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Art

Evoking Childhood Nostalgia, Color and Cartoon Commotion Burst from Kayla Mahaffey's Paintings

September 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“No Harm Done.” All images courtesy of Thinkspace Projects, shared with permission

Surrounding Black children with jumbled masses of cartoon characters, doodles, and explosions of color, Chicago-based artist Kayla Mahaffey (previously) imagines adolescent daydreams and an array of playtime inventions. She infuses her acrylic paintings with a longing for carefree summer days, mornings spent watching the foibles of favorite animated characters, and hours left open for adventure, capturing feelings of joy and curiosity. Vividly rendered and layered with squiggles and globs of color, the large-scale works find “value in the sugar-coated nostalgia,” which Mahaffey explains:

There have been numerous occasions where we omit the truths of our past to only be met with the disappointments of the future, a never-ending cycle that has influenced our current era for the best and the worst. Even though we’re currently going through a very troubling era, let’s take a moment to remember those times where we felt the most safe or where we felt the happiest. Many of us wish to go back to that life, but not to change anything, but to feel a few cherished things, once again.

If you’re near Culver City, you can see the pieces shown here as part of Remember the Time at Thinkspace Projects from September 18 to October 9. Otherwise, find Mahaffey on Instagram to see where she’s headed next.

 

“The Sweet Escape”

“Head in the Clouds”

“The Child In Us”

“Tender, Love, and Care (TLC)”

“Beautiful Day In The…”

 

Left: “No Public Enemy.” Right: “Kid In Play”

“Daydreamin”

 

 



Art

Children's Imaginations Materialize as Cartoon Chaos in Paintings by Artist Kayla Mahaffey

June 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Picking Up the Pieces” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36 x 36

Chicago-based artist Kayla Mahaffey captures the vivid reveries occupying young minds. She juxtaposes realistically rendered figures with chaotic scenes of two-dimensional cartoon characters as they emerge from amorphous clouds and pastel commotions. Each central figure wears a distinct expression that’s reflected through the fictional world.

Many of Mahaffey’s pieces portraying children’s imaginations shown here are part of the series Off to the Races, which serves as a hopeful narration of change, she said in a statement.

As we travel through life we experience the daily trials and tribulations that help shape us into the people we are today. During this journey, we may end up hitting some bumps or may experience some rough terrain, but it’s how we deal with those situations that make the difference. We are all on the journey to greatness, each individual racing to the finish line in hope of reaching goals and prosperity. With the race may come with it mistakes and regret, but not taking part in the race leads you nowhere.

The artist shares many of her playful works, in addition to a virtual tour of her recent solo show titled Deconstructed at Thinkspace in Culver City, on Instagram.

 

“Safety First” (2019), acrylic on board panel, 36 x 46

“Stranded” (2019), acrylic on wood panel

“Race to the Finish Line” (2019), acrylic on wood panel, 16 x 20

“Short Fuse” (2018), acrylic on wood panel, 12 x 12

“Enjoy the Ride” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36 x 36

“Take Action” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36×36

“Daily Distractions” (2018), watercolor and acrylic on Arches watercolor paper, 18 x 24

 

 



Animation Design

A 3D Artist Imagines the Realistic Fossilized Skulls of Endearing Cartoon Characters

March 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Canis Goofus – USA, 1932.” All images © Filip Hodas

A Prague-based artist is memorializing some of his favorite cartoons with a series of convincing fossils that provide an unconventional look at the skeletons of animated characters. Filip Hodas’s Cartoon Fossils series features preserved skulls of Spongebob, Tweety Bird, and other familiar characters, accompanied by the years they first were spotted on television and their zoological names like Anas Scroogius, Homo Popoculis, and Mus Minnius.

The artist’s surreal compositions mimic the fossils and assemblages displayed in history museums, although Hodas said in a statement he wanted to add to their playfulness with bright, solid backgrounds. He also embellishes his characters with hats, glasses, and even stacks of coins to amplify their fictional roles.

Initially, I wanted to make them stylized as dinosaur fossils set up in a museum environment, but later decided against it, as the skulls didn’t look very recognizable on their own—especially with parts broken or missing. That’s why I opted for (a) less damaged look and also added some assets to each of the characters.

To create each piece, Hodas used a combination of programs including Cinema 4D, Zbrush, 3D Coat, Substance Painter, and Substance Designer. Find more of the artist’s work that intertwines history, science, and pop culture on Instagram and Behance.

“Mus Minnius – USA, 1928”

“Anas Scroogius – USA, 1947”

“Anas Scroogius – USA, 1947”

“Spongia Bobæ – USA, 1999”

“Homo Popoculis – USA, 1929”

“Homo Popoculis – USA, 1929”

“Canaria Tweetea – USA, 1941”

“Canaria Tweetea – USA, 1941”

 

 



Art

Laughable High-jinks of Cartoon Rivals Tom and Jerry Are Recreated Perfectly in Sculptures by Taku Inoue

December 31, 2019

Grace Ebert

Japanese artist Taku Inoue isn’t letting anyone forget the most outlandish moments of Tom and Jerry’s notorious cartoon feud. Through his sculptures showing Tom Cat flattened from sliding underneath a door and Jerry Mouse molded into the shape of a cheese slice, the artist recreates the iconic animated pair’s most painful and hilarious accidents. In the American cartoon series that premiered in 1940, Tom most often finds himself in unfortunate mishaps as he tries and regularly fails to capture Jerry. Many of Inoue’s pieces center the show’s slapstick humor, featuring Tom’s contorted body as he’s stuffed into a water glass or duplicated to resemble bowling pins. Follow all of the artists’s comical sculptures depicting the forever rivals on Twitter and Instagram. (via deMilked)

 

 



Animation Illustration

Eyes Roll and Tongues Unfurl in Quirky Hand-Animated Illustrations by Ed Merlin Murray

July 5, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

 

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Using simple materials like paper and ink washes, artist Ed Merlin Murray creates lively illustrations that animate with the pull of a tab. The expressiveness of the human face is Murray’s frequent subject, with blinking eyes and slithering tongues coming to life in bright colors. In addition to these hand-activated animations, the Scotland-based artist pursues a wide variety of illustration and animation projects. This spring, Murray crowdfunded a “book of drawings based on the eternal mystery of human consciousness, via a set of arcane sciences, esotericism, and the mystical” on Kickstarter, and also offers designs on Society6. You can see more of Murray’s moving images, paired with quirky captions, on Instagram.

 

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Art

Insect Illustrations Inspired by Looney Tunes Characters and Horror Movie Icons

June 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

UK-based illustrator Richard Wilkinson (previously) imagines new insect species inspired by familiar faces from popular culture. Two of his more recent series cover both ends of a fantastical spectrum, with bugs designed after horror movie villains and children’s cartoon characters.

For his horror icons Family: Timorpersonae collection, Wilkinson pays homage to classic slashers and newer terrors including Jason Voorhees, Pennywise the Clown, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the demon Valak. For each insect’s zoological nomenclature, Wilkinson creates a Latin phrase that serves as a description of the character or their respective film. For example, his Freddy Krueger “A Nightmare on Elm Street” piece is titled Insomnium ulmusvicus: insomnium from the Latin insomnis (sleep), ulmus (street), and vicus (elm).

For his Family: Insanusmelodiae series, Wilkinson incorporated the faces of iconic Looney Tunes characters into the bodies of beetles and bugs who inherited unfortunate but funny traits from their cartoon counterparts. “Their distinctive characteristics include loud and often odd vocalizations and the very distinctive fast and erratic movements,” the artist wrote in a statement. He added that the “most peculiar aspect of the Insanusmelodiae’s behaviour is their clumsiness. They often meet their end under a falling stone or twig, or after falling from a long drop. Their wings, also vestigial, can produce enough uplift to keep them in the air for a moment or two before they fall.”

To see more of Wilkinson’s buggy mashups, fly on over to his Instagram page.