Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eleventh Volley

So, here's a drawing I started many months ago when looking at Butoh. I started this drawing with a series in mind. I helped a friend on a job uncrating Plenza's Nomad. I asked if they were keeping the crate as it was quite horrific in its construction. Below is a panel on which I transferred the drawing. I will be oil painting this and probably playing with gilding again (hooray halos!). 

Oh look, it's a dirty studio. I should be on a hoarders show. I was in the process of kicking apart this crate, when I got a call from the guy who coordinated the install wanting to know if he could get the crate back. There was a pause, and then an "oh shit..." This panel specifically is the most damaged of the bunch. I want to progress with an idea of dissolution, or decay. Kind of like butoh. I might attack the bottom half with a hammer even more to knock some of the paneling out. I like a splintery mess on the bottom with a tight painting around the face and hands and chest and quickly falling apart. 

Here's a detail, or perhaps just a shot of the panel. So, wish me luck. Will post updates.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


So here's the finished work. A little too regular in the back ground noise, but I'm pleased with the figures. Shittiest board evar. I printed it on French paper that I got from a screen printing buddy. I'm selling them for fifteen dollars a piece and actually sold four at the show opening. Which went very well by the way.

Here's a detail (ish). I used four or five different types of blacks before I found the one I liked. the results run the gamut from brownish, to raven's wing. I do like the finish of the oil based inks better. There's a softness to them that the water based couldn't provide. A richness.

I'm also entering a sketchbook show. You can, too. Other things on my plate include designing and printing a postcard for a memorial dinner for my sister, a new painting (both to be seen here soon), and an art talk I get to give to some senior college kids. We'll see how that goes, but I hope I can give something to them without becoming a curmudgeonly old advice fairy.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Holy crap updates! I went out and blew my birthday money from a long time ago on carving tools. The local art supply store went out of business. Is on hiatus. Is...not here. So when I need tools now and can't afford rush shipping, I did the next worst thing. I went to Michael's. It's like going to Walmart after midnight. I think Dante wrote about it. I'm not going to knock the chain too much (please give me money/supplies/craft cred). It's not as bad as Hobby Lobby or Pottery Barn (for you southerners). Your nose is not instantly assailed with potpourri. People are not vacantly masturbating to Thomas Kinkaid prints. I think you can still get model cars and planes there, which is actually pretty sweet (note, I live in a basement and spend most of my time leveling and huffing model cement. Pizza grease has nothing on this guy's face).

Dotdotdot. Anyways. I needed carving tools because some time between here and college all of my worn and cherished set of cheap ass knives have disappeared. I used to use whatever I could scrounge from the print studio. Things with mileage on them, but goddammit, I'd put them on there. Those ink stains were from my fingers, and those blood stains-- from my enemies. All I'm saying is that they had character, and for cheap Niji knives, they actually came with a pretty decent edge.

I bought the Beck's non alcohol beer version of those. Sharpened from the factory by rabid rodentry. Actually that's an insult to rodents everywhere. I'm sure they could have gnawed better edges in to these things themselves. I also bought some actual carving tools. Shorter, sharper, more expensive. Upon unwrapping, I found that the scoundrels couldn't sharpen these for shit either.

Grr. The sad thing is, if I sit down and do it, I'm actually pretty good at sharpening things-- Assuming the steel isn't absolute shit. Give me a good chisel or knife and I can get you to shave with it. Or remove skin. I've tried with these things and jeezuzchrist. I have a diamond stone now, so we'll see if that helps. I hope to get them into fighting shape by the time I attempt the next woodcut, or at least by the middle of the run on this one.

Detail-ish. This is actually pretty small for me. The first cuts on this guy's head were done with a V-shaped gouge. They removed far too much material. This is a pine block so it has alternating hard and soft grain, meaning you have to push harder, meaning more material is removed. In school I learned on basswood, super soft through and through. This board also has plenty of knots in it, so never let it be said that I'd turn away from a challenge. The figures were all carved with an X-acto knife. And many, many blades. Each line you see is at least two cuts. The chair is primarily a small U-shaped gouge.

I had to proof it tonight so I could email the image out for a third poster. I hear rumors that this might also go on a shirt.

I'd wear it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tenth Volley

So, Dan is putting together a show. He's a printer by trade and wants to make the mailers and posters by hand. I offered to contribute to this. I started out with a pen and ink sketch just to get an idea.

When I was doodling, I noticed that the skeletal figure reminds me of the Hermit from the Tarot, but I remember it specifically from an old room mate's Led Zeppelin poster. It's interesting what the hermit implies. Someone who has seen and been through it all, whatever that may be, and withdraws from society, disillusioned, cynical. That's neat, but I didn't want it to be, oh hey, I lifted the hermit image from a poster for the poster. I reversed hands, I dropped the corpse/pieta body and kept the wayfaring nun.

It's faint, I know. I draw delicately with pencils now. And I'm still struggling with hesitancy. This means I need to draw much, much more. It's either that or get so sleep deprived that I just don't care any more, and then draw. I like this image better. I scrounged up some old wood that I had laying around and sanded the layers of old acrylic gesso off of it. Note to the future painters everywhere: Acrylic gesso is not your friend. I own a palm sander and go through a ridiculous amount of sandpaper to get things smooth. This is because in the sanding process the gesso actually melts to the sand paper in sticky clots that then get deposited on another section of the surface you will be doing art on. And they stick. I razored a few off, and then I sanded some more.

After a few sessions of sanding, I had a block ready to put an image on.

Neato, huh?

The legs are too short for the torso and the arms are weird, man. I'm still retouching the arms and I've since redrawn the legs, to be posted at a later date. It's a lot of detail packed into face grain of the pine. I'm curious as to how well I can stick to rendering those soft lines and things. Perhaps the carving will add some aggression that the drawing lacks.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ninth Volley

I entered a show. Wish me luck. This piece is about my sister.

A little back story: Two and a half years ago, my younger sister died. She had lupus. Her kidneys went out, and then she was in and out of the hospital for three years. I remember her telling me about how she had really bad headaches. How she was terrified because she didn't know what they were from and why she kept getting them. She was taken to the hospital one night because her blood pressure was 200/190 She was blind in one eye because grease and humors had spilled into it due to her blood pressure being so extreme. She had to go for dialysis three times a week, and she was always sick and tired afterwards. She had a restricted diet. Eating a banana would have made her heart explode.

On Thanksgiving of that year she got an infection in the lining of her heart as her dialysis port ran from the hollow above her clavicle to her heart, or some of the vessels connecting to it. She gained weight from retaining fluids. She got a fancy pouch put in her belly and could do dialysis at home, every night. It was the equivalent of drinking a two liter bottle of soda all at once and carrying it around with you all day, she once told me.

She got married. To a man who was a match for her kidneys and agreed to be a donor. Then he backed out, and from what I've heard second and third hand, was a real shit. They fell out and she lived with my mom. Her stomach pouch kept getting infected. She was in a lot of pain. She had seizures. She had to wear a mask whenever she was in public because her immune system was beyond broken. She was so sick.

The last year and half of her life was spent in the hospital more than at home. She developed vasculits. Her fingers on both hands turned necrotic and started rotting away. She lost her hair. She developed calciphylaxis. Large patches of skin on her legs started rotting away. She was in constant pain. Her arms and legs atrophied and her skin hung off of her like a sack. The doctors gave her dilaudid. This built up in her system.

The last ten days of her life, she did not eat. My mom was in the room with her, watching tv, and thinking that she was going to sleep when in fact her body was shutting down. The staff brought in a crash cart and tried to bring her back, but my mother refused. She made the right choice.

When she was first diagnosed, the doctors and psychologists and whoever else looked at her also diagnosed her with severe clinical depression and PTSD. When I asked her how she was doing, she kept telling me she was ready to pull the plug. We tried to cheer her up. When she was married it was the happiest I'd ever seen her outside of when she was a child. Towards the end she was in so much pain she wanted to die. My mother wanted her to live, and what mother doesn't really?

So this piece is about her choice to end her suffering, and her inability to do so. And other things. A promise never to forget her, and a reaffirming of that promise. I'm doing my best not to get all emo-ey on you. So we'll leave it at that. This is an art blog first and foremost. You've gotten the back story, and I've grieved, and am still grieving. Sigh. It's a pine box, coated in tar, with a hammer, a jar of whiskey with a lock of hair in it, nails, and a candle. It is 51" x 26" x 8". Some details below.

Sometimes I blend my paints with tar. It never ever dries and the second you hit it with anything that has a hint of solvent on it, it softens up and blends it with whatever you are putting on top of it, making a sickly color.

Here's another shot. The candles on my pieces, to the ire of Fire Marshals everywhere, are meant to be burned. The wax creates a history. And over time, the smoke given off will stain and hide things. I like things that have history to them, whether I'm manufacturing it myself, or looking at dirt on other things, I enjoy imagining the use, or how it's been used. I have a bucket of roofing tar patch that I use. I used to use fancy stuff, printer's asphaltum. But this stuff works just as well, and has texture to it. Because it only gets semi hard/dry, everything sticks to it. My studio, which resides in the living room of my apartment, is cat territory. When I took this out from under its covers, there was a grey coating of cat hair and dander. Some of it from me, most of it from him. I spent a good two hours dusting and hand pulling clumps of hair from the tar. I then lit the candle and burned up the stuff that wouldn't come off. It's good to know that I can clean these pieces without having to recoat them in tar.

Meth-heads used to lived below me. Every night, when they weren't fighting like cats, or fucking noisily, they would commence to remodeling their unit. For hours, from around ten at night to seven in the morning they would hammer tin plates to the walls, build false walls, sand, put in doors and listen to shitty top forty music. This is my contribution to noise making. I hammered each one of these nails (with a sheet of ply wood under neath the piece to protect the floor) directly over their bedroom. It is my understanding that in Fetish Art, the nails are driven in by the people of the village to seal a contract. I treated it as a continuing promise to never forget my sister, and while I'm alive, to not forget that fact, because she wouldn't either.