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Brian Vigue
Artist of high fantasy and fantasy that's just plain high
Artist of high fantasy and fantasy that's just plain high

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Fiona & Hewie from Haunting Ground.

Haunting Ground is a survival horror game for the PS2. Fiona, in a characteristically cautious state, and Hewie, a white german shepherd she meets along the way, are the main protagonists. The plot is a bit twisted, as expected of a horror video game, involving the villain's need to pass on his clone genetics through a half alchemic, half old-fashioned birthing process with his not-quite-family member. Fiona's drafty short skirt and jiggle-effect seem appropriate for these sexual themes. In the spirit of "it's better to watch things than it is to do things", I never played this game. My wife and I power-streamed the entire Let's Play series, presented by Cryaotic, while working on art, game programming, and the usual Renaissance stuff we do.

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A sexy necromancer surveys the area outside the Temple of Death, readying her skull gargoyle for patrol. Her "living" gown consists of demons and lost souls swirling around her body. This drawing was an interesting exercise in pareidolia; the gown began as just a bunch of scribbles. From there, faces, hands, skulls, dragons, and a bunch of other weird things emerged in a Where's Waldo of the damned. Where's Slenderman? Cthulhu is somewhere in there. Note the party of harpies in the loin area leading into what looks like Metroid's Ridley. I particularly like the skull dragon on her left breast. A lot of this is whatever you see, which is what pareidolia is all about.

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She has come home: my first attempt at a Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) competition is back from its New England road trip and is currently on display at the Framemakers. A lot of work went into it, with its hand-sculpted inner frame and outer shadowbox, and the artwork is an original Vigistry creation, too.

Talk of entering the PPFA competition came about in October 2013, after a trade show and lecture on the use of plaster in classical frames. At that time I was just "Amy's husband", a tag-along carrying her bags, with no real interest in the trade. But with our own frame shop in our midst and the chance to do something creative for an audience, I thought it would be cool to collaborate with Amy: I could design the piece, and she could build it with her thirteen-plus years of framing experience.

Well, as business owners we learned how the daily affairs of an extremely busy art shop can suck up time and put certain creative visions on the back burner. My 2014 plan to continue working in the printing industry was cut short; I joined the Framemakers crew in March to work on databases and maybe help with basic fitting. Suddenly it was late April, and I was reminded that we had just a month to get going on that competition piece!

For this open competition, the framed object could have been anything: an art print, magazine clipping, photo— but I wanted it to be original artwork in the event that if it didn't excel in the PPFA, I could enter it into other art shows. See, there's a method to this madness! That October lecture wasn't as boring to a non-framer as one might think; it did inspire me to do something creative with plaster, but since I'm not a sculptor I needed to think of something quick and imprecise that I couldn't possibly screw up— how about coral! And from coral I envisioned a #mermaid, a staple among fantasy pin-up artists such as myself.

The artwork, depicting a coral reef, with a mermaid observing a hermit crab, was drawn completely in graphite then colored over with Prismacolor pencils. Halfway into the coloring, I spent a weekend at the shop to start working on the coral frame. By this time I had a bit of experience in our workshop to build the frame out of wood scraps. The plaster was made out of toilet paper, joint compound, and pipe cleaners. Some seashells were stuck on for extra adornment.

Not knowing how well the plaster would hold up, I had envisioned the artwork and coral frame to be contained inside a shadowbox. With nearly two weeks before the delivery truck coming to pick up the finished piece, I was looking over our sample wall for the frames that would compose the box. A thick graphite-colored moulding turned on its side forms the depth of the box, while a glossy, aquatic blue frame accents the top. Note that two kinds of cuts were used on these frames: a regular 45-degree angle cut for the aquatic blue, and a sideways cut to turn the wide graphite face into a tall box— more on this later. These two mouldings were ordered from our suppliers and a few days later came in the form of "chops", bars cut to size and ready for joining.

With our business's workload still wonderfully relentless, I was learning more aspects about the shop and heading a new department every week it seemed. With Amy constantly immersed in administrative duties, it was becoming apparent that I was taking on this competition piece solely. I certainly appreciated the input from Amy and veteran coworker Pat, but I found myself taking initiative on many things. Some after-hours were spent constructing the shadowbox and its precise turquoise lining. It figured, my final week was obstructed by nightly meetings, some of them fun. A work log describing my intentions, procedures, and equipment used on the piece was required for submission; this I wrote on an hour-long trip to Bangor for absinth tasting with the mayor. On the way back, Amy proofread it in a somewhat giddy state! It was a hustle, but with the mermaid finished, the coral frame painted in opalescent acrylics, the box built, and the writeup descriptive enough, everything was ready to be pieced together and packed in a shipping box the next morning. I had four hours until the delivery truck arrived!

Fitting a custom frame consists of many steps, including securing the artwork, polishing the glass, pinning on a backboard, and adhering a dust cover. All of this I took care of in over two hours while juggling regular shop tasks. The final step was to attach a hanging wire, which is easy enough— just drill some holes and screw some hangers into the back of the frame. I drilled in the first screw, then the last, then— ever get the feeling that you're drowning in air? I bore a hole right through the side of the shadowbox and in my mind, my grade suddenly plunged to F. It figured, the very last step of an otherwise lucky project would be my downfall. It doesn't get any worse— unless, of course, the job spontaneously combusts as it's being placed in the customer bag.

Amy made an emergency call to the event organizer who said that the week's deadline was an err on the side of caution. Officially I had one more week to get the piece on the truck! Another set of chops were ordered and, of course, came in the day of a major rush job, so I had to wait until closing on the day before the deadline to construct a new shadowbox. I opened the carton and— remember that part I mentioned about the two different cuts? The moulding that should have been cut boxwise came in flat; in other words, too short for me to work with. This project was looking cursed. However, with Amy's wisdom and resourcefulness, we were able to recut the long bars and break apart the old box to salvage the two adjacent sides— an entire geometry session to start off the night! I didn't want to rest and resume the next morning like last week; by 9:30pm, the entire frame was constructed to perfection. Reinforced wire hangers were used as an improvement over the last model because of its weight. This meant that twice as many screws were needed. I really don't remember how I felt during that double jeopardy moment of drilling the holes; I was way too tired.

Seven framers competed in the PPFA show; it was a pleasure to see my submission on display among them. My simple idea to just "build a box" was rationalized by Amy as a very ambitious project; I eventually had to agree. She also mentioned to everyone that I've only been framing for two months. Relativity doesn't apply to the PPFA, though. There were too many masters and too many subtle impracticalities that counted against my work to keep it from placing. I did, however, get a nice ribbon for participating, and a few helpful critiques. Most of them had to do with the backing. It's amazing the importance of the work that isn't seen. Framing is such a perfectionist's art. The winners will move on to nationals in Las Vegas with their classified pieces, but guess what? I don't have to keep mine a secret anymore!

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"Is that painted on— women's underwear?" I could hear people say at the Maine Open Juried Art Show. Actually, that's a common reaction. Clothespin isn't groundbreaking in enamel painting style as it was done very quickly, but I thought I'd try a different substrate than my usual T-shirts. At nearly four feel tall, this one grabs attention. Each pair of undergarments was fitted over a custom cut panel, painted, wrapped in acetate, then each panel was secured to a plank with standard carpentry. Nuts, bolts, and panties: what a harmonious combination.

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This morning's traffic report was a scenario from the most unreal science fiction novel. A gigantic beast shaped like an elephant's head flounders across the land, flattening buildings in its path and kicking up belts of wind from its ears— or fins, rather. That single tusk is a stinger; It's some kind of mutated stingray! There's no ocean for miles; where this monstrous "eleray" goes after tromping through the industrial valley is anyone's guess.

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In a post-apocalyptic world, some survivors were man-made. A futile attempt at battling colony collapse disorder had resulted in engineers manufacturing honeybees and flowers that were half electronic, half organic. The first generation appeared friendly enough and carried out its basic natural duties but over time, the mutation became an atrocity. The bees were endowed with plug-ins, and the flowers underwent several versions of the latest social media apps to keep their cyber visibility at peak and draw in those big, high-scoring pollinations. The evil masterminds who created these abominations died long ago, but their selfies and nonsensical hash tags live on in their creations.
This picture was first inspired by a marketing campaign for e-book advertising, one of the more mundane duties in my life. That piece needed to be more conservative, so I kept the mutated A/V idea for Vigistry. However, production of the painting yielded to some other projects until a variant of the painting was set up as an advertising tool for a local social media event. A few more projects, a few more life changes later, and this new version of the painting was finalized with the bees' heads ripped off and the A/V cables stuffed down their necks. Now that's Vigistry style!

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Ovivores are a little-known yet sufficient threat to #dragons, so this interesting species adapted by forgoing a fragile eggshell and gestating inside a #turtle. The mating ritual involving this unlikely third party is still a mystery. Regardless, such a stronghold ensures the safety of the chick— a happy start for the dragon but a bad day for the turtle.

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Hmm, given the timing of all the shootings of schoolkids and firefighters, and gun control, and the second amendment, this could turn into a political piece. In fact, at the start of December before any of the craziness took place, this #princess was sporting a magic wand, then that was erased and a new staff piece put in— but neither of those were interesting enough for my tastes. Then after a night of inspirational drinking and industrial music, I came up with the idea of metallic flowers, or better yet, pussy #bullets. But why did I really do this? I just wanted an excuse to put "pussy" in the title. Really, some local artists won't call this piece by name.

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An epic battle rages on as Bluette, Celest, and Centura storm the bone #fortress . Primary opposition consisted of a few #demon dogs, which Celest, master of beast-slaying and looking hot in her scant outfit, easily took down with her halberd. Charmer Bluette had less luck #enchanting them or even slashing them with her whip, but such shortcomings probably won't be written in the logbook. So it was up to #sorceress Centura to take a risk. Running onto a balcony, crystal staff and bag of magic dust in hand, she performed a ritual to summon an elegant, blue-fire #dragon . Whether it would wish to help, or in fact turn on our heroic damsels is still pending. Meanwhile, reinforcements rush in from the stairs; deformed skull riders answer the alarm with hatchets aloft. Surrounded, Bluette experiences a sinking feeling and goes trancelike as her hand lights up with #magical fire. This surprises Celest, for her leader had not been know to contain such power. Let's hope she knows how to use it!

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Featured in #Heavy_Metal Magazine. What would a #playground for #demons look like? Probably like this, complete with undead spring rides and a sawblade in the middle of the slide, YEAH! This #torture chamber lacks the traditional pendulum, but the #succubus, wearing axe-blade anklets, improvises with a killer swing slash. Note the blood splattered over the "lens".
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