Thursday, December 31, 2009


Sketched out a plan for a series of seven paintings on connecting to Source last night. Now I need to find a model (hopefully someone of smaller stature) to pose for the plaster casts. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This painting just "fell out" today. As usual, I had the feeling I wanted to convey in mind even while I was contructing it, but the painting went easier than usual.

Model for this one was Daniel Garretson.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Three New Paintings

These are part of a crown chakra series I started last month, now finished. Several more to come - molding is drying right now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Today's Work

Big boon to my work, especially during this long cold snap; I now have heat in my studio space! My brother in law and sister removed an old mock-woodstove electric heater from my parents' house and my father installed it in my space yesterday. It's just a space heater, but boosts the temps up to about 50°F, making the paint behave much more predictably.

Worked on two paintings today. They're not quite where I want them yet, but close. This one, called "Watchful Mind" needs to have more blue worked into the little extensions of energy above the head. I really want them to be tiny traces of light in a subtly nuanced field of blue. I might end up painting over them with the blue cross-strokes and then add very thin touches of warm white on top. The feeling is someone who's always on guard, almost chronically so. They're not expecting good or bad, but always in a guarded state.

This one, called "Preoccupation" is still hotter than I intend it to be. The cool blue at the bottom needs to be worked in along the top sides a little more. The auric field next to the face is looking more flame-like than I'd like, so something still has to happen with that space.

The heavy red-brown folds over the head are actually sculpted in canvas hanging over the face. I do like the face that the face is blending into the area around it, losing identity and definition within their own troubles. It just isn't integrating well yet and the upper areas are too solid.

These photos are also taken at night in artificial light. The colors don't reproduce as well as if they were shot in daylight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the works ...

"Shared Joy"
A busy transition stage in the studio. I finally have all the rough bits smoothed out of "Shared Joy". Being a bubbling up of laughter, I wanted this one to be smooth and rounded in its sculpting. It's now done, but with very thick molding, it's going to be wet and very heavy for quite some time.

This one was built on the old canvas for the original attempt at "Stellar Flame". I wasn't happy with that one and built the current one from scratch. Then I removed as much of the sculpting as possible and built "Shared Joy" over the remnants. There were still some ridges of upward movement that I went ahead an incorporated. They fit the mood pretty well. The cluster of heads at the top and bubbling up from the guts at the bottom (can you say "belly laugh"?) took care of the most obvious ridges.

"Shared Joy" features a cast of Karry Brothers, who was kind enough to do an open-mouth, smiling pose. The faces of those sharing in the laugh include my parents, John and Sophia Wessel, my partner Wendy Sawyer, Peter Mitchell, Tom Fitzgerald, myself and my friend Helen Wassell, who passed away in October this year.

Crown Chakra Studies
I have a bunch of smaller pieces, four "portrait" sized pieces focusing on the crown chakra in different states of energy. These are sculpted and currently being primed. I always do several layers, so they need to dry in between. One more layer and they're ready to go.

The cast for the one of the left is Daniel Garretson. It's intended to reflect a balanced, zen-like state. The upper center features a cast of Wendy. Called "Preoccupied", I used canvas to drape the top of the head, so it looked weighed down. The lower center one is a cast of Sophia, and is intended to reflect the heightened state of mental energy people experience when they're learning something new and exciting for the first time. The one on the left is a cast of Wendy and is intended to show someone watchful and alert.

I have more in mind, but I'm running out of face casts. I'm ALWAYS looking for people to cast, so if you're interested, please contact me. The idea is to have as many different faces as possible. These images are about everyone, so the wider the range of humanity, the better - all sizes, races, ages welcomed!

"1,000 Feet per Second"
This one popped into my head today while listening to Radiohead's "OK Computer". The song "The Tourist" is about that overcharged, hyperactive state and the sparks given off while in that state. I know that feeling very well, and could see the finished painting in my head. This is just in the sculpted state right now, so it needs to dry thoroughly before priming. It's lightly sculpted, though, so it shouldn't take long.

Wow. The top of my head is really flat. So *that's* how I balanced a cantaloupe up there!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Paintings in One Day!

Ooooohtay! Those paintings that I can't think of a title for are done - did them both in one six hour session today. Not the greatest color and lighting in the world on these photos, but you get the idea.

I also have four crown chakra paintings sculpted and first layer of primer on, a new batch of paper soaking in water, and a new batch of latex goo mixed up. I'm just about done sculpting "Shared Joy" as well. It's taking some time because I started with a rough batch of goo and now I'm smoothing it out with the new softer blend. So much for finger-prints.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Joys of Cough Syrup

I've been knocked out with the flu for about a week and a half and, thanks to the Joys of Cough Syrup, have a new series living in my head that's eeking it's way out. I have a bunch of new paintings sculpted and drying. One is the "Shared Joy" piece I've been building for months. It's very wet and heavy at the moment. Then there are four small pieces that are part of a series that began to sprout this past week - a series focusing on the crown chakra at different states of mind / soul.

Some will be more medium sized, like in the sketch shown, but all are tightly-cropped and focus on the head and immediate surrounding energy. One, called "Preoccupation" is weighted down at the top with fabric and shows the tension of energy from the rest of a person's existence being held down by worrisome thought.

I also want to go ahead and make a painting that my friend Helen and I were planning to do before she passed away last month. It involves a person at the center, curled up and sheltering themselves from prying hands. We were discussing her extensive experiences as a cancer patient and the inner resistance to always being "worked on" even though you know it's helping. She often talked about us collaborating on a whole show called "Fear Gone", a joint venture between my sculpted canvases, her notebooks, sketches, medical records and leftover medical devices, but now I think creation of this piece and another one that shows the same person unfurled and free despite the hands would probably complete the process for me. Her courage and determination in the face of catastrophic, life-changing illness was a tremendous inspiration. Her ability to never let her spirit fall, no matter what happened to her physically was amazing.

Anyway .... I'm going to need a LOT more casts.
Hoping to recruit a bunch more models for this round. Anyone who's interested in volunteering, let me know! I've also found a great way to process my latex goop into a smoother consistency. It's almost buttery, but still has some stucco-like qualities and doesn't need to sit for months in the latex to get there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New progress!

The graphics business has been *very* busy since June, so not much time to work on artwork. The show at Lotus and Orchid was good, but unfortunately, like so many galleries these days, they had to close. Noelle Ellis was a wonderful gallery manager and I hope she'll be able to start another one up when the economy picks up again.

I've finished one commissioned piece - well almost. When it dries, we're going to mount a board with a wood plane embedded into the hands of the figure. There will probably be some touch-ups after that. He person commissioning the piece is the figure cast for it and he's known for his trademark pink logo and company vehicles, so I leaned more to the red, rather than blue base-tone. It's a fiery looking piece with only touches of greens and blues along the physical pieces and heart chakra area.

I'm also starting a pair of related paintings. The first one is the initiator/emitter of a thought pattern. The second is the receiver of that thought, showing his response to it.

They'll be primarily blues and light yellows with inclusions of other colors, a bit like "Resolution". Just started blocking in the basic colors on the first one today.

Haven't thought of titles for any of these yet. I hate titles.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Opening Tomorrow Night!

Opening Reception is tomorrow night -
Fri, June 5, 2009
5-7 pm

Lotus and Orchid Gallery
21 West Street, Keene, NH

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Still breathing!

Haven't posted in a while. Life has been busy!

This week, I'm wrapping up a bunch of paintings and bringing them to Keene, NH for a show at Lotus and Orchid, an eclectic little gallery with a broad range of art. I'm being paired up with a sculptor, so it will be interesting to see the combo.

Being a commercial gallery, not a public space exhibit, I'm finally allowed to show Introspect. It's generally been considered too R-rated for civic building shows. I'm so excited it's finally being seen that I've put it on the show card.

The show is running June 5-30, with the opening reception on June 5 from 5-7 pm. For anyone who wants to come, Lotus and Orchid is located at 21 West Street, Keene, New Hampshire. It's about a half block off the big rotary around the green on Main Street. Everyone is welcome!

I've started working on the New Allegiances painting, but can't stand it's progress so far. My schedule has only allowed an hour or two here and there, and I really think I need to wait until I have a couple of whole days to work on it in one stretch.

The pair of paintings for Distant Sharing are coming along. "Transmitter" is all primed and ready to be painted and "Receiver" is all molded, but needs to dry more solidly before priming.

I've started the frame for Bereft, but still have to put in the cross-bracing before stretching the canvas. It's a whopper, one of the biggest I've done in a while.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I did more painting this afternoon and I think this one is done.
This is part of a series (I've yet to tell Dad I need a bunch more casts - uh oh). It's one of the more subdued ones, a quiet transfer of energy, including an entire rainbow of undertones, but just hinted in the underlayers. The next one I want to do is similar in composition, but will have more of a rush of energy - more bright colors and less regard for the forms on the canvas. This one has colors contained within the bounds of sculpted elements on the canvas.

If there's any more to do on it, it will only be some small integration of brighter over-strokes of color here and there.

I took a long look from a good distance (about 45 feet?) From far away, it looks like it's too subtle, but from a normal viewing distance (about 10 feet) it looks understated, but discernible and most of all, balanced. It's signed and ready to dry for the upcoming show. It's just very hard to know when you're done a lot of the time.

As I mentioned before, I'm painting outdoors. The lighting and air quality can't be beat. Here's a view from a bench at the edge of the yard. I'm hanging the paintings off the front steps and have a chair and work table set up about 10 feet away.

Next up?
I'm eager to get going on the "Forming and Shedding Allegiances" piece, but also want to repaint a couple of previously exhibited paintings that I'm just not happy with - "Opening" and "Re-Entry". Those are very large and I have a show in a smaller space coming up in June, so I'll focus on the medium to small pieces for now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Middle phase

Worked on Intercedence again. Mid-tones and some of the final blue. It's not quite done at this point. I'm still working out the arms and third level of circles from the top character. I was surprised that much of the paint from last week had dried substantially, but it loosened when I started working on it.

The dark blue I use for "background" is a special mix of colors I work up in large quantities. It's kind of the background field of energy through which we all move. I work in the background colors with a kind of cross-hatch brush stroke. There will be more over-painting after that to refine and integrate the colors. It's really the best way to pull out bright spots and work over some of the rough areas. It's a slow build-up of layers. It's evolving.

I was hoping that the lower area around the lower face would have a glowing lower edge above the billowy areas at the bottom. This took some work. I kept going for way too much light and finally darkened it enough to make the edge glow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Let Spring Painting Begin!

Well, yesterday it was finally warm enough on a day I had off from other work to bring a canvas outdoors to paint. It's better than working with the not quite balanced light downstairs in my studio space. These are just the first few layers of color. I always work in light-to-dark stages. In the interim, it looks absolutely hideous, but the bright colors eventually just peep out from the dark blue base color.

This one finally has a title I can live with, "Intercedence of the Guiding Soul". It shows a subject being worked on by another, with hands cupping the subject's head. The idea is a depiction of an elder or spirit guide (guardian angel, whatever term you want to use) pouring as much energy into the person as possible, bringing a more centered energy into their field. This influx of higher energy floods the person being worked on, causing the cloudy, more chaotic energy to surge up momentarily as it flushes out.

I started with the light blue of the etheric body, then started to add the more clear colors of the concentric spheres of the guiding soul's aura, gold, violet, pink (with green) and red to reflect the chakras being guided into a more balanced state.

The areas along the top will show the same range of colors as well as tinges of the bright blue as the upflow of old energies from the being below is recognized by the guiding soul, then released upward at the same time the other colors spill down.

This is what Wendy often refers to as "the ugly baby stage" when it's not quite formed, but you can tell where it's going. You can get an idea of how the finished painting will look at the bottom center of this last image.

The casts on this canvas are my Dad for the head and hands of the guiding soul and my head for the subject below. It's the first in a string of images showing someone's transformation on the path of becoming a shaman.

Remember, I welcome all comments and questions, so as always, feel free!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Boy, talk about bogged down in details. Forgot to mention upcoming shows. ... I have a few tentative shows lined up. (I usually don't count on it until it gets closer to the actual time - things change fast these days).

- Zeitgeist Gallery in Pittsfield, MA - July 29 - August 16; Opening reception Aug. 1 6:30-8:30
- Lotus and Orchid in Keene, NH - September (and maybe ongoing pieces in collection)
- Cummington Community House - possibly fall show, if not, then next spring.

I'm still working on more paintings and trying to get myself to complete several on a theme before submitting to lots of other galleries. A more cohesive body of work will help in that endeavor. On the other hand, I could stand to sell a couple to raise enough money for materials to make the new series I'd like to work on, so some shows are necessary.

- Not sure if the Zeitgeist show is happening. Will keep everyone posted.
- Lotus and Orchid visit went well! Show moved up to June instead of September. I'll be paired up with a sculptor for that exhibit. I'm excited!!

Materials crunch

I'm almost done sculpting the twin canvases for Distant Sharing, but need to come up with more modeling goo. I have a batch brewing, but my current method takes a while before the paper is sufficiently pulped.

Normally I submerge shredded paper directly into latex paint and let it sit until it starts to break down into pulp, but that takes weeks and these paintings are all set for sculpting and I have casts ready for at least another two. The usual method of soaking paper in water then using a blender to pulp it is difficult because of the extra moisture, but it is far more quick.

I had a block of "Cellu-Clay", basically bone dry paper pulp. Yesterday, I broke it open into some paint and mixed it with sawdust - about 40/60 paper/sawdust in just enough latex paint to make it into a wonderfully soft yet full-bodied modeling material. But Cellu-Clay is *really* expensive, so now I'm determined to find a good way of quickly coming up with dry pulp at home.

I have a tub of shredded paper soaking in the greenhouse. I saw a papermaking site that mentioned pressing the pulp in an old t-shirt to drain it, then sun-dry it on screens. We'll see if that works.

I have a whole series of meditation paintings lining up in my head now, too, so the need for more is only getting worse. Sheeeeesh.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Construction Day

I went through all the casts I've been making lately and found which ones matched up with which sketches. I had all the pieces for "Bereft" and the twin paintings of "Distant Sharing", so those are the ones I'm working on while others are curing. The dimensions of the paintings are based on the size of the cast, so to match the sketch, the frame for Bereft is almost 4' wide x 7.5' tall. I'm still scraping up enough lumber for cross-braces before I stretch the canvas. I like the idea that the frame is considerably smaller than the casts and the intended sculpting. It lends a limiting, restricted feeling to the piece. The idea behind Bereft is basically just that, the essence of having nothing left to offer.

Each painting for Distant Sharing is going to be just shy of 2' wide and about 3.75' high. I matched up arm casts from Karry Brothers with head casts from Daniel Garretson and Peter Mitchell. Eventually they'll have a mix of wood slats and molding materials. The idea behind this one is that people who share a close connection can share emotions in very abstract terms even when they're apart. Elements of the feelings of the first person are present in the second, but through the filter of their own experience.

I've also finally finished the sculpting phase of a painting I started two years ago. I was always unhappy with it and kept building and building the sculpting until it caught the feeling I was after. I'd been struggling with a title that caught the essence, but once I had the sculpting done, the title "Shitstorm" popped up. It covers it entirely - the aftermath of a falling out with someone you thought you knew. I just know I probably won't be able to hang it in public spaces with that title. Oh well, it's a small one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Busy, busy

Hello. This is a very active period of creating art for me. I have lots of people interested in modeling and a backlog of new and older images that I feel an urgent need to work on. Finding good deals on materials lately is just adding fuel to the fire. The last few weeks have been dedicated to making casts for upcoming work.

I've recently found several people who are willing to do some of the larger casts that are central to many of the images I want to work on right now. As I contemplate and work on these sketches, the concepts are starting to fall into a few separate categories.

States of Being
These works are reflective of everyday events - the mental, emotional and spiritual reverberations of common interactions. It may be as simple as a restless night's sleep or as complicated as a power struggle in the professional world. Some of the images in this category also depict the interaction of spirit guides and helpers, whether or not the physically incarnate person in the image is aware of their presence.

Mastering Power
These images are more direct in their depiction of working with subtle energies, learning to control and direct where the energies will flow and with what intent. The presence of spirit guides and others on higher planes is often consciously perceived by the subject in the painting.

Although I'll probably end up with enough of each category to have them in separate shows, they've been developing concurrently. In the paintings already finished, Well In Hand and Controlled Release fall squarely into the Mastering Power category, where Laf it Off and Breakaway are more in the States of Being camp.

There are also works I'm planning in conjunction with my friend Helen Wassell for a show about her journey through a serious battle with cancer. We're planning the slow development of a multi-media installation project called "Fear Gone".

With so many works in progress, I'm actively seeking locations for shows and gallery representation and the finished paintings are definitely for sale through my online gallery site.

Sketches for other plannned works:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Casting away!

It's been a busy week of making plaster casts for upcoming paintings. There are more sessions coming later this week and even more as soon as I get a new case of plaster bandage in. Many of these are in preparation for some upcoming shows.

I have a solo show slated for July/August at Zeitgeist gallery in Pittsfield and Helen Wassell and I have two joint shows planned there - Facing 50 and Fear Gone.

My own show is going to be a continuation of the current Passages collection (I've yet to think of a show title). I want to show a wider range of interactions and situations of an everyday level, and then work the series toward progressively transcendent themes.

Facing 50 is Helen's concept, basically showing cultural influences she's experienced in her 50 years of life so far. She at least wanted a few casts of her face, one for each era of her life, but now we're tossing around the idea of 50 faces, one for each year.

Fear Gone is a more involved installation / art combo show, chronicling her experiences with esophageal cancer.

So far this week, I've made casts of my partner, Wendy, my parents and Helen.

Wendy getting plastered.

Mom, Sophia Wessel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Modeling Day

After letting it sit for almost two years, I was happy to find my modeling material in prime condition. I mix up shredded paper and sawdust in latex paint and let it sit until it's a clay-like goo. Normally I'll wait a month, but life intervened and this batch sat for 21 months. I mixed up a new batch today to use in about a month.

I got the sculpting done for the new painting that I think I'm calling "Guide Transmutes Effluence of a Sickened Heart". It's structured around the top character, showing a controlled and organized set of layers of energy and an upsurge of the energy pulled from the lower character transformed and harmonized. At the same time, the lower character is nearly drowning in cloud-like forms emanating from the heart center, with agitated lines showing the resistance of its present state of mind to the ordered calmness of the guide. Chaos doesn't often like to surrender.

Color is definitely going to play a big role in holding up the structure of the upper portion of the painting. I did no sketches for this one, but have held the image in my mind for a long time, so even though I was sculpting in grey, I was thinking in color.
The cloud-form area is very thick and may take a couple of months to dry thoroughly. For now it needs to lay flat.

I also put a finish coat on "Forming and Shedding of Allegiances". I thinned down the molding material to let the texture of the cigarette butts show through. It's just a hint of the worm-like quality in an otherwise stucco-like finish. After the under layers cured for about a year, they were razor-sharp and I ended up cutting up my hands. Finally had to use an improvised foam squeegee to get the thin layer I wanted. It's showing a point where a decision is made and acted upon, so the energy is more fluid than some other images. This one will probably be ready to prime for painting in a week or so.

A new tub of modeling goo.

Another painting I took up was an old one that stalled about three years ago. I couldn't get it right then, but it clicked now. The concept behind it needed to evolve. It's called "The Tribulation of Silence". Originally, it was meant to address the difficulties of being censored, but has evolved to also embrace the harm caused by the silence of others. It's a smaller work, about 2x2 ft. There are two very thick areas of modeling goo on this one as well, and drying might take a month or so.

It was stormy and fairly dark today, so pictures of the progress will need to wait until I get more lights in my work area again. I'll post them soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Today I stretched the canvas and stitched the casts to the canvas. The next step, pictured mid-way here, is smoothing out the transition from cast to canvas with extra strips of plaster gauze. Next I have to see if the latex-paper mix I made up the last time I worked on paintings is still ok.

If I need to make more, it's a matter of taking shredded paper and submerging it in ceiling white latex paint. Once it soaks in, it becomes a very malleable molding material. It takes several days to really soak in; the longer, the softer it becomes.

I'm also reworking the gallery site. It's a little overdone for my taste and there are several glitches from when I had to change web hosts. It's a large undertaking, not sure when I'll get it done, but it's time.
Main Gallery Site

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Assembly stage

Started working on assembling the new painting. When I made the casts of my father's hands, I had to do the insides of his palms separately so he could get out. Now I had to put them together with extra gauze. It looks like the painting will do best at about 2 x 4 ft. I just happened to have a piece of canvas about that size and it was easy to do a trial layout of the pieces since that's also the size of my work table.

The lower entity is actually a cast of my own face and represents someone seeking guidance. The upper one (a cast of my dad) represents a guiding spirit. I've made the stretcher and will let the glue harden overnight.

In the meantime, I worked a little more on the painting with FL's cast. Since it's about letting go of past allegiances for those that are more suitable, it needed the face of the one being let go. It's a highly modified cast of my own face that I'd removed from the original version of Stellar Flame. I had padded the cheeks and nose of that one to create a slightly different face, but these remnants work well for that purpose.

I also have the sculpting stage of Joy Shared to finish. Need lots more faces for that one.

It's pretty cold down in the basement with the weather so cold outside. Even with the wood stove going, it only gets up to about 50°. It slows down the drying process. So I'll let things sit overnight.

Main Gallery Site

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rethinking Opening

Although the work schedule has prevented me from going ahead with the new painting I did casts for, I have spent some time thinking about this one - "Opening".

Although I'm happy with the sculpture side of it, I can't stand the painted aspect. I've exhibited it this way, but was really disappointed with how it looks. The colors are muddy, the linseed mix is uneven ... it's just not "there".

I'm definitely going to repaint it. Ideally, I'd chop it up into three separate pieces as well, but I'm not sure how well they'd survive coming off the stretcher and being re-stretched. It may be a total rebuild around the casts. At 4 x 9 ft., it's really unwieldy and people generally had a confused response to the same person appearing on the canvas three times.

I just can't do anything with this image. I don't want to show it, I can't get myself to make products from the image - posters, mugs, cards, etc. It's just not formed. It's probably better to risk losing it than let it continue in this malformed state.

On a side note, I saw a wonderful program on yoga yesterday. It reminded me so much of the roots of my work, that I'm thinking of looking into learning the proper practice of it. I've had Buddhist and Hindu leanings my whole life. It's time to look into the paths laid by other and see what's there.

Main Gallery Site