Doing a quick bit of colouring in practice again today. The image started as a pen drawing, I added flat base colour, before texturing then lighting it digitally.
Starting to think about Halloween again (my busiest and favourite time of the year), and taking the opportunity to dig into some Gothic imagery for these lantern designs.
Here are some photos of a snail lantern I was working on last week for Caroline Bowditch.
You can see the stages of the making process below -
1. Rough life-size drawing to work from, with a plan for the withie structure
2. Top down view of sphere constructed from individual withie circles of matching sizes, with a spiral twisting across the shape
3. Side view showing extra section added at the right to complete the shell shape
4. Adding structural withies to fill our the form
5. Maping out the silhouette of the snail body with single withies
6. Adding structural withies to strengthen the body, and eye stalks to the snail
7. Plastic wrapping the finished withie structure and adding a cable tie to hang it from
8. Papering the lantern with white wet-strength tissue paper and pva/water mix
9. Another view of the papered lantern
10. Cutting and glueing coloured tissue paper to fit the segments of the shell
11. Fitting the lights inside the lantern
12. The completed lantern
What a treat last weekend was!
Werewomen and Dance Wi' The Deil were programmed by Surge as part of Merchant City Festival.
The performers in both pieces played beautifully with the festival audiences, bringing riotous laughter and tender interactions to the busy Glasgow streets. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing the things I've designed being used so effectively for the entertainment of so many people.
At the same time as making the larger horned headpiece for Dance Wi' The Deil we also decided to add a new suitcase to the performance. While it is used openly to store the performer's coat, it also has a secret compartment which is full of stolen hearts. The suitcase itself we found online, and you can see the stages of the build below -
1. I constructed shelves inside the suitcase using balsa wood, as I wanted to add as little weight as possible. They needed to look expensive and old, so I knew I would be painting a wood effect on them
2. The hearts were carved from blocks of soft foam, string hot-glued for veins, then skinned using a mix of silicone and oil paint (a very effective technique which I keep coming back to). In this photo they have had one opaque pink coat and some transparent red applied in patches. I also rounded off the corners of the shelves to match better with the shape of the suitcase
3. I drilled and glued 5mm dowel rods into the shelves to support the hearts, cut two smaller shelves for the bottom section, then primed them all using gesso. In this photo the hearts have had a few more transparent coats of silicon and oil paint first to build up their colours, then to add smaller details
4. In this photo the shelves have been painted with one flat coat of yellow ochre, and grey on the dowel, then a wet glaze with a darker brown in loose stripes. I also added small sections of beading where the shelves meet to smarten it up a bit and reference old furniture pieces
5. The hearts were hot glued to the dowel rods, and I worked into the wood effect with a yellow colour and a lighter neutral brown
6. I painted over all the wood effect with a dark brown wash which I rubbed back slightly using a rag, this stage really helped it look more convincingly like wood, then I varnished it with household wood varnish
7. I fitted a piece of red velvet as lining behind the shelves and hot-glued the shelves in place
8. Here's a more detailed shot of one of the hearts, the wood effect and the red velvet
Just finished working on these large musical horns. It's been a great, fun job and I had the chance to try out some new making techniques, which was really exciting. Last October I made a smaller set of horns for the walkabout performance by Diane Thornton called Dance Wi' The Deil. This year, with performances at larger festivals on the cards, we decided to upscale the speakers and horns to increase impact. The Minirig speakers we're using now are very loud, and work in stereo using bluetooth from a mobile phone. Although they are small for such powerful speakers, they are fairly bulky objects to wear on your head, so I knew the rest of the headpiece had to be well secured, and as lightweight as possible.
The horns themselves are made from sheets of 3mm P120 Plastazote foam. It's very lightweight, and can be stretched or heat formed into interesting shapes. Below you can see the stages of making the horns -
1. Four strips which work like the segments of a beach ball make the horn shape
2. Contact adhesive to join the strips, which are begining to take the form in this photo
3. The last stages of joining the foam with the contact adhesive are very fiddly, but it's super satisfying seeing the hollow horn take shape
4. Marking out holes for the sound to escape and drawing where I would like ridges to go
5. Cutting out the holes, and hot glueing string along the lines of the ridges
6. Covering the string ridges (and any other imperfections) with caulk, then smoothing out with water
I then painted the horns with eight layers of watered down PVA glue, which took ages, but the final surface was lovely and smooth. Following that, the stages of painting were -
7. Priming with gesso
8. A coat of black acrylic
9. A transparent glaze of dark blue over the black to make the dark tones a little richer
10. Dry brushed layer of bright blue to give the colour body, leaving a shadow area above the ridges
11. Dry brush layer of light purple to brighten it up, leaving both the blue and shadow visible towards the ridges
12. Dry brush highlight in pink around the front edge of the ridges to draw attention to them
The horns themselves were then incorporated into the headpiece -
13. A welder's visor provided the plastic frame for the headpiece
14. Two tubs of car wax turned out to be exactly the right size for the speakers to fit inside
15. The Minirig speakers fitted snugly inside the tubs
16. The horns then slot over the speakers and tubs
17. I used more of the P120 foam to make a central piece which covers the plastic frame and forms the base of the horns. I then caulked the joins of this central piece and also coated it with eight layers of PVA
18. The central piece was painted, following the same steps as the horns, before the headpiece was varnished with several coats of Rust-oleum Crystal Clear matt spray varnish
Getting ready for another Call of Nature performance, which reminded me that I had meant to post some more recent photos of the show. This one was from a wonderful sunny weekend up at the lovely Woodend Barn in Aberdeenshire.
I am a Glasgow based visual artist and maker.