Monday, December 31, 2012

It's Possible That You Might Need More Tastic In Your Diet

In addition to re-engaging some (abandoned?) works-in-progress that I didn't finish for Merican-Tastic!, I also have begun a few new pieces to swap with Heidi Hernandez, and Terry Rathje.  We have a show coming up late Summer 2013 at Quad City Arts, and since our bodies of work conceptually overlap in some places, we thought it would be a worthwhile to accentuate and explore the overlap.

Heidi still has a piece from our initial swap for Merican-Tastic! last Spring called Cool Fools Dool Gools 4 Jools.

I decided to start 4 canvases with words/phrases paired with a mask/face element.  Here are some shots as the pieces start to come together.  I don't want to 'finish' these an further than about 40% in order to leave Terry and Heidi plenty of room to develop their own ideas with my 'start'.

These piece will need a few 'ingredients' on my end.  First of all, a batch of carved letters to form words (or word fragments).   Unleash the Dremel Tool and a wee bit later......carved letters!  (-the level of excitement achieved while carving may or may not have merited an exclamation mark in that last sentence...).

Then I cut out the individual letter blocks by hand with a coping saw.

The process of cutting out the blocks by hand really doesn't take that long.  Also, I find comfort and enjoyment in using some hand tools that both my father and my grandfather used in their shops.  Call it continuity? Sentimentality?

The next thing is to sand down the splintery bits and rough parts on the sides and the back.  I used a self-made sanding block that is just a chunk of 2"x4" with an underlayer sheet of cardboard and a top sheet of sand paper stapled to it.  It's free and it gets the job done.  Actually you can take different sizes and shapes of wood scraps and dowel rods, attach some sandpaper with your desired grit, and make all kinds of customized sanding tools.

A few minutes later, I have a bunch of letter blocks ready for the next phase.

Now on to some decapitations!

I have a stockpile of different figures, faces, masks, and characters in my studio.  As creative energies in the studio ebb and flow, I work on different things.  Some weeks are carving intensive, other times I might have a stretch where I just make face/masks/figures, and sometimes I may have almost a month of just drawing and sketching ideas, characters, and compositions.  If I don't have a show sort of guiding (forcing?) my studio production, day-to-day work can be quite free-flowing.

Anyway, in the words of The Collector (played by the late Frank Thring) in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 'We wanna keep the brains, dump the body...'

So here are the 'ingredients' for Glitter Heart (a working title based on the text blocks that will be added).

Top head/face,

Bottom head/face.

The rough layout -without the text fragments and before I decided that the mask/face in the top register would work better in a different piece.

Now with the text in place and a different mask/face/character at the top.  Here is what the piece looked like before priming.

Time to put down some brown (funny, that's somehow not code...).

About 7 months ago I bought a sampler pack of Sophisticated Finishes (an antiquing compound) that had a gold and a blackened bronze color.  Here's the gold as it's being applied.

A link to a previous post where I used the copper and the iron metallic surfacer (more images regarding surfacers).

The kit also contained a third bottle which has a patina solution which can be applied to either the gold or the blackened bronze, if desired.  In the case of the gold, I don't think I 'desire'.  So it is time to paint the sides, the letters, and the front/surface of the piece with its last coat of color before I pass the canvas off.

A few more coats of paint, and here is what the piece looks like before it goes off to be finished either by Heidi Hernandez or Terry Rathje (or if those two lugnuts don't want to tackle it, then I'll finish it.)

So for you mouth-breathers that haven't pieced together what another round of exchanging works means, it means in 2013, Merican-Tastic! II: The Son of Tastic.

All of that sanding, decapitating, carving, antiquing, and Tastic-ing made me hungry, so The 4-Foot Assassin and I split a burger-ariffic snack.  This can only mean one thing, -A new 'Scooba Steve' drawing from Thomas to add to the Pantheon of Boozie Burger to-go box images!

View the Pantheon below....

Next time we'll look at Two More for the Cause....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cleaning The Studio: A Blast From The Past

Once in a great while the need to clean my studio will actually be rewarded by my desire to do so (please note that desire in this instance should be read as 'reluctant acknowledgement of its dire necessity').  This entails a great deal of moving things around, consolidating similar materials into one container versus three or more, vacuuming sawdust, and throwing things away.  Part of the 'consolidating' process requires going through boxes, buckets, and other containers and re-discovering what is inside.

Pretty yawn-arific stuff, which is why I only tackle this tedium on election years.  However, some discoveries trigger ideas for new pieces or rekindle old ideas with new insight(s).  Occasionally, things actually put a smile on my face.

The most recent partial cleaning effort in the studio yielded a few treasures.  We'll start with bits of billboard and old(er) canvases which have been cut-up into smaller bits/sections.  I have several pieces which have some old billboard collaged in them.  Below is an example to be found in Squishy Rumba -which I will talk about more in an upcoming post.

Yea! Squishy Rumba!

In addition to little bits like this, I actually have several decent sized rolls of multi-layered billboard.  Lovin' those Ben-Day Dots!

I also came across various scraps of old paintings which will someday/somehow find their way back into something.

An early Happy Meal toy.....

Another pleasing 'find' was my stash of Wacky Packages from the early 1980s.  For those of you not familiar with the joy and wonder of the Wacky Package, here is a link to the Wikipedia article so you can get yerself some learnin': Wacky Packages Link.

......and a few more.......

I have many memories walking up to the local five-and-dime store during the Summer and having to make the difficult fiscal choice between purchasing insightful cultural parody paired with a crunchy, crap-ass stick of  bubble-gum or partaking in the unbridled bliss of a chocolate bar.  Also, please note that during 'my day' we still had the term 'five-and-dime', but nothing actually cost five or ten cents.  I guess 'five-and'dime' is catchier than 'a quarter or more store'.

To say that Star Wars was a big deal when I was a kid is kinda like saying that fire was a big deal to the  cavemen (note the total lack of hyperbole).  There were two things that really sparked my imagination as a kid -and they both were unleashed in 1977.  The Rankin and Bass animated version of The Hobbit and Star Wars.

So while organizing some boxes, I came across an old Star Wars folder laden with treasures!

Luke and Leia just before they used the grappling hook to cross the chasm inside the Death Star.  Note the uncanny resemblance to both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

Princess Leia standing next to Darth Vader (I hope).

The princely sum of  41 cents was paid for the folder.

The Imperial Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back.  Even at a young age I resisted the urge to convey snow through the use of something conventional like, let's say.....uh......white.  Instead, Hoth is blue.

Quite the drawing of Yoda.  I think my favorite part is how instead of making his twisted wooden cane longer, the ground just magically raises up to meet the cane.  Man, that guy can use The Force!

Alternate versions of movie posters for The Empire Strikes Back.

A few of these images made me say "What the what?" to myself, none more so than The Bounty Hunters.  The Boba Fett is dead-on with his noodle feet and the precision rendering of his helmet.  It's the suggestive placement the hands/gun combo that makes me wonder......

On final thing that I came across in the folder was this old cover to an issue of People Magazine.  C3PO is certainly holding down the fort on the cover. The part that surprised me was the advertisement on the backside of the front cover.

A relic from a bygone era -the cigarette ad.  It's been so long since I've seen a cigarette ad in print, that I almost forgot they existed at one point.

Ahhhh, the 1970s.......

Monday, December 10, 2012

Carving Part IV and A Visitor To The Neighborhood

My painted constructions/works on canvas often times have overlapping layers of doodles/sketches/drawings.  None of these 'component drawings' are terribly compelling.  Yet, when they are juxtaposed, they form an intriguing loose and scattered narrative.  Sometimes I take some of these 'component drawings' and make a carving out of them.  So is the case with Dispelled.

You can see some of my marker notations to remind me NOT to carve the lines cutting across the rabbit's ears.  Although I routinely forget to cut a line here and there, I have so far, not cut too much.  When it becomes more of a challenge is when I start a carving and then can't get back to it for a month or two and then try to decipher my two-month old notations/thinking.  I had a good reason for putting that information there two months ago, but can I still remember the reason?

After everything is carved, it is time to spray paint the whole piece black.  Once that is dry, then I put on a layer of white so I can see what I am working on AND because oil paint, when applied thinly, is translucent the white helps reflect light/make the colors more vibrant.

For Dispelled, I didn't have a specific color scheme in mind, so I just cut open some older paint palettes and dug out a green and a blue.

Seeing that particular green and that particular blue together made me realize that I wanted them to be more vibrant/active.  The image above is what the piece actually looked like in progress, and the image below is when I used Photoshop to just pour in a blue and green combo I found worked better together.

Once I realized that I didn't like the actual green and blue pairing, and that I would have to paint over them if I were to continue down that path, I decided to play around and see what and obnoxious Pepto Bismol pink would do to the mix (that would be the same obnoxious Pepto Bismol pink that was used in Sphinx O Gato? in a previous post).

It really does coat, soothe and relieve! -or is that some other product slogan?

With those three main colors interacting tolerably, I wanted to sneak in a few more not-so-visually-demanding colors  -gray and an obnoxious yellow (ok, so one of them wasn't so demanding...).  I'm not 100% sold on the result so far, but now that there are some colors in place, I can take some time looking at the piece and mentally try out some color tweaks/changes.  Who knows how long that will take?  This original plank of wood had a mostly different drawing on and was titled Transmitter (back in 2004).  Only the lightning bolt and the large head survive from that incarnation (the main reason being that they had already been carved).

So I'll stare at it and contemplate for a while.....

Anyway, on to my next nugget.  In a few different posts, you can read about the joys of Antonella's Ristorante (check 'em out here!) which is directly below my studio.  I have sung praise to their Chicken Marsala and this bad-boy you see below Giovanni's Creamy Garlic (with a ladle of red sauce on top -ya gotta ask for it).

Anyway, awhile back when the Presidential Campaign was in high gear, and the battle ground states were getting the attention normally afforded to single women in the Wild West, President Obama popped in for a quick bite to eat at Antonella's.  I have to admit that I am disappointed in the Secret Service's efforts in scoping out an area.  Surely, if they had done their research, The President would have been enjoying a Giovanni's Creamy Garlic Pizza.

I'll let you guess which chair he sat in during his visit....

I'll close this post with a story.  A good friend of mine was flying into town at 10pm on the night before Thanksgiving.  She wanted to have supper at Antonella's (if at all possible) once she arrived.  I asked Giovanni if they would be open the night before Thanksgiving and he said they'd be open until 10pm.  I went into Antonella's at 9:45 and saw the servers vacuuming, rolling silverware, and getting ready to go home to be with their families.  It was obvious that they had a fairly slow evening and the servers were eager to dive into their holiday plans.

My friend didn't arrive until well after 10pm.  Not only did Giovanni make my favorite pizza (Giovanni's Creamy Garlic with a ladle of red sauce added) which, due to its thick crust, takes about 35-40 minutes to bake, he let the servers all go home and patiently waited with good cheer as the two of us enjoyed our pizza.  He shared several stories with us, including tales of the President's visit.  I couldn't thank him enough for his hospitality and generosity.

Living downtown is certainly a mixed bag of good and bad (random street vomit is pretty low on my list of sights to see), but having a place like Antonella's by my studio and people like the Sgros as neighbors makes it a pretty damn good neighborhood.