August 16, 2013

East meets Wess

I have always had an affection for the groovy boomerang design element on the counter tops in the cafes of yore. It mesmerized me as a child. The wackier, the better, it seemed. It has made an appearance in a piece or two through the years, most often as part of a period appropriate theme, i.e. 1950s/ 1960s.

Other imagery that defines that era for me (note: I was born in the 70s) are martinis, cigarettes and astronauts. Those are the biggies, anyways. So, when I decided to use a boomerang/ amoebic shape as the backdrop for a piece, my mind quickly mashed the era into a single image. After all, AMOEBA = ASTRONAUT + CIGARETTE + MARTINI.

Clicking will enlarge, not enrage

I drew the bloated boomerang freehand on a piece of 1/2" mdf. Then I cut it out with a jigsaw. it was in need of a little fine-tuning, which I took care of with some hand sanding. I sealed the board with some acrylic spray, they scuffed it lightly before painting the spaceman with his vices. And that is how it stayed for some time... a few months, I believe. For the longest time I could not imagine how to finish the piece. Finally, I hit upon the idea of collaboration

I am a huge proponent of artistic collaboration. I have been for years. I think it allows each artist to take a different approach to creating, knowing that the 'weight' of the piece does not rest on his or her shoulders alone. It can certainly expose an artist to new techniques and new approaches to creation. Most of all, I think collaboration is incredibly fun. That said, I can not explain why I had never been a participant in a collaborative effort before! ...Just stupid, I guess.

So, I needed this piece to be worked on by someone else. The first person I had in mind was my friend Mr. Wes Smith, an airbrush master who I had worked alongside during my time on the lot of Stu Segal Studios. As luck would have it, Wes took the job without hesitation. I think I gave him a couple vague ideas I had considered as backgrounds, but ultimately left it up to him. It was to be collaboration, after all. Not simply production.

The resulting cosmic creation is exactly what was needed. The balance is superb. Brilliantly painted, while maintaining a necessary subtlety, it gives the viewer an excellent idea of the amount of skill and experience Wes has to draw from. He has painted insane, mind-blowing automobile collages to rival the best out there. Here, we see how he projects 'subdued' with the same level of honest-to-goodness artistry.

Please click over to Wes Smith's homepage at and get a feel for the entire spectrum of his work. The 'bio' page features an article from Airbrush Technique Magazine that further offers a glimpse into the history of one of the finest airbrush artists around.