September 13, 2012

Butchering Veronica's Pig (complete)

For better or worse, I am rarely predictable. This seems to be especially true when it comes to employment. I have had my contractors license for a few years, so there is a good chance I am to be found on the floor if I am at work. But don't put your money on it.

I recently hooked up with Floatasia, a San Diego company that provides floats for various parades in and around Southern California. It is part-time work, mostly weekends, helping to decorate floats with the standard glittering floral decorations we are all familiar with. This past Sunday, I actually drove one of the floats in the Brazilian Day Parade in Pacific Beach.

The most artistic projects I will be working on for Floatasia will be producing props to go along with various customer themes. For example, the 'Boo Parade' coming up on October 27th is a Halloween parade. The College Area Business District float will feature, among other Halloween decor, 2-3 large pumpkins sculpted from Styrofoam by yours truly. I have already begun working on them, in fact. Floatasia delivered the material last week. Oh, they did not deliver giant foam blocks or spheres. They delivered a large... pig.

You may remember a television program named 'Veronica Mars'. It ran 5 or 6 years ago, and was filmed here in San Diego. One episode required a parade float, so the studio rented one from Floatasia. Atop the float, the studio had a huge Styrofoam pig, representing a college fraternity featured on the program. (shown below, about 2 minutes into the episode)

After filming the episode, Floatasia was given the pig for free. It sat for all these years, abused by the sun and rain, at the back of the company's storage lot. Until this week, that is...

My initial task was to cut off the head and divide the carcass into 'pumpkinish' pieces. This was accomplished by heating a large knife with a blowtorch and jamming it towards the center, along a line drawn around the midsection of the body. This was not enough to separate the two halves, so I resorted to jamming a metal yardstick into the pig, over and over, until it finally gave. I did not film the activity, and the missed comedic opportunity does not escape me.

From there, I knew I needed a tool for shaving away the areas that are not a pumpkin. While the heated butcher knife is usable, I opted for a tool called a 'hot wire foam cutter'. Being the masochist that I am, the only option I could see was to make my own. I hit the web and, numerous videos later, I had a vague understanding of how to make one. After killing no less than ten AC adapters, this is what I ended up with:

 The span is approximately 14 inches. While Ni-chrome wire was the recommended wire of choice, many suggested that guitar strings were an acceptable substitute, due to the nickle content. Perhaps I just do not have the patience, because I kept breaking them. After an exhaustive search around San Diego, I tracked down Ni-chrome wire at San Diego Electric on University Avenue. It is the hands-down winner. Even my impatient tugging does not snap this wire. In fact, rather than breaking, it actually came unwound a couple times.

The pumpkin project is now in day 3. While not quite near completion, they have truly begun to take shape (see below.) I was going to wait to post the whole thing, start to finish. I just couldn't wait to share. See you next time!

(click images to see bigger)

Update: I am finally getting around to posting the rest of the photos. I am nothing if not a procrastinator.


What they say about a sharp tool being safer than a dull tool is true. This injury would not have happened if I had been using a sharpened hand saw. Learn from my mistake. I know I have.

August 18, 2012

Creation of Fandom

In the beginning Man created God; 
and in the image of Man 

created he him. 

And Man gave unto God a multitude of 
names,that he might be Lord of all 
the earth when it was suited to Man 

And on the seven millionth 
day Man rested and did lean 
heavily on his God and saw that 
it was good.

(from the album 'Aqualung' by Jethro Tull)

The Creation of Adam
By Michelangelo

Welcome back, friends. I have once again pillaged the catalog of classic imagery in order to find a victim for my latest riffing. This time I reached all the way back to around 1511, when the magnificent Michelangelo is said to have painted the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Sure, there may have been dozens of students on their backs doing the actual work. Do we remember any of their names? Heck no. So credit goes to one man. I am ok with that. Let those hangers-on get their own shows. This is Micky's art.

The painting (victim?) this time is The Creation of Adam, one of the many frescoes adorning the Sistine Chapel. It is one of a series depicting events from the Book of Genesis. In it we see God in the moment just before giving life to a reclining Adam. It is beautifully done and is rivaled only by the Mona Lisa as one of the best know images in the world.

Some people believe that the red cloth surrounding God and the angels is a depiction of the uterus, trailing a severed umbilical cord in the form of a green scarf. I am in the camp that says this is a depiction of the human brain. In either case, Michelangelo would have taken the secret to his grave. Desecrating a corpse was grounds for capital punishment in his day.

It is this glorious piece which bears the brunt of my latest mockery. Those of you who know me will understand when I say that I did not choose this image;. It chose me. When asked to submit something for the Zepf Alt Gallery's upcoming 'Poor Sports' show, I went through various stages of several ideas before settling upon the following:

The Creation of Fandom
(acrylic on wood, approx. 36" x 30")

I am amused by the foam finger, despite having been exposed to it thousands of times in my short life. It occupies the humor wing of my brain's museum, alongside such classics as the Whoopie Cushion, the rainbow wig, and the rubber chicken. Truth be told, I am nothing if not easily amused. 

I did not take a 'perfect copy' approach to this painting. You may notice that the angle of the scene has been tilted somewhat, creating the balance I needed. This is due to my desire to use the frame shown. Thankfully, it works. Most viewers, I am certain, will know God's arm is on the right and, logically, should be elevated above the arm of Carl, super-fan, whose foam covered paw is on the left. Much like the brain/uterus symbolism of the original, a 'hidden' nod to the human body is present in my rendition. I wonder if anyone will catch it?

June 25, 2012

Ouija: Behind the Planchard

Have you ever dicked around with a Ouija board? I did when I was about 10 years old. My grandparents had one in their game closet. My memory is incomplete regarding the incident. I do know it was the only time I ever took part in the strange process.

My step-sister, 2 years my senior, knew how to go about utilizing the 'talking board'. Although I have no recollection of the questions we asked, I do remember having my hands on the planchard, feeling it glide about from letter to letter, while feeling fairly certain that it was responding to my step-sis and not some unseen spirit.

Tonight, a quick search on the internet brought me to something I knew must exist: Ouija online. As a public service to my loyal readers (as well as a prelude to todays art offering) I share with you the engaging Q & A session between myself and the online Ouija:    

Who are you?
A   S...T...R...A...N...G...E...R
What is your name?
T...O...O   D...A...R...K
 Are you alone?
How many are with you?
(There were 9 'entities' total... enough for a baseball team!)

Do you all play baseball?
Which position do you play?
It looked as if the jokester was doing a spirit version of the old 'Abbot and Costello' bit. Ok, I thought, i can play along...

Who's on first?
Whoa. Hold on. That is not how the bit goes. Besides, that was creepy. I decided to inquire about one final thing. I had a question question for the board which had been a bee in my bonnet for far too long. This was my chance to put it to rest, once and for all. I wanted to know how to correctly pronounce 'Ouija'.

What gives with the A? Is it WEE-JEE or WEE-JUH... or...?
And that, my friends, is a true story.
Now, on to the art...

Approx. 3' x 2' x 1"
(click to biggenize it)

This little beauty is not particularly little. It came to me as a broken and weathered tabletop, abandoned in the apartment laundry/storage room by previous tenants. As with so many pieces, the idea was born the moment I saw the wood. If you wondering why it was made to look like a broken and charred Ouija board , you are not alone. I, too, can not figure out the basis for such an idea. I know only that I could visualize it completed and had to make it so.

The hand is foam, covered with hardcoat and paint. It was part of the 'treasure' I discovered in a film studio's dumpster. I created the planchard using a solid oak cabinet door, salvaged somewhere in my wanderings. It is actually two pieces, stacked, with a curved magnifying glass lens as a window. The hand is secured with adhesive, the planchard with screws.

It is not frail by any means. It is stout. To me, it looks and feels like the remnant of a large sign from a fortune-tellers business which had, apparently, met with some trouble. Perhaps it had been tossed asunder during a vicious hurricane. The charring on the edges could tell a different story. That of a scandalous palm reader who, having tricked one too many people out of their money, had been run out of town as her store was set ablaze.

Ultimately, it is what you want it to be. Despite my uncertainty regarding its reason for being, I know I like it. The image here does not do it justice, as you can imagine. I am considering putting it on display at Lestats on Adams Avenue. I may have to trade it out with some of my other work hanging there, but it needs to be on display. I have a feeling there is but one person in the world who will truly love this. God knows they are not going to see it if it just sits in my studio!

Finally, let us not forget, the correct pronunciation is 'WEE-JEE'. I got that info right from the source.

May 4, 2012

Alienation at Zepf Alt

My vast army of supporters and followers... all (1, 2,3...) FOUR of you!
(wait, one of those is me...) all THREE of you. I apologize for being away so long. The staff here at Nonphilter Global, LLC, was really wrapped-up in the 'Alienation' shows.

A total of 13 pieces were completed  , with our best drones chugging around the clock for about a month. Countless efforts were deemed unfit and thrown into the furnaces that makes the steam which powers our warehouses. I was told an intern may have been inadvertently shoveled in as well. It was probably that Tuesday when I kept smelling burnt hair. ...more than usual, I mean.

Usually I would explain the posted images, but not today. I am going to let the pieces speak for themselves. I will let the viewers absorb the art in their own way. I swear, It has nothing to do with the fact that OSHA is at the gate, and we still have not cleaned up after the fierce, company-wide X-acto knife battle we held this week, or that I need to get some help moving this... er... BOX! down to the furnace.

Dear, dear Fischlowitz. We hardly knew you.


"The Beckoning"

"I Want To Believe"




"Not Think"

"Space Invaders"




"Fire in the Sky"

(hanging mobile)

April 2, 2012

The Barrel's Inside Has Monkey

My poor wife.

Sometimes I will see stuff lying on the side of the road or in an alley. Trash, really. Refuse. But, I will see potential in the castoff. Whether its a a picture frame (common) or an old chair (also common), I will think to myself, "Hey. I might be able to maybe use that probably someday perhaps." The offending item then finds a new home in which to rest it's weary bones: My home! Or my car. Or just in my pocket.

This would not be an issue if the newly found treasure was put to use soon thereafter, thus creating a rapid turnabout of rotating junk. That is not how it plays out, I admit. A more likely scenario can be exemplified by the piece I share today. I call it

Taru no Naka no Saru
(translation: The inside of the barrel has a monkey)

The fan blade, which serves as the backdrop, was found 7 or 8 months ago.  I can remember it very clearly, as it was the day I first met Jason at Visual Art Supply. I had ridden my bicycle that day. Along the way, I was traveling down one of the many alleys found in that area of town. A wayward fanblade has little chance of escaping my keen eye, especially when I am on a bike. I passed it, considered the potential, then turned back and grabbed it.

It sat in the garage from that day until early this year, when I brought it out of retirement to create something, though I did not know what at the time. I worked with the existing, flaking finish, rather than sanding it down. I gave it a wash of sage green, then coated it liberally with a darker green, which was easily sanded to return it to an aged state.

Next, I masked all of the green and painted in the red with a rattle can. The weave was dry-brushed with gold Testors model paint. That was where it ended for a short time. You see, I have a habit of creating a 'canvas' without having an idea of what will go on it. It feels quite natural, though I am sure its not the most common process. For me, the canvas, or backdrop, will usually dictate to me what should be put on it. This is true for 80% or more of the pieces I create. And, it was true for this.

After waiting in the wings for a week or so, it became clear that the subject of this piece would be a nod to Barrel of Monkeys, a toy which I encountered sporadically throughout my childhood. Personally, I think the idea strange. But, it was the fan blade which gave the orders. I simply obeyed.

The monkey itself was cut from a thin sheet of fiberboard, using a bench top scroll saw.  The details I carved in using a utility knife with a sharp, new blade. I then sanded it, using schedule of three or four successively finer grits., probably ending at 600. Finally, it was sprayed in the same red as that used behind the golden weave.

Farther down is a portrait of someone's simian great-uncle who served in, what else, the Great War. This is made evident by the medal of merit he displays proudly on his chest. Again, not my idea per se. It simply came to me and I made it so.

The ribbon shape which overlays the Munkle (Monkey's Uncle) was a really cool drawer pull I had scavenged off of a TV console discarded on some street or other. I sprayed it gold, then continued the ribbon motif at the top. That layer displays the translation, thanks to my wife, for the words 'barrel of monkeys'.

And that, my dear friends, is the story behind the monkey. Not a real barn-burner, but 100% true. The process I go through is not unique. The resulting art, however, is. I can safely say that this piece is one of a kind. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that nothing has ever before been created before that even resembles this piece. Call it a hunch.

March 29, 2012

The Sage Rider

I visited Japan again last November. Its a fantastic place to be. The thing I enjoy most about being there is the visual experience. The city streets are clean. The vegetation is different. The architecture is interesting. In short, its a great place to relax your mind and get inspired.

I think it worked for me. I returned home and started pushing out good ideas from the first day back. Some pieces have been multimedia, which is not generally 'my bag'. The majority have been simple acrylic on wood, which is my bag, so to speak. A case in point is today's submission. I have been referring to this as 'The Sage Rider'.

The original idea was concocted while brainstorming the CD art for 'Chasing Norman'. You will notice the drum on the back of the old man who has a head which bears a striking resemblance to an old-timey microphone. Needless to say, the idea never went anywhere with Chasing Norman. A little to WTF probably. But, no matter. I took it from thumbnail to full blown painting with great success.

The style is sumie-esque, although no actual sumi was used. Its plain old acrylic on a piece of pine (@ 14" x 30") that I think I got from my mother. It is not apparent whether or not the old fellow and his trusty platypus are in danger of being dashed against the rocks. The sea shows some tumult, but no big Kanagawa waves this time. As for the time of day, I felt that this is in the morning, before the marine layer has burned off. I guess that would put him somewhere around Sunset Cliffs.

(As always, click the images for embigenness)
The pattern around the outside is a Japanese motif. While generally considered to be stylized waves, I always think of them as clouds.

Have a great weekend.

March 26, 2012

Pop Culture Riffing

Happy Monday, my loyal Nonphilterians. Who is ready to get the work week started, eh? Anyone? You...? Well, let me put the vim back in your vinegar. ...or is that vinegar back into your piss? I don't know. This isn't an English lesson. Its a blog, ferchristsake.

I hope, for your keyboard and monitor's sake, that you do not have a mouthful of food or drink. What I have for you today could easily cause you to suffer an ASNR (pronounced AZZ-ner). That is short for 'Acute Spontaneous Nasal Re-flux', the medical term for 'shooting food and/or drink out one's nose. Such an event can be relatively harmless. Water, for example, may have no lasting effect on the victim and their surroundings. Mr Pibb and Poprocks, on the other hand, can cause 4th degree nasal charring and destroy all pets and computer equipment in the vicinity. Consider this our Public Service Announcement for 2012. Nonphilter is people helping people.

Okay. Now that we have that out of the way, its time to guffaw. Do you know that feeling you get when you have this great idea for a (painting, sculpture, whatever) then realize, after spending time and effort into creating it, that it was a darn foolish notion? The three pieces I have for you today NEVER ONCE failed to deliver on the original inklings of greatness I felt during their conception. Time will go on, years will pass, yet I will never grow bored with these gems. Enjoy, but do so with an empty mouth.

March 24, 2012

Visual Art Supply's 2nd Annual Sticker Swap

I was never invited to be part of a 'sticker swap' before. At least, not that I can remember. And, I probably would have remembered, due to my lifelong appreciation for the adhesive arts. My entry into the world of sticker appreciation started at age 6, when a summer in Honolulu was spent collecting all manner of colorful, puffy stickers. As incredibly gay as that sounds, I was secure in my masculinity at age 6. 

My skateboarding years were also marked by excessive sticker hoarding. With purveyors the likes of Powell Peralta, Zorlac, Alva, etc., it was a golden age for collecting stickers. While the vast majority of my collection are but a memory, I still have a 1986 Tony Hawk decal that awaits the perfect home on the back window of a yet-to-be-acquired vehicle.

In about an hour from now, Visual Art Supply will be hosting the 2nd Annual Sticker Swap. My understanding of the event is that anyone can bring stickers of their own making and, you guessed it, swap them with other attendees. There are a few 'well-known' sticker artists around town, and I am definitely not one of them. Still, I could not pass up the chance to scratch my sticker-collecting itch. As a result, I made some stickers!

I did not have much money to put into the stickers themselves. So, to make up for the poor, poor quality, I came up with the 'Value Pack' idea shown above. If all goes well, I will be forgiven for the shoddy stickers, and appreciated for the effort and designs. I do not know what brought on the attack against social media. It is never clear what makes me cling to this idea or that. The only certainty is the uncertainty itself. I find it best not to think about it.

My lovely wife also pitched in. Each sticker pack includes a few home-maders written in Japanese. If you were lucky enough to receive a pack, you can find the translations below. (click to embiggen the list)

Look at the time. Well, I am going to be late. Don't act so surprised

March 23, 2012

Chasing Norman: Update

If you recall, my motley crew of loyal followers *snarf* I have been asked to create the art for an upcoming release by the band Chasing Norman. They provided me with a sketch of what they wanted and I produced a digital translation, submitting it to them sometime last week. Here is that first proof, just to refresh your memory:

Well, I am pleased to announce that the first round of edits came a few days ago. I have made the changes and resubmitted the art for round #2. I am anxious to hear back from them, as this project is a LOT of fun. The new art is below. Note that the changes from the band did not include adding the name, or even working on a design for the name. That is just me fooling around, though I can't say I dislike it. Anyways, enjoy, and could the last one here get the lights on their way out?


A glimpse into mankind's future

Today I am proud to share with you a look forward in time. Nothing, of course, is set in stone. So, it should be understood that what I am about to share with you is a view of one possible future. Depending upon the decisions that we humans make, and the actions we take, the actual future may be quite different. Still, it is wise to be vigilant. To become complacent is to welcome the following scenario. I am calling it 'Option #001'...

There is this spot I know about that often yields interesting 'canvases'. It is a sort of 'King Solomon's Mine' in my world; a magical land with a portal to a dimension of creativity. Well, its really just a dumpster behind a restoration company, but its so fun to poke my head in there on occasion and discover what has been deemed trash that day.

The unearthed treasure in this case, of course, is the window which had seemingly reached the end of it's life. I imagine it had accepted its own fate. Perhaps it had even been heading steadily into the warm, welcoming light when I jerked it back from the brink. Not so fast, flaky. It isn't your time yet. You have been given a reprieve.

Later, when it came down to deciding how to use the window, I really did not have to think too long. Almost immediately the chicken popped into my head. Somehow it felt obvious. It must be an association between the peeling paint and an image of old farmhouses.

The flames were next to come to mind. You will notice they are rendered to look fake when compared to the chicken itself. It is as if they are cut from wood and stuck to the chicken's body. I have seen the use of 'fake on realistic' in the past and always like the effect. I guess I saw the chance and went for it.

As for the UFOs and the uniformed worshipers, what can I say? The giant, flaming chicken was so absurd, I felt compelled to balance it with something more realistic... more commonplace.

Now you understand.

March 16, 2012

Ammonia Lisa

Leonardo Da Vinci would approve. I am sure he and his crew of interior decorators wore respirators whenever they filmed a new episode of 'Flip This Cathedral'.

I painted this when I first got hired on over at the film studio/ Military–industrial complex. Having wormed my way into the job with no portfolio and a skillfully written introductory email, I figured it was just a matter of time before it dawned on anyone to question my qualifications. Nothing says 'talent' like a poorly conceived knock-off of a well-known masterpiece, befouled by a hackneyed gag. Am I right?

The one 'clever' twist, if any, is that the mask was actually painted on a seperate piece of wood. It does a fair job of resembling the brand provided to the prop artists in the mold shop.

I had considered painting the straps, but the image worked as is. The folks above me got a chuckle and, just like that, I was considered worthy of the position.  I stayed at the job until it became clear that they had no intention of providing the workers with A.) a decent wage, and B.) healthcare. Heck, I can be uninsured working for myself. What did I need them for?