Friday, November 14, 2014

The Return of the Lo-Fi-Ga - Daav

It wasn't always like this. Long ago, the world was run by many gods, large and small; powerful and meek; arrogant and humble. Every god had their place and task and their community hummed with divine purpose. As humankind crawled out of the dark of superstition and stumbled into the light of civilization, those gods were forgotten one-by-one, until now. I have begun a series of carvings to try and resurrect those old gods, because face it, these days we need all the help we can get.

Here is the very first one, a lesser god, or "Lo-Fi-Ga" in the ancient tongue. His name is "Daav" and his domain was/is the eye rub. Whenever you get an itchy eye, old "Daav" is there to help you out.

This carving is tiny, less than an inch-and-a-half high, not including the base. It's carved from a dried Hickory tree nut husk fragment which I have been collecting from a nearby park when I'm out walking.

Until December 7, 2014, you can see this piece in the flesh at the "Small Works" Exhibition at the Charles H. Taylor Center in Hampton, Va. After that show, I don't know where you'll be able to see him as he has become part of somebody's collection.


Monday, September 08, 2014

"ZANK" Rides Again!

"ZANK" is a short stop-motion animated Super 8 film I made in the early 21st century. It's been in a few film festivals here and there through the years (you can read a brief history in past posts here), but lately "ZANK" has been in semi-retirement on YouTube and Vimeo. Recently I was invited to participate in an art exhibition called "That's Funny! - Art with a Sense of Humor" at the Charles H. Taylor Center in Hampton, Virginia, September 13th - October 19th. Besides "ZANK", I'll also have two bas-relief sculptures and a black & white drawing done for an underground comic book back in the 1980s, which I'll be writing about on my companion blog "The Reluctant Sadist and Other Wanderings in the Comix Underground"

I'm grateful for another opportunity to share "ZANK" with a new audience. One of my favorite things about the film is the great soundtrack by my friend Neil Spencer Bruce, a multi-talented musician and filmmaker. You can out more of his work on his web site.

Here's "ZANK" for your viewing pleasure.



PS - This is my 400th blog post! Thanks' for reading! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Maya Bird" Takes Flight

My latest woodcarving was inspired by a Mayan icon of a bird that I found in a book called, "Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico". The book features simple black and white drawings collected from rubbings of pottery and temple art across central America. The author, Jorge Enciso, has categorized the images by subject; geometric shapes, types of plants and animals, etc., and I never fail to find something to get my creative juices flowing again.

I am still working on a pile Cedar boards leftover from a fence project. The wood is not ideal for detailed work as the grain density isn't always consistent. Sometimes a good section will have a fibrous, coarser band running through it that makes it difficult to render finer bits.

The first photo shows my simple reference freehand drawing and the next photo was the outline cut done with a coping saw.
Sometimes, on larger pieces, I'll use a jigsaw to do the outline cut, but this wood is prone to split and this is a smaller piece, only five inches long, so better to take some extra time and care and do it the old-fashioned way.

The third photo is the completed carving before any finish has been applied.
I used artist's acrylic paints to finish this piece, experimenting with a resist method by covering some of the raw wood with a gloss medium to create naturally lighter areas; beak, body and tail feather tips. Then I washed in some brunt sienna and red in the lower areas and crevices. To further emphasize the deeper lines, I used a little bit of black, then coated the entire piece front and back, with more gloss medium.


Friday, July 18, 2014

"Eyes of the Buddha"

"Eyes of the Buddha" is my latest woodcarving done as a gift for a friend. I did a variation on the classic image and added contour lines and left some texture from the chisels. All hand tools this time, no dremel or other power tools used. Sealed and painted it with acrylics.

The teardrop between the eyes traditionally represents "the third eye", but I also like to think of it as representing "a diamond in the mind", determination, clear sense of purpose. When my friend looks at it, I hope it helps him find peace and strength.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

How to leave the shell of the old life behind...

Tonight while taking out the garbage, I had a chance encounter with an alien being. Well, alien to my normal experience. I found a cicada emerging from the shell of the life it had out-grown. I've seen plenty of the the empty husks left behind by these noisy insects, but never witnessed the act of transformation. I dropped the garbage and grabbed my camera. As I maneuvered for a decent angle, I could see it slowly wriggling back-and-forth to free itself from it's bug-shaped suit. If only we humans could do that when we have outgrown our body or life. Sometimes you do see it happen with people, often after a major life event like a divorce or death of a loved one. The shock cracks the shell of the old life and they wake-up a new person. The old rituals and habits don't satisfy any longer. The path branches off in a new direction. The advantage the cicada has over us humans is, it has no choice but to grow and literally leave that husk behind; we humans have to work at it. I am working to change my life. I want to make more art. I want my creative energies to fill my days much more than it does now. Any time you see me post a photo of a new woodcarving or drawing or video clip, that's me trying to wriggle free of the old life. It can be done...


Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Angel has Landed

I finished "Bernie's Angel" in time for her birthday at the end of March. There were a couple of late nights and the paint was a tad tacky when it went into the gift box, but I got her done.

I learned a lot about woodcarving doing this piece and can see progress in my technique. I chose to paint this piece instead of a simple stain as it fit the subject matter better. I used acrylic washes and some iridescent gold for the halo and silver for the wings.
Here's a shot of Bernie "unboxing" the angel. It was very satisfying to see how happy it made her. It helped remind me how special and meaningful art can be when created with heartfelt intent. We live quite far apart, but this little angel adds another connection and brings some comfort to Bern.

Here is the angel's final home on Bernie's kitchen wall. She fills the empty space where the former terra cotta angel hung before she was knocked down. I always like to see where my art winds up "living". I like to think of the angel looking down on Bernie in the morning when she's fixing her breakfast. I want to make art that is a part of people's life.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

An Angel for Bernie

My mother-in-law, Bernie, had a terra cotta angel from Italy on her kitchen wall. Last year a workman accidentally knock it off and broke it beyond repair. I am going to replace it with a woodcarving designed by my wife (her daughter) and carved by me. A sweet opportunity to collaborate and make Bernie happy!


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Sacred Heart Woodcarving is Done

I finished the Sacred Heart woodcarving recently and gave it to a friend as a house warming gift. I am pleased with the final result, but think I'll try doing another one sometime as I have ideas for different flourishes and I'd like to make a larger one.

My next project will be an angel for my Mother-in-law to replace a terra-cotte one that was broken last year. I am collaborating with my wife, she's providing the design and I will carve it. Our studio is in a three seasons room off the back of the house and lately it's been too cold to work out there, so I am hoping for a warm up soon.

After that, I am not sure what I will do. One piece at a time.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Carving a Sacred Heart Icon

My latest wood carving is the classic "Sacred Heart" icon from the Catholic religion. This symbol has been co-opted into popular culture and has taken on other meanings besides the original as a symbol of Jesus Christ's divine love for humanity, it also represents passion and strong heart. I've always been fond of this image, so grabbed a piece of cedar and got to work. I'm about half way done with the carving part. This is going to be a gift for a friend...