Underworld

Pop Culture seems almost a misnomer. It’s offerings are discussed,debated and anticipated. Almost inseparable at this point from American culture is the concept of a spoiler alert. Binged watched shows masking so-so writing with the compulsion to see what happens next. To know ahead of time of a characters death or other plot developments is to take away a major component of a work’s strength.

This is a more recent phenomenon as with many books of the western cannon or the ones which have served as a template for countless other stories such as Romeo & Juliet, we know what will happen, has happened but still get enjoyment from the journey.

I find myself often returning to Homer. Of course the trajectory of the characters’ narratives are well known to me now at this point but it still manages to offer up delight, like revisiting a well known city held dear.

There is one scene in the second part (The Odyssey) where the (anti) hero Odysseus/Ulysses is going to talk to the shades of some of his fallen comrades. To do so he must follow a complicated ritual which involves spilling out of oil, incantations and spelling things out on the earth with a stick.

During my last rereading of the epic it occurred to me that most of us now can not even remember or know anyone in our lives phone numbers as our phones do all that kind of thing for us. (this includes myself too). Yet Ulysses was given the instructions and doesn’t even write it down, he remembers it and executes it perfectly.

I got to thinking, an idle stream of thoughts where i started transposing Homer and Ovid to our times and vice versa. In some versions of Orpheus’s tale he is merely allowed to wait at the gates of the underworld for Eurydice’s shade to follow. In other translations he does equivalent of in the front door out a close by side one.

If there is ever time travel then there is already time travel. The afterlife too would be a sort of loop, so I imagined it as a vast city not necessarily of the epic poet’s visual vernacular. A dense city which is one part crumbling metropolis from Blade Runner and also the dense urban pile ups from parts of Mumbai and Hong King.

Orpheus must make his way through all this chalking up the weird architecture as merely one more otherworldly phenomenon beyond his ken. The shades are all crying out for help, lamenting all that they have lost or are cut off from, bitterly laughing or trying to cajole him into watching.

My Orpheus isn’t seen though. Maybe he is coming out, alone. Maybe he already left. He could be one of the active silhouettes in the window, finally reunited with Eurydice after having met his savaged fate. She had been everything to him. His extreme joy at their prospect of their initial reuniting and then inconsolable grief at their second separation at Hades’ exit was a powerful cosmic force. Now, reunited, they are just two more silhouettes in a vast city of shades. We are all the main characters in the movie of our lives but longing remains a force to reckon with.

It has looked like mars around me so i have not been able to paint. I am fortunate that I can still draw and collage regardless of light conditions and burning eyes and sinus. This collage is 11×14. As usual there is no digital magic worked. I used scissors & adhesive applied with brush to images which I personally photographed.

All Night Music &Dance

For my last collage the emphasis was just on doing something lush & beautiful. With this one I wanted to return to my often achieved effect of an open ended narrative. I also have in mind the desire to collage when on the road. With my density achieved via so many small components the amount of time it takes to do the piece would mean that on a shorter trip I would only (if even) be able to do a collage and not also paintings, sculptures et al.

Right now I have two styles of collage. I have mainly been doing my denser mosaic style. The other style incorporates larger pieces and I achieve the density I prefer in my works via distortions of lines and parts. This style is perfect for on the road, while the challenge of getting my preferred density will keep me away from mere mannerisms.

As is always the case with my collages, there is no digital magic. I use my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with brush to photos which I personally took.

“All Night Music & Dance” 11×14

For Trummy

I have just finished my most labor intensive collage. Interestingly, it was far from the largest that I have ever done. I set aside my often used aesthetic of creating the feel of an open ended narrative for something that is just beautiful. I worked no digital magic on the piece, utilizing old school method of scissors and adhesive applied with a brush to photos which I personally took.

I was very pleased with the results of this piece and feel with every new work I learn something. My new camera was used for the photo which definitely helps to convey more of the intricacies of my works.

“For Trummy” (if we ever see each other again, I will look different, you will look the same) 11×14

 

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A Million Ways to Die

For all my work regardless of medium, emotion is my main goal. One way to ensure this happens is fostering a constant evolution.

I received many great responses to my last collage and it is a personal favorite. For my next one, I knew that I wanted to do something as dense but also different.

I limited my color palette which I have done before but this time i went with darker, more somber colors. There is a return to a more outright sense of narrative in this piece too. The last piece was a beautiful scene but not story. To my core I will always be a city boy and now I have created another one to visit in my daydreams.

As with all my collages, there is no digital magic worked. I utilize the old school method of scissors & adhesive applied w/brush to photos which I personally took. (new camera for photo)

“A Million Ways To Die” 11×14  (the lines visible beneath pieces don’t mean anything , they were resting on piece scrap paper w/discarded sketch)

 

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First Her Tears were Purple, Then Blue

I finally had to bite the bullet and get a real camera to photograph my work. This coincides with a greater complexity in my collages. Gone now will be the caveat accompanying images of my work;

“I just used my phone to take the photo, it gives one the gist of the work but not all the dynamics.”

Being a complete luddite, it’s going to take a little bit to become proficient with my camera. The timing of getting it worked out perfectly though as I just completed my most complex work. Ideal thing with which to try out new camera.

As is always the case, the components of the piece are from photos which I personally took. I work no digital magic on the piece, utilizing old school method of scissors & adhesive applied with brush.

I try to alternate between doing my painting and collage. The idea for this one came to me during dinner (the original sketch on back of grocery list pad). I decided to change up my rhythm and do another collage before a painting. Going forward, it will be interesting to see what added vibrancy will be added to my collage as I will be using a far superior camera to photograph my source material.

“First Her Tears Were Purple, Then Blue” 11×17

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You Know It’s True

I have greatly enjoyed upping my game with collage, refining my process. As is true with all my work, I do not want to be reduced down to  the “..” guy. (i.e landscapes/nudes et al). With collage, when you find something that works, it is very tempting & easy to slip in what would be for a musician, pet-licks.

I would like to think all my works have an open ended narrative feel to them. For this piece, I wanted to try to maintain that feeling but with less easily identifiable components making up the piece.  The color palette would once again be restricted but darker than what I have been using. As usual, I work no digital magic, only my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with brush to images which I personally took. The black atop I hand painted on, this being the first time I have tried painting combined with collage.

“You Know It’s True” 11×17

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This Little Piggy

I greatly enjoyed creating my last collage “To the Sea”. I decided to further explore the use of a limited color palette.This piece is a companion piece to my last one in wanting to go by the same “rules”. (limited color palette, utilizing my two main techniques within one piece to equal degrees, smaller sized paper)

As usual I only used photos which I took, my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush. The sort of Maxfield Parish coloring comes from the times of day that I took the photos, all Pre-Raphaelite luminescence playing upon the neighborhood but for a few minutes at a time.

For all my work regardless of medium I prefer a certain amount of density. Especially with my collages, I like the effect of the viewer being able to find new little things with each viewing. An open ended narrative which leads to one’s own personal daydreams.

“This Little Piggy” 11×14

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To The Sea

For this collage I set myself several challenges. I wanted to do a smaller piece with a limited color palette. Also reduced was the number of things/objects (in this case just two, the spheres and sea).

There is a different technique which I have used as an accent occasionally on some of my other pieces which is closer to a mosaic. I decided to do the entire piece in this manner.

One of the things I treasure about doing mosaics is that I get if not the entire thing then an idea in my head of what I want to do. Then i do a layout on similar sized piece of paper next to the one the components will be glued on to. Inevitably things need to be tweaked to improve tension & flow. New ideas come to me as I construct too. It is these spur of the moment improvisations which make my collage like jazz and puts them between my paintings which are completely thought out ahead of time and my sculptures which are 90% improvisation.

I never work any digital magic. My trusty scissors & adhesive applied with a brush to photos which I personally took.

To The Sea 11×14

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Two Tales: Vertical intoxication/Elation

I can fully appreciate nature. It offers a different kind of inspiration than that of the man made kind. However, I can only go so long without concrete under my feet and the smears of neon streaking the air like forgotten halos.

When based out of Europe some of my friends teased me about this but for them, coming to visit me was their vacation, so it’s understandable that they wanted to see things as would not be encountered elsewhere. A few hours train ride and you can get your fill of mountains, Forrest or ocean. I enjoy it for a day or two, all of it being bearable as I have my pencil in my pocket along with its accompanying little sketch pad.

Right by one of my Parisian watering holes they put up a plaque a few years ago for Poulenc, who had lived in the building. When all his peers were going to Italy, the warmer climes of the South of France & Brazil, he largely preferred to stay in Paris with the concrete under his feet and the availability of a place to stop for a drink every few feet. Now further inoculated against the good natured teasing I swim through the currents of streets and alleys which I could probably now do blindfolded.

“Ok, have fun in Giverny, I am around just working, drop me a line when you guys get back.”

“It’s going to be hot, you sure you won’t come, we can catch a later train.”

“No thank you, I am just working.”

One can not become a connoisseur of a thing without a component of snobbishness. It is an earned right though and so long as it’s not utilized against anyone else, is permissible. I like all kinds of cities and feel the better ones all have something visually to offer by way of inspiration.   The older ones, aside from their obvious architectural attractions, have their winding streets and the sense of happy ghosts. The newer ones, a vertical frenzy, which  when done right is a poem, when wrong (as is the growing case with San Francisco) a generic sprawling mess of metallic stalagmites.

I tried some new things with both these collages. Both are 12×17. As is always the case, I used no digital magic. My trusty scissors & adhesive applied by brush to photos which I took. Two urban valentines of a favorite city.

 

“Our Story” & “What Do You Need Two Lighters For?”

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Stretching Forms

I am fairly new to collage. Although I had a small learning curve, I continue to refine my process. Once I feel I have it “perfected” I do not want to ever be mechanically go through the act. To keep things fresh I give myself little challenges, or in lieu of that set out for uncharted (to me) territories.

A friend of mine is really into triptychs, so i decided to give that a try. each section of it was 7×10. I was very pleased with the results. The small book I got as to be able to collage when on the road finally came out of quarantine and  I got to try my hand also at working small. These two collages represent firsts for me. I am very pleased with the results. As with all my collages the images I used are from photos that I personally took. I never work any digital magic on them, merely utilizing old school methods of scissors & adhesive applied with brush. Most of my collages are available as prints on my satchi page.

“Triptych” & “Manual Style #1”

 

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