FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2017
Contact: Tamar Russell Brown — 978.425.6290
INNOVATIVE ILLUSTRATOR AND PORTRAITIST
TO SHOW WORK WITH YOUNG ARTISTS OF MOBILE MUSEUM
AT GALLERY SITKA IN FITCHBURG
FITCHBURG, Mass. — Caricature/portrait artist Andre Mills loves faces. He is an accomplished caricature artist with a keen eye for capturing unexpected facets of the personalities he draws. “I build the facial features from the eyes out,” Mr. Mills says. He starts with the eyes — interestingly, the feature that the subject of the caricature uses to look out at the world. “Every portrait is a self-portrait,” said Rembrandt, recognizing that the personality of the artist is as important as the personality of the subject of the portrait. Mr. Mills’ style communicates something about his own view of the person he draws and makes his caricatures very distinctive and very recognizable as his own.
A good example of Mr. Mills’ talent for catching unusual aspects of people is his caricature of Robin Williams, which the artist drew not long after the actor committed suicide. We were all accustomed to seeing the manic, smiling Robin, but much less used to see that occasional sad face. Yet the caricature of Williams on the artist’s website in fact resembles neither of those well-known faces. Mills seems to be able to capture a combination of those two extreme moods — the manic and the depressive — at play in this drawing.
“I did that drawing after his passing,” Andre recalls, as he was learning more about the comedian. “Of course he seemed depressed in some way,” the artist says, but his caricature seems to bring to life more than just that depressed, desperate person. Mills is, in a sense, capturing the whole person, not just the “masks” an actor might wear in his public performances.
“Becka and Dre” is Mr. Mills’ cartoon strip that features the observations and activities of his fiancée and himself. Their circle of friends make up the rest of the cast and add complications to the stories Mills tells in the strip. He shares all sorts of moods and emotions, such as his own frustration in completing all the tasks on his “agenda.” But in the course of drawing his own caricature and his thoughts and feelings, he has of course delivered one very important item on his agenda — sharing his view of his own working world in this episode of the strip!
Andre now executes almost 90 percent of his work digitally. Rather than sketching on paper, he does freehand drawings on Wacom Cintiq, a touch-sensitive glass surface that relays the image directly into a program called Sketchbook, from which the image can be further manipulated and enhanced.
One can certainly picture “Becka and Dre” in animated form. But there are so many new technologies available to artists nowadays that “animation” is certainly not what it used to be. Old-style animation, as almost everyone knows, is a process of drawing images by hand that shows a very small change in the movement — or the facial expression — of a cartoon character. Sketch artists typically produce one drawing for each 1/24 of a second on film. Each image varies just slightly from the one before, and when projected at the rate of 24 frames per second creates the illusion of Bugs Bunny or Gru (the sentimental super-villain in “Despicable Me,” for example) running or talking or communicating their thoughts and feelings to the audience with their facial expressions. Think of Wiley Coyote staring up heartbroken at the boulder that is flying through the air to come crush him. Aside from the whistling sound of the boulder in flight, and Wiley’s motionless facial expression, the only thing that clues us in to the trajectory of the boulder is its shadow moving across Wiley’s face in the seconds before it lands on him. Thus very little movement can convey a lot about what’s going on.
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is quite different, Mr. Mills explains. “It’s more digital, more 3-D.” Even recent animated films are produced by “building frame-by-frame,” but CGI is almost a new art form. The technology is moving ahead all the time and continually becoming more sophisticated, including in the realm of creating the characters. “Pretty soon we won’t need actors anymore,” Andre predicts.
Mills’ company, AKM Graphics, does a little of everything — caricatures, logo design, apparel silk-screening, and embroidery. He also does portraits on commission. A resident of Westford, Mass., Andre was born in 1965 in Kingston, Jamaica. He studied art at Essex Community College and the University of Lowell (Mass.). He currently seeks subscribers on Patreon.com, offering subscribers sketches of almost anything, as well as their own portraits, if they are of a mind to have one done.
Sharing space with Mr. Mills’ exhibition will be artists of The Revolving Museum (TRM), a community arts non-profit organization that seeks out under-utilized public spaces around New England to bring new and innovative artwork to the public. TRM will present “Wonders Of Our World,” a 36-foot-long comic book/graphic novel wall environment featuring over 100 artworks created by local youth, artists, and other community members. This exhibition brings to life powerful images and stories that feature art made from bread, superhero costumes, prison art, sculptures, photographs, and comic art from the Museum’s permanent collection.
Founder and Artistic Director Jerry Beck has worked with many communities to create public art, “green art” (environmentally safe artwork), art-wear, video art, and other innovative kinds of expression. Beck’s organization launches art projects in unusual spaces such as railroad cars, a Civil War fortress, a baseball field, empty lots, and textile mills. The Revolving Museum brings art to underserved communities in bold, new ways that are bound to reach a very wide and diverse audience.
This event will take place at Gallery Sitka, 454 Main Street, Fitchburg, Mass., on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2 – 4 p.m. To learn more about the artwork of Andre Mills, visit www.friendsofkevin.com/meetandremills and therevolvingmuseum.org for more information about The Revolving Museum. Both exhibits will be on display until Feb. 4.