AT LAST

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Today is the day.  After a year of looking at the unfinished mess of a shower in our new bathroom, grouting in earnest starts.  Why so delinquent with this effort?  A year ago, I knew what the result would look like.  And it was what was projected.  So I lost interest.

An argument can be made that an artist makes her work simply to see the end result.  And to kind of lift one’s leg to the nearest tree.  Prove that she has been in the area.

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It is impossible to photograph this shower, as you cannot get far enough away from it.  The prone position doesn’t help much.  Most of the lady on the left was grouted a long time ago.

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After the shower floor, just grouted  today, I will take a charcoal grout and apply it around the dark lines defining the bodies.  It is already done in the lady to the left in the previous picture.

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And the horizon lines on each panel will be charcoal.  Simple, elementary, rudimentary.

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Of course, all my materials are free, save for the tile mortar and grout.  The white tiles above are remnants of an old project of Glenn’s.  The little glass tiles in the two inch space were bravely saved for me by a designer, from a construction worker who was pitching them.  I cringe to think of all the waste in the world!

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Above is today’s work, and no more can be done until this dries.  This shower base is made of portland cement, is carefully sculpted down to the drain from each wall.  This tile is porcelain and not having a wet saw to cut it, I simply broke the tile near the drain and filled in.  These floors require a lot of finesse.  I hate that big line in the center left.

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Gorgeous today, and considering my drying shower base, I am going to work on the piazza.

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NEW WORK ON THE LADIES

I want approximation with these ladies of the shower.   They should look “drawn” with a wary hand.  Like a graphite drawing where several lines, one over another “estimate” the contours  (a contour line is one that describes a three dimensional shape) of the shape, with grout I want to create that same kind of energy.  Make sense?

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A fairly big space has been left between the ground and the figure when laying the broken tile.  This space will define the contours of the figure.  So these places where the lines are wider, grout will gather and make a bigger statement than those between all the tiny pieces of tile. To further carry this idea, a darker and shinier tile was applied at the edges of the figure.

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This shower is not any easier to photograph now than it was last summer when this big project started!

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Above white grout has been applied to some of the ground area behind the figure and to the shower edging of white tile.   The horizon line has been left along with the edges of the figure to take a darker grout.  The trunk and torso of lady number one has been treated with terra cotta colored grout.  So close to the tile color, it makes for a more solid figure in contrast to the ground which now has a network of white lines within it.

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This charcoal grout application is the one that will make the big difference in the work, and give it the simple primitive drawing like quality.   Thankfully it is working as expected.

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Today was the beginning of the real fun.  Months of thinking is proving out.  The strange thing about this is it has become a matter of principle to me never to take a shower inside.  Not so my husband; he says he has always wanted to take a shower with three ladies!

Related Articles:

“Making Art Is Hard”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Detail Work”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“Progress on the Shower”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

“In Progress”  (leemalerich@wordpress.com)

ARMSTRONG’S WAY WAY OVER THE TOP EXAMPLES

Could we ever love the Armstrong Floors scrapbook’s  “over the top”  examples?  They make me think of Judy Garland singing to the picture of  Clark Gable on her dresser.

What is it about style?  Half of this book is amazing for its currency, part of it stimulates new ideas, and part of it should be submerged at the bottom of a pool.  Maybe simple, elegant, classic ideas rise to the top and are reinvented again and again.  They have merit and they continually prove it.  The chaff just blows away, never to be seen again.  Unless it isn’t time yet.  Shall we wait ten years?

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Where do I start?  It has been my opinion most of the time that all color goes with all color.  But this pink and blue?  Maybe it is the fuzzy rug and the toilet seat we all remember from the 60s. Maybe this is the actual first sighting of this pair and we are at least ten years from that decade.  History is being made!  And Scott Joplin‘s piano bench as a bath accessory?  Or maybe the whole thing looks bad because the artist and magazine did not take the time to colorize the lino floor in this example. What were they thinking?  Looking closer, the walls are not colorized, nor are some of the stripes.   This looks like student work.

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Ok, two points make a line, by bias is fully evident!  Another pink and blue.  The linoleum may be a kind of tour de force, but this looks like the Barbie furniture I used to have, and we have all grown out of that.  The only thing positive about this room is that one’s skin would simply glow as an effect of those gauzy pink curtains.  Not worth it.

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Suffice it to say that if you have to throw a piece of clothing on the bed to balance a composition, you are in trouble.  I am getting picky now.  Those brass lamps have not been colorized.  My Barbie set also included a wardrobe like this one.

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The little blue chair at the back looks interesting, and the floral in the front as well.  For the rest of the room, simply apply earlier comments.

Having more of these, I think it best to confine this post to the pink and blue.

MAKING ART IS HARD

Having lost focus on my big walk-in shower as life rolled a bowling ball towards my perfectly established pins, I have to trick  myself to get working.  If the weather is fine outside, the job is more like bribery than tricking.  True, in this life with little artificial temperature modification it is most important to do any job at the time that the weather is most suitable.

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Above is the message one has to fight.  Usually, not too hard, if the project interested you in the first place.  I had a friend who used to talk about getting through the “hateful part” of creating—that first twenty minutes (for her) of work where she was disgusted with what she was doing, until the rhythm snapped around and she figured out where in the paragraph of imagery that she had left off.

So Lady #1 is almost finished on the left wall of the shower which is about eight feet by four feet.  Her hair is made of marbles, and hopefully the rows in which they were planted will show up better with grout.  Except for the head, she is outlined with a slightly darker value of tile.  Those two white lines to the left of the head in the blue are the ends of an antler, placed at the shower to hold robes.  Even though we have no shower door, they will not get wet.

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The second figure, holding hands with the first is starting to materialize.  Color is slowly shifting as well.  She is pinker but duller than the first.

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For me, and this is true in my embroidery work and tile work, color is most beautiful when it is gradated from one value to another.  Or one color to another, in a systematic way.

Of course, the tile in this shower is waste.  That is the biggest “given” that dominates the project. Yesterday I found some small dark tiles that my sister used to cover her brick fireplace.  Cut off from the grid that one uses to apply them in the normal way, they are making great outlines for figures two and three.

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This figure has one arm that looks like Popeye from the old cartoon.  One has to look at how the shape of the arm cuts into the ground space behind it to appreciate its strange dimensions.

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IN PROGRESS

This shower of ours is cavernous,  almost  impossible to photograph well, and is eating a lot of tile.   Each of the three walls are about eight feet by four feet.  It exists within the composition of the bathroom so that getting away from it to photograph it cannot be done, unless shooting through a window could be accomplished.  Haven’t tried that yet.

With the size of these ladies, and my need to use what I have not not buy more, the plan for the shower is changing.  For one thing, the terra cotta colored tile used in this first figure was stored outside for some time.  When some of the tile is hit with a hammer to break, it does not do so cleanly.  It fractures into layers.  This tile doesn’t have integrity and cannot be used.  Therefore, the three ladies will now be different colors, but that new reality will be fun for me.  I love it when structural or material problems foster new compositional solutions.   In two areas in the shower,  two figures’ bodies melt into one another.  So the colors will too.

At the upper right in the image above, the left arm of the lady currently in progress turns into the right arm of the lady on the next panel.

In creating the areas of hair for the figures, art history is the influence.  Kouros figures are standing male youths, made by the Greeks to represent the ideal.  They can be grave markers.  Kouros figures show influence from when the ancient Greek world mixed and interacted with the Egyptians.  Many of the Kouros figures have Egyptian looking wigs, and those wigs are the influence for my ladies here.  BTW, there was a female Kore figure.  They are not near as important as the male, and they are clothed.  It was the men, then and for a long long time that were the symbol of perfection.

The wig on the shower figure’s head is going to be made of cat eye marbles.  The orange elements seen here are spacers to hold the marbles away from the line of marbles beneath.  That way, not only will the wigs have lines of rounded elements, but fairly even dark grouted lines between them.

PRACTICAL ADDITION TO THE OUTDOOR SHOWER

It is November 4, and we still are using the new outdoor shower.  Or Glenn is.  I have run into logistical problems.  OK, so Glenn has no hair.  I do.  We both have to shave in the shower, Glenn less than me ( he has to get rid of the odd late bloomer).  Glenn does not have to shampoo.  So, women do more stuff in the shower than men, most of the time.

Mud is created in the new gardens around the shower when it is on.  I cannot sit in mud and tend to my legs.  It just seems so wrong.   And we need a way to store shower stuff outside so it cannot be seen.

An old Mexican made window pot placed under the bench will do a great job containing and hiding shower stuff.

Of course, tile will have to be put on bench, maybe words this time?  And see the blank area on the shower bottom next to the bench? That is a perfect cement plane and tile can be added there too.  Visually the bench and that part of the shower bottom could interact.
In the first picture above, the papyrus and ginger lilies transplanted earlier this summer are doing well, but are only a shadow of what they will be.  The ginger lilies are blooming!  They never had before; they were in another garden and had too much shade for their needs.  I already cannot wait for spring to come.

SHOWER IMAGERY

So this drawing is for the three walls of the shower, each one measuring about eight feet by four feet.

Above is my inspiration for the shower drawing, Matisse‘s “La Danse”, version two.

The shower walls have been divided into a one foot by one foot grid, and the drawing is being transferred.

First things first.  Antlers must be installed for holding robes and towels.

At the end of day one.

PROGRESS ON THE SHOWER

Here is a picture of the element used to partition our shower off from the shower entry area, the one which makes having a shower door unnecessary.  The base of the structure is a couple of two by fours, and they are covered with cement board. All seams are taped and imbedded in thin set.

Likewise all seams on the walls of the shower are taped with thin set applied.  Then the application sat for a day.

Yesterday plans for the design of the shower came more firmly into view.  Of course, it has to be made out of tile and etc that is on hand, so I started pulling out possibilities.

At this point everything in the new bathroom and bedroom is very neutral,  except for the paint by numbers paintings in the water closet, but that door can be closed.

Below is part of the alcove where the urinal posing as a sink is located.

From this area which is defined by a wall of glass windows, you can access shower, sink and water closet.

The neutral setting of the bedroom.  To the left around these closets is the bathroom.

Below are candidates for the shower bottom.  I am going to use the off white porcelain and save the brown for something else.  The orange and blue will help create figures on the shower wall, in a real departure from all the neutrals.

As soon as I saw the conformation of the shower at the beginning of construction, I could not get Matisse‘s “La Danse” out of my mind.  I want to take this idea, and create a circle of simplified nudes, maybe with cubist faces.

This is so interesting.  There are two versions of Matisse’s famous work.  The one we as Westerners know the best is the less intense version.  This one came first.  The second version, with more detail and more intensity came second.

The version above was done for a Russian businessman, and it stayed in his home in Moscow until 1917.  Later it found its way into the Hermitage.  I wonder if this version is less known to us because of where it lived and the Cold War.

DETAIL WORK

When my tile guru was here installing the base of the new shower, we looked at a mistake in the shower area.  I laid the tile too close to the wood floor, was in too much of a hurry as always.  What makes a great artisan/craftsperson is attention to detail.  I am too busy creating things and justifying my existence to worry about the small stuff.  It is a  significant personality flaw.

Above is the line in consideration:  the tile is the slightest bit taller than the wood flooring, and if one hits the edge just right coming out of the shower area, the 4″ x 4″ could break.  There are elements that one can install while laying the tile that fit under it and lap over so the tile is protected.  Of course, we could not use that solution here as the work is done.  He said also that the big box stores carry wooden strips that can be installed in this case.  Glenn wants to make his own.  It will be much better, much finer.  And maybe make the mistake not so bad.

We had a similar problem during the construction of the bedroom.  Two of the old doors we saved for the clothes closet were a bit smaller than standard.  If the workers had not cut into the supports on the edge of the closet and sunk the hardware, the doors would have closed nicely.  They did not consider this, dug them in, and our doors lacked about an inch in making a nice closure.  Glenn added a sleek line of contrasting hardwood to one door, and it looks and feels like marquetry.  Good solution.

In my art work, I rarely rip anything out.  Making a mistake, and then altering the plan to integrate the mistake can foster unique solutions that would have never been planned.  I love working this way.

Above is the shower floor waiting for tile and below the walls which need to be taped with grid immersed in thin set.  Then the real fun can begin, although you can see we have already installed antlers on which to hang robes.  They are on each side of the shower opening, and btw, no door is necessary with this shower.

Above is the first shower in this house created with no shower door.  It makes no mess.  I have no idea how shower doors came to be so important.  It may have been a capitalist plot.  All they create is a wonderful environment in which creepy stuff grows.

Above is the second bathroom with no shower door.  All three of these bathrooms have a tile covered four inch by four inch boundary between the shower proper and the floor outside.  Easy.