Here are some recent sketchbook sketches. I'm exploring a more illustrative style, partly for mask inspiration and partly to explore new mediums. I've been working with some brush pens recently and have like some of the more expressive results.
It's been a while since I posted anything on this blog - and by "a while", I mean far too long. I have been more than busy since I posted last. One of my favourite projects I have worked on has been my take on The Blue Spirit mask from Avatar The Last Airbender.
I am a huge fan of this show and have wanted to make this mask for a while. This was probably my most challenging, but also most rewarding mask to make to date. The first cast of this mask was made for a close friend, and fellow Avatar fan. Here are some pictures of the mask, plus some of the sculpting process.
These are the some pictures of the final sculpt, right before I cast it in plaster. I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the process! But are some finished shots below. The mask is made from neoprene, painted with acrylic paint, and has black see through fabric over the eyes and mouth.
I've just returned from beautiful Bali where I was lucky enough to study mask carving with master wood carvers. What an experience! Bali is a place that is primed for cultural interaction, and I'm happy to say that I was treated to a very unique version of that. I met some fellow artists and participated in a program run by the Dell'arte International School of Physical Theatre. This wonderful program places artists with local and highly skilled Balinese artists who invited us into their homes to teach us centuries - old skills. I joined artists/actors/teachers/designers and fellow mask makers from all over the world.
Bali is an enchanting place, filled with incense and offerings. It's also a highly ritualized place with an estimated 20 000 temples which are used almost daily. This culture of ritual is what drives the art of Bali, although you certainly can find enough finely carved tourist nik naks to fill a house with. Masks play an integral part of ritual in Bali and help tell the stories of Bali's living history.
Here I am performing the dance of the Prime minister
during our final recital. We had daily dance classes where
we learned a simplified version of a portion of the Topeng, a dance normally performed during ceremonies. These dances are highly detailed and technical. A small look made with the mask brings it to life and makes it pop! "Small, small!" our teacher would say as we learned how the smallest movement can say much.
My time in Bali was absolutely incredible and I am already craftily planning my return. Some of my top experiences were attending private ceremonies to see mask dances performed for their true function, riding around on a scooter like the Balinese and eating endless amounts of fried rice.
A month in Bali is barely enough time to scratch the surface of a place with a culture that is highly coded and very complex. I couldn't ask for a better place to learn new skills (the palm trees helped). It can take a lifetime to truly master Balinese mask carving, but I'm in no real rush. As the Balinese say "Pelan, Pelan" - slowly, slowly.
We did it! I'm thrilled to announce that my fundraising campaign was a huge success! I raised a total of $3830 through my Indiegogo page, and blasted through my initial goal of $3700. I couldn't have done it without a bunch of help from incredible family and friends, as well as a few supportive strangers who really believed in what I'm to. I have many people to thank and you can check them all out here, but to anyone who contributed let me say it again: THANK YOU!! For a list of all my contributors please check out my new Donors page
With this money I will be able to fund my journey to Bali, Indonesia with the Dell'arte School of Physical Theatre, where I will be learning how to carve wooden masks in the traditional Balinese style. I've been selected to travel there this January with a handful of people from all over the world, including places like South Africa, the USA, Moldova, India and others from Canada along with me. Check out more about the program here: www.dellarte.com
After I return from this once in a lifetime opportunity I'm going to be hard at work using my new skills in my custom mask making endeavours, and passing along unique knowledge to children in the workshops I teach. I'm so excited to get started.
I'm also very excited to announce the launch of my online shop! I'll be selling lots of cool items, including performance masks, decorative masks, and other original art pieces I've created. The first item for sale is the first release from my "Famous Faces from Other Lives" original figurine series I created. Click on the photo to find out more!
I've got lots to do before my trip, but I'll be updating the blog before I go, and maybe even putting some more items up for sale!
Stay tuned to see all my mask making adventures in Bali!
After traveling the world carrying little more than a backpack and a shining face, Sam Seymour Samuelson (the second) finally settled down as an animal whisperer in the Orang-utan filled jungles of Northern Sumatra, where he was known by the local children as "the Smiling Man"...for obvious reasons. He is remembered here in this likeness
In January I will be travelling to Bali, Indonesia to learn how to make masks with master mask carvers!
I am very excited to announce the launch of my fundraising campaign.
Getting to Bali is huge undertaking and to help me get there, I'm reaching out for contributions large and small. Anything helps and there are great perks available! Your contribution will help me teach children amazing mask making techniques from Bali, while allowing me to grow my business. Click on the link below for more info!
Here's one of my perks available for your contribution! Check it out, I call him "The Smiling Man". Click on the above link to see how he can be yours! He's a great bookend, paper weight or shelf companion and is guaranteed to make you smile.
Over the past month I had the great opportunity to teach kids how to make masks in a few places! The first was part of Children's Peace Theatre's Peace is Possible workshop series.
Pictured here are some of the workshop participants with their great paper mask creations.
And below are some the masks they made up close. We had some animals, and even a Poseidon mask, which were all very impressive.
Then I moved on to teach a large workshop of about 100 kids aged 4 - 12 with the awesome campers at Allenby Daycare! We had enough time in the workshop that I got to teach them how to paper mache and paint.
Here on the left is the example mask I made for the workshop. All made of paper, glue, tape and paint! I'm not exactly what kind of animal this is, but some of my favourite creations are made up creatures that are a mix of different types of animals. Some of the kids called it a WolfMouse or a BearFox.
I love teaching these workshops because I not only get to teach kids how to make masks but I get to come up with masks like this one.
The kids had so much fun that they left me some really nice messages on the whiteboards when I arrived in the morning. You can see them below, as well as a picture of the HUGE table full of their masks drying in between stages.
And to end this post, here's a bit of mask inspiration. I'm becoming obsessed with Balinese masks and have some big news about why coming very soon! Stay tuned. Until then enjoy this wild picture.
Just for fun I'm going to end this blog post with a couple old pictures I found. This is a picture of me selling my masks on the streets of Galway, Ireland. These are some of my first masks! I sold them to tourists and passers by. I remember that was the summer that Iron Man the movie was released and I made a bunch of little Iron Man masks for kids. It was a great time. I still use the stool that I'm sitting on in this picture in my workshop to this day. If you look close enough you can Dottore, Pantalone and Arlecchino in the top row.
Recently I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the Uth Daze Festival as part of bcurrent's rock.paper.sistahz festival and National Youth Arts Week. I ran a mask making station on a beautiful spring afternoon. Kids and parents rolled through the park at Wychwood Barns and before they knew it they were making awesome paper masks.
The event was great, I highly recommend going next year. My mask making was only one of the things offered. There was origami and live performances as well as face painting (which is mask making of a different sort).
Basically the kids made a simple paper mask out of cardstock and added things like ears, noses and designs to make wearable art pieces. Here's a picture of a happy young mask maker with the finished product!
What a busy time around the workshop! There's a lot going on. I'm running a show that I co-directed for Theatre Caravel and making plans for an upcoming Fringe show. And when I'm not doing that I'll be teaching a few mask making workshops.
The first is a paper mask making workshop for an amazing festival called Uth Daze. Here's a little but more about it:
"Uth Daze is a 3-day FREE festival from May 4th-6th 2012 at the Artscape Wychwood Barns in Toronto & an official National Youth Arts Week event! This multi-arts event happens as part of b current’s 11thannual rock.paper.sistahz Festival, and features workshops for school and community groups, Up-Cycling: A Fashion Event, the Jr Juke Joint improvised performances, and an All Day Experience of creative activities, workshops, and performances for kids, youths and all!"
Click on the poster to find out even more. This mask making workshop is a really fun workshop where I'll teach some easy mask making skills that everyone can use. Plus you get a great paper mask to show off.
I'm going to post a series on the making of this guy, because it was a lot of fun. These little heads will be for sale online starting soon. I'm in the process of setting up on online store which will have these guys as well as some masks for sale. Until then if you're interested in buying one, send me a message and I can send one along.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of the newest addition to the family of little heads. Enjoy!
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Gr. 6
art class at Bond Lake Public School to talk about
my masks and had great time! I brought in a variety of my
masks, including the very first masks I ever made.
The kids were very responsive and had lots of questions.
I visited them to talk about my experience mask making as part of their mask making unit in class. They were hard at work making paper masks and I lent some of my knowledge and experience making my own masks. When I asked them what they were making their masks out of, they were shocked to hear I made them out of the same things - paper and glue!
I also taught them a bit about the history and significance of masks across cultures. They were able to give me lots of good examples of modern masks and their importance today.
All in all I had a great time chatting with the class and they had so many questions about mask making I was happy to answer. I loved showing them that mask making is still a vibrant art form that is a very important part of shared culture the world over.
Plus, they had the chance to try on some of my masks and bring them to life.
If you're interested in a class visit I'd love to talk with you about bringing my masks to your school. Send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Class Visit.