March 26, 2014

Free to be you, free to be me

I had a really groovy idea today. Well, it actually started with a groovy idea I had last night...

(click to inspect the embiggened image)

For those of you who have seen the as-yet-unsold Mona Lisa's Eyes painting I did, you will easily draw parallels between that one and the one I present today.

With Mona's Eyes, I painted using a halftone pattern. In making the piece above, I was attempting to get maximum contrast and minimal detail, while still ending up with a portrait that is largely recognizable. Whether or not I was successful is not easy to decide on my own. I already know who it is. So, while it looks like I nailed it, I can not be to sure. It is the untainted mind that I hope can decipher this largely unimportant riddle. That is where my groovy idea today comes into play.

I hereby offer the above painting as the prize in the first ever Nonphilter contest giveaway. The contest will work very simply: The first Nonphilter reader to correctly name the person whose eyes I have painted above, answering in the comments below, can have this for free. This was painted on a nice little piece of cherry. it measures approximately 6" tall x 21" wide and is 1/4" solid cherry. being that it is a thin piece of solid wood, this is certain to warp if exposed to drastic fluctuations in humidity, so don't hang it in your shower is what I am getting at.

I can not guess for sure how easy this will be for others to solve. I can actually think of someone other than the true subject that this resembles, so who knows what the public sees. Nevertheless, good luck.


Congratulations to Nick! he solved the mystery. It was indeed Sir John Lennon. (Was he knighted? I don't know for sure...) Nick has chosen to receive the piece rather than take the all-inclusive trip offered by Nonphilter International, LLC. I think that was a smart decision.


The following guidelines are completely bogus and are posted here simply to give the illusion that a major contest event is underway when, in reality, I would be lucky if anyone EVER reads this post long enough to realize that the painting above is a prize in a contest to begin with. Nonphilter, International LLC, Inc., its subsidiaries and affiliated companies (collectively, the “Company”), will conduct its contests substantially as described in these general contesting rules, and by participating, each participant agrees as follows:
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March 22, 2014

Spring Cleaning

I am constantly working on art in my spare time. I may not post much, due to my love affair with reclining comfortably on cushions while watching ANYTHING. But, I assure you, I am always going. going, going on the art. Foolishly, I have many great pieces that I forget to get photos of and, alack, they get sold and forgotten. Then there are the pieces which do get captured on camera, but lay neglected in dusty, digital folders within my computer's hard drive. But, not today! Today I bring you a collection of heretofore unshared creations produced during the spans I went A.W.O.L. in the recent past.


(Click to view big, Mack.)

This one is not particularly new. It is at least a couple years old. Somehow, I never shared it on my blog. I like it a bunch. It represents a good mix of the techniques I frequently employ, and is indicative of what passes for my personal style. I cannot explain my style well, but it is defined by, among other things: recycled wood, bastardization of corporate logos, and general peculiarity. I am confident there are people in town here that could see this and know it was my work. Probably not many, but a few. 

The wood used to create the 'canvas' for 'Meatmen' came from the scrap pieces produced when I made the plywood skull seen in  THIS POST  from 2011.

Madheros and Hellman's

This is the most recent creation, as of the typing of this post. It is painted on a panel of mahogany plywood that i scored from a new home construction job i was on in La Jolla. The superintendent told me the plywood was leftover from the material used for inset panels in the ceiling, and was up for grabs. I tooks a stack of about 9 pieces, 1/2" thick and random widths, but around 17" x 20" each. The thing that sucks is, there is a stack 4 feet high of pieces roughly 6' x 4' x 1/2", but I do not have a place to store it. dangit.

The cigarettes read 'Madhero'. As funny as it seems now, cigarettes were sold in candy form to children back in the day. I recall the names on 2 of the 'brands', which were near-exact copies of real tobacco products. one was Pell Mell (Pall Mall.) The other was Madhero (Marlboro.) The candy cigarettes were curiously reflective of real cigarettes in that they really did not taste 'good', but somehow they were addictive as hell and I could go through two packs a day, easy.

The smokes are balanced with the East Coast version of 'Best Foods' mayonnaise, Hellman's. I think the reason this was used is obvious, so I will not say any more about that.

The microphone-as-cranium makes an unexpected appearance in this piece. The last time we saw that was in THIS POST. Above the head we see low cards in a mediocre hand. While not a great hand, it is 2 pairs with an Ace kicker, making it a hand that is weak, but making a strong effort to shine. The kanji above translates to "Where there is a will, there is a way."

Overall, this deeply cryptic and coded image is sure to stump the most seasoned of sleuths and, to make it ultimately interesting, I vow to never confirm or deny any knowledge of the symbolic nature of this painting. All I can say is, it is me, but not me alone. Perhaps the sale of this one will be to the person most interested in solving the mystery. After all, having it at home would afford more chances to examine it. Frankly, I would hang it opposite the toilet if it were me.

Note: Aside from those mentioned above, I did not intentionally make any references in this painting to other known entities. Yet, I may have subconsciously given a shout-out to David Bowie's pants.

Real X-ray Specs!!

Pop-culture inspired, obviously. The kanji translates as 'X-ray.'

I loved comic books as a kid. Today, I still get great joy from flipping through comics published during my youth. I especially love the ads that promised everything I desired, such as X-Ray glasses. In those ads, a dork was either shown looking into his own hand or ogling a feminine silhouette. The implication was that the future was "finally here" and we would soon live as panty-obsessed geeks in a wonderous future, provided one spent $2 + shipping for the catalog.

It never happened. Interestingly, I think this piece also promises more than it delivers. Think about it.

Saito-san needs to chill.
The idea for this came from my appreciation for the kabuki face painting. Its hard to go wrong when you are working with red, white and black. The Nazis knew this, and now you know it.

I created the pattern on the green panel by making a stencil of 4 or 5 of the flower motifs, then sprayed with white paint as I moved the stencil down the board.
One of my favorite things here is the small flower-shaped pieces of hardware used to secure the two boards together. I received hundreds of these when I secured a bounty of items from a trophy store that was going out of business.
I pulled the words from a Japanese language phrase book. Because it will be hanging at Lestats coffee shop, I chose the phrase, "Mr. Saito does not drink coffee." As I see it, he looks as if you have asked one too many times.


This is basically ripped right out of the annals of Japanese 'ukiyo-e' art of yore. I am a big fan of the style which, as far as I know, is no more. the original ukiyo-e artists plied their trade using wood blocks, carving each color seperately and printing them one on top of another, as one might do for a multi-colored silkscreen print. The most famous of these, 'the great wave of Kanagawa', has been ripped off a jillion times. Actually, I may have done some thieving of my own. You'd have to go back through my blog entries to be sure. The joy imparted in this piece is that the geisha of 200 years ago appears to be on a cellphone. (a more likely prop in an actual ukiyo-e piece would have been a mirror.) I find the twist absolutely delicious and it beats the heck out of me how one of my best ideas ever took so long to sell. But, sell it did. Bless you nameless patron of the arts.

Big pack, too small

Andrew Estrada (formerly of Zepf Alt. Gallery) had commented to me about a pair of statues that he had seen at a gallery in Los Angeles. One was Biggie Smalls, the other Tupac. I will be the first to say that I do not have much knowledge of the recorded works of these two 'artists'. I do, however, recognize iconic imagery from popular culture. It was not difficult to see how two seperate works involving the slain figures would likely be desirable to a great many people.  Using my love for ultra-high contrast and excessive negative space, I created the pair on masonite, using black and white latex house paint.

Tupac looking down.

Biggie looking wistful.
I did not have a working car at the time. Still, getting the pieces hung was important. A space on the wall in 'my area' of Lestats had been vacant for too long, and I did not wish to lose the coveted location due to perceived apathy. Having only a bike at my disposal, transporting the large pieces required some ingenuity.
First, I wanted to protect the paint. I wrapped the pair in a blanket, being sure to seperate them by a layer of cloth. A smaller bundle containing another small painting was stacked upon that. Because the whole mess was too large to comfortably carry under my arm, I decided it would have to go on my back. As Lestat's is a few miles from here, comfortable straps were going to be crucial. Placing a lightweight backpack on the top of it all, I began to secure the pieces with carefully considered rope placement. While it does not look it, the final configuration took close to an hour.

I was not sure if the image on the left was easy to decipher, so I added the cheap-ass scribble on the right to clarify. You can imagine how this might want to swing side to side as I pedaled. I ended up needing to clamp a couple small pieces of wood onto the small rack behind the bike seat (not pictured) which served as a 'channel' into which the tail end of my packaged art could rest in and upon. It is safe to say I probably looked like quite the traveler.
I will not go so far as to say I will do anything for art. But, present me with a chance to look like a major dork and I am there.