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Richard Downs
Step up to Steel
posted:
The Family | 18” x 8” x 3” Model | 1/2"=1' Scale

I am so inspired yet filled with middle of the night, “what’s the future” art dread. I think that deep down I knew that I was unconsciously moving on when I let my Agency Access subscription of client contacts lapse. I never really even used the list to any extent for years but it was something symbolic that I knew was there and it gave me comfort that I could call on it if I needed to connect.

 

I have had a nice career in Illustration at times with lots of success but simultaneously sprinkled with lots of failure and most often in the same week or month. This art roller coaster has been my life and my families and it is what I know and what we grew up together with. Since 2000 I have been straddling Illustration, galleries and education with flashes of marginal success bouncing around between all of them like a pinball machine. I purposely designed my career to service everything and at all times but after 30 years in the trenches maybe something has and should give? You always hear about illustrators and graphic designers moving into fine art but this really wasn’t my plan. I love illustration and every step of the process from start to finish but I haven’t been commissioned to do a commercial project in months. 

 

I think that it was the call that I received yesterday from a new gallery that has pushed me to spill my guts and my plan. I am also the guy who jumps the gun so… I may not be done yet!  :)

 

With all of that said, here is the design and the 1/2"=1' scale maquette for my first outdoor steel fabricated sculpture commission. I am now in a crash course learning about materials including plasma cutting, welding, chopping, grinding and ultimately site transportation and concrete pedestal installation. The final sculpture will be 9 feet tall and it has a Bay Area installation date of June 2015. Before our final construction I will be making a full scale cardboard model to be used as a template for all of my steel plasma cutting. The faces in the maquette will change a bit under client approval and the giant neck/stem and other details that are designed into the sketch will be worked out on the final full scale model. 

 

I would also like to announce my next solo show will be at the fabulous TEW Galleries in Atlanta. My work has found a nice home at TEW Galleries and I have been working really hard on a body of new work for the March 6th 2015 opening.

 

TEW Galleries

Richard Downs

February 27 - March 27 2015

 

This post is really about my new sculpture commission that is pushing me into new territory with material challenges and fabrication technology that will be learned as I go for it and I am honesty in complete artistic joy and the clients have been a dream to work with. I feel very lucky and appreciative of what is happening right now with my work and I hope that eventually it will rub off to my sleep.

The Family | 18” x 8” x 3” Model | 1/2"=1' Scale
The Family | 18” x 8” x 3” Model | 1/2"=1' Scale
The Family | 18” x 8” x 3” Model | 1/2"=1' Scale

Richard Downs | The Family

Corten Steel | 108" x 46" x 36" | Completion June 2015

 

Maquette for, “The Family”

 

Cardboard

Foam core

wooden skewers

mat board

hot glue

silver spray paint

ink jet prints
All images | Richard Downs © 2015

Struts through Time
posted:
Minotaur | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014

Here are some new pieces from my "Swagger" series. This work is an extension of my "Getting Ready" series. All of this work is being considered for use in 2015 shows and the verdict is still out on a final home. When I think of swagger I cannot help but picture Robin Williams and Nathan Lane from the Birdcage.

 

My swagger pictures have far deeper roots with a heritage of thousands of years before John Wayne and Mick Jagger and I like to imagine lots of strut in our history. Here are a few that would have had the local paparazzi in a tizzy. 

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
Icarus | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
 
 

All images | Richard Downs © 2014

Getting Ready
posted:
Date Night with the Pharaohs | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014

"Getting Ready" is a new series of work that I have just started. When I was a kid the only artwork that we had in our house were original woodblock prints from Uchida Publishing that my dad bought while in Japan in the 50’s during the Korean War. My dad for some very cool reason bought a bunch of them and they hung all over the house. I remember as a child my dad telling me that Japan looked exactly like our prints when he was there and that is why he bought so many of the iconic images. I loved growing up with the prints and have some of them today in our own home.

 

This new suite of work has been inspired by Mary Cassatt through her wonderful print, “The Coiffure”. Her piece depicts a woman in a private moment, as she pins her hair. Cassatt was influenced by a woodblock print by ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kunisada that she saw in an exhibition and in response made her master print. I absolutely love the work from these artists and who can deny the influence that this work has had on modern art and illustration?

 

In my fantasy pictures I am imagining what it might look like to see a “Coiffure” scene during some of my favorite time periods in art and history. 

Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865) - Mary Cassatt "The Coiffure" 1890
A Night Out with the Maya’s | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
Getting Ready in the house of Daedalus | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
Date Night with the Pharaohs | Detail and actual size
A Night Out with the Maya’s | Detail and actual size
Getting Ready in the house of Daedalus | Detail and actual size
 
 
All images | Richard Downs © 2014
Bigger & Color
posted:
The Conversation #129 | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper & Spray Enamel | 2014 

Here are some new pieces that I made. It has been suggested by the galleries that I am working with to work bigger and to introduce color into my Monotypes. Nothing wrong with getting a little nudge out of the comfort zone. The biggest challenge has been to find a large paper that matched the quality of the paper that I have been using for 25 years and I am still looking. Funny thing to realize that I haven’t made a paper or size change in 25 years.

Couple #293 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
Couple #292 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
Couple #294 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
The Conversation #133 | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper & Spray Enamel | 2014 
The Conversation #130 | Monotype | 12x15" image area 17x20" sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2014
 
All images | Richard Downs © 2014
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