Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mardi Gras, Babies, PJs and Valentines...

I took Friday off "sick" the end of it I was pretty sick, so my moral compass still points, er, in the good direction...ANYWAY, I was called in by Walt of Production Solutions (an old friend from Baltimore, who has moved to Florida, but occasionally needs my mad painting skilz for one of his events) to help paint faces on his "wizard of Oz" characters that will be on the proscenium for the Mardi Gras event held every year at the Marriott in DC...( an event that I normally am pushing debutantes around at, but not this year) That was all I was told at the beginning of the day. So when I arrived, there were some really misshapen Styrofoam bodies with Styrofoam wig heads attached...I was to make them look like the Oz characters...Not only paint, but also dress! Below are my results for the two witches.Glenda and the Wicked Witch of the West, Styrofoam dummies
Painting and dressing for Mardi Gras Party

Here is a picture of the ballroom on Friday, before the dinner, which is not the "main event" that happens on Saturday...Ballroom of the indoor Mardi Gras at the Marriott in DC

I was also able to catch up with old friends...Deb and I recreated these "Rex" characters for the giant hanging centerpiece for the main event...I though I would never see him again!Me and one of the 2005 Mardi Gras "Rex" Paper Mache Statues

Walt and Pat and everyone working on the project had been up for 36 hours when I got to the hotel, I put in 12 hours and they were still going when I left...I talked briefly to Walt yesterday, and he sounded rough, but alive...

On Saturday KT and I went to New Jersey to Ethan and Liz's baby shower. On the way we found a flea market and I couldn't resist snapping a shot of KT with one of those big cowboys...KT with new friend, Cowtown NJ

In the evening, we drove back to Rockville for Chris and Elizabeth's Pajama party. I was pretty wiped out by this time, so I kept a low profile, but there are photos (which I will mercifully not post here) of much nakedness and hula-hooping...

A bit hung over on Sunday, I helped move the Hexagon set forward by a few yards. This next week is going to be the crucial one, where we paint the freak banners...and load into the theater starts tomorrow!

My Corcoran Monday started off pretty good. The 14 paintings assignment was to paint the interior of the room, paying attention to the tones from inside to outside. Some of the examples were people like Matisse. I chose a corner of the room and wound up with a "ashcan school-esque" painting. There was a group discussion about the Gopnick piece about the Corcoran on Sunday, which evolved into a "is painting dead" conversation. In the end, Steven commented that my painting was like an allegory for the death of painting...all the tools, alone, in a handmade environment, old and quaint. I think its interesting that the conversation helped to subconsciously inform the painting...narrative will always creep into the work, whether you like it or not...14 Paintings in 14 weeks, week 3
Interior spaces, Oil on Canvas

I am not posting a picture of the Academic portrait painting because it was such a bad drawing. I got a really bad angle on the model, and I couldn't get the figure to fit into my is really rare for me to have such a hard time with a model, but she is in such a funny pose from my angle, I had to start over twice! the worst part is that she is going to be the 7 week pose, so I will be forced to paint this funny pose for almost two months! a way of introducing characters to the paintings...but not in the entirely "shag" sort of way, but more as emotional stand ins...The Astronaut for We had a snow day on Tuesday, and I spent it being slobbolicious...(with the blog I can actually count when I was slobbolicious last...its been a while) But I did get motivated enough to paint a quick sketch. Its an idea I have been kicking around. I have a "slapdash" way of painting when I don't care about the final product that sometimes has more life to it than the plodding way I have to make the cut paper pieces. So I decided to paint an astronaut and a sloth bear at a tikimanliness and yet venerability, the sloth bear for social awkwardness and being strong/cuddly...for example...I don't know if the tiki folks will be able to penetrate that deep into the pictures but I think that they might open me up for new directions for the work...Astronaut and Sloth Bear at the Tiki Bar
Oil on Board, 11X14

I applied and received confirmation (in about one hour) to be in the WPA/C 9x10 Show
Which is kinda a crap shoot, since its basically two walls in a new gallery, but I don't know when the show will be, and I wont know until a week or so I'll keep you folks updated when I get my dates! (oh, and I heard Art-o-Matic will happen in April!)

Lastly, I took KT to the Burlesque-a-pades at the Birchmere. That show gets better every year. Korn Mo was fantastic, and the MC, Murry Hill was a riot! Trixie and Monkey were in with the Pontani sisters, and you can see how much of a pro the two of them are when they are working with topflight folks like the folks at the Burlesque-a-pades. This also gave me a chance to check out the sight lines for my upcoming design for Lobsterboy's Ship of Fools in April...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

...AND were vending @ the Hukilau...the Huki-uki-uki-luki-lauuuuu...

As the title suggests, I have officially thrown my hat in the ring for the Hukilau. Which means that I will be needing to kick the Tiki art into high gear between now and June (It scares me a bit that the Hukilau will be a short two weeks before Art In Heat...but who needs sleep anyway?) I will even be flying you know that this is going to be a historic hukilau...

However, before we can sip from the tiki mug in paradise, we must first finish building the big top. The progress at Hexagon has been swift, and I believe that all of the technical challenges of the proscenium arch have been resolved. What is left now is to paint it. Below is a sketch of the design for one side (or "leg") of the arch.

Paint Elevation for Proscenium Arch Leg
Strike While the Irony's Hot, Hexagon

As you can see, there will be a follow spot operator in each tower. The paint job is being ably executed by Chuck...who is a graphic designer, and is very good at painting ornament. To give you an idea of the scale, the height for each leg is 19 feet. The running joke around Hexagon is that "its a good thing we don't open 'till June" (we open in three weeks, March 2nd!) you can get tickets here.

Before I get to the Academic stuff, I should mention that Jaya's Superbowl party was this last Sunday. It was a really great time, especially since she reserved a seat for me for the whole game (it wasn't a bad game either) but the real highlight was Prince. BEST HALFTIME SHOW EVER!

This week I also said goodbye to the Tiger Eating Roy, velvet painting. It now adorns the wall of Yancy's house. He won it fair-and-square at the Halloween party. Hopefully he will cherish its velvety terror the way I did.

So lets start with 14 Paintings... This was another horrible still life project. Steven wanted us to mix complementary colors to get different grays. I was a bit hung over from the Superbowl, so I did my best with what was there. I had a rectangular canvas, so I zeroed in on the carafe. I tried my best to get the reflections and a sense of transparency...which I think I achieved in my own awkward way. Which led me to the big question from that class...When I try to draw things accurately, they always come out a bit awkward, but in my own way. I am not trying to force an artificial "style" or "look", it just comes out that way. Should I fight this, or embrace it? Or should I exaggerate it? I have no doubts about my draftsmanship if I were given a dictum that "all must look as it does in reality"...I could knuckle down and do it if necessary. But we are not in that sort of environment. So when I am painting a still life, should I be guarding against my quirks, or embracing them?

14 paintings in 14 weeks, Second Week
Greys from Complementary Colors, Still Life

Academic Portrait Painting is a difficult class. Mostly because I am mentally exhausted after my morning workout painting crappy still life's. But also because I paint so quickly, I am left with having to entirely rework a mostly finished canvas. Since its oil paint, I needed to add a coat of medium to reactivate the surface of the (now dry) painting. You can see where some of it has run below the chin. Hopefully it will dry clear in a few months. Natasha said that I still needed to add color, and that my picture was too graphic and "like a grisaille". So I tried to add color that would help make the painting more of a painting, instead of a picture of the model (I hope that makes sense) In the end, I had to make hard decisions about how to make the hair (she changed it back to cornrows, but in different places) and add earrings. This was a great first painting for this class, and I am looking forward to the next "full figure" pose, which will be over the course of seven (7!) sessions...

Academic Portrait Painting, first pose, third and final session.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Corcoran Mondays Week 2

As promised, here are the updates to the classwork from last Monday.

Academic Portrait Painting First pose, second session

So, I was able to apply paint during this session. My impulse was to just use thin washes to preserve the drawing underneath as a guide, however, Natasha instructed me to use lots of paint. I did what she said, and applied more paint, but I did it timidly, knowing that I have another four hours ahead of me next week...that's where I will really pour on the lusty brushwork! The model changed her hair from last week, from those cornrows into a straightened swept back sort of thing...that's why the hair is so nebulous. I will also add her earrings, which should make her less masculine...

14 Paintings in 14 weeks, first week
Black and white still life

The first week of actual painting comprised of a intentionally bad still life setup (I believe it was a test) of just black and white and reflective objects. We were restricted to black and white paint. The bad cameraphone photo shows some areas as apologies. Texture was what I tried to focus on, so again the photo fails...Looking around the room, it seems like I am one of the few experienced painters in the class. It seems that this class will not be what I expected at the start (seeing as I have taken this type of class many times before) but it will be a real good examination of my preconceptions and methodologies in painting...That, in the end, seems to be what Steven's teaching philosophy is all about.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Stuff Dremo's are made of...

I would like to first apologise to a few (really, very few) people who were not included in my (rant induced) list of subscribers. There. Are you happy, Mom?

Anyway, on to this weeks wrap up. On Friday, I had a preliminary meeting with a representative from the Spooky Action Theatre Company. They are attempting to adapt the classic sci-fi book Lathe of Heaven into a play. Unfortunately, they are not finished with the adaptation as of yet, and there seemed to be some infrastructure issues with the group. It actually made me cringe a bit, but I actually said "no" to a project, for once. (well it was "maybe", but I doubt that I will ever see the completed script)

In preparation for my painting classes, I decided to get a new paintbox. Having to schlep my oil paints around has always been a real drag for me, but I thought I could bolster my enthusiasm for the class by getting a fresh new paintbox...well I'm here to tell ya, they don't make em like they used ta. I just don't understand why the selection is so small for paintboxes. The way I figure it, there are hundreds of thousands of people taking painting classes every semester. Why are we all forced to all use the same shoddily built pine paintboxes? I give the one I got until mid March until it falls apart...

The Counter Cultural festival went off pretty well on Saturday. While sales were not brisk, they were decent. I was in the odd position of finding that I had some of the most expensive stuff there...Anyway, it was a chance to meet the fine folks of DC Conspiracy, and many other great artists. One of the disappointments of the evening was having to break down our booths at 7pm. I realize that it was to give the bands a chance to play, but I think that many folks were there strictly to shop and drink...and as I have said before, my stuff gains an audience when people are drinking (they suddenly connect with all the pink elephant paintings...)
Closeup shot of my wares at the Counter Culture Festival
Dr. Dremo's, Arlington VA

I am so lucky to have some of the best sales and marketing teams on the planet, KT and Jaya

After that we stopped by Flux. It really reminded me of a Detroit opening, with the grungy "found" space and the attempts at sound felt like any moment the place was going to become a rave (sometimes I miss Detroit)

On Sunday I had a production meeting at Hexagon's shop where I unveiled this design for the "kick":

Kick Scenery sketch Hexagon
Pencil Sketch, Photoshop

It's a retread of scenery that they have laying around the shop. Some of the painters (and carpenters) have been getting nervous about the amount of things to left to do, so I tried to make the kick scenery as simple as possible while still maintaining the directors vision of "smoke and mirrors" and "the center of a carousel". Using real mirrors on stage is kinda a nightmare, so I have limited the number of them to just 6 Ikea mirrors. The rest of the "mirrors" will be CD's glued to the yellow strips...with enough light bouncing off of it, the number should look pretty cool.

One of the things that was accomplished on Saturday was the declaration by the carpenters that the carts are done. That is, the carpenters have finished making the pieces of the carts, so the painters can paint them. These are photos of one of the prototype carts.

"Mock up"of one of five circus carts at the Hexagon Scene ShopThis will be the most assembled any of the five carts will get until we load into the theater. Notice the "fleur" on the bases of the uprights...imagine a whole lot more of that...

There has been movement forward on the Art in Heat show. We have been able to secure the services of Lobsterboy, and will attempt to make his show a major part of what is fast becoming a mini-festival...We are very close to having a graphic for preliminary postcards too. You loyal readers of BTT will be the first to see the graphics when they ready.

I apologise for not having photos of the progress on my Portrait Painting Class, but I have forgotten to take pictures of it every night this week. I'll do a twofer next week!

And lastly, as I write these words, Rep Stage's production of Two by Pinter opens, bringing to a close the nightmare that building and painting that monster was. I look forward to my check, and my mornings back.