Excrementism is a word from my fornicabulary. It fits a recent situation involving a commission.

I got a call from an exec of the annual Orchid Society Show at the Arboretum, in Asheville, NC. She asked if I would make some paper orchid sculptures for exhibition at their show.

I thought, sure, why not, beautiful flowers are right up my garden alley. I was busy with other work, so I had a couple of weeks to think about it.

Paper sculpture orchids, for orchid experts? I didn’t think so. They would pick them apart, gleefully pointing out dozens of my mistakes in every pretty paper petal, pistil, and palette.

It had all the makings of an artistic disaster. I wasn’t about to make my sorry ass, realistic paper images of Mother Nature’s floral glory.

Excrementism. Not knowing sh*t about the subject.

So I decided to make my own paper blossoms, based on Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, giving the “experts” nothing to criticize. First was Orchideco. Silver and gold, minimal color on sharp angles, and geometric pattern decoration.


Orchideco $2250.

Orchideco went reasonably well, though I struggled with the concept, but I knew Orchidnouveau could probably be a lot more fun. Organic shapes, a butterfly with hands, flowers and other goofy looking stuff. Painting color combinations is when a lotta fun took place in the process. No chromatic holds barred, I used all 64 crayons in my toy box, including black and white.


Orchidnouveau $2250.

I am an excrementist in other parts of my makeup, I don’t know sh*t aboutalotta things. Think about it, excrementism seems to be a movement that has gone viral, especially in politics, and excrementism could be a huge third party. Great bumper stickers and novelty toilet tissue.

Thanks for visiting me…


The Weaverville Art Safari, Art From the Heart of the Blue Ridge, studio tours is on Saturday & Sunday, May 2 & 3, 10am-5pm. The preview party is on Friday night, the 1st, at the Weaverville Town Hall, 30 S. Main Street from 7:00 – 9:00pm. It’s $10 per person, with $5 raffle tickets for door prizes, and a cash bar (beer and wine).

My email address has changed to: LeoTheColorman@gmail.com

The Hawk & the Hummingbird

Now and then I get a commission and sometimes they come in groups. A Hawk and a Hummingbird came together and became a priority problem. I tried to bring them up together and they both suffered from lack of focus. Way too much time was spent on them because of false starts. The Hawk you see here is the third version. The first two were torn up and tossed after many, many hours of cutting, painting, and assembling, but not nearly enough hours of planning, research, and determining the graphic and dimensional symbols that would satisfy the solution to the problem. If I ever do another Hawk, I will start with the eye and beak and then build a hawk around them. In this case, I built a hawk and tried to fit the beak and eye into the feather structure…had a helluva time.

Hawk Commission

Hawk Commission

I was cutting and painting the Hummingbird and flowers at the same time as the work on the Hawk was being done. The blossoms were just a bunch of flower-like shapes for a couple of months, and again the bird was done several times, until I simplified things and did my impression of a Hummingbird and not a realistic rendition. I seem to get hung up on the beauty of the real bird, and not on what I can do with my limited abilities and the limitations of my technique.

Hummingbird  Commission

Hummingbird Commission

Photos by: Michael Mauny

In my professional past as a paper sculpture illustrator, jobs came in, sometimes more than one at a time, and they had to be prioritized by deadlines. But I always worked on one at a time, sometimes day and night to finish the first and get on to the next.

In the past dozen years or so, when preparing, say, twenty or more pieces for an exhibition, I could work on several at once because they had similar themes and visual content. I found that they fed off each other and elements in one suggested ideas in the others. But a Hawk in autumn had almost no relationship to a Hummingbird among flowers and there was a conceptual fistfight for several months.

I was so frustrated that I avoided going into my studio for weeks, which is why they took so damn long to finish. As an illustrator, I never missed a deadline in fifty years. Currently, I have two more commissions, a male cardinal, in flight, and a mountain landscape. I am going to work on one at a time, for sure, for damn sure!

Thanks for visiting me…


P.S. A new series of collage classes starts on January 17th in my studio.

2015 Jan:Feb:Mar Leo Monahan Unexpected Image Class Flyer