Last Saturday morning sis and I dragged our tails to the shower, put some cloths on and went to breakfast before our next workshop.
I highly recommend the buffet breakfast at the Sheraton Sonoma Hotel. The food is delicious and there's a lot of fresh fruit, yogurt and granola.
So... after breakfast we would return to our room, brush the teeth, grab our supplies and head for our workshop of the day. This one, on Saturday, was called Dreampunk Mask. Our fearless leader and instructor for this class is one Michael deMeng.
I don't know what it is about this man.
But... he has this more sinister side and it comes out in his work. Before I tell you about his class I want you to go to this link.. and his Google images. Take a good look at these images. This is what he does.... and I believe that inside this mild mannered person is a full blown. dead or alive, Alchemist... made of toy parts, paint and an insane brain function that transcends mortal man. He probably has all the "snips, snails and puppy dog tails" in there too, but mostly it's weird, demented de Meng stuff... done really well.
This is my second workshop with Michael and I believe that I have officially become one of his major fans. He is one cool artist and this class was more fun than a barrel of (reassembled and transformed) monkeys. When I find myself laughing out loud, because I just figured out how to paint "light" into a series of colorful layers of paint... I know I have learned something about art and myself.
This workshop was called Dreampunk Mask and we were asked to bring a mask of any kind, a product called Epoxy Clay, some acrylic paint and some brushes.
I found an inexpensive mask at a party store and I wanted to use the deer skull that a neighbor had given me. This is how it all started. This would be a mask to hang on the wall, not to wear.
It's all about anthropomorphism and myth. In Jewish mythology there exists a giant kind of
stag creature by the name "Keresh". maybe this would be a good name for my mythical creature.
In the story of Saint Hubertus (a Christian saint) on Good Friday morning, when the
faithful were crowding the churches, Hubertus joined a hunt. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag the animal turned and, as
the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix
standing between its antlers, which gave him a change of heart that
led him to a saintly life.
And then....Cernunnos, a god in Celtic mythology that possessed two deer antlers on the top of his head. He was known as The Horned One or The Horned God despite having antlers and not horns.
Cernunnos is also known as The Stag Lord, The Horned God of the Hunt and
The Lord of the Forest.
I like to think that these myths about deer are because they are such tranquil but strong creatures, with a look of nobility and pride. In Celtic mythology, the deer is a magical creature, able to move
between the worlds. In Ireland, many tales have humans transformed into
And so, with these images in mind and the idea that this deer might want revenge for its death by other animals or humans, I chose to make my new creation a buck that would wreak some form of retaliation on others for its demise. (Oh my, that says something about me doesn't it?)
Yes, it's sinister and scary to think that every deer that is hit by a car or shot by a hunter will come back as a huge fiery monster that seeks revenge... but this is Art and the myth is mine.
I secured the mask to the skull with foil and epoxy clay and then started the process of building up the face and blending it into the antlers.
(My neighbor did not kill this deer. He found the deer already dead. We don't know the cause. "D" is a hunter and has killed other deer before... but only for the meat and always with great respect for the animal. I couldn't, personally, shoot and kill any animal. You do have a choice when you have an abundance of food available, as we do in this country, but that's not always the case and some folks have to find their own sources.)
Anyway, my feelings are known and I will move on to the artwork.
This mask was my sisters. She is showing how it's worn.
She put a small set of antlers on the top with some found dried grass for hair.
This is Big Bird at his most incomparable moment.
This artist went outside the classroom and found some dried twigs to use on her ladies mask. Then used some horns that she had ordered and shells to embellish. The most amazing and creative idea was the use of peacock feathers for the eyes.
This mask was a very simple mask that, with the use of epoxy clay, was recreated into this amazing creature.The mouth, eyes, nose and forehead were all built up out of epoxy clay. Great work.
Keep in mind that all of these faces were started with a plastic mask like my grandchildren would wear on Halloween. In Michael's information sheet he wrote, "Making masks is different than merely wearing them; it can be a process for artists to reveal what is veiled inside one's soul."
When I look at these... and especially when I look at mine... I think that man, or woman, has a definite "inner place" somewhere deep inside and whether myth or magic, it is in our abilities to believe what we choose, given the scope of our imagination. Mr. deMeng says, "It is a strange art form that keeps secrets, but also simultaneously unearths hidden worlds. Oh, the irony."
Where do you think your "inner place" is? What is it like? How do you express this in the real world?
Here are some photos of my mask taken after I got home. I don't feel any animosity from this mythical deer... but I will watch for any change of expression or movement on the livingroom wall.
A view underneath the mask.
After all... Halloween is almost here.