Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vancouver Flea Market

Today...and yesterday, I was trying to get back in the groove of things.  The holidays make it difficult to get into the studio, but one way to jump start sluggish artistic motivation, is a bit of junking.  So off to the Vancouver Flea Market I went.
My first stop is always the same...I head to Perry's booth.  He's located on the North Eastern wall of the building.  Opposite of the entry.  He's got lots of goodies...  

Not to mention creepy dolls galore...

This time he just got in some nifty typeset...the cool thing is that they are not letters, but designs...

 As for me I was in a Pez hunting mood (getting ready for my Pez Dispensing Totem Class) so I wandered a few doors down to Todd, who specializes in vintage toys.  I have to admit I was a bit nostalgic with his collection of GI Joe toys...
He even had the deep sea diving Joe...I loved that toy as a kid...if I recall, originally it came with an octopus.  I grabbed a bunch of Pez, including a Joker Pez...

which will probably not be altered...he looks perfect as he is.  

Probably one of the coolest finds was also something I won't use in art.  It was a collection of Monster Paddleball toys.  
 They did give me an idea.  Perhaps I could series of altered paddle balls...big dolly or cyclopian faces on the back....could be fun.

So now I'm ready for some serious art making...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Holiday Lizard Texture Recipe...Yum!

Hope you had a great holiday!

So as a little post Xmas treat I thought I'd share a  recipe. It's using Kroma Crackle and I've been showing it to folks in classes for the last few years. My use of it is a bit different from it's recommended use in that it's a bit more immediate. I hate to this is what I came up with...a little bit different from what you achieve using Kroma's instructions but still pretty cool. (if you want to know the recommended use go here:
Me and Kevin hangin' at Kroma.

I should also mention that Kroma is considerable easier to get these days since Dick Blick started carrying them. So if you can't find it at your local art store try here:

Anyway here's a little article I did for Kevin and the gang at Kroma:

deMeng's deMented Derma
Looking for a nice lizardesqe skin? Who isn’t? If you’re like me you might find yourself in a situation where you need a nice cold-blooded-critter skin as a surface. Look no further I have just the thing for you, using Kroma Crackle.

I followed all Kroma’s instructions and got some really amazing effects. The only problem was that I wanted to teach with it and it took a couple of days to get the effect. I knew this would be a problem for classes that were only one day long. Was there a way to may this process speed up? It was time to get out the mad scientist gear and experiment.

Experiment after experiment failed. I was pretty certain that I would not be able to get the instantaneous effect I sought…I was pretty certain…until….

I was working on a little shrine and set it on a gunked-up work surface to dry some acrylic paint with a heat gun. As I dried it I noticed that the surface below had a bit of wet Crackle medium on it. Then I was amazed. Before my very eyes the Crackle started to crack with the heat gun. This had never happened before, so the question was: What made the Crackle crack with a heat gun on this particular day, while every other instance failed in my tests? What in the world was different?

It seemed pretty obvious to me that the only thing it could be was something with the surface the Crackle was on.

I don’t have a CSI lab in my studio so I couldn’t test the molecular components of the work surface, but fortunately I remembered that a day earlier I spilt some Elmer’s Glue on this surface, which mixed with wet acrylic paint and then dried. This had to be what did it. I knew that there were some very, very simplistic crackle effects created by using white glue and acrylic, so my hypothesis was that this somehow expedited the Crackle medium.

Now I needed to reproduce the effect. I covered a surface with Elmer’s Glue then while it was still wet I added a tiny bit of acrylic paint (just enough to tint it). I then dried it with a head gun. Next I slathered a nice coating of Kroma Crackle on…not with a brush, but with fingers. Okay…now was the moment of truth. I took out the heat gun and sheepishly started to dry. At first, nothing. My heart sank. But then I noticed the Crackle turning bright white, and then: Eureka! Big crocodilian cracks! Not quite as delicate as the original Kroma recipe and much more complex as the Elmer’s/acrylic combo. A very unique reptilian texture…best yet it could be done in five minutes.

You’ll need something you want to be lizard like (canvas, book, doll, etc., Elmer’s White Glue, acrylic paint, and Kroma Crackle Medium.

1. With a brush cover the desired surface with glue. Don’t be stingy.

2. While the glue is still wet add a bit of acrylic paint to the glue. This will be the color between the cracks.

3. Dry with a heat gun, but don’t let bubble up. Oscillate.

4. Apply a liberal dose of Kroma Crackle. Don’t use a brush…I use my fingers. You want it about 2mm thick (like icing on a pop tart.)

5. Dry with a heat gun. Don’t be afraid to heat this layer. Cook until it turns white and crackled.

6. Apply a layer of 50% Acrylic Fluid Medium 50% Water and dry

7. Apply washes of color to tint

8. Viola! Snakes alive!


1. You can tint the Crackle but don’t add more than 5% pigment to the Crackle otherwise it won’t do its lizardy effects.

2. If you don’t get the desired cracks, you MUST start from the beginning. Don’t just add more Crackle. So remember, glue, paint, and then Crackle Medium.

3. After you get the effect you can enhance it by dry brushing over it and adding washes of color.

So, you wanna iguana? Get to it!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Bond, James Bond

I am a James Bond freak…ever since I remember I've been watching Bond movies.  My very first memory of seeing a Bond movie on the big screen was a double feature Thunderball and You Only Live Twice.  Since then I was hooked.   In fact I used to have an annual James Bond Marathon in my high school years.
Started on Friday night and went to Sunday.  Had a bunch of friends over and we watched every single Bond movie in order of appearances.  Back then, of course, we only had to make it through 13 to 14 (depending if you count the original Casino Royale with David Niven and Peter Sellers).

Like Bond, James Bond, I do have very definitive tastes.  Here are my favs:

The Best Bond:  
Sean Connery hands down…gritty yet charming under fire.  Not afraid to get mussed up and still can look good in a tux.
   Roger Moore seemed like he was nervous about getting his shirt wrinkled. Pierce Brosnan I had the same issue with.  
As for Timothy Dalton…a bit low on charm and high on cynicism.   
I do love the  reboot with Daniel Craig…not quite smooth…less of a vodka martini and more of a single barrel bourbon…yet but an excellent reinterpretation.  

Best Bond Movie:  
For me nothing beats Goldfinger.  
A great story, a henchman with a hat that decapitates, a cool car, but most of all it has a nice pace and really sets the tone what a Bond movie should be.

  Best Bond Henchman:  
My favorite henchman…Baron Samedi…from Live and Let Die.  The voodoo dude with skeletal make-up (go figure he would be my choice).  You may remember the actor Geoffrey Holder from the 7up comercials… "Never had it, never will" 

Best Major Villain: 
It could be because of my affinity for vampires, but Christopher Lee, as Scaramanga  in the Man with the Golden Gun is pretty impressive. 
Bond Meets Dracula.  Actually the reason I like this guy is because it seems like Bond is pretty evenly matched…and a duel in a fun house…loved that part.

Best Gizmo 
This goes…by far…hands down…to the Aston Martin DB5.  It's got machine guns, oil slick buttons, and an ejector seat.  Everything a secret agent needs.  By the way Skyfall has a nice homage to this vehicle.

Best Femme Fatale.  
This goes to Fiona Volpe in Thunderball…villainous yet beautiful agent of SPECTRE.
Bond:My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for King and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?
Fiona Volpe:But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, who only has to make love to a women and she stars to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, then immediately returns to the side of right and virtue. But not this one. What a blow it must have been, you having a failure.
Bond:Well, you can't win them all..
Best "Bond Girl"  
I'd have to give this to the beautiful Jane Seymore as Solitaire, the Tarot reading psychic in Live and Let Die.  
Is it a coincidence that my lovely wife Andrea also has an interest in this method of divination?  By the way…Andrea has the exact outfit…she usually wears it when we are going out for a casual dinner.

Best Bond Drink
…duh…my favorite as well.  Vodka martini….shaken not stirred.

Best Opening Music
  this is tough because I think the best guest artist Bond Song goes to Paul McCartney and Wings for Live and Let Die (certainly the most memorable of all the songs) but accompanying video is less interesting….though that could be because it's bit dated and the music video era hadn't kicked in yet.  
So for visuals it is a tie between GoldenEye with Tina Turner (very nice post Soviet imagery) and Casino Royale with Cris Cornell (a sort of a MadMen meets player card imagery)
A runner up from a not quite a true Bond category is Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass doing this jazzu little number from the comedy Bond,  Casino Royale.

After seeing SkyFall the other day, Andrea and I have been on a James Bond kick.  Our on demand cable network has a special Bond channel now.  Hard to resist.   We just watched Live and Let Die the other night, which was fun because I have been teaching workshops in New Orleans for the last few years, and I had forgotten how much of the film takes place in the Big Easy.  Nice to see some of the locations and a bit of Voodoo.   Here's the assasination scene from the film on the corner of Chartres and Dumaine.  Apparently not a good place to watch a funeral march.
Here it is then
 and here it is now

Wandering the cemeteries in NOLA  I half expected the Baron Samedi character to pop up and give what I consider to be the best laugh EVER.  

So if you're looking for something to do during the winter months…perhaps you need Bond, James Bond.

PS is you're interested in hangin' out with me in NOLA this February.  I'll be on the corner of Chartres and Dumaine watching the Dixieland Bands go by.