Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trick or Treat revisited


Trick or Treat, acrylic on panel, 2009.  One of my first serious and (to me) successful forays into acrylic paint, which I'd previously used for cloth sculpture or clock faces only.  (By serious I only mean that this was made for exhibition.)

Somehow I had the idea that I was a watercolorist only.  While never really followed the "rules" of traditional watercolor, I nonetheless seemed stuck a bit in trying to fit some kind of pre-conceived "artist/illustrator" mold, instead of simply being a maker.
I've had quite a good time of late, just exploring and often abandoning all the do's and don'ts that were slowing my imaginative progress and, most importantly, limiting my contentment. Very glad I have learned abundant techniques for illustration/art--anatomy, form, shading, etc. I don't regret that and wouldn't trade it and still study it. But I am loving the ability to choose to suspend those rules, and this newly found freedom.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ghosts and AB Frost


These little sketches continue my exploration of little ghost guys.
Ghosts and such are pretty interesting to me--not the TV show kind with quaking cameras and little exclamations in dark hallways where nothing happens for an hour except commercial breaks--but the good stories (especially Victorian ghost tales) and spirit lore out there.  

AB Frost illustrated some goofy poems about ghosts by Lewis Carroll in the 1880s. A great discovery for me-- I really get a charge out of studying his drawings. I had pretty much ignored Frost's work before, because I'm not a "sporting picture" fan.  Seeing his illustrations for the Carroll poems made me realize how a good artist's work often reaches genius when working with great text, or is stimulated by a great mind.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Owl pellet and bones

Always wanted to find and dissect an owl pellet. Honestly though, the idea of rooting through the poop at the foot of the cottonwoods and then sterilizing the pellet in my oven didn't sound like what I was after.  So I bought one pre-sterilized.  This is what was inside.  Still have a bit to go.  I wouldn't make it as a paleontologist or an archaeologist.  Way too impatient for the bit-by-bit unearthing.
After a peroxide soak, the two mouse skulls, one rat skull, and a bottle of bones are nicely whitened. I'm ready to draw them, which was pretty much the main object all along.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

A soft sculpture Goblin Face sequence

I blocked in a face on muslin using a brush and black acrylic.  This is the unfinished eye of the goblin.
Pretty much finished eye.
The whole face in an early stage. I stuck the cloth in a wood hoop and gessoed it.  Maybe too light a coating, I don't know.  But it seemed an okay surface and I had a good time painting it.  Sort of a nothing-to-lose, relaxing experience.
The (almost) finished face. I want to sand and stain it a bit before calling it done.

I was very used to using matte sign painter's acrylics. Recently switched to a different brand of semi-matte acrylics. Am getting used to them while exploring this cloth sculpture genre.  It is very engaging.  The How-To-Use-a-Sewing-Machine class turned out to be a great experience.  A very patient, expert-teacher helped. With this goblin guy, the next step is to find a good backing cloth and then put it together to make a finished pillow-thing.

I just saw a soft sculpture on Etsy that had an extraordinary face done in colored pencil--amazing stuff out there.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hot birds at Heat!

GrenadeBird (detail, acrylic on board, private collection), and Atomic Bird were selected by juror Dana Cain to be part of Heat! at Denver's Next Gallery.  The show opened August 19th and ran through September 4th, 2011. I was excited to have my work included.  Next Gallery is in the Highlands neighborhood of North Denver  www.nextartgallerydenver.com



Atomic Bird (detail). Acrylic on board. Private collection.

My drawing box

A little sketch from life--still determined to do this frequently (okay, yearly maybe?).  Actually, since summer is not my favorite (or most creative) season, it's a good time for me to relax, draw objects that I see, and attempt to be a legit artist.  This is not the kind of thing I would normally find interesting, but I do love this little metal box found in a pile of stuff at a second-hand store. And although my proportion is not accurate, the Micron pens and other drawing supplies do fit in the box.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tenniel's Little Guys and Soft Sculpture

Sir John Tenniel's little guys have continued to inspire.  I've copied many of them over the years to try to learn how he thought and drew.  I read once that he didn't learn to draw the figure from life--he learned anatomy from casts and by copying from master works.

I made this soft sculpture years ago, when I was into making toys for my kids. This one's modeled after Father William's son in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland--I love that figure. Hand stitched by my clumsy fingers, this little guy took some time, and I knew not what I was doing.

I am needing to sculpt, and clay's just not colorful enough, so I'm going to foray back into some 3-D work with cloth.  This week I take a class on how to use a sewing machine, and then I'll be set to explore. There are artists out there (Joyce Stahl and Scott Smith are in the forefront) who do amazing works in this genre.

 Not knowing what I was doing, I used brush and ink on thin muslin, and filled it in with thin acrylics. But didn't give this one to my kids as the paint was probably not kid safe.

I've been sketching a crop of these angular, toothy goblins for a couple of months, and some of them will probably be my first models for some three dimensional fellows.

Yesterday I spent time just practicing the painting of eyeballs, since the eyes will be prominent.


Color and pattern are going to take precedence. Hard to tell that's what is in my mind from these sketches.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Mountains, a Deer, and some Street Musicians


Haven't painted in a week or so--took a bit of a break in the mountains. I was certain I would find some inspiration there. Instead I found some noisy and fun company, but also some solitude.  Climbed above town one afternoon, sat in the shade under a Gambel Oak, and observed the birds and the flies.

On the way down I startled this young deer with velvet on his horns.  He froze and so did I. Not being a nature photographer, I stared at him while he watched me. When I finally remembered I had a camera, he had trotted up the hill, so this was the pic I snapped.

In the mountain town, I listened to a few street musicians.  They fascinate me--pretty much anyone who can play an instrument does. It is magical that a human, through some tube or a box with strings, can fill up the street with such beautiful, ever changing sounds  So that evening I passed the time sketching these little street musicians and other random guys. And that's it for this post--some random photos that may inspire a landscape painting down the road, and some unrelated sketches that will definitely find their way into some artwork. 
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