‘You Never Grow Old’
Long time, no blog. I’d offer my apologies for that but I have a quick notice of something fun for you instead. This Saturday the 10th I have a split show with Casey Weldon opening at Distinction Gallery in Escondido, California. You can click on the Current Show link at the bottom to see the preview of our work.
I’ll be in attendance so say ‘Hi’ if you can make it out.
‘Nothing Interesting Ever Happens on Sunday’
‘Autumn Owl — Munny’
As the icy fingers of December close their shivering embrace upon us one may catch themselves assuming that we are lost to another long winter. Well, I say not. As the calendar has it, winter doesn’t begin this year until the 22nd and as of the moment it is only the 18th.
Do you know what that means? It’s Autumn. Oh, yes Autumn. And here in Cleveland this is our season. The leaves change colors, the squirrels plump up, dark ales taste better and sweater seasons means we eat Melt Bar and Grilled five nights a week without compunction.
In honor of this wondrous season, and the second annual custom Munny show hosted by Vivid Plastic Toys, I hereby incarnate ‘Autumn Owl.”
This year Vivid Plastic brought the event to the Box Gallery in Akron, Ohio. The show titled ‘Paper of Plastic’ hosts the traditional 2d work of the participating artists as well as their take on the Kid Robot Munny.
The oil painting above is my two dimensional take on the Great Northern, pot-bellied Autumn owl.
Perky little fellow.
The owl being an inevitable motif for every young artist these days, I was kind of surprised by an initial Google Image search that there really aren’t that many owl themed Munnys out there. This was a nice surprise as it gave me some room to work.
I guess the Munny, with its legs and arms, doesn’t jump around screaming with the opportunity to become a bird. The potential was there, however with a little bit of anatomic rearranging.
As a matter personal practice, I don’t like reductively altering the basic form for a custom too much when working on it. I think part of what makes customs so interesting is the challenge in creating something unique within the limitations of the generic form.
That being said, flipping the arms upside down and cutting into the legs a little seemed to be within fair play considering my end goal for the toy.
Not to mention that I will pretty much take any excuse I can to play with a Dremmel tool.
By request I’ve converted the Autumn Owl painting into a giclee print. Copies of the print are now available in my online shop. I was able to make the print life size to the painting which is 12″ x 12″ with a half inch border.
Go ahead and order a couple for yourself.
You deserve it.
Also, I thought I would give you Photoshop users a little insight into my process for preparing an image of a Munny for web presentation. If you click on the image above you will download a 526kb ZIP file for one of the layered PSD files I used for this entry. I reduced the image size to 300px wide to shrink the file size, but you can still see what is going on.
This might not be the most interesting thing to the rest of the world, but any of you artists who have struggled with getting the best image of your sculpture should appreciate this.
In this case, I rushed the toy to the gallery before I could set up lighting and get a proper set of photos taken. I had to take a few quick shots under the gallery’s flat florescent lights. If you are interested in how I worked these photos over in order get something fairly respectable looking, feel free to download the file and play around with it in Photoshop.
Wow. This was a beefy little entry. I think I shall go take a nap.
‘Dawn of the Working Week’
This fancy little painting here is in tonight’s “Caffeine” opening at the Rendition Gallery in Fort Collins, CO.
The show also boasts work by some pretty impressive artists like Scott Tolleson, Aaron Jasinski, Bryan Collins, Switch/Brucey, Jason Rowland, Heather Renaux,Emily Clingman and Rendition studio artists Rolfe Bautista, Jeff Herndon, Daniel Ibanez, Rachel Ann, and Matthew Angelo. The show sounds great so I hope some of you can make it out to Rendition this December.
This painting is actually somehow related to that ‘naked in the woods’ series I tested out earlier this year, (hence the leaf). This one is “Dawn of the Working Week” and I think it pretty cleanly lays out the domestication of a Monday morning and the all important role that first up of coffee plays.
College, our first job or our first child, we all have that moment in life when we realize that coffee is the all nurturing manna handed down by the gods so we can over come that pesky little devil otherwise known as sleep. For me it was summer school for tenth grade English class. It was six straight hours my most mind numbing subject right at the delicate age when I first discovered that capitulating to nightly slumber was truly the option of the weak. Coffee saved me then.
Of course since then I have maintained the worst sleeping habits this side of the grave and have become a grizzled old man in constant need of an espresso …
I’ll post again shortly about a shiny new Munny of mine.
This is just a quick update to let everyone know that I designed a poster for the second annual Cinematic Redux II show at The Breakneck Gallery. Once again, this one was curated by Chad [Chod] Kimes. Aptly scheduled in time for Halloween, this show features various artist interpretations of horror movie posters.
As you can see, I took on Rosemary’s Baby in hopes of injecting a little humor into it. I have always admired minimalist poster design and wanted to try my hand in that arena. Forever one to sneak humor into unexpected places, this genre of design seems made for me. You never know what you are going to get when you try something new, but I am pretty tickled with the result.
Here are a couple of my sketches leading up to the design. Alternative ideas had a birth control test reading positive with a pentagram or a remake of David’s “Cupid and Psyche” painting as “Satan and Mia Farrow.” I wisely decided not to challenge David at a game of paint.
The Breakneck Gallery provided this cake for the opening which is quite obviously amazing.
Also for the second year in a row, Ingenuity Fest in Cleveland had a white room littered with black markers for patrons to fill with words, pictures and whimsey. It is always pretty full when I get there, but I managed to find a good spot for a bunny.
I’ll leave you with a teaser of the painting I am currently working on. I have work in two more shows in Akron, OH and Fort Collins, CO before the year runs out so keep an eye out for more information to come.
‘A Grizzly in Gnome’s Clothing’
The Holden Arboretum invited me to customize one of twenty oversized garden gnomes that they have on display this summer as part of their “Gnome and Garden” attraction. The gnomes were constructed out of fiberglass, coated in white primer and offered up to twenty artists with the promise that we’d work our wonders with them.
I submitted this digital mock up with my proposal and they delivered the gnome to me as it appears above. One thing I can tell you with the wisdom of experience is that living with a giant inanimate gnome for a couple of months is as unsettling as all can be. Every time you come home, wake up in the middle of the night or look up from checking your email it is there to stare at you with that pale, undefined glare and listless menace.
Also it would be fair to note that when one submits a proposal stating that they can transform a five foot tall gnome into a woodland bear there is a bit of false confidence that goes a long with it.
“Are you sure you can actually do this?” they ask.
“Sure.” I say.
“Well, how exactly will build it up and keep it weather resistant?” they query.
“Excellently.” I imbue.
I think most artist learn early on that assuming you can do something and then leaving it up to the ether to try to prove them wrong is about the only way to get anything done.
When pragmatics really did come into play I used a sheet of thick insulation sheathing from the hardware store to start the initial build up. It is dense enough to support a little bit of abuse while allowing a semi-detailed sculpt and since it is a weather insulator, it should have no problems dealing with climate at the arboretum. I used some razors to shape the foam and sand paper proved an invaluable tool for controlling the surface. Tooth picks and Liquid Nails held it all in place.
To finish the sculpt off I used Magic Sculpt, the same epoxy clay I used for the bunny Munny in my previous entry. It hardens to a really durable plastic so it too was perfect for this project.
Since the gnome had to stay family friendly and fun, I had make sure it didn’t get too dark when in the painting phase, (most of my paintings get considerably darker when I grab a brush). To ensure it stayed warm and active I mixed some light yellow in with the gesso before I gave the grizzly its first coat. The rest of the paint job was handled with acrylics which were a bit of a challenge for me as I almost always paint in oils.
Special thanks to Achilles Running Shop for sponsoring my gnome, Holden for inviting me and all the people who took and tagged me in the above photos which I stole for this entry.
In other news …
I made three little digital illustrations for “Sandinista!” — a Clash themed show and the Zaller Gallery. This one was another Dave Desimone Production and I took it as an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the more creative capacities of Photoshop. Inspiration was taken from the song “Career Opportunities” off of their self titled album.
I ran them off as little 6″ x 8″ giclee prints and put them out for $10 each, ($30 for the set). If you are interested in owning them, just email me for more information.
To finish out the entry I’ll throw in a logo I made for my brother-in-law and some portraits of Jennipher Luc and her fiance.
‘Rabbit in Respite — Munny’
The artist list includes:
Abe Lincoln Jr, Ack!, Andrew Shondrick, Anville, Babyvtec, BALD, Brett Osborne, Chauskoskis, Christian Navarrette, Daniel Anguilu, Evoker, Fried Gold Productions, Ian Ziobrowski, Igor Ventura, James Fuller, Jay Bramhall, Jeremiah Ketner, Julie Truong, George Lamontagne, Lara Slater, Luihz, Unreal, Malo Customs, Martin Hsu, Matt Anderson, MeSmithy, Mr. Den, Nreazon, Rocketboy, Rsin, Ryan the Wheelbarrow, Saner, Squink!, Valerie G, VISEone, Zam Art
Those who know me best know that I am well overdue to make a bunny. Something about their floppy ears, constant munching and the use of bouncing as their primary method of transportation makes them my constant go-to creature for doodle and glee.
It is then that when Marie invited me along on my latest venture into the Munny making world that I incarnated the little hoppy fellow pictured here. He stands at about ten inches high and is the product of my first customization attempt with epoxy clay. I like him.
Keeping with my constant zeal for gimmickry and magic, I saw fit to make a little stereoscopic rotation of my little polymer friend. As with the Possum-Munny post, the video is stereoscopic. Unfocusing your vision should create a third, faux-3D bunny in the middle. You can then use the slider to scrub the video and spin him back and forth whilst utilizing all four practical dimensions.
I apologize for the fuzziness of the video. I have a really sharp video but that is 370 megabits so I thought it best to use a more aggressive codec.
Also worth noting is that the video was made from 270-some still photos from my DSLR. Apparently my Mini-DV camera is no longer amongst the living. Who knew?
Also, also: If any of you are web-sleuths and can tell me why the embedded quicktime file doesn’t want to obey the wmode settings, it would be down right kind of you.
Coming from an oven bake clay, the epoxy took some getting used to. Unlike oven-bake, epoxy is rather messy. It is sticky from the start and then gets muddy as you smooth it with water. That being said, the fact that it fully cures at room temperature is very convenient. It allowed for an easy gradual build up for the ears and a peace of mind knowing that I won’t be able to but a thumb print in what I finished yesterday.
I used a coiled armature wire to give the ears a basic shape a rigidity while waiting for the first thin layer of clay to dry. A third step connected the wires to the Munny itself while adding more clay for a relatively seamless transition.
That’s all for this entry. I’ll connect back with you, dear readers, next month to let you know about a giant garden gnome project that I am participating in. Until then …
Hazel up there was based of the song of the same name from Ken Nordine’s ‘Colors” ablum.
It was for a Nordine themed show at the Pink Eye Gallery. The character of Hazel appealed to me because of the way the narrator disapproved of her and yet she continued to celebrate her being anyway. Charming in its own right, and the song seemed to fit in well with the cast of characters that I’ve painted in the past.
For you viewing pleasure, I put a full scale image of it here.
There has been a lot of work-in-progress entries in this blog devoted to customized vinyl toys, and yet none to painting. As I embrace drawing and painting first and foremost, I think now is just the time to remedy that.
I started with a 12″ x 12″ birch panel on which I drew what would become Hazel. I sealed the drawing with a workable fixative and did a series of washes with acrylic paint to get a background color established. I made sure to keep the paint thin enough so the drawing wouldn’t be lost and then I sealed the whole thing with a clear gesso.
Here I had already moved on to oils and painted the skin.
Natural shadows in the skin where one of the things I struggled with a lot in school. I have the mind to make everything dark when that is very rarely the smart thing to do.
The way I approach them now is to establish a light and shadowed skin tone before I start. I also pick a dark color that will be used for all the shadows throughout the painting.
Exceptions can be made, but more often then not you will want to use resident shadow and highlight colors throughout a painting. This makes sure that everything looks like it is being affected by the same atmospheric light.
As you can see in these rather demonic looking eyes, I start by brushing in the dark areas with my resident shadow color. Not only does this maintain color consistency, but it allows you to withhold coloring consideration of the finished surface while you start shading in value.
Just like a good argument uses as few words as possible to make its point, a good drawing will use as few lines as possible to define a shape. While this is all fine and fancy for your drawing, you can get yourself into trouble once you really try to define the roundness of cheeks or the transition from a clavicle to the chest.
I try to get all these shapes finalized in this highly adjustable step before delving into the material colors.
At this point Olive, (AKA: Fuzzy Face) climbs up to critique my progress and add comedic relief.
Speaking of Olive, (AKA: Fuzzy McFuzzdom) she had taken to protesting a lack of scratching and climbing surfaces in my living room by substituting my record collection. After completing “Hazel” I squeezed in time to build her a three foot scratching post to stave off her destructive habits. I seems to have worked. I plan on building her a full climbing tower once the summer gives me a little more project time.
But back to Hazel: There is normally a moment of panic for me when I am painting the face. It always looks like the whole thing is some sort of deformed elf or something. Over time I have learned to trust my instincts and withhold judgement until I complete the hair and everything is properly framed in.
In this case I decided to shorten her hair from what I have drawn. The unfinished drawing will remain visible now, but that doesn’t bother me. I think that when you have a highly finished painting such and mine tend to be, people like to find evidence of an artist’s thought process and foibles.
In school, most of my classes consisted of a majority of posh feminists. Critiques in that light were a series of highly predictable and highly repetitive commentaries on the social implications of the imposed beauty standards on the ever marketed women.
For this minority of men in those classes, our interest levels just went all willy nilly. This did, however provide us with a great deal of paranoia and repercussion whenever it came time to draw a breast.
I have no real point in that story except that painting Hazel’s dress reminded me of it.
In time I just accepted that I draw funny looking people. Some features get big, some get small. Women are pretty and have great lines to draw when they shift the weight through their hips. That just the way the cookie crumbles.
Speaking of crumbling cookies, While I was eating a chocolate chip cookie from the BlackBird Bakery for breakfast this morning, (score one for my inner child) I noticed the little cookie crumbs falling to the floor. I have to imagine that in the course of a lifetime we waste a hundred cookies worth of crumbs to the floor.
This saddens me because, well, I could have eaten those cookies.
‘Grizzly in Respite — Munny’
I made this piece for a show opening this Saturday, March 18th at the (art)ificial Gallery in Lakewood, OH. It was curated by Rick Sans and will feature custom vinyl toys from various artists. The opening runs from 6pm until 9pm. I’ll be in attendance for the brunt of it so if you read this, you are here by obliged to attend.
Some of the other featured artist include: Tharp, Roberto Andujar, Wil Delgado, Bob Peck, Richard S. Cihlar, Jeff Hulligan, Gary Meacher, Nicka, Kevin Smalley, Debra L Kozak, Thomas Durdella, and more.
Yeah sure, they may have made some mistakes along the way, but they are basically good kids with a rough past and it would be great if you could come out and show them some support. Maybe have a few beers, maybe enjoy a little art while we all get together and help these long winter days unwind.
As for the bear here, I chose to stick with a Munny as my base form of choice. This was the same figure I chose for the Awesome Possum Munny that I made last year. I like the 8″ size and relative simplicity of the form so it makes sense for me to stick with it for now.
The bear himself comes from the Naked in the Woods series I’m painting now. I used the painting above for reference while starting out the sculpt. For now I stuck with Super Sculpey, but I just ordered some Magic Scupt epoxy clay so I’m anxious to give that a try for another show I have coming up in May, (details forthcoming).
The muzzle of the beast is the dominant characteristic of the face so I started with it. First I smeared a thin layer of sculpey over the face just to ensure that I could get good adhesion when adding on the features. Next come the cheeks which cover the Munny’s “ears” and the eyebrows to get the boxy shape I wanted for a grizzly.
Then on to the chin, teeth, eyes and ears. It’s and idiot’s resort, but whenever I set out to make one of these features that I will need to make two of, I start by separating the equally sized balls of clay for both features before I sculpt either. If I make the left ear and then go to grab clay for the right, I will never get the size right. Never. Symmetry is my enemy so I try to short cut its foils.
Here’s a quick example of how I make the feet. Starting with the toes stretched out and then bending them into place creates natural looking folds in the joints.
This is how it looked after surviving an hour in the oven and its initial primer. I covered it in a flat acrylic coating of a deep aqua blue to start it out.
The rest is just a full shift with my trusted oil paints. I know I work pretty simply, but hopefully this gives those of you who ask some helpful insight on how these things I make come about.
Well, scratch one Munny off the list, but I still have a lot to do before May. I’ve got some weird stuff coming around the corner so I’ll talk to you guys when they get here.
‘Ever Eluding All Things Alluring’
After taking it easy while waiting to last year to end this year has been keeping me delightfully busy. Above is a recent painting that I am feeling pretty good about.
It challenged me a little more than normal because I wanted to play with glazing techniques after I finished the initial effort. It became pretty evident to me last year that there were limitations in my efforts to create lighting and atmospheric effects that simply weren’t going to be overcome by the methods I had been using. Applying these thin semi-transparent layers on the surface of the painting is really time consuming, but wildly worth it.
Random Fun Fact:
The painting was loosely based on the following digital image I made while goofing around last year.
The “Naked in the Woods” painting that I featured in the previous post was actually one of the paintings that I was just never happy with the color, atmosphere and lighting on so I decided to adjust all those things with layers of glaze. If you scroll down and compare them, you’ll see that it makes a pretty big difference.
‘Tomorrow I’ll Be Naked in the Woods’
In February I learned that, despite my previously held beliefs on the matter, I actually will paint somebody’s dogs. My friend Jen has been imploring me for a year or two to make such a painting for her so I finally broke. I went with a Tiki theme based on our mutual appreciation for the artist Shag and the general awesomeness of a Tiki theme.
‘Sophie Vs. the Tiki Gods, (Willie Was There Too)’
In an effort to get this blog up to speed, I am going to try follow with a new post tomorrow about another custom Vinyl toy show that I’ll be participating in.
‘Tomorrow I’ll be Naked in the Woods’
If television has taught me anything it is that this country loves crazy naked people. I don’t know why exactly, but it just does. So it is, I suppose, that the above painting is my gift back to this country.
Moving on and in the spirit of the new year, I’d like to give you guys a quick remembrance my activities closing out 2010:
First things first, Congratulations to my little sister Sara and her husband Kevin on their lovely October wedding. The two met as teenagers nearly a decade ago and have been growing closer ever since. I know Kevin makes my sister happy and on a separate note I can tell you that he makes me happy as I completely dominate him at foosball and air hockey. Oh the joys. Welcome to the family little brother!
As an Irony of timing, the very same night of my sister’s wedding saw the Lonesome No More Opening at the Wall Eye Gallery in Cleveland. Lonesome No More is a gaggle of artists organized by cultural mover and shaker Dave Desimone.
Michael Christoff was one who told me it went well and he actually liked the work I presented so much that he invited me to speak at Pecha Kucha night Cleveland Vol. 10 in November.
Pecha Kucha is a world wide series of speaking events that have persons-of-interest give approximately six minute presentation with 20 slides that are each shown for 20 seconds. Micheal and his colleague Raseem Parker host the Cleveland series and I thank them as it was a joy, honor and privilege to present.
My opening slide was one of those pictures of Photoshop-ed bear heads I do which everyone immediately laughed at. This was a good thing as I had planned on my ice breaker being, “Man, I haven’t even started speaking and everyone is already laughing at me.” I did say that and everyone laughed again which was a relief as I depend a little light hearted absurdity to carry me every now and then. Very few artist are natural public speakers you know?
Another thing to note about the organizers is that they are architects. This is worth noting because architects plan their events in the most amazing buildings, court yards and public structures in town. Wow.
On other horizons: While leaving work before Thanksgiving one of my co-workers couldn’t help but notice that the shrubbery was meowing to her. That meowing turned out to be a little six-week old kitten separated from her mother. Two months prior I had actually lost a very sweet stray that I was trying to save, so the discovery of a kitten in need of a home wasn’t entirely unwelcome. Through some effort we caught her, she bit me and I named her Olive (AKA Fuzzy-Face).
She is doing very well, though she does have this modestly creepy way of sitting and staring at me adoringly while I am trying to paint.
A final note of gratitude to end this post goes to Room With a View in Akron who were nice enough to feature my work in their space this season.
I have a few fun things lined up for 2011 including some new custom work so I look forward to sharing that soon.
Thanks for reading all this. I know it ran long so as a bonus I’ll share this old college photo of John Waters hating some of my early work. Enjoy!
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