May 6, 2015

Gypsy Sign of the Times

I knew I had been away a long time. Upon my return, I figured I had to bring my A-game. The piece I present today fits the bill, folks. It has the feel of a good ol' Nonphilter, nansensu piece. Also, this gem sports a couple well-thought innovations I am mighty satisfied with.

The cabinet door came first in the process. Of course, there was little inspiration to draw from it, as the style is about as simple as they come. While I often get ideas from the shape of the wood or the detail of the molding, I had to look elsewhere this time.

Ultimately, the spark came from some alley gold I had salvaged a couple years back: a lens from a discarded projection television. The idea to use it as a crystal ball came as a pleasant surprise, out of the fog that is my brand of brainstorming, and I could see the 25-cent detail there, too.

So that was my jumping off point. I fished around in my various bags and bins of hardware, looking for a way to secure the lens to the wood. The brass tabs I settled on for the bottom worked well for the bottom, looking like they could be feet on a simple base holding up a crystal ball. However, the lens was a bit shaky and needed something more to hold it in place.

I could see that positioning two screws along the upper edge of the lens was going to be the least obtrusive solution. They would provide the 'grip' I needed to keep the glass from popping off the wood, but they were also going to wreck the feeling that this was a crystal ball, and not simply a curved piece of glass secured at four points.

When I stepped back and considered the entire composition, I could see hands beside the 'ball', like the hands of a fortune teller preparing to see the secrets revealed. And, though these hands were going to be painted directly to the background, just as the eyes would be, I realized they did not have to be.

As if summoned from the crystal ball, I saw the glorious solution. The hands would be cut from scrap Masonite. Each hand would be made up of two pieces, 2 digits and 3 digits respectively. while the thumb and forefinger would be mounted directly to the background, the remaining three could be positioned above the lens. This would hide the screw heads and provide a nifty way to show depth.  

How is that for using my head! I may be easily amused, but I can tell you this idea is a tiny triumph I can hang my hat on. I mean, I chuckle when I see it! its that good!

The 'sign within a sign' is not as unexpected, at least in terms of what you might see in art I make. Again, its that nansensu style.  I have a thing for chains, too. You see, I have bags of links that were part of a windfall bestowed upon me when the relative of a friend was closing their trophy shop. There was a lot of items collected, but the links seem to have been the most useful so far. Connecting them into a proper chain is no trouble, and the chains proved perfect for securing the 'Jade Oracle' sign.

While the majority of the sign received a bit of 'roughing up', with sandpaper and scrapers, the 'Jade Oracle' sign called for a different approach. First, I saw in my mind the handcrafted signs from long ago, with their words carved into the wood.

It needed to appear old, so  I decided to give it a touch of the 'cracked paint' look. Its a look that can easily be overdone, so I tried giving it just enough crack-age to compliment the aging on the rest of the piece.   

Finally, I gave it bit of scumbling, using a lot of water and a few earthy shades of paint. This helped achieve an even older, and dirtier appearance. After all, the sign says 25-cent readings are available. The last time anything was 25-cents was a long, long time ago.

March 1, 2015

Facebook 3x5 Challenge: Day 5

1.) Warhol on Welfare
I was not exactly on welfare when I made this, but I was on disability. I was living meagerly, going to school full time. I lived in a cabin that was roughly 10' x 20'. It was RUS-TIC. The walls were a singly layer of redwood, with no insulation. There was also no refrigerator, so all my food was non-perishable. As a result, I ate a great deal of Cup of Noodles instant ramen.
The piece I am showing here was a class assignment from that period of my life. I do not recall the specific instructions, though I remember my inspiration. At some point, I had begun stapling the ramen packaging to the wooden walls of the cabin. It was an impressive pattern spreading uniformly across the wall. It was this makeshift wallpaper which gave me the idea for the Warhol riffing. The final piece was about 4' square. Sadly, it was destroyed in a friend's house when a leaking roof gave it a bath it would never recover from.

2.)Superman is a cut-up
My older brother first suggested I try something like this. That is, make a picture using the cut-up pieces of other pictures. It sounds simple enough, and I would have deemed this a complete success, but for one thing: the glue did not hold.
After butchering a few Superman comics in order to make this image, and countless hours mounting it all to a piece of black poster board, the glue ended up failing a week later, and the pieces fell off like dead skin. I think it was cheap rubber cement, I can not recall. It did not get remade. Thankfully I have the photo!

3.) Gone Fishin'
The short period of time I spent working at the film studio was fruitful due to the hours spent on the airbrush. Learning while being paid is the best. For about a year and a half I airbrushed props 5 days a week.Here is a picture of my table with a school of spawning air fish I painted.

February 27, 2015

Facebook 3x5 Challenge: Day 4

I apologize to my enormous fan base. Both of you have surely been waiting for this post. I was out of town a couple times recently. Those days when I was home were busy days, leaving little time for blogging, I'm afraid. Finally, we can continue with Day 4 of the Facebook 3x5 Challenge.

The Logos
Today I am taking a folder from the file cabinet marked 'Logos'. Officially, I only worked a few years in the graphic design field. Unofficially, I have never really left that line of work behind, when you consider the art that I make is often defined by the use of type and advertising-esque compositions.
I still pick up occasional projects that require a logo or t-shirt design, or even laying a brochure or mailer. Honestly, I was trained well and I have great skill in that arena. There is a small number of people, who know my history and abilities, that still come to me for design work. The infrequency is comfortable and very rewarding. Simply put, I enjoy graphic design when it is on my terms. When it becomes 'production art', I enjoy it far less, and that is what caused me to learn a different trade.

1.) The first Logo is that of Solid Rock Engineering. The company was looking to incorporate a feeling of patriotism within a simple logo. I do not remember a great deal of time going by before the choice was made. For me, the right side of the star following the shape of the R is perhaps the greatest element of all the logos I have created.
The one thing I did not design was the middle 'stripe' in the E. My design had all 3 stripes ending equally. That seems so minor, I know, but that is how I think when I get down with logos, dig?

2.) The second logo was for a folk music act out of Idyllwild known as faultline. If you read the video posts I made a couple days ago, this is the band that was used in the staircase video. They used it for the CD cover, and I recall getting a t-shirt with the art on it. I am not sure how much life the logo had. I know it does not show up anywhere online that I could find.
In any case, I am pleased with it. The picture I show here is pretty crappy, but you get the idea. The seismograph resembles a turntable, and it has an unintentional retro feel to it that I think is really groovy.

3.) The third is not really a logo, but something I assembled for my neighbor. Charlie is stuck in the heavy metal era of decades past. One day, while I was looking at the Ozzy logo, I saw how the 'O' could easily be a 'C'. That lead me to browse all of the classic logos, studying the typefaces, and tracing select letters in Illustrator. In the end I had assembled a font, A to Z, using heavy metal and rock band logos. From there, it was a simple matter to put together Charlie's name. He loved it, of course, and it still hangs on his living room wall to this day.

February 18, 2015

Facebook 3x5 Challenge: Day 3

The Boards
There have been few more memorable pieces than the skateboards and surfboards. I was raised in San Diego, and I spent my teen years, in the 1980s, riding a skateboard every moment I could. Much of the time when I was not riding one, I was drawing on one. At first, I would do the art on the bottom, until I realized that doing the art on the grip tape went a long way towards preserving the image.

I can not recall how many boards I have done, but it is safe to say dozens+. I think 2010 was that last to roll off the line. Pictured here, it was my son's skateboard. As I am known to do, I mocked a corporate logo. In this case, I butchered the Sega logo, creating the anagram of my son's name: Sage.

A year later, I hooked up with Solid Surfboards for a project. They had a customer who wanted 2 boards, each with art that resembled the grain and color of his Gibson(?) guitar. Shown here are the top of one board, and the bottom of the other. I had hoped to continue doing side-work for them, but they hired someone to paint full time, which was not a job I could take.

The other surfboard features the classic Dr. Eye image. This one goes back 11 years. My beloved nephew, Robert, asked if I could create the art for a board he was having made. He gave me free reign, which was nice.

Thats a toe with a valve stem you see there. You see, my brother, Doug Provins, would sometimes call my nephew Roberto, which was easily changed to Rubber Toe. And that, as they say, is that.

February 15, 2015

Facebook 3x5 Challenge: Day 2

Day 2, 3x5 Challenge
Todays triad will be a video set.
The first video is an art piece I made for the first show I was a part of. Thanks to Visual SD for that opportunity. It is titled 'Inside the Box Outside'. The inane act of tossing one's shoes onto electrical wires was my inspiration, though my piece depicted the opposite.
The box was a surplus military ammo box painted sky blue with some faint clouds painted inside. A discarded running shoe was bisected on the band saw and mounted as shown. The telephone poles I made by hand from scrap wood.

What you can not see, but can hear in the video, is the 'urban sounds' I compiled for the experience. The looping collection of neighborhood audio clips was piped through tiny speakers hidden in each shoe and connected to a tiny .mp3 player hidden in an altoids tin attached to the side of the box.

The second video shows my attempt at an animated walk-cycle. I used a character I had created back in Junior High, a beatnik I called Dr. Eye. I did not have any reason, other than curiosity, for attempting this, and the only program I had to animate this was Windows Movie Maker. Despite the lack of knowledge and software, I successfully animated an old friend, and that is very satisfying.

For some strange reason, I am unable to add this video in the same manner I have added the other two. I guess we will have to use the good old link instead.

View second video HERE.

The third video is a vague record of some steps I took in creating a beautiful staircase back in 2008. It was the largest project of its type I have ever done, before or since. I took too much time and charged too little money, but the results were gratifying. Luckily, I have a patient wife, Tae Provins, who, incidentally, put in her share of hours helping me sand all the wood. Good times.

The song, Hickory Wind, was used because A.) the group performing the song were customers who had previously hired me to do some graphic design work, B.) the staircase was made from hickory, and C.) I am incredibly clever.

February 14, 2015

The Facebook 3x5 Challenge: Day 1

I was invited on Facebook to join in the "3x5 Challenge". There are no posted guidelines that I can find, but I have gathered that the event is as follows:
Someone nominated/ challenged me to participate> I accepted the challenge>  Once per day I must post 3 images of my art, new or old, and reference the Challenge> I must challenge an artist not already participating to do so> I must repeat this for 5 days.
I know what you are thinking- pyramid scheme. I thought so, too. But, the story checks out. It is, if anything, a good way to get art out there for more people to see. My approach is going to be a retrospective collection of my art through the years and across many mediums. It will be as enlightening as it is tedious, I promise.
So, for the next 5 blog posts, I will be pasting directly from my Facebook page.

I Day 1, 3x5 Challenge
Challenger: Bd Dombrowsky
Not aware of any guidelines, so I will be posting images from all 23 corners of the room of my life in the art realm. Day one has a threesome of editorial cartoons from way back when I was barely old enough to buy beer.

My first job out of art school was as a graphic artist in a real live newspaper art department. The industry had just taken its first steps in the brave new world of computer-aided publishing. We built our ads on the computer, but all the page layouts were wax, cut and paste. Ads with color often required hand-cut overlays. The experience was unforgettable. I dare say, in my opinion, the old 'caveman' production methods were more rewarding: Chemicals for developing half-tones... using an exacto knife for hours at a time, each day... a cigarette-friendly breakroom... I am laughing as I type this, but, that was back when graphic design was dangerous! Ancient history...

For extra loot, I took on editorial cartoons for 2 newspapers. Even my cartoons here show their age when you consider the 'zip-tone' used for shaded areas. If zip-tone was not available, I would utilize the memories of all those old Fat Freddy comics, and shade the cartoon Gilbert Shelton-style.
The cartoons were always meant to accompany a specific editorial, and rarely did they deal with subjects I gave a hoot about.

the mudslinging toon is timeless subject matter for an editorial cartoon.

The kid being stalked... uhhh, I don't know. Maybe they did a groundbreaking editorial on the dangers of walking to school.

The CalTrans/ Heroin metaphor is priceless, and completely "what the hell...?".
So, day one completed. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I.
EDIT: This one will be an international draft pick. Ms. Jessica Uzuki Cheverie, hailing from New Brunswick, I invite you to join the 3x5 challenge.

February 11, 2015

Frankenbench Lives!!!

Way back in 2011, when this blog still had stars in its eyes, before the weight of the world had crushed its bloggy spirit, I discussed a bench I was making. Go ahead and click the link if you do not know about the mythic bench. I likened it to Bigfoot because, while others had heard about the bench for a long time, no one had ever actually seen it. When I published that addition to my blog back in 2011, I was positive that the bench would be completed in the following weeks.

And I was right.

Ladies and gentlemen, just 161 short weeks later, I give you.... the bench.

To recap, the bench started its life as a discarded chair. The alley treasure did not have cushions, but the wood was sturdy and it showed potential. What I saw was a bench trapped in a chair's body. So, I replaceded all of the crossmembers with wider pieces of lumber. What is original is just the sides, including the legs and armrests.

The tops of the back legs had previously had some sort of wood ornamentation. I think they were simple spheres. Once the decision was made to give the bench the Tijuana color treatment, I figured carved skulls would be a better fit. The screws in the eyes, you will notice, are phillips-head in one, and slotted in the other. There is a reason for this, but I will take that secret to the grave. (Or, I will reveal it in my tell-all life story sometime down the road.)

I am very pleased with the way the bench turned out. I like the colors. My wife made a lovely set of cushions for it, despite my disappointing choice of fabric. My favorite touch, though, is the dice. The legs had the square shape there already. Somehow I hit upon the idea of changing them to look like dice. I could have simply painted the dots on with black paint, but a forstner bit and a drill were the real ticket to making a mediocre design element a stellar design element.

I realized that the back of the bench may not be seen much, depending upon where it finally finds a home, but I was not satisfied with simply painting it. This iconic Day of the Dead image was simple to reproduce and adds the jazz I felt was needed.

I hope to sell the bench for $500. I have not tested the market yet, as it was officially finished just a couple hours ago. Like most of my artistic endeavors, this bench will go great in a handful of homes, but will not look good in most. It will be up to the cosmos to see that one of the few people who want this monster are lucky enough to actually see it. I am not worried. I have a good feeling about this one.