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.

1-shower leg

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.

1-shower corner

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

1-shower three

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!

1-shower floor

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?

1-second today

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.

1-line

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)

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.

1-sideview orange cabinet

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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1-third lady

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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1-bigger figure 2

1-lines on figure three

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.