Monday, September 19, 2011

Lost Loves - Forgotten or Abandoned?

My friend Alex Foster is probably gonna end up as the next big shot producer in Hollywood, but once upon a time I made him a piece of artwork for his apartment when he was stuck with me on the East Coast.

I had found a walnut dresser door from a dumpster diving trip in Soho that was in perfect condition since it was being disassembled for the garbage trucks making their rounds. I snatched it up, brushed it off, and got plenty of odd looks on the subway carrying it home.

I wanted to draw some inspiration from my surroundings. Another friend had given me an old James Bond poster so I decided to play with that. I was also handed a flyer on the way home regarding the persecution of Falun Gong, which it didn't know much about, but the flyer included some striking imagery of human suffering that was too much to ignore.

I used a combination of acrylic paint, decoupage, and Sharpie marker. I decided to utilize the classic look of James Bond, which is almost an icon onto itself. I really enjoyed reading Ian Flemming's pulp fiction as a child and the books always resonated with me; political intrigue, foreign locales, bloody violence, beautiful women, and danger the world over. It's only now that I realize the true politics behind certain events and how they affect its citizens.

I really decided to rethink my understanding of James Bond as a character and what he reflects as a society. These elements of espionage and intrigue, but you never truly see the human suffering of the politics behind the curtain. Not much for movie entertainment, but it’s the basis of understanding the reasons and actions that would place a person in such a situation.

For the flesh tone of the tortured souls, it’s just the wood left exposed. I used a stencil for the star to help separate the piece into three distinct pieces as the eye follows downward. The text I wanted to play with and invoke the feel of a movie poster. The bottom half is a reflection of how all of this is treated like a game, where the players don’t even realize they’re the ones being played. The women at the bottom are actually one bondage image I found & printed from the computer of a cartoon fetish model in stockings and a gas mask. Here I meant to address the misogyny of suffering and the stories reported, whether through Hollywood or CNN, particularly in regards to gender.

It’s a strong, striking piece which is quite odd to take in and process. Sadly, Alex decided to get rid of the piece when he was moving because the paint started peeling off of the piece which he thought was a defect. It was meant to do this, to fade away and fall apart, adding another element to the painting. I meant to toy with the notion of how we can let suffering fade away as well as forget about the classics of Hollywood. This was definitely a piece of purging things from my brain, even if I didn’t completely understand it myself.

Here's another little side project I ended up giving to giving to a friend. I started this roughly 5 inch sculpture out of scrap copper wiring. The trick was sculpting it so that I would be able to fit it into its base container, but more of that later.

I molded into a rough shape of the figure and just used scrap pieces of plaster of Paris to make this little figure. After it was dry, I began blending out a flesh tone for the creature with acrylic paint. I wanted it to look somewhat humanoid yet alien.

After the acrylic was dry I coated the figure in about 3 coats of epoxy to give it a solid seal. After the seal was dry I placed the figure in a repurposed olive jar (just peeled the label & cleaned off the glue). I made a label for the figure using Microsoft word, printing it out and using spray adhesive on the backing. The project number refers to my birthday, the project name refers to ZERO which used to be my tag name. And if you can’t figure out Area 51, well that’s what Google is for folks.

I added the statue and added water to fill the jar. I knew that the weight of the piece would keep it from floating. I took one drop of white oil paint and added it to the water, giving it an odd swirl effect. After a little bit of time, some of the acrylic began to strip away and hang off like skin and would lightly sway if moved. Unfortunately I don’t know what happened to it in the end as I gave it to a friend who moved away and disappeared.

I definitely would like to try this project again, especially with materials such as latex, metal, and possibly on a much larger scale. But in the end I was quite pleased with it; not bad for something so creepy that still fits on the shelf of your refrigerator.

 I definitely would like to try this project again, especially with materials such as latex, metal, and possibly on a much larger scale. But in the end I was quite pleased with it; not bad for something so creepy that still fits on the shelf of your refrigerator.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Can't we all get along?

Bill Adcock is a many of many talents, some known, somewhat hidden, and those entirely secreted away.I'm convinced he's part Highlander. He's the brains behind Radiation-Scarred Reviews as well as a contributor to the Blood Sprayer, and B Through Z Web-Zine. He had reached out wanting to commission me for a piece of artwork, to which I replied I would do it for a trade. His request was simple enough, left to the discretion of my imagination and delivery. The only stipulations were that it was painted and contain his specifically chosen subject matter: El Santo VS Yeti.

I definitely had my work cut out for me.


Now for this piece I had to come up with a couple different ideas to figure out the best way to represent the two iconic characters. Would they be locked in battle? Who would be the victor? I tried a few sketches, but they turned out crap. That's all part of the process.

I decided to remix it like a DJ, especially being inspired by these Star Wars posters I stumbled upon one sleepless night on the Net.

Once I had an idea for the format I decided to work on how I would depict the characters. Here's some Quick Google images of El Santo and a Yeti that I went for, kinda of like a bartender just grabbing bottles.

I worked on a flat canvas board that I actually broke down and bought. It's a matte treated canvas, but it's board thin, making it easier to transport and frame due to less weight. 

It was a step by step process in trying to create these figures.

I started to outline some of the main parts in Black Sharpie.

You can see how this makes it pop more, or at least for me. I'm a sucker for sharp black lines.

Working on the lettering was one part I simply dreaded.

To break up the piece and sell it as a "fight poster" I went with some curly-q razor wire, which is a lot harder to create than you'd realize.

I decided to lighten up the blue background to add more of a pop to the piece and began finishing off the lettering and other elements with black Sharpie.

Here's the final product. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially El Santo and the balance of the piece as a whole. The eye follows from top to bottom, left to right and it succeeds in looking less like art and more like something else.

I definitely need to work on my lettering. The Sharpie makes it pop and look like a real advert. I wish it had more of a letter press look to it rather than the hand-written style, but I could probably do that more so with stencils or maybe with a computer. I guess I always take the long way home.

Now it's time to jam out El Santo style...


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't talk to Strangers: GREETINGS FROM THE SHORE

So I recently unearthed some old photographs from my days in the Art Department on the film GREETINGS FROM THE SHORE. It was a pretty sweet gig, where I basically got paid to hang out on the Jersey Shore (well before anyone knew what a Snooki was). It was a super sappy love story that I believe went straight to DVD. We were there just after Labor Day and kicked of an ambitious film with a small crew, a tight schedule, and a tighter budget.

I was credited as a Set Dresser in the film, though I helped and assisted with carpentry, scenic painting and a variety of other tasks. This was definitely a get-your-hands-dirty kinda job. It was great because the weather was still mostly spectacular, we (our 5 person Art Dept.) lived in a small guest house that was a minute and a half walk to the bay were you could try your luck fishing out crabs or you could turn around, walk seven minutes and you'd hit the ocean.

We filmed at a view different locations; on the beach, along the board walk, at the Lavalette Yacht Club, and a Paramedic Garage Bay that we converted into sets. To meet out deadlines, everything had to have a natural look, even if it was entirely fabricated. We set about building flats for sets, gathering set dressing & props and tackling the project full on.

One main set we needed to build was for "Catch", played by Paul Sorvino. His character lives on a dilapidated houseboat, which meant we couldn't film there so we built it. The main idea was to sell the idea of a man that was down & out on his luck and had been for some time. I think this environment definitely reflects that.

Newspapers, which were tinted with a brown paint wash, covered the windows serving as ghetto drapes, but also hid the rest of the location around us. Here it's filled with rain gear, old trunks, and other knick knacks.The walls are a wood paneling that we slightly sanded and then spot stained to add severe aging.

One thing we also did so that this room was "sold" as the boat interior was drill pinholes in the walls and tie fishing line to things like the hats and tools, and would lightly tug on them time from time to give the illusion that they were swaying in the water.

For such a small space, you can see how much was piled into the room. I honestly believe the boat would've sunk if we would put that much set dressing on it.

Here you can see our "Jenny" leaving, but what you also have to notice is the "natural" or "practical" light sources which are a big deal in helping light a scene that would normally be dank and dark.

Here you can see the attention to detail with crushed beer cans and old dry cleaning hangers. You have to go out and get/save that stuff!

This room I am particularly proud of as it was largely constructed by myself and left to my discretion, though supervised by my bosses. This was Jenny's rented room above a Bait Shop in the storyline. It's meant to look more than a bit disheveled and left to the elements of being located near the shore. The stairwell you see goes no where, but it was nice to add the sound effect of other renters stomping up the stairs.

One part of the wall is white B-board that is painted an almost robin egg blue and then sanded to reveal the white underneath. From that I added layers of dark green and brown was to give the appearance of water damage.

This was done to the particle board was as well. The electrical conduit you see is all fake as well, but it helps sell the effect.

We built a window bench and discolored that as well with sanding and by scratching and carving the names of my department into the wood.

Homely elements balanced with some of the dankness helps sell the illusion of the trouble with the character. Even just tossing some wardrobe about really helps the audience belive that the character bleongs in this space.

One thing I really like was the water stain I painted on the ceiling. It's a brown paint water wash, painted inwards in a circular pattern. This was done with combination of brushwork and sponging.

These flowers? They were fresh that day, donated from a local florist. I however took some grey and off-green spray paint and made them look like they had been dead for weeks.

One joke was that Catch would have a pin-up girl on his boat, so I took up the challenge and a scrap piece of particle board. I used an old Vargas girl as inspiration and made sure to age it with a watered down brown paint wash.

Here's a look at the whole portrait. Most folks were pleased with it, but I wanted to work on it longer, I'm still not very good at the human figure. This was all done with acrylic paint and black Sharpie marker. This is a perfect example of why Vargas is an icon and I write a blog.

One running joke written into the script was how the Yacht club always, always, ALWAYS, had Scrod on the menu. I did up a couple of chalk sandwich boards throughout the film.

Here's a couple of close-ups. This was all done with standard sidewalk chalk.

Here's another closer peek.

Another set we had to build was one of the boarding rooms were the hunky, but misunderstood foreign love interest stays. Here we used cheap contact paper as wallpaper and sponged it with brown paint wash for a dirty, weathered look.

The same blue B-board is carried through to imply that this room is in the same building since it has similar decor.

One thing I particularly liked was the square stains that would be left behind from paintings or photographs on the wall. Of course, that's simply paint.

Here you can see the back side of the flat, making the room completely detachable. Camera and lighting are able to move in and freely get a wide range of motion in capturing the scene.

And of course here's the famous water stained ceiling. We ended up using this anytime we would see the ceiling in a shot of the boarding rooms, so if you'll look closely, you'll notice the same stain dance around to numerous rooms and corners!

This was a really fun and challenging project to work on and the crew was fantastic, turning out top-notch, quality work constantly, day in & day out. It was the last feature film that I would work on from start to finish in the Art Department. Regardless it's a fun little date flick that will probably help you get to 2nd base at the very least.

And I know you're dying to see the trailer, so here goes....

And if you actually watch the film, you see a cameo of yours truly, as I got sucked into a party scene.