Not much time so thought I'd show you samples for one of the classes I'm teaching in Houston this week. Assemblings of a Mad Watchmaker.
Before the magic of paint:
...and PRESTO CHANGO:
Not much time so thought I'd show you samples for one of the classes I'm teaching in Houston this week. Assemblings of a Mad Watchmaker.
Before the magic of paint:
...and PRESTO CHANGO:
I love coming to the MidWest...partilally because of the beauty, mostly because of all the amazing folks I got to know from the classes I taught over the years. So guess what...this September I'm coming back that way...Minneapolis to be precise...thanks to the great gals at Art is You . And I'm hoping to see some of my workshop peeps from the region while I'm there.
So here's what I'm teaching: Mixed Media Retratos, Mermaids and Nautical Oddities, Sideshow Shrines, and the Eye of Protection. Click Here to see the workshop schedule:http://www.eatcakecreate.com/minneapolis/minneapolis-workshop-schedule/
It's always a plus when a band you like puts out a music video that is totally awesome. The band is the Icelandic clan Of Monsters and Men and the song is Little Talks. Visually stunning with a nice fairy tale feel.
This came out a few years back and it still inspires me to go into the studio....it also kinda of makes me want to learn animation.
Over the years I have done a number of pieces using mannequin parts. The outcome is a bit other worldly and a wee bit Frankenstein-ish. I have to say...I would make an awesome mad scientist! Don't you think? I could populate the world with folks like this:
Of course, in the past I was a bit more modest with my work...and thus my nude dudes had no bits and baubles showing.
If you find yourself wandering through New Orleans you might just catch a glimpse of Pluto and Persephone. They are recent additions to the gallery along with other works of mine. If you're not careful they go home with you...and that'd be okay too.
It's time for another OnLine Workshop. This time I'm bringing my Mexico class to the computer screen. I'll be bringing techniques and recipes used in that Day of the Dead workshop to you folks who couldn't make the journey.
In honor of the mystical, magical quality of Mesoamerica , I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the myths and legends from Mexican culture. The gods are wondrous strange and the tales are even stranger. So for this class we will create assemblage constructions that represent a specific deity or myth from the region. It will be a bit of free for all…you can create whatever you like but with a theme in mind. To help you out I will share stories about the various gods and heroes for a bit of inspiration.
In this class you will create a shrine to your favorite unpronounceable deity from south of the border. Perhaps Mictlantecuhtli (god of the underworld), Quetzalcoatl (the plumed serpent), the bat god of the Zapotecs or maybe the clan of drunken rabbit deities. You will get construction methods, tips and techniques with a Mesoamerican twist. I've also come up with a special Mexican deity color palette!
This class is a bit different from some of my other OnLine classes....of course it will include methods and techniques to guide your creations, but I'm also including some travel footage from the Plumed Serpent Workshop I held in Mexico during Day of the Dead 2014. I've included video footage I took at the ruins and museum at the ancient Aztec capital which will help in deciding the potential deities you wish to explore artistically. I'll also be including the final critique of art created at the Oaxaca workshop. You'll be astounded what students came up with.
This will be an interesting twist on some of my other online classes. Not only will you get the studio techniques and projects but you will also get to share a bit of the journey to Mexico. I'll be including some video taken during the Mexican adventure.
In my in-person workshops I always have a bit of a critique at the end of class. Mostly it is a way to see what students created and explore different methods and solutions. In this On-Line class I'll be sharing the video of the class critique in Mexico. Amazing projects!
Here are a few of my Mesoamerican deities:
You ready to get rolling? Quetzacoatl (the rain god), Mictlantecuhtli (the god of the underworld), and Coyolxauhqui (the moon goddess) are awaiting your arrival.
A number of years ago I came across an article about a French outsider artist named Robert Tatin. I fell immediately in love with his work. He is one of those guys who live his art. His world becomes his art and his art becomes his world.
Here is a bit of backstory. He was born in 1902 and in the mid twenties he started a construction company in France. After a time he decided to put his energy into more creative endeavors and set up a ceramics studio in Paris. At age 48 he packed his bags and traveled around South America...heavily inspired by the art of the indigenous people. When he returned to France in 1962 (at age 60) he embarked on what could easily be considered his life's masterpiece: La mason des champ (the country house). With the help of his wife Lise he embarked on transforming his home into a bizarre and wonderful world the was uniquely his.
It all started with this humble country home....well, perhaps not that humble.
And then, next to the home things began to grow...
So to all you folks who think your over the hill...Robert Tatin just started to find his groove when he turned 60 and kept on grooving until his death in the 1983.
So if your ever in find yourself in France you might consider a road trip to Cosse de Vivien (about a 3 hour drive west of Paris) Here's a link to the museum's website http://www.musee-robert-tatin.fr
So I took a little trip on the WayBack Machine. This is a webpage that allows you to go back to a website, as it was, at a particular date. I decide to take a little gander at page and see what art I was showcasing at the time. What I actually found most interesting was my webpage design...oh how it's changed.
Now lets take a peek at some of the piece of art I found lurking around in the WayBack machine:
Hope you enjoyed my little stroll into the past.
Tonight, Sunday April 12 at 5pm PST My latest batch of Oddity Shrines will be going on sale. All you have to do is head to this link:
at 5pm the products will be available.
Here's a sneak peak:
Hope to see you there!
So I thought it would be fun to put together a list of movies that I consider a huge inspiration to me personally. Each film was chosen because when they are watched they make me want to rush out to the studio and build some weirdo thing.
Here we go:
10. Dark City - this is a fun little film noir sci-fi flick with shadowy dreamscapes. Best of all the city transformation scenes....where the city scape transforms like some steampunk mechanism.
9. MicMacs - A group of sideshow-esqe comrades set out on a mission of revenge. Their underground lair of bizarre inventions is magical. Directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet (who also directed Amelie)
8. Edward Scissorhands - If you haven't seen this film...I'm quite certain you live on Jupiter. Edward is a human assemblage. My favorite parts feature Vincent Price in the lab...duh.
7. Hugo- Martin Scorsese's film about an orphan, an automaton, and the fantastical silent film pioneer Georges Melies. Lots of gizmos and gears in this one.
6. Chitty Chitty Bang - One might surmise that the only reason I added this to the list is because of the Child Catcher (what a creepy villain). Well, this is great mad inventor fare. Prof. Potts workshop is awesome. By the way, this story was written by Ian Fleming which might explain the automotive gadgets.
5. City of Lost Children - Here is another film by Jean Pierre Jeunet from many years earlier. This is mad scientist staple.
4. Metropolis - This movie is exceptional on so many levels...but the transformational robot scene gets my arty nature grooving.
3. Brazil - Terry Gilliam's Orwellian fantasy. Great bits of dystopian oddities throughout.
2. Blade Runner - One of my favorite all time movies. What inspires me about this film is the hodgepodge of fashion and architectural styles.
1. Adventures of Baron Munchausen - The number one movie on my list is another treat from Terry Gilliam. This time a fantastical Baron defies the Age of Reason. The scenes are like a wonderfully elaborate theater scene. Robin Williams as the King of the Moon is wunderbar!
That's all folks...watch em and get into the studio!
You may or may not know this...I was a painter long before I knew what the word "assemblage" meant. It is what I studied in art school and ultimately it is what I truly love about what I currently do. Oh sure, the sculptural aspect is fun...but, as far as I'm concerned, the paint is where the magic begins. The building of a piece it what I consider the pragmatic phase. I have to understand things like glue, construction, gravity,...worldly things. When I pull the paint brushes out, however, something mystical and transformative takes place. When the painting is going well, the experience is sublime, however, when it is problematic...each paint stroke fights off metaphoric demons.
Because of this strange dichotomy in my creative process, I thought you might find it interesting to see some before and after shots of my works through the years.
I should mention that I know many excellent assemblage artists out there who never use a drop of the paint on their pieces. Let me just say...you gotta do what you gotta do. My work is sculptural...however I consider myself a painter, first and foremost. If I didn't use paint...it wouldn't feel like i was making art.
So if you haven't heard...over the last couple years I've been writing sinisterly fun limericks. Then, after the poisonous poems were penned, I then took on the task of putting the images to words. The result: Grimericks, by your's truly. Here are a few tragic tales from the book:
Hardcover, Dimensions (centimetres): 15.24 wide x 22.86 tall
Ships in 6-8 business days.
If you think you might need something to peruse on those dark and stormy nights while the wolfsbane blooms, here's how you can purchase a copy:
A few years back I was at an art fair at the Science World in Vancouver. Lots of artist booths scattered about but the artist I found most intriguing was the work of a Canadian Artist by the name of Steven Chimilar.
What I found intriguing was fantastical, fairytale quality, but with a contemporary edge. So, you art history buffs might agree, that his work is quite reminiscent the Dutch Renaissance painter of Pieter Bruegel the elder. Here's some of Bruegels work:
You can really notice it in the roundish faces as well as an emphasis on the horizon line.
Give him a gander
Here's his website http://www.stevechmilar.com
Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Hmmmm? Well if there is a such a thing as a good witch Glinda would be the prime example of it.
So if you read any of the Oz books you'll notice that she is a bit different from the film version. First off no floating bubble...which is interesting because nothing says Glinda like a floating bubble.
Another difference is that she only appears to Dorothy at the very end of the tale to reveal the magic of the silver slippers...yes, that's right, silver slippers...they are only made of rubies in the film. Rubies are, however a favorite stone of Glinda in the novels in fact her palace and throne are bedazzled by them. As for her attire, it is mostly white with red accents. Red is actually kind of an important color for her because it is the color that symbolizes the region she governs...Quadling Country,,,,in the South...not the North.
She is sort of an Obie Wan Kenobi of Oz. Fully actualized, she in touch with whatever the Oz-ian version of "the Force" would be. Certainly, she is the wisest and most powerful of all the characters in Oz.
In the film, the Wiz, there is an added aspect to her character. Glinda, portrayed by Lena Horne, is directly responsible for bringing Dorothy to Oz. In the books and the film, Dorothy learns valuable life lessons by chance. However, in the Wiz, Dorothy was intentionally brought to Oz so that she could partake in a life-changing quest and become the heroine she was destined to be. Dorothy saw herself as worthless, Glinda brought her to Oz so she could realize her potential.
So onto my interpretation...
When I started this piece I thought it was important to embody the characteristics of Glinda found in the novel. In the film she is a bit of a goody-two-shoes, thus it was necessary to create something that is a bit more complex than a fairy godmother. I wanted to her to seem as if see was the embodiment of something ancient and mysterious. The first item I chose for the piece was a Japanese doll head, which I decided needed to remain minimally altered. From that I added elements to heighten her mystique....the ancient lock on the top, the pure white tree forming her dress. Another aspect of Glinda that was crutial to the work, was that she needed to be somewhat indistinguishable from the shrine that surrounded her. This was done to imply that she is not merely a character of her realm, but that she and her realm are in fact one in the same.
I should mention, that I did add a subtle homage to the film. Her head is suspended in a round bowl to symbolize the bubble that Billie Burke floats in on. Not exactly a bubble...but it's round.
Admittedly I liked the idea put forth by the Wiz. The concept of Glinda as a guiding force seemed too important to leave out, so for her arms I modified an old film editing tool. Each arm spins a tiny globe. The one on the left is a globe of Oz...the Emerald City marked by an X. On the right is planet earth; here Dorothy's home, Kansas is marked. All this to imply Glinda's direct involvement with Dorothy's quest.
Appropriately, she was the first character I created for the Oz series. The reason for this, by the way, was because she had such specific colors associated with her in the books, that I knew that it would force me to venture into new palettes for the series. It did...and how!
I'll leave you with Lena Horne as Glinda
Here's what's going down: Check out some art. Take some classes!
I'll be sending new pieces to Graphite Gallery this Week...including a couple of torsos...Persephone and Hades. If you happen to be hanging out in the French Quarter you should stop in.
Graphite Gallery, 936 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Lots of classes coming up in a few weeks. It kicks off with Art is You Petaluma. Workshops include: Sacred Shrine to the Seemingly Insignificant Thing, Mixed Media Retratos, Mermaids and Nautical Oddities. Bonus event: Dirty Rotten Egg Parade
Click here to join the fun: http://www.eatcakecreate.com/petaluma/
Adorn Me has opened up a few classes to mixed media artists like myself. If you're in the Houston area come on by and take a few classes. Assemblings of a Mad Watchmaker, Sideshow Shrines, Sacred Shrine to the Seemingly Insignificant Thing, and a duo class with Andrea Matus called Scroll Mates.
I've got a buddy in Portland, named Tabor Porter. He is a jewelry artist who does spectacular work. His other claim to fame is his home; he is, shall we say, a collector of things...especially unusually things. The best part of visiting Tabor (other than being served ice cream and pie with morning coffee) is that his home is a veritable smorgasbord of oddities. No matter where you look...you are bombarded with visually weird treats. In fact a 250 lb concrete Mayan head greeted me at the door. Once inside...visual overload...not a vacant spot on the wall.
Pretty cool, huh? If your ever in Portland and meet Tabor...and he invites you to his home...say YES!!!!!!!!
As I mentioned he is also a phenomenal jewelry artist:
Here's a link to his jewelry http://www.therealmothergoose.com/collections/collections_porter.htm
I don't know a single solitary person who has not been inspired by the Wizard of Oz in some way. It's such a childhood staple that it's seemed logical to explore the symbolism in my art. So this series explores not only my interpretation of not only the film but the books by L Frank Baum as well.
As a kid, he was always my favorite. Perhaps it's because he had the most artistic/poetic heart (or lack thereof), or perhaps it was an early indicator that I was destined to create assemblage. Either way he is one of the more intriguing characters in Baum's series. In the film, he is quite sensitive, weepy you might even say. Interestingly, in the books he has an incredibly sad back story; a definite Shakespearian tragedy.
In the book The Tin Woodman of Oz you get the whole skinny on how the Nick Chopper gradually transformed into the Tin Woodsman. Nick Chopper was in love with the Wicked Witch of the East's ward, Nimmie Amee....which for some reason bothered her... so she cursed his axe. This enchantment caused his axe to go wonky and chop of his limbs. Bit by bit he was dismembered and each time a tinsmith by the name of Ku-Klip replaced it with an appendage made of tin. This continued until he had nothing original left...including his head. Needless to say this is probably what led him to a heartless existence.
Fast forward a number of years later. The Tin Man comes across another man of tin called Captain Fy-ter. As it turns out he too courted Nimmie Amee and he too was cursed by the witch. Like the woodsman, Captain Fy-ter's enchanted sword whittled him down...and, he too, was repaired by Ku-Klip. The two tin men desire the love of Nimmie Amee and agree when they find her to allow her to choose.
They come to the home of Ku-Klip...this is where it gets strange...here they find a barrel of body parts. Not just any body parts but the bits and pieces from Chopper and Fy-ter's past existences. The Tin Woodsman even has a conversation with his former head. In the cottage Ku-Klip reveals he used the various bits of each man to create an assistant named Chopfyt, who was flesh and bone except for a tin arm. Ku-Klip tells them that after he was more or less complete, the assistant headed east.
Eventually the two tin men find Nimmie Amee...and she is married to...dun dun dun....Chopfyt...the assistant made of bits of each of her former suitors, attached with meat glue...no joke. She wants nothing to do with them. She want's, like Greta Garbo, to be left alone in her new life.
Apparently it was not meant to be. The Tin Woodsman's old life is gone. The final connection severed. How weird and disturbingly sad.
I kept all this in mind when I created the Tin Man piece. I wanted him to appear rough almost monstrous with mere glimpses of his humanity. A character who lost everything he once was and had to redefine himself.
In my version, Nick Chopper is a bit more assembled. It seems like he was added bit by bit...not necessarily limb by limb. The zipper pulls on his chest are a good example of this. I do have some remnants of his humanity lurking below. His hand and his eyes (hidden beneath mechanical monocles) give a glimpse of his past lost life.
As with all my work, I work listening to music. Usually I try to find songs that relate to the theme. This piece I found myself listening to a song I heard in the film Horns, a contemporary fairy tale about a young man who grows horns after the death of his girlfriend...an unusual but interesting film. The song I listened to over and over was "If I Had A Heart" by Fever Ray. The theme is appropriate, the music haunting. Something about it evokes a feeling of wandering through ancient wet forests. Here's the song:
Hope you enjoyed the ride....see you next time.
So it's been some time since I've really done much blogging. I've decided the time has come to jump back into the routine. My goal is to do 3 posts every week.
Wednesdays: ON THE EASEL- these post will be about specific art pieces that I am working working on in the studio. Lots of photos, symbolism and inspirations to be found here.
Fridays: WAY COOL - these will be cool artists, events, exhibits, places, music, books, shows that you should know about. Way too cool not to share.
Sundays: THE SKINNY - this will be my weekly post about my personal events. My upcoming workshops, exhibits, sales, Etsy listings etc. will be here.
Hope to see you here tomorrow for ON THE EASEL- Wizard of Odds: the TinMan
Join Michael deMeng for a workshop in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. We are celebrating our 8th year of dia de los Muertos workshops in Mexico and this will be a new city for us to visit so lots of exciting adventures await us.
The dia de los Muertos traditions are unique to this part of Mexico. Mayan beliefs combined with parts of Catholicism are different in each village. We will explore several village cemeteries and the city cemetery too.
We will spend 8 nights and 9 days exploring the lush highlands of Chiapas, a state rich in Mayan culture and history. Workshop time will be combined with day trips to nearby villages and artist’s studios. The city is completely walking friendly with several pedestrian walking streets and lots of shops and galleries to visit. The local indigenous continue to wear the native dress of their village and they are all different so you are able to tell where people are from.
The food is delicious and we will do lots of sampling. The specialties are tamales and cheese. The local beverage is Pox, a white lightening sort of beverage used in ceremonies and just to drink. It is becoming a popular boutique beverage too as Mezcal has made its way to the US. There are many European ex-pats in San Cristobal and they have brought with them their culinary expertise. Many choices of cuisines are available in the restaurants and an abundance of organic coffee is grown in Chiapas too.
Have you ever had one of those experiences where something bad happened, or was about to happen and then…the unexpected occurs….what seemed to be an inevitable tragedy is suddenly thwarted by unexplained miracle. I remember a number of years ago being on an the freeway in the Bay Area driving along at excessive speeds in the fast lane when a car in front of me slammed on the brakes. This in turn led me to slam on my brakes. Next thing I know I’m spinning out of control through the various freeway lanes, and then, out of the corner of my eye I see what I expect to be my doom: a large semi truck cruising toward me at high speed. Time slowed down and I was oddly calm given that at any moment I expected the large truck to come plowing into little ol’ me. But the strangest thing happened…instead of being smooshed, I found my vehicle stopped, facing the traffic. Looming in front of my Ford Mustang, the big semi was a car’s length away…stopped. As to how the truck driver managed to brake in time, that remains a mystery, but it is one of those strange moments where you feel as if some mystical force intervened on your behalf.
In Mexico there is an art form that addresses such strange inexplicable events called ex votos. Ex votos are small paintings, typically on tin and often not much larger than 12 inches in any dimension. They are depictions of the moment of tragedy or potential tragedy that was thwarted by divine intervention. Somewhere towards the top of these tiny painting would be the image of the patron saint responsible for the miracle; on the bottom is a written description of the miracle with the date and location of the events. This was an art form that really thrived in the 1800s, though it does continue to this day. Typically the process would be that a miracle would occur, the recipient would convey the information to a local artisan who would in turn paint out the scene with the description. The ex voto would then be hung in a church with a simple nail in the top. Many Mexican churches have an entire wall devoted to these little paintings; a mosaic of miracles.
Samples of Traditional ex Votos:
This year’s deMeng de los Muertos workshop takes us to the mysterious mountain village of San Cristobal. On the Mexican government’s list of most magical places (Pueblo Magiko), this seemed like more than an ideal setting to explore the magic of ex votos…but in a slightly more contemporary way. In this class we are going to create mixed media interpretations of this artform. Collage, painting and assemblage will be used to create a representation of a personal miracle. One thing I should mention, not all of ex votos are entirely serious, in fact many are rather humorous. So if you don’t have a near death experience, that’s ok. You could just as easily create an ex voto depicting the time your little sister tried to pelt you with a water balloon but…thank the heavens…a hummingbird popped it in mid air. Did I mention that a bit of artistic license and embellishment of events is not out of the realm of possibilities?
Sample Mixed Media Ex Votos:
Monday October 26th - Arrival day. Flights come into Tuxtla Gutierrez (TGZ) and then a shuttle brings you into San Cristobal. It is a 40 min. ride on a good highway as you climb from the steamy lowlands up into the mountains. San Cristobal is at about 6900ft. We will settle into the hotel and regroup from the various flights.
Tuesday October 27th – Breakfast. Workshop begins at 10am. Lunch at 1pm and a walk around the city to get oriented. Return to the workshop. Welcome dinner at 7:30pm
Wednesday October 28th – Breakfast. Workshop begins at 10am. Lunch at 1 pm return to the workshop . Late afternoon and evening free. Dinner on your own.
Thursday October 29th - Breakfast. Workshop begins at 10am. A visit to the Taller Lenateros graphics art studio and then lunch. Return to the workshop. Late afternoon and evening free. Dinner on you own.
Friday October 30th - Breakfast Workshop begins at 10am. Lunch at 1pm followed by a visit to the Mayan museum of medicine. Late afternoon and evening free. Dinner on your own
Saturday October 31st – Breakfast. Free day with optional excursions to Palenque, Lagos de Montebello, Canon Sumidero. More information to follow.
Sunday November 1st – Breakfast. Excursion to the villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. It is market day in San Juan Chamula so there will be lots to see. Lunch included. Evening free
Monday November 2nd – Breakfast. Final workshop and critique. Lunch. Afternoon free. Dia de los Muertos events in the evening and Farewell dinner.
Tuesday November 3rd - Breakfast. Departures. Adios y Gracias.
(This itinerary is subject to change. I will be in San Cristobal in February to make the final arrangements. I will be adding some more excursions and finding some new art happenings too.)
There are optional trips to the archeological site of Palenque and Tonina about 5 hours away. If you are interested you can arrive a few days early so that you have enough time to really see them. There is a day trip available also. It is a long one, about 14 hours.
Airfare is not included. When searching for airfares the San Cristobal: Angel Albino Corzo International Airport (TGZ) .
Included: Workshop, hotel, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 2 dinners, and tours with an English speaking guide.
Shared Double $1950
Deposit: $250 to secure your spot. Please pay by check
To reserve your spot contact:
Oddities and Peculiarium Worshop. New Orleans 2015 was a huge success. As many of you know what started out as a random little adventure that Katherine Engen and I cooked up several years ago, has become a quite the annual event...and how! It has evolved from a workshop to something much much more. Let me prove my point...
This year's theme was a carnival themed workshop so the class was asked to create a shrine honoring a sideshow freak or oddity. Click on the image to see the artist and the sideshow performer (I don't know the actual titles of the works so I merely named them for the character). Here's what was created:
Katherine and I decided that we could not have a sideshow themed without our own parade through the French Quarter. Students dressed up in various sideshow ensembles and with the assistance of the Panorama Jazz Band we marched the evening away.
That's right. We had a street car to ourselves to nosh and chat as we wandered the streets of New Orleans.
How could I forget Ri Diculous our sword swallowing presenter of facts and trivia about Sideshow stuff...
We took the gang out for a traditional burlesque show with an excellent emcee who is also a very talented artist named Vinsanto Defonte.
The last day of class also coincides with the first parade of Mardi Gras the Krewe du Vieux. A....shall we say...saucy parade that gets parade season rolling.
We have already started planning next year's event. A twist on the Wizard of Oz. Parades, cabarets, and perhaps a flying monkey or two is being figured out for 2016. More on that soon!
Happy 2015 everyone! Over the last year I created a few Art inspired memes for Facebook and Instagram so I thought I'd share them with you to inspire a creative new year.