Friday, September 14, 2012

Halloween skull, the artsy way

I'm not a big fan of Halloween. I have no need for ghosts, goblins and various creatures with severed heads in my life.

But for some reason this year I had a vision of a realistic white skull, artfully placed on top or near books? I have no recollection of seeing this anywhere but a quick search for "skull and books" on Pinterest led me to something called vanitas still life.

Source
A definition I found reads;

Vanitas is a specific genre of art in which the artist uses morbid symbolic objects (such as skulls, rotting food, fading flowers etc.) in order to produce in the viewer's mind an acute awareness of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death. The origins of the term can be traced back to the latin biblical aphorism: vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas (Ecclesiastes 1:2) [Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.] The style rose to prominence in the 16th and 17th century, primarily in the Netherlands, Flanders and France. Though it lost much of its popularity around 1650, its influence remains clearly visible in many modern works of art, such as Paul Cezanne's Pyramid of Skulls

I had no idea (mainly because I'm not that into art). And while I may not necessarily disagree with the sentiment behind this kind of art I wasn't looking for anything morbid but rather something elegant, moody and artsy. Unusual, if you will. Brainy, even :) And this kind of looks like what I had in mind.

The skulls I saw at Dollar Tree were just too fake looking but I landed this guy at the thrift store.

You can tell he's made of plastic but a fairly realistic plastic, at least. For $2 I thought he was worth a shot.

 After a few thin coats of ivory spray paint (only had satin on hand, a flat would have been better) and a very diluted wash of brown craft paint to age him he was looking less cheesy and more artsy.
 I decided to explore what he would look like with some realistic eyes. I made the eyes following this tutorial. He looks scared, poor thing. And I can't really blame him.
 And then I started having a little too much fun by adding these glasses :) Grandpa now looks like a deer in the headlights.
 The glasses were left over from this ancestor glasses specimen frame I made not long ago (they all belonged to my husband's great grandfather and I thought it would be fun to have them displayed instead of sitting around in some box).

Ok, so the realistic eyes look didn't appeal to me and things calmed down around here again. I have no good place to have him artfully rest atop some books so for now he hangs out here on our computer desk, helping us ponder the brevity of life :) He's not Halloween d├ęcor, he'll be a decorative addition to our home year round. I imagine sometime in the future having a big bookshelf styled to the nines with books and decorative items. I'll save him a spot in there, for sure.

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1 comment:

  1. I think he looks great - you really ritzed up the plastic skull with the paint. I'm glad you took out the eyes, they were too creepy!

    ReplyDelete

I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
I wish you a great day!

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