The Next Level

In the weeks since I posted new artwork, I’ve actually been hard at work producing material for Art of the Solstice, my second show with NIA.  My output is at a very high level right now, partly due to my immense satisfaction with the pieces — and partly due to new methods of reproduction which are making series much faster to accomplish.  My goal with all of this, as I previously stated, is to “take everything you’ve seen so far to the next level.”

For followers of this blog, there are certain visual characteristics that are recognizable in my style.  For example, I always pare down visual information so that only the most necessary components make it onto the paper or canvas.  I dispense with all but the most essential “props,” focusing in on nude or near-nude human forms.  My sensibility, deeply informed by comic book art, is boldly graphic.

In the past, I explored this aesthetic almost exclusively with pen and ink drawings.  I favored deep black Rapidograph ink on smooth hot press paper.  This choice of materials left nothing in the way of subtle variation in color or texture.  In fact, I would digitally remove any unintentional “imperfections” (i.e. smudges, pencil lines, etc.) at the scanning stage.  Discovery of the linocut process encouraged me to accept a degree of “imperfection” in my work for the first time.  My aesthetic was still intact, but it was being influenced by the unpredictable effect of the ink — almost as if order and chaos were engaged in a dance.

Our Mother of Perpetual Succor

I decided there was something appealing about the rough, “devolved” quality of my prints, so I decided to explore the effect in many new ways.  One of my first efforts was Our Mother of Perpetual Succor, which you can see at left.  It is an update of this very “smooth” drawing.  To incorporate an element of chance, I used sepia ink — which is slightly transparent — on cold press paper.  In the end, I preferred the variegated sepia to the consistent black I had used before.

Cameo framedSometime over the summer, I was at the local art supply store, and I happened upon a Cameo Silhouette machine.  It is similar to an extra-wide desktop printer; but instead of printing an image from your computer, it cuts the image out!  I started to think about cutting out the stark, blocky shapes in my drawings.

After I purchased the machine, I quickly created Child Christ with the Holy Spirit, which you can see on the right.  The drawing is machine-cut out of cold press black paper and mounted it in a glass-on-glass sandwich frame.  Consequently, the color of the negative space is the color of the wall — which changes every time the piece is moved to a new room!

see-through Cameo

Boy Christ designAnother application involved cutting this Boy Christ (left) out of variegated stationary and mounting it on cold press paper.  I love the non-uniform quality of both the positive and negative spaces.  The composition features a torn perimeter edge and is mounted in a sandwich frame.

Yet another application has been to contrast different colored and patterned paper.  I decided to try this technique with one of my favorite subjects, the Sacred Heart.  I somewhat simplified my Heart iconography for this experiment, reducing the organ and flame to the most significant shapes.  The end result is the image you see below, which makes for a striking Sacred Heart:

Sacred Heart framed hung

All the work in this post represents a major step forward for my aesthetic, introducing spontaneity and interest into what can be a rigid visual system.  At least some of these pieces will also be available for sale at Art of the Solstice, along with the best of the rest of my new work.  Please come to the show and share your feedback!

Art of the Solstice at ChiPRC
Sunday, December 21, 2014.  1:00 – 4:00pm.
858 N Ashland Ave
Chicago IL 60622

2 thoughts on “The Next Level

  1. So enjoyed reading this post Dean, the energy and excitement in the artworks and the excitement that you’re feeling in your process at the moment shine out and I’m feeling it loud and clear over here on the other side of the Atlantic! Great to see you in the zone at the moment. I’m slightly envious of the NIA group you show with, it must be good to be part of such a collective and show work together regularly :-)

    • Thank you for the extremely supportive feedback! It is one thing to labor alone in the laboratory like an alchemist, pretty sure you are onto a promising lead. It is another thing to share one’s findings and receive validation. You’ve given me the confidence to keep working in the lab….

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