THE WORKINGS OF CREATIVITY

Artists need to observe patterns in their behavior.  For me,  pattern is the most important element in art making.  Knowledge comes from repetition, visual cohesiveness comes from repetition, personal truths come from repetition.  Notice.

If the artist can pull way back and observe the chronology of their work, patterns will emerge.  Often, that pattern is seen retrospectively, but it helps to know what you are doing, even if you are in the middle of it.

IMG_0535

A while ago, I knew that sooner or later I would do something with chairs in my work.  Love their shapes and their differences.  We have two houses chock full of chairs, to the point that we can handle no more.  Where did this start?  Figured that out.

It was with my rather large collection of gliders.  Most are in good shape, nicely reflecting a well-used history.  Some are kind of abused however.  It was with these that the idea came.

IMG_0521

Glenn got this one for me off of a street in south St. Louis.  Its rails are gone, and the seat is full of automobile body putty.  I still wanted it.  I WANT THEM ALL.

IMG_0522

This one is in better shape, but the rails and swinging devices are totally gone.  It sits on nubs.  Low-slung.

IMG_0523

This aluminum glider skeleton never had any cushions.  I put pressure treated wood where the seat should be and have plants on it nine months out of the year.  Being aluminum, it is in fine shape.  It simply has no cushions.

I would love to be able to take parts of these gliders and mix and match them, weld them to the other, and make silly conjunctions.  My mind can see how wonderful they would be.  But I lack the skills.  Glenn has them, but he has his own work to do.  I dropped the idea and started working with wooden windows.  I can do screws and a drill.

The chairs did not leave completely however.  An early window sculpture features the back of a chair that was found in a house built in 1939 which was moved to our land.  It was used as a beautiful line.

IMG_0523

 

IMG_0524

The detail shows also that an armrest for an outdoor aluminum chair was used in the composition.  The break in the pane of glass is highlighted in gold paint the way the Japanese do their broken teacups.

IMG_0550

Coming into the present, the image above represents a good haul from one day at the Goodwill Clearance Center, a place where parts for sculptures are secured.  The white baby high chair I bought for the wood, knowing that it would make great spacers to keep my windows from colliding.   They would do what the dowels are doing in the image below.

IMG_0188

I sat the doll chair in front of three windows for which I intended to use it as spacers.  Then I thought, why not keep the chair integral but also use it as spacers?  So below it is in progress.

doll chair in progress

And here it is finished, but not photographed with an infinity wall yet.

IMG_0526

IMG_0527

A child’s ladder, divided in two and wooden hammer complete the image.  The sculpture rolls around on wooden casters.

For the next chair in progress, the windows are completely dropped.  Interesting way to progress.

IMG_0524

Advertisements

MUSICAL CHAIRS

Installing the new exterior door created some glider movement.  Now that there are so many here, and considering what I have to pay per quart to clear coat them, a little triage is in order.

Although this glider works well, it has some bumps and bruises.  It used to also have a prime location on the front porch.  Now, not.

It has moved to be with the group under the big oak tree.

All the chairs and the glider to the left of the picture can stay outside.  They have all had the clear coat treatment, even the one on the new little deck.  The pair there still have original paint.

The wonky wooden bannister gracing the little deck is getting so tiring to look at.

Glenn made these two bannisters this past summer.  When he gets the time, something on this order will be on our back deck.

EXTERIOR DOOR

Less work is required if you do two things at once.  As always, new gliders have to be integrated into the landscape both natural and architectural.  This activity is ongoing as there is always more lawn furniture to be had.  Concurrently,  I am making new gardens around the new addition to our old farmhouse.

For years I used an old door native to this house but unused in the house, as a dining room table.  Then that dining room turned into a bedroom for about a year.  The door was shuffled out to the barn.

The other day when sitting and gliding and sensing the new garden space, it occurred to me that that door could be used as a spot of interest in the new garden, which is adjacent to our front porch.  It happens to be red on one side, and I want to include lots of red in the new garden to highlight a red line which resides at the base of our front porch.

Here is the situation of the new garden.  Very blank canvas.  A satellite dish that will be a small pond has been put up on cinder blocks which are hidden by fallen tree trunks.  Cotoneaster has been planted to the left of this image, down the side of the new addition.

The ones here are babies that were pulled from another garden.  A goal for this garden is to use only stuff that has been propagated here.

In the space behind the single lawn chairs will be a pattern of dwarf nandina which gets very red in the winter, and a pyracantha that was propagated this past summer.  I am amazed as it started getting new leaves this fall, and continues now.  This stuff I will plant today.

Second job accomplished?  With the new door in red, and the red line under the porch, we found the perfect place for Ruth’s glider, which at this point isn’t going to be changed, paintwise.  Ruth and my niece gave it its happy paint job.  Since we used the red side of the door on the porch side, we probably will paint the other side for the garden.

THE GLIDER FROM RUTH

This fine glider is en route to me right now.  It is riding with an old jeep body and some tines from an old hay rake.  A fine load of rust is slowly making its way to the eastern time zone.   The glider belonged to an “outlaw” of mine, and none of the children wanted it; my sister is her daughter in law.

The word “outlaw” can be descriptive of three kinds of relationships.  The first is an in law of someone in your immediate family.  Like Ruth.  We see each other at family gatherings.  Since we do not live in the same area (which is the reason the glider has to be “en route”, and that tag is good for about fourteen hours) when we do see each other, it is at holidays mostly.  Feels like family.

Another use of the word applies to former family, now not family because of divorce.  Again, all the family socialization has taken place, but the bond is now gone.  Outlaw.

The third use, and the one first applied to me is the new wife of a brother in law by the sisters of the deceased wife.

This is such a good way to describe these kinds of relationships that I was surprised when doing a quick check with on line dictionaries, that this word has not been attributed to having an alternate meaning like the one described here.  As we know, in English, we can use the same word for all kinds of meanings.  Think about “cleave”.  Or “sanctioned”.  Love that one!

Having just finished “Death Comes to Pemberly” by PD James, and of course, one must have read Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” to get the full meaning of that book,  I was struck by one of the pivotal ideas put forth in the older book.  That is when one marries, the person we would call a “sister in law” is called simply “sister”.  The pain of Darcy in the James book is to acknowledge that the complicated Wickham is his brother (and in former, happier times the two boys did operate as brothers) rather than some person known, but removed from his circle for some time.

Perhaps that is why within the years between the early 19th century and now, the “in-law” has come to pass.  It is a more specific label.  And this is why I nominate the phrase “outlaw” to further specify a relationship.

Said glider can today be accused of creating the worst gas mileage across Illinois to the deep south due to its acting like a sail on the trailer.  Still worth it.

GOOD BONES

A little crazy recently about clear coating most of our collection of old lawn chairs and gliders, I have been spending too much time with a wood chisel eliminating dense and easy rust for the upcoming application.

Playing mind games while working and wondering why these old chairs mean so much to me, I thought about other collections, including those of my husband.  He wears a fedora (has many), listens to music from the forties and collects old suitcases, and loves old trucks both toy and not.   I have collected old dinette sets, hammered aluminum tableware, those multi colored aluminum tumblers, aluminum chairs from WW II submarines, and gawd knows what else.

As a child, we did not own those tumblers.  Or hammered aluminum.  But they are very evocative and comforting to me.

Andy Warhol put frames around mundane things to elevate them to symbolism.  Could the things themselves be canvases?

We did have a dinette set.  You know the ones.  Tubular, sometimes with a great insert that tucks away underneath, and always with that pattern.  This pattern is stunning to me as it is so evocative of my youth.

I  stared down this surface every day while waiting for my Chef Boyardee or Cream of Wheat.  I ended up going into a field of art that is totally organized around pattern.  Pattern, the way to understand the world.  Pattern, my comfort.

In art history class, in discussion about non-objective or non-representational art work, I urged the students to forget about the “middle man” of subject matter, and and to look at this work as representative of pure emotion.  You don’t have to paint, for example, a man being sad to express sadness.  You can simply paint the sadness.  The pure emotional form.

Now, working on these old chairs, the question is whether or not these chairs could be a canvas on which emotion can be layered.  Their shape is evocative, their layers of paint are history.  Can I modify these surfaces at will and make an artistic statement?

PRESERVING THE SURFACES OF OLD LAWN CHAIRS

The chair on the left has been clear coated with very strong and very expensive hazardous polymer.  I waited a long time for a quart of this, and it arrived with special devices on the cap to assure that it would not open in delivery, and special warnings about flammability and application.

I bought these chairs and glider a couple of weeks ago, and the rust patterns were so fine.  It is their old design and look of use that draws me to these.  Most of my gliders and chairs look like this, but most are on porches with roofs.  Wanting to put this group outside in the new garden, I finally did some research and found a product that would allow this with hopefully no more rusting.

My husband belongs to an old truck club and gets a monthly magazine, and on the front one time was this same kind of surface on a restored truck.  The truck of course was in working order, and the surface was saved to show its history.  We have all heard this kind of advice from the experts on “Antiques Roadshow” and the like.

I scraped off all the loose rust on these chairs.  Often, the nuts and bolts have been painted over at least once, and care must be taken to pry all that out.  I used a wood chisel, and my husband feels I should ask forgiveness from the universe for using this tool in this application.  Amen.

This product cost $44 for a quart. Buy it at an auto paint store.  Let me give you the benefit of my mistake.  You must use all of this quart at the same time.  It is valuable, clear, workable and fine when first opened.  I used half of this intending to use the rest the next day.  Not so easy.  By the time I set to work again, even with careful hammering of the lid back on the can after the first use, the substance was already marching towards solidity.  I spread what could be spread, and then had to trash the rest, which killed me.

For the forty four dollars, and being lazy, I got five chairs finished totally, and parts of two more.  Next time I will have an abundance of chairs ready for treatment.

The above chairs got the new surface.  They are exactly the same chair as the one on the left below. These three are also  now clear coated.  The chair on the right has an aluminum body, and features many layers of paint.  I experimented with creating lines in various places revealing layers of paint underneath.  The surface of the chair now looks like a drawing.

Below is a detail of the chair on the left above.  The same original color is seen peeking out between areas of rust.