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Friday, July 17, 2009

Steampunk Wizard of Oz #3: Underpainting

Oil on Masonite

A few years ago, some friends (who shall remain nameless) and I broke into an abandoned chemical plant that had been damaged by a fire. It was huge complex, that stretched over the better part of a square mile, it had its on rail yards, depots and an underground labyrinths of pipes and crawl spaces. In the passage-ways there were hazard signs on rusted, pressurized-doors that read, CAUTION: DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. Oily water dripped and pooled in the hallways. Everywhere we were surrounded by an atmosphere of latent deadly chemicals and the feeling that maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. We crept through this labyrinth in complete darkness using headlamps. Everything was dripping, dank, ruined, and everywhere lay twisted steel girders, collapsed ceiling tiles and rusting electronic equipment.
But in one burned out rooms, we saw something that didn't fit in with all the rusting, man-made structures and machines. As we came into the room we froze, stopped breathing, and backed out the way we had come. In the room, we had seen large colonies of fungus several feet high covering the ground. One of my friends had worked in water and smoke mitigation before told us not to breathe in the air anywhere near there. So we crept out of the room and back into the relative safety of rooms labeled, TOXIC CHEMICALS PRESENT with their friendly MSDS diamonds on them. This struck me as very strange. Here in the midst of this dangerous man-made place, was something organic that was more immediately dangerous to us.

When I began to think through possibilities for this particular scene, (which you have probably recognized by now) this experience of seeing organic decay creeping into the ruins of man-made industry inspired me a great deal. The idea of 'don't breathe the air' in this industrial decay fit the mood of the scene for me.

Tomorrow we begin glazing.


  1. Justin- I'm in love w/ your concept, especially seeing the two soft textures of the clouds and the shrooms cut in half by the factory.

    I had a hard time seeing the Scarecrow w/ the values as is. Color may bring him out, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    I can't wait to see how it turns out.

  2. Beautiful! Dorothy looks absolutely fantastic, and I like how the Lion's eyes are Xs, even though otherwise he's painted in a fairly realistic manner. The whole painting looks great, but those two parts really struck me.
    I agree with dwilson about the Scarecrow, though. Both his values and his position make him somewhat hard to see at first.

  3. Unbelievably gorgeous. Can't wait to see the finished piece.

  4. Whoah that's looking awesome! What a surreal story too.