Friday, October 19, 2018

"Frankenstein is Served", for the FRANKENSTEIN MEETS LITTLE WOMEN Art Show

"Frankenstein Meets Little Women: 
A Monster Mash"

"Frankenstein is Served", Oil on wood Oval, 18 x 24

Brand new art...! 

Frankenstein. Little Women.  Two highly beloved literary classics.  And both celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, the first having been written 200 years ago by Mary Shelley, with the second written 150 years ago, by Louisa May Alcott. Whatever would happen if you squished these two seemingly very dissimilar subject themes together....?  

Why, the 'Frankenstein Meets Little Women: A Monster Mash' art show of course!  

Event conceptualized and organized by Valerie E. Weich

The brainchild of curator and historical reenactment artist, Valerie E. Weich,  the "Frankenstein Meets Little Women" art show opens this weekend (Sat, 10/20) in South Pasadena, CA, and I was so delighted and honored to have been invited to participate.  Long standing literary fan and independent scholar, Valerie Weich had a vision for a multi-faceted art/literary experience, which, with much careful thought and planning upon her part, has come to fruition.  She has put together such a comprehensively entertaining and educational event -- complete with artist panel discussion, a living history performance, a movie screening, an educational lecture plus special opening and closing parties, all in conjunction with a fascinating art show by a fine group of hand-selected artists -- that my only regret is not being able to make the show in person myself (really sad about that!)....: 

So upon having been asked to participate, how in the world was I to tie together these two classic tomes in one painting?  All while keeping within my own particular artistic approach and style...?  

Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want"

One of the predominant themes running through both novels is Family.  Obviously, "Little Women" is all about Family, featuring as it does the four March sisters, and their beloved mother, Marmie.  But the story of Frankenstein is about family too -- or the lack of it in The Creature's case -- and how The Creature, isolated and apart, longs for the acceptance and belonging of a family, hurtfully rejected as he is by his own creator.  I tossed around a few concepts for my entry into the show until given a really juicy suggestion by Valerie herself that I felt I could truly run with -- that being the spoofing of Norman Rockwell's classically quintessential family-themed artwork, "Freedom from Want"....:

"Frankenstein is Served" (or, is it 'severed'...?) on a large oval plaque

And there you have it: "Frankenstein is Served", in which we have The Creature featured and meeting all the girls of 'Little Women" (Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March), along with Mary Shelley his literary Creator), her famed poet husband, Percy Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Marmie...,!  (Because I couldn't very well parody Mr, Rockwell's famous painting and his wee cameo without including my own little selfie now could I...?).

And if you happen to be in the L.A. area this this week, consider going to see this this amazing show....!  Click this link to read what the South Pasadean has to say about it.

Private Commission, 'Hijabi', 09/2017

"Hijabi", acrylic 4' x 4' canvas 2017

Another interesting 2017 project!  A Muslim customer was planning a large party for her daughter upon the daughter's decision to take up in the Islamic tradition of wearing the hijab.  My customer supplied for me a very large canvas -- much, MUCH bigger than I typically work (4 feet by 4 feet) -- and asked for a simplified abstracted work in particular colors, featuring a Hijabi in silhouette.  This was a fun challenge because I don't often work in abstract, and certainly not this big.

The painting as displayed at the special event....

Private Commission: "Still. Life" 04/17

"People have to do what they want to do..."

-J. Mascis

"Still. Life." Oil on Found Wood, by Private Commission 12 x 13  2017

This as a really fun privately commissioned project.  My customer had requested a painting to present as a wedding gift for two very close friends.  I was told the groom was a huge fan of the musician J. Mascis, of the band Dinosaur Jr., while the bride was a huge fan of Frida Kahlo.   The painting was to somehow feature both subjects.  And oh by the way, can the painting also include the marrying couple's two beloved pet kitties...???   But of course! 

Digging around in my stash of found wood to use, I came across this old 12 x 13 cabinet bottom that I'd grabbed off a curb many moons ago. Perfect...!

The shape of the cabinet bottom, with its little notches into the top two corners, allowed for some creative wire hangery....: 

Eye hooks placed in the notched corners for hanging wire

A fun project overall, which I heard was well received by the gift recipients (yay!).

"Still. Life", featuring J. Mascis and Frida Kahlo


Boneyard Art Festival 2017: "Medusa"

"You only have to look at the Medusa 
straight on to see her.  And she's not deadly.  
She's beautiful, and she's laughing..."

~Helen Cixous

"Medusa", for the Boneyard Art Festival, April/2017

Hello, little neglected blog.  Didn't mean to be absent quite so long!  Yet, as always happens, I will eventually find my way back in here.... 

 This time around it's been a few privately commissioned projects, including a particularly large one, that have been keeping me busy behind-the-scenes and away from my usual artistic pursuits.  Such as the Nibblefest Art Contest.  I'm missing it...!  Hoping to get back into the Nibblefest groove in the next couple of months. In the meantime I'm needing to update with a few past projects that for some reason (I guess because they were local...?) never made their way into my blog.  Since I do like to keep this little virtual space as documentation for my own reference, I'm updating now.

"Medusa", April 2017

And so here we have the Medusa. 
There's an annual art event in my locality, known as the Boneyard Arts Festival (named after a little creek that meanders through the town).  The fest runs over a weekend every April, with shows and events at multiple venues all over the city.  Last year (2017) I was invited to hang a painting with the Twin City Derby Girls, our local roller derby team, as they hosted a gallery venue at their practice space. This was my piece for their show....:

"Medusa"  7 x 9 shield-shaped plaque

I had had this old, shield-shaped wooden plaque in my stash for the longest time.   It was high time to use it, and what better subject to feature upon a shield, than Medusa...?   Not to mention what better subject to feature for a showing with the Roller Derby girls, than a Medusa on a shield....?  It all seemed entirely appropriate.

Thank you, Twin City Derby Girls...!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

"No Silent Springs" (Rachel Carson)"

“But man is a part of nature, 
and his war against nature 
is inevitably a war against himself....”
― Rachel Carson

My tribute to Rachel Carson and her book, 'Silent Spring'

"No Silent Springs
(Rachel Carson)"

I recently watched the PBS 'American Experience episode' regarding the author and naturalist, Rachel Carson, about her life's work.  While I knew a little about her background, the documentary went into great detail and was very educational.  I learned much from watching it, and also found myself highly moved. 

Oils on a 7x9 wood plaque

In an era when Nature was seen as a thing necessary for Mankind to dominate, exploit, intercept and control, Rachel Carson's message firmly challenged that prevailing Mid-Century notion.  While the attitudes of the time reflected a belief that humans were somehow separate and apart from the natural world, Carson argued instead that mankind is actually an integral part of the dynamism of Nature, and that our human activities potentially have more far-reaching repercussions and impacts than we might even be aware of.  Her book, 'Silent Spring', specifically questioned the widespread use of chemical pesticides, while calling attention to the negative impacts such wholesale application had upon the environment and animal life -- and ultimately, upon ourselves.   'Silent Spring' became a best seller and brought much public awareness to the concept of environmental conservation.  Her influential writings and moving testimonies helped awaken a global cause, and are generally credited with giving rise and advancement to our modern environmental movement.

I was able to use a small wooden plaque purchased 2nd-hand from our local I.D.E.A. Store

As such, when looking for a subject to paint for this month's EBSQ "Awakening" online exhibit, Rachel Carson came to mind immediately.  Her influence awakened an entire generation. The title of the book, 'Silent Spring', refers to the scenario of an absence of song birds, as they perish en mass from heavy pesticide exposure. Robins in particular are susceptible to the effects of industrial chemicals and pesticides building up in the food chain -- so a robin seemed a likely symbol.  There is also the matter of Rachel Carson having died relatively young (in her 50's) from aggressive breast cancer.  As a survivor of breast cancer myself, I hated to learn about how she likely suffered in her illness. Oncology treatments were rudimentary at best back then, harsh and commonly ineffective, and doctors often patronizing.   We'll never know if Rachel Carson's own cancer was in any way environmentally triggered.  But what if is was...?  Then somehow her message feels even all-the-more weighty to me. 

On my easel in progress....

And so, while I'm entering this piece into the March EBSQ "Awareness" online art exhibit, I was also able to hang it in a local, themed art show this month, entitled "Resist".  What comes to mind when you think of Resistance....?  Rachel Carson did go on to experience a lot of negative fall-out from her writings and opinions -- many folks, including those in the farming industry and other corporate interests, looked to discredit her work and smear her reputation.   They resisted her environmental message -- while she in turn intrepidly resisted their public pressure and attempts to keep her quiet.....

Here's a photo of my entry, "No Silent Springs (Rachel Carson)" hanging in the local "Resist" show....

My Rachel Carson tribute hanging in the Resist show at our local Independent Media Center

RIP, Rachel Carson.  
Here's to no silent springs.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My White/Orwell Tribute for EBSQ's February Online Exhibit: 'Opposites'

"Animal Web": oils upon a 10x12 handmade canvas using a re-purposed frame

Yesterday was the last day of the month of February, which meant the deadline for the EBSQ online exhibit, "Opposites".  I entered last night with this little piece, a tribute to two much beloved pig story authors, EB White, and George Orwell.  I've entitled it, "Animal Web", and it is my interpretation of the theme, 'Opposites'....

EB White and George Orwell, With Their Pigs.

The following is my entry's artist statement over at EBSQ:

"Animal Web: A Tribute To Authors,
EB White and George Orwell":

My entry for the February 2017 EBSQ online "Opposites" exhibit features a whimsical little fantasy piece painted in loving tribute to two of my favorite authors:  EB White, of 'Charlotte's Web', and George Orwell, of "Animal Farm".  Both authors were talented, highly esteemed, caucasion, of similar age (born only a few years apart), and writers of fiction. Both wrote sweeping, captivating tales regarding farms -- specifically featuring complex and endearing characters who happened to be pigs.  However, the similarities between the two men and their fiction likely mostly ends there -- and not only because one was American and the other British.  Both used their porcine protagonists to weaves two very different tales indeed.  EB White's beloved "Charlotte's Web" narrates the story of unity, cooperation, and friendship -- plus what I always personally interpreted as strong, optimistic message as to the value of Nature, and of animals, and of anti-cruelty in general.  And all within the sweet setting of a peacefully idyllic, mid-century farmstead.   George Orwell's "Animal Farm", however, though also set against the backdrop of a picturesque farmstead, spins a very opposing narrative.  Orwell used his setting and plot to outline an allegorical and cautionary story about the rise of Soviet communism and of the brutal dictatorship of Joseph Stalin.  His pigs are far from sweet, passive characters -- they are highly manipulative creatures who get up to some very nasty things.  The intimidate and oppress their fellow farm-mates ("All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others").  They threaten and cajole, assail and even engage in violence -- a much darker yarn for sure.   "Charlotte's Web" and "Animal Farm", two classic and much beloved modern-day fables about intrepid pigs living on farms, that really couldn't be more 'opposite'....

(Note:  In the spirit of creative re-use, this painting support was hand-fashioned using a re-purposed old 10x12 wood frame. I like to upcycle previously used second-hand materials that might otherwise make their way to the landfill into my creative process in lieu of new purchases whenever applicable)....

This is my 2nd in a series of tributes to George Orwell.  You can find my previous piece here...

Side View

This painting will soon be making it's way across the country as a fun project commissioned by a White and Orwell fan.  Very thankful for lots of freelance work at present, with more to write about soon....


Friday, February 24, 2017

My Entry For February's Nibblefest: Buster Keaton Tribute.

 "Railroads are a great prop. 
You can do some awful wild things with railroads."
~Buster Keaton

Tribute portrait of Buster Keaton

What's this...?  
Nibblefest Art Contest time again already? 

I always say that February feels like the longest month of the year, despite it actually being the shortest month of the year.  I suppose it's because usually by this time Winter starts feeling tiresome and relentless, with the promise of Spring a very welcome change indeed.  And so the days of February typically stretch on.  And on.  

 Not so this time around though.  February has zipped right on by before I even had a chance to catch my breath.  It helps that I have a lot of freelance work keeping me on my toes right now.  Nevertheless I did still manage to enter this month's Nibblefest Art Contest.  February's theme is "Better Late Than Never", which is a chance to revisit any monthly theme from 2016.  I somehow missed September 2016's "Balancing Act", so that's the one I chose.   And so I considered and rejected several potential  'Balancing Act' concepts before settling on this one.  An ode to Swan Lake or some other ballet classic was on the table briefly, as was a possible tribute to Harry Houdini.  Eh, I did like these ideas and might want to explore them further someday.  But for now they've been filed away, and I concentrated instead on the late/great slapstick genius of acrobatic silent film balancing acts, Mr. Buster Keaton....:

Oils on 6x10 Wooden Plaque

The following is my Nibblefest auction description...:

"Buster Keaton"

This is my entry for this month's Nibblefest Art Contest (NFAC), the theme for February being 'Better Late Than Never", in which we get to pick a theme we missed in 2016. I missed last Sept's "Balancing Act", so I chose to do a portrait in tribute to the classic vintage film star, Buster Keaton. Painted in oils upon a 6"x 10" upcycled wood plaque, this unique original is signed and ready to hang.  

Buster Keaton, my entry for the theme "Balancing Act"

 (Note to the winning bidder: As per the nature of oil paints, this piece may need just a little wee extra time (up to a week) to fully cure/dry before being safely shipped to its new home).  

"The Great Stone Face", In Progress....

 (Also to note: Just so the new owner is not too surprised, they will find a 'gingerbread man' cut-out (see photos) on the backside of this piece (which was originally the front of the plaque before I repurposed it. Hey, 2-for-1...! )   

I missed the theme "Balancing Act" back in September, so I was happy for the chance to try again. I chose to paint the late, great silent film star, Buster Keaton, because he was so well known for his physical comedy, or Slapstick. He threw himself around constantly in his movies, performing ever increasingly complicated acrobatic stunts -- at times downright dangerous ones...!  Often involving automobiles and/or trains -- it was a 'balancing act' for sure with all the fined-tuned timing it surely took to pull off. And always accompanied by the most deadpan expression, earning himself the nickname, "The Great Stone face".


We are lucky to have a really neat and unique non-profit here in my town, called The I.D.E.A. Store -- a small 2nd hand shop specifically intended for the re-use and re-purpose of various and diverse arts/crafts odds and ends.  The store accepts donations of used materials and supplies of all ilk -- unwanted assorted sundry bits and pieces that might likely otherwise be destined for the landfill.  Because one person's trash is other one's treasure!  The shop offers these donated items cheaply to the public, with proceeds going to our local school district.  Many years ago I wrote here in my blog about my own personal moratorium against the purchasing of new art supplies, whenever I might be able to avoid it, in favor instead of recycling or up-cycling as often as I can in my creative process.  Obvious exceptions to this over the years have included new paint and brushes -- though now The I.D.E.A. Store can sometimes help even with that as well, managing as I have to occasionally find acrylic and oil paint tubes in decent condition and even a few gently used paintbrushes.  I found a wee table top easel that I was in the market for and that I adore and utilize constantly. I also make it a habit to regularly check for the wooden plaques I so love to hoard -- and have scored many there, including this sweet little 6 x 10 incher I've used here for my Buster Keaton tribute.  The original 'front' of this plaque featured an interesting little cut-out gingerbread man.  I have painted upon what was apparently the 'back' (which is now the 'front') -- so the winning bidder will discover this little gem when they turn Mr. Keaton over....:

A sweet little Gingerbread Man on the back.  Bonus!
 In any case, I really love our little I.D.E.A. Store, and wish every community could have one (maybe someday as this up-cycling trend becomes increasingly popular) -- so handy, and helpful too for keeping a lot of random homeless bits and bobs out of our local waste stream....

Mr. Buster Keaton upon a 6x10 upcycled wood plaque