Show and Con Catchup

I’m way behind on show report posts! In the interest of completeness and simultaneous brevity, I’m going to upload a couple galleries of photos from Art Prowl 2012 and Omnicon 2013, and do my best to avoid my usual long-winded explanations.

Art Prowl: My dad and I were lucky enough to display at the Putnam County Library, which was pretty great, considering it’s where I spend all my weekday work days. He brought a slew of his awesome abstracts, which you can peruse in much greater detail over at his blog. I brought an assortment of my digital prints, as well as four new pieces I created in my Cryptid Americana series. These are a combination of acrylic and ink on stained pine planks. (previous post with more detail) The show was a blast, it’s always great getting to show your work to your community, and even better getting to do that alongside your dad!

This March was my fourth time displaying at Omnicon, Cookeville’s local Sci-fi/Comics convention, held at TTU. (posts from last year) I brought several new prints, as well as a collection of newspaper comics I produced a few years ago for TTU’s own “The Oracle.” But I was most proud of how I re-envisioned the Die of Destiny monster prints. This year emerging as the Tower of Tribulation, it is now a full-fledged micro RPG. I came up with four hero archetypes, each one with an accompanying character sheet complete with stats and special abilities. The player would choose an avatar, and then challenge one of the 8 available monsters (4 from last year and 4 brand new ones) to a duel, involving the Die of Destiny. As they advanced, they could win more prints, and eventually were either vanquished or victorious. It. Was. A. Blast. The wheels are already turning for ways to improve it next year!

Art Prowl Preview!

This weekend is the Art Prowl! The Prowl is a local gallery/studio crawl, spanning Friday and Saturday, in which all variety of artists display there works along the West Side district of Cookeville. This will be my second year exhibiting, and I will be showing at the Putnam County Library. As a special treat, I’m sharing a space with my Dad! If you can make it, come on out to see us!

Here’s a special Blog Readers Preview of some of the pieces I am showing. I’ve been working on a series of paintings on large wood planks, depicting American cryptids and mythological creatures. Shown below are my take on the Jack-a-Lope and Furry Trout. Jack measures in at 4 ft tall, with the Trout a modest 3 ft.

Hope you enjoy them!

Omnicon Aftermath: “A Hero’s Journey”

My entry for the Omnicon Art Contest this year was a large story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey.” For some time I’ve been aware of Joseph Campbell and his Monomyth theory, but have never done any real research into it. I recently found time to watch his “Power of Myth” interviews, which I found fascinating. And so my piece is an incredibly boiled down version of his Hero’s Journey. It is composed of seven story panels, laid out vertically to be read from bottom to top, each depicting a step in the journey. The seven stages I chose/combined are The Call to Adventure, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, Trials and Tests, Descent into Darkness, The Final Confrontation, and Salvation.
I wanted to use very stylized and minimalist characters and layout, to show the generic and all-encompassing nature of the story, though I was certainly influenced by outside forces. When I decided to color-code the three main characters, that of the Hero, the Villain, and the Princess, I went with a green/red/blue pattern as a tribute to the Legend of Zelda series (which is also very obviously influenced by the Monomyth). To further iconicize them, I attached a basic shape to each of the big three, respectively a triangle, square, and circle. I used these shapes as central features, as well as a guiding force in the physical design and layout for each character’s form. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to make the Hero both green and a triangle, since I was regaled all weekend with “That’s a cool Zelda piece!” and “Neat, but you got the Link and Ganon wrong.” Oh well:]
Another symbolic choice was using the same brown color for both the scenery and the Mentor figure, to imply that he was of the earth, and something of a primal force (I wanted a solid Old Ben Kenobi vibe about him). Furthermore, once he bestows the Mystic Power on the Hero, it creates an immediate change in him, which we see stays with him even once he has let go of it, and is also passed on to his love.
 
As far as art technique goes, I started with a six foot long and one foot wide pine plank, which I sanded thoroughly and stained liberally. I used a gloss polyurethane coat to make sure my ink would not bleed, which, unfortunately, also made it quite difficult to photograph. My apologies.
 
Once the stain had dried, I went in and measured out my panels and borders, and then penciled in each of my scenes.  A lot of my technique here has been refined on the smaller drawings I do on wooden plaques. If I’m careful and keep my pencil lines fairly light, they’ll usually erase right off.
 
After everything was penciled, I mixed up copious amounts of each ink (terrified that I would not mix enough, and have to try a color match at the very end) and went in to ink each figure. I used a dip pen with a basic drawing nib, first outlining each shape and then going through to fill it. For some reason a brush does not get good coverage on top of the stain, instead making little beads everywhere, so I actually had to go through and scribble each solid shape full.
 
This took For-ev-er.
 
Once all of the figures were filled in, I then went back and added the horizon and foundation lines. And when these had dried, I tediously painted in the borders with gold acrylic paint. Once that was all finished, I was fortunate enough to retain assistance from The Gentleman Philip Fox, who went back and quite carefully erased all my pencil lines and smudges.
 
Then, it was finished! All told, I believe this took a little over a week to complete, and that was with some Very sleepless nights.
Whenever I work on a major piece like this, especially one in which I’ve invested so much thought, it is important for me to surround myself in inspiration the entire time. Normally I do this through thematically and emotionally appropriate music, but for this I ransacked my DVD collection for some of my favorite epic hero stories. Imbued within the ink are equal parts A New Hope, Never-Ending Story, The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Mask of Zorro, Hellboy, Conan the Barbarian, and more I can’t currently remember. As I worked, I noticed just how many this basic outline could fit over. Certainly Star Wars, as Lucas is a long-time supporter of Campbell’s. But also most of the others, perhaps with some slight rearranging of the steps’ order. And videogames equally well, when you think on it. The Super Mario series is basically a starter course in Monomyth.
All said and done, this was certainly a labor of love, and I am quite happy with my results.

Omnicon Aftermath: Con Report

Recent blog silence has been due to the frantic workload leading up to my hometown con, Omnicon!
In preparation, I produced a run of Dungeon Monster prints, a brand new sketchbook collection, and a massive wooden story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey” for the art contest (that one gets its own post later:). After a several week haze of sleepless nights and coffee-addled days, the con was upon me!

 I had a variety of wares on display at my table, including many of the prints I showcased at the Art Prowl, as well as a new one featuring my art from the official Omnicon 2012 poster, entitled “Cockroaches and Nerds” (also soon to receive a dedicated post). There was a selection of larger sketchcards I had produced, with themes including Marvel Heroes, Disney Pixar, and Hogwart’s Faculty. Also, a series of small watercolor paintings, inspired by my Tiny Link drawings. To further the videogame theme, I offered some brownpaper drawings of Mario, Mega-Man, and Zelda characters.

My favorite item, however, was the Dungeon Monsters print series, available exclusively to those willing to brave the DIE OF DESTINY! Although only a handful had the guts required, we saw both a Critical Hit and a Critical Failure, both accompanied by the appropriate whoops and lamentations.

By far my most popular items were the mini-sketchcards, both pre-drawn and custom made. I had a sampling of characters from Adventure Time, Star Wars, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, as well as many original doodles. And I was also asked to draw several unique characters (including a couple Derpy’s:) but easily my favorite commission of the day was a pairing of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla, complete with Electric Pigeon Soulmate (fascinating backstory here).

All in all, it was a delightful weekend. I can hardly wait for next year! And if any of these pieces catch your fancy, let me know, they might still be available, even if they haven’t shown up in The Shop.

 

“Art Prowl” Show Re-cap

One of Cookeville’s most enjoyable community art events is the Art Prowl. An annual gallery crawl encompassing the downtown area, it is an amazing way to see the variety of incredible artwork created by our local artists. And this year, I was lucky enough to participate!

My work was displayed at the Putnam County Library, where I was fortunate to be sharing the space with my friend and valued art-advisor, Stacie Johnson. I had the entire lobby to myself, so I was able to dig in and establish my own little art den for the weekend.

"The HMS Strydr Wilhelm, Pride of the Atlantic Aerial Armada"

"Intervention"

I brought two of my large cardboard constructs, “The HMS Strydr Wilhelm, Pride of the Atlantic Aerial Armada” and “Intervention,” as they had, to date, only been viewed by those present at Omni-Con or in my living room. The majority of my new work, however, was Ink-on-Wood drawings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poe and Twain

 

 

 

 

Alcott and Dickinson

Seuss and Baum

 

 

 

 

I’ve been doing a bunch of these lately, enough so that they really merit their own post at some later time. In this show, I had several of my assorted individual animals, a series of Great American Authors at Tea, and a couple one-offs of Beauty and the Beast that I feel may have sparked me into doing a whole series of fairy tale characters. I really love how the ink looks against the wood grain, but I’d say my favorite part is that when I finish drawing, I just have to slap a hanger on the back and I’m done. No matting! No Framing! For me, post-production is the enemy of productivity. You can put that on a pillow, if you’d like.

"Great American Authors, at Tea"

"A Midsummer Knight's Dream"

Classic Movie Monsters print set

"Library Adventurers"

"The Grim Fisher"

In addition to my plaques, I also produced several different prints. A few were from my Great American Authors series, but there also stand-alone prints from different recent illustrations. Most of these should be available at my Etsy store, if you are interested (Christmas shopping!)

Stacie and I, talking serious artist stuff.

Several of Stacie's excellent oil paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

Stacie's portrait of her father.

Tinkering at a new piece in down time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. This was my first time displaying work in a formal setting (I’ve layed my art on a folding table before, but I’ve never hung it on a Wall and asked people to buy it:), and I really enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone who came out to see me! I would also like to especially thank the Putnam County Library for hosting my exhibit, Stacie and Jason for their invaluable advice, and all the family and friends who were patient with my hermit nature these past months.

Also, in addition to everything else I owe her, thanks to Allison for these wonderful photos!