Game of life
In 2022 I was commissioned to build a large outdoor sculpture. For the initial proposal I came up with three designs from which the client would choose. My only constraint, besides budget, was that I wanted to use a large steel frame made of 3-inch angle iron from my supply that I would wrap with redwood 4x4, like an enormous picture frame. I presented three designs: a giant bucket of flowers set behind a farmhouse window; a game box/magic door exploding outward with all of its parts swirling out and dice strewn around the ground; and an abstract geometric series of rings and spheres.
Being avid gamers, I anticipated my clients would choose the game box/magic door design, but they surprised me and chose the flower bucket instead. It made perfect sense though, since the sculpture was going in their yard, amongst their flowers and bucolic landscaping. And it turned out beautiful.
The rough design sketches:
A few months later, they came back and said they wanted me to do the game box design as well. But this one they wanted indoors as a wall hanging, about the size of your typical board game box. This sounded like a fun challenge, being that I would be working with much more delicate metal and more intricate -- i.e. easier to screw up -- design elements.
I got to work on the new piece. I built a mock-up out of cardboard and foam board, giving the design depth like a shadow box and adding shelves for them to display their favorite dice and RPG figures. For me to get the dimensions right and for them to develop a sense of acceptance with my design before we dove into the hard, expensive stuff, I had them hang the mock-up where they wanted it in their house.
After a week or so, they suggested some minor changes to design and gave me the green light to build the final piece. Since the shelves were going to hold RPG figures, I decided to hand paint the back wall so it looked like the interior of a dungeon. Also, the meeples and resource cubes on the rings are magnetic, so they can be moved and interchanged.
There is a beautiful flower inside of you.
Find it, water it, and let it see the sun.
This piece was created out of a single eight-foot plank of yellow pine, hand cut and sanded, then assembled using dowels. Acrylic colors--some craft and some professional Golden--plus clear coat complete the process.
Our place is a safe place.
Curious Photo Contest
Here's your chance to win a piece of art* from Thom! Only one entry will win.
Have fun and Be Creative!
If you can't make it to the gallery, you can use one of these photos to "Photoshop" yourself into the picture:
The person who posts the photo will be the person who wins, not necessarily the person in the photo. So, if you make it a group photo or have several people in the picture, only the person who posts the photo gets the prize.
By posting a photo to my Facebook page, you are granting me permission to use your likeness in promotions or announcements regarding this give-away. It is presumed that the person in your photo (if it is not you) has also given permission.
Judging will be by anonymous, likely impartial persons, but no guarantees. This is for fun, folks. Depending on the judges' schedules and how much coffee they need to review photos, the winner announcement will be sometime in November (2021).
Changes to this contest will be posted here and/or on Facebook.
* Piece of art is To Be Determined. Chance of winning is based on number of submissions received with little or no certainty.
** Based on number of photos submitted, the cut-off date for entries may shift in either direction, without notice.
Donating time, skills and artwork for worthy causes has long been a part of who I am. Over the years I've tried to do what I can to help veteran community service organizations like Concrete Couch, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, Citizens Project as well as new organizations or upcoming organizations looking for a little help to succeed. If your organization is interested in my work (for auction or other fundraising) or would like me to help judge a contest or needs some art direction for a project, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss how I can help you.
I also have artwork available to donate for fundraisers! Please Contact Me if your worthy organization needs a piece of art for an auction, prize drawing, etc.
A friend of mine mentioned that he was going to submit several paintings for the inaugural "Make It So" fan art exhibit and cosplay event at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs (see the "Doom" painting). It sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun, so I decided to submit a piece as well... Watchmen themed.
One of my favorite scenes...
The Piper Series
Twisted Pine to Remember Colorado
My clients -- from Canada -- have been living in the United States for the past few years. When they knew they were moving back to Canada in August, they approached me to create a piece of art that would remind them of their time in Colorado, something that was similar to some of my previous "flagstone and steel" pieces. They asked that I incorporate the image of a twisted pine growing from a crack in the rocks.
I came up with this design, titled appropriately, "Twisted Pine."
The frame holding the tree is sandwiched between two Colorado sandstone flagstones. And it took nearly 130 feet of coiled 1/8 inch steel round to make the body of the tree. The clumps of needles are hand-cut flat steel. Patina and enamel paint for the color.
Bringing Africa Home
Completed one year ago, this project thrilled me.
My client used to live in Ghana, where she purchased several doors at a market. The doors used to be on village rondelles (round huts) and had family patterns carved into them. She asked me to make her a cabinet for her home office and incorporate the rondelle door into the door of the cabinet.
I was thrilled at this challenge, as the original door was carved from a single block of wood of uneven thickness which twisted at an angle. I completed the commission, working the stylized patterns of the door into the metal body of the cabinet.
The wooden door was so heavy, though, that I had to add a 60 pound steel shelf at the bottom to act as a counter weight, so that the cabinet did not topple over when the door was fully open.
Greeting Cards Available!
Now you can buy my birthday doodles as individual greeting cards through my Zazzle store online.
Starting with my silly "Happier Than..." collection of characters, along with the Avocado + Toast drawing (one of my top twenty favorites). Check Zazzle often because they post discount coupons frequently, sometimes as much as 50% off.
Pick your favorite design, choose the size of your card and select from a matte finish or a semi-gloss finish. You can customize the card's message or content, too!
Each month I will continue to roll out other favorites of mine from the 2019 Facebook Birthday Doodles, as well as come up with new cartoons and card designs.
This is the full compilation of all 195 birthday doodles I did in 2019.
11 minutes is kind of long for an online video, but that barely gave each cartoon 3 seconds of screen time, so I couldn't make it any faster.
The Last 8 Birthday Doodles
24 To Go!
All the Spooky October Doodles
Well October is over and the Halloween-themed birthday doodles are all done. Twenty in all and I am pleasantly satisfied with the outcome. The first doodle was technically drawn in September before I had decided on having a theme for the month, but it was a robot doodle and robots are perfect for any holiday.
Also, there were two doodles on October 28: the primary "for anybody whose birthday falls on this day" doodle and a special stand-alone doodle for my loving wife who asked me a month or so ago, "Am I going to get a special doodle on my birthday?"
Of course, that would be breaking the rules, but this challenge isn't about sticking to the rules, it's about drawing something fun for people on their birthday. So, she got a special Sausagey Charles Dickens doodle, because she is a voracious book reader and I love her.
I'm a rule breaker, baby. A bad boy. A tough guy. That's why she fell for me. (yeah, right.)
October Birthdays are Spooky
Boy, the last post in May had us at 66 doodles for posting on friends' Facebook pages. I've DOUBLED that over the summer, hitting 136 as of this week (#135 and #136 will be posted next week). It helped to have two vacation trips and a camping weekend during that time where I could spend hours doodling.
I've been having a lot of fun with some new designs, like experimenting with funny little robots and diving into a series of Victorian characters.
Also, this batch had me experimenting twice with a brush and even posting a birthday doodle on my own FB page -- in response to requests by FB friends -- which I did in pencil (#108). So far, it's the only one done straight up in pencil only, no ink.
Interestingly, I found myself dipping into my "weird" box more than once with really strange narratives or verging on creepy imagery. Hey, my friends get me.
A Huge Success
The opening night in August, 2019, of the "Farewell to Bees" show at Art 111 Gallery and Art Supplies had 460 attendees! Up to that point, this was a record for the gallery. The pieces in the show were wonderfully diverse, as you can see in the slideshow, below.
This show featured the 2019 Peak Arts Prize winner for Individual Artist, Thom Phelps’ sculpture, “A Farewell to Bees” and many other artists from the Pikes Peak region as well as members of The Unsteady Hand, an artist collective. The participating artists explored the ubiquitous and unnerving imagery of bee die-off and had the freedom to delve into causes, importance, hoax or not, impact on civilization, culprits, other pollinators, or how the bee has been historically depicted.
Two weeks later, on August 16th, we hosted an artist talk at the gallery, with theme discussion and acknowledgement where we handed out prizes for People's Choice and Best In Show. (Video is 24 minutes.) Guests were welcome to participate in the dialogue. See the video, below, for the whole show.
The Peak Arts Prize is a program of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, funded by The Fund for the Arts, a fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.
The Gifts Keep Rolling In
Or, more accurately, rolling OFF (my pen). Still trying to be random, but have to admit when I post a doodle to someone's wall and FB shows me "upcoming birthdays", that little bit of knowledge sometimes influences what I draw next (like the farmer or sheriff Annie Banannie). This project has been such a mind-quieting exercise.
It's been almost exactly three months since my original blog post explanation about this and I'm already up to 66. Here are the 42 I did over the last 90 days.
Everyday is a Gift
Happy Birthday! or other written sentiment
or [Celebration emoticon]
or [Typical Birthday Gif]
or [Platform-provided Birthday Image with ribbons and confetti]
You've seen 'em, or used them. I like getting a "happy birthday" message on my birthday and I like handing them out on other people's birthday. It's a nice way to say I value you and I'm thinking of you. But, after years of socializing on social media, it feels a little rote.
When I have some down time I draw a birthday cartoon. If I have a chunk of time, I might draw two. Then I number them and scan them in. So far this year, I've done 24 and it has given me a renewed sense of gratification and delight, like handing out treats on Halloween.
Thoughts on sculpting, cartooning, designing, writing and the general joys of being an artist