Friday, November 2, 2018
Dead Fly 33 Incoming!
oil on canvass 16"x 20"
I call this painting Incoming or Dead Flies Over the Heartland. The dead flies symbolize incoming bomber jets ready to destroy the heartland of the USA. It was painted using glazes of color. I prefer Windsor & Newton oil paints. It takes time for oil paints to dry enough between layers so I worked on this one for a couple of weeks. I kind of achieved what I was hoping to create but think that the flies could have been more aggressive looking. Then again, they are dead.
Monday, October 22, 2018
Dead Fly 32 Primordial Soup
acrylic on canvas 14"x 17"
This is another one that can be flipped upside down for a different feeling. It is what it is - Dead Fly rising from a sea of pestilence. Dead Fly falling from a sky of pollution. Black and yellow are the colors used for the contagion flag for ships at sea. In port, it means quarantine. This one is kind of scary and I was in a dark mood when I painted it. You can use your own imagination to see what you want.
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Dead Fly 31
Missiles and Flies aka Dead Fly Flag
mixed media on canvas 34.5"' x 60"
Here is a major work. This means it is large, took a while,and required a certain amount of planning. This was completed in August of 2017, around the time Trump and Jong-un were threatening to lob missiles at each other - with us "just plain folk" in between. Right! Start that crap and we'll all be dropping like flies. Collateral damage.
It is painted on canvas, and I used acrylic paint sometimes mixed with rust - yes, actual rust - which I gathered from an old well line that we had lying around. We have a lot of iron in our water here in central Pennsylvania and it tends to collect as sediment. I saved a jar of it because it was all powdered and a nice color. I mixed it with Liquin by Windsor & Newton to make it stick.
Around the time this was completed I had opportunity to visit with one of my sisters. She said she couldn't make heads or tails of the Dead Fly Project or the Dead Fly Flag so I told her the story. "Ah!" she said." Now I get it." She was particularly fond of this painting so as a surprise for her I had it printed on a coffee mug and sent it to her. It's a one of a kind. I don't even have one for myself. She lives out west and often sends me Bigfoot paraphernalia because I like him.
Dead Fly Flag on a coffee mug
Here's an interesting photo. One day when I was at the studio The Arts Underground which is in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, a live fly landed on the dead fly flag! Kind of reminded me of The Last Man on Earth, except it's a fly.
Live Fly on Dead Fly Flag
Friday, October 19, 2018
Dead Fly 27
Printers ink on canvas-board 5" x 7"
Dead Fly 28
Printers Ink on card-stock 5" x 7"
Dead Fly 29
Printers Ink on card-stock 5" x 7"
Dead Fly 30
Printers Ink on card-stock 5" x 7"
I needed to see how each of the stamps I carved would work out when using the printers ink which actually was an acrylic paint used for this purpose. Here are the results. The first one, Dead Fly 27, was done on a small canvas board. It came out okay and since it is part of the Dead Fly project I decided to number and keep it. The other three Dead Fly pieces are printed - sampled actually - on black card stock. I wanted to see how they worked out light on dark.
Although the first one, Dead Fly 27, will stand on its own once it is nicely framed, I think that the next three would work as a nice grouping on a wall if one is so inclined.
Coming soon! Dead Fly 31 - a major work!
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Dead Fly stamps
Linoleum cuts painstakingly executed 3" x 3"
Dead Fly 26
Ink on a Post-It
Part of the artistic process: here are three linoleum cuts of the three views of the original dead fly. It took some time, as well as figuring out how to make a stamp that would work for the larger piece I had in mind. I hadn't done any linoleum cuts for years and actually found the process very relaxing, almost Zen-like. The vinyl cut easily and the little tool set I got at Michael's Art Store worked very well. I needed fifty dead flies for the large piece and figured stamping the canvas would work better than trying to paint each dead fly free hand. Then of course, I had to figure how to make a working stamp for this. Using contact cement I glued the cuts to blocks of a 2"x 4". Then did a sample and thought, Hm, that looks pretty good! No sense throwing it away. It is what it is - the first proof for the larger piece. Matted and framed it will look great! Might try using the stamped print on clothing at some point.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Dead Fly 24 - Easter Fly
Oil on Canvas 8" x 10"
Dead Fly 25
Oil on canvas 8" x 10"
I did these on Easter Sunday in 2017. I don't go to church as a rule, and don't see much sense in buying fancy clothes. We used to color eggs but now I don't see much point in that. I always thought that as an adult I'd be able to color really masterful eggs, but my patience is thin in that respect, so they never quite worked out. No one ever said WOW! WHAT AN EGG! On the other hand, I wanted to color something and I must have been home alone this particular Easter Sunday or I wouldn't have painted. So here they are for what they're worth - a couple of Easter Dead Flies, loose paint on canvas, one session a piece, bright colors, the challenge being to keep the paint, wet on wet, clean and not to let them turn "muddy." The challenge with Easter Eggs is the same. You've all those pots of colors and dip dip dip - and sometimes there's always one or two that end up looking like an overcooked yolk.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Dead Fly 23 - Work Fast! Live and Learn
acrylic on canvas-board 5" x 7"
This is just a quick study mostly to see if I could do it and not mess up, not overwork it. The date on the back of this one is March 15, 2017. This means we probably had the pellet stove going to heat the kitchen - which is where I work - and any sort of water soluble paint would dry quickly. So you can see, this is a really fast study of the dead fly. There's no erasing with such a painting. And one must know when to stop. Unfortunately, after completing this one I stuck it up on top of a cupboard and had it half covered with probably the next one and cooking, wood, smoke - who knows what - created an awkward staining on it. It yellowed some and not in a good way. I might have to salvage this one by mixing up a light wash and touching up the background. Sigh. After seeing what happened with careless handling, I am being more careful now. Live and learn.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Dead Fly 22 - Quick and Easy!
Oil on canvas board 5"x 7"
After struggling with the "Rembrandt" dead fly (#21) for way longer than I should have - seriously - I should have just tossed that one out the window - I wanted to see what would happen if I took the left over paint that was on the pallet and just knocked one off lickity-split without putting too much thought into it. Also, wanted to just work wet on wet, no layers, no glazes. This is one of my personal favorites. It's nicely colored, didn't go muddy, spontaneous, well-formed, and has rhythm to the composition. Took ten minutes. Sigh. Oh, well, the more dead flies I do, the easier they'll get to do.
Dead Fly 21 - Still Life
Oil on canvas 5"x 7"
I started this one with the grand delusion that I could paint a "Rembrandt style dead fly using old master oil paints, glazes, and that sort of thing. I've done old style oil paintings before and just felt like trying the same techniques using the dead fly as the subject. Meh. Not sure if it worked, but here it is. It's not the best photo. If I get around to getting a better picture I'll post that instead. This painting took a long time to do. Longer than should be but most likely because I didn't quite know what I was doing, where to go with it. Also, it was humid and the paint took a long time to dry between sessions. That kind of fuzzes up direction when working on a piece.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
One day I went up to Greg’s office to get an envelope. There was a dead fly lying on a manila folder on top of the file cabinet. The light was hitting the fly in such a way that it cast extraordinary shadows of the fly, its wings, and its legs. I took three pictures of it from different angles using my cell phone. They’re not the best pictures but I figured at some later date I would include the dead fly in my vermin series. I’d actually rather work from bad photos when creating art from a picture of something. I don’t like to get bogged down in details but prefer to go with the flow – design and color.
The Vermin series was a series of paintings I started one day when Greg was in the garden trying to chase out a groundhog.
I took a picture, then went in the house and painted it in oil on canvas. It was a really quick painting – wet on wet. I had had this idea to do a bunch of paintings of vermin really quickly and sell them on line for maybe twenty bucks or so. I figured if I painted fast enough I might be able to do one a day and make some spare cash. As it was the painting turned out pretty nice so I didn’t want to sell it for any twenty bucks although several people said they give me that much for it. My vet offered thirty.
We had a couple of possum pestering our garden and set a live trap to catch them. Caught a couple. Each time I took a picture and went in and painted it thinking I'd sell it for twenty bucks but each time they came out pretty nice, so I decided not to sell them just then – at least not for any twenty bucks.
On it went. Rabbits. Snakes. Squirrels. I started taking pictures of anything that showed up that was considered a vermin. And then there was the Dead Fly. So I painted a picture of the dead fly. Little oil painting on canvas 5”x7”. Stuck it up with the rest of the paintings.
Dead Fly 1
Oh! The reason I decided to paint the vermin, other than just as a money maker, is because many times when an artist stands in front of a blank canvas or piece of paper they just don’t know what to paint. At least that problem was solved. I’d just focus on vermin for the time being. I used to paint portraits. Still do, sometimes. But there aren’t a whole lot of people who feel like sitting for one any more. And anyways, I needed to branch out.
Then one day my son was home with a friend of his and he saw the painting of the dead fly. Mind you, when he’s home he sleeps in his old room which I was going to turn into a studio but actually prefer to paint in a corner of the kitchen. But all the vermin paintings hang on the walls of his room. He saw the dead fly and said he really liked that one. So I thought – OK, you’re getting that one for Christmas this year. So then when my daughter saw that he got a dead fly for Christmas she said, "Oh Man ! I want a dead fly!"
So I figured I better do another one. So I did.
Dead Fly 2 "Flynn"
oil on canvas 5"x 7" (sold for an undisclosed sum and in a private collection)
So a friend who is a writer from upstate New York messages me and says, "Hey if you’re into dead flies, Sal wants me to clean out some light fixtures today. I’ll send you anything I get." So I write back and say "No! We don’t need any extra flies, dead or alive, here in Pennsylvania. Write me a story instead." So he did.
Two days later I get this crazy whacked out story in my e-mail about a crazy whacked out woman who paints dead flies. That's it. Dead flies day in day out. She paints one hundred of them. Till one day she has a big art show in Manhattan and someone – a guy from Saudi Arabia -- comes in and buys the whole show. He buys ninety-nice works of art depicting a dead fly. He can’t buy number one because that one is missing because her son owns that one. But anyways, he smacks down $750,000.00 for the entire collection.
So when my husband got home from his gig that night, we were sitting at the kitchen table and I was telling him about this whacked out story that our friend Dennis wrote and I say, "Yeah. Can you just see that? Sign on the street pointing to a gallery opening of a show called Dead Fly. Like who’d ever go see that?" And he says, “I would.” "Seriously?" "Yes, I would." Then we got thinking – maybe I should do just what the woman in the story did and see where it goes. One hundred works of art of a dead fly.
So now I’m well past the half way point. The flies are buzzing around my studio and I'll carry on till I have one hundred done at which point I’ll hit up a gallery in Manhattan and see if they want to do a show.
Here’s the kicker. I re-read the story a few days ago and see that actually I had it all wrong. The woman in my friend's story only does thirty dead flies. And she nickel-dimes her paintings on FB for a quick buck. And there was no guy from Saudi Arabia. And there was no $750,000.00 pay off.
I like my story better. So that’s where this is headed.
As of September 7, 2018, I have done 64 dead fly works of art. I will now start posting each dead fly in the order of its creation with a little blurb about why I did it. Please follow this blog and if you know of any gallery owners in Manhattan who would like to have a show of the completed works, feel free to share. I'm game. Thanks!
Dead Fly 20
colored pencil on card stock 5"x 7"
For this one I took the Dead Fly photo and ran it through editing on my iPhone to see what it would look like as a negative. I had some black card stock I had bought to practice cutting silhouettes - not of dead flies, but of people. I figure if I can learn to cut silhouettes easily it could be a good way to make spare cash. I've done many portraits in the past, so might have a knack for this. Anyways, back to the fly... I am fascinated with the way light looks in photographs and wanted to see if I could create the same glowing effect with colored pencil on black paper. I had to lick the pencil points many times to get enough lead or whatever to lay down on the paper. I think it succeeded. Someone on FB referred to this as Neon Fly and others followed suit.
Dead Fly 19
charcoal on paper 9" x 12"
Another study in black and white using a wee bit of white pencil for highlight. It is what it is. At least with this dead fly project when I feel like drawing something or painting something I don't spend an hour starting at a blank sheet of paper trying to decide what to draw. It'll be a dead fly. Picasso spent some time drawing dead goat heads.
Dead Fly 18
Charcoal on paper 9" x 12"
This is a study of the dead fly as well as a study for drawing and painting light and shadow as well as folds in fabric. It's a little messy but I had no illusions that this would be a great work of art, just a study for my own purposes. The painting that came of this is upcoming.
Dead Fly 17
acrylic on canvas 8" x 10"
I did this one in March and it must have been snowing and I must have seen all the flakes as dead flies, or at least one of them. It's fun to just slap pain in a canvas and see what happens - kind of hit the trance zone. It's best one not be interrupted when working like this, but more of that later.
Dead Fly 16
pencil on paper approximately 8"x 8"
Most likely a study for another work. Here's a couple of quick sketches of the Dead Fly, one kind of knocked out as a quickie and the other I took a little more time. It's on rough drawing paper which didn't lend itself well to detail. It is what it is.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Dead Fly 15
acrylic on canvas 8"x10"
This was another quickie. Just kind of sloshed the paint on the canvas. It ended up moving away from the colors I had planned when I tried to put a glaze (thin paint and water) over top and the colors kind of ran together. No problem. Paint sometimes has a mind of its own. Now take a look at this:
Dead Fly 15 (upside down)
Whereas the original Dead Fly 15 looks dead and passive, which is how a dead fly usually looks, the same dead fly turned upside down looks malicious and aggressive. When this one is framed I'll put hangers on both sides so it can be flipped according to mood.
Dead Fly 14
"But what is it worth?"
oil on canvas 5"x7"
This one took a lot of work and in my own mind I did not succeed in pulling it off. I was thinking about the fate of Mother Earth when I did this and wanted the dead fly to look as if it was made of solid gold. Is a dead fly made of solid gold worth more than Mother Earth? Although I tried and tried to use the old masters' techniques of mimicking gold with paint, the fly still doesn't glow like I wanted it to. I may try this again at some point -- not the same idea, but trying to paint a dead fly that looks like it's made of solid gold. The more dead flies I paint, the easier it is to paint. #persevere
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Dead Fly #10
charcoal on colored paper 9"x12"
Not crazy about this one either, but so it goes. I dug out one of my old pastel paper pads and tried to do a quick, left brain doodle of a dead fly. It's okay, but could be better. It will go on the Wall of Failures as well. On the other hand, you never know how something is going to look all nicely matted and framed. On the other hand, it costs more money to frame a drawing than a painting and money is a bit short these days.
Dead Fly #9
pastel on paper 8"x 10"
Okay, this one will go on the Wall of Failures when I have my big show. It didn't work out but I didn't destroy it. At one time in my life I was quite the pastel artist. Sold some for big bucks and won some awards at local art shows. I have a beautiful set of pastels that was gifted me years ago when I worked as a temp in Cambridge, MA. My job was to match up about a thousand* keys to locks in the building. It was a graphic art company that had moved its location. All the employees were told to just dump their keys in a box when they left. Doors, drawers, cabinets - you name it. One of the perks was that I could take anything they left behind by way of art products as long as I cleared it with them first. I found the Grumbacher 256 studio assortment of pastels. They GAVE it to me! It took me about twenty years to learn how to use them.
I hadn't done a pastel painting in many years and wondered if I still could, so I used Dead Fly as the subject. It's not great. Once again, I don't like the paper and think I worked too small. Oh, well. Still have a bunch of Dead Fly paintings to go so the pastel paintings may get better after a while.
*I was able to match up all but about fifty keys and had a callous on my right index finger from trying them in the locks day after day, key after key.
Dead Fly 6
acrylic on canvas board 5"x 7"
I painted this particular Dead Fly on February 22, 2017. This was the day it was announced that NASA had discovered seven Earth-like planets just forty light years away. I wondered if they had flies on them. A friend of mine commented that the head of the fly looks like a space helmet and that the light reflected on it looks like the light that reflected on the helmets of the first astronauts that went to the moon. I wasn't thinking about that when I painted it.
I hope that the fact that some of these Dead Fly paintings are painted on cheap canvas-board that I bought at Michael's (arts and crafts store) doesn't cheapen the overall project or the art. Back when I was in art school one of my professors said that we should be able to destroy any art that doesn't quite work - in other words, is not good art. I chose not to pressure myself into turning out a masterpiece each time I had an idea, so chose at times to just knock one off on a cheap substrate.