carolyn and the creatures

You know – Carolyn represents the Creature. I’ve made it clear that her laborious process fascinates me. I was in her studio several times the last few months. I took early shots of a Javelina progressing.


Glossy print stage of Collared Peccary or Javelina. 


He gets photoshopped into the woods.

The tracing below, I caught on Dec 11th. The end photo I got in the gallery, last week.


The enlarged photo-shopped composition gets transferred to drawing boards.


The Collard Peccary sits detailed into his spot on the composition.

I also catch the Musk-Ox on Dec 11.  At the time, I focus on the dense, black-inked area of tree branches in the center. The Ox silver tracing sits to the side waiting to come alive. In the  final stage the ox becomes primary in focus.



And below is the work on the wall in the gallery. It’s large, consequently this photo doesn’t do it justice. It holds 20 creature representations (if you count a couple of skulls).  I’ve heard Carolyn call them out several times now. There are sheep, goat, hawk, 2 javalinas, zebra, white deer, deer mount, mule deer, antelope, owl, squirrel, coatimundi, road runner, quail, musk-ox, crazy goat with beads, 2 skulls (sheep?), and pronghorn. If the blog allowed I’d tag them so you could know right where they are. It’s part of the enjoyment of standing in front of the real work. Some show up obviously, while others come into sight by surprise. If you get a chance to hear Carolyn talk about her work, take it. She weaves everything together with intelligence and amusement.

Preservation Woods

Preservation Woods
Acrylic on 10 prepared acid-free foam-core panels
80 x 160 inches

You know, I’m interested in anatomy. While my focus is mostly on human, I love animal anatomy as well because from that point of view, we connect.

Recently Carolyn generously loaned me some of her animal anatomy books. The one cat book in the background is mine. I pull the books out across my desk, go through them, think about drawing, then put them away. While I appreciate the loan, what do I do with the inspiration?

IMG_3737Yesterday the three of us discussed how we might be influencing each other. The few animals in my work are abstract and symbolic. My cat appears in one work, a snake and a frog in another. My inclusion of an animal and its anatomical structure is very different from Carolyn’s focus. Carolyn renders taxidermy, in a realistic manner, in a constructed natural setting. Reread that last sentence.

I don’t know about focusing on animal anatomy more than I do at this point. While the books excite me, for now animal is Creature, and Creature is Carolyn.

a fine day of work

Every time I ask Carolyn about her process she goes through the various steps, from my point of view, rather fast. I can never put it all together. Recently she asked if I could help her transfer an image to an archival sheet of foam board.  The image above is called Preservation Woods. It’s what she is transferring.

Carolyn completes a composition in Photoshop. She does the math and grids the work to enlarge it. In this case, the finished work is quite large – 13.3′ x 6.6′.  Her left brain processes as well as her right brain.

She photo copies the parts – 16 – 10 x 8″ sheets per panel, and creates a template, the template is traced on the panels.There are 10 – 32 x 40″ panels. Each one is prepped with 5 layers of matte medium on either side.  Once tracing the composition is complete,  painting begins. The mediums she plans to use include gouache, graphite and ink.

I arrive to her studio, thinking I can shoot footage and pull together a video for our blog. Everything you see in the video is shot within the first 20 minutes of our morning. We continue for another 7 plus hours to complete a panel. She maps out the copies while I trace them on to panels.

The title of the work is Preservation Woods.  It will be 80 x 160″ – which is 13.3′ x 6.6′ – when completed. There are 10 – 32 x 40″ panels and it takes 16 – 10 x 8″ sheets per panel.

I don’t know if you can see the outline transfer of the animal above, it’s light, silvery, and delicate. The dark edges might be the result of my lack of experience with graphite powder. The ram you see is the upper left quadrant is only 16 x 20″, a very small part of the overall composition.

Just watch the video, it goes quick (about 4 minutes) and is enjoyable.
The day passes quickly and several things get completed.