Friday. Finally, another full day for painting. I’m beginning to work out the final details on several pieces, have several mid-progress, and still a few to draw out (an elk, maybe). I’ll have three collaborative pieces in the show, and some block prints. Here’s a sneak peak at a couple new pieces. The shimmery effects don’t work much in photos, but a nice heavy clear coat will bring those out and the visual depth should be pretty cool. Sometimes all the layering pays off.
Pacific Octopus (detail, WIP)
WIP (work in porgress), I masked the finished octopi and started a new woodgrain pattern for the background.
Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale (Detail, WIP)
Work in Progress, whale textured:
WIP, some airbrush effect on the bigger whale. The yellow is the vinyl that is protecting the hard dark outline.
Just a few days left before the show. I’ll be finishing up several more new pieces this weekend. Also, posting more process shots in my instagram feed @artdamaged.
The last couple of days are a terrific blur. I’m in various stages of production, which you can see in the photo below. I’ve got finished backgrounds, a handful of completed pieces, some that are ready for collaboration, some that are masked and ready for paint. I took the photo in the day yesterday, then spent the night painting in squids, whales, and octopi.
I’m posting progress shots as I go, via artdamaged instagram. (also, they may show up down at bottom of the page)
The last week has been productive, but things are getting fun now! I started out the new pieces by layering up the panels: black primer, sanding, more primer or glazes of color, sanding, then back and forth with layers of metallics for shimmer and color shift effects. The order of the layering really affects the way the iridescent pigments react to the light. (I don’t have any of the formulas memorized; I just know something cool is likely to happen and I stop when I’m excited about it.) All of the woodgrain is painted on. I have a faux finishing tool that makes it pretty easy; the woodgrain gets layered in once or twice in the process. Once I’m happy with it, I try to make it pretty level and smooth, so it masks cleanly. This is the background layer.
For most of the images, I want this background to work as the “black” outline; why not make black complex and interesting. The aesthetic that I’m drawn to for this is sort of weathered patina with greenish and bronze or copper that’s stained and scuffed up.
Once most of my panels were layered up, I was excited to do some illustration on top, so I painted an owl with a volcano. I enjoy making variants, versions, whatever. Themes/Motifs/Series within series. I like to try all the options; I used to get stuck trying to decide the best way to finish a piece. Now I like to see them all in context and appreciate how they relate to one another. Repetition adds a weird twist to how we think about the pieces too: how original is it? Is the print on wood have value over a print on paper? We think of prints as copies sometimes. When it’s painted, is that a print or a painting? — Yeah, this is the stuff that I think about during those hours of brushing layers and sanding; it’s very contemplative and zen. Haha! (for real tho.)
This is the newest one. It’s a little guy. 12×12 inches. Acrylic on wood panel.
I cut the stencil after working the image up in photoshop, from this photo of an 8×8 print:
I printed it from this block that I carved:
I sketched the block out, while looking at this painting:
I used the 8×8 block to print 6 pieces for the Big 400 Art Show. They looked like this:
There’s some bigger versions with a similar composition, one with mt. hood, one with multiple volcanoes. I’ll share those another time.
I’ve also drawn up two new compositions and I’m working on the stencils tonight. I’ll share designs and progress tomorrow. I expect to have illustrative images going down onto the bottom layers over the weekend! My schedule has been working in the early afternoon (day job) and then napping for about three hours, then studio arting from about ten until late (bed around 5 or 6am) then about five hours of sleep for the night. It’s working alright; tho, I think I prefer to get started in the afternoon so I’m in a groove by night time.
My new images are squids and octopi…More tomorrow!
I remember the day that Mt. Saint Helens erupted. The big one, on May 18th, 1980. I have a photo album of newspaper clippings and a small canister of volcanic ash. It was a big deal for me as a kid. I didn’t make a specific decision to paint volcanoes, but somehow it keeps happening. (why doesn’t spell check catch “volcanos”? I really want to spell it without the e.)
This digital drawing was the springboard for this recent series:
I grew up in the cold war, but never really worried too much about the Russians bombing us. I have friends that had “day after” type dreams fairly often. Me, not so much. I had a fair grasp of Mutually Assured Destruction. In recent decades, I’ve had a fair amount of dreams where volcanoes are erupting, including some flooding, landslides and Pompei-esque ash fallout. I don’t consider them nightmares though. Not so much scary, as intense. It’s a reality it the Pacific Northwest (and all of the Pacific Rim). Before we were here and long after…
Over the last few years, I’ve done some album art for bands that I know and love. The requests for imagery weren’t specific in every case; however, some sort of volcano was the final result for these three! The image of the Cascade Range going off is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and that was part of The Health Dose back cover (and cropped for the front, below right). Mt. Saint Helens worked her way into the Fulero//Lehe cover (below middle, “Cocoon”). For The New Up “Gold” (below left), it was maybe a crater, but could also be a volcano.
Once again, I’ll mention that each piece in my new series has at least one volcano in it. I’m not sure how long that will be necessary, but for now, I like it (and the reference to “views of Mt. Fuji”). There’s somewhat of a narrative that is evolving around it, but I’m not ready to get into that. 😉 So far, I’ve represented Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Bachelor. I think I’ll add a few more locals. Maybe Adams and Rainier.
So, Here’s my work progress:
Jan 10: Today, I shopped for vinyl masking film and some cool spray paint colors. I worked the ol day job. I went by the goodwill and did some treasure hunting (I’ve been learning to fly my new remote control gyrocopter. Score!!). I gessoed up some black on 20 panels and painted outlines and a background on a giant squid painting. (both the squid and the painting are giant…) It was a studio session night with the homies, painting and eating snacks.
Coming up: Owls…
In college, I was a printmaker. I carved woodblocks, etched copper plates, printed from linoleum and lithograph stones, and pulled silkscreen prints. In the last decade, I’ve mostly been a painter; although, printmaking still affects my technique. Much of the masking work that I do with tape or vinyl film is derived from a reduction printmaking process. (Glossary: “Reduction” – With a reduction print, each color is created from the same block. Each color is printed, the block is carved with more detail, inked again and then the new color is printed on top of the previous – usually on paper. The entire edition must be printed at once, because the block is permanently changed with each color. A truly “Limited Edition”.)
In addition to techniques, I’m drawn to the idea of editions, multiples, and variations (which are all concepts that are part of printmaking). Katsushika Hokusai is an artist that, for me, exemplifies the concept of exploring a theme. Having one thing that ties together a series, a springboard for experimentation, helps me narrow down the possibilities when deciding on imagery. The images above are from Hokusai’s “36 views of Mt. Fuji”. He also published “100 Views of Mt. Fuji”. I’ve repeated imagery in paintings because I like the context of using different colors, media, pattern on the same composition because it gives me a reference point for the subtleties, or even effectiveness, of each.
You’ll probably notice the influence of the Hokusai graphic print style, in my paintings. Also, once I realized that I had started several paintings with volcanoes in them – which reminded me of the Mt. Fuji series – I decided that I would include volcanoes in each pieces. I like the Mt. Fuji reference. I should probably write about volcanoes next…
Jan 6: I spent the day cleaning up the stencil design for my commission, then cutting the vinyl mask, and painted into the wee hours. I met with Johnny Luczycki, to discuss ideas about collaboration images and process/style.
Jan 7: I worked my day job. I shopped for Gesso (Glossary: “Gesso” is a painting primer that will prep nearly any surface for painting. It seals the surface and contains some grit that helps give “tooth” to the surface to help the paint adhere.) and tried to locate some soft block printing material in larger sheets. I didn’t find what I needed. Worked my night job.
Jan 8: Worked my day job. Bought some black gesso since I’ll be starting out with dark colors, this will make it easy to cover. I napped. I painted some panels with gesso. I’ll need a few coats, plus sanding between coats to get the surface smooth.
Jan 9: Tired. Slept late. I’m going to gesso the rest of the panels tonight. Make a shopping list for tomorrow. I need some things before the weekend!
Next…What’s up with the volcanoes? maybe actual art images from this series…
I’ve learned that one of the best ways to get inspired to start painting is to prepare the support. (Glossary: “Support” – I like this generic term for the substrate that will be painted on. It can be a stretched canvas, panel, paper, found item, etc.) Building and priming the supports is a great way to get into the studio or workshop and get hands on; it’s a great way to brainstorm and think about sizes and composition while completing necessary prep work.
Most recently, I’ve been working on wooden panels. It’s rigid and great for masking, stenciling, and cutting directly on the surface. I can really work the surface, sand, distress, scratch, etc. without stretching or ripping that might happen on a canvas. I like the simple presentation of a cradled plywood panel. (Glossary: “Cradled” – a simple frame creates depth to the sides and strength to the support. The panel is attached to the front of the frame so the painting surface extends edge-to-edge.)
Materials: I’ve been using Luan Mahogany plywood for a few years. It’s lighter, stronger and not much more expensive than masonite. It wont swell from moisture like masonite (pressed saw dust panels). The appearance of the mahogany surface can be really striking and stains nicely. I like to take advantage of the woodgrain. The first pieces in this newest series presented a few challenges because of al the sanding that I did, trying to get a super smooth surface. The top veneer of Luan is thin and porous and sanding made it reee-eally thin at times. I had issues with the veneer lifting/tearing off when I pulled the adhesive mask that I use for stenciling. This round, I’m trying new wood products. I chose a thicker pine plywood with only three layers that are fairly thick; also, I am using a very straight grained fir for the sides to prevent warping. The materials were more than twice as much, but still very affordable because I’m building them myself.
I had the plywood cut to size when I bought it. I cut down all of the sides on a miter cutter, prior to assembly. Using sizes that share one dimension, made production simple (36×24. 24×18, 18×12, 12×12). Also, very little waste. The entire sheet of plywood was used. Next, I routed, glued and pinned the corners like a picture frame. Once all of the frames were assembled, I glued the top of the frame and set the panel on top, lined it up and nailed it on (with an air powered brad gun). I’m priming the surface on these so I’ll be filling the nail holes. Glue and clamps would work if I didn’t want nail holes to show on a natural woodgrain surface.
Jan 3: I purchased lumber. I worked my day job. I read a book. (I’ve avoided the uber-distraction of internet TV so far, this month.)
Jan 4: I cut down frames for cradled sides. I drove to the Pearl District and picked paintings up from a show, ate chinese food, drove home and napped. I went back to the shop and assembled panels. I worked night job.
Jan 5. I’ve slept most of the day (remember, night job…) and played some drums. Now I have some design work to do for a commissioned painting that needs attention.
Coming up: illustration techniques, more materials, thematic ideas…probably more napping.
Time passes quickly and things have distracted me from this blog. The Globe closed in late 2011 so my curation of that venue ended. Also, I bought a house and began setting up my new studio space. I’ve been busy; however, most of my sharing has been via Facebook and Instagram. One of the reasons that I began this blog was to share some of my process and that’s what I’m here to do this month. I have an art opening on January 30th and will do my best to share the progress and process via images and technical descriptions. I’ll be open to questions, feedback, suggestions; I’m down to talk shop and hear any ideas you’d like to share. At this point, I’m not even sure if anybody is going to see this, so it’s an experiment.
This art show will be a good way to share how I focus on a series. I have some finished pieces, that haven’t really been seen and I’m going to use this series as the basis for my work this month. There may be another series as well, but I’m going to just see how it goes. I’ll talk more about these pieces later — That’s my owl in the photo.
Here’s my progress so far:
Jan 1 – I slept in. It was a late night at work on NYE and I went to bed after sunrise, then slept past sunset! In the evening, I made a list of finished pieces that are new and ready to show. There’s 8 from the new Volcano series and stash of figure paintings that I’m not sure about including. I also brainstormed imagery for new work and made a good list. I’d like to paint an elk, some squid and octopus, maybe some salmon.
Jan 2 – I worked my day job and planned out cuts for wooden panels and linear feet of small lumber for cradling the sides. I build my own supports and have been researching smoother surfaces and denser wood for the sides, to prevent any warpage over time. I like the 24×36 inch size and want to add some smaller sizes so there’s a good range of price points.
coming up: building, prep work, more media, images