WHAT TIME LOOKS LIKE

Interesting exercise.

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Bought the laurels above for almost nothing, played with them for a couple of years, and gave up.  It is too hot here for Mountain Laurels, and they all developed holes in their leaves.  So not a lot of money was lost.

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Neither was it with all these Agave.  They all come from one mother, which is in another place on the acreage.  These love the sun here.  Same pots on the columns; common Prickly Pear is in them now.  This pool environment has lots of spiky things, counterintuitively.

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The Holly bushes on either side of the entry gate must be about two years old here.  A plywood box covers the machinery for the pool.

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Above, the hollies make a tunnel over the gate.  Brick has been added to the entry, tile to the pool deck and a little silo to cover the pool equipment. Confederate Jasmine almost covers the back fence now.  It was completely covered about four years ago, so much so that its density absorbed garden space and we had to start over.

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This is Sidney’s Live Oak, planted in 1997, the year he died.  Look at the sandy soil.  It is only with a system and a well that we can have grass.

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Here is the adolescent live oak today.  Have more of these, it takes some work to photograph and crop to make a good comparison.

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MORE POOL

It seems like more than three summers I have been working on the cement surface around the pool.  Never full-time; this year sculpture is pulling me hard.  And there’s the heat.  Much of the time, laying the tile is the only option.  Composing is more fun than grouting anyway.  It has been so hot these last weeks that grouting is out of the question.  One could only treat a small bit since it “cures” so quickly and that is simply inefficient.

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Last summer it occurred to me to date areas of the pool with reference to when they were created.  I had been doing this for years in the big house.

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Not even sure if it was 2012 when started, the numbers started there.  Numbers don’t mean much to me anyway, whatever they represent.

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In this area, where around a hundred “century plants” live, they are reflected in the tile work.

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Not too easy to read, “Here I Sit” is ready for grout when it gets cooler.  Obviously, this is where I sit, on the steps.

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Lots of real estate has been finished in this area this spring.   Curvilinear lines make up most of the figure; various organized squares of tile picked up on the street present a small area of tight pattern to contrast with the otherwise pretty chaotic ground.

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Birds and serpents in the background, a yucca is being reflected in the pool surround next to where it is planted in the garden.

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The area up to the yucca was done in 2014.

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Love leaving messages in my work.  Did it all the time in my textiles.  I wonder what owners of this place in the future will think of this.  After all, what remains of me will be in the gardens.  Could be fun!

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This is part of a Lee + Glenn that is now partially covered by a bottle brush bush.

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Same is true for the master shower.  Waiting for a rainy day to finish this grouting on a project that has been at least three years in the making.  Might be today.

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.

CALL FOR ARTISTS

And any other creative types.

This has been on my mind lately, and wondering if on base or off, I would love to hear your opinions.

My art work is known in the area of textiles, having worked this way for a very long time.

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Not so much in other work that I do.  After 9/11, I just wanted to be outside.  Intense concentration for little stitches seemed to disappear.  And these works represented very personal stories, too much for me juggle with worrying about the planet and the people on it.

I looked to my other love, the flea market.  Always a collector, old stuff suggests ideas, attitudes.  I started adhering rocks to old percolators.  Loved the evocative spouts and Bakelite handles.

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Which led to this.

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Which then led to this.

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And then to this.

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A composition is a composition, right?  That knowledge transfers.  There is more working and reworking of compositions with this work than there ever was with the former.  This is more “thinly orchestrated”.  The creation is like playing chess over a number of days.  Love that aspect of it.  Work a little, plant a bush, work a little, …you know.

Do I know right now what is happening in the field of art using waste?  Sculpture?  No.  Mixed media, whatever that is?  No. Do I know what HAS happened in these fields in the historical past?  Yes.  Does that mean anything?  Knowing what I do about textiles, I would say the only reason to know about textiles in history is to know what mixed messages a viewer might pick up in contemporary work.

Here is a hard one:  should one see common themes, processes, interests running through all a person’s work?  If work is personally expressive, then should a personal style of some kind  should be projected?  I can “feel” thinking in layers in all my work, but that involves the process of making more than the final image.

Does one have to build another career after switching mediums?

Maybe it is not that big a deal.  Art is art.  It should feel good when you jettison the thing.  Don’t worry about what your lines, shapes are made of.  Reveal your soul.  It is all good.  Be happy you can.  It can save your life.

Friends, give me your thoughts!

THE SOLDIER AND THE PIN-UP

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Nothing goes to waste around here.  Years ago, my boss went to the High Museum in Atlanta to see an exhibition featuring part of the army of life-sized terra cotta Chinese soldiers unburied decades ago.   He was kind enough to bring a small replica back to me.  It sat by my computer at home for years.  Mouse broke it finally, while picking through the space on the table,  her mind focused on my keyboard.  It was after the time she stayed at Ms. Ann’s Pet Retreat for three weeks and gained more than two pounds.  She had nothing to do!  She was unused to her voluptuous figure and it swayed beyond the predictable once and again.

Not to worry.  The soldier’s head found a space within a composition almost immediately.

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That’s the soldier, on the left of the female softball player.  Her bat is missing; used that for something else.  The soldier’s body lay with other decapitated souls and waited for the perfect assignment.

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Having left the world of two dimensions in my pursuit of making sculpture (by training, I do textiles),  the following piece came a little later.  Named “Caryatids”, we see bird bodies defining the distance in space between the two window frames.  They are also functional and needed for support.

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Below is a better view of that space.

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The soldier body got an assignment lately.  He is purposeful and occupying space between two windows.

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Above our hero lifts a window on what is left of his neck and supports the composition, along with the pin-up, who is also experiencing some integrity problems.  Their two bodies define the distance between the front and back window, and make it stable.

But making art means one must keep many balls in the air.  In the piece “Caryatids”, we can see that all occupants in the space between the windows are birds.  That makes sense,  In that piece, birds are the visual vocabulary.

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What common denominator do we see in the visual elements above?  Windows, red, curves in metal, glass, rust.  And two figures.  One Chinese and dating from 210 BCE, and a chalk redhead from 1946.  They don’t have much in common other than they are perfect for spanning the needed space to make a window hover.  What is the artist to do?  Pick the right title.  Let the viewer think they know the relationship between the two and then surprise them.

A CHANGE IN PLAN

Pushing for more windows per piece in an attempt to create in legitimate sculptural dimensions (recent works are still basically two dimensional), three old windows are at play here.

Worried about that, I called the contractor guy who gave us the windows in the first place.  Glenn has been threatening to take two walls off of our little storage shed and replace those walls with windows.  Love the idea;  worried about my window inventory.  Reminded Cecil not to put any old wooden windows in the land fill.  Meeting of the minds.

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Have been thinking about the spaces between things since the last caryatid piece.  Becoming more and more convinced that the spaces between things (old windows, ideas) is where I exist,  and,  as the dinner table conversation went last night, I cannot count the times my family coughs in a day.  Anything linear (counting, long term planning) is not my forte.

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The window that makes up the back plane of the piece has been divided into six tiled sections, where the window has only five.  The bottom section of the window is twice the size of the top four.  No matter.  The strong white tiles dominate and keep the pattern regular.  Wanted to establish a strong pattern on this plane because it will be repeated on subsequent planes.

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With two windows aligned, my attention turned to the spaces within.  Thinking about my first caryatid piece, I wanted to improve on it.  The universe did not seem so interested, however.  Notice that there are six sections now on each layer.

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The first idea for this piece was to whack off the heads of these little Italian farmers and their wives, which one can find in abundance at any flea market.  I wonder what the influence was for all these little figures that you can find in all sizes and are so similar.  Wanted the bodies to support the second and third windows, and their heads to sit on top of a window, with a side view connecting the body together.  After working a while, the idea seemed contrived.  My little Italian farmers will be used somewhere else.

Had found eleven beautiful little bottles with caps a while ago, and here are six of them serving the same compositional idea.

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There remains one farmer’s head on the bottom right of the base window, grouted in with the rest of the tile.  This head survives the original idea.  The little glass vessels cast wonderful transparent shadows.  My friend Betsy often gives me the remains of her stained glass projects, and shards have been added to the first and second windows to enliven the composition in a quiet way and refer to what the windows once were.   A snake like metal line adds variety to an otherwise fairly geometrical composition.

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Price upon request.

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)

SHELZ

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I want to make art from what settles itself here.  With a shed full of old windows given by the friend who built our new bedroom (he KNEW they would find a home here by the rot and rust contained therein; the windows, not our house), they are evocative framing devices.  Yes, they have been used in crafty circles, but I mean to push them to sculpture.

Cannot say that sanding and painting is as calming and nurturing as my stitching used to be, but this is a different time, a different place, almost a different planet.  Eons ago when in grad school, my professor had trouble herself adding to “the crap in the world”,  she said.  Always remembered that.  My embroidered work was supported in part from the flea market—fabric and floss were often procured there, but the stretchers and frames were new.  Not good.

Windows and shadows, especially shadows are of interest.  The real and the fabricated.

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See the way this window frame casts a shadow on the cement floor of the barn when a light source is introduced?  This will be part of my imagery on the bottom frame in this composition.  I painted the brass element to the left with clear acrylic so it will stay bright.

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Dark tile creates the shadows on the lower panel, and areas of shadow on the frame itself have been drawn in with graphite.  All wood is then covered with gloss acrylic, making the shabby surfaces seem intentional.  Finished.

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Aqua tiles reflect secondary shadows. Original rope ties the two frames together front to back at the top and bottom.

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I may add another linear element across the whole image.

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Each window had a locking device on it, and I added more.

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FOR THE NEW BEDROOM

I have done this twice.  Below is one example:  a little passage of color in an otherwise woody and neutral set of rooms.

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Color is in my collection of objects (mainly orange and green) set off by a sweet little cabinet bought for five dollars at our local flea market. Removing paint on some things is preferable to adding it.  Remove it, reveal older color layers, and then apply a glossy finish to reinforce the idea that this surface is intentional,  not simply neglected.

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The first step was to straighten the faces, re-glue and clamp.  After drying,  some of the orange paint was removed with an electric sander to reveal the other colors in the cabinet’s history.  The whole process took maybe two hours.

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Last weekend we bought this little table for ten dollars.  Yesterday I knocked the project out. The table had many paint layers and was very flaky.  The table top is tongue and groove, and Glenn had to fit the puzzle back together.  Much of the table is put together with pegs and did not need much structural work.

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The flaky paint was easily removed with the electric sander.  Then I concentrated on the edges of the legs, revealing a darker incarnation.  These lines define the legs nicely.  There is a beaded edge along the base supporting the tabletop, and the paint was removed from that detail as well.  Also, the rounded pegs holding the legs to the base lost their white color.

I think this little table must have been in someone’s garage for use in paint projects.  When we got it, the top was a s**t brown.  Underneath was a rich red.  White drips were superficial and in masses on the top.  They sanded off very easily as did some of the brown.  The table top got richer and richer.  What I noticed then was the shadow of words from a newspaper printed on the red parts, underneath the brown.  By this time there was an even smooth surface, and I decided to leave the words.  Some are readable, some not.  All part of the history.

It is so much fun to do this!  Told my husband that a little business could be created here, and he said yeah.  Which one of these things could you sell?

Just around the corner from this table, my ladies of the shower are moving towards completion, slowly.

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