Growing up in the testosterone-soaked Arctic is should be no surprise that my taste in sports runs towards football, hockey, racquetball and shooting…
…but my secret vice?
The surest ticket to a beat-down at recess at Woodland Park Elementary was ownership of a pair of figure skates even though without toe picks very few guys knew how effectively start and stop on hockey blades. My family’s compromise was to go skating after it got dark at night, which blessedly came early in Yankee corner of the Great White North.
Truth be told I liked to watch skating much more than I like skating myself – along with other “gliding” sports like swimming, cycling and hang-gliding the smooth rhythmic passage of a skater was a beautiful thing to behold, especially when set to music and when I discovered Kristi Yamaguchi in the 1990s there were times when I’d be moved to tears by such beauty in motion.
When I jumped into cut-paper sculpts twenty years ago I was first drawn to comic heroes as my subject matter, partially because of the nostalgia involved but I was equally motivated by the colorful costumes and athletic poses. It wasn’t long before I picked up on those same elements in professional athletics, and with my affinity for figure skating it wasn’t long before Ms. Yamaguchi showed up on my desk…
…well, mostly done. There’s a needed touch-up here and there and the photography leaves a bit to be desired in terms of cropping and focus, but the main goal has been achieved before 2019 ran out.
I finished “Forlorn Hope” 2.0
Close to a decade ago I put together a cut-paper sculpt very similar to this one in terms of subject matter, but that earliet work was always lacking somehow. That aesthetic shortfall was grist for more than one blog post so about a year ago I decided to do some editing…which turned into close to a complete rework – the project that wouldn’t die – and when I took my tumble down the stairs which in turn led to me flat on my back with serious knee problems I thought I’d never, ever get done.
But somehow I did, and getting it done has given me confidence – and hope that I’m not quite ready for life in a rocking chair yet.
If it seems like I haven’t been writing as much it’s because I haven’t – I’ve been caught up with fulfilling orders for my Midnight Son Kickstarter campaign and have had little time for proper word-crunching. When I do knock something it out its usually short, and short work is usually put it up on my Facebook fan page.
The page’s proper title is Fans of the Art of David R. Deitrick and it was put together by my dear friend and sometime agent Scott Taylor of Art of the Genre. I know that there is a wide range of opinions when it comes to social media, with most of the distaste brought on by the vicious political infighting that has all but supplanted the usual cute cat and Here’s-What-I-Had-For-Dinner posts but the fan page very pointedly avoids political/contentious posts. I share these blog posts with the fan page, but there is a lot of shorter – and in some instances –“funner” things going on there.
I’m very hesitant to add friends to my regular Facebook page but I’m easy-going about the Fan site, again with the assumption that we’re there to have fun and not argue.
You’re more than welcome to join.
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….