“Out Of Reality” Exhibit

We’re ringing in Summer with a BLAST of bright colors and art!!  June 22-23, I’m very honored to announce we’re setting up our NEW pop up cartoon art gallery “Out Of Reality” at Avant Cycle Cafe in downtown Lake Geneva WI. (the loft).  We’re taking over the entire floor.

Why does Avant Cycle Cafe sound familiar?  This past February, we hosted or first pop up cartoon art gallery there with great success.  We had a lot of people asking if we’re going to be permanent there, but, because it’s a coffee house, we only rented it out for the weekend.  Just like we did again for this June 22-23.  I’m HONORED to be bringing back our exhibit to Avant.

Out of Reality, a Cartoon Art Exhibit is what it sounds like.  We’d like you to leave reality at the door, but open up your imagination.  These aren’t just pictures on a canvas or print.  Each piece has a story tied to it making it what it is.  For instance you may see Red Ridinghood holding up a skunk or Stanley Squirrel snooping around a tree looking like he’s looking for something.  There’s a reason these things are happening.  Use your imagination to why these things are happening OR, ask me at the exhibit and I’ll tell you why I created that piece and the story behind them.

Our animations are created in what I call “digital cel animation”.  This is where we draw out each frame by hand BUT, color them up digitally on the computer.  Since we’re drawing with pencil and paper, we have originals.  I’m honored to be working with former Disney animator Rick Farmiloe who’s worked on films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid and MANY others.  A few of the original frames by Rick are going to be displayed of an animation we’re working on together for the studio.  What makes these pieces different from anything else we’re exhibiting is, these help bring the movie to life on screen.  In addition, we’ll have some of the original backgrounds currently being used which were all created with watercolors (HAND PAINTED).  Due to the size of the original paintings and wall space, I’m have smaller prints made up of the backgrounds to display easier.

Ever want to see how a comic book or comic strip is created?  We’ll have a “how too” section where we give you 4 main bullet points in how we create comic strips and books with a few of our comic strips on display.

Of course we’re going to have our cartoon matted prints, original hand coloring, crochet plushies and new glass figurines available for sale for you to take home and enjoy.  Each piece of art will be signed.

Finally, something I’m working on if we have the space.  I’d like to take things one step further.  Both days of the exhibit, I’d like to hand color an original piece from start to finish for you to check out and see how I color AND some of the techniques I’ve come up with to bring the characters to life using markers.  So Coloring With Jeff LIVE! (our Facebook live episodes) will be…..live at the exhibit both days.  Keep posted here on our blog and on our Facebook event page (HERE) for updates.

I hope you can make it out that weekend or one of the days that weekend to celebrate the beginning of Summer with us.  If you can make it out, click the day or days you’re going to attend and hit “going” next to those days on our FB event page.  This helps us keep a count.

OH YEAH, did I mention this is a FREE event?  True story.

Coloring With JEFF is BACK!

After having a little time off, I’m very happy to announce that the new episodes Coloring With Jeff LIVE! are BACK on our Facebook page, Wednesdays starting at 7pm (central).  I’m introducing new b/w pieces which have never been hand colored before featuring some of our NEW characters.

Coloring With Jeff LIVE! is exactly what it sounds like.  You tune into our Facebook page starting at 7pm (central time) on Wednesdays and enjoy watching some b/w pieces come to life with markers as I color each one right in front of you LIVE!  But you don’t have to sit there and just watch.  No no.  It’s LIVE!  So you can ask me questions and interact with others who are watching too.  And, every so often I do a give a way during the live episodes of original hand colored pieces.  Not every week, but here and there.

If you were interested in purchasing the actual piece I’m coloring LIVE!, you can order it (first come first serve) on our online store: www.balkestudiosart.com under the “As Seen On…” section.  What makes that piece so much different than just purchasing a print is that you got to see it colored with your own eyes and come to life.  There’s only 1 in existence and you’ll have it.

So I hope to see you on Wednesdays starting at 7pm on our Facebook page.  Please feel free to share that video at anytime during the episode too.


Exhibit in Review

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who came out to our first cartoon art gallery exhibit this past weekend in downtown Lake Geneva. It was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy the exhibit and atmosphere. Well common, it was above a coffee house. What’s not to like (hehe)?

Feb 1-3rd marked out very first gallery exhibit featuring our own characters and art from the studio. Since this being our first one, we really didn’t know what to expect. To our surprise, we were pretty busy Saturday and Sun. Friday was a little slower because that entire week we had -50 degree wind chills and businesses and schools were closed until Friday when it warmed up. So everyone was “back to normal”.

Saturday, we actually had people waiting to come upstairs and check out the exhibit (we were on the entire second floor of the coffee house). That’s a great feeling. Seeing people’s eyes widen when I tell them about how we create animation and seeing them laugh/chuckle at the comic strips on the wall, really gives you a warm fuzzy inside. Sunday was pretty much the same. A lot more kids though. Seeing the kids get inspired with our “process” of how we create comic strips is inspiring to me.

People measure success in many different ways. For me, it’s seeing how people react to what we’ve created, were they asking questions and seem interested in what we are creating? I had a lot of questions asking about who this character is or what’s the story behind this scene. To me, that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.

To sum up the entire weekend in two words. It ROCKED! We had such a great time and met a lot of new people.

Would this be something I’m willing to do again? ABSOLUTELY! Maybe next time, closer to YOU!

Cartoon Art Gallery

I’m honored to announce, for the first time ever, we’re hosting our very first Cartoon Art Gallery Feb 1-3. This event is to give you a little glimpse of the “behind the scenes” of how we put together an animation and some of the original art and backgrounds we use to do it.

Most animation now is done digitally and in 3D. However, we create our animations in 2D both with CEL and what I call, digital cel animation. What’s the difference?
Cel Animation: every cel or frame is hand drawn and painted (like the classic Disney movies)
Digital Cel Animation: every frame is hand drawn but colored digitally

What I’m going to show you, is how WE put together an animation and some never before seen sketches and backgrounds of current animations in progress. In addition you’ll also see some of our first comic strips blown up (so you can see them easier) and, pages from our first kids book coming out this Summer featuring our Fairytaleland characters.

The gallery is being hosted at Avant Cycle Cafe in downtown Lake Genava. We have an event page created on our FB page. For more info and updates, please check out our page and event page.

I now not everyone can make it out to the event due to distance. Which is why I’m going to do a live video right before we open the gallery so you can also check it out and be part of the event. This is a FREE event for everyone and I hope, if you’re in the area, you can make it.