Weekend Relaxation and Unfamiliar Movies – Pandorum Drawing
One of my all-time favorite things is a nice lazy Saturday with the family. It’s a fantastic scene from my perspective: We’re all upstairs and probably still wearing whatever we slept in. My wife is reading, the kids and I are drawing. We’ve got Joy of Painting or maybe some HGTV-style show on in the background. The coffee is fresh and we’ve got nowhere we have to be. This is most definitely the most relaxing thing I can imagine; sort of like how some people probably view fishing or meditating. After a long week at work, it’s quite an excellent way to recharge. I try not to take these moments for granted and look forward to them every week.
Of course, on Saturday mornings, we don’t really get to jump right to this situation. There is the small matter of when everyone wakes up! An apparent side effect to getting older is that I my body will not let me sleep in anymore. Throughout my 20s, I was quite a prolific sleeper and could easily go for 10 hours on a weekend night. Now though? If I can actually sleep until 7am, I consider that a huge victory. Often though, my body tells me it’s time to get up before 6am, regardless of the day. My wife and kids usually sleep much later, so my weekend mornings start with a couple of hours solo.
When we first moved into our home about a year ago, and these routines started to establish themselves, this very early weekend morning time was a bit of a question mark. Eventually, I settled into sipping on coffee and watching TV. I’ve mentioned previously about my appreciation for the Roku Channel’s free content; it’s where I discovered that Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting and Mystery Science Theater 3000 each had dedicated 24/7 channels. So, on these mornings, I often find myself watching old MST3K episodes, or newer versions from RiffTrax or Cinematic Titanic. I’ve also come to enjoy seeing what somewhat obscure or underappreciated movies I can find.
Sometimes I browse through Netflix to find less common movies to watch, but many are also streamed from the Roku Channel. It’s there that I stumbled on some pretty entertaining movies that I had never even heard of before. Movies like Marrowbone, a story about siblings dealing with a haunted house along with dad issues, and Stonehearst Asylum which features Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley in a mental hospital. These are movies I did not know existed; I found them just browsing channels on the Roku TV app. I’ve come to enjoy finding movies like this that are underappreciated gems that are perhaps a bit too graphic or scary to watch while the kids are around. Essentially, the perfect early Saturday morning coffee viewing.
Another movie along these lines that I really enjoyed is called Pandorum. As with most of these, I came into it with zero expectations or even any knowledge of what it was about. It starts with a somewhat basic sci-fi premise: We’ve got a ship of colonists from Earth, everyone is in stasis/asleep for a long journey to a new planet. There are some really interesting twists and turns to this story though, which I won’t spoil here. But it definitely veers more towards sci-fi horror as it goes along. I tend to get swept up in most movies’ fictional worlds, so I don’t often see plot twists coming, but the ending to this one definitely caught me by surprise. Aside from the story, the acting performances are pretty entertaining. I really enjoyed the (to put in RPG terms) “adventuring party” trio of Antje Traue (scientist), Ben Foster (flight crew), and Cung Le (colonist). Dennis Quaid gives a really strong performance as well, which I can’t really discuss much without spoilers.
I don’t want to overhype Pandorum; this isn’t on the level of something like the original Alien movie. But it is entertaining, especially if you enjoy movies in that niche sci-fi/horror sub-genre. And it was able to catch and keep hold of my attention, despite having not been aware of its existence. After watching the movie, I randomly decided this might be a fun drawing. The only difficulty was, I couldn’t find a good scene that featured all the characters I wanted to include…so instead I had to create sort of a cobbled together thing. Here’s how it turned out:
The drawing itself is solid enough I think overall. I mostly captured the essence of Traue and Le, which is two thirds of the way there. Unfortunately, I really don’t think I was able to accurately depict Foster in any recognizable way. It would have been nice to have been able to include Quaid here as well, but it was already approaching unrealistic collage-type territory, and that would have pushed it over the edge. Also, since it included three dark and somewhat details people, the portrait took sort of a long time. Of course, that’s in relative terms; most of my portraits take between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. This one was about three hours, which is really one of the longest I’ve done.
The movie itself is very dark, with lots of dingy colors, probably meant to emphasize the state of the ship they’re on. I tried to capture that here, and I think I was mostly successful. Despite using a lot of pencil wax and difference color shades, the final result does look very brown and gray. I was surprised how little color actually shows through in the final result. I suppose I shouldn’t be, and it is appropriate for the movie. Even so, I feel like some tones became a little too washed out.
The scene itself is supposed to be when the trio is being pursued, and there is a bit of chaos trying to determine if they need to run or fight. It seemed like a good candidate, but there really wasn’t a moment with all three of them solidly in frame together. So, like I said, I cobbled it together. I’m not entirely sure that worked, because it doesn’t look all that natural. Le is supposed to be urging them to run, while others are looking up and what’s coming. To me, it really looks like a collage rather than a group of people organically together. Which, to be fair, is really what it is! But I was hoping it wouldn’t look so obviously like that; as if I could force it to look natural by tweaking it as I filled everything in with pencil.
As I mentioned, this was a pretty long drawing process, which necessitated speeding up the progression video perhaps a bit more than usual. I’ve embedded the video above, if you want to see how it all came together. I also shared an even faster version with this compilation video. And another thing I’m considering is making a few “one minute drawing” versions that speed up the process to fit into right around 60 seconds. I want to try to make a few that are a bit more digestible. I know some people find value in something a bit slower, so they can clearly see what is being done, so I’ll keep those around too.
Anyhow, this post ended up being a bit longer than I thought it would be! I wanted to actually write a bit more about passive TV browsing; I find something relaxing in the act of just flipping channels and “seeing what’s on.” The existence of DVR and on demand stuff sort of made that experience fade away. But I can actually do that without really knowing what I’ll stumble upon when I flip on the Roku channel. It’s kind of a cool throwback experience. But anyhow, in this post, I was already sort of edging the line towards rambling incoherently! So perhaps I’ll explore that another time. I’ve got some more television related art coming up, including two drawings based on one of my all-time favorite sci-fi shows Stargate SG-1. I also tried to draw something that was purely scenery, with no people, that did not turn out well. Maybe I’ll share that too and discuss trying new things or something.