My Dream House Revisited, 1967 and 2007. Cardboard quilt on plywood, 32 x 24 inches. Click for the details to be seen more easily.
M Y A R T — Cardboard quilts. Hmmm... What?
As much as I love working on wood, and I do love the look and feel of my wooden bases even before I start to work my art onto them, sometimes I do something a bit different. I like to create the base for the images out of corrugated cardboard squares. I have access to an unlimited amount of these pre-cut squares, which are used to pack books from my publisher. They are just thrown in the recycling bin, so I have some of them saved for me from time-to-time, for my own recycling, as it were.
I lay them out in a single layer, in the size and shape I want. Then I glue in a second layer on top of the first, in an alternating, 'brick-like' construction, so that two edges are never on top of each other, to add strength. Then I replicate the first layer on top as a third layer, which again, doesn't allow two edges to lay on top of each other. Then I glue (or screw sometimes) the entire 3 layer 'sandwich' to a 1/4- or 1/2- inch plywood panel backing, slightly smaller in size than the piece so the plywood's edges don't show from the side. This further strengthens the piece and allows me to install the hanging hardware. I "allow" or encourage the pieces to warp slightly, bending either outwards at the edges to create a slightly concave piece, or the opposite way to create a slightly convex piece. I think it adds a great look to my work to not have them completely flat on a wall, like most framed piece of art one usually sees. I never frame my pieces by the way—I work the edges completely along with the rest of the art. Because of this construction method, and because my art is frequently cut up into squares and reassembled, I've come to call them cardboard quilts.
This piece, My Dream House Revisited, uses a drawing I started in 1967 when I was 10 years old. I drew it out completely in pencil, on thin cardboard like the back of a drawing pad, and then didn't quite finish drawing over in colored magic markers. It shows what I thought would be a great house to live in back then, a pseudo Tudor split level, with a mid-century modern 'vibe' to parts of it, including a wrought-iron fence and some evergreen trees. Instead of scanning the piece and the using the printouts, as I do usually, I actually cut up the drawing itself into squares. I reassembled those squares on the cardboard base, and then added further squares of color in both paper and paint.
I also scored the surface, dragging a pointed dowel up and down in a grid-pattern, indenting the cardboard slightly in preparation for the next step. This step involves adding wall-joint compound to fill in the cracks between the cardboard squares, almost like grouting a tile surface, but the white compound also slightly fills in the indented gridwork. I use this grid motif a lot in my pieces by the way—as a metaphor for government and 'big brother' and all that—you know—living under the Grid and all that...
I finished off all of this with about 10-12 coats of clear water-based polyurethane so it will never yellow—oil based polyurethanes and varnishes will amber over time—a look I've used from time to time in the past. Starting a couple of years ago though, I realized I didn't really like to leave the yellowing or ambering up to chance—if that's the look I want for a piece, I tint the paint itself.
Back when I was doing group shows in various art leagues around here, this piece won a prize, though I can't remember exactly which one, lol. I've entered 7 juried shows and won 6 awards, including a First, a Second, a couple of Honorable Mentions, and a couple of 'Name' awards. "Name awards" are those given by a company or business, or a benefactor in the name of someone [usually dead]. Those art leagues all turned into 'who do you know,' 'what do you do' affairs though, with everyone stepping over everyone else to get noticed. After a 25 year career kissing ass in the publishing world, or trying to, it's me we're talking about, hahaha, I'll be damned if I'll do that at this point in my life. Here is this piece hanging in the 2008 Guilford Art League Fall show. I shun the 'limelight' so much that for the press photos of the winners after the reception, I turned my back and only let them shoot the back of my head, lol.
One of the last group juried shows I entered, 2008. I won something... but can't remember what.