Sam art update

Sam (6) had his first art opening this week. His class had their “Rauschenberg” show, where the entire class studied Rauschenberg’s combines and then each student made their own. Well, one learns technique by copying masters.

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Here’s Sam’s, with its own hand-made gallery card. “‘Adventure,’ Combine, Sam Alcott, 2007.” The background is a little busy so it’s hard to see the shiny stones and the postcard of Buddha on top.

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If you click on the above, you’ll be able to see the cut-up postcard of the Cedar Waxwing, which Sam included as a tribute to his dad and “those birds you draw on your computer.” (On the other side of the Combine is a postcard from Point Reyes, CA, where his mom spent her childhood.)

Dad peruses the finished product.

Meanwhile, Sam has today whipped up a number of illustrations of key moments in the Star Wars saga. Note that all the drawings are signed “TM Sam” to prevent trademark infringement.

First, it’s the podrace from The Phantom Menace. Featured are the tall mushroom-like rock formations of the racetrack as Sebulba’s podracer careens through a narrow passage. An explosion to the left of Sebulba’s pod-racer (the yellow ball at the base of the center rock formation) is causing the tower to topple over, threatening Sebulba’s pod-racer. The purple arrows and action lines indicate the way the rocks are about to fall.

Later on in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul slays Qui Gon in that room where that happens. Qui Gon is very surprised by this turn of events — you can tell by the “surprise” lines emanating from his head and the OH NO speech balloon. Darth Maul is merciless however and lets out a triumphal “AH” as poor young Obi-wan watches helplessly from the other side of the red force-field, screaming a bigger-than-life (or at least bigger-than-speech-balloon) — NO! — (he’s shouting so loud his exclamation point needs to go on a separate speech-balloon addendum)

Darth Maul, being an arrogant, short-sighted Sith, does not pay attention to the open pit behind him, the pit that will soon claim his bisected corpse.

The moment of Qui-Gon’s death so impressed Sam that he felt a need to go in for a close-up of Obi-wan’s horrified face as he chants “No No No.” Or perhaps this is a view of Obi-wan’s face from Darth Maul’s point-of-view (note the crossed light-sabers in the foreground), moments before his own death at Obi-wan’s hands.

UPDATE: I have misidentified this image.  Sam tells me that this is not a close-up of the horrified Obi-Wan watching Qui-Gon’s death, nor is it Obi-wan’s face from the point-of-view of Darth Maul.  The reality is much greater — it is Count Dooku at the moment of his death, from Anakin’s point-of-view.  The crossed light-sabers in the foreground are being held by Anakin and are about to remove Count Dooku’s head from his neck.  Count Dooku is saying “No, no, don’t do it.”  The combination of the close-up and Sam identifying with the remorseless, hate-filled Anakin makes this father proud.

And then, finally, Sam’s favorite scene from Revenge of the Sith, the climactic light-saber duel between Obi-wan and Anakin on the volcano planet. Lava explodes in the background as student and master fight on a rickety bridge over a flowing river of lava. An outraged, heart-broken Obi-wan says, in four separate speech balloons, “I TOLD YOU TO” “BRING” “BALANCE” “TO THE FORCE.” 

(Maybe the separate speech balloons indicate pauses in Obi-wan’s speech as he struggles to defeat Anakin.  Much more effective than the traditional “I told you to — uh! — bring — unh! — balance — hh! — ” etc.)

This moment is brought to more vivid life in this drawing from a week earlier.  Note the use of backlighting and silhouette.

This moment, his favorite in the Star Wars saga, was also featured on his 6th birthday cake:

I resisted the impulse to have Sam’s cake read “Revenge of the Sixth.”
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12 Responses to “Sam art update”
  1. blake_reitz says:

    Those are pretty great, but that last one? Wow.

  2. mcbrennan says:

    As I no doubt proved the other evening, I most definitely would not have been able to resist the “Revenge Of The Sixth” temptation. Sam has a great eye–very cinematic. The Obi-Wan closeup and the last-week volcano planet duel are especially brilliant. And the combine…the use of color is pretty complex for a six year old, and combining a nautical theme, the Buddha, the droid-eating cat from Star Wars: Episode VII AND Feeder Birds…this is a pretty sophisticated young talent you’re nurturing there, sir. He is wise to take his creative rights seriously.

    • Todd says:

      I like the colors in the combine as well, but I also know the source material too well — Rauschenberg’s combine colors are pretty compelling and I’m sure the teachers had a strong hand in selection. Still, the amount of wit and invention (like the ostrich-head coming out of the paper-towel tube) are pretty impressive.

    • Todd says:

      I’m also impressed that he thought to paint the back of the combine, something few other of the students did (like the one whose piece is next to Sam’s).

  3. craigjclark says:

    So, what’s the 800 number plastered on the side? I’m tempted to call it to find out, but not that tempted.

    Also, for some reason I thought you hadn’t shown Revenge of the Sith to Sam yet precisely because of the climactic light-saber battle on the lava planet. When I was six, that would have been prime nightmare fuel. (Then again, I saw Nazis get their faces melted off when I was eight and suffered no ill effects.)

    • Todd says:

      The 1-800 number was drawn from a pile of clippings provided by the teachers and has no significance to Sam except as a long number and whatever color-sense it gave his work. It probably takes you to either an auto dealership or a realtor.

      As intense as Sith is, by the time we watched Attack of the Clones I felt Sam would be able to watch Episode III with no ill effects. I tempered the intensity of it by telling him everything that was going to happen in advance. And, apart from his intense fascination with everything Star Wars, there have been no ill effects. What shocks me is that his little six-year-old mind has watched all six of these movies only once (except Clones, which we just watched again last week (he loves Count Dooku, go figure), and Clone Wars, and retains every single plot-twist well enough to dissect them and question their contridictions in teen-geek style, such as “I don’t get it, the Empire hardly kills anybody, and the Jedis kill millions of people, but how come the Empire are the bad guys?”

  4. eronanke says:

    love the cake.
    But then again… I love *all* cake

  5. r_sikoryak says:

    Great work from Sam, as always. Very exciting to see.

    Man, I wish I was hip to Rauschenberg when I was six. But that was 1970, and R.R. is an old master now.

    I’m charmed by Sam’s use of “TM,” but I hope he won’t sue me when I parody his work in 20 years.

    • Todd says:

      Sam is way ahead of us. I didn’t try to imitate Rauschenberg until I was 12 or 13, and then I failed miserably.

      In this case, Rauschenberg started it, or rather, MOCA did. This spring they hosted the Rauschenberg Combines show and Sam’s teachers went to see it and thought it would make a good class project. They showed the kids a Rauschenberg documentary, supplied them with all manner of geegaws and doo-dads for their combines and let ’em go. I cannot say whether or not Sam has a future in bold post-abstract-expressionism, but it’s nice to know that when he walks into a modern-art museum (as he will many times if he remains my son) he’ll already be comfortable with at least one artist.