As of late I've been making an effort to "go big"--or at least go bigger. Up until now my collage work has generally been in and around the 8" x 10" size, with an occasional venture as big as 24" x 36". This one, though, blows the others away in terms of size--and in my opinion, it's a good piece of art as well. Tooting my own horn isn't my style, but--dammit--I'm proud of this piece! Here's how it came to be...
I enjoy a good story. That said, I’ve always had an affinity for mythology, so from time to time I’ll create a piece that’s inspired by a myth from antiquity.
My latest piece--Atlas Telamon, collage on 36” x 48” cradled hardboard panel--is inspired by the Greek myth of Atlas. Why him? Honestly, as is the case with much of my work, it was an accident. As a collage artist, my process usually begins with an image, and each piece kind of grows organically from there. Over the last couple of years I’ve managed to accrue quite a lot of (mostly old, but some new as well) books, ads, mags, posters, and the like. While thumbing through my 1950s & 60s magazine collection--LIFE, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, etc.—I ran across an image of Charles Atlas (born Angelo Siciliano), the iconic body builder/exercise guru of yore. The image of the smiling, middle-aged Atlas captured my attention, and I knew I just had to somehow use it. This eventually led me to the Atlas of Greek mythology, the basis behind Angelo’s name change. I suppose Charles Atlas, who went from a purported “97 pound weakling” to a muscle-bound icon, could be considered a mythological figure in his own right.
Anyway, with a quick web search (theoi.com and greekgodsandgoddesses.net), I refreshed my knowledge of the original Atlas. He was “leader of the Titanes (Titans) in their war against Zeus.” Atlas’ side lost--duh, the Zeus Crew never loses. It’s a misnomer, however, that he was condemned to hold up the Earth. Instead, after Zeus and Company won, Atlas “was condemned to carry the heavens upon his shoulders.” More specifically he was tasked to “stand at the Western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold the heavens on his shoulders to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace.”
In addition, Atlas was the god who taught humans the art of astronomy and—this is where I came up with the name for the piece—was known as “Atlas Telamon, or ‘enduring Atlas,’ a name embodying his daily struggle and punishment.” Face it, the dude personifies endurance.
So there you go. Check out some of the process pics of Atlas Telemon below. Of course, Charles Atlas’ image--the largest acrylic transfer I've ever done--is the focal point, but the rest of the materials are a compilation of 1950s and 60s advertisements with bits of astronomical maps and imagery.
Check back because I'll probably post some detail pics over the next couple of days.
I was recently asked to create a piece of art for a young lady who is physically disabled. As of yet I haven't met her--that needs to change--but from what I've been told she loves art and, most importantly, has a never-quit attitude that's second to none.
The only parameter for this project was that it had to be small and portable because she doesn't really have much, if any, personal space in her current living situation. Typically, my work isn't huge, but I tend to work in 11" x 14" or larger for my 2-D work, which is created to hang on a wall. My 3-D work, because it's usually housed in a wooden box of some sort, can be rather bulky--the opposite of portable. That said, I must confess that I met several roadblocks in the brainstorming stage.
Then I remembered a series I'd made several years ago. I'd used Altoids tins as little niches to highlight the focal point of each art work. (Go to my blog archive and search "Nichos" if you care to see how those turned out.) For the Nichos series, the tins served as small sections of larger pieces--so I still needed to scale it down significantly for this project. Duh--I'd create the whole work of art within the confines of one tin. So I had the small-and-portable thing nailed down--but what about the contents?
After cutting the opening in the lid, I set the whole tin aside in the Art Lair. My muse for this piece was, it seemed, on hiatus. Then a few days later, Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" came across my Pandora feed, and that sparked everything. A boat in the night, fighting the wind and waves--but always sailing on, pushing through. To me, it felt like the perfect theme for this piece that would eventually end up in the hands of this young lady, who her whole life has had to grit her teeth, turn her bow into the waves, and simply SAIL ON.
Thanks to Kenzie Hosch--the oldest of my two, uber-talented daughters--for the beautiful hand-lettering shown in the above picture.
A couple of years ago, I got the idea that I'd like to get into block printing. There's something (probably the contrast and the power of line) about the medium that drew me in and continues to fascinate me. In fact, I liked it so much I even bought some nice chisels and proceeded to carve one--that's right, a grand total of ONE--wooden print block. Here it is, a simple feather, which actually turned out fairly well--if I do say myself.
Recently, I returned to the medium--except this time I gave lino cutting a try. Here are some pics of the process and the result. I'm not exactly amped about the outcome--the heart, I feel, needed more line work in areas to further define its contours--but I am excited about exploring block printing (either wood or lino) more in the near future.
Time to watch some tutorials and acquaint myself more with the process.
By the way, if you like either the feather or the tree-heart image and would like a print made, please send me an email (email@example.com). I'd be glad to send you one for a nominal price.
Recently I put the finishing touches on a free-standing assemblage I've titled Icon. I constructed the base (below) using, among other things, an antique millwork rosette and some pieces from an old picture frame. Notice the openings, which I designed to hold little boxes that, as you'll see later in this post, serve as storage for Moai-inspired heads.
Below are the four heads--still in their rough stage at this point--which I sculpted from Apoxie Clay, a two-part product that after a few hours dries to a rock hard state.
Here are some shots of the finished piece, which if you're interested, is available for purchase in my store. Some of the found objects include a garden trowel, a vintage drawer pull, and a film reel.
Valentine's Day is a week away. Now, I know that I come across as a gruff old fart--and ninety percent of the time that's a fair assessment. Sometime, though, my soft, chewy center is revealed through my art. Case in point, this piece--entitled Unrequited--from a couple of years ago. Constructed in an 18" x 6.5" x 4" antique, handmade (by someone other than me) wooden box, this free-standing assemblage tells the story of unreturned love.
Generally, my work is not theme-driven. More often than not, though, a theme will reveal itself to me during the creation process. However, there are a few instances when I have a theme in mind going into a project, and this assemblage is an example of that. Unrequited features two halves of a vintage photo. If you've followed my work, you'll notice that I frequently incorporate vintage photos. I love using these old pics because they tell me stories (granted, the stories are usually a bit twisted, but occasionally I stick to the traditional) which can influence my creative process.
In this case, the old guy (in my mind, he's named Jedidiah) has been courting Diane without much success. Mind you, Jed's no quitter; in fact, he's been wooing this lady for the better part of their adult lives. He's sprung for a ring and popped the marriage question, but for some reason Diane's kept her heart locked up.
I'll let you fill in the rest of the story. Check out these images:
If you love, or even just "like" (apparently, that's as far as Diane's willing to commit) this assemblage, it is available for purchase. It's not listed as one of the items in my online store, but if Unrequited is something you'd like for your very own, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can work out the details. I do have a PayPal account if that helps.
Several years ago while digging through my mom's garage, I found an old wooden artist's box (18" x 14"). It was probably from, I'm guessing, the 1960s and held paints, brushes, charcoal, and other art supplies, most of which were trashed. The box, however, caught my eye as a possible container for an assemblage. I used the lid last year to hold an assemblage I made for some friends out in Ohio. The other half, the container portion with dividers, got buried in my studio--until, that is, I found it earlier this week. Here's what I did with it. Found objects, poster paper, and pieces from cigar boxes.
The old-style images from the cigar boxes, coupled with bits of text from an circus poster, made me think of those men and women who (pre-digital age) made a living hand painting signs. (Sounds like a gig I could've gotten into.) I finished the theme with a well-used brush and a couple of calligraphy pens (upper left).
Below are a few detail pictures.
I just wrapped up this one (entitled "Test Tube Tot") a few hours ago. Earlier this week I was playing around in my workspace with an idea. I'd been gifted a whole box of test tubes and I wanted to put some of them to use. That said, I took a reproduction of a vintage photo, cut it into strips, and inserted the strips into a dozen test tubes. The effect was intriguing, so I decided to make it the focal point of a piece--and here it is. Dimensions: 12"h x 9"w x 4" d.
I completed this one (entitled "Free Range") a couple of days ago. It's a simple assemblage--featuring a collaged background and mono-print of a feather--in a plain, 10" x 5" x 3" wooden box. It also includes a resin bird skull and some wooden piano parts.
Here's an assemblage I just completed today. The body of the piece is a rosette (I think that's what they're called) from the trim in an old house. It's accompanied by found objects, including a raccoon skull. The lower portion features a test tube that contains a quote from R.W. Emerson's poem "Compensation." Approximate dimensions = 15"h x 9"w x 3"d.
The (sometimes mad) ramblings of a mixed media artist.