New Work: Suburban Sprawl (the McMansions)

Suburban Sprawl, 2019, Artist Book, Hand Embossed

Before I get into why I made this piece I will give my definition of a McMansion.  A McMansion is an excessively large home on a lot that is way too small and contains an over abundance of architectural features that often compete with one another.  I do not know anyone who lives in this type of housing but there seems to be a great deal of it being built in “up and coming” areas; therefore, I am bound to meet someone sooner or later who lives in one and piss them off if they ever read this.

SS Detail
Suburban Sprawl, detail

Though I have long been aware of the McMansion (see this early post), it was not until I lived in a suburban area where there is a serious shortage of affordable housing and I could witness first hand the destruction of important habitat, that the McMansion really made a serious impact on my thinking.  So the McMansion became a scapegoat as my way of raising concern on the issues of over development and the shortage of affordable housing.

ss Sketches
McMansion sketches

I choose the format and the medium very deliberately.  First and foremost is the house shape, something I use often in my work. But the look of the house could not be the standard few windows and door that I often depict. The features had to be exaggerated so I made several sketches based on things I had seen.  Then there was the number of houses, which I decided to be 25 for no reason except it seems like enough to create the “sprawling” I felt was necessary to convey the loss of land (and I knew I could reasonably make 25 houses without pulling my hair out).  I connected the houses to emphasize the lack of a suitable plot of land for such a large house.


Lastly, I choose to use blind embossing to emphasize the absence of any personal

SS Template
Blind embossing plate

ornamentation, interesting garden or yard features. Ironically, blind embossing is often a medium I equate with elegance and simplicity but it seems to work more in this case within the context of banality.   A blind embossing is made with a cardboard plate. Paper is places on top of the plate and hand scored along the relief shapes.   It is an underused medium and I do intend to write up a bit more about the medium itself in the very near future.

So I “feature”, or more accurately poke fun at, the McMansion as  my newest piece relating to home, housing, and community.

New Etsy Shop (and always free shipping)

Folk Song Bird
Folk Song Bird, Linocut with watercolor

Like most artists, I make more than one body of work. Each body of work is meant to be shown/exhibited at different types of venues. My books, paintings, and drawings tend to be about specific topics and usually are done in series and are best left to indoor (often non commercial) venues. On the other hand, my linocuts are each made to stand on their own and meant to be brought to outdoor shows and sent into the world to live in other peoples’ homes.  It has always been a personal mission of mine to to do two things with my linocuts:  inspire a sense of joy and to offer a high quality work of art at very affordable prices. Since I am not doing as many outdoor art & craft shows as I used to, I decided to put my linocuts on Etsy.  As of this posting, I have ten linocuts listed. I am also offering free shipping as a standard policy. So please take a look at my Etsy shop here (or use the menu at the top of my website).

Hanging Out
Hanging Out, Linocut


Autumn 1
Autumn 1, Linocut, frottage, watercolor