Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Signs of Merican-Tastic! II: The Son of Tastic!

The 'installation' part of Merican-Tastic! II is going to require 25-30 (or more) signs to be built into the structure/installation.  Here is a sneak peek of a few as they take shape.

Inspired by many of the cool old diner/motel/road signs seen on my road trip this past Fall (Link to a previous post), this 'hotel' sign took roughly two days to construct.

The texture/lettering are created using Spackle.  I apply several coats of paint to form a harder shell over the Spackle (and to unify the surfaces between Spackle and fabric).

After two layers of 'priming paint' a layer of black and then a lightly applied dusting of a light gray color (or grey colour for those diehard readers in the UK), this is close to what the surface of the finished piece will look like.

A close up detail shot.


'One Way' at the Spackle stage.

Closer to done.

You get the idea. Spackle. Paint. Paint. Paint. Haze-coat. Repeat.

As the black coat is being applied over the two base coats (their color does not matter to the final piece).

I spread out a thin layer of Spackle and immediately afterward come back through with a nail and incise the lettering for each sign.  A couple hours later, the Spackle is hard and ready to be painted.

The start of another one....

Truth be told, it takes way longer to shape/fabricate the cardboard bases for the signs than it does to create the surface texture, lettering, and paint.

These are a few more at the early construction stage.

I will definitely need more traffic signs for the final installation.

Five down, and only 20-25 more to go.  Basically, if I can create a new sign per week between now and when the show opens, I will be close to having a critical mass.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Studio Break Is Brought To You By Sky Bar

Ahhh, the noble, and hard to find, SKY BAR -four chambers of goodness surrounded by chocolate.  Since one of the inspirations/ingredients for my work is Pop culture, why not embrace this classic candy bar from NECCO?  (Check out the company website HERE!)

Check this bad boy out. Caramel. Vanilla. Peanut. Fudge.  For some light bedtime reading on the SKY BAR, here is a LINK to the Wikipedia blurb on this culinary delight.

First things first, let's start with the caramel.....

Here is one of several sketches that references some aspect of the SKY BAR.

For the second course, we move on to vanilla.

Another sketch book doodle.

Third base, peanut!

One of my earliest sketches to celebrate the SKY BAR.

In addition to being one of the first SKY BAR sketches that I made, it was also one of the first sketches I did for a piece called Nursery Rhyme.  Other than using the carved block letters, the sketch and the finished piece have very little in common.

Then we finish things up with the fudge section.

Throw in a little carnival shooting gallery theme for good measure....

The end result is a piece called Critical Mass: Sans Polar Nuclei.

A few detail shots to show the different layers of imagery used to comprise Critical Mass: Sans Polar Nuclei.

And POW! -just like that, Critical Mass: Sans Polar Nuclei went from being a 'finished piece' (one that I had exhibited in a show with Terry Rathje entitled 'Things Of Which Our Mothers Would Not Approve' back in 2010), to a hazed-over work in-progress.  Don't worry, the process of going from a 'finished piece' back into the mix happens on a semi-regular basis, just ask Metropolis (a link to an older post called The Sacrifice which details the initial stages of transformation of Metropolis into Merican-Tastic!)

A few details shots of the now untitled piece.

...and we finish where we began, with the SKY BAR!

Please note that since I have a commitment to doing my own stunts, an entire Sky Bar was consumed to bring you the images in this post.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Constellation. What to do? What to do?

Sometimes as an artists grows and matures, they come across old work and find that they no longer have any intellectual or emotional connection to the piece.  Many artists will keep it anyway due to some nostalgia or fear or discomfort at losing the work (or at least at 'losing' the time that went in to it).  Although I can understand that point of view, I find that a piece that I have no connection to is a new exploration waiting to happen.  All you have to do is to remember that nothing is precious.

Here is Constellation from a show image taken during The Gorilla-Fart Showcase back in 2005 at MidCoast Gallery West.  I had only created a few carved frames at that point and was using my old wood to (GASP!) actually just serve as a fairly mundane frame on some of my pieces.  Slow learner.....

Once I decided that Constellation was going to be reworked, the first thing I did was to remove the wooden frame and then the structure at the bottom of the piece.

I want to play off of the pre-existing 'divisions'/bands within the piece, so they seemed like the appropriate place to put these paradigm houses/structures.

Gotta include Mr. Anthropomorphic Salt Shaker!

Including a memento from my roadtrip this past Fall.  A portion of the sign from The Buckaroo Motel.

I can tell already, that even when I finish putting in the color for the first layer of imagery, fundamentally it is a disastrous composition and will need to be covered by at least one more layer of imagery/paint. Roughly 80% of the surface is meant to be 'cultural white noise' and it is currently demanding too much attention.

Now with all of its color -soon to be painted/hazed over.

A proper 'hazing'.

I'm thinking about adding a canvas (or a portion thereof) as part of the final layer on this piece.  So while the paint is dry, I play around with various configurations to develop a rough/preliminary idea of how they look and interact with what is already on the canvas.

The piece I am strongly considering including is a cast-off piece from the original Merican-Tastic! with the working title of:  Unheld. Untouched. Undone.  Here is an early shot of it.

This is all the further I developed the image before cutting it from the roster for Merican-Tastic!

Unheld. Untouched. Undone. took up too much space initially, so I removed the green part and tore the canvas into two pieces and played around with their placement.

A quick way to see what stitching might look like.

The results were inconclusive, so it is time to add the next layer of imagery (hopefully it will be the last layer, since the surface of the canvas is heavily textured by cement and more than a bit of a nuisance to paint on).

Time to dive in with the line work.

One of my favorite elements from the preceding layer, Mr. Anthropomorphic Salt Shaker, is making me less happy with how it participates in this layer.  This may be a problem.....

Line work done! (at least for this layer)

Here's what it looked like after adding color to the new layer of line work.

A couple of detail shots to show how some of the under layers of imagery contribute to the overall image.

I'm suspecting that Constellation is going to take some more work/analysis beyond what I had initially thought, so I will close this post with a few sketches from one of my notebooks that were used for some of the imagery.  My sketchbooks/notebooks are a combination of doodles & drawings, along with notes from some of my classes in college.

So here are two drawings and where they end up on the piece.   What you can see in this image are remnants from my Biology notes.

The text in these comes from my Philosophy class notes.

Still not quite right.....