LOUISE-MUSE

LOUISE-MUSE

Dear Louise, some of the pieces have more complicated bases and therefore are not as simple as those in the last post.

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Flood,  2015.  From the side, this piece looks fairly simple, and very different than most. It was created during the time of our recent thousand year rain in Columbia.

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Pushing the bases beyond any kind of norm is really fun.  So is using hardware in an unusual way.

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Male/Female,  2015

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In this piece shapes were composed on a plane to have enough diversity to anchor the window. Then the bookends were placed for added strength. Wooden figures found at the flea market populate it, a bent wood section of a chair encloses an alligator reaching for a shape at the top, while two croquet mallets without their heads frame.  The longest diagonal line is actually a hardened wooden vine from our woods.

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Above and below are two sides of a piece currently on exhibition (but to come back in ten days) for which I have forgotten the name.  It has a complicated base that contains the front two legs of a chair, plus the front seat base with holes for wicker.  A portion of that base with holes is also the crown of the piece.

name? 3

Confused, dear Louise?

JEEZ LOUISE

Some of the new work is more simple.  As always, more views of this work can be requested.

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Curveball, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

Worked a long time on this one.  Hoping less is more.  Spent time adding and subtracting, trying and rejecting.  I see this as if not one more or one less element should be included.  Haiku.  Maybe another view is in order here.

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The two curved parts which make up the base are from the same Captain’s chair.  Primary colors dominate.  The longer I have this piece the more understandable it is to me.  It sits outside of my usual composition.

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Animal Shadows, 2015   (still in an exhibition:  approx. same size as others; the crown makes it slightly taller)

Another thinly orchestrated piece.  The curvy loop is a metal tine from an old hayrake.  Perhaps influence from my husband’s work.  A bent wood chair leg makes up the crown.  Part of a find of an old wooden croquet set provides color here.  All gone now, it was a thrill to use those pieces that reminded me so much of my childhood.  Hardware from the window used in a different way fixes some shapes in place.

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Pattern, 2015   39″h x 23″w x 10″d

This piece is simple on one side, not so on the other.

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Had fun with the dremel tool making fake wood grain.  Another bent wood element is present here, along with a “chip” off my husbands old wooden scrub brush, repeating lines in a different way.

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Thinly Orchestrated, 2015    (on exhibition, similar size as others)

Fine contrasting colors of aqua and orange make up the base; most other elements are a washed gray.  The focus is a kind of crescent shape, repeated in different ways.

Lastly, dear Louise, an image of “Play” in situ.  Beautiful morning.

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BEV-LEE HAS BALLS

And lots of them.

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Many of her balls are colorful old bowling balls which carry along the patina of age.  To install some of the outside ones,  she simply places a little rebar stick into the ground, and into the thumb hole of the ball.  She judges the length of the rebar to make them hover, and in this case, above the grass on Isa’s island.  Isa the greyhound used to make a bald spot in the middle of this island as she was master of this domain.  Kind of like the Little Prince on his planet, I always thought.   Isa is gone now, but the balls keep her memory on the island.

Bev-lee is old enough to have established her style.  Some never do, but she has loved orbs as long as I can remember.  She used to have an admirable glass office with her big job, and you could see the balls all through the adjoining work space.  Having an even bigger job now, she works from home and all those balls are in the home office.

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They hail from all over the world, and they are not just decorative.  These icons of hers run much deeper than just objects to collect (although there is much merit in simple collections).

Balls are Bev-lee’s visual language.  They integrate all the rooms of her house visually, and the balls on the inside and the balls on the outside claim the same nationality.  They are visual team players.

You have already seen outside balls and inside balls, but these balls also do jobs.  This is why we know that balls are far beyond a collection.  They solve problems, they create compositions, they move.  I told you Bev-lee had balls.

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Does your Mother-in-Law Tongue droop over the edge of its pot?  Use balls to keep it in place.

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Need a dust ruffle for your bed?  Why not use balls?

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Blank space under a tall table?  Fill it with balls and play with interesting texture contrast as well.  All good.

EVERYTHING is a composition.  The entire interior of this house is connected visually by repeated orbs.  All the rooms make sense together.  And this repetition is really important outside the house; in the front and back.

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The idea of balls is introduced to the viewer at the entry of the house.  Here the red annuals were selected to repeat the beautiful red bowling ball.  So now you know what you are in for in the back of the house.  Welcome to ball world!

Bev-lee has been working on a couple of ponds for many years, and creating the landscape around them.  It was many years ago, hotter than hell, when we were racing around the city doing what we do when we get together.  The “Waste as a Way of Life” world joins the orb patrol for a couple of days.  We saw that some enormous bushes were being fairly ripped out of the gardens of a shopping center.  The bushes themselves plus the root balls probably stood five feet high.  We asked about the future of the bushes; they had none.  Bev-lee talked the workers into bringing the enormous things, maybe eight, to her house, and then muscle them into the back yard.  She tipped them well.   We dribbled water on those big boys for a couple of days until she could get them planted.  It is shocking how many survived; I swear it was 100 that day.

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Above is one of those bushes, probably four feet high and wide now, and below is its context.  It is part of the landscape of the upper pond.

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There is a footpath between the two ponds.

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And the lower pond.

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Form plus function is the best, anyone will tell you.  This is what is so marvelous about Bev-lee’s universe.  She wondered  how to keep the netting that holds leaves out of the ponds in place for the winter months.  Her solution is brilliant.  She puts a big exercise ball in each pond in the middle.  On the edges, smaller balls secured from bins at Target.  After the nets are installed, the balls don’t move, and the leaves are excluded.  And her orb fetish is intact!

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It gets better.  For two years she has not removed the balls at all when not needed in winter.  She chose their colors appropriately in the first place, they are lovely as the little waterfall moves them around the lower pond (movement is a great attribute for a composition) and she has not had a fish taken by predators since she decided to leave them.  Trifecta!

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Bev-lee has balls.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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DESTROY ART

Destroying your art can be as important and productive as creating it.  And at any time in your career, for sure.  It is especially important as a student to pack away for later your old work, or failed work.  I have participated in many a critique where an artist feels that more talking and talking, and then more talking and talking will make her work a whole.  The work must speak for itself.  Always.  The work must ask a question in some way; it must never be simply an answer.  Simple answers are not art.

The truths in your life you will always remember.  Pay attention.  Ask any therapist about this.

(The following quote is from Teresita Fernandez, recipient of the 2005 MacArthur Genius Award, in a commencement address to her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School for the Arts.   http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/29/teresita-fernandez-commencement-address/

“This kind of amnesia is life’s built-in way of making sure you filter out what’s not very important. You graduate today after years of hard work, immersive years of learning, absorbing, processing, accumulating, cramming, finishing, focusing. There are no more reasons, really, to even make art unless you really truly want to. Of all you learned you probably don’t need to remember most of the technical or theoretical information, as that’s all easily accessible with a quick search. And what you will remember will have less to do with the past and more to do with how it triggers reactions for you in the present. Oddly enough, what we involuntarily do retain is meant to help us move forward. This forthcoming amnesia that awaits you is just another kind of graduation, another step in a lifetime of many graduations.”

When in undergraduate school, in a very early drawing class, my TA told us to get rid of our past work.  He said not to just turn it to the wall, not to pile it in a closet behind a door that you can still see:  GET TOTALLY RID OF IT.

(Again, from Fernandez)

“Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.”

My teacher was right.  This impedes growth.  It can remind the artist what a bad one they are indeed.  The artist does not need that kind of reminder constantly.  I have said many times in the past that having your old art around, work not up to par, work that is an answer and not a question, is like living with your high school graduation picture hanging on the living room wall.  It stunts you.

That school experience is not my first memory about problems with work.  As an elementary school student, I read a story about a little boy doing homework.  This fact stuck with me:  that when he put his finished arithmetic homework into his desk drawer, the incorrect answers struggled with being on the page.  They pulled and pushed.  They were not united with the page.  It would be so simple if we had these clues.  Considering this story involved math problems, it was ever pertinent to my school experience!

The following are two pieces recently destroyed.  It felt great to do this.  It was healing.  My spirit died when I walked past them, struggling with being on the gallery wall.

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This piece looked like a bad mullet hair cut from the 1980s.

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In this case, and also in the next shown, the initial mistake was not clearly identifying the perimeter of the sculpture.  The shape breaking the lower edge is confusing and draws the viewer away from the activity of the piece.  I also should have known that the piece should die due to the difficulty of placing the lines within the  “square” of the piece.  One good idea gleaned from the work is the sanding on the zig zag lines on the right.  The one at the top has been sanded on its edges the most making it visually lighter.  The middle line has some sanding, the lower one, almost no sanding.  You can always discover a good thing even within a piece that does not work.

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Again, wonky perimeter.  Weak lines.  The hangers perhaps do not lose their identity enough.  I have had portions of a window as seen here work, as in the piece below, but they do not work in this case.

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In terms of destroying work, because of my philosophy of re-using and re-purposing almost everything, the elements of destroyed works become raw material for new works.  Sometimes there is a shape that I cannot get off the glass or the wooden frame.  I leave it, respond to it, and have an interesting detail that needs to be considered, but something in a place I wouldn’t have thought of.  The element is “found”.

So.  Two destroyed pieces plus additional windows and additional work equals:

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And:

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LET’S START WITH THE BLOG

We are thick with work.  It must move.  And all ways of selling work, I hate.  Entering shows, paying jury fees, shipping work off on a little vacation and then back, usually the worst for wear, never again.  Paying a gallery half of the sales price, no more.  Craft shows??  NO.  I have done all this and it is a new day.

We have a gallery half-built.  Personally, inviting friends and acquaintances to come and look is just embarrassing.  Money sucks.  Really.

And then there is the tool of the web.  This is difficult too, thinking about “views” and “tags” and algorithms.  Very frightening.  I see what my artist friends are doing with this, and it can be good.

Yesterday I stumbled on a list of ten things to do to increase views in your Etsy shop.  I have one and have never mentioned it to anyone.  Totally unsuitable for this kind of blowing of one’s own horn, we will give it a try.

One point on list of ten things is to blog.  Well, I have a blog (obviously), and know how to do it.  What a perfect starting point.  Start with what you know.  The genius of the list says to talk about the work, show the space where you make it, all that.

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So here is work sitting on pedestals laying on their sides, reaching down the length of the gallery.  At this point, we have one screw in the wall to support hanging for photography.  It does not work for all sizes of this work made from wooden windows.

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Above is the gallery space in progress where the ceiling is partially in.  There are five windows, much like the ones from which I am making this work, down both sides.

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This piece is called “Green Square” and it is a deep relief projecting from the wall.  To catch the depth, I also catch a part of a window.  It’s always something.

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Only the side walls and ceiling on the second story of this barn have sheet rock.  In the front and back there is just space.  You can look down to the first story.  Definitely no parties until Glenn makes his proposed steel banisters.  Glenn had this little bar, and behind it is an old art fair screen from many moons ago.  I love what light does through the slats, but would never hang a work of art on something like this.  This must have been from Glenn’s high school years.

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Here is what the front and back walls look like.  Bare.  We are standing in Glenn’s studio looking up at the new gallery space.

Finishing off, here are more views of the piece called “Green Square”.

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Aside from the windows, the piece includes a printing block (the green square) a china cup and dowels.  Color exists here in the paint used on the windows in their former life, sanded in places and varnished to keep the history.

And my Etsy shop is  https://manipulatedrust.etsy.com .

ART IS NEVER FINISHED

Only abandoned.   Said Leonardo da Vinci.

How true in his case.  And he worked in the perfect media where this could easily be the fact.  His unfinished or modified works are staples of the student of art history.

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In the charcoal and white chalk on buff paper above, Leonardo’s “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and John the Baptist”, we can see abandonment by Leonardo.  This is a fine example of Renaissance chiaroscuro, which is the technique where shading by the artist replicates the light areas and shadows that describe a three dimensional mass on a two dimensional plane.   It is these light places and dark places that create the illusion of  a three dimensional mass.  This piece is a tour de force exemplifying this, and is even more interesting in that Leonardo abandoned it giving us the example of contrast.  Look at the Virgin’s feet (she is the one holding the baby), and St. Anne’s upraised hand.  One of the Virgin’s feet is merely an outline; the other features some work, but is nowhere complete.  Likewise St. Anne’s upraised hand,  just behind Christ’s which is blessing St. John, is just taking up space, waiting to be worked on.  It never happened.

There is a lot of visual interplay in this drawing.   St. Anne is Mary’s mother.  Christ is Mary’s child.  This composition describes these relationships by having Mary sit on her mother’s lap, and Christ sit on Mary’s as he blesses St. John.  St. Anne gazes at Mary, Mary at Christ, Christ at John, and John back at Christ.  St. Anne points her hand toward Heaven, mirroring Christ’s blessing. Within these actions is the armature of the whole Christian story!  To the left of this composition, a pattern of knees and legs sets up an interesting rhythm where it is difficult to ascribe the knees to the correct woman.  “Families” are depicted by Mary and Christ mirroring each other in their torsos and heads, as Anne and John do.    Of course, for the beauty of a composition, it was not beyond the Renaissance masters to distort size and shape.

Look at what Michelangelo did with the Mother and Child:

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In this “Pieta”, we see Mary holding the dead body of her child.  Look at the pair.  In your mind, make Mary stand up.  She would be enormous compared to Christ, but in the composition as it is, they are a beautiful and rhythmical pair.

Back to Leonardo and our original topic of unfinished works.

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What are those two dark half circles on either side of the painting just about at Mona Lisa’s shoulders?  I am abandoning this discussion for another time…