Bouncy House Time Machine

Thursday Sept. 15, 2022 6-10 PM is the opening reception for a super cool art exhibit in Worcester, MA call Bouncy House Time Machine. Two of my paintings will be on display for the length of the show, 9/14-10/6 at Worcester POPUP – 20 Franklin, Street Worcester, MA.

Bouncy House Time Machine

The goal of this show is to let adults feel like kids again with art that brings us back to childhood. Plus, there will be a BOUNCY HOUSE for ADULTS at the opening!!! I hope to see you there!

WAC Social Accounts:
Facebook @worcesterartscouncil 
Instagram @worcesterartscouncil
Twitter @worcarts

NEA Social Accounts:
Facebook @NationalEndowmentfortheArts
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Twitter @NEAarts

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Additional hashtags to consider: #worcesterartscouncil #makearteverywhere #artsforall #worcesterart #ARPA
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#worcesterma #worcestermass #discovercentralma #NEAarts

Beach

It’s been a great and busy summer. As a result I haven’t been able to visit me favorite place as much as I’d like this year. Here are a couple of watercolor sketches I did yesterday sitting on the shore. The seagull, was huge. Prints and originals of my beach paintings can be purchased at the wonderful art boutique Made It, with locations in Plymouth and Provincetown, MA.

This seagull was as big as our little dog.
The sky was overcast all day, but the water was warm.

Pick a Prize

“Pick a Prize” 16”x12” acrylic on canvas – If you’d like to own this piece, contact me.

The only part of going to the dentist that I cared about when I was a kid, was getting to pick out a prize from a little treasure chest at the end. I nearly always chose the jiggly monster finger puppets.

This painting is meant to recreate that magical feeling of being able to choose cheap little toy prizes after a semi-harrowing experience. Something to entertain yourself with on the ride home and take your mind off of the sound of that nightmarish drill.

It’s also a bit of a nod to cereal premiums with Cap’n Crunch, and the skull is a even reference to the little glow in the dark skeleton Cap’ Crunch gave away long ago.

Prints are available here.

Pick a Prize – 16″x12″ acrylic on canvas

Small paintings and T-shirts

Summer is here. We’ll see how much that means I’m indoors painting vs outdoors doing summer things. For now, I wanted to crank out some small 7”x5” paintings on wood panels.

Maxx Steele of Robo Force (sold)

First up was Max Steele if Robo Force. Brought to us in 1984 these robots with arms that grabbed and suction cup bases probably would have been much more popular if Transformers had exploded onto the scene.

Something that I didn’t appreciate when I was a kid was how perfectly they represent the 80’s technology aesthetic that we actually had. He looks like he’s compatible with a Commodore 64.

Time Lapse Video from painting Maxx Steele

Next up is a small painting of a jar of eyeballs in some red liquid. Is it blood? Mwahahaha! The eyes are actually ping pong balls that I painted to look like eyeballs. They are front and center in my painting Tonics, Potions, & Elixirs, but without the liquid and there is a lid on the jar.

Click to purchase
Jar of Eyes

There’s something fun about painting glass, liquid, and eyes on their own. So having them together made for a fun painting.

Tonics, Potions, & Elixers

Sparking Creature T-Shirts

Available Now!

Ripped from my painting Wind-Up Monsters, Sparking Creature has grown to massive

A terrifying t-shirt to torture your town!

Spring 2022

Pinball and Pinball 2 – 8”x10” acrylic on canvas

For almost a year I’ve been going weekly to The Western Mass Pinball Club to play a variety of classic and new pinball machines. I’ve been a big fan of pinball for as long as I can remember and painting them has been on my mind for quite a while. These are the first two pinball paintings.

“Life Savings” 16”x12” acrylic on canvas

“Life Savings” 16”x12” acrylic on canvas. I’ve wanted to paint one of the cash register banks for a while. Last month I went to a local indoor flea market and came across a brand new black cash register bank. I got excited for a minute, but I really wanted one with some wear and tear from being played with on it, or what my friend @kevmann42 has dubbed “playtina”. I also wanted something colorful.

Further into the store, in a stall I don’t alway check there was this blue cash register. Score! I grabbed it and continued shopping and thinking of how to use the cash register in a painting. It dawned on me that it was a piggy bank and maybe I could do something with piggy banks.

At that moment, I turned to leave a section and literally bumped into a shelf full of piggy banks. It felt like fate. The only problem was none of them really fit the aesthetic. There was on large white ceramic pig, decorated with painted flowers but it wasn’t right.

I remembered my translucent piggy bank at home, and thought that it would be perfect to find a small blue opaque pig about the same size. Again, I turned to leave the section and this time I was staring directly at the small pale blue ceramic piggy bank at the top of the painting.

Sometimes you choose the painting and other times the painting chooses you.

Toy Chest 2

Toy Chest 2 18”x24” acrylic on canvas

There was nothing better than opening a full toy box. Except maybe painting one. I love everything thing in this painting. Paintings like this are difficult to step away from because there’s always tiny areas that I could keep working on. At a certain point those changes become almost imperceptible. That’s usually when I know it’s time to move on.

Toy Chest 2 Prints 

Signed 12”x16 prints of Toy Chest 2 are now in the shop for $35. They are printed on 100% cotton, acid free, archival hot press paper. 

For a limited time you can order Toy Chest and and Toy Chest 2 prints together for

Toy Chest 2 – signed print on 12×16 archival 100% cotton hot press paper

The New England Toy & Record Show

Yesterday I spent the day at The New England Toy & Record Show at the Kittery Lyons Club in Maine. I was invited to share space with Kevin Mann aka Captain Caveman of Kaveman Toys. It was my first time attending an event like this as a vendor instead of as a collector, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

When I started painting again, I thought that if I painted the things I cared about, then the people who liked my work would be the ones who also liked the same things. I know it sounds obvious, but many artists including myself, have struggled with painting for themselves vs painting what they think will sell or please others even if it’s not something the artist particularly cares about.

My suspicions couldn’t have been more spot on. First with my growing followers on Instagram, then into the real world with people like Kevin, a toy seller and overall one of the nicest, most generous people I’ve met, and everyone I encountered yesterday. Fans of the same action figures and toys as me came to look at and buy my paintings and prints. We talked about the art, the toys, and their experiences growing up with them or hunting them down now. A special shout out to Mike who drove up from MA to ME just to say hi and pick up some prints in person. Hearing that he came up to see me, was moving beyond words.

I’m incredibly grateful to be able to make the art that I do, and even more grateful to share it with the people who appreciate it the same way I do. I can’t wait until I do another show, but in the mean time it’s time to get back to painting.

2020 -2021

A LOT has happened. Shows, awards, and tons of paintings. Currently I have some paintings hanging at The Quarters in Hadley, MA as of June 5, 2021. They’ll be there for a while. All of the details about the last year and half can be found by scrolling through my Instagram posts or my Facebook posts, because there’s way too much to put into this post.

Skull Harbor

“Skull Harbor” 14”x16” acrylic on canvas.

I have a small collection of various octopus figurines made of plastic, glass, and rubber. A few of them have crept into the background of some of my paintings. The realistic one can be seen behind King Kong and its tentacles are curling into view beside the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There’s something so alien about the shape, movement, texture, and intelligence of octopuses (or octopi) that I’m totally fascinated by them.

Skull Harbor - acrylic on canvas - by Chris Bordenca
Skull Harbor 14”x16” acrylic on canvas

Last month my family and I were in Plymouth, MA, where I’ve gone every summer my whole life. We went to one of the many kitschy gift shops on the waterfront and I found a basket full of these weird red rubber octopuses. They were straight out of the 80’s and had to have been sitting there in that store for the last 30 years untouched, no kid would have wanted one of these oddly designed creatures.

With that purchase I knew it was going to make it into the next painting along with the rest of the collection. As I started getting the octopuses together, I found a couple of rubber sharks, and remembered the countless times I had my parents buy me the same rubber shark toy souvenir year after year. It also reminded me of a restaurant we used go to in Plymouth called Souza’s Seafood.

Souza’s was the quintessential old school seaside restaurant. The ceiling was covered in a huge fishing net full of plastic lobsters, crabs, starfish, fish, shells, buoys, etc. it even had the huge tank full of lobsters at the entrance from which you could choose your dinner. As a kid it was magical. It was a place SpongeBob would have worked.

When I was thinking of a way to set up this array of fake sea creatures I was originally thinking I’d set them up in the sand at the beach but it didn’t feel right. There’s something inherently creepy about the ocean beneath the piers, docks, and jetties of the waterfront. You know there’s a ton of life down there on the bottom, the water is murky, at low tide you can see the bottom, and at high you know just how far over your head the water would be.

I was about to clean my fish tank when it dawned on me that it had just the right murkiness to hit that sweet spot for me. It’s a combination of creepy and silly. Like the fish tank in Pee-Wee’s playhouse plus the tale of Davy Jones’ locker.

So here it is. It was more challenging than I expected, but overall I’m satisfied. I hope you like it.

Notes: My 9 year old son Will came up with the perfect title. And the lobster is a fridge magnet souvenir that I stuck to the side of the tank. I’ve had that aquarium skull since I was fifteen, but didn’t get a fish tank until I was 30.

One Year!

A year of painting.
Some of a year’s worth of painting.

It’s been a couple of weeks past the one year anniversary of when I picked up a paintbrush again and started painting after a decade. What an incredible year it has been. I’ve learned so much, and met so many people all because I started painting again.

This spring I participated in the Belchertown Art Week and displayed work publicly for the first time since 2007. This summer “Smashed Cars” was in a group show at Gallery A3 in Amherst, MA. As of a couple of days ago my prints have gone on sale at Made It! Plymouth’s coolest waterfront art shop. I’ve sold some originals (I tend not to because I miss them when they’re gone) and a bunch of prints to a variety of interesting and really cool people who appreciate my paintings.

The most important thing I’ve learned through all of this, and it sounds obvious but it took me my whole life to really understand, is to do the thing you know you were meant to do. Don’t dress it up into something you’re not to try and appeal to more people (painting countless Fenway Park murals), or achieve a level of respect from some imagined elite class of critics (painting countless large abstract paintings), or force yourself into a mold that works for somebody else (graphic design, which led to web-design, which somehow led to CRM database management, and a whole host of other creative adjacent work) .

When you see happy people, that is success. It’s not the other way around. And when you see a happy successful person, it’s because they are doing what works for them. The reason it works for them, is that it’s true to them. What will work for you, is being true to your nature.

I’m finally able to see how truly listening to my own instincts about what I want to do moves me into the place I want to be, instead of listening to all of the people who’ve got other opinions about what I should be doing. That only gets you places they want to go. I get it now. I’ll do me, you do you, and I’ll be the first to celebrate and encourage you when you do!

Thanks for sticking around this long. I can’t wait to see what happens this year!