It’s cold and rainy these days and it gets dark before 5 PM. This is not the kind of thing to encourage a person. But luckily there is a lot you can do indoors, like studying, or reading, or making costumes.
I finally could bring my mannequin out from the art room in the basement to my dorm room on the top floor. Eventhough it’s hollow, it’s heavier than you might think. It now stands at the far end of my room and lightens up the costume corner:
I put my mannequin right to work by modeling my costume for the party next week. I have been getting a cowgirl costume ready and could see the pieces coming together for the first time. I really like how the pieces are working together and just prepared some final details like the holster and some fringe. Soon, I will have it done!
I also got some work done on the elephant mask. It will be a gift for a friend, so I want to get it done really well. I seem to have trouble with the painting techniques, though. I get the procedures of oil painting and acrylic painting mixed up, meaning that I apply the colors in the wrong order and intensity at a time. This can result in kind of a mess. But I had the same issue with the rhino mask and it turned out just fine. So this will work out, too.
I’ve been working on this mannequin project over the course of the last month. I will use it to design costumes and display them once they are finished.
A couple of days ago, The mannequin got its burlap “skin” coat, and today I painted that coat light grey. When that dries, I can consider this project done!
I also put some base layers of paint on the elephant mask.
And I did some more work on my cowboy costume by braiding and heatsealing a lasso. I had salvaged some plastic “rope” from an old seat and did a simple french braid. I used simple office clips to keep the long strands of rope from tangling while I was braiding them. That way, I could make a long rope within just a few hours.
Since this was old rope, it was frayed up on quite a few spots. Some hot air from the heat gun melted those loose ends and made the rope more stable.
rope braiding setup
rope before heat treatment
after the heat treatment
I am a few days late with this, but here are some pictures of the dorm living room. It’s still missing some pillows and some new pictures on the wall, but apart from that, this project is basically done. :)
Also, the rhino mask is now varnished and done. I think I like it as much as my old mask, if not more :)
And finally, I did some more work on an elephant mask for a friend of mine. Today, it got the ears and some more wrinkles on the trunk. I think it’s the first time I’ve tried to cover such large free-hanging spaces with paper-maché. I used cloth, which seems to be working well. Excited to see how it turns out!
I was able to go and do some work in the art studio, for the first time in a few weeks. I am painting my rhino mask and an oil painting of tomato plants. Both of these will need more work, but not until they are dry.
I’m also doing a drawing class online. One of the assignments was to draw a boot/shoe with mainly lines and to then add in some basic shading.
And I mounted the door knobs on the little grey cabinet. I purposely went for a variation of knobs to make it look more eclectic. Things are fun when they are not all uniform all the time :)
I was in Italy for another 3 days before returning home. We went to a Canyon to do some rock climbing on the last day. Apart from that we just enjoyed the sun :)
Now that I’m back in Germany, I went to Ewersbach for a few days. I’m moving from one room to another room in the dorm. Packing things, carrying them over, walking back and forth. Things are moving.
On the art side, I feel inspired and stressed at the same time. Inspired because of new ideas, stressed because I don’t have much time. In between stacking books and sorting clothes I have some small projects going: final touches on my rhino mask, painting the palette shelf and starting a new painting. All these things are works in progress, and they don’t happen themselves. But I’m moving.
Then, something else that might not be so obvious. A mysterious health issue that has been following me for 7 years and might now be uncovered: a fungal infection in my intestines. It’s treatable, but the treatment is tedious and takes a long time. I’m taking the medication and I’m not excited about the way I feel physically, but I’m glad to finally have a lead. And as tedious as the treatment is, I know this isn’t going to last. It’s slow, I’ll probably have setbacks. But most important… I’m moving.
My exams are going well, with a couple more to go. But in the mean time, I am also getting some work done in the art department. (Not without studying for school, but you know what I mean)
The basic shape of my papermaché rhino mask is done. Now it needs some wrinkles and other details, as well as a bit more stability. Then it can be painted. :)
I got a hold of a palette and decided to make a shelf out of it. It’s not very high quality wood, but it can hold lots of weight and it’s what I’ve got. So I figured out a basic design and have been cutting it into usable pieces. The next step will be to get rid of all the nails and to sand down all the surfaces. Then, it can be assembled!
And another thing is progressing: Every time I look out the window or go to the student gardens, I see my plants growing more and more. It’s encouraging to know that you can create a good environment, but that your plants do the rest for you. You can’t control everything, nor do you have to. You just get to watch the progress :)
I am still working on the oil painting and am probably half done. I’m starting to get a hang of the rough canvas material I am painting on. (I had a smooth material before, but I’ve used Burlap for the last couple paintings, just to try the texture.)
And I started a new mask! :) It’ll be a remake of my rhino, which unfortunately got eaten by moths a few years ago. So, different glue and some experience later, this is what it looks like, so far. The picture on the right shows the old mask.
Today I finished the lion mask! I originally wanted it to be a male lion, but during painting, I decided to turn it into a lioness. It has a strap on it and a thin, black cloth behind the eyes. That way, you can wear it and see your environment without your eyes showing. The coat of varnish finished it off, and I am really happy about how it turned out.
I was down with a cold for a week, so I was confined to my room and the campus area. But today I was better, so I got in the car and went to buy some necessary tools and supplies, among those a new hammer. With the hammer, I could finish the canvas. I also did some work on the lion mask, widening the face and adding some lower cheek area. It’s good to be back! :)
I had some white summer squash from last season that had to be used. That combined with a bunch of left-over vegetables were a good basis for an improvised dish:
Baked Summer Squash stuffed with Spinach, Garlic, and Mushrooms, in a Tomato-Eggplant-Sauce.
Meanwhile, I am working on 2 projects in the art studio: A lion mask and a new canvas for an oil painting. I molded the shape for the mask with regular kids’ clay and covered it with special papermaché-paper (it’s really cheap and it absorbs the glue really well) and wall paper paste. It’s fun to get back to papermaché :)
The canvas frame is recycled from some cheap foto-print-canvases I found. I started stringing the burlap on the frame, but I had some problems with the stapler. I think I’ll need to get a hammer and nails to finish the frame off. Sometimes the good old-fashioned tools are more reliable!
I started my studies in theology a couple of weeks ago. The classes are really interesting and I already have some great new friends. But I also am keeping up the art side of things, even if I’d like to do more. Here are some updates:
- The Kasperle mask turned out very well, so now I’m making a few copies to sell. Right now I’m painting mask #2 and doing some sculpting on mask #3
- Yesterday we had a guest speaker talk about the role of architecture in spirituality/church life. It was a very interesting presentation. And afterwards I got to talk to the speaker. He is the head of Christian Architecture and Art in Germany, so he knows a lot about art. And he’s also written a few children’s books, so we had a lot to talk about. The connection is there now, who knows what will come of that. Either way it was really cool! :)
- There’s going to be a worship night at our school tomorrow (like a church service). During the service there will be a part where we sing songs and pray. And while that is going on I will also be praying and express that through painting. I am looking forward to that :)
I got to participate in an art show last week, and I made following observation: People love masks and costume sculptures!(I had a painting and a mask in the show, and more people noticed the mask than the picture, eventhough the picture was significantly bigger and prominent)
So, I decided to do an experiment: I will make a mask and put it on ebay. I was just in Venice and saw how popular the masks were. Eventhough I’m not making Venetian masks, I am thinking about things like Carneval, Halloween and the German “Fasching”. And what could capture that sort of attitude more than “Punch” (German “Kasperle”), the wooden hand puppet character in “Punch and Judy”-Shows… So that’s the mask I’m making! :) (Sorry for the bad photo quality, there wasn’t enough light…)
Mandrill mask (2013) -not for Sale-
Goodbye, masks and Bruce (the mannequin). It was fun while it lasted :(
I had my Mandrill Mask at the “Montmartre”-Art Show on Sunday, and that was a good decision. Most people looked at the mask before the painting, some even asked how much the mask would cost. I unfortunately had to tell them that I couldn’t sell it with a good conscience, because the mask is infested with bugs. Looking back it’s because I used the traditional (and cheap) flour-and-water-mix for the glue. This is often recommended and works really well, but obviously it was too tasty for the bugs to resist.
Despite several attempts to seal off the surface, the bugs keep getting through the laquer. So the Sunday Art Show was the last time the mask was shown. I will sadly have to throw it away, along with the other sculptures I have. I guess that’s one way to make room for new projects, though: I am starting work on a puppet mask-series, also made of papermaché. But this time with elmer’s glue, and not with flour and water, we can learn something from this :)