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Recruiting Expedition

May 11th, 2010

After finishing my latest painting, Lip Service, I realized that I had no brilliant ideas lined up for starting anything new. This doesn’t mean there are no pieces in the works; but, it means that none of them are ‘speaking’ to me right now. In the distant past, I would have used this as an excuse to mope around and feel sorry for myself while getting nothing done. In the more recent past I would have started another painting whether I had any real plans for it or not and used it as an opportunity to experiment with paint or its application. This time I decided I was going to use this as an opportunity to experiment further with creating my paper mache’ masks hoping that ideas will start percolating as I do so.

First, I got out two of the blank Mardi-Gras paper mache’ masks that you can buy fairly cheaply online and wrapped them with aluminum foil. (I use  cheap foil since it conforms to the shapes a lot  easier than the heavy duty stuff.) I then got two of my masks down from the walls in our home and wrapped them as well. You can see what they look like in all their reflective glory below. (The mask on the far left was sent to me by my brother, Duane, when he was a sailor on shore leave in Guam. The one on the far right is a joker/jolly Venetian mask that I added to my collection late last year from an online site.) Using Golden’s Regular Gel (Matte finish) acrylic medium and torn strips of cotton paper I spent the next few hours mache’ing away.

Army of Lightness - 1

After paper mache’ing all four of them into the wee hours of the morning I went to bed with a sense of having accomplished something and anticipating what fun ideas could come from this exercise. When I got up later in the morning and saw what I’d done I got excited and grabbed down a couple more of my masks to continue this process. You can see below that I’ve wrapped my mask from the Cirque show “Ka” and am preparing to wrap my “O” Cirque mask. You can also see that I’ve peeled the foil from three of the finished pieces and still await the final drying of the one in the upper right corner so I can peel it as well.

Army of Lightness - 2

As I was preparing to paper mache’ these masks I suddenly had a wild idea and re-foiled two of the masks I’d paper mache’d the night before. I allowed the foil to hang off the masks and really liked the ‘draped’ look this created – especially on the one in the upper left. While I was wrapping them I also got down my Chinese holiday mask (sent to me by Duane while on shore leave in Japan) and included it in this foiling frenzy. It is the one sitting front and center below.

Army of Lightness - 3

After another few hours of paper mache’ing I finished two more – including the ‘draped’ one that I was so excited about. Below you can see how they’ve all turned out, so far. I’ve still got a few to paper mache’, but I’ve definitely made some progress. I consider this 24 hours well spent.

Army of Lightness - 4

My army of lightness is ready for duty and awaiting orders. Hmmm… I’ve got some ideas starting to swirl around in that empty space between my ears – now if they’d only gel.

Stay tuned…

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17 Comments for 'Recruiting Expedition'

  1. Kathy Said:

    The draping is a great idea! There are so many stories embedded in the faces and expressions of these masks, and I have no doubt that you’ll find a myriad of inspirational themes to paint. It’s great that you have this type of springboard into your work. It’s better than facing a blank canvas!

  2. Robin Samiljan Said:

    so many masks… have you ever paper mached your face? we had to do that in our visual arts class in school. I look forward to whatever happens next!

  3. Technobabe Said:

    Great way to wander and roam till you come upon a great idea. Love the way the mask is not wrapped neatly with the aluminum foil which makes it look like a beard in the wind.

  4. hallie Said:

    If that fourth mask from the left were staring at me, I’d at least pretend to be working. Are they awaiting orders or getting ready to issue a few.

    What a smart way to spend your time.

  5. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Thanks, Kathy… You’re right, this is a LOT better than facing blank canvasses – and a lot more fun. I’m still waiting for their stories to come to the surface. Meanwhile I keep adding more.

    Robin… I have never done my face. I’m afraid it would defeat my purpose of hiding behind my masks. 😛 I, too, look forward to what happens next. We’ll see…

    Technobabe… The organic nature of the partially wrapped masks is really starting to ‘feel’ right. I’ll probably be following a train of thought there, seeing where it takes me.

    Hallie… I think you’re onto something about the direction of the flow of orders… hopefully mine will arrive soon – and not from Mr. Serious up there. I always prefer that those bossing me around have a smile on their face… a spoonful of sugar goes a long way with me…


  6. Celeste Said:

    its like having a group of friends.
    do you ever put foil on your head to keep aliens from getting your ideas?

  7. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Hi Celeste… Chewing on it seems to do the trick. I figure my head’s reflective enough already.


  8. deborah Said:

    All this in just 24 hrs? Very productive indeed my friend. I think you’re on to something with the draping – just think of all the cool designs you can do!

  9. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Hi Deborah… It’s just another day in this, the Year of the Don… 😉 I agree about the draping. I did some more experiments with just that yesterday and am getting pretty excited by the results. We’ll see where we go from here…


  10. Sandy Byers Said:

    Don, I can’t help but wonder if they have all met each other. So, do you have an army or does it have you? Fun stuff there! I can hardly WAIT to see what you do with it.

  11. Dan Kent Said:

    I think it would creep me out to have all of those masks behind me while I worked. Then again, maybe not if I were their CREATOR and they were beholden to ME! Be careful though, the creations can be envious of your power.

    This is really cool what you are doing. Can’t wait to see what comes next. I like the draping too.

  12. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Sandy… Oh yeah, they’ve all met – I made sure of that. You make a good point about who has who, I think it’s probably a little of both. Thanks!

    Dan… I try to be a benevolent creator hoping that my creations will not become envious and revolt. It’s probably only a matter of time anyway… 😀 Thank you!

  13. elizabeth seaver Said:

    There is nothing to be done when ideas aren’t right there but to keep going, keep producing, keep showing up. Congratulations. I’ve found that inspiration comes in the middle of work, not beforehand!

    I cannot wait to see what happens next, Don!

  14. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    You’re right, Elizabeth… You’ve just gotta’ show up. I show up every day, even if for just a few minutes. Working on anything in my studio in my quest for ideas is like the quote from “Field of Dreams”, “If you build it, they will come”… That sounded better in my head, but I’m going to go with it… 🙂


  15. Don’s Blog » Musical Chairs Said:

    […] paper mache’ masks into my 3D series of paintings. (I wrote about some of my adventures here). While the paper mache’ was drying I would take the opportunity to work on another of my […]

  16. Don’s Blog » Unmasking Yet Again Said:

    […] came up with the idea of the flowing ‘drapes’ while I was experimenting last week with my 3D paper mache’ masks. I wadded up some packing paper, formed it into a […]

  17. Don’s Blog » Celebrity Mask Said:

    […] tests with other paper mache’ masks I’d created in a recent flurry of experimentation (mentioned here). The mask on the right was my original intent of creating a ‘chrome’ look, but I found […]



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