It’s my last weekend in the studio of 2017, as always I want to make the best of my time. Again working on three pieces again today. I began by doing the important job of making Minnie’s Haberdashery by adding gum-tape to the exterior sides. I then went onto add the remaining pieces to complete buttress’s to the posts, which wasn’t trouble free. I had to re-point and fix a beam that allowed a buttress to meet smoothly from post to beam. I’m hoping that my work today will be a successful when I return.
I moved onto add another coat of paint newest piece, I can confidently say that I will be adding the final coat to the main pieces before I turn to the balsa elements I’ll be adding them and extending them so they both meet each other in the back right hand corner.
Lastly I focused on the extended the saloon which is almost ready to paint again. Adding detail to the windows and doors. I’ll be next adding the blinds, which I’ll have to understand as they affect how much of the windows are shown. Being blinds they are all at different heights, I may make them uniform, otherwise it would be too much detail, paying far too much attention to the screenshots. I’ve also reduced the height of the saloon bar which now sits much better in the space. I have to keep imagining people in the space, how they would work and interact with the space.
I’m hoping over my time away from the studio over the holiday to still make at home, taking at least one of the pieces home to look at the possibility of the loose front, which would sit around one side, being a similarly detailed front. I wont paint it white until I know it’s working.
Can’t find earlier posts? – they can be found in diary form here
Spending the day at home thanks to the snowy weather I had an idea which I had to sketch out. Thinking about the presentation of the models, the possibility of including the exterior – the fronts which I have so far removed, focusing the interior for the first time. Now the fronts would purely be a presentation detail – showing a link from my old work to how it’s evolving. Then I think would that be too much, I really like to the see the strips of card that hold it together, something I usually hide when I make model miniatures, used internally for structural reasons. They are also interesting to look at sculpturally. Would adding a front on one side be too much? I need to find out how that would work. Conceptually it ties into creating film sets and the illusion they create, having fronts would completely change my proposed set-up, they could be placed in a row, or in separate spaces.
I did a few sketches for potential fronts which could be fixed to or sit very close to as they wrap around the main piece. For three of them it’s pretty straight forward what I’m going to potentially do. It’s the fourth and latest one still being painted which is causing concern, the front is the view that we have into the model miniature, which could mean I either I have a front and project through the doorway – which ties into the view-finder for Minnie’s Haberdashery. Or I have a side piece which comes from my own thinking. If I went with the side wall, there would be a disconnect between it and the other model miniatures, projecting an image through a doorway leaves most of the model in the dark too. Or the last option is to take out a wall – not sure which as I want to keep the back wall (with the shelves) as the violence happens in that space. It’s a hard decision to make if I choose to go down this route. If I went down this route, it’s more making and painting which is nothing new. I think I need to see how one works before I went any further.
Another very productive day in the studio, working on three model miniatures again. After applying the another coat of white acrylic to the latest model, I quickly moved onto the other pieces. Firstly turning to Minnie’s Haberdashery where I started to add the buttresses, which I originally didn’t want to do, but feel they are necessary now to allow the model it has a relationship to be more effective. Once these are fixed I will move onto the remaining pieces. I am also seriously considering applying gum-tape around the edges for extra strength as I’ve had to carry out more maintenance today, which I want to reduce as much as possible.
Moving onto the extended piece where I started to see problems arise. After adding a problematic trim to the bar, which am still not happy with. I feel I’m adding too much detail and it will come to a point where there will be nothing left to the viewers imagination. I now feel it needs reducing in height to work with the tables and the detailing of the doors and windows which I made using strips of balsa. Where I then noticed that the internal door in the corner looks far smaller than the front door. I have a lot to consider here. The smaller door matches the other door further up the stairs. However when you see both of them in light of the elongated windows and front door they look ridiculous. However I am working from the set design in the screenshots, these areas are like that and I can’t escape that fact.
Lastly and much easier to achieve with little fuss, two tables have had the tops changed from circular to square, which matches the screenshots again. I think I just need to bring all of theses pieces together before I add the stove – which has no funnel this time and a slightly different design. I feel that as I have progressed through each model miniature my making has improved which in turn has produced pieces with greater details, none of them can be left behind on that level, that’s my main considering, the language of the detail.
As we enter the festive month I know my output will be slowing down, so I find myself spending longer in the studio during the days I’m in. I made a start on my Christmas shopping yesterday I made sure I made some good progress in the studio today. Having added another coat of paint to the newest model miniature I turned my attention to the first one, which was going to be gutting one two sides. Leaving the floor and the stairway and balcony in tact. I extended out, having a hard time working out to secure the floor on a slightly raised floor. I remembered that the piece started life as a box that I cut into and making it secure, it still has the original tape that sealed the box for its original purpose. I then worked around, added the patchwork of cardboard strips as the walls went in place. I decided that I will no longer need to make a bay window, after looking again at the stills they weren’t there in the first place. What I found instead were blinds which I could possibly add as a detail. I finished work on the model by sealing up a few areas up with gum tape.
Moving on I made up the 3 taller tables which I made last time, which have now replaced the round ones in the Minnie’s Haberdashery model miniature. Looking at them in the set, they look far more appropriate, carrying on the language of furniture with legs without being definitive design, they are simple yet work together. I’ll be adding buttresses next time, this will be after I know the beams are secure, having carried out a little maintenance today.
I think the way I’m working allows me to make the best of my time in the studio painting the one model whilst making modifications to others. Adding coats of paint only takes so much time, and as I reach a more solid colour things will speed up. I think currently I should have all the models complete by the end of January, then I can look at group presentation then, already looking at making specific tables which fit the models, rather than finding an appropriate piece.
I can’t remember the last time I spent some real time with this work which I’ve been working loosely with since the summer. Today I’ve spent some good time in the studio playing with my lights and projector, directing them onto the white models I made in the summer. I’ve finally been able to do what I set out to all those months ago. It was rather satisfying to see these ideas take form, if they worked or didn’t was another thing, to actually follow through on a thought that had been there for a long time means I’m happier for it.
So it was all about colour to begin win, wanting to shine block colour, taking the phrase almost literally – painting the town red – with light. I found that the red was coming out more pink, turning to less obvious colours such as green and blue, before finishing with orange. Photographically the results aren’t the best. I found myself returning to earlier work, which is not where I want to be heading, I need to move away from the literal yet atmospheric.
Moving onto another idea I had was to project video onto these essentially blank canvases which meant getting the projector out and finding clips of Westerns I have, seeing what work. Not really choosing anything in particular I went for the rollerskating scene from Heaven’s Gate (1980) which pushed me to consider how to really use the projector and the model, which with every consecutive scene grew ans grew. With this scene it was more about how can I cove the whole or the majority of the model.
It was nice to see how the image consumed the model, becoming an outdoor cinema, projecting its image against a saloon. The image come up well on the model, it will ultimately vary depending on the model being projected onto. I moved onto a scene from The Searchers (1956) which was more of the same. I went to another scene from the film, this time bringing another model, meaning that the projector had to move back to accommodate them both.
What happened here was that the images took on a status of being bigger, yet still very much part of the same world. When I saw the landscape against the more urban models, this is something I wanted to explore, the background being part of these models in the foreground. Pushing it further with the final gunfight in True Grit (1969) which had wide open spaces to take advantage of.
This particular scene worked more so because of the action, the cinematic presentation of the scene, these gigantic god-like being behind the models. I also moved all four of the models in front of the projector, experimenting with layout, creating shadows, which ultimately don’t really matter as the image is still caught on the models in front, the light becomes sculptural. I carried the god-like status through to the next scene – the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) which I was very pleased with, partly down to the close-ups.
For the last set-up I positioned the models into a more conventional street set-up, with a gunfight from A Few Dollars More (1965) which drew me to my final thoughts of the day, linking nicely to the original inspiration of the Marquis in Melton – Street violence, or that of gunfights in the genre. I’d like to see how more models and more gunfight scenes work with this set-up. I still want to see how the cowboy figures work in terms of shadows they produce.
So as you can see I have been very busy and had lots of fun, immersed in the Western. To me this piece is about the violence that is created/depicted in the genre, this is where I maybe leading this piece going forward.
I’m starting to regroup after yesterdays crit which I am starting to understand where things may possible go. A revisionist western may not be the way forward now. I might have had the blinkers on. It maybe the presentation of the piece in the current show that maybe at fault – I don’t know. Anyway I’ve just found an artist who works with toys – Santlov; a Miami based artist. I’ve found a few inspirational pieces from his ToysRLikeUs series. Placing toys in everyday modern situations. I’ve focused on the Toy Story pieces, (this is just a selection) as they are Toys originally, even though they are characters from a film. It’s an interesting complication of the work. This early research as I look into the idea of politically correct play-sets which I have in essence created. The Animation becomes an accompaniment which I like the idea of, as it would tie up the work without wasting it, as if they are small adverts or shorts that go alongside.
I’ve come across the artist Daniel Agdag who has made a series of extremely detailed cardboard miniatures. Which has inspired me to make models of a town, but not so much with cardboard, but more foamboard, which is more architectural than cardboard which is what you get a sense of in the 20th century landscape. I will never be as detailed as his work, going more for the aesthetic of the genre in terms of the lighting. They will be flat fronts with the film set language which I have fallen in love with again thanks to images of the Bates Motel again which show up how false things can be. Agdag’s work has given me the inspiration to take my work back into my own two hands and make my scenes differently than I have thought so far.