Tales from a Citrus Swamp…

Or: the History of the Bog Orange

First, an admission: I have a habit of drawing faces on things. Some might call it an annoying habit, as it sometimes takes the form of drawing faces on unattended items belonging to others, which usually entails their food. Take the following picture as a small example:

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One of the main places that this could happen was at work. Coworkers tended to leave things unattended near me all the time, and if these items had any kind of a surface that would lend itself to having a face, it usually got one. This would include Coffee to-go cups, paper bags from fast food or convenient stores, tampons (true story….I got one of my many “talkings to” for that) and fruits.

Oranges tended to be one of my favorite items, I suppose due to their having a rounded, lumpy head-like shapes that in many ways mimicked the drawings that I already do.

A few years ago I drew one of these (what has since become known as “Mort” faces) on the unattended orange of my co-worker Sam, who worked with me in the basement of the art store. He dug it so much that he put it on his shelf of items on his desk, refusing to peel it and eat it. I’m guessing that the original idea was to throw it away eventually, when it would start to rot….but that never happened. Instead, the orange slowly shrunk down and mummified in the dry Colorado air in this basement. The peel became a rock solid skin, and you could feel that the insides had basically dehydrated to nothingness, leaving the orange hollow and petrified.

Sam brought a bag of oranges in to work one day, specifically for me to draw on. using sharpies and paint markers, I created near a dozen more….and we put them away on a shelf, and watched over the next several months as they too shrunk and mummified.A few other coworkers and several friends, it turned out, loved these little guys and I ended up giving most of them away as gifts.

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Not long after that, I found myself looking through the oranges in a produce store, trying to pick several of the best candidates for the next batch. This group I took home to my studio and put aside, deciding to draw the faces AFTER the mummifying. While I’m sure there is a much quicker way to desiccate an orange or, for that matter, a group of oranges, I don’t know it. Plus, there is something satisfying in watching them slowly shrink and tan over the weeks and months.

While this was happening I had started to take up sculpting little creatures out of clay and resin (more on that in a later post), and eventually (you can see where this is headed) I wondered if it possible to sculpt on the dried orange husks themselves….

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…..and as you can see from the previous photo, it turns out that it is!

So, along with the other projects that I was sculpting, I included these new, what became known as “Bog Oranges”, as each orange became ready. Pictured below is the entire first set.

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The Walking Onion…

Dear god, its been a while! And that’s all I’ll say on that matter! This post isn’t about where I’ve been, but rather, what I’ve been doing. In this case, about my newest build for the latest Denver Zombie Crawl.

The last two years I had gone to the event as one of my drawings, a zombie character that I named Mort. Last year I decided to retire him, due to the impracticality of the costume not having arms, as well as the fact that the head piece was actually starting to show signs of falling apart.

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I decided to create a whole new zombie for this year’s Zombie Crawl.

First, like the last build, I started by doing several layers of mache’ over a large rubber kick ball. After several layers, I was able to smash it down and reshape it into more of an oval/egg shape. Then I used more newspaper to build up the chin and mouth area…

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After several layers of more mache’ over the built up area, I cut out the area for my head to fit in, and pulled out the deflated ball….

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Next, I cut out the mouth through both layers. I would later clean up all the cut out areas with a few layers of mache’ around the edges.

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The mouth itself was built out of a leftover piece of oval shaped mache’ from a previous project. The teeth and gums were sculpted onto it out of a polymer clay…

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….and glued over the mouth after the perfect placement was determined. This would be the predominant area that I would eventually see out of while wearing the head.

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First test fitting. At this point I had already cut out the eye sockets and added detail around them with more polymer clay. Also, I created a fracture at the very top of the head, detailed around the edges with polymer clay, and filled with a soft styrofoam from a craft store.

For the inside of the head, I made a place that cradled my forehead as well as a place for my chin. Not only did this help hide my face from being easily seen through the openings, but it made the head fit more stable, like a mask.

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Next, I finished up the details around the eyes and skull fracture, and added some around the open mouth. The inside of the head was painted with a black primer, and the parts wear my face and head would fit were sealed with a few layers of clear acrylic.

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I had been mulling over the idea of making hands, and finally committed to them at the last second. I made them by cutting out the back of the hands from a mailing tube and gluing on some velcro straps. The fingers were made from wooden dowels and wire; shaped, and then fixed in place with polymer knuckles. The whole hands were covered with a few layers of mache’ after baking.

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The finished sculpts, ready for painting. (stuffed the head and skull fracture with paper)

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After a few layers of white primer, all the pieces were painted in a variety of colors of acrylic. Being colorblind, I was kinda hoping for the best.

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….and finished!! Several layers of paint, glazing and dry-brushing. I also painted the styrofoam in the fracture black….

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….before adding the finishing touches of flowers.

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At the last second (the day of the Denver Zombie Crawl) I decided to make some quick business cards to give out….for promotion, yes, but mainly to ask folks who take photos with me to send me a copy via email.

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And here’s the finished look moments before the Zombie Crawl. I named this guy “Vincent”, for obvious reasons.

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Like I started this post, it HAS been a while! Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me here, and I hope to share some new stuff with you soon!

Usurping with Coffee Stains…

It might take me a while, but I eventually do make good on my threats…of course speaking about finishing a new website, finally!

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So, Welcome to the new/redesigned website!

Even though it’s been a long time in the works, this being it’s first week finds it with a few things that are still needed, namely: a more complete gallery and a working storefront…..as well as dancing monkeys. I will be adding to the galleries over the next few weeks as I scan or photograph current works – and I hope to have a working storefront in the same amount of time, after I figure out the correct way to appease the Finance Gods (not sure if I’m supposed to sacrifice a money stuffed virgin chicken on the Full Moon or the New Moon….and I don’t know how to check a chickens hymen).
Basically, what I’m saying is: Please stop by! I hope that you like my work, and if you do, check back often for updates.

Con Paredes Para Honrar a los Muertos...

I have four new drawings that will be part of Studio 12's Dia De Los Muertos show. Opening Night is this Friday, October 5th, from 4pm til 9pm. This was a juried show, so I don't have a list of the artists that will have work displayed, but that shouldn't deter you from swinging in and getting so Day of the Dead spirit saturating your bones.

Studio 12 Gallery is proud to be part of the Art District on Santa Fe


Another Book Plus Twenty…

So, I basically left off my updates here with the completion of the Alphabeasts (albeit, late completion), and during those weeks of drawing and posting, I alluded to the fact several times that I planned on collecting all of them in their own tome (for I like the word “tome”….as well as the fact that many people asked me how they could see or acquire this series).

BUT; (isn’t there always a “but”?) I wasn’t done just by finishing the series. While making the initial list of creatures to coincide with each letter of the alphabet, there were many that turned out to be second runners up….and third and fourths for that matter. So I kept drawing, and eventually completed an additional twenty creatures.

Here is a tease of the additional beasts:

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I am still working on this collected volume I’ve been threatening to make available, which will contain all the alphabeasts shown online as well as the twenty added.

I hope to have a bit more information on it in the very near future.

Exit Diogenes…

It truly has been a long time since I posted any updates here, and as many of you might already know, a main reason for that has been the death of an old, good friend Jason Noble on August 4th. Jason had been fighting a rare form of cancer for three years, and his death hit all of his friends and family hard, as anyone could imagine. It also made my little narcissistic ways seem completely unimportant for the time-being.

I cannot really say anything that this article hasn’t said better: http://leoweekly.com/music/carry-him-forward

In any case, a lot has gone on since my last update, and I have a lot of catching up to do. But for now, let me once again say goodbye to Jason, my friend and someone I totally looked up to, and leave you all with just a bit of the beauty he left behind.

Lloyd’s Register from The Sea & the Bells

You will be missed….

Listing Imaginary Orthographies...Part 21 thru 26

Finally! The last six (waaaaay overdue) Alphabeasts. There are at least ten more that I'm finishing up that will be included in the book I plan to publish of all these....

U
“U is for Unicorn”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

V
“V is for Vampire”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

W
“W is for Will-o-Wisp”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

X
“X is for Xolotl”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

Y
“Y is for Yūrei”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

Z
“Z is for Zombie”– 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper

This was a fun project and I happy to have been a part of it. If you want to see the collection of Alphabeasts from all the contributors, you can do so HERE.

Listing Imaginary Orthographies...Part 12 of 26

L is for Lycanthrope

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“L is for Lycanthrope” – 3.5x5 inch - ink on paper …the twelfth week of Alphabeasts.
● It has been asked more than a few times after each of these weekly posts, whether or not I plan to publish these drawings in book form after they are all completed. In all honesty, the prospect of doing so at first seemed a bit inappropriate, seeing as the whole idea of the project was not my own. But the more I do these, and the more thought I give in to the whole idea, the more the idea of collecting them into book form seems to make sense.
So, the short answer is “Yes”. Yes, I will be collecting these drawings into their own volume – titles something other than Alphabeasts, of course.
I’ll be working on layout ideas over the next coming weeks, with more info to follow.
By the way – Happy New Year  to all of you!! I hope that this year finds you all well and happy!

The End, as We Know It, For Now…

…and I Feel Fine-ish

Last week I posted the last of the Crumbly Drawings to my Etsy storefront; not ALL of the drawings, just all of the ones that’ll be made available.
The full collection is still available in book form in its entirety: My Legs Are Useless

There is more news, but I’ll save that for its own post in the coming days. Until then, thanks to all the positive responses to these drawings and to those who have purchased some! Cheers!

 

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