Economy Sketching/Phantom of the Opera



Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera. Oil and acrylic sketch on Cap’n Crunch cereal box.

People want economy and they will pay any price to get it.
Lee Iacocca

There’s a phrase that you won’t see very often on art gallery title cards. “On Cap’n Crunch box.” I’m sure it is not the most “archivally-friendly,” material after all, and yes, it does impart a decidedly low rent air to the work. But as a cheap-o base to sketch on it works pretty well, and given the current economic climate who isn’t looking for a way to cut corners? I like to keep a stack of odd cardboard/paper pieces like this around to play on. The ginormous, “value-pack,” cereal box, type cardboard specifically. Given the culinary preferences at Hacienda Walker I’m assured a never ending supply, although I suppose if I’m struck with a frenzy of prolificness I could hit the neighbor’s recycling bin.

While the biggest upside of working on found materials like this is the price of course, can’t get much better than, “buy the cereal, get the board free,” (although in this case, I like to think of getting the cereal free with every painting support purchase-it’s a better deal that way), you do get to claim green points as well. I love the ground color of cardboard too, especially the cheaper stuff that has all kinds of extra little bits in it. It’s like someone in the cardboard factory figured they’d add a warm, hand crafted look and clicked Photoshop’s noise filter button.

There are downsides to this frugally rich material though. It’s very porous. Thin skinned. Not easily correctable. And if you do happen to wander into a creative masterpiece you’ll need to cover up the back side before showing the work. After all, how embarrassing would it be to have an admirer of your artistic crowning achievement flip over the painting only to discover a cartoon rendering of King Vitamin? Besides devaluing the work they’d know you had lousy taste in cereal.