Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spine-Taneous: Making The Piece

Spine-Taneous is the next show on the horizon (less than two weeks away).  It is the brainchild of Eileen Eiterheim.  She brought in Dr. Martin Stine and me early on to help flesh out the project.

Essentially, Spine-Taneous is a collaborative experience that pairs an artist (or student-artists) with a Chiropractor (or Chiropractic student). As a team/group we develop a concept for a piece and then we create it.

Here is the sketch I presented to Dr. Tara Pratt ( a link to her practice ) at our first meeting at Antonella's Pizzeria.  Underwhelming, eh?

Concept in motion.

We wanted to create a blend/hybrid between a tree and a spine with all of life's stressors weighing down on the spine/trunk.

So we got a big ole, sheet of paper (A huge THANKS to artist Tami Schmidt!), laid down rough squares of masking tape, and started to draw.  4 people and a lot of charcoal.

We also used erasers to make white marks in dark patches of charcoal.

It's important to 'motivate' young artists/workers with the proper administration of a 'face-squeezing'.

Along the lines of the John Steinbeck quote, "If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.', I brought in a 'ringer' to assure this project would be a success.  Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present: Taylor Bennett.  Taylor was a student in my Life Drawing class this past semester at Black Hawk College.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present what Taylor can do with charcoal and a piece of paper.....

Here's an image of Taylor erasing (making white marks on a surface covered with charcoal) a spine.

Some more images of the mayhem that weighs upon us both literally and figuratively.

The image is starting to take shape.

Once all of the drawing was completed, we removed the tape (which took roughly 30 minutes) to reveal a loose grid of white lines/shapes.

The long shot up the piece from the bottom.

Taylor Bennett, Dr. Tara Pratt, and our 'well-charcoaled' mark-making assistant!

So here's the initial 'concept' drawing....

And here is the finished product (turned 90 degrees so it could even fit on the wall in the studio).

4 people.  5 hours of work.

I think this face pretty much sums up the creative experience for the day.

Spine-Taneous, the one-night-ONLY show is Saturday, February 1st from 6-9pm on the third floor of the River Music Experience Building (RME/Redstone Building).  THAT SAME NIGHT (on the second floor in The Redstone Room) will be the farewell performance of Jim The Mule.  Not an evening to be missed!

Coming soon, images from other Spine-Taneous projects and behind-the-scenes set-up images for the show!

For more information about the event Eileen has even made a snazzy Facebook page ( HERE ) and even a website ( HERE ).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Grab Bag Of Progress: Part II -The Home Stretch

Ill-Suited For The Pleasantries opens really soon.  A lot must be done between now and then.

Checking in on the progress with Arena.....

A couple close-up shots of the surface texture.

Although Arena is close to 'done', there are still some key decisions regarding 'the sign' that remain undecided.

Extremely late in the game, I got an idea for finishing the 'sign' (on the right hand side of the canvas).  Unfortunately, I already hit it with some fresh oil paint, and I have to wait a few days until it dries before I can add the changes,  -So it is going to be down to the last minute to get the change completed in time for the show.  It might not happen.

The linework on the first layer of Hemisphere is complete.  I doubt it will be done in time for the show.

On to the line work for The Promised Land (of Sky Blue Waters)....

Now with a little extra attention to the raised figure/target/quote bubble complex.

To provide a frame of reference for how long it takes me to make an image like this, it took me 8 1/2 hours of painting to add the whites and greens for this next layer of color.

The Promised Land (of Sky Blue Waters) has given me an unexpected surprise.  For the original 'plan', I wanted to add a few layers of imagery, but ultimately return the canvas to a visual state nearer to the image below.  The logo, raised silhouette, quote bubble, and target, being the area of primary focus.  However, I (currently) prefer the image above where those raised areas actually become subservient to the overall mayhem of the image.  So, The Promised Land (of Sky Blue Waters) is going into Ill-Suited For The Pleasantries in its current state.  After living with it and looking at it for a month, I will decide if I want to do anything else to it.

Stuntman still needs to be painted......

This next piece is called The Persistence of Nougat.

Time to add the color.

All I have to do is haze this most recent layer of imagery and The Persistence of Nougat will be ready for the show.

Ill-Suited For The Pleasantries opens Monday, January 13th 2014.  The opening reception will be Thursday, January 24th, from 4-6pm.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Delivery Especial A Little More Especial

One of the pieces I had in Merican-Tastic! back in 2012 was Delivery Especial.  I had some lingering suspicions that it would find its way back into the land of reworks.  I wasn't 100% satisfied with how it turned out, but I put it in the show to get a feel for how it looked and give it some space to breathe.

Here is an image of Delivery Especial from Merican-Tastic! with Dr. William Campbell pointing to some good bits.

Although I intentionally painted both the canvas and the frame to be on the minimal side of visual activity.  They both ended up serving as a glaring reminder that what I want to do with a piece, and what a piece needs to have done to it, can often be two entirely different paths.

Now it's time to try to bring Delivery Especial to a more satisfying conclusion.

I decided to add several more 'flag-planting explorer dudes' to the mix in order to make the top layer of imagery not so reliant on the underlayers.

Here they are in place,  -primed and ready to be painted with a base coat of orange.

Freshly 'oranged' and ready to proceed with the line work.

Now it's time to start adding the line work.

A little more....

A few days later, it is time to add some color to the mix.  Here are the two 'palettes' of colors for the piece.  Once these are mixed together, the whole piece has more than a passing resemblance to a paint-by-numbers/coloring book experience.  As is widely known, the number one rule for coloring books is 'to stay inside the lines'.

A former teacher/mentor/friend of mine at Florida State University, Ed Love once said in class that coloring books were insidious training tools because they teach you that "...there is a place for you and you should stay in your place".

Ed Love died in the late 90s from a heart attack.  I am (pleasantly) surprised at how often memories of things he said are still with me while I'm working in the studio.

Here's Delivery Especial without the frame.

The frame also needs to be modified to coalesce with the new reality of the canvas.  By adding this much color activity I am striving to make the whole piece more energetic.  The inherent risk is overshooting the mark and making the piece a hyperactive mess -a technicolor sneeze with anemic compositional sensibilities.

But once I committed to the color, there was no way to go but forward....

*Side Note:  The bowl of mice is a reference to a 'method' of torture used during The Spanish Inquisition (if not in other places where inhumanity and madness ran rampant).  The torturers would place an inverted bowl full of mice on the stomach of a victim.  Hot coals would be place on the underside of the bowl.  In order to escape the heat, the mice would burrow into the victim's abdomen.

Set-up for Ill-Suited For The Pleasantries is in less than 48 hours.........

Good times.