Long time no see

March 13, 2019

Life goes on as they say. The last time I posted I was going to Italy to work on a monumental scale cardboard sculpture. Which I did. Shortly after after the completion of that piece, while I was still in Lucca my brother died tragically. My brother, Owen, suffered from severe mental illness, Schizoaffective disorder, often abbreviated as SAD. A mental disorder characterized by abnormal thought processes and deregulated emotions. The diagnosis is made when the person has features of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, in my brother’s case Bi-polar.

Needless to say it was quite a blow and unfortunately I began to associate the project at the Lucca Biennial with my brothers death. The piece titled, We All Fall to Earth, was a meditation on mortality and as the god of irony would have it my Brother passed on the day it was finished.

Though I have been keeping very busy I have also withdrawn from the online world to some degree. I am engaged with social media much less, but I’ve kept up to date on Instagram. Which I find less intrusive into my mental space than say Facebook. I would just rather work on art than manage endless online accounts. This website being the most neglected.

I’m considering a revamp on this site to maybe integrate some social media feeds into the content or possibly simplify down to a bare bones portfolio. I’m also considering working on the blogging aspect more because I have been teaching classical oil painting and I’d like to engage my students in a dialog. It’s all a bit much and I haven’t thought it through yet.

If you are interested in my work and happen to arrive here and see nothing new know I will be updating this site on a more regular basis. Fresh content shall be forthcoming. For now the best place to look for me is Instagram @myklwells.

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TWO! Great endorsements of my work in support of my GoFundMe campaign

June 07, 2016

The first comes from Lori Zimmer the author of the book, The Art Of Cardboard, who graced me with a profile alongside greats like Wayne White and Ann Weber

Support Mykl Wells’ Cardboard Creations for Cartasia

The Second Comes from Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild!


It’s amazing and humbling.

Thank YOU!


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GoFundMe Campaign Launch

June 06, 2016




What a talent Mykl Wells is!  In 2014  Tucson Chinese Cultural Center commissioned him to create a giraffe puppet for its original dance drama Zheng He in the Desert, the story of the Chinese sea captain who sailed from China to Africa before the time of Columbus.  After countless hours of study and design, Mykl produced a soulful life-size puppet of wire and cotton muslin with a metal and wood frame, which comes to life when powered by three humans.  Its neck is completely flexible and bends in greeting or to accept food.  It is beloved by all who see it in motion.  A true work of art that is cherished at TCCC.  I love Mykl’s work!

–Robin Blackwood, Director, History Program, TCCC

For many years Mykl Wells has been a community arts builder in Tucson, giving his own time to help people create works for the city’s All Souls Procession, and in the process empowering them to find their own creative and expressive voices. People who never thought they had a lick of artistic talent discovered that they too could create meaningful, personal work through Wells’ gentle, nurturing guidance.

–Daniel Buckley, Documentary Filmmaker, Director,
The Mariachi Miracle (http://www.mariachimiracle.com/)



Many of you know me or are familiar with my work. For those of you who are not  I make my living as painter and sculptor and I do a lot of community arts organization. (http://myklwells.com)

You may have attended one of my free community workshops, sat with me on a public art committee Or danced your booty off at my event, The Cardboard Ball.

I love making art, I love creativity, I love inspiring others!

It’s what get’s me up in the morning and keeps me up a little too late at night.

I also love my community and I do a lot to make it more creative, playful and fun.

Things Like: Free community workshops, artist development workshops, public art panels and events like Cardboard Ball and All Souls Procession.

Back in 2012 I was invited to the beautiful medieval town of Lucca Italy. It’s about 30km North east of Pisa in Tuscany, to compete in an international cardboard sculpture competition, Cartasia, Biennial d’art. http://cartasia.it/

It’s not just a competition it’s also a month long residency where you work along side other artists to realize your creative vision. Followed by a Month long exposition.

In 2012 I built an 18 foot tall sculpture, Buccanale. It was a great experience, I made some great friends, got to experience Italy on a very personal level. Best of all I won the grand prize for my work.

It was an incredible honor and I couldn’t of done it without the support of my community.

This year I am excited to announce, I’ve been invited back, not to compete, but as a special guest artist.

Though Cartasia will fly me out, put me up, give me a studio space and all the cardboard and glue I want. They can’t pay me.

I will be away from home for at least two months, that’s two months that I’m not making art to sell. Like you I have Bills to pay

I need help covering those expenses while I’m in italy. It come to around $2000

That’s not much. So I’ve started this Gofundme campaign, I’ve set the goal at $3000 to cover the gofundme fees, help me along in Italy, you never know when you might need to run to the hardware store,  and for any unforeseen expenses. I’d hate to leave my partner holding the bag if an unexpected Vet bill came up.

Please give what you can and help spread the word, share the link on social media, tell friends, family and co-workers. Anybody you think might be interested. It won’t take many small donations to arrive at this modest goal.

Like last time I’ll keep a running journal on Facebook, my website (myklwells.com) and maybe twitter & instagram if my Ludite brain can figure them out.

Every two years the Cartasia selection committee decides on a theme for the exhibition, in 2012 the theme was, Crisis and Rebirth, My sculpture Buccanale was based on the idea of a flower bulb, which has to freeze before it can bloom.

This year the Theme is, Borders and Boundaries, And I am developing an exciting project, tentatively entitled: Invaders! The Idea is that a spaceship has crashed in Lucca and a couple of Aliens now find themselves in a strange new land.

The first part is to create a Monumental cardboard sculpture of the Crash Site. The second part is that I am collaborating with performers in Italy who will become the cardboard clad aliens, wandering the city.

It’s a big project.

It’s a fun project.

I need your help to pull it off.

I’m deeply grateful to live in a community that supports these wacky forays in to the creative world. Let me be something of an ambassador of our creative playful culture, it’s gonna be FUN!

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The Art of Cardboard By Lori Zimmer

August 24, 2015



I’m pleased to announce that I have a chapter in this important new book, The Art Of Cardboard, by Lori Zimmer of ArtNerd NY fame.  It also includes such luminaries as Wayne White, Beauty is Embarrassing, and Anne Webber one of the pioneers of using cardboard as a fine arts medium. Plus way more artists and a whole section on projects, to introduce you to creating with cardboard. It’s a great book and it’s totally affordable.

Here’s an Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Cardboard-Collaboration-Storytelling/dp/1631590278

Check it out!

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Never too early to be thinking about Cardboard Ballâ„¢

May 05, 2015

Traditionally held at the end of September the Cardboard Ball is recognized as the trademark Mykl Wells art event. Now is the time to start getting creative! The Cardboard Ball is a fun showcase for your cardboard and recycled art, fashion and culture. Have a crazy idea that you think will fit in with the theme of the Cardboard Ball, share it! That’s how the cardboard Joust became an integral part of the Cardboard Ball. Want to make a gigantic cardboard sculpture? That’s just what Jana McConnel did when she made the eight-foot tall Moositar and Mermaid. And lets not forget the incredible out-pouring of creative effort in the form of costumes and fashion, it’s what makes the ball roll. This year we’re planning on once again having the photobooth on hand to document your creative efforts, and expanded cardboard joust and lots of incredible music so you can dance the night away.

Keep your eyes peeled for dates and location, coming soon!


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Tucson Artists Open Studios, Studio Tour 2015

April 02, 2015


Saturday and Sunday, April 18 & 19, 2015 from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm

Come an join me for a day of fun in my studio. I will have a few works for sale and be available to answer what questions I can. I’ll have some cool beverages to drink and Waffles until the batter runs out.


All the details and more.

Look for my Listing in Zocalo

See you there!


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Foundry and casting workshop registration closed.

March 21, 2015

The registration period for the foundry and casting workshop is over for the March 22nd and 29th workshop. I may host another workshop in the fall or next year in the spring. This workshop is also available as a package for corporate team building events or for schools. Email me for details if you are interested in hosting a workshop.


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Foundry and Casting Workshop March 22 & 29 $120.00

March 05, 2015

canmeltLearn to build and use a simple charcoal fired foundry to cast aluminum.

Sunday March 22nd 11AM-3PM

Sunday March 29th 11AM-3PM

To learn more and sign up click here.


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Shadow of the Prancemancer

November 22, 2014

Wells2014_ShadowPrancemanceWells2014_ShadowPranceDetai Wells2014_ShadePranceDetail Wells2014ShadePranceDetail3


Title: Shadow of the Prancemancer

Medium: Oil on Panel

Date: 10/31/2014



The classic battle of good vs evil.


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Giraffe Puppet

Giraffe Puppet

Photo Warren Van Nest 2014

2014 Commissioned by the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center for a performance, Zheng He in the Desert. Puppet stood a full 14 feet tall and weighed in at about 60lbs. Muslin skin stretched over a wire frame with widen articulated joints.


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July 15, 2014


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Prince des Sots

March 07, 2014


Prince Des Sots, Mykl Wells Photo © jeffsmith2014

Title: Prince des Sots


Medium: Cardboard, wood, polyurethane


Date: 02/17/2014


Dimensions: 34″ x 24″ x 20″


Description: This piece was created specifically for the Tucson Sculpture Festival 2014. It’s a bit of self effacing humor, I’m often called the king of cardboard and the title Prince des Sots, would be translated as King of Fools. This piece is a new stage in the evolution of my cardboard work, as I exploit the colors and text on the recycled materials to create suggestive reinterpretations that are humorous, irreverent and skeptical.


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Tucson Sculpture Festival 2014, Hosted by Bicas.

January 29, 2014

A new cardboard sculpture to premier at The Tucson Sculpture Festival. Prince des Sots, made of cardboard, glue, staples and polyurethane, about the size of a Galapagos tortoise. This piece is a departure for me as I am leaving the raw cardboard look I have enjoyed in the past and am beginning to exploit the colorful printing and advertising found on boxes. Pertinent info can be found below the photo and a link to the facebook event is provided at the bottom of the post.


  • BICAS to host The 5th Annual Tucson Sculpture Festival 2014BICAS is hosting The 5th Annual Tucson Sculpture Festival 2014 in celebration of our 25th Anniversary. This fundraiser is the kick – off to BICAS’ Capital Campaign, a large fundraiser to raise money to buy a building and solidify BICAS’ future in the Tucson community.

    BICAS Sculptors, who are known to craft from recycled bicycle parts will be show casing over 60 Sculptors at this two – week event. Please join us at this free event, to celebrate BICAS’ 25th Anniversary, sculptures, 3-D printing, living statues, wearable art, music, libations and food.

    Celebration Information

    The Art Gallery, 1122 N. Stone Ave
    (Near downtown, N. E. corner of Stone and Speedway, the building with the new Tucson Mural).

    Opening Reception, Saturday, February 1st, 6pm – 10pm
    At The Art Gallery, 1122 North Stone Ave

    Free to the public

    February 1st, 6pm -8pm
    Augustus Woodrow – Tomizuka
    National YoungArts NFAA – Best of Arizona in 2014

    February 1st, 8pm – 10pm
    Nathaniel Burnside

    Open Jam Sessions February 2nd – 15th at The Art Gallery, 11am – 7pm

    Daddy’s Girl Home Cooking
    Della Renae Hooks


    Dragoon Brewing Company
    Total Wine & More

    3D printing

    Golden Goddesses
    Living Sculptures
    Lauren Malanga

    Wearable Art
    Rameen Ahmed Designs

    The Art Gallery
    Meet the sculptors!
    Sculptors will be gallery sitting at The Art Gallery during the festival.
    February 2nd – 15th, 11am – 7pm.
    Open Gallery Hours, Sunday, February 2nd – 15th, 11am – 7pm
    At The Art Gallery,1122 North Stone Ave.

    Closing Reception, Saturday, February 15th, 6 – 11pm at
    The Sculpture Resource Center, 640 North Stone Ave. CALL TO SCULPTORS

    Tanya Rich – BICAS Art Coordinator

Link to Facebook event page. https://www.facebook.com/events/609173259119028/

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Opening Reception for Tom Baumgartner and Mykl Wells At Art House Centro

January 10, 2014


Join Art House Centro for an opening reception for the work of Tom Baumgartner and Mykl Wells.

186 N Meyer Ave Tucson, Tucson, Arizona, 85701

Opening Reception: January 11th 7-9 pm
Regular Gallery Hours: January 11th-February 1, Mon-Sat 10-5:30 Sun 11 to 5

Tom Baumgartner’s paintings are recent explorations of therianthropy, or mythical hybrids of humans with animal heads. Baumgartner is inspired by 19th century naturalists, their illustrations, and romantic approach to writing about nature. His works evoke a sense of awe and wonder missing from modern science.

Mykl Wells’ oil paintings of kittens, bunnies and internal organs are reminiscent of little golden books, wed with a neurosurgery journal. Overtly mining childhood landscapes and mythologies, the subject matter is both irreverent and philosophical.

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Survived another season of All Souls Procession Workshops.

November 08, 2013

Just a brief note to thank those of you who joined me at the Free Community Workshops in Support of the All Souls Procession. From the little paper mâché masks to the giant riderless motorcycle, it was for me a wonderful adventure and I’m happy I got to share my love of the creative spirit with you. I will probably be doing it again next year. Looking forward to a little down time.

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October 10, 2013

Every weekend in October myself and many wonderful and talented local artists will be running the All Souls Procession Free Community Workshops. It’s a place where we have space,talent and materials to help you achieve your creative vision for the All Souls Procession.

Want to make a mask, lantern, big-head puppet, or shrine. You can do that. Have a grand vision of a float, a marching band of the dead, a mobile temple? We can do that too! Get your self down the the workshops and help us help you to make the most of this incredible unique rich cultural experience.


Every weekend in October Both Saturday and Sunday 11AM-5PM with special week night workshops announced on our facebook page adhoc.


Steinfeld Warehouse 101 W. Sixth Street Tucson AZ.



Bring yourself and any kind of art, craft or building materials you might have Donations happily accepted!



We will help you!

Now get your bad self down and get your Procession ON!


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Cardboard Ball, Saturday September 28th, Steinfeld Warehouse

September 03, 2013

The Cardboard Ball is a participatory art party, cardboard fueled super dance destroyer. Once a year local artists and the general public are invited to make art and fashions out of cardboard (or any recycled repurposed material) and come together in celebration and support of the creative spirit. All proceeds from the Cardboard Ball pay for the All Souls Procession Workshops. A free workshop series, open to the public that runs through October. Advanced Tickets Go on Sale September 7th at Yikes Toys in Broadway Village, Pop Cycle  on Fourth Ave. and Borderlands Brewery on Toole Ave.DJ’s and Live Music provide the sonic backdrop. Food trucks will be serving up some deliciousness and what better to go with that than a cold dark malty brew made specifically for the Cardboard Ball By Tucson’s own Borderlands Brewery. Perhaps wine is more to your tastes, which we have courtesy of Tucson’s Premier Beer bar, Tap & Bottle. A photobooth will be on hand to document your evening. And Art lots of Art! Over thirty artists are creating 2D and 3D works. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their own cardboard creations,SO GET CREATIVE!



If you are an Artist, Maker, Creative, or Lunatic and you want to make a piece for the Cardboard Ball, it’s open to everyone who wants to participate. Please inform me info@myklwells.com that you would like to be part of the fun. Call o Artists is open until September 27th when your cardboard creations have to be dropped off at the Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. Sixth Street. Drop off is noon to seven PM.

Participating artists get free admission, though we encourage making a donation since it is a fundraiser.



All Souls Procession Workshops Page:


Cardboard Ball Event Page:


Cardboard Ball Call2Artists Event Page:


Get ready, set GO!

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Thank you Love Letters to Tucson

August 27, 2013

Thanks to Rachel Miller for giving me the opportunity to share my feelings about a city I love. Thanks to Rebecca and Scott for letting me use your wonderful Tap & Bottle as the backdrop for my story.  You can read about it here.

If you are visiting from the Love Letters to Tucson Blog please check out my projects and portfolios section of my website to see what my art is all about.

And here is the link to my love letter to Tucson.


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Cardboard Ball Black & White Flyer download and print it out, help spread the word!

August 23, 2013

Here it is, the new Cardboard Ball 2013 Black & White Flyer.

Below you will find a link to a PDF copy that you can download, print out and share. Just click the PDF symbol and your download should start. Once it’s downloaded it may look kind of funky on your screen, don’t fret, it’s designed to print beautifully. Go for it!

If you’ve got printer, especially a laser printer, please print out a few copies and help spread the word.

This event exists to create a fun judgement free environment where self expression can flourish.  I’m just making the space it really depends on your participation, so make something cool out of cardboard check out the facebook event page and Call2ARTISTS page and like the All Souls Procession Workshops Page for up to date information and news.

Love and sloppy wet dog kisses.

8.5X11BWFlyer CBallBNWFlyer2


Download CV PDF

Download a PDF of the 2013 Cardboard Ball Flyer, Help Spread the Word!!!

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Cardboard Ball 2

August 19, 2013



So What am I up to you ask? Well organizing, making exciting new paintings cutting up boxes and making my poor wife crazy. Oh and I’ve got a fundraiser coming up, Cardboard Ball 2. This year it’s funding the All Souls Procession Workshops that I run, I hope. So please come on down and join in the fun. Tourists are welcome but this is a participatory art party, like much of what I do, we are trying to create a culture where creativity can flourish, where everybody gets to contribute in their own unique way.

Here’s what I can tell you about the event

The Cardboard Ball is a one night only art exhibition, grooving dance party and the premier fundraiser for the All Souls Procession Free Community Workshops.  The event features cardboard art on display, created by talented local artists and craftspeople. Ball attendees are encouraged to create cardboard outfits and wearable art. Last year, attendees were treated to some truly breathtaking cardboard costumes and installations and this year promises to be even grander.

This year’s event is on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at the Steinfeld Warehouse 101 W. Sixth Street. Doors open at 7:30pm.

Tickets* are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

All proceeds benefit the All Souls Procession Workshops.

The call to artists is on going, right up to the event.

If you are an artist and interested in creating a work made out of cardboard and other recycled/repurposed material, please consider contributing a piece.

This is not a juried event or competition.  All submissions will be shown providing there is room.

Three-dimensional work is preferred and submissions can be standing sculptures, hanging suspended sculptures, or items to be hung on the wall.

IMPORTANT: Because existing lighting is limited, it is recommended that your work include its own illumination.

You are encouraged to sell your work.  A percentage of the selling price goes to support the All Souls Procession Workshops.

etup for the artists is Friday, September 27th.

You do not need to submit work before the setup day, however space is limited, so you do need to sign up in advance to contribute work. Please contact Mykl Wells at info@myklwells.com include a way and time to contact you!

*Tickets are free for participating artists and those who wear a costume or outfit made of cardboard, however because this is a fundraiser, donations from the artists and costumed attendees are deeply appreciated because they help us cover the cost of the All Souls Procession Workshops.

I’m working on several projects for the Ball. I’m trying to set up a photobooth, for so people can self document. I plan to make these photos available online through Snap fish or similar so people can order hard copies.

We have a DJ or maybe two.

I’ve got an application for a temporary permit to sell beer and wine at the event.

I have a sound system.

A couple of food truck will be outside serving up some yummy goodness.

There will be a merchandise table for MMOS

There is a possibility that one of the local breweries will be making a special beer for the event.

We are going to also have an art raffle, tickets will be a dollar or two and you can select which piece of art you want to be in the raffle for.

We will be printing a few posters/flyers and some postcards I’m finalizing the design in the next couple of days.

Pop Cycle on 4th Ave, and Yikes toys on Broadway  will sell advanced tickets starting at the end of August.

I have an interview at the beginning of September and we are trying to get on KXCI for an on air interview right before the event.


So that should give you an idea of what we are up to.





The The Cardboard Ball and Workshop Schedule


Friday the 27th of September, Art/drop off and install. Tables set up and ready. Sound system.


Saturday the 28th, the cardboard ball, doors open at 7:00


Sunday, 29th, Clean up and prep for workshops the following weekend. Artists may pick up their work if they wish.




All Souls Procession Free Community Workshops run Saturday and Sunday 11AM-5PM each day. Thru October, 5th & 6th, 12th & 13th,19th & 20th, and the 26th & 27th. With special Cart Clinics announced during the course of the workshop. These will be held midweek evenings.



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A Thin Veneer of Consciousness

June 20, 2013

A thin Veneer of Conciousness


Title: A Thin Veneer of Consciousness

Medium: Oil on Panel

Date: 06/20/2013

Dimensions: 18″ X 24″


Exploring the idea that consciousness is an illusion.


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All Souls with an interview of yours truly.

April 12, 2013

All Souls Procession Overview from Leslie Ann Epperson on Vimeo

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Tucson Open Studio Tour Spring 2013 this weekend April 13th and 14th.

April 11, 2013

This weekend stop by and visit durring the Tucson Open Studio Tour. Saturday and Sunday from 11AM-5PM. Located 1 block north of Grant and 2 and-a-half blocks east of Campbell: 2115 E. Spring street. Come in the front gate and slip along the side of the house to the backyard studio. MAPS and INFO about the City Wide Tour are available in this April’s Zocalo Magazine and at tucsonopenstudios.com Look for a big sculpture out front.



Would love for you to stop by and hang out for a spell.

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Spring Studio Tour 2013

March 03, 2013

I will be opening my studio up for the spring studio tour this year. I don’t even like it when my wife walks into my studio so this is a rare opportunity to come in to my inner sanctum. All the important details will be published on the studio tour website and maps and listings can be found in a special upcoming edition of Zocalo Magazine. Here’s a link: http://www.tucsonopenstudios.com/ 

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Roots Run Deep

February 21, 2013


Title: Roots Run Deep


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 02/16/2013


Dimensions: 16″ X 14″



A place is shaped by us as much as it shapes us.

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December 23, 2012


Say hello to my new dog Izzy. She’s about six and is half Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintli) though I’m not sure which half. She’s one of the gentlest creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. Likes to hang out in the studio while I paint. I have kept Xolos for almost twenty years, I love them. She was at the Humane Society about to be euthanized, just couldn’t let that happen. The more I know people the more I like dogs.


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Emoticon 1

November 01, 2012

Title: Emoticon 1.


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 11/01/2012


Dimensions: 5″ X 6″



On the contextual planes the iconic emoticon monument crumbles, long forgotten.

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Emoticon 2

October 31, 2012

Title: Emoticon 2.


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 10/31/2012


Dimensions: 5” X 6″



In the desert of Scuzi an offering is made to a forgotten civilization.


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October 29, 2012


Title: Meerschaum.


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 10/29/2012


Dimensions: 5” X 6”



Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it.

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Nice little article about my piece Snowdrop on Inhabitat.com

October 13, 2012

I’m always grateful for a little press. Check it out and help spread the word, I can use all the help I can get.


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Filtered Results

Title: Filtered Results.


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 09/14/2012


Dimensions: 14″ X 14″



Did the Oracles of Delphi filter their responses, did they present you Ads before they looked into your future?

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Big Appetites

Title: Big Appetites.


Medium: Oil on Panel


Date: 08/05/2012


Dimensions: 17.5” X 24



While in Italy this summer I spent considerable hours looking at very old beautiful wax anatomical models and I was inspired to paint this when I returned. I have a number of vices and somehow they combined with the wax and were extruded through my creative gland. Or that’s was my physician’s prognosis.

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All Souls Procession Workshops

October 11, 2012

Big Calaca Lantern, All Souls 2011

photo: Rosanna Salonia


Mask, lanterns, floats and help realizing large creative projects for the All Souls Procession.


425 W. SIXTH STREET Tucson AZ 85701


Every Saturday and Sunday 11AM-5PM, for the month of October. With special clinics announced on the facebook page.


Just show up! Free to the Public, but please help support the procession and the workshops with a donation.


Lead by Myself and founder of Pork Chop Press Joe Marshal. Facilitated by other local talents.


As co-founder of the All Souls Procession it holds a special place in my heart. I want to see it grow and blossom for many years to come. That won’t happen with out community support I feel the best way to get that community support is to support the community. The workshops are non-commercial and free and inclusive. Everybody is welcome. We are here to help you realize your vision for the all souls procession, to make incredible floats, masks, lanterns… you dream it we’ll do our best to help it become a reality.
Please consider donating generously to help support the workshops. Below is a special link to Many Mouths One Stomach the organizing non-profit of the procession and our Umbrella organization. By using this link your donation will be earmarked specifically for the All Souls Procession Workshops.

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August 30, 2012

Title: Grep.

Medium: Oil on Panel, Cardboard Frame

Date: 08/30/2012

Dimensions: 18″ X 18.5″


In the age before computers invoking Grep was a perilous action.

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A little press on the GreenUPGRADDER Blog!

August 29, 2012

Nice article, I’m really fond of those lanterns too!


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August 19, 2012

Snowdrop, winner of Cartasia 2012, cardboard, wood, waterproof coating. Lucca italy

Title: Snowdrop


Medium: Cardboard & Resin


Date: 06/01/2012


Dimensions: 18′ tall



winning project of the 2012 edition of Cartasia, Theme: Crisis and rebirth. Held in Lucca Italy. This is an approximately 18 foot tall sculpture. Made of cardboard over a light internal wood frame and sealed with a waterproof coating.

Following the theme, “Crisis and Rebirth”, I chose a perennial bulb as the metaphor, the Snowdrop, galanthus nivalis. As with many bulbs, this flower cannot bloom until it has experienced the stress of the winter. It becomes dormant during the colder season, storing energy in it’s underground body. Once the weather warms and spring arrives, the snowdrop uses this energy to bloom into an exquisite white flower. This speaks to the cyclical nature of crisis and rebirth – one cannot happen without the other. The bulb will be represented by an inverted head, with the point of view that the head is literally upside down. Springing out of this the green shoots and beautiful blossom, like a new idea. At once alive, engaged, and beautiful.

Working 16 or more hours a day for the full month,  I was inspired by the people of Lucca who opened their arms and embraced me as a brother, the community of friends whose generosity allowed me to come to Tuscany and the history and beauty of this amazing walled city.

After carefully reviewing the six works of sculpture created by the artists, the Cartasia Selection Committee (http://cartasia.it/index.php) selected Snowdrop as the winner, based on his piece’s technical proficiency, expression of the theme and aesthetic merit. (The public, which also had the opportunity to vote by paper and online ballot, was given 20% share of the total vote.)

Cartasia was the most challenging artistic endeavor of my career. I gave everything I had to create a piece that would honor the people and the place. I also have more grey hair than I used to.

You can read more about putting it all together on the recent news section of this site (http://myklwells.com/19/08/2012/how-i-spent-my-summer-vacation-or-how-i-nearly-killed-myself-making-a-giant-upside-down-cardboard-head-in-the-name-of-art/)

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How I spent my summer vacation or “How I nearly killed myself making a giant upside-down cardboard head in the name of art”.

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Cartasia is a biennial cardboard and paper art competition, resedency and month long exhibition held in the medieval walled city of Lucca, Italy. Lucca is just a few miles north east of Pisa in the rolling Tuscan countryside.

This story starts in August of 2011 I submitted one of my cardboard sculptures, Chimera to a website called Recyclart.org (http://www.recyclart.org/2011/08/chimera-cardboard-sculpture/), and it published shortly there-after. I received emails from several other artists who were also working in cardboard. One of them, Alessandra Fiordaliso, had also been featured on Recyclart (here and here). She told me about Cartasia and suggested I submit a proposal. I investigated http://cartasia.it and thought it was pretty exciting.

Chimera cardboard sculpture.

Model of my proposed sculpture.

I submitted a conceptual proposal and out of 148 submissions 28 were chosen to submit a feasibility study outlining a budget, timeline and various aspects of what it would really take to build the proposed sculpture. From this group 6 contestants were chosen and though it seemed unimaginable to me, I was one of them.

I’m a working artist. I don’t make much money and I live hand to mouth for the most part. The Idea of taking a month away from the work that keeps me fed and mortgage paid wasn’t looking too promising. Cartasia would cover my travel, lodging and materials but food was up to me. The artists competing weren’t paid. It’s rare in life that an opportunity like this avails itself and I wasn’t going to let it slide away. I turned to my local community with two fundraisers. I held a raffle for one of my paintings, and held a cardboard art exhibition and dance party called the Cardboard Ball. The raffle was a huge success and I raised the money I needed within two days. I was really deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support from my community.

CARDBOARD BALL Mykl Wells from Jeff Smith on Vimeo.


Half Scale version

During this time I also built a half scale version of the sculpture. To help galvanize support for the project and also to better understand what I was up against. This proved to be a very good idea.

At the beginning of June I left my home in Tucson Arizona and Flew to Tuscany where I got to work immediately building the most ambitious cardboard sculpture of my life, Snowdrop. Cartasia has a theme and this year it was Crisis and Rebirth. I chose to base my sculpture on the snowdrop, galanthus nivalis, a perennial bulb which cannot bloom until it has experienced the stress of the winter. The sculpture was also anthropomorphized by representing the bulb as an inverted head. It’s point of view was literally a world turned upside-down.

The sculpture was built in stages and was designed to break down in to smaller components which could be moved through gates and loaded on a truck.

The first task was to build an internal frame and base These were made with plywood since the sculpture would be displayed outdoors and it needed to be able to survive the elements and the public.

Daniele Corsetti -Assistant and all around good guy.

Internal frame and base.

The second task was to create the cardboard skin over this light frame. This is a very organic and meditative process. Sculpting organic forms out of cardboard is challenging but the results are impressive. This was a monumental task. Surface area cubes. Building a sculpture that’s twice as big is three times the job.

Working on the cardboard “skin”

Cinzia and Ellena. All the Assistants were so amazing, talented and a pleasure to work with. I declared them all my number one Italian wives.

The leaves and flower elements of the sculpture proved to be very challenging From my experiments with the half scale sculpture I knew that the flat leaves used in the original model would not hold up to the elements. The leaves were made triangular in cross section which made them much stronger, but also a lot more work.

The flower stalk proved to be a nightmare.  The size of this sculpture was pushing the cardboard to it’s structural limits. The original design of the stalk was not strong enough to support it’s own weight and it failed. I tackled the problem first by making a new flower stalk with and internal frame of wood. This proved to be to heavy to be supported by the cardboard in the head and base. I finally settled on a solution by making the stalk out of cardboard but making it smaller and lighter and supporting it in two places.

My hands were beat to hell

Bit by bit all the elements of the sculpture came together. Water proofing was a huge task. How do you make a cardboard sculpture water tight? I used polyester resin over a water-based polyurethane so that the resin would not discolor the cardboard. The resin is horrible stuff to use by the end of the two days I  worked with it I was suffering neropathy in my fingers and toes. Even using a proper mask it was by far the worst most toxic job. Never again.

When I make a proposal I intentionally over-reach. In this way I push myself to make more challenging and remarkable work than I might otherwise. But I also often retreat from that original position I still end up making something more exceptional but I don’t kill myself. On this project there was no retreat.
All in all I worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day for a month, I took one day off. I would wake up around five-thirty, ride a bike to the studio work for an hour or two get coffee and a bite when the cafes opened, work until lunch, come back work until dinner, return to the studio and work until exhaustion stopped me, usually one or two in the morning. I have never been so tired in all my life.

Starting to take shape

At times when I need to dig a little deeper I thought of all the love and support my community gave to me, I thought of this once in a life chance, I thought of  the handwork and money that made this possible, I thought of the city it’s people and it’s history, and I was able to draw strength from that.

Together for the first time in the courtyard of the abandoned tobacco factory where we worked.

There is a film by the great Russian director Andrey Tarkovskiy called Andrei Rublev. In it there is a young boy, the son of a bellmaker who claims he alone possesses his late fathers secrets of casting. He is tasked with a huge project which grows in cost and complexity. Through it all he confidently asserts his knowledge, making risky decisions. In the end the casting is a success and the bell rings true and clear. At this point the boy collapses to the ground, sobbing and he admits his father never told him the secret of casting a  bell. By the end of construction of my piece, Snowdrop, this is how I felt. Somehow through natural talent and faith it became a reality, I’m still not entirely sure how.

Installed on-site.

At the beginning of July mine and 6 other artworks were put on display. At  the end of the month It was announced that I had won the competition. I am deeply honored. This was an  astonishing and transformative experience I feel that I lived Crisis and Rebirth in making this journey.

Scrap cardboard, by the end of the project I went through four gallons of glue and 300 snap blades for the box-cutter.

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August 13, 2012

Title: Malware.


Medium: Oil on Panel, Cardboard Frame


Date: 08/13/2012


Dimensions: 14” X 14”



Insidiously it creeps into your system.

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American Artist Mykl Wells Wins Cartasia 2012 International Paper and Cardboard Art Exhibition in Lucca Italy.

August 07, 2012

Snowdrop, Cardboard Sculpture, Lucca Italy, Cartasia 2012.

The Cartasia (http://cartasia.it/index.php) Selection Committee announced Monday August fit that Tucson artist Mykl Wells is winner of Cartasia 2012 for his monumental cardboard sculpture, Snowdrop. As such he will awarded a cash prize of 2000 euros. Every two years artists are asked for submissions, out of a field of 157 submissions six were chosen. The artists were then brought together in Lucca Italy from all over the world. They had one month to create a work of monumental proportion out of cardboard and paper based on the theme of Crisis and Rebirth. Seven sculptures were created, six in the competition and one honorarium. Mykl Wells’ piece was selected above the others based on technical proficiency, expression of the theme and aesthetic merit. The public also had the opportunity to vote by paper ballot and online  which was counted as twenty percent of the total.

Of the selected projects, Mykl Wells was the only American in the competition. Other artists included Andrea Marcianò and Stefania Giannici from Italy. Zsuzsa Horvath of Hungary. Ines Hubacher from Switzerland and an honorarium piece by American artist Andrew Scott.

Each Cardboard sculpture had to be made on site and had to survive exhibited outdoors for the month of July at the end of which the winner was selected and announced.

Mykl Wells released this statement:

Cartasia was the most challenging artistic endeavor of my career. To build a sculpture like this takes commitment and community. The general public has no way of knowing how much of their souls each artists put into making their work. Every artist who participated in Cartasia deserves to win.


For my part I felt that I owed it to the people of Lucca who opened their arms and embraced me as a brother, all the people in my community without who’s generosity I couldn’t of afforded to come to Tuscany, to the history and beauty of this amazing walled city, to the other artists who’s remarkable work deeply inspired me and to the people who organized this unique event, to do my very best.

For a month I worked 16 and 18 hours a day, every day, taking only one day off in that entire time. There is a film by the great Russian director Andrey Tarkovskiy called Andrei Rublev. In it there is a young boy, the son of a bellmaker who claims he alone possesses his late fathers secrets of casting. He is tasked with a huge project which grows in cost and complexity. Through it all he confidently asserts his knowledge, making risky decisions. In the end the casting is a success and the bell rings true and clear. At this point the boy collapses to the ground, sobbing and he admits his father never told him the secret of casting a bell. By the end of construction of my piece, Snowdrop, this is how I felt. Somehow through natural talent and faith it became a reality, I’m still not entirely sure how. But know this, I gave everything I had to create a piece that would honor the people and the place. I have more grey hair than I used to. I humbly and gratefully accept this honor. Thank you for this astonishing and transformative experienceof Crisis and Rebirth. Thank you.

This was the sixth edition of Cartasia. More information is available on the website http://cartasia.it, Mykl Wells may be contacted at 520 665-8025 or email info@myklwells.com Visit his site http://myklwells.com

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May 27, 2012

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