Reliquary of the Acolyte


Reliquary of the Acolyte34x25x4.5” Acrylic on panel, wood surround, polymer and Apoxie clay ornaments, resin, brass, cast iron. This latest addition to the Dankquart Collection further advances the narrative of the series’ lost civilization origin beliefs. My goal was to create a piece with extra depth, visually, as with the window within a window composition, and by building layers of content for viewers to interpret.

This piece began, as most do, with a sketchbook scribble. These are usually very rough but serve as reminders for me, indicators of where I was thinking of taking a project and some very basic directions, so that I can come back at a later date and pick up where I left off conceptually.


From the initial sketch stage I develop a tighter pencil drawing. As you can see I don’t get into too much detail preferring to develop it further when I transfer the drawing to my painting surface. I am not using a model, this piece was developed nearly entirely from my imagination with little reference.


Once I have the drawing down on my paint surface, in this case a prepared mdf panel, I rough in color usually working from back to front, large to small. Knowing the I might need to make alterations down the road, and I did, I premixed color for certain areas. I often mix these in small paper cups that will easily keep the color usable when stored in plastic bags.


I wasn’t sure about the folds in the drapery so I taped down a piece of plastic wrap so I could quickly lay down strokes of color and design the area to work with the foreground. I snapped a quick photo to use as reference later if I needed to.


When I create these pieces I work on both the frame surround and the painting at the same time. This allows me to better marry the two together and keeps me moving ahead as I can jump from one to the other as glue or paint needs time to dry.


When the painting is complete, or nearly so, I begin to work on creating some of the ornamental elements for the frame. Sometimes by waiting until the painting is done I have a better feel for what I want to make and how it should work. The skull was created in a multi step process first building out Apoxie clay over a wood form, then applying layers of polymer clay to flesh out the final dimensions. The finished sculpture was given a three color four step painting process for a mellow aged look.



It wouldn’t be a reliquary with out some treasured remembrance, in this case there are two. Left and right of the elongated ancestor skull are small relics created from polymer clay and set in resin held in a brass cup. On one side is a bone fragment, the other the foot of a tiny bird.



I’ve taken advantage of the depth created when using applications of gloss craquelure varnish and played the shiny surface of the varnished painting off the matte “substrate” surface, the area that appears to be exposed as if part of the painting has fallen away with age. Much easier to see in person the result produces a convincing trompe l'oeil effect.

Also see: Link to Reliquary of the Acolyte in the Dankquart Collection.