Monsters In My Closet!

A lot has happened since the last time I sat down to blog! I have moved back to my hometown of Asheville, NC, found a house with my fiancée, and gotten into two galleries downtown (and that’s just the very shortest version!).

I figured it was far past time that I start putting up some fresh posts, as I have been selling art with this web address on it since July. Oh ADD, is there any foolish thing that you won’t help me to do at an agonizingly slow pace?

I am excited to announce that I have put up a show of Halloween/monster/eerie themed art up at Woolworth Walk, showing from now until the end of the month. The show is called “Monsters In My Closet”.

monsters-flyer-2015web

Here is the artist’s statement for the show:

 

I am and artist and illustrator who has recently moved back to my hometown of Asheville after living in New Orleans, California’s Bay Area, and Atlanta. 

Ever since I was a child, I have been interested in the eerie and the bizarre. I used to get nightmares after repeatedly watching classic horror movies on Shock Theater on Saturday afternoons, despite being forbidden to do so (because my parents knew just where those nightmares were coming from). I loved reading ghost stories, and visiting places like the old Witchcraft Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I also loved spooky comic books, and was particularly impressed by Ed Roth’s monsters in hot rods, although I didn’t know who did them until much later.

All of those influences collide in Monsters In My Closet, my Halloween art show. The title refers both to the legendary monsters in every kid’s closet, as well as the fact that these pieces rarely see the light of day.

 

Here are some pictures of the exhibition:

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Here are a few sample pieces:


patient_zero2_web_copyright

Don't Let Your Tongue Get Away From You web copyright

six pack with tentacles copyright

Come check it out! Woolworth Walk has the larger show, but there are also some pieces at Zapow! Gallery.

Introducing…Kaleidomorphs

I have been interested in fractals and fractal geometry for some time now. A very simple explanation of fractal geometry is that it is the mathematics that explains how the shapes we see in nature – mountains, trees, rivers, animals – get their shape. A less simple explanation is that it is the geometry of regular, but non-repeating, patterns. This is why all oak trees look very similar, but no two are exactly alike…they are expressing a regular, but non-repeating pattern, that can be explained by the concept of fractal geometry.

Now before you run away in terror that I’m about to start going all “math” on you, and I’m gonna start spouting highly technical gibberish, relax. I don’t know anything more about the math of it than you do (unless you know about the math of it, in which case you are miles ahead of me).

The general concepts of fractal geometry are what excite me, and what I use as the inspiration for my “fractal art”. One basic concept is that complex systems (like an oak tree) can arise from a very simple type of formula, repeated A LOT of times (known as “iteration”). You take the answer that you get from the formula, plug it back in, and run it again, over and over and over. Eventually, voila… you got you an oak tree! [WARNING: VAST OVERSIMPLIFICATION].

OK, I can see that I am losing your interest already…let me get to the art part. I have been experimenting with building biologically-inspired forms, what I call “biomorphs”, constructed of shapes which I vary slightly in contour and scale, and combine into larger shapes. From simplicity, through iteration, to complexity.

I got the idea to start getting more complexity by layering these shapes in an image editing program (such as Photoshop), then changing how the layers reacted to one another…different settings such as Overlay, Subtract, Exclusion, etc. all make the layers do different things based on the layers beneath them. When you stack up several layers of different shapes, with different settings, you can get some very interesting results.

What I did for my second Kaleidomorph (kaleidoscope+biomorph) was to start with a simple shape. Here it is, repeated twice, in a very early stage of the process:

Kaleidomorph_2web

I then started to build up more complex shapes from this basic shape. I did this on a total of thirteen layers in my piece titled “Kaleidomorph 2” (there was a crude earlier experiment from some time back which I decided was the first Kaleidomorph). As I mentioned before, I put different settings on the layers to make them react differently in response to the other layers.

OK, this is where it gets really good. By trying out different combinations of the layers (iterating again!), I was able to generate several images from this one piece:

Kaleidomorph_2-1-7-11-13web

Kaleidomorph_2-1-9-12web

Kaleidomorph_2-1-8-12web

Kaleidomorph_2-1-10-11-12web

Kaleidomorph_2-1-7-10-12web

Kaleidomorph_2-4-6-7-11-13web

Kaleidomorph_2-1-11-12web

Yes, that’s right folks… all these images came from that one simple shape – copied, flipped, rotated, and scaled, then stacked into interacting layers. The different images are just different combinations of those layers. As I stated earlier, I am not particularly gifted in mathematics or science. I do know that with 13 layers, each of which can be on or off, and the ability to combine as few as two or as many as thirteen of them, that the total number of possible images is…ummm, let’s see…approximately a Metric F*ck Ton! (if you are reading this, and are good at math, I would love to know a more accurate number!) I don’t even know if it would be feasible to see every particular combo…certainly not by manually trying out different combinations like I did here.

I am very excited about this new development in my fractal art! I am looking forward to taking this even further. I would love to be able to get a program where I could have these layers rotating, and randomly switching on and off, to produce an ever-changing piece of dynamic art. Unless that program already exists, though, I am not likely to come up with it on my own. 😦

What do you think of these pieces? Do you consider it “cheating” to get this many images from one artwork?

New Year, New Resolutions

Cloud, 2013. digital painting, Artrage for iPad
Cloud, 2013. digital painting, Artrage for iPad

A casual overview of this blog will reveal that I started out with insanely ambitious goals (30 Robots In 30 Days!), and spectacularly crashed and burned in short order. For those of you who live with ADD, or know someone who does, this scenario probably sounds familiar. The long wait for the next post doubtless comes as no surprise to the initiated, either.
But, it’s a new year now – time to start fresh, to set new goals, to embark on yet another brave and foolish quest for World Domination!
I mentioned resolutions in the title of this post, but I don’t do resolutions anymore. My ADD guaranteed a reliably depressing outcome for any past attempts, and I don’t see any point in a ritual that inevitably leads to despairing over one’s failures and shortcomings.
My New Age-y, pagan-ish sister does “intentions” for the new year rather than resolutions. I like the sound of that a lot better… it doesn’t come across as so Legally Binding. I find it a lot more pleasant to focus on my intentions, rather than trying to live up to my resolutions. Sure, it’s all just semantics, but it seems like less of a chore.
So here, forthwith, are my intentions for the new year:
-Do More Art
Rather than waiting for the Muse to visit, I want to schedule time every week to get into the studio and work. Perhaps I will be able to focus my approach even further, but I want to achieve at least this practice.
-Get It Out There
I am currently working on getting some of my work posted to my Facebook artist page, Davenik Art, in preparation for applying to some local venues to show and sell my art. I also want to look into trying a few art fairs and festivals.
-Talk About It
I want to get back to using this blog as a platform to talk about my art, and my adventures as a struggling artist. Since it’s also a blog about living with ADD, expect plenty of interesting tangents and wanderings off the path!
Well, I guess that’s a good enough start. I hope to see you again soon! Feel free to share your ambitions for the new year in the comments section…

Robot Of The Day

imageThis is a work in progress. It’s a box design for a wind up robot being designed by robot wizard John Riggs for the folks over at the Alphadrome. I’m trying to make it look like a vintage robot box.

artwork done in Procreate, text in iDraw.

 

Robot A Day April 11

Today was the first day of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park. My partner Babs and I went to check it out after I finished working, as it’s conveniently right down the street from where we live. We had a great time, met some cool folks, and had some excellent conversations about art (with several people), quantum physics and fractals (with potter Don McWhorter), and the ins and outs of working the festival scene (with pastel artist Jack Brumbaugh). Then Babs and I went to happy hour, which became happy evening, and consequently I failed to produce a robot for the day. 😦

Instead, let’s take a look at some art from the cool folks I met, and then I’ll show you a robot from the vaults.

Don McWhorter is a ceramist from Carrolton, GA, who is currently making some amazing pieces featuring imagery of leaves and vines, which he creates by both freehand drawing, and enhancing images he makes by pressing actual leaves into the clay with additional drawing.

DonMcwhorterPot1I am sorry that I do not know who to credit for this fantastic photo…it came from the Central Pennsylvania Festival For The Arts website. You can contact Don at potterysong@yahoo.com.

Jack Brumbaugh does pastel drawings on canvas, featuring images of ripples and reflections on water. The images are poetic and meditative, and I love his color palette and the visual texture of the pastel on canvas.

ariel'spoemwebYou can find Jack online at www.jackbrumbaugh.com.

Finally, my robot for today. This is a digital painting that I did back in 2011 in Corel Painter. I have always liked cubism, and like to play around with the style from time to time. This piece would most closely align with synthetic cubism, a later period of the style.

cubist-robot-1b-18x24webGet down to the Dogwood Festival if you can! It’s continuing today and tomorrow. www.dogwood.org

 

Robot A Day April 10

One of my favorite places to spend time on the interwebs is the Alphadrome (www.danefield.com), a forum for toy robot, raygun, and space toy collectors and enthusiasts, with a focus on vintage robots and space toys. If you ever have a question regarding these toys, this is a great place to go with it…they have an extensive database, and probably the greatest brain trust of information regarding these toys anywhere! The members have always been very generous in helping folks with their questions.

Once a year, the members get together for a gathering…BOTSTOCK! It’s a weekend of hanging out, catching up, and swapping and selling. This year will be the eleventh Botstock.

Today’s robot art is my poster design for this year’s gathering. Whereas in the past, the competition was pretty fierce, for some reason this year there were only two official entries…puzzling. They may end up just using both, rather than crushing the hopes and dreams of one artist. That’s fine by me, as I like the other guy, and no prizes are at stake this year (aha, maybe that explains the dearth of entries!). As this is a poster for an event that everyone attending already knows all the details about, I was able to keep the information on the poster to a minimum, and focus on the visuals. I executed the design using Photoshop and Inkscape. Inkscape is a free, open-source vector art program… If you can’t afford Adobe Illustrator, it’s a great alternative.

As the name “Botstock” is a play on the Woodstock festival, I decided to go with a psychedelic theme for my poster. I really love doing psychedelic lettering, despite the fact that it can be ENORMOUSLY time consuming. I think the face-melting results are worth the effort…how about you?

Botstock11DaveFullHere’s a detail shot:

Botstock11DaveDetail2

 

Robot A Day April 9

Well, in my typical A.D.D. way, I’ve managed to fall behind on my blog! I’ve been making robots, but fell behind on posting them.

For April 9th’s robot, I present my latest Folkbot. He doesn’t have a name yet. This guy is actually the closest to the original conception I had for the Folkbot idea, in that the pieces I used to assemble him are more worn and weathered, rather than that look just being simulated. I really like the look of the weathered parts…what do you think?FolkbotBlogApril9

Robot A Day April 8

Today I’m continuing my project of photographing my collection of chrome robots under colored lights. This is the limited edition chrome R-1 Robot released by Rocket USA – presumably in 2000, judging by the date on his chest. The “RUR” on the robot’s chest is a reference to the play “R.U.R.” by Czech playwright Karel Capek, in which he coined the word “robota”(based on a slavic word meaning “hard labor” or “slavery”) for the artificially created humanoids in his story; this was the root for the English word “robot”.

I again layered two different photos to produce this image, but this time combined it with a little bit of creative masking. Masking is a method of completely or partially concealing parts of a layer in Photoshop. Here are the two original images:

Purple_RUR_web RedGreen_RUR_web

I put the purple robot photo on top of the red-green image. I then used a mask to remove parts of the purple robot; the mask included a gradient blend, which is why you get all that cool color mixing. The mask makes the purple image completely transparent in a circle that is centered over the robot’s face; then the circle lets more and more of the image show as it expands outward. By the time you get to the bottom part of the robot, you are seeing all of the purple image, and none of the one underneath.

I also used the airbrush tool on the mask in order to reveal some details of the robot’s rivets and grills from the second picture, to heighten the illusion that the robot was being bathed in golden light from above. Here is the final result:

Chrome_High_Wheel_Psychedelic_3b_web

I did the photography for this project with an amazingly simple and cheap setup: A small softbox cube that I paid about 25 USD for on eBay; two gooseneck desk lamps from Ikea; some color-changing LED bulbs that I scored on eBay for around 13 USD each; and a Canon Powershot SX50HS, a great point-and-shoot camera that’s simple enough for a beginner, but has enough features to serve as a take-along camera for a more experienced photographer. You can get one at the time of this posting for about $350 USD, maybe even cheaper if you’re lucky. The results wouldn’t fool a real professional with their quality, but you can blow most anyone else away!

I would like to thank my new friend Steve Day for gifting me with this lovely robot, and also give a shout out to his business, The Little Robot Shop, based in the UK (but poised for world dominance!). They make fabulous greeting cards, wrapping paper, posters, etc. featuring cool vintage robots, and will be offering a few of my designs soon. Check em out! https://www.facebook.com/littlerobotshop