Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Gallery opens gradually...

with art auctions added until midnight tonight.

There are a number of Little Red Poppets at the regular price. Ebay doesn't allow mention that a dollar from each poppet sold is donated to the Comic Book Legal Fund, but that is indeed the case.

I listed everything in Ebay because it works well for one of a kind pieces and, this time, allowed Ravyn time to make art instead of a sale page.

Little Red Poppets, One of a kind Poppets, some very unique Luck's Dancers, some pieces from Bent and two collaborative Poppet sets from Ravyn and me---the making of which I'll always remember fondly---and the introduction of Little Pink, which features a brand new poem by Derek Ash.

From the beginning I've hoped SlaughterHouse would grow into a place where other artists could create with me. This is a good start. I'm very pleased.

Bent, Ravyn and Derek, thank you.

And Thank You for your comments and encouragement. Hope you enjoy these new works.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Hours

Twelve hours after my last post, Ravyn was homeward bound and Pete and I were on our way to the park with Orion. It was a day with wind and a few cold sprinkles---not so great for a picnic but just fine for soccer balls, slides and remote control cars. Pete snapped me with his cell phone.

Tomorrow the gallery will be open for "Romantics", which was the theme for lots of the studio work this past month.

Tonight is time for putting our feet up, smoothing the fur of a somewhat reproachful and ignored cat and, of course, catching up on My Name Is Earl for which I'm ever so grateful to have been introduced. It's warm fuzzy socks for my brain.

Here are a couple of previews from the new work:

"Little Something" by Ben Warren

"Foppet's Poppet" a collaboration
by Ravyn and Lisa

"Sympatico" Poppet by Lisa


It's now 2:16 a.m. I am done playing with strange little poppets. Ravyn is not done playing with strange little ponies.

She is weird.


Monday, January 29, 2007


I was wrong.

These days have been very much like boot camp. This is the end of number four and we are all tired, a bit irritable and frankly, getting a bit weird, the way people can get weird on long road trips in close quarters.

Ravyn and I haven't been 'outside' since Thursday.

Projects get like this sometimes. Deadlines can change weekends into marathons, with pockets of rest and food at irregular intervals determined only by exhaustion and hunger.

At this point I am feeling a bit stretched, thinned-out and sort of translucent.

But sometimes this is how the work is.

In the end, we will have work to show and the satisfaction of having survived another marathon of studio work.

After some rest, we'll each declare it was worth it.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Studio Day

A busy day in the studio and we are all tired. I smell chocolate. It's not my imagination. I made brownies tonight, with little balls of cookie dough hidden in the mix, with a layer of roasted pecans on top, on the assumption that there's an extra gallon of milk in the studio fridge.
There had better be.

Ravyn is here.
Ben is here.
I'm surrounded by evil.

Ravyn is learning to make molds. We hope to have a Ravyn sculpture to show by the end of the visit.

It's not quite as weird as it looks. It's mostly that I have hands that will both fit into the back of Jack's head at the same time, with which to screw a tiny nut onto the end of the tiny bolt that makes his fingers wiggle.

Lots of good work was done today. Lots of ridiculous things were said. We are all tired. Time for brownies with nuts. Time for My Name is Earl.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bon Chance

Thought you might enjoy a look at the wheel before installation into the Fortune Teller's box. This project has become known as 'the song that never ends' in the studio. Still, as it begins the final descent into physical being, I begin to
'feel' it. Sort of like having someting a little blurry come into focus, and sort of like shifting a burden to a more comfortable position and sort of like getting turned on, all in one.

A day of that takes the 'suck' right out of even the most tedious of projects.

We were gifted with some very old, very strange picture molding we're told was made in Belgium. It has a weird sort of water lilly design and bone-like border. Ben works to restore it. There's not enough for the Fortune Teller box, so we'll mold and cast the balance. Work, but now that we've seen this stuff, nothing less will do.

Ravyn is coming out tomorrow. We'll be working on the website and in the studio. A lot. I told her to prepare for a no-frills weekend. Not exactly boot camp, but lots of work. Then again, Ben will make a big pot of his famous monster chili on Friday. All is not lost.

And, there will be brownies.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


One of the things I've begun to understand about working at home is that it takes some effort and awareness to keep work and personal life separate. It's better for me if they are. Good to have some sort of schedule. If I don't pay attention, the blocks of work time and home time start to get broken up into smaller and smaller blocks and mixed together into this sort of homogenous gray thing where I'm doing bits of each all mixed together and not concentrating fully on either.

Not a good plan.

The breakdown is insidious. It's difficult to see until it gets uncomfortable. Just like slowly gaining weight. You don't see it until, well---you know.

Damned holidays and their cream cheesy goodness.

So. Time to separate these little bits back into big blocks of studio work and personal life. Time to remember something that writers and artists and other creative, work-driven people forget---that there actually is a personal there...somewhere.


"Alison's Midnight Snow" papier mache 14 inches tall.

Alison was here this weekend. She helped me realize I'm cramming too much work into too little spacetime. It's making me crazy. (er) Then she took her Poppet home.

Thanks, kiddo.

Friday, January 19, 2007

desert gloom

Dark clouds roil over the mountains. The air is dead silent and cold and holds no promise.

A pot of boiled peanuts simmers on the stovetop for Alison. She grew up mostly in Georgia and likes them. So do I.

I usually get raw peanuts from a little roadside market just off the Ten. But the freeze hit the little markets hard and most of them were closed. I drove to Harry's, which is a pseudo-mom and pop store, a corporate chain with fake hardwood floors and ferns hanging from the fake rafters, new age music on the speakers and over-priced herbal shampoos.

Palm Desert has become a personal nightmare, paved from one end to the other with strip malls. It looks like any major street in Orange County now.

Our hedges are dead. The oranges are dying on the trees. Small things, I know, but they seemed a sort of mental barrier between us and the encroaching human stupidity crawling steadly toward us.

It just makes me soul-sick.

In that part of my mind where I understand things, I appreciate that the days of blue skies and diving into cool water are the exception, and it's that which makes them precious. The door to that room gets smallish sometimes, and I need a bit of light to find it. Mostly I'd like to sit like a statue, but Orion needs walks in the cold air, and silliness and conversation.

So, nothing to it but to put on a coat and a good face, head out and look for what might be there.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


One thing Palm Springs houses don't have much of is insulation. The studio, once a separate garage building, is connected now by a breezeway enclosed years ago, which must be closed like an airlock or it will suck every bit of warmth from both structures. I think it might actually be colder inside it than out.

From DavidK:
Jeff VanderMeer has included 'Strange Birds' in his list

I went there to read it and saw John Shirley's review of Pan's Labyrinth, which is probably more thorough than I wanted pre-viewing, but then it's John Shirley's blog so I got sucked right in.

Then I started following links and reading and getting that same sinking feeling I get every time I watch the news. At one point, during a particularly disturbing article, Orion came to give me a kiss on the cheek. I looked at his trusting face and wondered if I'd ever feel truly warm again, inside.

I read way too much. I think too much. I feel mostly I've learned just enough to convince myself I'm powerless. I went on to read an interview of John by Stephane Von Stephane that contained this bit:

Stephane: Do you feel the artist has a responsibility to enlighten the audience, or is
just being entertaining enough?

John: It varies, from person to person. If you have the call, you sing that song. It's in your inner nature. I feel I'm supposed to help wake people up. We walk about in sleep and we do atrocious, selfish, destructive things as a matter of policy in our sleep—especially our group sleep, our consensual sleep. I'm not so very awakened, but it's a matter of degree—I'm struggling to wake up and wake others around me. We're like people in a coal mine succumbing to gas. I get up and stagger around and shake the other miners. "Wake up!" That's in my nature. BUT I always want to entertain. Why be tedious when you write?

What else can we do, really, but do our bits the best we can? Still, I worry, because I'm of this generation, living in this present. Are not each of us responsible in some way for shaping things to come?

I'll keep working. It's what I've got. It's what I do. But damn, it's cold in here.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

inner workings

It generally seems that the excitement of the conceptual and design phases of any project is eclipsed by many long hours of tedius labor.
Many. Long. Hours.

Trial and error, step by step, detail by detail punctuated by mishaps requiring Bactine, cursing, the occasional brilliant insight, more cursing and finally, the wicked comedy brought on by exhaustion.

This hard work and tedium proves too much for the average bear, resulting in the bell curve for projects dreamt of actually completed. Which is to say, not so many.

This process has definitely proven true for the kinetic works I've created in the past, and is ever so present for Fortune's Teller.

Still, little by little the works come together so that the lights go on, the finger beckons, the eyes open slowly and the wheel begins to spin.

Our deadline is Jan 22. We're okay for now, but experience tells me that as we approach it, our days will grow longer.

I'm looking forward to showing you what we made. This photo is of the gear mechanism inside a single figure from Dark Caravan's midway sculpture several years ago. It says a lot about what work in the studio is like these days.

Jason Erik Lundberg has a site called Second Chance Book Adoption where you can get rescued books for amazingly low prices. Some good ones too. I'm going back for another look.

Our computer guy Chris sent me here WorldNetDaily for a look at this weirdness regarding birds falling inexplicably from the sky near Perth, Austrailia and in Austin, Texas. If you see more about this or find some clue as to whether this article is reliable, please comment.

We saw Children of Men (2006)last night.
I thought it was good science fiction and well made. Also saw a preview for the upcoming Mimzy. Mimsy Were the Borogoves is one of my all -time favorite stories. We have it in several editions, including a 1950 A Gnome There Was by Lewis Padgett. The preview wasn't inspiring, but promises eye candy.

Another long studio day tomorrow. Now to stretch and work out what the work worked in. And to find the soundtrack for Children of Men.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Little Ghosts

It took me a little while to understand the connection between the 'food' sculptures, the boxes and the little faceless poppets. It mostly has to do with the 'language' particular to my work. I could bore all of us to twitches with details, or I could just point out that each must express itself without the benefit of faces.

I can live with that.

I've grown quite fond of "Little Pink's Bunny. I've known her for a very long time, and am pleased to be sculpting her likeness. The edition will be released officially in spring, but for now I'm working out the details in proofs.

With a Little Red Poppet, for scale:

The first background layers for "Strange Roads." The first two paintings for the series, "Strange Birds" and "Strange Fish", are done on antique window frames Ben and I found in Cathedral City. We reproduced the frame for this painting, as we'll do for the remainder of the series. Ben built it, I aged it to match the others.
It was like time travel.
No, not at all.

But, writing notes at the end of the day and realizing it's after


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Weird day, post wind. Last week was a scramble to meet several project deadlines at once with wind tearing past the windows throughout. This morning was deadly still, in my head and out. Orion braved lunch outside amid the shambles of our sails. I cut away the shredded canopies and gave some thought to sculpting the metal framework into a papier mache piece.
Really, if I want to maintain focus, I shouldn't even contemplate starting that sort of project. Then, on the other hand, it's important for me to make art for us, for the fun of it.

So far, I haven't decided. Since John's accused me of honesty, I suppose if I take this one on I'll post as I go, pass or fail. For today I was content to do background work on the cover painting for Strange Roads.

I'll be having another small sale in early February. I should think of another name. They're not sales, per se--these days when art is finished and available. They're more like the FRESH DONUTS NOW sign at the corner bakery. "Fresh Poppets." Anyway, on the 30th there will be a couple of larger papier mache Poppet sculptures, a few unique Poppets and possibly a few Luck's Dancers for Valentines. So, consider this your official 'heads up.'

I'm writing more than reading, and sculpting. I've had this strange sort of unfocused... dread (?) for days. It's quiet, but persistant. Maybe it's from too much news, maybe it's the chilly dry air making everything seem fragile, maybe I need to take a day off. I've had that dream. Twice. Everyone has recurring dreams. Likely this one is fairly common. In it I'm very near to an answer after a long, intense mental process. It's an important answer--the key to unlock some sort of unifying theory. I'm lying on my side with my knees drawn up, my eyes closed and my hands over my ears. The key is right there, on the tip of my mind's tongue. I'm in terrible pain and I become aware that I must make a conscious choice.

I'm not willing to pay the price. I hear myself saying "No. I don't want this."

The moment I choose, the whole scenario is familiar to the last detail-- a terrible deja vu. Symbols, suddenly unrecognizable, fall away before my eyes and all is silent. I wake feeling sad and a little lost.

There you go. Sunday. Not profound. Not awful. Good enough.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Wind and work

Pete is working at the film festival, where I hope we'll see Pan's Labyrinth. Aubrey is back at school after the holidays, but Orion and I slept until a clatter and crash brought us both sleepy-eyed to the windows. The winds seem to be here early. Don't think so, but this morning is bright, chilly and violent. Two more of our sails tore loose and whipped about like tentacles, knocking over pots and beating several plants senseless. I stumbled out like Dorothy, jumping about to snag an end before it got me. Refreshing!

This isn't the windy season. It's the rainy season. I shudder to imagine the windy season beginning now, with things so dry. Despite the god-like persistence of the mountains around us, the desert always has a sort of fragility about it. It's time for rain.

Once I got the fabric safely rolled up, I grabbed a couple of grapefruits. A glass of juice straight from the tree is so energizing I fancy I could substitute it for morning coffee. BWAAAAAHHH. I crack me up.

Little invention would be had without the impetus and comfort of coffee.

It amazes me at how much of the job of being an artist isn't making art.

The last couple of days have been spent preparing images to send out for new stories. It's a particular kind of experience, to send my work to authors for this purpose. After all, the art is written in the particular language I speak to myself. But Peter Beagle and Neil Gaiman will decode the visual images independently, applying their unique perspectives.
---which means there sure isn't any guessing at the results. What I do know is that the stories will be surprising and good. Really good. This is very satisfying. Sometimes this job is OK.

My coffee cup is empty, Ben will be here soon. Time for work.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Music of the Spheres

Today was a studio day, quiet and productive.

Tonight was for putting away holiday dinner things and playing music on glasses with water in them. Did I wince a little as Orion took fork to crystal? Oh yes. Was it worth the risk? Without a doubt. Perhaps it should become a post-dinner-party tradition.

I've been thinking about the direction of the blog for the coming year. Sometimes I consider writing more technical studio entries. Generally I don't, thinking those who would be interested already know more technique than I. Then again, maybe they don't. Here the truth probably is in the middle.

Though helpful in unexpected ways, my biology major didn't prepare me for becoming a professional artist. That's come via pure trial and error (sometimes of the spectacular variety.)

Surely, Ben and I have experienced moments of pure engineering brillance. Likely we've also re-invented the wheel, so to speak. We are two self-taught artists working in virtual isolation. I imagine we swim in a soup of newly discovered tried and true (stuff we might have learned at art school), peppered with bits of ingenious innovation.

That said, is there anything in particular you'd like to discuss here? After all these years of stumbling along, we've finally realized that in some arenas, Ben and I are the experts.

I wouldn't mind a bit of a geek-out-tech-talk once in a while. If you have suggestion, please comment here or email me at

It's eleven? How'd that happen? Sheesh, it is time travel. Leftovers are calling.


Monday, January 01, 2007

and...a monkey

Today is New Year's Day and Phillip's birthday. This morning I spent some time sifting through old photos, looking for an embarrassing baby picture. Then I figured, he's 24. I've likely embarrassed him enough.

So I chose this one, taken at my father's house in South Carolina. He's in the tree despite my explicit order not to climb, with that look on his face that became very familiar and the determination that will probably help him climb whatever else he decides to conquer.

Happy Birthday, Monkey!