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.


SI Exif

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.




John Steed

2016-02-02 Steed

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!

Flashback Hurricane

SI Exif

SI ExifIm

I’m getting used to yet another camera. I was all set to get in step with the rest of the human race and use my I-phone for all my photography (as well as just about everything in life) but for some reason I cannot get the images from my phone to my computer…and before I get deluged with advice bear in mind I have had three very competent gear-heads help me with this issue and it still remains unsolved.

Not a problem. We have extra cameras littering the house. It seems like you can’t buy anything without having a digital camera as part of the deal. Not that I am complaining. When you consider what we paid “back in the day” (be sure to factor in the rate of inflation) I could buy thirteen cameras and still be ahead of the game.

This is an interesting piece – a cut-paper cutaway. It is a major component of the promised John Steed/Emma Peel art that I have been working on over the last not-quite-year. I figure that if there is no deadline to meet and no client to please I am going to take my time and get it exactly right…though the definition  of “exactly right” gets a little fuzzy at times.

Sometimes people make art because they want an image of something in particular, which includes portraits of loved ones or fan-art of favorite fictional characters. Sometimes art is used to make social commentary. Sometimes it is made as an experiment, to see how a certain technique works. The Avengers piece is a mix of the first and third reasons above: I think the fourth season of The Avengers ( Diana Rigg’s first season and the last season it was filmed in black-and-white) is one of the best bodies of televised work ever made.

I also love working with cut-paper – it allows me to play in that boundary between two and three dimensions in a way no other medium allows; it also combines the best parts of working  in those two mediums as well.

The finished/combined piece will be done by this spring. I have the John Steed component to make and some typography to tighten up. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I am doing a poster for an Avengers episode that “could have been” with just enough information to get some viewer interaction going.


Analog Art Reboot

2015-11-04 WF Batman DrawingOne of the hardest lessons to teach – and to learn – in the art business is gauging how much time to spend on a project. When working in a representational manner it’s always good to err on the side of more hours but after you reach a certain level of proficiency there are times when  “less IS more”. I find that to be the case especially with the human figures: it is possible to overwork a drawing.

That is even more the case for me when drawing in preparation for cut paper sculpture. With CPS the drawings are more than just representations of people or objects – they become tools. The process is not just a matter of depicting someone – they also have to be shown in a manner that helps you make parts.

This Batman figure fell into that trap. I really want to make a WORLD’S FINEST // Batman & Superman cut-paper sculpture. One of the first comics I ever read was a World’s Finest # 142 “The Origin of the Composite Superman” and at this stage of my life/career it seems appropriate for such a piece. Unfortunately for all the work I’ve put into this figure it will not be part of the composition. I spent too much time getting everything precisely mapped out and ended up with a drawing that is a bit too stiff and posed for my intent.

….so it’s (literally) back to the drawing board.


Dame Diana Cuts No Slack….

2014-07-01 Emma

Sometimes I could swear that my work talks to me. Take this cut-paper sculpt for instance. Dame Diana here is a component of the Avengers composition that I have been working on for a couple of months – you know the one that was supposed to include the Hawker Hurricane that I slaved over then realized wasn’t working? This particular figure was in much the same shape. I had lost vision to some extent, what with the creative process being spread over a couple of months. The face/head that I had come up with was not working. It was usable – but not a good likeness – but I figured that the important thing was that she have the same general look. I mean if they could cast Uma Thurman in that horrible, horrible movie then my not-quite-spot-on sculpt should be OK, right?

I went to bed, but couldn’t sleep. I got up to get a drink of water and walked over to my desk to take another look…and I swear she gave me a Bronx cheer/Raspberry/whatever you call the “thbbpppt” sound you make with your tongue. I was copping out and my own creation was calling me on it.

So I started over and I am glad I did. This photo is a quick snap and doesn’t do her complete justice but when the whole thing is put together you’ll see!

Process: Finished Cut-paper piece

2015-04-02 Hawker Hurricane

In the late-sixties MAD magazine ran a parody of “How to Draw” features that still cracks me up. It was done by Mort Drucker and shows the student how to draw a portrait of Bob Hope, the only drawback was the progress from step to step. Step One showed a few lightly sketched ovals established the shape of the head and shoulders while Step Two showed a completely rendered drawing – the joke being the omission of the intermediate steps that would have been the real meat of the feature.

I feel that way about showing this cut-paper piece. I ran a couple of posts a while ago showing the initial drawings and the first steps in cutting out parts  – and I had every intention of showing intermediate steps where the parts are assembled. Unfortunately/fortunately (depending on your perspective) we’ve ended up buying a house and most of my time has been taken up with bankers and realtors.

I’ve continued to work on this in my spare time  but haven’t been able to photograph it.

…and yes I know the colors are all off – way too cool. It will make sense when then entire piece is done. There is a lot more depth that this photo shows as well – it measures about 1 1/2″ deep.

The Process: Making Parts

My next step with cut-paper involves making the individual parts that will be used to make sub-assemblies- which in turn are assembled into the final object. I make a dozen photo copies of each drawing , cut them up into separate stencil-pieces then carefully tape them along their edges to whatever paper I will be using for the part. If I am planning shadow areas or other detailing I will cut away those areas on the stencil then mount the base paper part on top of darker paper using spray adhesive. In rare cases (usually involving very small  parts) I will use white glue instead of spray adhesive to laminate the papers.

Use Scotch Super 77 spray adhesive. Use only Scotch Super 77 spray adhesive. Granted, it has a very aggressive tack and is not very forgiving with misplaced parts, but holds and holds and holds. Most other spray adhesives will bubble, wrinkle and lose tack within weeks and will do so even sooner if exposed to the  slightest hint of humidity in the air. I suspect that if you were to run out of bolts you could hang a bumper on your car with Super 77…

Looking at this Hawker Hurricane in progress it would be easy to conclude that the idea for this whole paper sculpt process was horked from the beautiful paper models coming out of Eastern Europe but the truth is I was experimenting with paper construction and mechanics long before I ever saw them. Have I been influenced by them – most definitely, but if you’re trying to construct a family tree for my cut-paper work you can start with the punch-out books from my childhood.

(Any sort of childhood sickness was cured with chicken soup and a punch-out book, my all time- favorite being the one based on Walt Disney’s Babes In Toyland.)

The image below shows examples of those initial component parts in various stages of the process.