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Featured Artist of the Month

Kasei

Kasei is one of those artists whose work you just need to take one quick look at to realize that The Lion King is only one small part of the artistic landscape to which she will be successfully turning her attention in the many years to come. Her work is bold, ambitious, precise, and unbound by formula; each picture is an experiment in technique and concept seeking to push the boundaries of her skill. It's all the more fortunate, then, that Kasei devotes so much of her attention to this corner of the artistic universe for us in the fandom to enjoy.
I....uh, wow. What is there to say that others haven't said a hundred times better? I'm completely floored and humbled by this—thank you to every single one of you who has ever left a comment or given me a critique, you have no idea how much you've helped me. I'm not sure at all what to put here; but if you would, just imagine the most baffled and flattered expression you can and that's me just about now. Yep. @_@

I know most people who get this spotlight pass on some kind of advice or say something really meaningful and useful, but I honestly don't know what to tell anyone. e_e; I remember joining this site after lurking for almost a year because I had seen all of the great art being produced and wanted to get advice on how to improve my own work. It's very hard for me to think of myself as being listed with some of the great artists like Damalia and Jamala that I admired in my youth. In fact it's really, really bizarre and I don't feel I deserve it at all; just the same I thank every one who was crazy (or bored) enough to vote for me. ;)

I know, I know; shut up and get on with it already. x); Sorry guys, I realize that I'm long-winded so I'm going attempt to spare you all and leave it on this note: Yes we're all here one way or another because of Disney's The Lion King, but don't forget that TLK isn't just about a bunch of lions running around and playing Hamlet! There's much more to it than that. Try to remember the awe inspired the first time you saw that sun boiling up over the horizon in the opening. Or the way the musical score swept you along and made you feel for a second like you were actually in Africa. I know it sounds cheesy, but take that feeling and run with it! Let more than what you see inspire your work, and I'm not just talking fan art. Don't worry about being totally original and don't worry about doing something everyone will like either; just grasp that feeling and let it lead you, whether anyone notices the outcome or not.

Thanks again guys, you really made my month. :) Best early birthday present I've ever gotten. And of course thank you Brian! Where would any of us be without you? <3
Just skim down the pictures on the left side here and you'll immediately see what makes Kasei's work so special. It's all on-topic and canon-oriented; yet it embraces a sensibility and a vision that goes well beyond the visual style codified by the finished movie, and reaches into a more primal well of impressionistic inspiration, where the characters look more like the archetypes brought to life by the concept artists working on the early drafts of King of the Jungle than the final, model-sheet-constrained, licensable characters that reached the screen as part of The Lion King. Pumbaa, Timon, Mufasa, Zazu, Simba, Nala—they're all recognizable, their personalities are all intact and instantly readable... yet they're more realistic, more vibrant, more believable than any but a few of the most iconic key frames from the movie itself.

I can see no better illustration of this than the bottommost picture at left: "Running With the Sunrise", a portrait of Zira and some other Outlanders dashing through shallow water as the sun rises behind them, tinting the water and the clouds and backlighting the figures. The characters are rendered in a realistic style that captures not only the leonine form in several stages of a run cycle, but incorporates the unmistakable elements of expression that make these characters unmistakably identifiable—from the gaunt, thin bone structures to the gleeful and slightly crazed expressions to the carefree toss of the heads that captures these well-known personages in an unusual, but hardly uncharacteristic, moment. The birds rising from the water in the background seal the deal—hardly material to the presentation of the characters themselves, they add a flair and a flourish that tells the viewer that this artist is rendering a scene that tells almost a greater story than the one that ostensibly introduces these characters. It's a tableau that, again, puts one in mind of the concept art that was used to pitch the embryonic movie years before it hit theaters: it instantly transports you to another place and lets the world it describes unfold around you for as long as you stare at the picture.

There's plenty more to be found in Kasei's gallery, of course; pictures of a more cartoony nature, of gazelles and elephants and antelope rendered like they've never been done elsewhere. Mere words can hardly do them justice, though; they have to be properly discovered in context, with their introductory text describing spontaneous Sketcher sessions and artistic experiments, art trades and challenges, jokes, gags, and flashes of transcendent power and beauty.

So go have a paw through Kasei's gallery, and congratulate her on being this month's Featured Artist!


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