Saturday, March 30, 2013

The garbage of eden

I posted a series of in-progress shots to Facebook and I figured I ought to follow up with a proper explanation for those who are interested. And while we're at it, here, for the tech nerds, is a link to the demo tag featured on this blog.
Don’t forget you can click the images to enlarge the pics.

I’ve been craving long, involved near-to-impossible projects since completing Eastern State.  Since I draw so many weird flowers, I had the idea for this garden image and you can see here I worked it out in photoshop. (The procedure: the flowers were doodles I scanned, cleaned up and “painted” in photoshop, then I put them together.  I had a real bee in my bonnet that it should be en endless repeat, at least on the horizontal, and repeat it does.)
I also had a doodle of this woman kind of rolled up in a ball.  I will often pair doodles of figures with doodles of other stuff to see how they go together  (photoshop allows me to try out literraly hundreds of combinations in minutes.)
.…In this manner I generate what passes for an “IDEA”.  Anyway, the balled up woman falling into the garden was too awesome and thus the seeds were sown (get it? Get it?) for “The Birth of Eve”.  The title came last and it may yet change.

In working with the glass I gave myself the mandate gentle suggestion to improvise.  If my work looks like the drawing, I am generally not amused.  And by that, I mean I go into a state of rage and melancholy usually reserved for world wide eco-political disasters.  Just kidding.  ANYWAY:  I wanted to improvise, to learn something new, and test the boundaries and whatnot.   Ultimately, it seems to me I improvised more with the drawing than with the material.  Deep sigh…

What we have here below is the blue and the red glass well on their way.  The glass was cut and ground to shape.  Then it is sandblasted, in most cases, with little or no detail added.  I then went into it with engraving tools and files to get much more detail.  In this image three sections also have black paint fired on.

In this image below, all the black paint is done. (2 firings.)
This image is the gloriousness of silverstain before its fired.  It looks like baby messed his diaper.  When it’s fired it looks the same.  UNTIL…it is washed off and underneath the schmears is bright yellow.

And look!  That’s yellow all right!  A Chernobyl nuclear urine nightmare of yellow!  I just slop that stuff on, fully intending to engrave tons of it off.  Sounds like extra work?  Muhahaha!  I love extra work!

And here’s that yellow tamed.

Here are some images of the layers completed. 
The top image is the blue—you can see that there are two different blues here.  One is Lambert’s blue on clear and the other is St. Just 221 aqua which I had to comb the hills and travel the earth to find.  When I am done with everything I think I going to do to torture the glass I fire polish it (1330f).  With all that engraving and sandblasting, there’s a lots of frosty texture which really makes it hard to see the image when its layered.
In this case, I did not fire polish the St Just as it turns nasty.  So I coated it with a very thin layer of Golden acrylic varnish, which claims to be archival until cockroaches have evolved to become our insect overlords.

The bottom image is red, duh!

Then…I add a layer of pink glass.
The top image is what it looks like on the pieces so far, with no sandblasting.
Below is the layer on its own.  Just like the St. Just, none of this is really amenable to fire polishing, as it tends to turn colors and actually get more opaque kind of defeats the purpose.  So I use the varnish on this too.

And voila: here’s the whole thing together. Am I done?  I dunno, actually, I have a few tweaks I want to try….really, really high risk tweaks in that if I do them and they look awful, I will have to redo the entire red layer…

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I wanted to scan some of my teenaged doodles for a lecture so here they are.  I was constantly doodling as a teenager (and I still often do, but less and less do I find myself in a situation wherein I can doodle and this is NOT GOOD for my art work!) These are all liberated from their original context, but I can tell you, they were all on pages of notes from classes and homework.  I always got my papers back with big red comments about "NO DOODLING IN THE MARGINS!!!" Well, I showed them, eh?

Anyway--I would doodle anything.  So long as it was a human!  But as you can see, some are "realistic" some are more abstract, some more expressive and some more observational.  Most are done with ballpoint because I was in the classroom.  But as a result of that "training" I now use ballpoint most of the time.

The thing about doodles is this:
When one is a young artist, casting about to find their "artistic voice"...well this is it.  This is the stream of raw material which effortlessly comes out and here you are, the young art student, struggling like mad to be profound and have something original to say.  In my case, I looked in books, libraries, museums, classrooms...I sweated bullets and stewed in my own juices over this...only to find what I had been seeking was there the whole time but I was still seeing that red ink:
So I stopped doodling in the margins and now I doodle over the whole page!

By the way: my cat Spock's nickname is Doodles.

Friday, March 1, 2013


 click images to bigify

I thought perhaps a post just devoted over to this one window was in order.
Why?  Well, its the only piece from eastern State that I added considerably--more than a border and thus, it has become an entirely new one in some ways.
I knew from the outset that I was going to do this--why and how I know this I can't say beyond an intuitive feeling, but I waited a year to do it and was excited about it.

Two images that influence this are below.  One is the famous image from the Vietnam War by Huynh Cong and the other a stained glass window by Abraham Van Linge.

Everyone knows that photo from Vietnam--you need only type Vietnam and Napalm for it to come up in a Google search. As a figurative artist, it appeals to me on many levels.  First and foremost the gruesome subject matter.  But beyond that I am blown away by how the formal elements support the subject.  She's the only one unclothed...and she's a running crucifixion. She is directly facing the viewer, which makes it impossible not to imagine that she is running right at you.
 Her face expresses her pain and horror while the  boy in the foreground is more or less a "tragedy mask".

The Van Linge window is at Lydiard House, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.  Van Linge and his bro, Bernard used enamels to create their images.Enamels became popular after the protestant Reformation whose iconoclastic tendencies put a lot of stained glass makers (and suppliers) out of business.  As it became harder to get colored glass, the more painters relied on enamels to get their imagery across...or at least that's how I understand it.
I hate enamels...they look like gnat's piss to me compared to the colors of flash glass.  In my humble opinion, the only enameler worth a damn is Van Linge.  This particular window is one of my favorites.

A passionate aside:  Often people think my imagery is made with enamels.  It is NOT.  My images are barely painted.  They are engraved into layers of colored glass (and just to be super nit-picky: "engraving" is done by using some type of tool to carve into something and etching uses acid.  Big diff!)
I use black paint and silverstain (yellow) and nothing else. 

So, "Sister" is some sort of weird hybrid between these two images, in addition to how the image arose inspired by Eastern State.