Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Matrix

The most important thing (for me) when coming up with a show, is the intellectual-imaginative and/or design framework which will hold it together and make it truly function as a BODY of work. A show without such a thing (like my portion of last summer's Inside/Outside, may (or may not) satisfy the viewer, but for me will never be as fulfilling as something with the flavor of gesamtkunstwerk.

If a show is small, like ShowOff in summer 05, such a framework is relatively easy to come up with (although will probably be lacking in grand schemes). ShowOff consisted exclusively of my first Ex Nihilo series of ink drawings, so it was cohesive, but that was kind of it.

My senior thesis From The New World was the first time I put together something which really captivated me, creatively, imaginitively and intellectually, not just in the creation of the individual pieces but in coming up with thought processes and a narrative/symbolic structure which would inform which pieces (out of the many I sketched and planned for) would be executed and included in the final show, what order I would make them in, what materials (gold or silver) they would be embellished with, what their focal points would be (birds, rabbits, humans), and also suggest what motifs and symbols would be included in the marginalia (The New World had a very illuminated manuscript feel and upon completing the general layout/design of each piece, I would be confronted with areas that needed to be filled in or embellished but were theretofore unused space, physically and symbolically. The theme and its associated symbol systems then supplied me with appropriate material for marginalia that would support, enhance and commentate on the main elements of the piece (for instance, here and here) - it creates a very real, though submerged, framework that the viewer recognizes on some level, enough to follow its scaffolding across and between the pieces, but cannot completely enter into - akin to C.S. Lewis' kappa element in fiction).

The projected exhibition is in even greater need of such an organizing factor, having so many separate series. I am happy to say that I have found that rubric and will be applying it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Next Few Months

After much ratiocination, I've come up with a final roster of series I'm going to be working on over the spring and summer (and fall?) with the intent of having a show - somewhere.

Works On Paper

  • Ex Nihilo

  • Coronation

  • Bureaucracy of the Interior

Works On Panel

  • Silver Worlds

  • White Rabbits (tentative title)

  • Luminous Seascapes Real and Imaginary

  • Ingrained

Am still unsure if Ex Nihilo will fit in well with the rest of the show, and am ready to ditch it first if the going gets rough. Ingrained is also on the brink of what is apropos.

Conversely, am VERY excited about Bureaucracy, which is going to be gorgeous and will make people's heads explode like cocktail tomatoes. You can quote me on that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some Big Scans

Here are the two big pieces I couldn't scan last night:

Rabbit Court, from The Bureaucracy of the Interior, progress scan. (See the last scan - which was only taken of the center of the piece.)

Carrion Crows (Cumulonimbus. Buck. Thorns.) (See progress in Multimedia) The crows aren't painted in yet :)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Ok, I hope everyone had a restful easter because I'm Back with a big B!! I haven't done a real, straight-from-the-studio entry for a while, so there's kind of a lot to cover.

1. Heavenly Creatures, which I submitted to Montserrat's Artrageous! fundraiser, was selected by the jury to be part of the live auction (other pieces will be silently auctioned throughout the show).
The jurors for this year are Michele Lamuniere, Charles C. Cunningham Sr. Assistant Curator of Photography at the Fogg Museum down at Harvard, and Dina Dietch, Curatorial Fellow of the deCordova Museum in Lincoln. 180 pieces were reviewed and 25 were selected for the live auction.

2. Art scans!

Sketch for Scylla and Charybdis, from the series Luminous Seascapes Real and Imaginary (based on this painting). Text is from the Odyssey:
Circe(to Odysseus after he asks if Scylla can be fought):
Must you have battle in your heart forever?
That nightmare cannot die, being eternal evil itself,
Horror +
Pain +
There is no fighting her, no power can fight her,
All that avails is flight!

When we were little my father read us this book called Ulysses Found, about a guy who had traced Odysseus' voyage in the Odyssey and thought that, just as Schleimann had discovered a historical Troy, most of the Odyssey was in fact grounded in fact (you know, geographically speaking :P ). There was a really cool chapter on the strait of Scylla and Charybdis and I guess that always stuck out to me.

Scylla and Charybdis, in progress, diptych with each panel 5" square, to be embossed, gilded and painted. I'm going to emboss the rocks all the way down (as if they were sticking into the air like mountains) and then paint the waves over the top so that that you get a tactile/visual sense of the rocky structures under the breaking surf.

A small White Rabbit piece to be embossed, gilded and painted. 6x8" This one is on hardboard not clayboard (a dark brown base vs. a more expensive white base), so I experimented a little and gave this one a fairly intensive ground treatment involving a lot of coats of translucent yellow, sanding, then some thin washes of red and more sanding for a lustrous reddish-orange that will be 99% covered by gold in the final product. I like the pieces to have a slavish, lavish, devotional, meditative element to them, even if the viewer won't be consciously conscious of that in the final product.

sister fox in demure ascendance, from Coronation series. Mostly done, seal and crown need to be embossed and gilded. Ditto for this one, salamander princess (beneficent. very calm.)

I'm not such a big fan of sister fox who is looking a little clumsy and unaccessorized, so I might scrap that one and redo it.
That's not even all of them! But the other ones are too big for my little scanner, so I'll have to put them from the scanner at work tomorrow.


Penguin Dad, from Moleskin

Possible captions:
"You mean Mom just left me here with you for 8 months?"

"I have to eat your barf? What?" -Tim

A Recipe for Happiness

I love Indian food more than any other sort. Here's an approximation of one of my favorite dishes, Shahi Paneer Korma, that I get almost every time I go to Anmol in Beverly (much recommended; everything is half-price at lunch). I didn't feel like making my own paneer (sort of a pressed cottage cheese), so here is my paneerless recipe. The secret to making good Indian food is not to skimp on the butter. I used one stick but feel free to add more if the onions start getting a bit dry, or if you love butter. I've 90% sure that shahi means cashew.

Improv Shahi Chicken Korma

Cashew nuts
A large onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
3 tomatoes
A fingerlength of ginger
3 limes (juice and zest)
Coriander seeds
Chicken breasts
One small hot green pepper

Put a handful of cashew nuts into a bowl and cover with milk. They should sit for about an hour or until softened. Microwaving them a few times for 30-40 seconds will help.

Cut the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces, or filet them into very thin layers. Zest the limes, setting the zest aside, and put the lime juice into a bowl with the chicken to start it “cooking.”

Chop the onion into thin slices and saute it very slowly with a stick of butter, adding the garlic, diced, after a few minutes. Slice the ginger thinly and add this to the mixture. Once the onions are nice and soft, add the tomatoes, sliced thinly.

Dry-roast the coriander seeds on low heat in a little pan on the stovetop until they begin to turn slightly brown and pop (not like popcorn :) -just little popping noises -make sure they don't blacken). Grind them finely in a pestle, and add them, with the cumin and the salt, to the onion-tomato-garlic pan.

While all this is cooking, take the cashew-in-milk mixture and blend it in the food processor until very smooth and rich. Add it to the frying onions and stir til consistent and the mixture is heated through and bubbling slightly. Add the chicken pieces with the remaining lime juice, (the outside of the chicken should have started to whiten and cook by this time due to the acid in the lime juice) and stir again until the chicken is covered. Stir and rearrange the chicken from time to time so that it cooks evenly.

Chop the scallion, cilantro and green pepper (removing the pepper seeds if you don’t want it to be very hot) and add to the mixture along with the lime zest. Continue to cook until the chicken is done through. Will feed three or four depending on how hungry you are and if you serve with rice or naan. If it's been cooked long enough, you can even eat the ginger slices, which will have become soft but still flavorful.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Back To Work

I took a little studio break starting on Wednesday, to give myself some time to air out and let off some painting nerves. I did have a little at-home project though: I repainted my room with much noble assistance from bryan (looks SO MUCH BETTER!!!!! - I feel like i've living in a different apartment, or even someone else's life!), AND embarked on a 26 part series of drawings that I can work on here (on my newly cleaned and organized desk) when I can't or don't feel like going to the studio.
I'm calling it the Coronation series; the idea came to me at around 11.49 on Wednesday night as I lay abed (good thing I keep a notebook on the nightstand!), and it is based off a series of drawings, I did for Gordon's faculty/alumni show back in December 07. Mostly animals, with some embossed gold leaf, on that queen of papers, Arches Cover Buff. Will post some soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Silver Stress

Am feeling a little freaked about The Door.
It's really big. 

Not even long moments of scrutinizing the Persian miniatures have led 
me to an answer.

Got some more done on Carrion Crows and the Silver Worlds tondo tentatively titled Snared In Its Glory, but felt dissatisfied with life and left the studio early.

More Self Portrait Mischief

If plums and strawberries and cherries had a fight, I wouldn't even know who to root for!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rabbit Running

Working sketch for White Rabbits series.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Two Persian miniatures which were my original inspiration for the first Silver Worlds piece. Especially the first one.


Studio shot from two days ago.

Revolution Rabbit, working title, acrylic and gold leaf on panel, 25" x 25"

New piece just started, part of a series with Predator/Prey The silver and graphite are both reflective, so at this point it's pretty hard to photograph. There will be swirling black birds.

Probably more excited about this than anything.

Persian Megature, working title, completely gilded. It probably took about 15 hours (?). I've pre-christened it which is always fun.

Just to show I'm not a one-trick pony. I threw it together today after church and it is So Tasty.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hunting Party/Ad Poster

Hunting Party, watercolor and gouache with silver leaf on paper, 2008

Poster for a digital illustration seminar I'll be holding at Gordon sometime soon (dates + times are placeholders). Scanned drawing and digital color courtesy of Photoshop.

From The Vault

Process scan of drawing for a button I made for the band After The Sirens. You can see the completed illustration here.

My this post has a lot of tags!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Gilded Age

This is my reflection in the door I've been silverleafing. My yellow hoodie's reflection, at least.

These pictures are from a few days ago, after putting in about 8-10 hours of crouching on the ground (the only part of my studio not subject to leaf-disintegrating drafts :-/ ), the door is 85% done. I've also managed to complete the gilding on Revolution Rabbit.

That's how big it is.
I tried in vain to video the leafing process. Well, not in vain: the video is fine, but for some reason my built-in mic wasn't picking up sound, so it's a lot of me gesturing and moving my mouth. Poop :( Someday it will work I swear.

Sketch Assortment

From The Vault

Two sets of stickers I printed up for my last open studio in December. Printed on tabloid size sheets of sticker paper, then each cut up into each smaller sheets of 5-8 drawings each, with probably 60-100 different designs total.

Drawings were culled from old sketchbooks, undisplayed pieces and from larger illustrations.

Some drawings for a children's book I might do someday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Infortuna Major

Some process photos for the Stillpoint illustration on Planet Narnia - Saturn.
Saturn is known astrologically as a bringer of disaster, plague and pestilence, whose metal is lead, so I tried to incorporate both the warm colors that we see in satellite photography of Saturn and some heavy, leaden grays. The reaper's scythe is balanced by the vulturine head of the god Tash from The Last Battle.

Saturn: The Last Battle watercolor and gouache on paper

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fashion Drawing

watercolor and pencil in a Moleskin

Started silvering the door last night. Went rather quickly - have put down abt. 8 leaves so far.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Studio Inventory

I'm in the midst of starting some new projects right now, but in the meantime, here's a quick inventory of what's going on in the studio now.

And another sketch for Silver Worlds. I've been thinking about it a lot :D

Monday, March 3, 2008

Silver Worlds, Part HUGE

Today I went to Home Depot and got a big door (28" x 78") - no handle or anything, just a door. I've been planning for many months to do a large version - epic, actually - of Heavenly Creatures but due to the size of the door panels I want to work with, haven't been able to (I have a Dodge Neon = :( )

My brother is here for a week of psring break so with his helpful presence I decided to see if I could fit a door in the car with it sticking out of the trunk a little. The 28x78 was the biggest that would fit - I also wanted to get two 36x78s for the big rabbit a few posts back - but with some bungee cords and ingenuity we got the door back to the studio without mishap. I'll have to get the other panels another time in another vehicle.

It is Really Big. I've already purchased the silver leaf for gilding it, so there's really nothing stopping me from getting started. I just need to paint it black and put down 15 square feet of silver. It;'s the biggest thing I've ever done, so that's exciting but a little scary!

Also, I have to decide what to do on it - rabbits? fish? I'd like to revisit the lengthy fox from the upper left of Heavenly Creatures, but not sure if I'd like to do that on a smaller piece. Contemplating whether it will be compositionally better/more saleable/room compatible as a horizontal or as a vertical piece. Horizontally it could go above a mantelpiece or a couch - vertically it is maybe more imposing, but harder to hang since it's 6.5 feet tall.