Notes from the Studio

Category: Studio Notes

Long live the Queen

Welcome back! In our last exciting installment the Titania figure had fallen over and two months worth of work was gone with the wind. The next day the sculpture team started pulling the clay off and stripping the figure down to her not as substantial as we had hoped metal armature. Under all the damaged clay and wire we discovered that the central 2 inch steel supporting pipe had broken under the weight of the clay. This time around we welded additional steel support bars onto that pipe as well as the much more solidly constructed metal framework. This was again covered in layers of rolled newspaper then shrink wrap and wax to prep it for the re-application of all that clay. This time our metal skeleton held up and after another two months of patient manipulation of clay Titania began to take shape. Again! She’s looks sort of like an Alien Queen here, doesn’t she? The only piece we had managed to save from her previous incarnation was Titania’s face which I reapplied to the figure. Now all she needs is a bit of hair to cover her brow… Lordy, is that leg wrong! David Spence, my co-sculptor worked

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Midsummer sculpture in progress

Okay, we’re only a few months away from the official unveiling of the sculptural fountain based on ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ that I designed quite some time ago and have been talking about on this blog ever since. The concept started as a drawing that my co-sculptor, David Spence and I worked out over several weeks time. Here is both a front view: And the back: These drawings were followed by a small 3D sketch, called a maquette in sculptural terms and executed in sculpy: These were submitted for approval to both the institution that commissioned the piece, The Barter Theater Foundation and the Architectural Review Board of the town of Abingdon VA where it will be built. About two years ago we began the long process that leads to a finished bronze. David decided rather than cut granite being used for the various boulders around the structure that we would use real boulders and make casts of those, to later be poured in bronze. A great idea that later became both a blessing and a curse. Here’s assistant Bill Thompson with the chosen boulders. He and David then covered these stones with rubber molds from which, at a later

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Watercolor art

In the comments section of the post below I was asked if I’d ever tried watercolor as a medium. As I explained, I had, but only once. Here is that piece: ‘A Gift from the Spring’ was as it says a birthday gift to my friend, the writer, Delia Sherman. As it happens she just wrote about the piece on her live journal: The painting and the short story written for it are a part of a series  of art and story collaborations by some of my favorite authors that have and will be running, as each short story is completed, in Realms of Fantasy magazine over the next year or so. The  authors so far include Charles de Lint  (June 2007), Holly Black (October 2007), Delia Sherman (the current issue , April 2008), Elizabeth Hand, Jeffrey Ford and Neil Gaiman. Enjoy, Charles

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True Thomas

I thought that you might get a kick out of seeing this piece. ‘True Thomas’ was a private commission from a ballad enthusiast who’s had very few stipulations except that I select my image from out of one of those same ballads. I choose a favorite scene out of a favorite Scottish border ballad, ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ wherein our hero first meets The Queen of Fair Elfand . She will then take him across the river of all the blood shed on earth into her fae kingdom and there Thomas will live for seven years. When he, at last, returns to this earth The Queen will have gifted him with a tongue that can only speak the truth, for good or ill.  With Robin Williamson’s lovely version of the ballad playing on my CD I happily sat down at the drawing board and this image just flowed off my fingertips. Not something that happens very often but you wont catch me ever objecting when it does. A gift from The Kindly Ones as it were. Here’s my initial pencil drawing: And then my inks. Here I tried out a dry brush technique using a hand made mixture of brown and

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Peter Pan at the Barter

I’ve had my head buried in two very different projects for the last several months. The first, which I’ll be blogging about a bit later is the design, sculpting and installation of a massive sculptural fountain based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The second is the design of various set pieces for a theatrical production of Peter Pan at the Barter Theater in Abingdon VA. Years ago I worked with the same theater on designs for the same play that, unfortunately, I never felt were entirely successful, so this time around the director and I came up with a very different approach. In this production most of the scenery in Neverland are large, flat reproductions of my paintings, each layered, one over the other, to create a sort of multi-plane depth of field. The play opens next Tuesday (Feb. 5) and will run intermittently over the next three months. Come on down and have a seat, then tell me what you think, okay?   These next two images are for painted backdrops (18 x 30 ft) that will start to reveal the technicolor wonders of Neverland. These two were made into separate hard drops (18 ft high), that will

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