This is my first successful life sized cast resin sculpture. After discarding countless malformed and half finished torsos (my garbagemen must love me) I finally figured out the technique I wanted to use. This piece was sculpted in oil based clay, molded with silicone and plaster and cast with resin. The hollow cast resin shell is filled with expanding rigid foam. That is a really fun step in the process. It makes you feel like some mad chemist watching your one to one mix ratio expand 10 times the original size. The most time consuming part of the whole project was definitely the red skirt. I had spent so much time and energy on the torso that when I finally arrived at the lower half, I had no idea what to do. I knew I wanted a skirt of some kind, but the details were vague at best. Luckily, it was football season, and sitting on the couch and sewing in front of meaningless football games is one of my favorite things to do. Plus it confuses my friends and family as to the health of my mental state. I think in the end, I went through about three different skirt designs before I finally arrived at this one. I sold this sculpture to a terrific collector a few months ago, so I know it is in a great home where it is appreciated. Normally, I don’t assign that much sentiment to a piece when it is done, but the amount of work that went into this sculpture and mainly because I was so satisfied with the outcome, this remains a favorite of mine.
This is a painting of Sally, one of my chickens. Last year, during the polar vortex, that brought temperatures of -25, I built a secondary coop in my garage to house all six of my chickens. I didn’t think they would be able to survive such an extreme cold snap that, unfortunately, ended up lasting most of the winter. It was a tough time for the chickens and me; the garage coop was small and difficult to clean, it didn’t get much natural sunlight and they really didn’t have much to do. But housing the chickens in the garage did provide an excellent opportunity for me to take portraits of all the chickens. You see, one of the best ways to get a chicken to hold still while you photograph them, is to wake them up in the middle of the night when they are too groggy to even know what’s going on. Since chickens sleep soundly from sundown until sunrise, waking them up at, say 8:00 at night, gives you a solid three or four minutes of stone still chicken confusion until they snap out of it, jump off the table and/or poop. Five years ago, you could never have convinced me that chickens, let alone any type of bird, would play such a large role in my life. But they truly are fascinating creatures that I become more enamored with every day. I hope some of that admiration comes through in the painting.
Holy crap, who let me start writing a blog!? It’s been a couple years since I even looked at this site and forgot that there was a time when I shared all my dumb thoughts with anyone who cared to read them. And some art too. Well things are gonna change around here. From now on, I am only going to share my most brilliant and profound thoughts on all topics; art, politics, religion, and even sports. Or maybe I will just show you some of the stuff I have been making and write a short self deprecating paragraph next to it.
Also, I have closed my etsy shop and opened an ebay shop. My paintings and sculptures were a difficult fit on etsy and I think I can have a little more success on ebay. The address is www.ebay.com/usr/singularelements . This painting of a wasp is one of the items available on my site. It’s 11″ x 14″, a little smaller than I usually work, which was kind of a challenge. But I am pretty happy with the outcome and might paint a couple more this size. See what I mean….profound!
This painting, called “Shadows with Conflict” was, is,and always will be, a complete asshole. I put more work, thought and energy into this painting than any other in recent memory. And after all that hard work, I still feel like I missed the mark. I really have no idea what I am looking at and have even less of an idea what to do to fix it. If it needs to be fixed. Right now the painting is hanging at a gallery in Milwaukee. During the opening, another gallery owner and I talking about my paintings. She explained that she thought this was my strongest piece and central to my other work. Despite the urge to grab her by the shoulders, shake her violently and scream “Who sent you?!”, I thanked her and said her feedback was interesting. I felt like walking over to one of my other paintings in gallery and whispering to it, “You won’t believe what that woman said.” Then the two of us would laugh and cast dirty looks at “Shadows”. We would make it feel like an outsider, something unwanted. But if I am truthful with myself, I can’t wait to get this painting back, even if it is just to stare at it with confusion.
This is one of the two new teddy bear faces I recently finished. I love making these stuffed animals. The only thing which can be difficult is actually sewing them. Because I don’t have a sewing machine, each one is done by hand. There have been times, while sewing these in front of the TV, that my feelings about sweat shops and child labor came into question. When I started fantasizing about just how little I would have to pay a Malaysian 8 year old to crank these out all day, I realized maybe I should look into buying a machine.
It’s also pretty fun when I have to buy the material for the bears. Every fabric store has the same old lady cutting material for customers. When ever I bring a panel of fur for her to cut, she usually performs a quick double take. I can’t blame her really. Why in the hell would a grown man in raggedy paint splattered clothes want to make a teddy bear? I’ve asked the same question myself. Why indeed. The last woman who cut me 2 yards of very soft fur broke down and asked me ” whatcha makin?” As tempted as I was to say” a furry lady suit”, I simply said ” a teddy bear for my daughter.” She, of course, was tickled by this. She told me what a great dad I was and that it was quite unusual for a man to know how to sew. I pretended I had no idea what she was talking about. “All the men in my family sew constantly” I told her. She changed the topic after that.
I finally finished and installed the mural for Antioch high school and I have to say, I am pretty happy with the end result. I feel like I can breathe a little sigh of relief now and admit that there were aspects of this job that really had me worried. And like most projects that instill that special breed of panic and restlessness, it’s execution went fairly smooth and trouble free. Easy peazy lemon squeezy. I think anxiety is just my way of saying, ” I care about you , painting. I really do.”
During the few days it took me to install this mural, I did notice something peculiar. Most people who walked by and took notice of the mural had one of two reactions. Either they loved it, and said so, or hated it, and said so. That is to say, they didn’t come right out and say “I hate it”. Instead they would ask me questions like, ” why is this here” or try and explain why they never understood art. It just seemed like the reactions were extreme one way or the other and it surprised me. I certainly didn’t create a controversial mural and my intentions leaned more to the decorative side. But I guess it is a testament to how powerful art can be. Or at least confusing.
The town of Batavia has joined in on the fad of painting fiberglass animals and placing them throughout the city. It seems like a strange concept when I stop and think about it, but as an artist, I wish every city would do it. More work for me. I submitted my design a couple months ago and I don’t think anyone really liked it since it was the last to be picked. But, lo and behold, a man with a fiberglass bulldog in his back seat pulled up my driveway, handed me a check and the dog and here we are. I am only about halfway done with it, but I am going to work like crazy to finish it this weekend. Do you know why? Do you see that large canvas hanging in the background? That is the first of two paintings I am doing for a high school. Coming in at 6′ x 12′ , it is the largest canvas I have ever painted. The second largest was 8′ x 4′ and I vividly recall thinking, when I wasn’t even halfway done, “what in the hell have I gotten myself into?” As I have been painting this bulldog, I can feel the eyes of that canvas peering down on me. I hear it mutter profanities to me and when I jerk my head around to look at it, I see nothing but it’s blank face. I can already tell this painting is a real asshole.