I'm not the Immortal Artist. You are

Immortal Artist is dedicated to exploring all aspects of experimental art and creating new and innovative techniques which other artists can use to strengthen their own work.

The blogs creator, experimental artist Grey Cross pursues and discusses art across a wide spectrum of artistic mediums. They include painting, sculpting, body art, digital art, and photography. With an emphasis on teaching artists to utilize today's social networks to further their own art and reputations.

This blog uses the Living Blog concept, an idea created by Grey Cross

Grey Cross Studios/Immortal Artist Operations

New Orleans

Email: greyacross@aol.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A New Studio Face for a New Year

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I've labored hard for this one. The new driftwood sculpture is up in front of the studio finally and the new little free library has a new lighting so its more user friendly at night. While the garden is a little slipshod right now because of a few cold snaps we've had, it should look stunning once it warms up again. We are now one week from twelfth night which is the traditional beginning of Carnival season. Fat Tuesday is early this year, falling on February 9th, which means the Mardi Gras parades begin soon. For a few weeks the neighborhood will be transformed as the parades pass 4 blocks from the studio. I plan (as weather permits) to do several outdoor pop-up galleries on parade nights. We live in a pretty wonderful place!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Image of the Day - The Assurian Matrix

Several months ago I dragged home from the Mississippi River a 200 pound piece of Cypress driftwood shaped like a mastadon tusk. This piece was meticulously sanded down, buffed, varnished, and sealed, returning it to its original dark red luster. It was incomplete though. The piece you see above was originally rainbow colored and hung in the overhang of the studio porch. I'd been doing some moving around and set the two pieces next to each other and realized they were meant to be together.

So tonight was the final stages in this large sculpture. The Cypress wood was mounted in a vat containing 80 pounds of concrete and the piece above went through its final repainting stages and a polyurethane applied to seal it. Tomorrow the two pieces shall finally come together in the studio garden until such time that it is moved to some buyers home. I look forward to the final steps tomorrow. Photos to follow for sure!

The Cypress driftwood held in place until the cement dries

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Balancing Act - Using Foaming Glue in Art

In the kind of sculpture I work with, glue is of vital importance. I talk a lot about using foaming glue. The "Solitude" piece is a good example of foaming glue in action. Each piece in the sculpture has to be laid in individually. It has to be balanced precisely where I want it and then a mechanism found that keeps that piece in place and position until the foaming glue at its base dries.

The tricky part is that once its placed and the glue is added, then there is a tiptoe walk that commences in the studio until the glue is firm enough to hold the piece on its own. This usually entails about 20 minutes of gently closing doors and mincing around the room to avoid vibrations that may knock it over. Its a house of cards until the glue sets. None of the 15+ pieces on the sculpture could be laid together. All of them had to be set separately and left to dry. 

Are You Playing it Safe With Your Art?

Anyone that knows me, knows also that there are some forms of art that I am a pompous overblown ass about and feel that any artist who partakes in them is doing nothing but showing their lack of creative imagination.

These include (in no particular order), still life paintings of fruit and flowers, paintings of well known personages (notably Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix and that horrible fellow from Breaking Bad) and lastly tiny babbling brooks, forests, beach scenes, overused nature locations.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the artists that work in these areas are not good artists. In fact I think the opposite is true. I think in most cases they are incredibly talents artists who for whatever reasons aren't ready to branch out to truly creative pieces of work. Some seem afraid to try areas of art that are risky. For some its a financial reason because they make a bit of money off this tripe. For others its because "they feel" they have no ideas other than reproducing the things that artists have always produced. It worked for the artists of the sixteenth century, so it has to work for me.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Image of the Day - My Sweet Marie

This image is part of the Revenant Cycle. I received a note from a fan asking more about this piece. They found it confusing as to the message it was imparting. They saw a spirit mourning the dead and could not understand why the dead would be sad over the dead. Wouldn't they be together? 

This is a lost spirit. He is standing before the grave of his dead wife who has passed over into the spirit world. He is unable to make the crossing and remains lost in the physical world yearning for his wife. 

All of the images in the Fourth Vision of the Revenant Cycle are about a spirit left behind. I may need to add commentary to this set at some point but for now I like to leave it up to the viewer to interpret what they see.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Artists Creating a Body of Work (Show Prep 101)

I admit I have a headstart to the process that began six months ago when I started working with driftwood. It is logical that I should go into overdrive for the next 3 months in order to create some phenomenal sculpture work to go along with the pieces already created. I've not had to put a lot of thought into it because I already had the concept and some of the work created. Now its time to put my best creativity forward to complete enough pieces to form a show around.

I've always created work in series but its not necessarily been a conscious act. I am an experimental artist at heart and when I find something new to explore I usually do so for a period of time that allows me to really get a grasp on what I am creating. So 6 months or a year later I've compiled a body of work involved in that particular technique. I think this is important for new artists to note because the experts will tell you to focus on the same thing over and over again. I tend to disagree. Be as diverse as possible yet bring that diversity back towards one technique for a time. And when you tire of that technique then move on. This creates bodies of work that use that technique.

I am fond of taking a technique learned and then blending it into an earlier technique to create again something new. This is in essence the heart of Assimilation Art. The constant regurgitation of something new from something old and the blending of ideas over and over again to always produce something new.

One of the end results is that you always have a body of work that encompasses diversity but commonality.

So I will be using driftwood as that common element and technique for this body of work. In planning out pieces for this I will not rely on the same techniques but to try and create as diverse as possible a series of pieces that show the driftwood medium in as many forms as I possibly can before March.

So lets talk about some of the pieces already completed and which may end up in the show.

This is the Assurian Matrix. It will undoubtedly be one of the centerpiece sculptures for the show due to its size. It is very heavy and very large. At its peak it is 6 feet high. Because we have access to a large courtyard for the show, this will be a perfect center piece for it. It is not yet completed but 80% is done. Another week and it will be ready.

This is Bedlam. It is 5 feet high on a 2 foot tile base. It was just completed and I consider it the first of the new pieces that will be part of the show.

These are a whole series of smaller sculptures created with driftwood. You can see the diversity in each which makes them perfect for this show.

So these are just a few examples of already completed work. Now the real task is to continue on this path for the next several months. My goal is to finish up by February 1st on the actual building. My guess is that after that time I will be too busy to much into actual creating. But we shall see.

You can keep track of posts directly related to the show by watching for posts tagged as SHOW PREPARATION. I hope other artists will follow and pick up information helpful for putting together their own shows and welcome comments and suggestions as we move along towards March.

This series is continued in article #2 - Creating a Team

Image of the Day - Solitude

It is my tradition to post work in progress photos of each piece I create and establish a separate step by step page for each. But the clock is now ticking in the studio for a show I am doing at the end of March. For a time I am going into overdrive on creating a new body of work during the coming months prior to show. With that in mind I will not be posting as many step by step pages until this show is over in order to dedicate myself to this body of work. So in loo of that, I will be posting some Work in Progress photos to the image of the day pages and attempt to explain what I am doing along with each. 

The above image is the first taken for the newest piece entitled "Solitude". It is 2 feet long by a foot high and made of a center giant holding up the structure around him. It will be made with driftwood, which is the substance of preference for this new body of work. Please post questions if you wish, I'll be happy to answer them. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Image of the Day - The Prow of the Slave Ship Elissa

This is actually a companion piece to another piece done several months back. The original concept for the first piece was the haunting presence of a dead Maori slave that haunted the slave ship Elissa. In my minds eye the Elissa was a cursed ship with more than just the presence of the dead. Here is the figurehead at the prow of the Elissa, her head stretched in pain and agony. She is as much a spirit of the dead as the ghosts who haunt her.  I've included the original piece at the end of this post.

For history on the above piece, the woman was a model I photographed years ago. She was actually reclining on an antique couch when I shot the original photo. This one was one of the rare occasions where I used no body paint on the model. This particular photo stood out because I accidentally inverted it and took note how much the pose looked like the prow of a ship. The ship itself in the background is a tall ship photographed here at the Port of New Orleans a few years ago. By combining the two as I did with the original piece (below), I was able to bring the new piece into sync with the older. 

The Artist and the Hidden Enigma

We just got back from seeing the newest installment in the Star Wars series. No this is not about the movie although I will say it was freaking awesome.

Its about something that was very noticeable to this artist. People like minutia. They like tiny details that they are not sure others catch. The more simplistic something is the easier it can be forgotten. Detail is something that makes Star Wars so successful. Its not just great effects but great attention to details of the past and setting the framework in place for details that will occur in the future.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Image of the Day - Bedlam 2.0

Its funny how the subconscious can pick up details before the conscious ever does. Last night I set the orbs in place on the Bedlam sculpture. It had been resting on its side so I had no clear idea of how it would look until it was raised back up. 

Instantly something looked off to me. I thought it was the orbs at first, but the more I looked at it the more I liked the orbs and suddenly felt like the sculpture itself sucked. It hadn't prior to adding the orbs but it sure looked off after.

I brooded about it all day. I'd come in and stare at it for a few minutes then go off in disgust. Then this evening it hit me. It wasn't the orbs, or the wood. It was the color being used. I'd applied a base of gold with a vague copper limning of the wood. Basically what my subconscious had picked up on was that the orbs were now much more tremendous looking than the rest of the sculpture.

I knew instantly that the color had to change in a very subtle way. The whole sculpture needed to be brought into sync with the orbs. So I composed a pallet of 7 metallic colors that most resembled the colors in the orbs and set off to blend all 7 together and repaint the whole structure. 

The results surpassed my expectations. The photo above doesn't do it nearly enough justice. The blending of the 7 colors created stunning glow that makes the sculpture almost look like its on fire in the right light. 

Sometimes its necessary to redo areas that don't look right. If we trust our instincts they will almost always steer us in the right direction to create the best art possible. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Uncouth Artist

We went to lunch today at the very posh and extravagant New Orleans restaurant Commanders Palace. While my partner spent a great deal of his life in high quality restaurants, I have not. At 50 years old I've had very little experience with places such as this. If you asked me if I'd like the Duck Confit, I'd want to know why the duck deserved any comfort at all (yeah only certain people will get that joke). We laugh off my lack of knowledge of the finer things in life. I fake it well and I always let him order for me so I don't mess up the pronunciations.

I am not refined, But while I take a light hearted approach to such things I got thinking while I ate my roasted pear soup that this is a deeper issue. There are a lot of artists out there that are neither good at small talk, or comfortable in a high class situation. Some can bluff their way through it, but its not easy for some.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Image of the Day - Bedlam

This hulking 5 foot high piece of driftwood started out life as a piling. After years of floating around in the Mississippi River it came to rest in a convenient spot for me to retrieve it and bring it back to the studio. 

After much cleaning, sanding and grit removal the remaining structure was still strong. I suspect that the piling had an overlay of tar on it once which inhibited the piece from rotting through. Instead this intaglio or lines and crevices was created.

The piece was mounted on a 2' x 2' heavy tile base. This photo shows the piece at about 50% completion. I've decided to do very little to it because its naturally just so beautiful. But I do have a few plans in store for it now that its been painted gold. I'll post again when it nears completion. You can see an earlier view of it here taken when it was first brought in.

Image of the Day - Never to Forget

This piece is dedicated to my dear friend Yaakov Teitelbaum. He was the first model for the Revenant Series and one of the most impressive people I've ever met. After a recent letter from him concerning some serious health concerns I felt compelled to put this piece together to remind him that he is a true inspiration.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Image of the Day - Scenes from the Phantasm Zoo #1

Conceptual art for a new series I am considering. The concept of a spirit zoo is something that fascinates me. It may take several visits to Audubon Zoo to get enough material to put a whole series together but could make for some interesting imagery. I am never one for just taking a normal photo. My mind always wants to warp it and turn it into something different. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Image of the Day - Old Wood

I was surprised this morning when I went to hunt driftwood by the edge of the Mississippi River that the water level in just a week had risen to the point where the area I descend into down the levee was completely under water. I'd expected it but was still amazed that it had happened so quickly and at a time where at least here in New Orleans we'd gotten little rain in the past few months.

But there it was, flooded under and swamping even the trees. But while I was not able to retrieve much usable driftwood, I was able to find this one large piece. Measuring almost 5 feet high, I can only guess by its squared off base that it was once a piling of some kind. But the beautiful rotted design along its length made it a given that it would come back to the studio with me. 

The challenge for this piece will be how to mount it. Its big enough that my usual tile bases will not be adequate enough. But I'll find something that works. 

It is always an amazement to me how I can find a piece of debris such as this and know instantly that it can and will become a piece of art at some point. 

The Evolution of the Artist - Understanding Our Own Development

A recent conversation with a friend and fellow artist prompted a few thoughts on the evolution of what makes an artist. Its hard for us to step back and look at our careers in a thoughtful way. But each of us goes through a series of stages in our development as an artist, that for some often begins long before they even see themselves as artists. 

For me, I often note my decision to retire from photography and become a visual artist five years ago as a turning point for me. A moment where I consciously made a decision to be what my mind perceived to be "a real artist". 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Decisions of the Starving Artist

I've written before about the illusions people have about starving artists. The fantasies people make in their minds when they hear the term are usually pretty false. They never consider the decisions that have to be made on a daily basis. They consider an artist to have a lifestyle, rather than art being their life. Its something they can drop at any time and go back to a better way of life. And they never ever consider the depression that goes along with struggling each day and fearing that you may lose the one thing in your life that gives it meaning. Your art. 

Because an artist is poor, does this mean they are bad artists? Does it mean that any artist who is poor and struggling also creates inferior work? 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Image of the Day - Night Video of the Studio

I was asked recently to take some video of the studio. I'm admittedly not too good with video, but for what its worth I put together this short piece that includes the outside as well as the inside. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Image of the Day - Executioner of Light

My first feeling when I finished this piece and went to name it was that this was a being of light and power and majesty. But also very deadly. The colors should not decieve. There is danger here as well as beauty.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Image of the Day - Brainstorm

Click to Enlarge

This somewhat odd abstract began its life as three separate images. Two were taken in Audubon Park of trees. The third was an image taken of one of my body paintings several years ago. By merging the three together the resulting image felt like my brain feels so often as an artist. An explosion of color that leaps from my brain with tentacles weaving through the spaces of my head.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mind Altering Drugs in Art

Recently several national publications ran articles about tech industry employees using LSD Microdoses to boost their energy and creativity levels. Inevitably after I reposted these stories several people asked me if I had tried LSD or if not what drugs I did use.

It seemed a natural conclusion of colleagues that I had to take drugs in order to produce art at the rate that I so often work at. One person said he'd just been too shy to ask me prior to my posting the articles and that he figured it was my subtle way of saying "drugs help!"

Image of the Day - The Ghost in the Soda Shop Mirror

I took this image a few nights ago while walking through the small town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I fell in love with this quaint semi-lit soda shop with the original counters from the 1940's. But it left with me with a ghostly feeling when I passed it by. When I brought the image up today my original intention was to give it a surreal impression as if looking back in time. But I kept seeing the faint outlines of a face in the mirror behind the counter and decided that the face needed to be brought out further resulting in this final image.