Better Call Saul - Done & Done

It's always nice to see the end result of an illustration. There is nothing left to add. No more back and forth; no more humming and hawing. It's just done. I wonder if it is like a reading a book. Do the characters that you have lived with for so long linger in the mind and fingertips? Does Peter miss them after he has spent so much time sketching them out and working so meticulously to capture the essence of the person? Is there a bittersweet sense of relief? My brother will need to answer this questions for us. It's definitely something I wonder about.

Before we get into the finishing details of this illustration, there is a point Peter wanted me to stress: the illustration is warped! This is a result of my picture taking skills and not the illustration itself. The paper was curled slightly on one side and I didn't notice this until he pointed it out. It really bothered him. I told him no one would notice but it seems like the right thing to mention it, just in case there is someone with shark eyes looking at the image and thinking "what a hack job! Forget these amateurs." My intention is to get this illustration (and all others!) professionally scanned. This is something that should happen in the coming weeks. The scan will create better high def images and hopefully allow everyone to see every wonderful, minute and carefully applied brush stroke (do we even need to see that much !?)

Better Call Saul / Finished ? / Cimpoe Gallery

I really like this Better Call Saul illustration. I don't know if I am biased (I am soooo biased). I love the show and I have come to admire these two fine actors so much over the course of Breaking Bad and now Better Call Saul. The cool tones that were applied to both Mike and Jimmy, during the initial first and second layers, adds an unexpected dimension to the characters. Behind their warmer exteriors resides something simmering and unresolved. I see this especially with Mike whose expression is especially cold and relaxed (also, he really is staring RIGHT AT US, isn't he?) I didn't expect Peter to use so many cool tones but it really does force us to re-evaluate the scene in a new light.  We get a lot of those lovely New Mexico reds, yellow and oranges but they have been dialed back. We feel the interior of this space as well. The frigid air conditioning is on full blast at the police station. The shadows along the back wall indicate to us a sun that is riding low on the horizon. It is closer to the end of the day than the beginning. Few possibilities remain. Fewer options left at the foot of desperate men; desperate Jimmy that is. The halls would be mostly emptied and those few voices left are quiet, hushed, and maybe hurried. Men left alone with their thoughts.

Look at Jimmy. Look at that face. Those hands. His oversized suit with the large lapels and wide buttons. Jimmy, man, what are you thinking ? God only knows....

-Ileanna Cimpoe

Better Call Saul - Layers Upon Layers

Peter is a few layers away from completing this illustration. It has taken him a bit longer than usual to finish but it is not from lack of trying! He’s been busy with another painting (portrait). He’ll fill us in on what he has been working on :) It’s an exciting new piece and features a certain predominant “goo” face we’ll get into a bit later (what is “goo” face you ask? Good question! Stay tuned…)

Better Call Saul / In progress /  Cimpoe Gallery

Now, to the matter at hand. Let’s talk Better Call Saul! Peter has put down all of his darkest darks and dimmer tones. The next layers are all about the specifics. We see more of the details in the face and expressions. We notice the nuances along the back wall (including some texture). The varied mug shots over Mike and Jimmy’s heads have all been  mostly completed. I love how the criminal faces takes up an overwhelming and expansive bulk of space. These criminals are some of the individuals that Mike and Jimmy will use to build and grow their respective reputations. The dye has been cast. It is the seedy element that is bearing down on the two of them, whether they realize it or not (Mike must be aware but Jimmy…not so sure about Jimmy). Season three of the show is set to start April (if I am not mistaken). Peter and I are certainly looking forward to the new season. Although Breaking Bad was favorite in its time, we’ve both concluded that Better Call Saul has done finer point of ironing out the characters that inhabit this universe. We get more of the people, more of the stuff that makes all these people tick. The fleshing out of the characters has been endlessly fascinating and further complicated by a climax we know, as viewers, is inevitable. The pacing is slowed. The tone is brighter (but no less dramatic). I love the introduction of Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). She balances Jimmy out with her no nonsense approach to “lawyering” (lawyers be lawyering) but she isn’t the straight man to his funny man. She’s ten folds more complicated. She isn’t the nag. She’s isn’t the girlfriend. She’s her own complicated individual and seeing how hard she works…well, we can only hope to work that hard in order the get what we want out of life (and boy does she WORK).

I think the work and consideration Peter has put into this illustration speaks to the attention the show deserves. We want to celebrate these wonderful little moments between characters, friends and foes, and we get so much out of this image which aligns exactly with some of the things we have been talking about. We’ll post the final variation of this illustration sometime in the next few days. Peter thinks he’ll be done by the end of the week. 

We'll touch base soon !

-Ileanna Cimpoe


In Progress: Better Call Saul

Let's talk about something tangible. No more website housekeeping trivialities. These are not so interesting. The devil is in the details. Let's talk details.

Better Call Saul / Draft one / Cimpoe Gallery


Peter has begun work on an illustration for the show Better Call Saul (airing on AMC). In this particular illustration (still in progress) we see the different thought processes between the characters of Mike Ehrmantraut and Jimmy McGill (soon to become Saul Goodman). The expressions on their faces can be attributed to fantastic performances by Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk but there is also something to be said for the way the camera captures the moment between these two complicated men. We get a good feel for the overall mood and textures that are being evoked through the image. It is easy to see why Peter chose to translate this particular still as an illustration.

Drilling further down...

We have these two characters positioned relatively near each other but respectfully apart. They are both seated, which is a passive activity, yet the full weight of their characters is amplified by their unique body language in a moment of formal passivity. We have the ever stoic Mike - rigid, unmoving - staring right at us, seeing right through our bullshit and disinterested in any further discussion. Both his hands are neatly folded in front of him. He is a closed book. We have the formal break down of light and dark going across his face and through the folds of his shirt and pant legs. Peter is laying down specific colours to use as a base so that he can then go over and bring out the details during future paint layers.  His pallet will become brighter and more varied as he moves forward. Some of the general brightness has already been laid down (watered down greens, yellows, red). These are often trademark colours of the show and the New Mexico setting. The show is wonderfully colourful in general and it is something of a relief compared to the bleaker television landscape. The production team is clearly aware of what they are trying to achieve with the use of colour. People tend to be afraid of colour. It is nice to see a show use colour as a medium to fully embody the sensory elements of the environment and the people that inhabit it. Even during our darkest moments in life, we are rarely bathed in dark shadows or a dull gray palette. We often experience deep and profound moments in our lives while standing in the harsh light of the sun or in the middle of a busy and bright office space. We'll discuss the subject of colour at further lengths during a future posting.

Getting back to this particular image, we have Mike - rigid and unmoving- and then Jimmy McGill seated on the other side of the bench, tick, tick, ticking. Jimmy's head is turned away from a primary light source (unseen, perhaps a window?). Jimmy is a man turning away from the "light" of trajectory thinking and turning ever more inward as he struggles between following a clear moral path and something more ambiguous. We have movement in the face of Jimmy McGill. his lips pursed at a certain angle, his eyes fixed on a greater goal, one we can't quite make out. Jimmy will consider all the angle while Mike seems more at ease with some unknown resolution or inevitable outcome. There is even something slightly relaxed about Mike, in the folds of sweater and slightly hunched down shoulders. Peter has illustrated the softer aspect of the clothing and it juxtaposes nicely with the hardness of Mike's expression and the lines on his face. With Jimmy we have the full force of his unease, frustration and maybe even anger. He is a man ever in search of a plan. This is the sort of still we want to produce for our collection and for our audience. There is something powerful in this image and it will become more powerful as Peter lays down additional layers of paint. We'll get into this illustration a bit more in the future as Peter progresses with the image. It will be interesting to see how he chooses to interpret the still  in his dreamscape style. It is indeed quite striking.

-Ileanna Cimpoe