viernes, 26 de abril de 2013

Presentation and beginning with "Serpent of the Nile"

I’m an FX artist, sculptor and painter, and also unconditional  admirer and enthusiast of the traditional artistic works in movies like: model making, make-up effects, stop motion and matte painting.  Nowadays some of those artistic activities have been replaced by Computer Generated Imagery.  Matte painting is probably the most extreme case, and at the moment it is almost impossible to think of a film using traditional glass paintings.
This Blog is tribute to the old tricks of the trade of the lost art of matte painting.

I actually have a web site dedicated to all those artistic craftworks at:

I started that site 10 years ago and it has grown so huge and unsystematic that it is almost a chaotic experience to visit . With the help of a graphic artist, I’m working on the huge task of create a new web design to make a more easy and pleasant experience to surf it.

There are many blogs created for digital matte painters. But as far as I know,  there is only one dedicated to the art of traditional glass painting. Created and written by my good friend NZPete.

During the last years he has develop an incredible and in deep examination of matte artists and films. Most of his articles are intense and profound analysis of specific subject or film genres.  My intention is not to compete, but to complete his enormous work.   I will write small articles dedicated to particular films.
Although the main interest in this blog is matte painting, you  will also find some samples of miniatures, creatures, pyrotechnic and all kind of Special Effects.

My first publication will deal with the film  “Serpent of the Nile” (1953) by Columbia Pictures.

It was filmed using the left over sets from “Salome” with Jack Erickson credited for Special effects.
 As far As I know, Erickson was not a matte painter or photographer. The  paintings are irregular quality and they  were probably executed by more than one artist.  Maybe Juan Larrinaga (Mario’s brother) or  Lou Lichtenfield whom worked at Columbia matte department during the late forties.
I’m not sure about who was in charge of Columbia matte department at the fifties. Lichtenfield worked for MGM An American in Paris (1950) and later headed the Warner Bros FX department Helen of troy (1956)  The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

Lawrence Butler used to be head of visual effects at Columbia during the 40´s and 50´s. There never was a matte painter credited on his films. He probably hired matte artists for freelance works.

Although they are nice and colourful, some of the paintings seem children’s book illustrations instead of realistic matte paintings.

Enjoy and best regards.