Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Shadows

Welcome to October of 2011. In the thirty six years that I have walked this earth, I can say with out a doubt that three years made me who I am, inspire my every thought, and gives me something to look forward to. Those three years are the thirty six months of October I have experienced. Okay...Thirty five and half months of October. I was born in October. Halloween is in October. The beginning of Autumn is in October. Everything dies, the air is brisk and spooks run rampant. I LOVE THIS MONTH!

For the past four years, there has been an art show celebrating Halloween in art called October Shadows. It includes a strong and hefty list of artists from around the world in fine art, comics, film, television and animation. I have been involved every year with many other artists that I admire. This year, I did three acrylic paintings on wood inspired by Halloween, familiar emotions and social problems.

I roughed out a few ideas in my sketchbook involving werewolves, devils, witches, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and the usual Halloween suspects. When I narrowed it down to three I wanted to proceed with as paintings I had...

I started by painting a checkered pattern on the boards using oranges, blacks and browns. Than I added my figures and proceeded with the details.

When you think traditional Halloween, you think ghosts, skeletons, devils, Jack-o-lanterns and witches. We've grown up with two types of witches- the hag and the succubus.

"Which Witch" is a portrayal of these two types of witches. There is the ugly hag and there is the beautiful temptress. But no matter which witch you choose...she is still a witch.

Who in America hasn't grown up carving a Jack-O-Lantern? I'm sorry if I've offended any deprived individual who has not partaken in this traditional act of Americana. But I think I can safely say that most people have in one form or another. Jack-O-Lanterns go hand in hand with Halloween like a corpse to a coffin. Traditional depictions of gourds with haunting faces haunt Halloween paraphernalia of the Victorian era. I've always been drawn to these tricksters.

In "The Horror Inside" I've depicted a more morose gourd spirit whose cavity is opened up and spilling with confetti, bats, candy and bones. It represents the importance of expelling the dark things that build up inside us because they can and will destroy our spirits.

I'm obsessed with Halloween. I collect vintage Halloween decorations and costumes. I love the old Ben Cooper vacuform masks. But even more so, I love the netting masks of the turn of the century. They are much more creepy. I find myself drawn more to traditional costumes than modern. My favorite costume of all time would have to be the skeleton jumpsuit and skull mask. Another favorite is the traditional sheet ghost.

"Unveiling the Heart Beneath the Sheet" is about acceptance and a social commentary about judging individual's characters by their appearance. A sheet ghost is thought to be empty, apathetic and cold. In this piece, the little girl is lifting up her sheet to expose a golden heart that is the absolute opposite.

Overall, I was really happy with these three paintings. I had started a fourth one depicting a devil holding a Jack-O-Lantern. But I was unable to finish it in time for the show.

These pieces are on display and for sale at the October Shadows art show in Altadena California. This free event opened on Sunday, October 2nd at the art gallery inside of the Mountain View Mausoleum, 2300 N. Marengo Avenue in Altadena, CA 91001 and will run each Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am – 3pm through the entire month of October.

Any artwork purchased must remain on display for the first two weeks of the show’s run, but will be available for pick-up on or after Sunday, October 16th.

For more information:

Mountain View Mausoleum
2300 N Marengo Ave
Altadena, CA 91001
Phone: (626) 355-9100


  1. I love this month too Gris, the autumn leaves, the cooler weather, the food, the spirits. I'm also an October birthday, and my mother's too. But she chose a festive day... Halloween! She's on the other side of life now, but still enjoying Halloween I know. These paintings here are beautiful! They make me smile. Thank you. :)

  2. FABULOUS - I sooo wish I lived out there !!!

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