Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wonderland Prop: Papier Mache Flower Armature Construction (Roses, Tiger Lilies, Daisies)

With the lattice and rocks complete, time to begin work on the floral pieces (roses, tiger lilies, daisies).

Using tin foil, foam, duct tape, 18 gauge wire, and poster board, the flower armature takes shape by adding one petal at a time. If an organic feel is desired (and depending on the size of the petal), the base can be left as posterboard rather than covered with duct tape before the paste is applied. Slight warping will occur but it does help to give the flower a more natural feel. Also, I find it best to place the flower face down in a bowl and apply the paste to the back first which will help the petals maintain a flared form.

Today is the last day for the papier mache portion - need to prime, paint, and deliver in about 30 hours. I plan to start painting the background while the flowers are drying to make the best use of my time

Tomorrow's photos will feature the background painting and final piece.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Wonderland Prop Progess: Paper Mache on Individual Components

I am very glad to see the sun out this morning (not a frequent occurrence in the Pacific Northwest I assure you) otherwise I would be hovering over the papier mache parts of this prop with hair dryer in one hand, fan in the other, and vigorously blowing with as much hot air  I could muster out of my lungs to get it to dry as fast as possible. Making progress favorite part so far is the little pawn garden statuary constructed out of balloons, chicken wire, duct tape, and memory foam (with papier mache on top layer). Another photo to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wonderland Garden Scene Prop, Papier Mache

A new stage set/prop project begins! This is a garden scene for Wonderland which is a modern adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. The characters of the Rose, Daisy, and Tiger Lily will stand behind the prop.

I've already started making the rocks for the foreground but needed to resolve painted background area this morning in order to determine how many papier mache flowers will be needed.

Some of the plants will be painted directly on foamcore board supported by wire mesh and other parts, such as the trellis and roses/tiger lilies/daisies will be in 3/4 round papier mache. At the base in the front, the rocks will be placed to create a garden border effect.

Final to be in 3 panels due to size/transport issues and mounted to a 4x8 wood panel supported by three braces on back side

More photos to come in the next few days.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fused Glass Earrings as a Result of Collaboration

A few weeks ago, I posted a sketch of an earring design my 11 year old son came up is the first version in fused glass based off of his drawing. I made these as a gift for his music teacher. If you look closely, you can see small eighth notes within the glass.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Favorite Art Related Books

Note: this post was previously listed in February 2013 - the link was failing so reposting again here.

If I had to list the books I reference most often for my artwork and for inspiration, it would look something like this:
  1. The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. A must read for all artists. I've had my copy since my days at RISD. Great inspirational work about art and life.
  2. Drawn to Life, Volume 1 and Volume 2. A recent addition to my library. Fantastic collection of lectures by Walt Stanchfield (master Disney animator - influenced the likes of Brad Bird and Tim Burton)- not just for animators but for anyone interested in drawing.
  3. The Thinking Eye and the Nature of Nature by Paul Klee. Klee - one of my top four favorite artists of all time (Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder are the other three). I was very fortunate as a student to have a part time job at the RISD library. One of my favorite tasks was reshelving the books housed in the locked case section (hundreds of rare volumes, include first editions and handmade artist's books) which is where I discovered these books and would return on my days off to read at leisure. A few years after graduation when I was living in Seattle and in between jobs, I happened to walk past a bookstore that had a set in the shop window. Apparently, there was a limited print run in the early 1990's - it was the only time I saw them available in a store since. One of the best purchases I have ever made - although at the time since I was unemployed it was probably not the most practical expense (but I would do it again if given the chance!).
  4. Wassily Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art. A call for abstract artists. Like Klee, Kandinsky was interested in portraying the inner life. Excellent read.
  5. Master Class in Figure Drawing by Robert Beverly Hale. Learning anatomy from studying the great artists through the eyes of one of the best instructors on the subject.
  6. The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin. A practical reference book that I utilize often, especially for illustration and polymer clay work.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lesson (Elementary): Introduction to Carving: Creating Totems in Plaster

Although this lesson takes some planning (plaster blocks should be made at least a few days ahead of time.  I had the 4th graders help me at the end of the prior month's class by mixing and pouring the plaster mixture into cut milk cartons (about 2-3" high, trimmed bottoms of 1/2 gallon milk containers), it is a great tie in to studies of Pacific NW Indian tribes.
For this lesson, I presented a slide lecture (pdf version of lesson available here) discussing the various animal totems along with examples of Native American carvings and basic introduction to sculpture (how is sculpture different than painting, how it depends on light to define its form, the importance of shadows, types of sculpture (subtractive), etc).  I gave them a homework assignment (after we made the plaster blocks as noted above) that listed the animals to choose from and at the bottom of the page, an empty 3.5" x 3.5" square.  In this square, they were to do a line drawing of the totem they wished to carve.
During the next art class, the students then cut out their 3.5 squares from their homework sheet and with a dulled pencil, placed their drawing face up on top of the plaster block and firmly traced over their sketch.  Then using a file, rasp, and flat head screwdriver, they began to remove the excess material and see their totem take form.
Unfortunately for our class, the school did not have available wall space when it came time to hang their work.  The display ideally was to have the students' totems mounted on chipboard with narrow margins and have then stacked vertically directly on top of one another to resemble a totem pole.
Be aware, if you are limited to a one hour class period, you may need 2 classes for all students to finish carving.  For most kids, it is their first exposure to carving - they loved this project.  You may want to check the drawings first to make sure they are not too detailed and able to be carved without frustration.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Acacia Tree Prop: Completed and Installed

Number 1 rule for creating props/installations for theater: Always have a Plan B (contingency plan) for last minute changes.

In this case, I arrived at the school and found that the stage location had changed to allow room for the drummers.  Unfortunately, since the tree as it was laid out required 6 fixed points above to anchor limbs, this meant the tree had to undergo reconstruction on site since the center fixed point had shifted. With the center moved, this limbs to either side would no longer hang correctly (one side stretched out too far, the other side would not have enough room for the limb to spread out..

Luckily, I recently discovered double sided duct tape and was able to affix painted pieces of drawing paper and reroute some of the smaller limbs and cover the tears and new attachments with the duct tape. After which, I applied another coat of brown acrylic to blend in the tape with the existing papier mache structure.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Acacia Tree Theater Prop: Armature Complete

Six rolls of duct tape (reinforce wire structure and smooth out the hexagon shape of the wire) and two rolls of chicken wire later, the armature for the tree is complete.  Now to cover with papier mache...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Acacia Tree Prop: Armature (Chicken Wire/Duct Tape)

Constructed out of chicken wire with 18 gauge steel wire and cable ties for joining section wire branches, the armature is about 40% complete.  Duct tape (and later plastic bags/kraft paper) applied over chicken wire to further increase support and smooth out the surface so that the pattern of the wire does not show through the papier mache.

Since there will be three stepstools at the base of the tree, the bottom four feet of armature (seen here as exposed wire. Duct tape starts at the 4 ft 1 inch mark). There is a height limitation with the ceiling in the garage where I am constructing the prop so the next stage will be removing the bottom 4 foot section in order for the second trunk segment to rest on the floor. This will enable me to build the upper branches so they reach the correct height when installed at the school.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Theater Prop - 20ft wide acacia tree in papier mache - Grid/Sketch

With the exception of tomorrow night's post which will be an art lesson for elementary students re: pointillism, the next few days will feature images and notes regarding the construction of an Acacia tree prop needed for a local elementary school production.

Sketch of Acacia tree over grid.

Here is a rough list of the steps I like to take in creating props:

1. Meet with the director and discuss the needs for the production. This includes overall look, size, color, budget, and deadline.
2. Make a few sketches to run by the director to verify the prop you intend to create has the look and feel that they also had in mind.
Grid in Photoshop of area where prop
will be installed
3. Take measurements.  Take measurements again. The old adage "Measure twice, cut once" applies here.
    4.  I like to take photographs of the setting and then create a grid in Photoshop to fully visualize the space (top photo).  I then attach a sheet of tracing paper over the grid photo (tracing paper as it is thin enough to see the grid underneath) and sketch the prop to scale (bottom photo).  This tree will be one of the larger props (20 ft w x 10-12 ft h x 4-5 ft deep) I have done ( to see the pirate ship which is the largest at 30 feet in length)

Tomorrow's post: Creating the skeletal framework.