Monday, December 5, 2011


Last month I joined the website, in an effort to connect with both photographers and models with the goal of eventually taking my own photographs to serve as the basis of my work.

A side benefit of joining the site was the direct contact with photographs that are properly credited.  This makes it much easier to ask for permission to create my own work.

The image to the right is based on a photograph taken by Walter Kurtz, of the model Nick Gogel.

The original photo is rather large, so I placed the vertical line of Nick's body at the classic 1/3 position.

The lightest shade of this cutting is slightly lighter in shade than my previous blue cuttings.  I did this to emphasize the brightness of the light coming through the window.

The image below is the same piece, shown off axis.

This piece was auctioned off at Trevor NextGen's Spring Fling 2012, held to benefit The Trevor Project.

Thank you, Dan.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Students of Architecture - Test Cutting

I've always liked this image, but having completed two cuttings of it, the first in "Two Students" at 8x10 out of paper, and now this one, 16x20, out of mats, I think I may hold off creating it full size, at 30x40.

It is to date the most complex cutting I've done, and I 
think it's the one that has the greatest artistic meaning.

To the right is an off-axis shot of the same piece illustrating how it is constructed out of mats laid one atop another.

To the left is a photo of the completed second layer in front of a window.

To the right is a shot of the top five layers, stacked loosely atop each other.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

King of Pain

 When I started doing the cuttings, bodies were the focus of the work because of the natural shadows and highlights that the gradient layers almost delighted in showing off.  The earliest cuttings are models against stark black backgrounds.  As the pieces got more detailed, the "noise" of the background began to interest me more and more.  This is my first exercise in representing something borderline non-objective.

The little black spot on the "sun" in the image above is actually a hole, cut in the deepest (and lightest) layer.  This is the first time I've made any cut in the bottom layer.  It felt more appropriate than creating a true black spot which would have resulted in a "tower" of cut pieces building up to the black layer on top.

The original image was licensed from a stock photography website.

Sample Cutting - Doug w/ Earphones

Having done the cutting of Troy's face a couple times I became interested in some of my other friends' faces, especially as they appear in self portraits.

Doug's face was a particular challenge.  He has a thick but closely cropped beard, and faint but visible vitiligo lines around his eyes that fascinated me.  I was curious to see how both would appear in a cutting. 

The result is to the right, and a shot of it off-axis is below.  This piece is sample sized, so it only measures 8"x10".  I think the detail around his mouth and nose is some of my best work.

Sample Cutting - Troy Redone

One of the earliest cuttings I did, I think it was the fourth, was a self-portrait of my buddy Troy.   I was particularly fascinated with the position of his deltoid, bicep, and pectoral muscles , and the mild shadows between them.  It was the first done in blue and I still hadn't worked out the shading gradients or the correct framing, so the highlight on his cheekbones and face is a little too harsh, and the 10x14 image is lost in its 16x20 frame.

I wanted to see how he would look if I corrected these mistakes and went with the brown sepia shades, but in order to make it more mysterious, added an extra dark layer and removed a lighter one. I think the result is successful.

Logo Design - New Company

A former boss of mine hired me to create a new logo and look for a new company that he had created.

He requested the blue and green colors because he felt they'd be bold and noticeably different from his last company, even though the name and font remained the same.

One of my favorite things about creating logos is that its evolution from initial concept to final result is usually explicitly clear in a way that isn't always visible in my other work where ideas often emerge almost fully formed.  

Included below are the various stages for the development of this design.

Initially I started with the outline of an "M" and a rotated "G". I felt the outline would serve to look like the walls of a floor plan, which I thought would be appropriate given that it was for a construction company.  The outline didn't look meaty enough to me so I filled in the block letters and made the "walls" white giving me the logo on the far right.

At the suggestion of the client, the blue and green became navy and lime to increase their contrast and boldness.  In addition, tabs were added to the M, and the M's legs extended to make it look more like a grouping of buildings.

I didn't feel this was working but still liked the graphic of the two blocky letters, so decided to go for something a little more three dimensional.  By stretching and rotating the G, the image gained depth.  The composition took on the appearance of a drill or a pencil, both of which seemed appropriate.  The center element of the M underwent  several changes. in order to marry it successfully against the rotated G.

In the final stage I shortened the central element of the M and reversed the cants on it.  The client suggested adding the cants on the top to achieve the final look.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Morning - Sample Cutting

This is a sample cutting, measuring 8x10" using the same color gradations as Skyline Yellow.  The black border of most previous cuttings works well to make the colors appear more vibrant, but in this case I eliminated it because I think the subject matter demanded a more ethereal effect.
To the right is the off-axis illustrating the individual layers.  The original photograph is from a stock photography website.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Buttermilk In May

In order to overcome the inherent complexity of the original image, I had to do this cutting with a higher level of abstraction than I would have liked.  I think the piece is successful but I'm not sure it's something I want to repeat. 
To the left is the off-axis, illustrating the thickness of the six individual layers.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glass & Concrete Candle - Small

The Glass & Concrete Candle seemed like a good choice for an existing design that I could simplify for sale on Etsy. (It can be purchased here.) I'd noticed that although the height of the candle looked cool, that the capillary action that fuels the flame wouldn't work once the oil level was more than a few inches below it, so I bought some glass vases that were shallow.
The image to the right is of the nearly completed foam object, ready to have its mold taken.  I usually build a foam mold of what I want to cast.  Because of its complexity, this time I did the reverse, creating the positive object first.

This is the completed object in a box ready to be filled halfway with molding rubber as shown in the picture below.

After the rubber material has cured, the two pieces to either side of the model are removed. They serve to create holes in the first half of the mold that the second half will "key" into to insure proper alignment during future castings.

The two part block mold had a couple of air bubbles in it that needed to be filled in. The foam pieces inserted into the mold allowed me to fill in those bubbles.

This is the finished cast, made from quick-setting concrete. I did this one just as a quick test to see how it would form against the mold and if air bubbles would be an issue. The wick hole has yet to be drilled in the cast.
Here are some additional shots of the finished piece.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You Can Hold On - Test Proof

This piece, based on a picture taken by the Russian photographer Evgeny Brook, used with his permission, was fun to create because unlike the earlier cuttings of full bodied men and women, up close the subject of this cutting becomes completely un-identifiable.

This piece was donated to a silent auction held to benefit The Trevor Project.  Bidder #161, thank you.

To the right is the off-axis shot illustrating the thickness of the layers..

Below is a close up straight-on view.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Two Students - Sample Paper Cutting

This photograph was taken by me on a cross-country road trip in 1995.

There was much debate over whether too much of the art of this photograph was being borrowed from the subject of it.

In the end I think that the original photograph conveys exactly what I want it to.

This piece is a sample, measuring only 8"x10".  Although it matches the colors of all of my previous blue cuttings, it differs in one crucial aspect - the layers are made of single sheets of paper, not mat boards.  This was done as a test of the single-sheet technique, and also because the image is substantially complex enough to be nearly impossible to cut of the thicker mats.

I do plan to execute the image at 30"x40".

Below is the off-axis photo, showing how the layers of individual color are much thinner.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Concrete Coasters

At the suggestion of friends I decided to set up an Etsy Store, Concrete Thinking, where I would offer for sale some of my concrete casts.

Since the vast majority of my casts are created using one-off paper molds I set about designing a few things suitable for use with rubber casting material from Polytek that I've used previously.

Coasters seemed straightforward enough.

They're 4" square and .75" thick, thicker than ordinary coasters, but I wanted to be sure they wouldn't crack too easily, and I generally like concrete when it gives the appearance of heaviness.

The image to the right is a shot of the first six coasters to come out of the mold.

The positive and negative casts shown are made of Polytek 7420.

An imperfection showed up along the top edges of the mold very early on and were subsequently cast into each of the coasters.  I'll correct this in subsequent molds.

The picture above is a wrapped up set of four of these coasters given as a gift.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blue Stained Glass Panels

A number of years ago I took a class in the art of making stained glass panels that resulted in the Window piece.  These pieces are the first ones I've produced since that class.

I liked the organic lines of the candle boxes and decided to use them here.  I chose four different shades of blue glass (possibly with the cuttings in mind) and cut each of the pieces into identical designs.  I then re-arranged the smaller pieces into the four designs and leaded them together.

I originally thought I could cast them into the four sides of a concrete candlebox, but since firelight penetrates blue glass so poorly, I might just keep them as window decoration.  Below are close-ups of each piece.

Don't Lose Focus - Practice Cutting

Although the model has a beautifully developed body, I think his body pose is less than ideal, and his eyes, arguably the most emotive element of a face are cropped out.

What truly drew me to this shot was the background.  The model is running through a forest with dappled sunlight striking foliage behind him.  His back and shoulders are backlit.  The foliage in the original image is out of focus, and I wondered how I would go about using the cutting technique which has very discrete sharp lines defining the edges of color to create an image that was out of focus, which by its very nature has no such lines.

I think the result is successful.  This makes me want to work with other intentionally out-of-focus phtographs.  Below is the off-axis shot illustrating the complexity of the out-of-focus areas.

It should be noted that the piece is 16x20 and consists of seven layers.  The lightest of these is a little too light.  The highlight on his chest, distracts a little bit from the bright explosion of shades behind him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Daibes Sunset - Test Cutting

This is the small scale test (16x20) for the same image as "skyline yellow" in more realistic colors.  The yellow shades of the previous piece were very close together tonally.  I think the more diverse spread of shades adds depth to the image.  Below is the off-axis shot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Skyline Yellow Test Cutting

I wanted to expand the detail of the previous work so I recut the same image in the same colors at a larger scale, in this case, 16x20.  Below is the off-axis shot, illustrating the individual layers.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Skyline Yellow - Sample

Although this piece has a full compliment of seven layers, the tonal gradient across them (except for the black) is mild.  I think this piece is all about color selection.
It measures 8x10 so the relative depth of the layers is high, creating the shadows in the photograph above that I would normally try and minimize.  But here I feel they contribute to the finished product.  It might be worth exploring manipulating these shadows going forward.