sketchbooks 2013

Lenticular models from Design Fugitives!

I'm considering the possibility of doing a lenticular image as an anniversary piece for New Life Lutheran, Shoreview, MN.  A lenticular image is really multiple images sliced up and aimed in different directions.  When the viewer's point of view changes, a different image reveals itself.  I would like to present the theme of new life by greeting visitors and members walking in the door with an image of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  The flip side, seen as one leaves the sanctuary and walks toward the door, would be an image of Jesus.  Combining multiple images suggests a connection between them.  I hope this would become an enduring visual metaphor of our new life in Christ. 
Thanks to Design Fugitives in Milwaukee for the 3D models.  They made a few more, but these get the lenticular idea across.  Check out their awesome products and processes at

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Conceptual work

   This post contains conceptual sketches for a variety of upcoming projects.  These projects are just getting started.    At this point in the process, there's a lot of "what if" and gathering of possibilities.  Anything could happen and that's frankly a little exhausting.
    You should have no illusions about me as an artist...I generally know very little about the final product when I'm starting to think about it.  It's almost as if I discover the artwork through exploration.  This is in contrast to the popular image of an artist who sees the final product in his mind's eye and charges forward with irresistible willpower.  
   Those early ideas are almost always the most cliche approaches in the history of a developing project, but without them I have nothing to climb on.  An early idea becomes something I can react against.  I can bend and adjust those feeble beginnings and start to get some traction.  Somehow, there's more brainpower available after the first ideas are on paper.  Each successive stage offers another opportunity for improvement, much like a writer submitting drafts and revising according to an editor's suggestions.  The biggest decisions seem to happen early and they seem to require the most effort.  Later on there are still exciting twists, but they are not so difficult to discover.  
    Sometimes I'm shocked when I look back at the very first concept sketches for a project after it is finished.  I tend to forget my early, often strongly felt, ideas.  The path is rarely a predictable one.  Part of the reason for posting my works in progress is to archive my meandering developments.  It's also a friendly invitation to those interested in creative processes...
    So here I am at some beginnings.  I suspect that there is much to be discovered in these projects.  However, for now I feel a little awkward, aimless, unsure of the outcome.   I'm looking into a fog.  The sureness comes later.  I suppose that's the nature of exploration.  Adventure is out there!

Baptism concept
Thoughts on Baptism.

Searching for Mary Magdalene by drawing from classic sculptures.
Geometric interpretation of "Sunrise"
Some layout ideas for
"Saint and Sinner" illustrations.
Beginnings of a "Saint and Sinner" series.
Gathering ideas for
Wanda Gag project.
Early thoughts on
Spark and Echo project.
Concepts for New Life project.

Musing on giant portraits in German Park.
Figure study for
 Wanda Gag project.
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Eph. 2 Notebook screenshot

The image shown here is a screen shot of my springpad notebook on a Koine animation project.  You should be able to click on it for a larger image.  This is what I really wanted to share on the earlier blog post, but this view won't show up when I embed it.  I like this board view because I can gather a bunch of information and drag it around into visual arrangements that help me think.  

What you see here is a linear arrangement of my initial sketches, photos, and different scriptwriting systems.  I plan to use the scriptwriting ideas as a guide in creating a compelling story for our marionette hero.  The lyrics (partially visible in the lower left) provide important clues about the kinds of problems our hero will encounter and how the crisis will be resolved.  It's interesting how well Law and Gospel can fit into the standard storyline with a few tweaks.  Hint: This puppet character will not be saved by being true to his dreams or believing in himself.  At this early stage I see this video ending up as a stop motion animation made with the crisp clean look of colorful cut paper.  

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WELS synod Convention closing service sketch

A sketch drawn amid the distinguished crowd of WELS laity, teachers, pastors, and administrators as the 2013 convention came to a close in worship.  What an experience to participate in devotions, presentations, decisions, and fellowship involved with a synod convention.  I met and listened to amazing people.  Despite my concerns about the translation issue, I'm satisfied with the civil tone in our discussions and final decisions on the topic.  God works through his people and I have been blessed to participate.  

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WELS Synod Convention opening service sketches

     The 2013 WELS convention opened with a beautiful worship service.  Overwhelming bass and tenor voices of the assembly boomed out hymns new and old accompanied by instrumentalists and a choir.  Hearts crumbled as they considered "Who can stand" in the presence of the Lord?  We were directed to the throng of believers who DO stand before the throne, the church victorious, who have come out of the great tribulation.  God be praised for his glad tidings!
   The history of WELS missions at home and abroad was presented in a procession by the LWMS (Lutheran Women's Missionary Society).  WELS involvement was explained for each country (or state) as its flag was shown.  
See photos of the opening service at this link.

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Visual Minutes

  The MVL association delegates, board of directors, and other concerned individuals engaged in an open discussion on Feb. 17 regarding the termination of Ron Wels' divine call.  While many questions remain unanswered, the involvement of so many in the governance of the school is an energizing thought.
 It was passionate democracy in action.  Kudos to Pastor Matt Rauh, acting chairman of the board, for running the potentially vitriolic meeting in an even-handed way.  He immediately acknowledged the presence of so many visitors and set out the rules of engagement at the outset.  A lesser man would have allowed the crowd to become a lynch mob, or impatiently barked them down into submission.
  The assembly exercised its right to overturn the board's recent action.  A difficult time was had by all.

The image here shows my "visual minutes" of the proceedings.  These are faces I saw and words I heard as I sat in the crowd.  Strictly unofficial.  Strictly nonconfidential.

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Awkward Beginnings

Peter's denial
   These are some very early thumbnail sketches for Lenten motion graphics.  The assignment is to make elements that can be animated in After Effects.  At the time of this posting, I have almost no more material on this project.  By the end of the month, I will have made God-only-knows-what.  
   I've said it once before, but it bears repeating... that this part of the process, the first blush, is uncomfortable and clumsy.  Slightly frightening and embarrassing.  At the beginning of any project I don't know what the outcome will be.  What follows is research, experimentation with composition, media, style, and final execution.  I've found prayer essential to every step.
  Of course there is an excitement that goes with setting out on a journey into the unknown.  Vacations, watching sports, and reality TV can be fascinating for similar reasons.  Making art is like playing a game.  There's a chance you will lose, but if you've ever experience the thrill of the game it keeps you coming back.  I love the feeling of making something that wasn't there before.  So much so that I don't mind the awkward beginnings.  
I started posting here in 2010 with a similar "who knows" message.  According to the stats...this blog now gets thousands of views each month. Sometimes I'm surprised by what gets attention (Mulberry Bonsai is a popular topic). Posting to the "The Process" has become part of my studio practice.  Besides the US, there seems to be considerable viewership from Europe, Russia, Australia, and Malaysia. Wherever you are, thanks for tuning in.  It's my pleasure to share the work I love.  

Casting Lots

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