Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Voyage of Discovery Becomes Skinner Box II: Lessons Unlearned

Voyage of Discovery has been the working title for this big ole' maze piece I've been building in my studio for several years now.  Now that I've laid out (and carved) most of the frame and already have the words 'Voyage of Discovery' prominently displayed at the top, it seems it's time to push the title a little bit further.

In addition to developing a proper title, there are a few tasks I need to accomplish before I can dive into painting this piece.  In addition to tackling all of the carving needed to complete the frame, I also have to fabricate the different figures/characters for the canvas itself.  One of those characters is The Queen Of Fire And Ice.  Here are her beginnings:

The basis for this incarnation of The Queen Of Fire And Ice comes from part of the frame for another piece I am working on called Bro Kin.

On to the other figure I need for this piece: The Discount Protagonist.  This is a mask I made several years ago which was originally used for a piece called 'Divided By...' that I showed in Merican-Tastic! at The Bucktown Center For The Arts.  About a year later I replaced this mask (and its companion mask) with a carved wooden panels.  Ever since that time, they have sat in a cupboard waiting for a time to be repurposed.  That time is now.

A two-pronged handsaw/utility knife assault results in a (surprisingly!?) bloodless separation of mask from armature.

Test driving the mask on the rest of its 'head'.

Love the texture on this weathered piece of plywood.

Now with the addition of a body.

While I was working on the face and body, I stuffed the old head armature off to the side.  I couldn't help but notice how interesting/compelling it is.

This may turn up as a future piece or I might just draw it and the drawing finds its way into a future piece.  No promises.

An under-illuminated shot of the finished business attached to the canvas.

Gotta have an X here and an X there to mark 'the spot'.

Now for some detail images of the canvas becoming primed/unified and ready to receive some color.

The Queen of Fire and Ice.

An X dutifully marking 'the spot'.

Our 'Discount Protagonist'.

A bunch of Xs marking a bunch of spots.

Primed and ready to be painted.

Next time we look at Voyage of Discovery, it will have some color, and it will be called Skinner Box II: Lessons Unlearned.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Completing RE and DE (Or At Least Turning Them Into A Vocabulary Exercise)

This may be the final post regarding RE 10/DE promises though.

Even though I had initially tried to consider making these two entirely separate pieces, it's now obvious they belong together.

I'm giving some thought to making a carved frame and even coming up with a third layer of imagery, but first, I want to finish this layer and see how all the elements interact with each other.

Time to address the circles.

Once the line work for the lettering is complete, It is time to add the colors.

The colors are done on the RE panel.

By the way, taken as a diptych, these two pieces are now titled "Vocabulary Exercise".

The diptych works pretty well right now.  A carved frame seems superfluous to what is going on.  I may or may not add just a little bit more to the painting, but I'm going to let it hang out for a few days before I make any decisions about its fate.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Made In Iowa: A Look At Troy Swangstu's Work

Last October the International Sculpture Center had its annual conference in Kansas City (you can check out the ISC's website by clicking here  Terry Rathje and I decided to do a brief, yet furious, roadtrip down to KC in order to catch some of the side/peripheral/pop-up exhibitions that typically spring up in a town in conjunction with a major conference like the ISC (or NCECA).  An example of a pop-up show would be our North On 71 exhibition we put together to coincide with NCECA back in 2016.  You can take a look back at some of the preparations for North On 71 on a previous post from 2016 by clicking HERE.

As an added bonus, a buddy of mine, Troy Swangstu, was having a show of his work at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center at the same time.  Since we were in town, Terry and I met up with Troy and took in some sights.  We went to check out Troy's show and were thoroughly glad we did.

These are some of the pieces from Troy's show at The Leedy-Voulkos Art Center (

Troy has spent the winter in the Quad Cities hunkered down in the studio.  It makes perfect sense to come to Iowa in the middle of winter to.....wait a minute, no it doesn't.

Anyway, just a few months later he has created a whole new batch of paintings for the show 'Made In Iowa' at The Ber├ęskin Art Gallery.  Here is a sneak peek at his show.

I have several favorites in Troy's show, this is one of them.

A few detail shots to provide you with a better understanding of how nice these paintings are and show off Troy's captivating use/juxtapositioning  of colors.

White on white.

These next two detail shots could be complete paintings in their own right.

Another favorite.  My sub-par camera on my phone doesn't capture the subtleties of Troy's black on black passages.

This one just blew me away.  The flat orange mass has such an amazing interaction with the subtler colored shapes.  Nice contrast in brush work and texture.

Another piece that blows my mind.

Just this detail shot alone makes me want to get into the studio and make some work.

....which is what I think I'm going to go do...

Check out Troy Swangstu's work at The Ber├ęskin Art Gallery (LINK)