This is starting to take on psychoanalytic significance. Three of my best cut-paper sculpts involve a platinum-tressed beauty rejecting/striking/spurning/ignoring a male. It’s a mystery – I grew up as the only son in a family of seven and I’ve been happily married for over forty-two years so as a rule I’m comfortable around the double X component of the human race. I am baffled to think that some unresolved gender-related issue is chipping away at my subconscious mind.
This composition dates back ten years ago when I was teaching at Nossi College of Art when it started out as a demonstration for an alternative mediums class. I really didn’t set out with a set composition or theme other than poking fun at the whole 1960’s macho secret agent motif.
( …mostly I just wanted to make something that looked cool!)
Technical notes: cut-paper sculpture measuring 14”X20” (my favorite format/size for CPS). The red bustier is made from paper I’d marbleized during a previous class demonstration. The image on the left has been shot in the anaglyphic process so if you have a pair of those red/blue glasses the image will appear dimensional .This work also has the dubious distinction of being the last CPS I was able to make without worrying overmuch about paper stock. While the Nashville metro area is much larger than Knoxville the smaller city has better sources for paper – it was only after we’d lived her for three years that I started running low on my favorite materials.
This cut-paper sculpture figures prominently in a post I wrote a couple of years that was entitled 2003: Have You Ever Heard of an Artist Named David Deitrick.
(You’ll find information about the BEYOND INFINITY – the book it illustrated)
While rooting through old files today I found the preliminary sketch and I thought it would be kind of cool to show the two versions side-by-side. For both personal and professional reasons I’ve always put a lot of effort into my sketches- creating the final art is made much easier and it’s harder for clients to complain if the sketch they approved beforehand is meticulously followed.
Last Christmas I wrote about Unrequited, a Batgirl-themed cut-paper piece I did almost ten years ago. While I’ve always been fond of the concept the main figure quickly cooled off for me so I decided to extensively rework the project, keeping the Bat-Mite figure and the odd utility belt pouch but disposing of everything else.
I finished the new main figure today and as I look at it three things come to mind:
- While the differences are not screamingly obvious I am very glad I re-did the Batgirl figure.
- I’d forgotten how challenging cut-paper work can be.
- It’s been a great warm-up for my upcoming book cover-to-be.
It’s been a while since my last large CPS but I’ve thankfully retained, even refined all the pertinent skills. The next step is to create a new environment then reassemble all the components into a single composition
As I wrote last winter I’ve never been happy with the Batgirl cut-paper sculpt that I put together five or six years ago so it should be no surprise that I am up to my elbows making a new version, based on the original sketch. As I was taking pictures my Beautiful Saxon Princess suggested that I make a video presentation about my technique…and I think it’s a good idea. I’m in the “baby-steps” stage of planning right now, still researching video production and funding options like Patreon but it may be that this is the direction my teaching career will take now that I am no longer in the classroom.
…but for now I will share a snap of the work in progress, which starts with a drawing that I cut up to use for templates when making the individual parts.
I’ve lost count/track of all the reboots in DC Comics during the last couple of years, reboots that have been mildly disappointing in that a character I am following will either disappear or change beyond recognition. Such was the case with the disappearance of the Stephanie Brown version of Batgirl dating from earlier in this decade. Not wanting to see the character completely disappear I decided to create an image of her for my studio – and since I like more light-hearted books like Amanda Conner’s work on Power Girl I came up with the composition pictured below.
The failed romance between Batgirl and Bat-mite depicted in Unrequited is something that would fit in the aforementioned books but as I was comparing the finished art is on the left with the preliminary sketch to the right I realized that this was another case where I liked the sketch much, much more that the finished art.
There is something magic in a sketch – a promise of good things to come, a promise that is not always kept. Fortunately with my cut-paper work a do-over is relatively painless …and Unrequited is definitely headed for a do-over.
I think this time I am just going to scan up and work directly from the Batgirl sketch…
Enjoying a motion picture at age 9 entailed a lot more than just sitting in the theater – as soon as I got home I’d want to “play” the movie and act out scenes as a way of prolonging the excitement. Reading my Legion of Superheroes books has punched some of the same buttons a movie does but at 65 jumping off the deck while clad in Spandex just isn’t going to happen. At this stage of my life maintaining a link with the excitement entails some sort of creative work and this time around it will mean a cut-paper sculpt.
In addition to the actual construction of the figures themselves I use a lot of paper in preparatory work. I carefully draw each figure/component , then make a dozen copies of each drawing. Then I cut each drawing into pieces I will then use as templates in making individual parts…and those parts will then be assembled into major figures. The drawings you see here depict Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy and Ultra Boy; I may be adding another figure (Shrinking Violet) to the composition later on if the design can accommodate her.
Latest in cut-paper sculpts and a miracle that it is finished at all. I started this almost a year ago but as most of you know this has not been an easy year. Even as I look at it now I can find a half-dozen rookie mistakes but to be honest I don’t give a rat’s (bleep). I’d rather be a couple of thousand miles northwest of here at a small chapel in Soldotna, Alaska waiting for my mom’s funeral.
The World’s Finest team ( Batman/Superman) has been one of my favorites from the Day One of my interest in comics. I was not sure I would like the current Batman V. Superman movie but when the flow of action moved away from the stereotypical “mistaken hero throw-down” to fighting Doomsday I stared to like it.
Batman: “Don’t worry – I’m a friend of your son’s “
Martha: “I know. I could tell – you know, the cape”
As it is with all my cut paper work you really don’t get the depth with regular photography, and with this particular piece you’ll be missing even more. You’ll note that Superman’s eyes are glowy-red, like he’s either just used his heat vision or is warming up to do so soon. When I box-frame this work I am going to melt two little holes in the protective Plexiglas.
…right in Superman’s line of sight….
It’s the closing of the year – and as this particular year has been a most challenging one I am glad that I can close it with this paper sculpt…as in “At least I got this one done!”
…and as for the name. When he first discovered superheroes Jaden couldn’t correctly pronounce “M” or “S” so “Superman” became “NuperDan”. It stuck, and now our favorite Kryptonian exile has been permanently dubbed “NuperDan” in the Deitrick home.
Look for this as part of a larger “World’s Finest” paper sculpt due to be out in February.
The first major heartbreak of my life? May of 1968 when I found out that Diana Rigg was being replaced on The Avengers. I cycled between anger and angst every five minutes until a squirrel ran by the window and my attention was distracted enough to get on with life.
Dame Diana was never completely off my radar though and I have followed her career as I have followed the continuing adventures of her alter-ego through paper-back books and graphic novels. ( We will not be discussing the travesty that tried to pass itself off as an Peel/Steed Avengers movie in 1998). The DVD’s released at about the same time were the main reason I finally broke down and bought a player….but through it all I have wished that there somehow was an episode from the fourth season/series that was never aired – and was discovered and about to be aired for the first time.
“Flashback” came out of that wish. In the same way that I ran home after The Longest Day and spent the afternoon jumping out of a packing crate that stood in for Omaha beach, this work is meant to jump-start viewer imagination and interaction. As you look at the elements and the text I am hoping you’ll mentally write their own episode, something involving Steed’s war-time service with Emma’s derring-do.
This work took a LOT longer than planned – but then I wanted to get it just right and I didn’t have a deadline or an art director goading me along. The photography is not the best but I think it will do until I get a pro in there to do the sculpt some justice.
My original plan was to get this portrait finished and posted during the week following Patrick Macnee’s death, but you know that saying about roads, hell and good intentions. The important thing is I’ve finally finished it – albeit with Lori’s steadying touch. She is so good with faces that the studio rules specify that no likeness leaves the premises without going through her.
(…and on the other hand no building, vehicle or other perspective-intensive subject has to go by me!)
I think it turned out looking pretty good…and when you take into consideration the other >bleep< I am pestered with right now it turned out exceptionally well.
Next step: assembling this into the long-awaited Avengers mixed-media project!