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Unmasking Yet Again

May 19th, 2010

This past October I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in a charity auction which featured masks autographed and decorated by celebrities and local Las Vegas artists. (I wrote about the event here.) I had the honor of painting the masks autographed by Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Kathy Griffin which garnered over $300 for the charity.

The event, called “Un-Masking the Mind” is coming up again this Fall (October 23rd, to be exact) and I have once again volunteered to paint masks autographed by a couple of celebrities. Since I love being a big tease I will not reveal who the celebrities are until I’ve completed their respective masks. Meanwhile, though, I will share with you the mask I just completed and will be donating, autographed by yours truly. I wanted to do mine first as a trial run so I could hopefully garner some fun ideas for decorating the others.

Persephone Returns

Persephone Returns – 19″x11″x4″ – Paper mache’ and acrylic

©2010, Don Michael, Jr.

I 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 ‘wreath’ around a mask and used aluminum foil to create my shape. I then tore strips of brown shipping paper and proceeded to paper mache’ing. I didn’t get any photos of the “mold”, but here is a photo of the drapery drying with a foil-wrapped mask tucked in there for support.

Persephone - Naked

After the paper mache’ dried I painted both it and the mask I was planning to use with white gesso. They are not connected yet, because I knew it would be a huge challenge to paint them the way I planned if they were already fused.

Persephone - White

I then painted the drapery a green mixed from Phthalo Green(Yellow Shade), Iridescent Brilliant Gold(Fine), and touches of Quinacridone Magenta – all from Golden Acrylics.

Persephone - Green n White

While the drapery was drying I painted the mask using the same colors, differently…

After the drapery dried, I lightly brushed the gold over it to brighten the greens and give it a little more iridescence.

Persephone - Golden

After these both dried I turned them over and started fusing them. That ended up being a two day process because I had to do it in increments. After the final touches of acrylic medium had dried I decided that as much as I liked the green-to-gold blend I had created, it was still a touch boring to me. I decided I needed to add some red tips and accents to the drapery, so I mixed the gold and magenta together to create a nice rich burgundy and started wisping it on with a mega-soft brush.

Persephone - Red tips

I had so much of the red mixture left over that I decided to paint the back-side of the mask. When I started photographing the back I noticed a cool phenomenon – the face looked inverted…

Persephone from behind1

…no matter which direction I turned it.

Persephone from behind2

In an attempt to show the depth in the back of the mask I stuck my hand down in it. I don’t know that it totally disrupted the illusion at all, so you’ll just have to take my word that this is the back/inside of the mask.

Persephone from behind

If you’d like to know more about this event feel free to check out their Facebook Fan Page. As the event gets closer we will have an online element for people to be able to bid on the masks before the event. As soon as that goes live, I’ll let you know.

Happy Creating!

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21 Comments for 'Unmasking Yet Again'

  1. kathy Said:

    The mask is gorgeous!! You’ve really mastered this innovative process. I’d bid on the mask because of YOUR signature, not because of any celebraties’.

  2. elizabeth seaver Said:

    Whoa! That is so cool! I love your color choices, Don. Adding the red tips on the drapery was just right. It gives it an aged look or patina.

    Does the inverted mask give you ideas for the future? It has such a different dimensionality to it.

    I’m impressed with the way you keep pushing the boundaries of your subject matter, creating in the same theme, but coming up with innovative changes with each new piece. Rock on!

  3. PAMO Said:

    The drapery is so COOL!!

  4. Technobabe Said:

    I too like the hints of red in the drapery. The finished product is so unique. Now I look forward to the other masks that you create for the “celebrities” to autograph.

  5. Sandy Byers Said:

    It appears the two faces of Persephone won’t be denied! And oh-so-interesting that one is nearly the color of the forbidden pomegranate! Don, this piece is full of character and so creative. You have done an amazing job with her!

  6. Robin Samiljan Said:

    Love that the face is dimensional on both sides, love the richness of your color combos even more.

  7. hallie Said:

    In these days of worrying about the environment, she has green on her mind. She’s beautiful and shines in many ways.

    (Sometimes, after reading the words, I go back and just look at the photos. That hairy arm appears to be checking for fever.)

  8. deborah Said:

    I just knew the whole drapery thing would catch on! All those fun folds and curves. I love the metallic-iridescent finish you got. The inversion effect is really freaky. No matter how I look at it – even with your hand in it – I just can’t see the red as a concave shape.

  9. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Thanks, Kathy… I’ll be playing some more with this process in the future. It sure is fun.

    Elizabeth… Thank you! I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation when I started painting the red. I was afraid I’d mess everything up. But, you know what they say about nothing ventured… I haven’t given a lot of thought to the inversion, yet, but you never know… Still rockin’…

    Pamo… Thanks!

    Technobabe… I look forward to seeing what I come up with on those other masks, also… Wish I had a clue already. 🙂 Thank you!

    Sandy… You picked right up on my pomegranate ‘reference’ here. Cool! Thank you!

    Robin… Thank you! Rich and vibrant colors felt like the order of the day with this one. Glad you like ’em.

    Hallie… Thanks! Going Green was one of the titles I penciled in as I was creating this. My son, Eric, thinks I must include dollar signs with anything I may use that title with, and I concur. (I don’t know where he gets that ironic sense of humor…) – As for that hairy arm, it jerked back pretty quickly when those knuckles brushed up against that fiery forehead… 😛

    Deborah… I agree with you about all those fun folds and curves. As I mentioned above, I’ll definitely be doing more of this. Thanks! As for that inversion – it IS freaky. No matter how I moved the camera or lighting it looked that way through the camera. As Johnny Carson used to say, that’s some “…weird, wild stuff”.


  10. Suzanne Berry Said:

    ok, this is definitely one of my favorite masks that you’ve created! the drapery is incredible, the colors create such a lush presentation against the smooth surface of the mask and the pairing of colors is perfect!! and the inside appearing to be the outside adds to the mystery and brilliance of this piece, i’m so glad you decided to show that aspect. Amazing job, it’s stunning!

  11. Stan Kurth Said:

    Wow Don, This is a very awesome mask. The color blows me away. It kinda reminds me of a color combination I used to paint model cars with: “Candy Lime Green”, which consisted of gold undercoat and multiple layers of transparent green. Your work is superb; the 3D works and larger paintings and the bi-product under-schmearings are most fascinating. I like to see them hanging all together.

  12. Sheila Tajima Said:

    What a guy…. talented, funny, charitable and so much more. Thank you for taking the time to show us your work process. I think its fascinating. I’m sure your masks are going to raise more money this year.

  13. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Suz… Thanks! I’m glad you like it. It will be available for auction in early September, so stay tuned. 😉 Fun times…

    Stan… Wow, thanks! As for them all hanging together, I have been invited to hang some of my work at the event in October, so I’ll finally have pieces from all these genres hanging together in one place besides my house for a change…

    Sheila… You’re too kind. Thanks! …and, I hope so.


  14. Celeste Said:

    You knew just how far to take it and no further. She is beautiful with her simple colors (gold, green and red). The green “hair” totally captivates! (and the red illusion is amazing–thanks for sharing it with us)

  15. R Garriott Said:

    WOW! The finish is AMAZING…. thanks for the extra photos in process. Very cool!

  16. Vern Schwarz Said:

    Hi Don, this is an amazing piece. Great photos and descriptions, and what a cool project. I’ve only tried paper mache’ a couple of times, (found it to be so much fun), and can’t believe the smooth surface you achieved on the face. Well done on colour, concept and execution. I like the way the green reflects on the gold face, and am now anxious to see the next creations.

  17. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Celeste… Thank you so much. Just far enough is sometimes hard to stop at – especially when you’re having too much fun.

    R… Thanks, and you’re welcome… 😉

    Vern… Welcome to my blog. Thanks for the great comment. Paper mache’ IS fun. I’m in the middle of a new one right now and learning more as I go. Stay tuned…


  18. Don’s Blog » Celebrity Mask Said:

    […] I posted a mask that I had created to be donated to this year’s Un-masking the Mind charity auction. You may […]

  19. LeAnn G Putney Said:

    As always you show your innovative side! I really appreciate how you photographed and explained the process. While the real mask is beautiful (of course), the inverted mask is almost eerie, yet really compelling. I hope that you work with the inversion idea for one of the masks – it’s just too cool.

    IICSN Co-founder

  20. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Hey LeAnn! Thanks for weighing in! I’m really glad you like what I ended up with and hope it does well for the school. As for the inversion, I’m keeping my mind open to further exploration… we’ll see. Thanks, again!


  21. Don’s Blog » Like Lovers Do Said:

    […] Last night the many days of not painting got the best of me and I decided to squeeze one in between stages in the mask creation. I decided to tease this mask project by using one of the photos from its early stages to create my composition from. I then chose to place the composition into the “Underschmeered” canvas generated during the creation of the mask Persephone Returns. […]



Copyright © Don Michael, Jr.