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Richard Downs
Working in Wire part 3
posted:
The Fountain | 12" x 15" x 2" | Mixed Media on Birch | 2014

 

Here are a few of my recent projects that I have happening.

 

I am starting to do more and hopefully more private commissions for paintings which have been a lot of fun. All of these paintings have been based on paintings that have sold that a client has wanted to purchase but being unavailable I suggest doing another piece in the same spirit and show them samples of similar projects and talk with them about the process. 

 

In these new wire pieces it is the first time that I have incorporated color into the work. Introducing color into these pieces has opened up a dialogue of why and what if's? So far I have enjoyed mixed reviews from my galleries that stem mostly from my break from traditional patina's and coloration but I am a big fan of crowd sourcing opinion and I appreciate hearing all of it so it will be interesting to see how they do in San Diego. 

Venus - detail | 13” wide x 24” tall x 12” deep | Braided Steel Wire and Spray Paint | 2014
Mars - detail | 14” wide x 24” tall x 13” deep | Braided Steel Wire and Spray Paint | 2014
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The “Oakland” episode of me working with Canadian Travel Television host Kevin Cullen,  the Motorhead Traveler. My work was selected by the tourism boards, Visit California and Visit Oakland to work with Cullen to create his self portrait in steel wire to help promote the arts in Oakland, CA.   the Transmission Gallery  March 2014

the Motorhead Traveler and his self portrait. Together we made this piece in a one day 9 hour working marathon. I couldn't take more than a single break to make sure that we would finish the piece before nightfall.
Mars | 14” wide x 24” tall x 13” deep | Braided Steel Wire and Spray Paint | 2014
Venus | 13” wide x 24” tall x 12” deep | Braided Steel Wire and Spray Paint | 2014

“Venus” and “Mars” are 2 new sculptures that I created for a group show #ArtExpoSD taking place July 24-26 at the Wonder Bread Factory in San Diego during ComicCon. This show is curated by Mark Murphy.

Venus and Mars cardboard faces used for proportions.
Venus and Mars on my worktable
Private commission in progress based on the painting on left "Woman #73". Final art will be 19" x 24" oil on birch panel. Commissioned as an anniversary gift. Approved pencil drawing on the right.
Private commission in progress based on the painting on left "Couple #46". Final art will be 12" x 15" oil on birch panel. A celebratory painting for a couples baby boy who is turning 1. Approved pencil drawing on the right.
Baby Tobias | in progress
Private commission in progress based on the Monotype on the left "Couple #217". Final art will be 12" x 15" oil on birch panel. Commissioned as an anniversary gift. Approved pencil drawing on the right.

All images | Richard Downs © 2014 | Motorhead Traveler © 2014 

Working in Wire part 2
posted:
Oskar Schlemmer (1888 – 1943) German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer at the Bauhaus school. Thanks out to Mark Fisher for turning me on to his work and the website listed below.
Here are some of my latest projects in steel wire. It was nice to finish Mark Murphy's commission and to have one of these pieces selected by the Crocker art museum for their 2014 exhibit and art auction. You can view more of the incredible work by Oskar Schlemmer on this very cool website.  
Couple #283 | Braided Annealed Wire | 40" x 18" x 23" | 2014 | Private commission Mark Murphy | Woman's head spins freely within the mans head
Couple #283 | Braided Annealed Wire | 40" x 18" x 23" | 2014 | Private commission Mark Murphy | Woman's head spins freely within the mans head
Detail of Couple #283 | Braided Annealed Wire | 40" x 18" x 23" | 2014
Design work and Maquette for Couple #283
Crocker art museum | 2014 Art Auction | Exhibit May 22 - June 7, 2014 | Couple #276 | Braided Annealed Wire | 17" x 38" x 8" | 2013
If you would like to bid on my steel wire sculpture at the Crocker art museum please click here.
Detail | Couple #276 | Braided Annealed Wire | 17" x 38" x 8" | 2013
Woman #284 | Braided Annealed Wire | 19" x 12" x 7" | 2014 | available through Richard Downs
Man #285 | Braided Annealed Wire | 12" x 11" x 7" | 2014 | available through Richard Downs
Woman #286 | Braided Annealed Wire | 32" x 16" x 7.5" | 2014 | available through the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery | elizabethgordongallery.com
Man #287 | Braided Annealed Wire | 35" x 16" x 10" | 2014 | available through the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery | elizabethgordongallery.com
The Kayaker | Braided Annealed Wire | 25" x 20" x 11" | 2014 | This piece was designed either hang flat on the wall like he is going down a waterfall or it can also hang from a cable from the top of his head or sit on a pedestal | available
The Kayaker detail | Braided Annealed Wire | 25" x 20" x 11" | 2014
The Kayaker | View from ceiling mount | Braided Annealed Wire | 25" x 20" x 11" | 2014
The Paddle Boarder | Braided Annealed Wire | 35" x 31" x 10" | 2014 | This piece was designed to either hang flat on the wall and it is balanced so it can also hang from a cable from the top of her head
The Paddle Boarder detail | Braided Annealed Wire | 35" x 31" x 10" | 2014
All images | Richard Downs © 2014 
AMGEN TOUR of California
posted:
AMGEN TOUR of California | Stage 2 | Folsom | May 12, 2014
 

I have always been a fan of bicycles and motorcycles. When I was a kid I raced High School Motocross but my true love has always been bicycles. In Junior High my friends and I created what could have been the first bicycle motocross course in Southern California in 1973. We took over and transformed an empty lot for an entire summer. We built jumps, berms and fun whoopty-doos and at the end of summer we promoted and organized our first race at "Spoke Benders Pedal Park". I looked for the poster that I created but it is in some box tucked away somewhere. The local newspaper was there and hundreds of parents and kids came out to watch and race and so did the lawyers and it was shut down that day. The owners of the empty lot got wind of our playground and shut it down which makes sense today as an adult looking back on it but that day when I was a kid, it was a huge embarrassing bummer for all of us. 

 

Today, a big congratulations goes out to the City of Folsom for landing Stage 2 of the AMGEN TOUR of California. Folsom is a cycling town with some great routes running along the American River down to Sacramento. I have enjoyed a very nice friendship around art and design with Karen's Bakery that sits right at the finish line.

 

Karen's Bakery commissioned me to create a mural years ago designed for cycling and their fine pastries which has now become a Folsom landmark.

 

When Karen contacted me a few months ago to create a cycling jersey to commemorate the TOUR I jumped on it. To say the least it was more work than I could have imagined trying to make a wrap-around illustration with a seamless design even with the convenience of cannibalizing my own mural work for some of the elements. 

 

We worked with Champion System to produce the jerseys and they were very professional and really helpful with my constant questions on the final fit of the design and they worked to make the project go as smooth as possible for us newbies of apparel design. 

 

Congratulations to Folsom and to America's Greatest Race! 

Canada Goose wearing the KoM Jersey. The Canada Goose has become the trademark of Karen's Bakery, you see them everywhere, the parking lot, the grassy area across the street. These little hobo's have taken over the town. The King of the Mountains (KoM) is the title and the jersey with it's distinct red dots given to the best climber in a cycling road race. It is applied to stage races (for example, the Grand Tours, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España and smaller races like the Tour of California) where points are accumulated over the duration of the whole race.
My original concept design and trying my best to figure out how the swooshes would connect from the front to the back and over the seams.
My final layered file. Champ-Sys usually works with artists providing AI files but I work in Photoshop so I layered all of my files up in Photoshop and then bugged them everyday to make sure that my work was translating to their print environment. It was my responsibility to make sure that this thing printed correctly and I didn't have any experience doing this kind of work and Karen had put out a lot of money for the order so I had to be on them.
Cup on a bike. We tried a bunch of versions with different moustaches on the cup to appeal to the male riders but every version looked like one of my favorite vocalists Freddie Mercury or Salvador Dali so it just got killed in the end.
The Swooshes. These things were a pain to try and make them fit around the sewn panels. I tried to be as clear as possible how these files fit together. I am sure that I was their nightmare client. Although, I think that they liked the final because they have sent Karen an oversized and gigantic jersey to put on display for race day!
The Sleeve. Karen appreciates a nice sleeve tattoo and our goal was to create a sleeve that had the look of a tattoo but it was made up of her fine pastries.
My signature for the jersey. I have never been comfortable with my signature on my artwork but I made this for the jersey.
The final jersey draped over a chair. The seams, the zipper the stitching. All of this elements needed to fit correctly and they did.
Some of Karen's coffee before the start of a ride.
In Karen's Bakery with the giant display jersey on race day!
All images | Richard Downs © 2014 | Karen's Bakery © 2014 | AMGEN TOUR of California © 2014
PTSD for Smithsonian Magazine
posted:
Fearless | Smithsonian Magazine | May 2014 | Steel Wire, Monotypes with Painted Background
 

This was a really fun assignment for Smithsonian magazine. I am a huge fan of Smithsonian, it was one of the magazines that my folks subscribed to when I was growing up and the magazine that introduced me to historical figures in art but more importantly the magazine exposed all their readers to the contemporary art of the times which for me was the 70's through the 80's. I will never forget their cover story on Red Grooms, I fell in love with his work at first sight.

 

So when art director Maria Keehan called to see if I could do a rush job for their May issue I jumped on it. This was a really interesting article about "Fear Extinction" therapy in adults that experience PTSD. Through a series of controlled drug treatments and reliving a past trauma it might be possible for doctors to unwind deeply entrenched trauma. After reading the manuscript that was the concept that I was going to try to portray. The unwinding of deep trauma and the possibility of replacing those feelings with serenity.

 

When I got the assignment  I had been working non stop on my "Wire Sculptures" and I was so inspired that I pitched the idea to Maria to execute this piece as a hybrid assemblage of sculpture and my "Monotypes" and Maria went for it. Thank you, Maria!

When I pitched my idea to incorporate my sculpture into the final I knew that I was pitching a style that had never been published so my goal was to be as clear as possible with my intentions and demonstrate how the "Inky Style" and the "Sculpture Style" could meet up and create a hybrid.
My ideas. I did my best to try and portray what would be wire and 3D and which elements would be flat. I also gave Maria an out, if she didn't like any of the assemblage ideas she might like... 6, 7, or 8 which could be rendered flat.
Design #1 was selected to go to final but there was a concern that the piece would be monochromatic so I popped in a yellow background to indicate my painted background and I was good to go.
Smithsonian Magazine | May 2014
Smithsonian Magazine July 1986 | Red Grooms' Charlie Chaplin. Paper figure was created for the SITES show "Hollywood: Legend and Reality." ©1986 Red Grooms and Shark's Inc.
michaelllewellyn.com shooting the final art. My poor outdated camera got blown out by the light and it couldn't capture how cool the final rigging of the piece looked in the studio. That white rectangle shape is my yellow hand painted background.
All images | Richard Downs © 2014 | Smithsonian Magazine © 2014
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