Progress on “The Fates” triptych…

First of three panels in oils made by Adam Townsend for a planned triptych screen.
First of three panels in oils made by Adam Townsend for a planned triptych screen.

Back in the summer of 2015, we refurbished the floors in our apartment with beautiful, dark composite hardwood.

The problem was, I ordered 125 square feet too many, and the distributor was going to charge me to take it back.

That’s when I came up with a vague idea to craft it into a mythology-inspired triptych with models in various motifs from history and world folklore and religion. All three panels would have female nudes reminiscent of the three Fates in Greek myths or the Norns of Norse legend.

This second panel is called "Hanuman and Kumbhakarna Play Bluegrass." Progress as of 1/24/2018. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
This second panel is called “Hanuman and Kumbhakarna Play Bluegrass.” Progress as of 1/24/2018. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

Now I’m about two-thirds done with the second panel and have detailed construction plans for a hinged set of frames. The piece will stand on its own some 7 feet high as a screen, backed with velvet. In other words, though I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out, it has become a baroque monstrosity fit only for an expensive brothel.

Luckily, I never expected anyone to buy it for the price I would demand, given the labor, so it will be an excellent show-piece to take around to art shows and garner clients.

This is a drawing/photo that maps out the design of the second panel, "Kumbhakarna and Hanuman Sing Bluegrass"
This is a drawing/photo that maps out the design of the second panel, “Kumbhakarna and Hanuman Sing Bluegrass”

I did my first sketch of a model I liked from the figure drawing sessions in October of 2015, then crafted my first approximately 6’X3’ arch-topped panel with glue and tacks.

First, I tried to use the traditional Renaissance method of gridding the original drawing and then scaling it up, square by square. Unfortunately, even though this results in an accurate copy, it loses something undefinable about the original. Plus, I painted it directly on the wood, which was not an ideal surface for oils.

I scotched that effort and wrapped canvas around the panel – a much better surface. Then, I used a light projector to project a copy of the original drawing on the canvas to trace, which allowed the drawing to retain its original vitality.

These are blueprints I set up to guide me in building my planned triptych, for which one panel is finished.
These are blueprints I set up to guide me in building my planned triptych, which is currently about half finished.

It took me about a year to finish, off and on, and it’s titled “Vanna and the Celestial Jukebox”

For the second painting, I was inspired by my May, 2016 trip to Bali, Indonesia with my wife. In the spirit of cultural mashup, I depicted two Hindu demigods/characters from the epic The Ramayana playing a banjo and a fiddle as the woman in the foreground looks to the stars beneath a sacred banyan tree.

For this one, I found a nude photograph I liked. Some other models at the art supply studio sessions were great, but didn’t work for this project. Also, considering I don’t have a proper studio, I didn’t want to be that guy who puts an ad on Craigslist to hire a chick to come get naked in his garage.

The third panel is built, but I haven’t yet designed the image. I’ll need to finish the second and stretch the canvas for the third while I work out my ideas in my sketchbook.

First of three panels in oils made by Adam Townsend
First of three panels in oils made by Adam Townsend

Stay tuned for further updates! I’ll post progress photos as I complete the work.

 

 

 

 

“We thought you were sending Matt Damon…”

Just a silly little piece that take place on a future manned mission to Mars. I dashed it off to practice my oil painting. By Adam Townsend
Just a silly little piece that take place on a future manned mission to Mars. I dashed it off to practice my oil painting. By Adam Townsend

I did this silly little oil sketch based on a drawing I made in my sketchbook. It’s called “We Thought You Were Sending Matt Damon.”

I decided to paint it because I liked how the character turned out, and I liked the concept of martians receiving our radio, television and pop culture signals for the last 100 years and becoming vapid and celebrity-obsessed without our ever realizing it. Without realizing it, that is, until they start peppering the first human Mars explorers with questions about the Kardashians and Queen Bey…

Bali-inspired poster in ink pen

I was inspired to do this ink pen poster by the Monkey Forest in Bali and the trappings of the Balinese religion. Kim Jug Gi, the brilliant Korean illustrator, inspired the style.
I was inspired to do this ink pen poster by the Monkey Forest in Bali and the trappings of the Balinese religion. Kim Jug Gi, the brilliant Korean illustrator, inspired the style. By Adam Townsend

I recently completed this approx 24″ by 36″ ink-on-paper work inspired by a trip my wife and I took to Bali in May of 2016.

In addition to a relaxing vacation, the trip was an artist’s sabbatical for me. I was excited to explore the rich visual artistic traditions of the island, now part of Indonesia.

The wood, stone and concrete sculpture especially are incredible and wholly alien to Western eyes, though just as rich and complex as any artistic tradition in the world.

How did I create this Bali poster?

As far as the media and method for this piece, I was inspired by the incredible brush-pen work of the master Korean illustrator Kim Jung gi (see video ).

So for this piece, I tried in my own limited way to ape the expressive, freehand line work Kim Jung gi uses. The only underdrawing I did with a pencil was for the Balinese script (which reads “Monkey Forest; Ubud, Bali) and the checkered pattern at the bottom.

By the way, my friend from the trip Ngurah Widnyana did the translation for me. He runs a tour service on the island, so like his Smile Bali Tours and look him up if you ever go.

The paper I used is from discarded blueprints. Because the paper is designed to be slightly weather/water resistant on construction sites, it doesn’t let the ink bleed too much. An excellent, cheap and green resource!

How did I frame the Bali poster?

I developed a novel way to frame this ink pen poster inspired by the Monkey Forest in Bali . By Adam Townsend
I developed a novel way to frame this ink pen poster inspired by the Monkey Forest in Bali . By Adam Townsend

For the framing, I developed a novel method. I cut a sheet of plywood to size, then carved out holes through which I inserted standard metal binder clips you can buy at any office supply store. The clips hold the paper without using any glues or adhesives which might corrode the piece or make it inextricable from the plywood if the purchaser wants to change the frame in the future.

Over top of this bolted a piece of plexiglass, held away from touching the paper by several millimeters of washers stacked on the bolt.

What do the symbols in the Bali poster mean?

The image in the upper left is a Barong, depicted based on photo research into parade costumes used during various Balinese festivals. The Barong’s function in the Balinese religion — which borrows from Hinduism to layer on top of tribal animism developed uniquely on the island — is that of a protective spirit of good. His frightening aspect helps ward off demons. Think of the Barong’s function as (very loosely) analogous to a gargoyle in medieval Europe.

The underlying philosophy of Balinese religion focuses on the dichotomy of good and evil, dark and light. That’s why the checkered pattern seen at the base of the poster is ubiquitous at temples throughout the island — it functions to convey the same idea as the yin-yang symbol also seen around Bali.

The folkloric significance of the statue in the middle has me stumped, but I can guarantee you it’s an accurate representation of one of the many sculptures in the Monkey Forest in Ubud, located near the center of the island.

The people are based on photos of local Balinese people I took while touring the island — that and some fictional aspects I added to fit the layout. If you look closely, you may see my wife and I in the background.

Client testimonials from around the globe…

It’s always good to hear nice things about yourself. It’s even better for prospective clients to hear about the kind of quality product and work ethic you bring to the table.

That’s why I’ve collected some client testimonials below. If this post leaves you scrambling for the phone to hire me, my number is 740-632-3819, or contact me at A.MaxwellTownsend@gmail.com.

Priscilla Gonzalez, Orange County theatre director/producer:

Adam Townsend is by far the most talented graphic illustrator I have worked with in my experience working in various production companies in Orange County.  

I, along with production companies that are supported by Townsend’s work, receive nothing but the best developed marketing materials/artwork that we are proud to display/distribute.

As artists ourselves, we value bringing creativity and thought provoking messages to our audiences.  Adam plays an important role in providing a strong first impression to our audiences through the marketing materials he develops and creates for us.

Adam’s illustrations are full of creative ideas with aesthetically pleasing detail that will certainly make you look twice.  His attention to a director’s intention and objective is always interpreted clearly and focused when represented in his work.  His use of color, inspirational techniques and illustration style pave the way for a visual language that cannot be communicated through words.

Jen Blanchard, Author and Writing Coach, New York State:

Adam is my go-to cover designer. His illustrations make my books feel like works of art. I’m so proud that I get to share his talent with the world through my–and now my client’s–books.

Zara Quentin, YA Fantasy Author, Australia:

Adam designed the cover of my novel, Airwoman. He was a pleasure to work with, came up with a range of design ideas and worked with me to narrow it down and modify until we had exactly what I wanted. The end result is absolutely beautiful- I love it. I would certainly work with Adam again next time.

“Airwoman” Cover Illustration/Design and Marketing Images

"Airwoman," Book cover and marketing images by Adam Townsend. Fantasy novel by Zara Quentin.
“Airwoman,” Book cover and marketing images by Adam Townsend. Fantasy novel by Zara Quentin.

I just finished an illustration/cover design assignment this week for Australian fantasy author Zara Quentin‘s debut novel “Airwoman.”

I got to read it early as her illustrator, and it was a super fun read! This will be the first in a series, so I’m already excited for the next installment.

To create this image, I used a combination of traditional and digital media. I used a public domain sunset photo and took the mountains from a different public domain photo and rendered each as vectors in Adobe Illustrator.

Then, once Zara approved the concept, I drew the figure and painted her with acrylic and ink on illustration board.

Then, I photographed the painting and cut her out in Photoshop, then rendered her as a vector graphic as well. The rendering process made the painting look a little bit more like a photo and the photo portion look a little more like a painting, so the piece works together harmoniously.

A Murder is Announced Commission

murder-4x6-full-bleed-cardJust finished this poster for my friend’s theater production in Orange County. I think it has a cool, retro vibe.

It’s set up like an old 4-color press, but of course there are more than 4 colors. I just wanted to evoke the style.

Also, though it was overused in the mid- to late 1990s, there’s nothing better for a murder mystery than vintage typewriter font.

#LeroyJones Story Pitch

Recently, I finished my novel #LeroyJones: A Skip Maddox Mystery. I’m currently deep into the editing and revision process, but the book is in a form now I can start shopping around to agents and editors.

If you read my story pitch below and want to find out more, call me at 740-632-3819 or email a.maxwelltownsend@gmail.com to read the first 20 pages or receive a copy (print or digital) of the entire manuscript.

Here’s the pitch:

Unemployed sports writer and borderline alcoholic Skip Maddox is about as low as he can get. The LA Times laid him off, he separated from his wife and his landlord evicted him from his shabby West Covina apartment.

Things seem to be looking up, though, when second-tier sports news website StadiumCentral.com hires Maddox to freelance at the fight of the century, starring the wealthy, flamboyant boxer and controversial civil rights activist Leroy “Panther” Jones.

But two days after the troubled Jones wins the fight, police find him brutally killed in front of his Beverly Hills mansion, a racial slur spray-painted across the front door. The murder is a media bombshell, and the online newsfeeds are dominated by “#LeroyJones” as millions of readers clamor for the full story.

StadiumCentral taps Maddox to cover the murder. He learns the FBI, led by combative East-Coast agent Tony Morone, snatched the investigation from local police control in a suspicious move. The same day, Maddox gets an anonymous tip: The murder isn’t the random hate crime the FBI has made it seem. When the hard-luck reporter questions Morone, the agent threatens StadiumCentral, getting Maddox fired.

Calling for help from his friend and former colleague, the esteemed ex-investigative journalist Harry Bloomquist, Maddox descends into an interstate conspiracy involving the mob, high-level corruption and gut-wrenching secrets lurking in Jones’s past.

From the opulent MGM Grand in Las Vegas to Beverly Hills; from the tough LA neighborhood of Watts to the industrial waterfront of Newark, NJ, Maddox and Bloomquist contend with a gang of mafia thugs, a recalcitrant criminal justice bureaucracy and an unscrupulous PI who’s not quite on their side.

The reporters are determined, but it’s not clear they’ll live to publish the truth.

New children’s book project

Manatee tells his teacher about his favorite band in this art marker illustration for a children's book by Gary Schwind. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
Manatee tells his teacher about his favorite band in this art marker illustration for a children’s book by Gary Schwind. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

I’m excited to be working on a preliminary set of illustrations for a children’s book written by Southern California author Gary Schwind.

I can’t reveal all the details, but Gary agreed to let me share a few illustrations on my website here. Some are complete, some I may decide to re-do. Not sure yet, but I’ll have to take a look at the completed work to see which ones need re-done.

The story is about a young manatee who is a super fan of a rock band, and by the end (spoiler alert) he actually gets to meet them and get autographs.

This is the first project I’ve done with a new medium: art markers. These are the same kind used in many graphic novels and comic books, and the colors are rich and solid.

I bought a set for $100 about a year ago and have been fiddling with them off and on, but this is the first project I’ve worked on where I feel comfortable using them. One advantage is that you can turn out finished work really quickly, which is why high-production illustrators like comics artists use them.

Nursery Mural

This 5'X3.5' acrylic on canvas is the decoration for a nursery, populated by storybook and fantasy characters. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
This 5’X3.5′ acrylic on canvas is the decoration for a nursery, populated by storybook and fantasy characters. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

When my wife and I decided to have a baby (a little girl due in August), I knew I had to do something special to decorate the nursery.

That’s why I put together this 5’X3.5′ mural populated with fantasy and children’s book characters. I’ll be filling in the correct constellation and poster on the door in the mirror, depending on when her birth sign is.

The medium is acrylic on canvass, which I tacked to the wall. I drew the sketch at about 1/8th scale, scanned it into the comupter and manipulated it so it was abou 4″X6″, and I then used an opague projector to throw it up on the wall and trace the lines.

See how many characters you recognize!

Self-Portrait Sculpture

Clay Self Portrait. Life-Sized. By Adam Maxwell Townsend
Clay Self Portrait. Life-Sized. By Adam Maxwell Townsend

This is a life-size self-portrait in porcelain clay that I finished this weekend under the instruction of Jim Lee, a sculptor from Northern California who held a workshop at the Jennifer Joyce Ceramic Art Studio in San Clemente.

The class was invaluable; I’ve already studied anatomy extensively in my study of paintings and stone carving, but there’s no way I could have come up with such a clean piece so quickly and accurately without the techniques, tips and shortcuts Jim teaches in his classes.

In the images posted here, the clay is still wet. The next steps include hollowing out the now-solid sculpture and removing the armature, allowing the drying process to finish, firing the clay to the hardness of porcelain, and then finishing the piece with paint and wax.

Not only was this class invaluable in teaching me sculpting/modeling technique, but it is also adding depth and perspective to my two-dimensional work.

I’ll publish another post in a few months when the piece is completely ready for presentation.

 

 

 

Fine art, murals, illustration, photography, writing and editing