This past Saturday night, March 1, was the opening of Moosylvania: A Group Art Show Tribute to Jay Ward (curated by Phillip Graffham) at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California. Hundreds of people came to see the art by many local Los Angeles creators.
My Jay Ward Studio tribute piece focused on Rocky & Bullwinkle, but instead of “moose & squirrel” as so eloquently referred to by Boris Badenov, I painted “June & Squirrel”. My friend June Foray created the voice of Frostbite Falls resident Rocket J. Squirrel all those years ago, and continues to perform him today at the age of 96. She recently recorded him for a short cartoon that will run in front of Dreamworks’ new Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie. (June was also the original voice of villainess Natasha in the classic cartoons.)
"June & Squirrel" was created entirely in gouache with the big circles and necklace details in colored pencil.
June had asked me earlier in the week if I had a piece in the show, and I told her, “Yes, but you will have to come see what it is.” It was thrilling that she came out to the show Saturday night, and equally thrilling that she seemed pleased, and not offended, to have been portrayed in paint.
Chad Frye with the grand dame of voice actors, June Foray.
In case you are curious, perhaps you would like to see the preliminary drawing made in the planning of the painting. I usually work out my ideas in Photoshop where this was sketched and colored. Then I print it out and trace it down onto watercolor paper where it gets the full-on traditional treatment. And no, no compass was used for all those circles. They were hand painted and painstakingly outlined in freehand with a Lilac Prismacolor pencil on the final piece.
This is the rough concept of "June & Squirrel" worked out in Photoshop.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, please swing by Van Eaton Galleries to see all the art. Some amazing creations are on display until March 15 (beware the Ides of March). My favorite is a seven foot tall sculpture of Rocky & Bullwinkle carved out of a tree with a chainsaw by artist Johnny Daniels.
Also, please check out The Art of Jay Ward Productions book by Darrell Van Citters with a forward by June Foray. Darrell and June were both signing the book at the show, but you can also find this great tome on Amazon!
ORIGINAL IS PAINTED IN GOUACHE WITH COLORED PENCIL ACCENTS. IMAGE IS 13×17″ – $1,550.00
(FREE SHIPPING WITHIN THE UNITED STATES - ADDITIONAL FEES MAY APPLY FOR INTERNATIONAL)