process at a conference with 120 women in Annapolis.

One of the highlights this year, of course, was spending a week in Corpus Christi, Texas with Lori and Dave. What an excellent time! We pray much for them after Dave's accident and pray he heals quickly.

The year end neared with an excellent trip to Provo, Utah to be with Isaac, Ben, Ben's wife June – happy first anniversary! – June's brother John, and Sasha Rose and her friend Mike. June was the perfect hostess and held up well trying to make the in-laws feel at home. Well done.

On that trip Isaac toured us through Utah Valley University, Ben toured us through BYU, and Sasha showed us her environs at the University of Utah. How marvelous to have such varied and valuable resources in one place and children who work hard to make use of them. We also enjoyed meeting Sasha's excellent friend Mike and catching up with her mother, brother and sister. We concluded the trip by seeing Temple Square at night with its Christmas lights, where we also saw my painting.

The year ended for us at home, safe and very blessed. Tam expects 2016 to be an excellent year, even better than 2015. Given the blessings we have received, improvements would be hard to imagine.

Thank you all for your patient support and for doing so much good for so many. God bless you.

- Les, Tam, and Lindsay Yocum

Friday, January 1, 2016

"Remembing the Child" Offline

I took my illustrated book "Remembering the Child" offline today. I had too great faith in my publisher, whom I had used before, and several problems occurred between editions.

I will correct these problems and republish the book. Until then, if you ordered a book and were unhappy with it please send me your date of purchase and amount. I will compare it with my records and refund you the money.

My apologies for the lapse in quality. Your feedback appreciated.

-Lester Yocum