Exocubic Studio

Hello, Microbloggers! I’ve fully committed to the Micro.blog way, having nuked my Squarespace site and pulled everything – even my Instagram stuff – over here. A few minor hiccups, but things are at least where I want them to be.

Went for a #ride this morning at Soapstone Prairie. Such a beautiful, unforgiving landscape. The Wyoming border is maybe half a mile down that trail.

Nobody told me longer hair could be so… creative? Bedhead IS a thing.

(The snow took out one of the main trunks on our apple tree. Couldn’t have landed any better; no damage to the house!)

Say it ain't so. My trusty #Spyderco #Dragonfly, in my pocket for over 5 years, has a rival! That's saying a lot, as the little Dragonfly might just be one of the best folding knife designs EVAR. WHO COULD THIS INTERLOPER BE?!?

Ok, so, yeah; I got a new truck. The one that checked most of the boxes was the Ram 1500. Classic. (Cringe) — WARLOCK!!! Now, I get that this is a callback to the historical 1970's Dodge Warlock —  but why, why must all things truck be slathered with this hyper masculine, macho, manly man BULLSHIT?!? I need a truck to do my job, not to project my manly power into the world. Turning it up to 11 only makes you look laughably insecure. Stop that.

Found this old photo of a photo of a limestone carving I did 20 years ago. Can't remember the title, or where it ended up.

Roscoe wanting supper, or Mark wanting more than 750 followers on Insta? Same face.

Grid of my work. No particular rhyme or reason, just 9 I was really happy with.

"Scimitar Sun" as an #albumcover. What do you think?

So, is this really all there is to a business account here? If your not on Facebook, what's the point? And if you do have a Facebook account, what does "promoting" a post actually entail?

I am NOT ready for the #mtb season to end. Clinging to the last strands. #colorado #singletrack

Reinvention.

I was 20 years old in 1986 when I walked into Dan Ostermiller’s studio and asked for a job. Up to then, I'd been helping my Dad build houses. I was young and naive and had no idea what it meant to be a professional artist, let alone understanding the much more specialized realm of the sculptor. I ground bronze and learned to weld it; we painted rubber and slung plaster to make molds; I learned pointing up and roughing in from maquette to monument. I put all this newfound knowledge to work, sculpting my own pieces and casting them in bronze.

Somehow, the artist in me that had previously enjoyed drawing and painting fell in love with form and space and shadow, and I spent every free penny I made turning my ideas into cast metal. Casting bronze is expensive, even with the discounts the foundries gave us “rats,” the green-tinged, bleary-eyed artisans who did the dirty work on the shop floor. I discovered Brancusi and stone carving, doubly excited by the cheap, plentiful medium and the thrill of turning an ugly rock into a work of art. Somewhere around this point in the timeline, Mr. Ostermiller and I had a falling out (I pissed him off) and I found myself once again walking into a sculptor’s studio to ask for a job. Kent Ullberg wasn't just the second sculptor I worked for, he became like a second father to me. The Swede opened my eyes to a more European view of the world and of art. He also entrusted me to manage his production at the foundry, as well as handling the enlargement of some of his most impressively-scaled works.

There are a many more details and people and crazy happenings to recount, but that gets too far afield from my point. The stone carving and the metal grinding and the construction work, not to mention a detour to make a few thousand Chipotle chairs for my friend Bruce, took a serious toll on my physical health. Couple that with the inevitable diminishing of aging eyesight and a restlessness to move away from committee-driven public art, and you have the perfect recipe for a personal reinvention. And so it is with a bittersweet heart that I formally end my career as a sculptor, moving forward with excitement and trepidation into a future of greater creative freedom and less physical pain. Stay tuned to see what happens on the next episode!

Stormy Peaks Trail, looking down on Pingree Park lakes.

#colorado #hike #bestkindoftired

Got some Alpine time in today. I can feel the tension fly away on the wind as soon as I step foot above treeline.

Ch-ch-changes.

A couple pieces of news.

First, after 25 years together, I am no longer represented by the National Sculptors' Guild and Columbine Gallery.

Second, new developers have bought the building my shop was in. So, almost 4 years to the day since I moved in, (much like Elvis) I've exited the building.

Here it was in 2014, ready to get to work:

Interior of my shop, full

Hello Shop

 

Interior of shop, empty

Goodbye Shop

Man, these Colorado sunsets lately. Wow.

The dreaded selfie.

AAANND then there's this goofus.

fabricator fabricatin

Bit it on a trail run. Pick up yer feet, maggot!

Fun Weekend.

Got to hang out backstage at Red Rocks with the cool kids from Devotchka. Wow, chapter 1.

Sold out show for Devotchka and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Sold out show for Devotchka and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

 

Followed that up with a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens to check out the Chihuly glass work there. Amazeballs.

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Pretty.

Sometimes the colors in a weld bead can be downright purdy.

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Who am I?

Sculptor?
Painter?
3d Computer Graphics guy?
CAD jockey?
Illustrator?
D-d-d-designer?

I've been bouncing around, swapping hats rapid-fire. I've posted here before regarding this exact issue, but feel like the time has come to settle down and focus. Firstly, I will always be a sculptor. 23 years of effort, frustration, success, and failure is not something I'm willing to turn my back on. I've refined my process and settled into a groove that allows me to put together designs for Public Art projects which are unique and interesting - plus, the CAD aspect minimizes material waste and maximizes my ability to leverage outsourced fabricators, freeing myself somewhat from the physical wear and tear of the craft. That said, my ability to keep the bills paid AND stay fully engaged on a creative level requires that I not place all my artistic eggs in one basket.

So, is painting the right direction? Looking back at my posts here, I can definitely see the light of real passion shining through when I talk about the process and struggle of oil painting. The physicality, the spontaneity, the sheer joy of color is brightly illuminated - both in those posts and in my minds eye. There is a downside, though. That very process is inherently wasteful, producing scads of studies that have no market value and influencing the market for the production of toxic chemicals and solvents that I'd rather not tacitly or directly participate in. Another aspect is a limitation of my own naivete of the medium: I don't feel I'm capable of producing work that qualifies as "modern" or "contemporary", which is something I value. It may be simply that I haven't put in enough time at the easel to have developed the sophisticated "voice" that I feel I have as a sculptor. So it boils down to needing to invest the time AND waste the materials to become a REAL painter. Or I could choose another route.

I love the scope of possibility that modeling 3d objects entails, especially when the constraints of  manufacturability are removed. Plus, the skills learned there are very useful to others when it comes to prototyping products, visualizing design iterations, and crafting promotional materials. The huge downside to this that I've been experiencing is the FEEL of this process: it degrades into button pressing and slider fiddling, poking and prodding the software in a way that blurs the distinction of who (or what) is in charge. I feel like I become a technician rather than an artist, and I just don't like that feeling at all.

It just dawned on me that this is the core issue - over the years, I've managed to split myself, analogous to the hemispheres of the brain, into two distinct entities: the Artist and the Engineer. One handles the creative side of things while the other doggedly attempts to shoehorn that creativity into a physical "product" that can be fabricated and sold. There isn't anything inherently wrong with this split, until the two forces begin to wrestle for control - at which point it's time to decide who is in charge.

I'm choosing to be an artist. The ability to create things, hopefully beautiful things, is more important to me than mastering CAD programs and sussing out how to isolate an ambient occlusion layer. I may be splitting hairs here, but that medium which allows me the most direct route from idea to its manifestation is the one I want. I'm not willing to give up the power of Undo and all the other benefits the computer brings to the ideation process, so that aspect of the Engineer and his tools will remain, but minimized as much as possible. Stay tuned and lets see where this leads.

Ahhh... Thats more like it.


My Workspace, originally uploaded by mark leichliter.

I finally got fed up with the fan noise, the clutter, and the general lack of wonderful that was my old desktop Windows system. Opted to indulge my inner minimalist and went for a 17" MacBook Pro. I really like this setup, plus I have a Bootcamped Windows XP partition that runs SolidWorks and Rhino beautifully. To top it off, I was able to sell the whole system to a friend in dire need of an upgrade - shiny, happy people and shiny, happy computers all around.

Birthday!

As near as we can decipher, today Lola is three years old. Congratulations on surviving your sketchy childhood, your trying adolescence, and the rules of your monkeys.

Lola_Is_Tree

I just realized that this photo contains my three favorite things - Ren, Lola, and Beer. Sweet.

Postbarf.

In an effort to make up for a dearth of posts, here's a whole bunch of crap vomited into the tubes all at once.
BookMobile - bottom 2
Book mobile design for a school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here's another angle:
BookMobile - top
Buffalo - Pattern and Model
Once again when I'm desperate for cash, my friend Bruce comes through. I spent quite a bit of time working with him to get a usable unfolded pattern made for his buffalo piece. Looking forward to seeing it finished one of these days.
Ristra Mobile
Have some good clients down in Santa Fe who are looking to find a way to bring some durability to the omnipresent ristra. (They are having problems with the wind, mice and ants destroying the traditional ones.) This was my first concept, which fails on the wind-resistance front. Presently working on iteration number two.