Through Concentrated Breath

making images from memory

Monthly Archives: March 2015

Two Books on Joseph Clement Coll

18 March 2015 by Rey Armenteros

frankenstein2_lgWhen looking back on influences for his work on Frankenstein, Bernie Wrightson cited the work of Joseph Clement Coll alongside that of Franklin Booth. For years, I couldn’t see anything but Booth in Wrightson’s elaborate drawings; they had Wrightson’s hand with Booth’s finish. And Coll was nowhere to be found.

I had always preferred Booth, maybe because there was something inhuman about his results. He and Coll were contemporaries, and between them, their techniques were worlds apart. Franklin Booth’s carefully constructed web of forms was like something put together from blueprints, and they were exquisitely executed by a machine.

91uFdSR3yqL 3a3d791dd6bd1b3f8fa69945d088e9fbFlesk Publications came out with two books on Coll’s career. Until reading these two books, I wouldn’t have known how to describe Coll’s work. Now, I see that Coll had a variety of tension in his line work that was all his own. His style incorporated a weave of diversity that relinquished textures, speeds, and densities that invited you to read more in the drawing. And absorbing his drawings is a lot like reading because much of the detail work is hidden in the crosshatching – you can’t get the whole picture until you study it a little.

His line work revealed a sense that he did little planning for his drawings, maybe using nothing more than minimal pencils before getting into it with ink. There’s a “fly off the seat of your pants” feeling to his finished drawings, as if he were making up half of it as he was going along, compelling me to  look at Wrightson again to see if I can catch some of this spirit of enchanting the viewer. Coll’s images invite you to trek through his paths, to seek, to find fun along the way. And seeking is what drawing was always about.

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Franklin Booth: American Illustrator by Auad Publishing

10 March 2015 by Rey Armenteros

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Obsessed with line as I am, it is no surprise that I am fascinated by the varied degree of marks in Franklin Booth’s ink drawings. I finally read Franklin Booth: American Illustrator by Auad Publishing. It had useful information on his life and career, but the selection of images were lackluster. Much of the work included are small spot illustrations, or worse, large ink renderings that are intruded upon by a large blank caption that must have been used to serve some purpose when it was commissioned. Among the larger ink drawings that are intact, we don’t get the same sense of mystery from his better known work. I couldn’t get past the trite subject-matter for a moment to focus on the stupendous technique he had developed. What I wanted from the book was something more like the powerful image of trees below.


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Combining Paint Skin with Panel (Step 5)

01 March 2015 by Rey Armenteros

The stacks of skins I will now go through are a collection of small paintings and drawings that are not on paper or canvas – they are on acrylic skins (comprised of some combination of molding paste, gesso, acrylic gel, and paint) which I had made with the intention of one day adhering them to panels such as the latest batch I have been working on. Before even making these panels, I have certain skins in mind whose image would coalesce well with whatever concepts I might have of these new paintings. For instance, for a recent show, I focused on father and daughter images.


When I go about the ritual of marrying a panel with one or more skins, I place the skin over a panel and move it around to see what works and then place it on another panel and so on, until I do find something that works; and if I don’t, I put that skin aside and go on to the next. Sometimes, I make a panel around the parameters of a skin, such as producing elements in it that somehow accept the qualities of size, shape, color harmony in the skin. It is a laborious process that is like matching two jigsaw puzzle pieces from a heap of several hundred.

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After I find some feasible combinations, I sleep on it, and then think about it a few days later, and then go back to them again the following week to make sure that this is what I want. I make alterations as needed and sleep on it some more, extending the moment before the decision, because once you stick it on, it’s permanent. When I’m quite sure of what I want, I adhere the skins to the panels using an acrylic medium, such as a soft gloss gel or a fluid medium. In that way, I am sticking acrylic onto acrylic using acrylic, allowing the individual elements to fuse together under one paint medium, unifying everything.


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