Art School: Semester 4, Week 10

Hello once again, dear readers, and welcome to the weekly brain dump. As always, hip waders are mandatory, so if you forgot yours please go get them before reading on. Also, just so we’re clear about expectations, it’s probably a good idea to have your own brain completely cleaned — with bleach! — after reading anything I write.

In the world this week, there was an election in the US. What it means, I still don’t know. I don’t think anyone else knows either, and it will all fall out over time.

Also this week, Tinkerbelle is still alive. (For some of you that might sound a bit like “Our top story this week, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”) She continues to improve, and accepts help down the stairs now only grudgingly. Her hips and stability seem to improve over time, and the fact that she’s still around is, frankly, not something I understand. But she’s here and enjoying herself, so I am not asking too many questions.

This is a photo heavy week, but I’ll try and squeeze in a word or two. I know you will forgive me for that.

Professional Practice

“Ticked”. Acrylic on stretched canvas. 12" W x 24" H.

I think this will go up this week in the Buffalo Lounge (don’t ask me to explain that name… I have no idea) and the show will hang for two weeks.

It seems that I am not the only one engaging in a bit of rebellion. The class decided the show was to be called “Foot Long” in response to the 12" width limitation. There were jokes about getting Subway to sponsor it.

Last week in class we watched a documentary about the art business, or perhaps the business of art. It was all about the high flyers — Koons, Hirst, and so on — and how the art market works for people in that rarefied space. I will never get there — and I really don’t want to get there — so it doesn’t matter too much to me.

I might go off and fill a couple of acres with sculptures I find interesting before I kick the bucket. Then my wife will have them all hauled off to the dump because there is nothing else to do with them. Such is life. And death.


  • Top Left: the centre cone and the reflective liner for the top cap
  • Top Right: the top cap
  • Lower Left: two exterior cones
  • Lower Right: All the cardboard bits that hold it all together and make it work

As you can tell, there are quite a few parts to this beast. And an instruction book to put it together is required.

That said, the first person to note the obvious goof in the above cut-sheets wins eternal fame, or at least a mention in next week’s post for having been more clever than anyone else. As a hint, there is a problem with one of the above four sheets of parts, and if you can figure it out I want to know you did so.

Anyway, last week in class I worked mostly on how the final display of the lamps will be setup, rather than on my personal stuff. I have cut the actual, final sheets of parts now, though. They are different from those above in a couple of ways. Firstly because they fix the error I am asking you to hunt. But they are also prettified, with nice 1" rounded corners and holes to hang them on the wall with push pins.

I’ve also spent hours preparing something that is vaguely a sheet of the sketches I made for this lamp, and some of the earlier possibilities as well. It’s nothing special — some of the other students sketch far better than I do — but it will be part of the final display too once we have the final setup for printing them with nice rounded corners as well.

I have to get going on the instructions ASAP so they are ready to sneak into the final display. The instructor doesn’t know they are coming unless he reads this, which seems unlikely.

Aboriginal Carving

But this is not another photo free section on the carving class. No! Instead I have a couple of photos of the “final” project for the class:

Here’s the first one I stopped to take, which was effectively before this past week’s class happened:

You may recall that we were told we must include our own profiles in these works. The instructor snapped a profile of me with my phone. I dumped that into Photoshop and actually drew the outline so I could see it. Then I started simplifying. First to go was the hair and beard, then the glasses. The flamingo is part of this semester’s weird theme thing for me. Last year it was all Duchamp all the time. This semester it’s flamingos. Go figure.

Remember that this piece is supposed to say something about our “culture” — very broadly defined. I figure the flamingo is about as good as it gets for me, and he (he’s named Floyd, of course) and I go back a large number of years at this point, so there you have it.

But that image isn’t done. I knew it when I got to that point. It’s not refined enough, is how I would have phrased it. When I talked to my instructor, though, he was concerned about the large amount of flat wood. Basically I’ve left far too much of the sawed “default” surface behind.

The instructor advised that I go off and do a bunch of sketches to try and find ways to fix this, if I could.

I went back to my table and started at it for a while. Then I drew a single line, and started cutting some more:

That’s much better. Not done yet, but much better. There’s still too much chin in that, and I need to work on it somehow. Still thinking on that. Oh, and the flamingo needs an eye.

But the refinements you see were many. Some were subtle, others were very obvious (like the wing on the flamingo).

I’d been thinking about painting this piece: black to the left of the profile, pink on the flamingo, blue in the eye, everything else left raw. But now I am not sure if I want to do that or not. We have a long weekend up here for Remembrance Day, and continuing to work on this will be part of that.


  • It must involve some cast body part
  • It must involve welded steel
  • The cast body part sets the scale

The rest is more subtle: experimentation, the quality of the execution, etc.

So my project is to cast my right foot, then turn it into the head of a giant thing that looks like a pink plastic lawn flamingo. Here are some pictures of progress so far:

These all assume you’ve seen the armature (which I think you have). From top left to bottom right, the pictures show:

  • He is covered with spray foam insulation
  • This is just before I start applying burlap soaked in hydrostone
  • Most of the burlap is applied
  • Applying some plaster
  • Applying more plaster
  • Back on his feet, smoothed out a bit, and with the head permanently attached
  • Now attached to a wheeled dolly to make it possible to move it single handedly

The big problem is that the beast has swelled up. A lot. I need to spend some serious time grinding and sanding to thin him down a bit, and redistribute the mass in useful ways. That starts tomorrow (Saturday).

Once that is done, I hope to cover it lightly with a feathery looking application of plaster and let him dry. Then bright pink paint. Lots of it.

I hope to have photos of a ready to paint flamingo next week!


Anyway, I know a number of you have seen my discussions here about a particular yacht, so this will make sense in that context:

Art School Post Index. Because Medium didn’t get the ordering right when I imported posts from somewhere else, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.


I’m going to publish this and you folks will find all my typos for me. It’s a bit like Microsoft and Windows. “Let the users find the bugs!”

And In Conclusion…

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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