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Ron Crabb's art is almost undetectable, yet it has been seen by millions. He is a matte painter for major Hollywood films, such as X-Men, The Bucket List, and Speed Racer, and it is a compliment to say his work is undetectable. As a matte painter, Ron's role is to create imaginary scenes that look entirely real. Building on an early career in motion graphics, he has developed his incredible photorealistic style. He spent twenty years working with digital painting systems beginning well before the advent of Photoshop. Today, Ron uses a combination of Photoshop, CGI, photographs, and good old-fashioned painting skills to create stunningly realistic matte paintings, special visual effects, title sequences, and concept art for movies. He also creates fine art using the same set of skills. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers a thousand miles from L.A. to Bainbridge Island, Washington to get a look at the career, work, and lifestyle of a man who escaped Hollywood only to master it at a distance.
(Music playing.) Ron Crabb: I often get asked kind of where it started and in other words, when did you become an artist and what are the roots of that and where does that come from. And as an artist you think about that a lot. Why do I love doing what I am doing, why I am driven to do this, and not something else? For me that, that path started really, really young.
I mean, kindergarten got special projects to keep me from being bored. That turned me into an artist by third grade and everyone in the classroom wanted me to do their arts projects for them, or add maps to their reports, because I always got good grades. I didn't have to write well, but I did one killer map or a drawing or something, and the teacher was, oh! I just love this. Great work, Ronny. So early on, it was just, it was natural for me to seek out ways to be creative. I often think back where, even where did that come, why did that come from before that, why was that a natural bent at five years old to really be attracted to that? And you know the best I can come up with is early, early memories of being in the forest and this kind of thing and climbing trees and seeing tree saps stuck on the side of a tree and how the sun reflected through that kind of golden amber color, and the texture of the bark at a very, very early age.
I was just sucking the stuff up and memorizing it. How does that feel and what's that look and the light coming through frozen ice on a creek? Those are vivid memories for me. I was a two-year-old when that was happening. A three-year-old. So, I think there is something about how I was made and I am a man of faith, I believe in a creator and the reason I want to create is because there was an artist who made me and made all of us and so for me, it really makes that process and that desire come alive, because it's like this special gift that another artist gave to me, another master artist shall we say.
Where I am getting to participate in that same kind of thing and that's where it starts to transcend just being a job or just here is what I do. One guy does shop work or whatever and I'm doing art and that's just what we do for living. And it's just not me just doing a picture, but it's me tapping into something that is in everybody. We all have that kind of image, we all have that creative urge and I think that's what people respond to and that's why all sorts of creative endeavors work so well in bringing people together, because in it you recognize, I know that.
I know that emotion, I know that feeling, I know that expression, I know what he is going for, and those two people connect, and I see it when someone appreciates my fine art or compliments me on my work and we start talking about it, that's what they are doing. They are seeing in me and in my work, something that really resonates with them, being able to do what I love doing, what I feel I am gifted to do, makes for a pretty good life. I mean it really is the kind of thing where you go to work each morning.
Not really every time. Every now and then it is tedious. The work can be repetitive at times. But that's a rarity. More often I can sit down at that table and fire up the computer and think you know, I am pretty lucky to be here. It's very fortunate that I can sit in this room and I actually get paid to create. I get paid to use this gift and it provides food for my family and clothing and roof over their heads and I am enjoying the exploration of it.
That's a special gift to be given something like that.
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