Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Appendages...Chassis Outgrowths

"Auspice of the Tin Man" 2010
marker and ballpoint pen
   What makes us "Human"? One can argue that it is our appendages. Yes, we have relatively the same number of bones and bone structure as most vertebrates, but it is the remarkable attributes of our arms and legs that are significantly different from other species.
   But again, what happens if we alter those limbs...are we not still human? The answer is a resounding yes. I argue limb-alteration makes us even more human. Why? Because, humans are the only species capable of altering or perhaps enhancing our appendaged physical structures.
   It mystifies me how we ostracize folks with prostheses...stare at them like they are subhuman...gape at them as if they are circus freaks (whom I dig very much). Nevertheless, I have been guilty of the same faux pas. A young girl from my high school had an accident where both both of her arms were amputated and replaced with artificial limbs; I stared at her and seldom mingled with her. Mind you I was chumming with the stoners and we seldom mixed with anyone without a spliff, still what an abhorrent reaction.
   How warped can our sense of idealized beauty be? ...might I add, Westernized body aesthetics...a very narrow minded sense of attractiveness, that has spread like a virus across the globe. The norm seems to be super thin to the point of absurdity for women (Bratz and Monster High dolls), and super lean butch guys (six-pack abs...who has that much time for the gym?).
   Anywhoo...Here are a few images impounding this topic. I was not really focused on this subject at the conception of each piece...I just noticed a theme afterwards, and thought about addressing it here.
"Bird Lover with Vortex Curls", 2011
marker and ball point

"Clawshoe...Gesundheit", 2010
marker and gel pen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mental Anabiosis

"Mental Anabiosis" 1843, ink 
   Artists are regularly impelled towards a cognitive/aesthetic slumber when a creative drought strikes. I have oftentimes found myself in such a stasis; yet low-n-behold a life sustaining shower of inspiration will reign/rain down on me, and I am once again sprouting noetic ballyhoo.
   My tool/weapon/manner of germination has always been my sketchbooks. I keep at least one (typically 3 or four) growing at all times. Ironically this medium has become my primary means of artistic creation/formulation.."it" has flourished into a forest of psychical weeds, esoteric soliloquys, graphical tryouts, character environses, and media oodles.
   What you seed is what you begat.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Art with my Kids

"Underground Revitalization", co-created when Liam was 9 years old
   I am very fortunate to have two VERY creative kids. My son Liam has been doodling on paper with me since he was able to hold a pencil. Our first collaborations began shortly after that, when he instructed me to "decorate my picture daddy"...so LiaMarx became an entity then and there. We have continued working together...however, once he became a teen and established his own visual-voice...he did not want me modifying his work. So, we shifted the co-creations from visual art to a writing. Now we have begun conjuring own own original tales; we must have compiled over a dozen stories so far. Hopefully we can publish our work someday soon.
"Water Breathers", co-created when Liam was 8 years old
    My Daughter Paige also has the creative spark. Arguably, she has an even stronger visual muse than her brother...and perhaps even me. She compulsively draws every day...easily going through a ream of print paper on a regular basis. I have posted some of her very first sketches with me (PaigeMarx), so her primordial vignettes are very ethereal...even visceral in origin. This made my alterations more abstracted...more surreal...more dada-ish. She also has continued her own narrative path...scoring her own toons and comics in a unique visual style.
"Green-Cookie" co-created when Paige was 4 years old

"Candy Thorn" co-created when Paige was 5 years old
   Later on, I will post their own "unembellished" work (if they give me permission). They are a bit more guarded than their old man.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Monster Heads", 2011 & 2012, Sculpey, glass beads, and acrylic paint mounted on a wood base

"Vampire Trophy" 2011
photography by Seth Benson
   These heads are derivative of trophies one might have after a hunt. Of course they are injected with the same dose of whimsey and satire typically seen in most of my character designs. The initial idea for these stemmed from a sculpting workshop I gave...it  was only to last 3 days so I had to conceive of method that could be rapidly sculpted, fired, and painted. Taxidermy monster heads seemed to be the best fit.
   Each piece was formed over an aluminum foil core; Sculpey(TM) served as the sculptural vehicle. I wanted to include slightly "realistic" eyes because sculpted eyes are often too "lifeless". The vampire's ears were formed over thick cardboard cutouts. I wanted to make him appear older and battle-scarred, so I placed a long fleshy trench down his face over his left eye. His scale is approximately 9" x 12". I mounted him to the stained wood base with Liquid Nails.
   "Glob" is supposed to be the remnant of a viscious/viscous cyclops warrior; I wanted it to appear to be still oozing. His eye, (like the vampire's) has a hole punched deep into the head.  It was painted black prior to firing to give the impression of a pupil. Since the glass is green, I treated it like it was pure iris (no sclera).
"Glob" 2012
photography by Kristina Phillips
   I haven't created a sculptural piece in a while now; but it is time to makes plans to jump back into it again soon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Sol" and "Luna", 2010 acrylic on manikin forms

Sol and Luna as seen at the Litchford Gallery Show
now owned by Liz Gray
  This was an experiment I must try again. A while back, I had bought these manikin forms online (actually  the unpainted forms hung in my bedroom for over a year). After getting motivated for a group show at a makeshift gallery in Litchford Village and an upcoming solo show at the Atomic Salon I decided the time was right to finally inundate/liberate/elucidate the forms. With a plethora of contemplation (and yes procrastination) the theme would  be derived from reciprocity...terrestrial/celestial...male/female...day/night...aridity/fecundity...phallic/vulvar.
  The male form was to be earth-bound...xerotes...Prometheus chained for his deeds of fire. The iconic buttes of Monument Valley served as a perfect setting for maleness...testosterone laden cowboys...phallic projections thrust upwards from a desolate terrain/physique like a sublime Calvin Klein underwear ad. Sol looms high in the sky with a manly tattooed arrogance...the sky is certainly cloudy with threatening rains/reins/reigns. The time is high noon...time for vultures and unfinished violence.
  Juxtaposed with a slightly more diminutive proportion, Luna floats effortlessly in an umbrageous sky. A fertile treeline silhouette offered up in a sensuous/sinuous undulation...with a low-cut panties seductiveness. Quiet...moist...reflective...luminous stardust scattered around mother moon...snuggled within clandestine breasts. Luna is the heart, the soul/sole illumination within the dark of night. Primipara...matron...lover...intimate...nurturer...reflector...guardian of the empyrean gate.
  ? Have you noticed that both forms possess ironically capped hooks...things that hold up the forms...support them...secure them...bind their backs against the wall...leave them hanging. Perhaps that is the grandest gesture of all as it is revealed/reveled/reviled/re-veiled between the sexes. Not knowing...yet yearning to do so.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bugaboo Portraits

   I love Monsters!
    There has to be some psychogenic implications at work here. Seriously, what drives me (and many like me) to be captivated by these fear-evoking creatures? Perhaps it is a way of emasculating the fears we herald in our heads. By evoking dreadful imagery and horrific imaginings we take control of them...we trivialize their power over us...construe a way for us to understand our own anxieties. Whatever the reason...I am fascinated by this genre and return to it time and time again.
   My own formulaic tendency is to inject a healthy dose of whimsy into fearsome creatures. Perhaps this buffers the blow...certainly it trivializes the horror even more. Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Charles Addams, Tony DiTerlizzi, Gahan Wilson, Brian Froud, Basil Woverton, Edward Gorey, plus local artists CJ Calvin and Eric Knisley...these are the inspirations for me. They add just the right ingredients to make the most appetizing recipe...satire + gore + witticism to make a delicious serving of macabre illustrative mastery. I strive to emulate their essence...nibble at their aesthetic substance...cite their authoritative magical inspirations. Here is a spattering of several older images to exemplify my ramblings:

Bugaboo Tag, amalgamated sketches, date? ink/digital
Monster Lineup (LiaMarx) 2008 my son Liam's childhood sketches with my embellishments 
Wooley Booger and HippoRex, 2008, Ink/Acrylic/Digital
I plan on continuing this theme for the next posting.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Snow Gateau"

   Gateau means "various rich and elaborate cakes". Isn't that  what life is all about...adorn and dine...enjoy the varied flavor supposals...motleyed myriads of delicious daubed decor...spread thick...textured insipidity. Snow and sweet baked confections can be easily construed into life's trivial-complexities...our omega-inceptions. Cold and luscious...robust and delicate...easily formed and easily deformed.
   I seem to be compelled or drawn to snowmen. I have been sketching/painting/sculpting them for a long time...perhaps it is their relatively spherical proportions or possibly their gnarled limbs...possibly they have mythical/psychological implications...their naive forms offer up boundless potentiality. For whatever reason they fascinate me and I find them popping up in my art often. My passion predated seeing Bill Watterson's gloriously illustrated and demented snowmen massacres in Calvin and Hobbes...and those brilliant panels still startle me with their genius...still enrapture me with aesthetic envy...still inspire me...still make me giggle.

Demented Snow-menclature, date? ink on paper/digitally enhanced
   This composition has been digitally stitched together from 3 separate unrelated sketchbook pages. The dates each were created is a mystery to me, but I conjecture that they are at least 5-7 years old. I can't help thinking of the snowman sliding along in Rudolph's snow milieu or how the electric shaver glides along in the old Norelco  commercial...my gentle-snowman locomotes in this world much the fashion, as he interacts with the other spiny inhabitants.
   Soon I will flesh out these audacious snow critters in Sculpey. They seem to be needing/wanting to be broken out in other dimensions...their festering forms are ready to be unveiled in 3D. I can't wait to have my cake and gleet it too.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Sketchbook Entropy" date unknown, mixed media on paper

   Sketchbooks define me more than any medium; these amassed visions function as a cathartic diary, a conceptual playground, a media laboratory, and an incognizable soliloquy. I obsess...ruminate over each page...each piece is derived individually, but oftentimes one might discern a coherency of style or at least see a concordant series of cosmetic applications amongst the pages.
   These little experimental clusters began way back in college with an assignment to "fill an entire sketchbook in a semester". My professor was Clarence Morgan, an talented abstract expressionist and brilliant mentor; his extraordinary visionary style and penetrating critiques made an indelible "mark" on me. His classroom challenge entailed putting  together over 100 individual pages in a 9" x 12" hardbound sketchbook (set alongside my normal coursework responsibilities)...any medium was game...all pages needed to be "compositionally" consummate. It became a gauntlet I wholeheartedly took up. Little did I realize then, that I would continue on with this challenge for 20 + years...Clarence became a scintillating Johnny Appleseed to me.
   Here is a random...somewhat more obscure entry. It began with a stochastic rip from a yellow pages heading (a nearly defunct advertising vehicle)...I noticed the weird header and it set my mind to reeling. I grabbed some Elmer's glue and pasted the shredded pieces together. Slowly the oddly serendipitous title  pushed out a visual...the contradictory wording conjured up a vision of microscopic stitching...post-hypnotic promptings...mesmerisms with malicious volition...advertisements injected into our psyche just below the threshold of perception...jaundiced stitching onto our method of thought.
   "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people" ~Karl Marx~

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"The Rock", 1998 Ink

   This is an older piece/peace of mine/mind. It attests to be somewhat of a personal iconic metaphor for me. Now after numerous years of retrospection, I can see the subliminal interrogations ebbing forth...I can now grok the child it was...and has grown into being. Here are my penitent disclosures.
   Notice the shape...elevated above the plain/plane...it rises up to see the world, the lurking predators. It rises up to stand ready to move, narcissistically proud to be recognized...to not be left behind. Is it stacked and cemented or weathered and eroded from a volcanic ebullition. Really, this rock is a rectangle...an abhorrent geometric contention left to defy the elements.
  The rock has connotations of the strong religious upbringing I weathered...there is no animosity in that statement...perhaps a healthy dose of cynicism, but no real christian misanthropy. I left that theosophical path behind me numerous years ago, and have grown to realize faith is a subjective mental representation...a make-believe template for behavioral modification. However, the echoing philosophical remnants still emerge at times...those eternal punishments in Hell metaphors shake my inner child at times...weaken my soul-idity...weather my objectiveness.
   Perhaps this is where the cave comes in. It appears to be a Delphic passage...the mysterious portal to another realm. The enigma lays ahead of us...shall we climb the vines to see? Are these meandering flora the fruitless remnants of knowledge...of life. Why does this withered wellspring call me? Why am I so hypnotized by its beckoning depth? I yearn  to feel the dulcet stones, to bear on and cling to their aplomb surfaces...to find my destiny.

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Middle Class America" 2013, inks/markers

   We teeter on the edge. Individuals and citizens alike...we all seem to have overwhelming circumstances overhead, preposterous Seussian gravity holds the weight aloft. The eminence of  artfully stacked...hoarded assemblages holds up...detains our guilt...shame...remorse...ambitions.      
   Perhaps this is why I keep revisiting these stacked rock motifs. I am drawn to (pun blundered into) the act of stacking make-believe hoodoos...compulsively make "inukshuks" as I walk along woods paths. I long for visions of guidance, look for answers sublimated in the teetering precedence, long to make sense of my own accordance.
   My vision here details a small house quietly nestled amidst all this peril.  This is us (U.S.)...this is the world we have made. We have spread our actions amongst the globe...homogenized cultural diversity into McDonaldized heaps of dangerous propensity. We go about out lives despite the commodious reprobate waiting/weighting over us. We are either heroes or stooges, perhaps both at the same time...and why not? We flail along with deceptions of grandeur, delight in acquiring more and more, concoct our pending demise...hopefully...perhaps...not.The gravity of our actions is continuous...tenuous. When do we wake? Where will we go? ...how will we know? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Hello, I am Theo Egmund", 2013 Acrylic/Ink on paper

   Absurdity prevails! I have always admired the Surrealists, and their notion that "truth" looms quietly behind dreams and the subconscious. Of course truth is a slippery topic...it really depends on your point of view and other preconceived notions. For me truth is evasive even to myself; I often find glimmers of it tucked away in hidden corners of my work. It juts it's head out from under a patch of layered lines, or suddenly emerges out from a "randomly" chosen characterization. Numerous times I revisit a work and discover an oblivious homage or a subliminal image staring me in the face. 
   There is a tranquilizing liberating benefit to letting your psyche roam free range over an empty surface. A feeling of flow is unleashed, and I am free. There in my subdued-sub-dude eloquence, I am able to reach out past myself...to touch something more ethereal, strange, and powerful.
   The topic here follows my standard approach...I have no idea what the hell it means right now :) As mentioned before, black helps me to conjure these maniacal ideations. I begin with placement of the shape...it emerges as an egg-shape, it morphs into a face, then a body. The lyrics from I Am the Walrus echoes through my brain...Egg man...Egmund seems right. It seems like a fine fitting psychological feature. I set him adrift in a steaming pool of blankness/blackness. He is boiling. He is trapped. He is socializing. He is inane to his circumstances. He is me...he is you...koo koo kachoo.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Eye-Land 2

   This little piece is not very large (9" x 12"), but it makes a big impact. A big part of my artwork has been surface elements or rather texturing...setting up a visual depiction of tactile readings has always fascinated me. I am intrigued by how light plays across the surface of things, or how patterns develop a rhythm within a composition. The emphatic beats lead your eye across the surface and just like a musical composition...cadences and pauses...setting up increments of loud contrapuntal to quiet echoes...these are the sings/pings/things placed within a composition like this.
   Eyes are the windows to the soul they say...multiple eyes will unnerve you. Complicit eyes...accusing...staring eyes make one cringe. Black soulless eyes (like dolls' eyes or sharks' eyes) give us the creeps...tingling sensations that fascinate and repulse us simultaneously. Big brother and his whole spider family are watching you.     Are they really eyes or bubbling obsidian?  
~Will they pray or prey upon us?~         
...and have you noticed, one of them has been plucked out...where did it go? What happened?  Was it an impact crater or an offending voyeur?
   I also love the sensation of high elevations (despite a somewhat phobic temporal effect it has on me). When I fly, I have to stare out the window at the earth below. My dreams of floating or flying are orgasmic. The images sent back from Voyager and it's progeny make me quiver...the flyby photos of distinct/distant worlds are simply awe-inspiring. I long to make that passage.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Requiem for an Anonymous Artist", 2013

   Here is one of my latest traditional works...it will debut this month at Raleigh's cozy vegetarian eatery, The Remedy Diner. The piece originated from a sketch I had done a while back. This odd little concept had intrigued me enough that I wanted to explore it further in a different medium. Visually it has weird narrative implications...what is it? Why does it have a fish/embryo/brain thingy for a head...under a glass fishbowl/helmet? And why is it walking around on stilts? The answer---beats the hell out of me? But to me that is the point anyway...I love being perplexed by my own subliminal juxtapositions. These little cryptic pictures are loaded with peculiar taradiddles...perhaps that echoes the kid in me. I never want to lose that.
   The challenge was twofold: capture the essence of the sketch, but reinterpret it into a more "rendered" illustration. The sketch had been scanned previously  and so for reference, I printed it out into a scale that would fit within the canvas (BTW... small piece at 9" x 12"). Painting on black background reminds me of the garishness of velvet paintings...love  that technique.  So I transferred the image to the canvas board and positioned it on the picture plane so his motion showed him walking into the shot. I also tilted his form slightly backwards to accentuate the weight of slugging long stilts over a terrain...and to have an opportunity for the horizon to bulge slightly upward.
   I wanted to place my critter in a tranquil environment, the fence posts evoked a southwest feeling, so I decided a pseudo-sci/fi-western setting would do just fine. The addition of the strange vegetation was important to add to the painting's spirit. I had originated the alien cacti while doodling many years ago. I compulsively do this in staff/board meetings...a little habit I fell into as a child when I would scribble weird images on the margins of homework or tests. I also try to save some of these for referencing later...so it paid off here (unfortunately the original sketch has not been scanned).
   My goal is to explore this image even further in the digital realm. Certainly using Photoshop to add color on the scanned painting. It will serve as a great gray scale base to work over. But I also will manipulate the sketch too using Illustrator's fantastic blob-brush. This will take it into a comic-book illustration direction. I can't wait to get cracking. I will post any results later on.
   OK...I suppose that is it for now. It makes me feel a bit naked...well, not so much naked, but dressed in my pajamas getting milk at the local Walmart sort of thing...to focus on my own work. These talks are a bit self-indulgent. They are soliloquies offering up a slice of my mind for you to ingest. Hopefully that means Bon appetite...instead of a bone at y'feet.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"21st Century Schizoid-Snowman", 2010

  This is another painting from a few years ago. And again my dada-esque painting process mimics the spontaneous conjuring I apply in my sketchbooks...a totally random concept, and then slowly let the piece reveal itself in greater detail. After a bath of layered drips of black, I started positioning the torus/torso together (Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes Snowmen certainly had a subliminal influence over me).
  I wanted to put a cliched valentine heart in the empty core... reminiscent of Oz's Tin Man. Satirical ice veining seemed absurd...yet somehow appropriate. An overabundance of carrots makes him seem  more menacing...but also a bit obsessive. The multiple eyes are designed to give our snow-critter a spider-like presence. I made the arms waving a frantic warning...perhaps as an homage to the Lost in Space robot. 
  Speaking of the arms...I consciously constricted them from penetrating outside the picture plane...for several reasons. 1st, it forces the form to seem boxed in...constricted...it makes for a more claustrophobic sensation. I am naturally fearful of confinement, so this heightens my anxiety. And an even better reason is the "childlike" painting aptitude it resonates. Back in my college years I strove to mimic children's art. This was a point of salvation for me...it freed me from the yoke of self-imposed aesthetic constriction. I am still extremely interested in child art (as my kids will attest to, since I often ogle and then bastardize their work).
  Perhaps the painting's "coup de grĂ¢ce" is the Easter hay. It seemed fitting to snuggle the snowman in his own nest of evocative plastic green grass. The bright color anchors the composition and vies with the magenta chapeau. Falling snow helps bring continuity to the overall piece
  There you have it...my soliloquy on a by-gone piece. My next post will focus on pieces from my upcoming show at the Remedy (March 2013).

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Monster Nuclear Family" (2010), Acrylic & colored pencil on canvas

  This is a painting I did a few years back. I decided to make it one of my first posts, because it exemplifies my style and sense of humor. But, what the hell does all that mean? Well...
   My approach to art has always worked best if I let things develop in a happenstance...not totally Dada...manner. I love blasting away at a darkened background and letting the subtleties unveil themselves...almost like ghosts emerging out from a Rothko painting...subletting my subconscious with Rorschach menageries. Then I begin letting the problem-solving auspicate my inclinations...dissect the plane into conjoined incongruities...administer imbalance and balance with point-counterpoint aesthetic injections...buoy roaming bits of color onto the undulating patterns.         
   As things start to congeal  I dive in close to deliver as much excessive details as possible...I like working so close that the whole dissipates into a singular constituent...then, on lapses in mediated pain-Ting...I pull back to a more macro vision to see how I can join the whole...Frankenstein stitching...linking it back into the Gestating-Gestalt. 
   I keep up this madness till I achieve a dab bit sanguine of lucidity...or just say stop!
   You might ask what does this painting mean...well, it is a bit of a satire of the "modern" nuclear family. After all we are all monsters...especially in our own families. This is a blended family...Dad and mum...a son from a previous marriage, three kids, mum's parents (giving disapproving glances to step-grandson), brother-in-law and his blended family, plus the ghost of mum past and pet thing. All posed for their Owen-Mills moment...since that overly posed depiction often "reflects" reality...right?