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Richard Downs
Southern California Trees
posted:
Palm Tree #1 | Monotype on Japanese Paper | 12" x 15" Image Area | 2015

This Joshua Tree and the Palm Tree are a private commission for a Southern California couple. After living in the Northern California mountains for the last 19 years I really miss the austere beauty of both of these trees. Something about both the Joshua and the Palm remind me of vacation.

 

I also made a matching Cognate or Ghost Print of the spent plates but I didn’t have any BFK white so I had to use a BFK Tan and a Cream. The jury is still out on whether I like these colors over my first choice BFK White. 

Joshua Tree #2 | Monotype on Japanese Paper | 12" x 15" Image Area | 2015
Joshua Tree #3 | Cognate Print on BFK Tan | 12" x 15" Image Area | 2015
Palm Tree #2 | Cognate Print on BFK Cream | 12" x 15" Image Area | 2015
I just love this old postcard of Orange Trees and Palms and how contemporary it looks today. That is Mount Baldy covered in snow in the background, you don't see that anymore!
Richard Downs | The Family | Plasma Cut and Welded Steel | 108" x 46" x 36" | Completion July 2015

I am almost finished with my first large outdoor steel sculpture commission. The project has been transformational for me as an artist and also for the young and talented welders working on it. I can honestly say that I am a completely different artist than I was at the beginning of the year. Hard to explain but the piece has helped set me free from persuing any commercial illustration work and it will allow me with its completion to compete effectively for Public Sculptural Art Commissions. It is like all newbie hard starts in the design, literary or the entertainment world, the biggest hurdle is getting your first really good gig which then makes others come easier. Here is a sneak peek of the Mother and Fathers torsos.  

Here is a shot of my studio in complete chaos this afternoon. There are 2 giant figurative superstructures standing behind me in this picture. Richard Downs | The Family | Plasma Cut and Welded Steel | 108" x 46" x 36" | Completion July 2015
“The Family” is finished and on its way to the sandblaster. Sandblasting removes the mill scale which is a diamond hard covering to keep the steel from rusting and it is the reason why the piece looks black. After it is blasted the surface is highly reactive and the patina can be applied. Cardboard arm is for placement. The Family | Plasma Cut and Welded Steel | 108" x 46" x 36" | Completion July 2015
Tree Hero Awards
posted:
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.
 
I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.iiiii
Joshua Tree Couple #307 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | 2015

I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 

 

The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.

 

In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.

 

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. They are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.

 

Get out there and support your communities urban forests.I made this piece to help support the Sacramento Tree Foundation and Sacramento’s preeminent environmental event the Tree Hero Awards. The piece will be auctioned Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the California Farm Bureau and a portion of the sale will be donated to the Tree Foundation. 
 
The mission of the Sacramento Tree Foundation is to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation.
 
In recognition of Sacramento's 150 year commitment to trees, the Sacramento Tree Foundation recognizes Tree Heroes: people and landscapes that best exemplify outstanding accomplishments in tree planting, care and stewardship, as well as the overall importance of trees.
 
The Sacramento Tree Foundation is a community benefit organization working to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation. We are leading the effort to plant 5 million trees in the Sacramento region.
 
Get out there and support your communities urban forests.vv
All images | Richard Downs © 2015 
Steel Part 3
posted:
Triple Steel Head #1 | 28"H x 10"W x 9"D | Plasma Cut Steel and Welding | Spray Paint and Gun Blueing | 2015

The challenges of working in Steel present themselves in small ways every few hours and in bigger ways as I prepare to take on my first large scale steel sculpture commission. Baby steps are the best way to describe getting up to speed with materials and tools that are new to me. My big studio upgrade was a Plasma Torch and all of the other peripherals that drive it and I can honestly say that this tool is as much of an art tool as an etching press or a kiln. You don’t just go out and buy an etching press or a kiln and start pumping out master prints or fine porcelain. All of these industrial like tool/machines take time to learn how to use them and then hopefully push the machine to see what can be done with it.

 

The first time that I used my Plasma Torch it was like using any self taught tool and I would like to compare it to using an Exacto Knife for the first time when you were in elementary school. You don’t push an Exacto Knife and you need a guide through thicker materials or it is going to go everywhere and you might get hurt and no youtube video is going to teach you, you learn by doing. Plasma cutting is like using a Ginsu knife and it takes some time and practice to get the feel down.

 

Out of all of the learning on these new materials one of the biggest issues was finding somebody to work with that had a similar personality for a month long project. I am not interested in welding in any capacity so I had to find a welder and welding creates a line that connects forms and my work is all about line quality so I was very selective. I found a kid who came highly recommended and he is working out nicely and he comes to the project with his own fabrication ideas which are really helpful to me as I learn new fabrication techniques.

 

Here are some steel heads that I made as my welder and myself established a welding and plasma cut style to best render my composition.

 

Bringing my work up to this point in steel has been a real journey for me that was both a creative and financial risk and I talk about some of it on my first blog Step up to Steel  and the follow up Step up to Steel Part 2.

 

I owe a big thanks to TEW Galleries who sold out all of my sculptural works and most of the works on paper in my recent show and without that level of representation none of this new work could be possible.

 

 

 

 

Tracing paper design used to make all of the plywood template guides for cutting specific facial arcs.
My studio. The Plasma Cutter is that little box on the floor.
Using a template to cut a facial arc. This little powerhouse cuts through 1/8" plate steel like butter.
This machine performs only 1 function, cutting steel. You can rock the tip while cutting to change line quality.
What you can't see is the smile on my face. Yes, fire extinguisher and garden hose are standing by.
My full scale cardboard model for "The Family". The entire piece will be cut out of plywood to be used as templates for cutting the steel. Design is changing a bit to become more organic as my still level grows with these tools. When I designed the piece I had no idea what could be done with the shapes.
On the operating table.
Untitled Head #1. Still trying to figure out patina's.
Steel Head #1 | 28"H x 10"W x 9"D | Final Patina
Untitled Head #2. No patina.
Steel Head #2 | 28"H x 12"W x 10"D | Final Patina
 
 
A big thanks out to my friend Mark Murphy for this nice interview about my new work.
 
All images | Richard Downs © 2015 
Joshua Tree
posted:
Joshua Tree Couple #306 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015

I love the Southern California Deserts. As a kid I camped with my parents and brothers and we hiked and rode motorcycles in designated areas. In the late 1960’s we even brought back to our home a few now endangered and almost vanished desert tortoises and kept them for years as pets and they both had nice lives because the Los Angeles climate was very similar, looking back now we shouldn’t have even picked them up but I try to tell that to my 10 year old self and he just doesn’t want to listen.

 

If you have never visited the Mojave Desert, Anza Borrego and especially Joshua Tree you need to get out there with plenty of water and a big hat. I had a great time making this Joshua Tree Monotype and I thought that I would include along with it some of my experimental photo etchings from these deserts that I created during my short lived interest in photography.

 

 

Joshua Tree Couple #308 | Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015
Joshua Tree | Monotype | 12" x 15" Image Area | 2015 | Private Commission
Mount Emma Road 3 | Photographic Etching | 9" x 20" Image Area | Rives BFK Paper | 1991
October Vines | Photographic Etching | 7" x 19" Image Area | Rives BFK Paper | 1991
Pearblossom Highway | Photographic Etching | 9" x 16" Image Area | Rives BFK Paper | 1991
Wind in Cottonwoods | Photographic Etching | 8" x 19" Image Area | Rives BFK Paper | 1991
Barstow Cows | Photographic Etching | 8" x 19" Image Area | Rives BFK Paper | 1991
 
All images | Richard Downs © 2015 
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