2019: Becoming Pak

protector

Because it is usually displayed as a fairly small image most people don’t recognize my avatar as anything but some sort of alien, when in fact he is a Pak Protector. Pak Protectors are an invention of noted SF author Larry Niven and figure prominently in his Known Space cycle of stories. They are an old race from a world near the core of our galaxy, a world with high radiation levels and crowded conditions that brought on rapid and extensive evolution.

The Pak go through three stages in life with the first two analogous to human child and adult states,  but instead of expiring at our own  “three-score-and-ten” limit they go into a third phase of existence known as  the Protector stage, which is brought on after a breeder ingests a tuber called Tree-of-Life which a contains a virus that acts as an evolutionary trigger. Humanity is descended from a colony of Pak breeders stranded on Earth millennia ago when the Protectors that established the colony died when their Tree-of-Life crops failed. The original Pak Breeder population evolved into modern humans and all primates of our world would transform into the Protector stage if exposed to Tree-of-Life root.

The transformation produces  positive characteristic “improvements” that mirror the negative aspects of aging:

  • Skin thickens into a leathery armor-like covering
  • Teeth fail out and are replaced by a beak
  • Fingernails transform into retractable claws
  • Joints deform in a way that increases leverage available to muscles developing

All these changes make Protectors extremely efficient fighting machines, which is just as well as protection and survival of their family becomes their sole reason for living and their lives become one constant battle with other Protectors living on a crowded world with limited resources.

The most significant change is increased cranium size and brain mass which results in phenomenal increase in intelligence, which is why one of the first remarks a newly transformed Protectors is “I’ve been so stupid”…a sentiment I find myself expressing many times since passing age sixty. The experience surviving to your seventh decade alone imparts a lot of wisdom and if you’ve endeavored to learn from your mistakes you end with knowledge and judgement that would rival Mr. Niven’s creations.

There is a dilemma that comes with that knowledge: what do you do with it? In times past elders/seniors/geezers were accorded a measure of respect and their counsel was considered valuable. It sure doesn’t seem that way now though – most of the time people look at me and just see a member of the “fifty-five-to-dead” demographic with the more extreme voices advocating euthanasia or other marginally less drastic measures to reduce the cost of elder care on society as a whole.

I try not to think about the situation, in fact when my when my autoimmune issues started ramping up in the late 1990s and I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. I took a page from the handbook of an eleven-year-old coping with the idea of Santa Claus: I embraced the idea of “well, what if Tree-of-Life really did exist” and instead of chronic pain and limited movement looked forward to life as a totally bad-a** senior citizen,

…a feeling that lasted for maybe three minutes at most and I embraced those small Pak traits I did end up with, namely a fiercely protective and supportive love of for my children, grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren… and a desire to use whatever insights gained from my “I’ve been so stupid” epiphany to help them find an easier road in Life than I walked.

 

 

 

New Batgirl figure (Stephanie Brown version)

2019-03-04 Main Batgirl figure Reworked

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

 

Bladeship Model

bladeship

I designed the bladeship to be Starfleet’s primary Special Operations support vessel – a concept that kicked off a short but brisk discussion that recently spread across WordPress and Facebook.  Essentially an SR-71, an AC-130 and a submarine rolled into one ship, the bladeship was central to an (unfortunately) unpublished special operations supplement I wrote for FASA’s Star Trek role-playing game back in the day. The fact that at the time I was also serving as the battalion S2 (intelligence) for the 1st battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (ABN) UTARNG was most definitely a factor in the whole project

The aforementioned discussion got me thinking about all the work that went into the project and how it could be of enough interest to support a couple of posts. Unfortunately, I started the original bladeship project thirty-four years and seven houses ago, and as I learned in the army “three moves equal one fire” …so I’ve essentially been burned out twice since 1985.

I still have  some “stuff” left, including this Styrene and Bondo ® model built in scale to the original AMT USS Enterprise model. As I think about this I’m pretty sure I’ve already written a post or two  about the bladeship but A) it’s been awhile and B) the pertinent files have proved to be elusive.

A Shameless Plug…

Sculptors are the bikers of the art world :  brash, strong-willed and you’ll rarely find one that will concede anything to another artist…which makes this post a bit  unusual. I recently commissioned a custom action figure from Jay Sabich at 37 Custom Toys and I have to tell you he does Grade-A work and I would be hard pressed to match it.

The figure depicts Rogue from the X-men wearing the red & black uniform she wore in the pages of X-TREME X-MEN, a look that I prefer to her regular green/yellow aerobics instructor look. TOYBIZ released a figure in that uniform in 2006 but unfortunately they gave her that anorexic look that was so popular for female figures of that era,

(…or as my daughter said at the time “I just pretend they’ve been very, very sick)

This figure has also been done in the whimsical style  of the old Justice League: International figure line which in turn was based on the animated series of the same name. It’s also been done very, very well and you’d be hard put to distinguish it from a factory figure. The sculpting is crisp, and the surface finish is understated and uniform.  I usually keep my figures stored away but this young lady has a place of honor on my desk.

If you’re interested you can contact Jay at 37 CustomToys on most social media platforms or you can email him directly at capmarvelfan@yahoo. Please check his work out and do business with him if you can. He’s a little guy competing with the corporations and he deserves the support.

roguexsefigure

Class Update

TheGuySIngularIt’s a busy time of year and I get to have my Star Pupil with me in the studio a bit more often than usual. After our last session Jaybug has developed a passion for sculpture, which for a five-year old usually means he will stay on task for seven to ten  minutes at most. However, It’s been a little different this time around and I know for a fact that we’ve had three episodes of Dynotrux air since he started pushing Super-Sculpey this afternoon.

3 x 23 minutes = 69 minutes or an hour & change.

It’s amazing.

I am not sure what to make of it.

I’ve had fourth-year art school students that can’t focus for that long….

Class Portrait

When NSCC kicked me to the curb last summer my Beautiful Saxon Princess told me that the only thing that had  changed was  the size of my classes. –  before I had anywhere from  25 to 30 students but now I just have one – my grandson Jayden.

I couldn’t agree more. Jayden is just the latest in a succession of kids growing up in my studio. We had a great day in the studio today learning about sculpture and sculpting tools and as  we were finishing up BSP decided to take pictures.

Initial shot

TheGuys2

Attitude Adjustment

TheGuys1

Final version….

TheGuys3

 

Phagor

PhagorThis is one of my earlier sculpts – a phagor from the Brian Aldiss Helliconia trilogy.  In the fall of 1991 Easton Press gave me an assignment to create a frontspiece illustration for their signed limited hardbound decision of Helliconia Spring. Most of the other figures and elements involved were fairly straightforward but I had never been happy with any previous version of the goat-like phagors  I had seen so I made the bust and shot reference photos.

Production notes: Super Sculpey with a metal armature on a wooden base and painted with acrylics

Mechanism Revised

Mechanism Revision

… at least I think the title is “Mechanism”. For some long-forgotten reason I’ve titled all my abstract sculptures with names that start with the letter “M”. Unfortunately records of those titles are sparse – I lost  a lot of “stuff” during our 2007 and 2015 moves ( three moves = one fire )… and at 65  my short-term memory leaves something to be desired.

Maxim

Up until about a week ago this is what it looked like.

My original concept six years ago was to create a comment on ambiguous technology –  something that looks like it could have a function, but a function that isn’t readily identifiable. We’ve kept a running tally of interpretations and so far there’s been a 50/50 split between “gun” and “train” – though my mother-in-law insists it looks like a bomb.

The barrel-like extension on the right was never meant to literally be a gun-barrel but rather a way to allow the sculpt to control space with a minimum “effort”…then when we were surveying the front room pursuant to hanging more work I noticed that the “barrel” was starting to droop. The only positive aspect of that development seemed to be  providing grist for middle-school humor so I did some trimming week before last.

 

The Car-key Fairy

FinishedKeyFairy

Sometime after putting together the Myrmaids concept I came up with a second line of figures called (In)Formal Fairies, a mish-mash reimagining of the traditional gremlin concept but based on female fairies dressed in formal gowns rather than ugly critters that you can’t feed or get wet. I wasn’t able to put nearly as much time and energy into this second concept, so production of the concept paintings ended up spread over several years.

Long story short:  quality is very inconsistent so I’m going back to the drawing board for a new set of images on which to base my copyright application.

However…

I produced sculpts for two of the fairies that have held up well. Occasionally I will sell a casting, but I haven’t sold very many because:

  1. A) I’d like to get the entire set of images finished and under registered copyright first
  2. B) I have to put a pretty hefty price tag on them – there’s a LOT of clean-up work required after casting, not to mention the time involved in quality painting.

Now, do you ever wonder where those car keys went? The ones that you just had in your pocket yesterday? Well, look no further than the young lady imp pictured today. Done up in a shimmering formal gown complete with cocktail gloves, she is getting ready to drop the aforementioned get of keys down a heating vent, where you’ll never, ever  think to look for them…