Sunday, June 24, 2012

Evolution of Covalent Bonding into Imminent Departure

Covalent Bonding was a piece I made back in late 2000.  The title refers to pairs of atoms sharing electrons (a nugget that has stuck in my head since sophomore Chemistry class with Mr. Sands (Go! Flower Power!)).  I saw some similarities between that bit of science and relationships with people.

I showed Covalent Bonding a few times and then tucked it away in my studio on a shelf.  Around 2007-ish I pulled it back out a added a 2nd layer.  Soon after I got started working on the 2nd layer, other ideas/projects came up and back on the shelf Covalent Bonding went.  Below is the second coat and it subsequent 'hazing' (which is perfectly legal in my studio).

Within the last year it was brought back into circulation and POW! it was given a 3rd layer of imagery and a new name.  It is now Imminent Departure.  Here are some shots of building up the third layer.

The third layer is a sketch book idea I had for a totally different piece.  The subject matter was compatible, so I used/borrowed it. Be sure to get a good look at the 3rd layer of Imminent Departure, because as of tonight, it has been hazed.....

Almost done.  One cut hole, some stitching, and a smidgen of line work and it shall be complete.

By the way, 11 days left until we install the 'Teaser Show' for 'Merican-Tastic!'.  There's a good chance that Imminent Departure will be one of the teaser pieces.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Studio Madness! Part I

A quicky...

With less than two weeks until installation of the 'Teaser Show' for 'Merican-Tastic!'  It's time to transition from a state of 'studio mayhem' and upgrade to 'studio madness'.  This past week during the Cleveland Road Trip I found out that we were moving up the installation of 'Merican Tastic!' by two weeks.  Brown pants on stand by....

Here is the first of four pieces started by Heidi Hernandez that I have completed.  Behold!  Froot Pie!  POW!!

Next time the evolution of a piece or two.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Road Trip I: The Cleveland Chronicles

I had the opportunity to enjoy a whirlwind tour of Cleveland this past week.  In short: I saw a respectable amount of art, and I ate a bunch of food.  Happy.

First things first, I saw Ralphie's house.  Yeah, that's right, Ralphie from The Christmas Story.  I saw the leg Lamp.  I got my tongue stuck to a flag pole (however since it was June, I'm not sure what made it adhere....). I even took a moment to shoot my eye out!

We drove past this beauty several times!

A little sumthin' special from Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

We also stopped by 78th Street Studios for 3rd Fridays  This place is full of studio after studio of all kinds of artwork and artists.

I met Cerri Gertz (I hope I wrote her name down correctly) and took an image of her artwork (here are only three of MANY cool pieces she just had sitting on a table) I also have an image of her standing next to her late husband's (Lee Gortz) artwork.  I wish I could have stayed longer, but 78th Street studios is a huge sprawling warehouse, and we had a lot to see....

Cerri Gortz at 78th Street Studios!

While packing my eyes full of artwork, I also managed to enjoy a few great meals.  We started at Peppers Italian Restaurant in Lakewood  Below you can witness the majesty of their Deluxe Pizza and their Chicken Marsala.

We also treated ourselves to some gut-busting grilled cheese goodness at the Melt Bar and Grill  Below are the Parmageddon and the Spinach Pie.  I ate until it hurt.

Mmmmmm cheesy....

We also stopped by the West Side Market for...pretty much everything!

It was necessary to also stop by The Sweet Spot for some medicinal gelato.

Gelato POW!  Take that Silver City!  (just kidding)

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the delightful cannoli from Corbo's Bakery in Little Italy

Finally, I give an enthusiastic and heartfelt 'Thank You' to my hosts Ti, Christian, Sasha, and Frosty for their kindness, generosity, and hospitality.  And another 'Thank You' to Dot and Norm for dragging me out of my studio for a week to see more of the world.  Good luck Natasha!

Guess which one was having more fun?  Fortunately for Norm, you can see both of my hands (not standard operating procedure...).  This image was taken shortly before shooting my eye out at Ralphie's house.

Next time we get right back to studio madness!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Ballad of Me and You

Brevity.  The cardboard stage...

Adding the cement stage.....

Priming the cement stage.....

The painting stage.....

The last image is a rough indication of what the final piece will look like.  It is still going to get some tweaking done to the painting.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Old Friends, An Art Hero, and the Importance of Pickle Buckets!

Wow!  A while back I posted a blurb about a piece that Terry Rathje and I made for EX-CH-AN-GE -back in 2008 (at Quad City Arts Gallery).  The original painting was something I inherited from my friend Naomi Kamla.  Recently, Naomi contacted me to let me know that what I had labeled as a 'Crap-ass merchant-dude painting' was in fact, THE Sir Thomas More (Wikipedia link here:  So, it is with great pleasure that I amend my previous statement.  Henceforth, I shall describe the initial painting as a 'Crap-ass Philosopher-Dude Painting'.  Thanks Naomi!!

Another friend that recently surfaced was a old piece Soul's Arc: The Voyage Home.  I had kind of lost track of what became of the piece which I made back in late 2000/early 2001.  A bad quality close-up below:

I was working on Delivery Especial when I realized that the base canvas was Soul's Arc underneath another piece called Without (check out the post 'Carving Part II: ).  Here is the current state of Delivery Especial.

Now onto one of my art heroes from graduate school -Antoni Tapies! (1923-2012).  Here is a link to Fundacio Antoni Tapies:  Prepare to set your brain to 'stun'....

Anyway, I fell in love with the textures he put on canvas.  I found out that he used pigment, marble powder, and bone glue to get his texture(s).  I was living in North Florida at the time and was too poor to afford to run my air conditioning, so I was pretty sure that I was NOT going to be able to use something as fancy-schmancy as marble powder or bone glue.  So I began to experiment with using QuikCrete (inexpensive cement) and instead of making the concrete with water, I merely used latex house paint to provide moisture.  The binder in the paint adhered the cement to the canvas nicely.

Here are some early-stage in-progress shots of a piece called Me & You so you can see the cement/paint mixture on a piece.

The effective working time for the paint/cement mixture is roughly 10 minutes.

Once it dries, I prime the surface at least two times with more latex paint/gesso (I prefer three times).  This extra priming helps to seal/smooth out the cement so it doesn't sop up tons of my comparatively more expensive oil paint.

Here are a few examples of some piece that have some elements of cement texture:

The Guardians from 1999 -one of my earliest painted constructions.

Skinner Box from 1999/2000 -one of my earliest mazes/painted constructions.  Below is a portion of the second stage of color on BroKin

In closing, two helpful household hints for the studio: Pickle Buckets and cardboard!  The use of space is always an issue in my studio (along with my artist friends).  Although nothing can replace a nice clean and sturdy workbench, I have found that using 5-gallon pickle buckets provides me with an acceptably stable work surface that is highly flexible AND can store all kinds of supplies and some tools.

I usually use 4 stacks of two pickle buckets to support whatever canvas I am working on.

If I am working on a ladder, I can stack the buckets higher and still have a surface to hold tools and supplies.

Another thing that I learned AFTER I was out of school was the importance of using a piece of cardboard while I 'paint'.  I paint on my pieces while they are horizontal (supported by my handy pickle buckets!).  I keep a piece of cardboard under my forearm for three reasons.  The first is that it increases the surface area that the weight of my arm places on the canvas (which will stretch out of shape/'dent' with too much pressure). Second, it keeps my arm out of the wet paint (I know if my hand is on the cardboard, I'm not smearing any fresh paint).  Finally, the comparatively smooth surface of the cardboard allows me to slide my arm/hand to lay down nice fluid lines without getting snagged on some texture.

A couple shots of the cardboard for the two of you who couldn't visualize what a slab of cardboard under my arm might look like!

Until next time, Keep your hands at 'Ten' and 'Two'......