Heat Map, Legs, A Slightly Damaged Fence, Wingspan, Broken Glass, Bamboo, That’s Some Dance!

Heat Map, 54″ x 24″. Charcoal and Pastel.

I see this male figure as both arising from and sinking into a hot, melting landscape. The cool areas are an illusion. The creator is the destroyer.

Legs. 18″ x 24″. Charcoal and pastel on vellum.

I love the angularity of these legs.

A Slightly Damaged Fence. Charcoal and pastel on vellum. 18″ x 24″.

In the writing I’ve been doing recently, I’ve been drilling down to identify my passions, and one of the things that I’m exploring is a love of pattern. This fence is the first exploration of this.

Wingspan, charcoal and pastel, 18″ x 24″

This particular drawing has several layers as I kept trying to get to where I thought I was going; I never quite got there, and I’m dissatisfied with where it sits at this point. I’m going to let it sit for a while, and get back to it after a few days of hanging it on the line where I can look at it casually from time to time.

When I photograph the sketches as they “cure” on the line, other pieces I’ve made show up beside it, behind it, and shadows sometimes fall across the paper. I’m enjoying this accumulation of figures, both 2D and 3D, as they inhabit the space in whatever ways that they will.
Bamboo. 18″ x 24″. charcoal and pastel.
That’s Some Dance, pastel. 18″ x 24″

pink mist; some untitled pieces, experiments in colour; also moving on to figure drawings using a wooden model

This next sketch is a wip. I’m not sure what to do with the head; also, the spikes on the head really need a lot of work. I might try to make another version of this, fixing the head.

Pink Mist. 20″ x 26″. Charcoal, pastel, acrylic. WIP.
untitled, 22 x 30
untitled, 20″ x 26″
untitled, 20″ x 26″
figure studies
figure studies

dismantling a Barbie tree

A few years ago I made a Barbie tree from a basic wire structure. I added some dolls that I had partially painted with green and orange paint, and who had pieces of broken mirror glued to their body parts. I think this may have been my attempt to deal with body dysmorphia. I’m not sure if I actually have body dysmorphia, but I have a limited ability to know what I look like, probably related to something I know I “have”, which is prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize others by their facial features…unless I know them really well. Even then, if someone I know really well dyes their hair, or shows up where I’ve never seen them before, I just might not recognize them until I hear their voice.

Anyway, a few years ago I made a Barbie tree, and it has been sitting on a high shelf in my apartment, gathering dust. I never look at it. In fact, it scares me a bit, with all its broken mirror bits.

Also, I find that people who see this tend to feel sorry for me; but I just find this funny, so maybe there is something off about my sense of humour. Well, I don’t really care, but I don’t need to keep this any more.

And I really don’t like Barbie dolls. As you can see.

Today I decided to dismantle it. I did this in the kitchen, as you can also see.

I also decided to record the dismantling, and put it here, because really this is my only diary to speak of, and I guess I’ll continue to keep this diary until…I can no longer write or do art or take photographs.

I think she might be a Disney princess.
She looks pretty good on this little stand, so I’ll keep her for now. Also, I like that her lower right leg is made from a mirror shard.
She has the best face, so I’ve decided to keep her. And hair. I’d love to have hair like that.

Even if I cut myself a fringe, I still wouldn’t look like her.

can they be recycled?
I’ve decided to keep the stand because it can be repurposed.

thinking about some stuff (that makes me sad); continuing with Woman with Red Straps (where I tooks it); woman with green arms; Climate change? it’s over that way; Re-evolution.

thinking about some stuff (that makes me sad) aka S.P.#18. 22″ x 30″. Pastel on paper.
woman with red straps (revised) 22″ x 30″; charcoal and pastel

looking at fingers

woman with green arms aka S.P. #19 (22″ x 30″); coloured charcoal and pastel.
Climate change? it’s over that way. Charcoal and pastel. 22″ x 30″.

Re-evolution. charcoal and pastel. 22″ x 30″.

she took to her bed with a terrible illness, 2 untitled pieces, 4 eggs, and woman with red straps

she took to her bed with a terrible illness, 22″ x 30″, charcoal with pastel.

inspired by Hollyhock Flats, across the river from where I walk and live
playing around with a piece I did in drawing class this past winter by adding coloured lines
4 eggs.

I’m taking a drawing course through the Banff Centre this spring, a course which focuses on drawing with pencils, something I avoided doing in my college drawing classes by always opting for charcoal. But, I felt that I wanted to dedicate some time to drawing with graphite, and this course popped up in my FB feed. We are drawing eggs. Day 1, I drew one egg. Day 2, two eggs, and so on. These are the four eggs I drew on day four. I’m not getting better at drawing eggs yet, but the great thing about drawing is that I can SEE what I am doing better or not doing better. Doing something “better” doesn’t necessarily result in a better drawing, though.

woman with red straps, 22″ x 30″, charcoal and pastel.

Woman with Pink Scarf PLUS Too Soon PLUS Woman with Blue Scarf PLUS Softly, Softly

Trying to draw self-portraits seems to be important to me. I’ve never known what I look like, so drawing focuses my attention on the details that I can’t see on my own. I sit at my easel and look into a mirror propped up to the right, so it feels as if I’m always looking back at myself. I don’t feel as haunted as these self-portraits suggest. I like looking back at self-portraits I tried when I first started art school, and will continue to do self-portraits from time to time as a way to gauge what is important to me at any given time.

There’s something else I like about drawing real people, including but not limited to my self. When I take a photograph of someone, a photograph of my self, I have captured the image at a particular point in time. The picture is taken, and then it is over. When I draw myself, I do this over an extended period of time, making observations of my face, which may be affected in microcosmic ways by what I may be thinking about throughout the drawing process, so I feel as if, unlike a photograph, a drawing is a reflection of the changes that can impact a face over the time of the sitting.

Different micro expressions show up in different parts of the face at different times. So the drawing of a face is a composite of those expressions over the time that the face was observed, not a “moment in time” expression of a photograph. It might be interesting to animate a drawn portrait.

Here is a link to a website that discusses micro expressions. https://www.paulekman.com/resources/micro-expressions/

Woman With Pink Scarf (S.P. #13); 22″ x 30″ charcoal, pastel.

After sitting with the self-portrait #13 for a day, I made some changes, reflected below. It still doesn’t really look like me, but I’m keeping both up here so I have a record on my blog, and a reminder not to jump the gun, so to speak, but to let things settle in for a while before I declare them finished. In the next iteration, I fixed the jaw line; toned down the ear by making it smaller and lighter; added some light blue in the background; darkened the sweater collar and shoulders.

Woman With Pink Scarf, s.p. #13 (revised); 22″ x 30″, charcoal and pastel.

Next, I want to try a self-portrait using only shades of blue. And in the next version, I’ll work on getting the eyes smaller and farther apart.

Woman with Blue Scarf, s.p. #14, 22″ x 30″. Pastel. Version 1
Woman With Blue Scarf (revised). S.P. # 14. 22 x 30. Pastel.
Softly, Softly. S.P. #15. 24″ x 28″. Pastel and charcoal on brown paper.

Drawing with colour…

…and pastel…

I have a number of “projects” that I’m working on, or planned, for the next few months. Right now, while I’m gearing up for the other things I am doing, I’m focusing on drawing with pastels. I also have a small air-dry clay sculpture on the go, but I have ordered a back-iron, a contraption that will help me to make sculptures without having them collapse from the weight.

In my last blog post I included an earlier version of this drawing, not realizing that it wasn’t complete.

I Really Love Your Outfit is a 22 x 30 inch drawing I started working on while seeing outfits from the Met Gala appear on social media. I always find the disconnect between environmental degradation and the “follies” of star culture to be jarring. To the left of this figure is Comox Lake, the local source of water for the communities in the watershed, which has been damaged by logging, especially around Comox Lake but also around the whole watershed. For several years, water advisories were necessary because of increased silt levels in the water supply.

Final Sunset, another 22 x 30 piece, is inspired by my sense of present and impending cataclysm, both political and environmental.

I find it impossible to draw anything that does not include some sort of comment on how humans inhabit a dying planet. I am astounded by and curious about my own willingness to continue to turn over my van’s engine, to turn up the heat in my apartment, to run water from a tap. My own contradictions bother me and I try to turn my face away from the contradictions of others, at least until I can get my own under control.

This past winter I did a sketch in my drawing class which I called The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I decided that I wanted to try to turn the drawing into a small sculpture; unfortunately I didn’t plan well enough, and the weight of the air-dry clay on the armature has caused knee-collapse. I’ve got a back-iron on the way, and although I still plan to finish this one, I will make another one using the back-iron, which will provide stability to the armature while I am working on the piece, and until the clay dries.

Another mistake I made while creating the armature was starting with one of the hands. I really wanted the hand to be large, I wanted it to look a certain way, and was impatient to get the first hand made. I wouldn’t advise this as a good strategy (driven, as it is, by impatience); much better to get the torso and legs created and then add the hands, feet, and head afterwards, but there it is. That’s what I did and the whole process made me feel unbalanced as I made this piece in an unbalanced way. I do, however, like the hands, and am looking forward to finishing this piece.

This is a 20 minute sketch from a drawing class.

The 20-minute sketch turned into The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I prefer the original sketch to the one I ended up with after I took it home and kept adding colour, but this is the sketch I used to develop the sculpture.

Round-up

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a few months because I’ve been busy, but here are some photographs of some of the work I did in school and out of school since February. My focus this semester was ceramics and drawing, and I’m trying to use materials that are as natural as possible. My question is: how do I make things while at the same time thinking that there are enough things in the world already? I liked working with clay because that’s like working with the earth: some people love gardening, and I love getting my hands into the clay. I didn’t think I would. And what do I draw? I tried to draw with charcoal and pastel, avoiding plastics. Do we need more plastic? No. And I tried to draw things that I am concerned about: the impacts of climate change on water, air, animals (including people).

The Promise. 22 x 30, charcoal and conte.
The Promise 2, 22 x 30, charcoal, conte, graphite.
Three clay cylinders. ~30 inches high.
Existential Threat, 33 x 40 inches. Charcoal, graphite, pastel.
The Way of Things. Installation with Chinook salmon made from local clay that cracked in the process. Photographs represent location where I would have installed the completed clay salmon had it not cracked (bottom) and site directly across the river from the proposed installation site (top). From NIC end of year student art show.
Chinook salmon maquette with comments compiled as people watched me making the (unsuccessful) Chinook salmon for installation with local clay.
The Procession (Cassandra Players) from NIC year end student art show.
The Entities Who Visit at the Time of Death (Cassandra Players) from NIC end of year student art show.
Installing The Promise 2, NIC year end student art show.

The series of ceramics sculptures entitled Open 1, Open 2, Open 3, and Open 3.2 (immediately below) are pieces through which I was trying to express the ways in which my relationships nurture me. I used a different glaze for each of the pieces, and tried two different firing processes, Raku and Cone 10.

Sculptural ceramics pieces: Open 3 (raku) and Open 2 (cone 10 reduction) (from NIC end of year student art show)
Sculptural Ceramics: Open 2 close up (cone 10 reduction)
Sculptural ceramics: Open 3.2 (from NIC end of year student art show)
Sculptural ceramics: Open 3.2 close-up
Sculptural ceramics: Open 1. Cone 10 reduction.

This next series of drawings have been embarked upon since school ended in early April. My relationship with colour in my drawings has been tentative, so my first project for the intersession is to push myself into adding colour to drawings, while also staying with the theme of environmental degradation.

River Folk, 22 x 30, charcoal and pastel.
Mixed Memories, 22 x 30 inches; charcoal and pastel. I have lived most of my adult life in Alberta and British Columbia, and lived the early part of my life in Quebec and Ontario, and a small amount of time in New Brunswick. I particularly loved Alberta sunsets and blue skies, and am nostalgic for Alberta days. It’s impossible for me to know which part of this drawing represents which province or which season as water and various types of farming are everywhere; I will never forget the first time I saw the Rockies pop up on the horizon from behind the foothills as I drove across western Alberta.
currently working on “I Really Love Your Outfit”, 22 x 30.

Student Incubator at the Comox Valley Art Gallery (CVAG) and moving on to making pottery…

it’s quite odd to see many of the figures that I have been working on over the past six months sitting in the window of the local art gallery.
I’ve tried to keep the exhibit dynamic by moving the figures around among the three plinths, onto the floor, and onto the four wooden crates in the window.
The wire-only figure on the right is a new addition, created since the exhibit went up.
And the wire figure on the far left is another new addition, also created since the exhibit first went up.
Pottery
This piece is entitled “open” and is the first coil piece I tried.
I think of these two vessels as “monstrosities”, and when I told one of my instructors that I thought of them in that way, she suggested I make a third one. So I did.
The third monstrosity is not yet complete, and to be fair, I don’t call them “monstrosities”, but instead have entitled them “One of Three”, “Two of Three”, and “Three of Three”.
“Three of Three” closer look.
“Three of Three” base, which will need to be retextured.
These vertical coils are meant to represent underwater grass, and I like the way they swirl and twist around one another.

Wire and Rawhide

I’ve been experimenting with rawhide for the past couple of weeks, but took a break for four days, more or less, over Christmas. I bought some pieces of rawhide “seconds”, and had wanted to see how they would look wrapped around some wires, so I constructed a few wire armatures and started wrapped the hydrated rawhide around the wires. I tried sewing some pieces together while wet, but that proved to be difficult, so I bought a leather punch, which made things much easier.

However, I also made a couple of pieces without any rawhide, and they are much cleaner to look at.

Here are some photographs of five different wire sculptures, three with rawhide and two without.

#1 in window with Le Petit chat. These rawhide pieces look like insects to me.
#1 (base)
Figure #2. This is what the rawhide looks like while its drying. I have to clip it onto the wire.
Figure #2. A few additions to the figure, and it looks “noisy” to me. But it feels like a noisy entity. The hips, the knees, and the insect body on the back of the figure are all made with airdry clay. This figure doesn’t yet have a head, and I’m not sure if I’m going to add one.
Figure #3. This was the first iteration of the figure, but after this dried, I added a few more elements. The hands are made with airdry clay.
Figure #3.
Figure #4 The Dancer. I would like to do more of this minimal type of wire sculpture. I love how I can made wire look like a figure.
Figure # 4. The Dancer.
Figure #4. The Dancer.
Figure #5. Insect Woman.
Figure #5. Insect Woman. legs.

And, finally, some photographs of cloth (painting tarp, actually)

Christmas “break”

I realize that I’ve been silent for the past month, and that is because I didn’t really have much that is shareable. I’ve finished my courses for the fall semester, and am moving into Christmas break. Here are a few images of what I’ve been working on.

This is my 21st century representation of Euterpe, the Greek muse of lyric poetry and song. Traditionally, representations of Euterpe have been of a wistful-faced female carrying a harp, a lute, or an aulos, her long hair falling over her shoulders or tied up around her head and held by a wreath. She looks vulnerable, as if herself waiting for inspiration. I wanted to make a muse that is more “practical” looking, more chthonic than ethereal. Originally I was going to have this non-binary figure playing a bass guitar, but the guitar evolved into a bicycle, meant to represent the urgency I feel that we (dwellers on the earth) must change our actions, change our minds, change how we experience the world and act within it.
But we shoot the messenger, don’t we? I was aware, am aware, that this figure is quite repulsive. They are made from a wire armature covered with tissue paper taken from old dress patterns, and then covered with photocopied sheet music from a book of music by Chopin, papier mached around the figure. I have used yellow because yellow is both an attractive and repulsive colour; I believe that for the most part people want to engage in “right action”, and/or they want to stop engaging in actions that continue to harm the earth. At the same time, we want to continue to do the things that we have come to love; we are attracted by calls to action (we love the earth), and we are repulsed by those calls to action because if we heed them we will need to stop doing many of the things we love.
Although I have largely left behind the work I was doing on the Apocalypse Theatre for the past few months, I realized upon making this figure of Euterpe that I need to return to the theatre and the Cassandra Players. There is so much more to do, and I think now that I have a slightly better idea about how to “plan”, I can return and make a better plan and will have a sense of where I need to go and how to get there with this project, which has been sleeping.

Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone camera. I seem to be attracted to photographing these monochromatic scenes, where grey disappears into grey. I love this type of weather, this type of light.

Sometimes I can’t help myself from taking more photographs of these entities that live on the shelves and window sills around me. As the light behind them changes, so they change too.

Book binding and poetry

Finally, I’m teaching myself some basic bookbinding techniques, including Japanese bookbinding. I have a basic plan to make a small book with two of my own poems in it, and I’m thinking of making the pages out of watercolour paper and then typing the poems and printing them out on high quality computer paper; I’ll attach the poems to the watercolour paper and draw/paint small watercolour illustrations around the poems, and bind it all together with a Japanese binding technique.

Here is a link to one of the videos I’ve watched. I think this technique looks repeatable, and I plan to use it for this first small book. I haven’t yet decided on a cover.

Me and my drill, More Baby Bodies, A Final morphed cat body, a new armature for Cornucopia Woman, and Squash in a Dark, Cool, Dry Place…so they turn into gourds that can become musical instruments…

Smokin’ hot…
“Mother and Children”
Morphed Cat Body
Morphed Cat Body in a piece of rusty metal
Cornucopia Woman armature

Squash in a dark, cool, dry place wherein they will become gourds by the end of April, 2022.

Some Music, Baby Body, Cat Body, More Entities in the Studio for second photo shoot…

As I frequently do, I’ll start with the music. Jerusalem in my Heart is a group out of Montreal. Just when I think I’ve found the music that I love the most, I come across something that bumps it out of the way. “that’s the sound I’ve been looking for”, I think to myself, when the new music arrives. And I live, breathe, obsess about the new music until something else arrives out of nowhere.

Here is a link to Jerusalem in my Heart, including a whole bunch of information about the group, and some music samples.

Baby Body

After spending another few hours in the photography studio photographing the entities again, but this time in groupings of two, three, or four (or more), a process during which I became more intimate with each of their personalities, I came away with a concept that will, in a large format that I won’t share here (yet) include the wooden figures I made last year, the white skeletal entities I made in the summer, and the current figures that I’m working on and sharing here now. As part of this concept where I’m starting to see how the figures are “related”, I decided it was time to make a baby. Here is the first baby, and it is called “Before I Was Born”; it’s not really supposed to be me, but that’s the title that popped into my head, so there you go.

Before I Was Born LaDoll air dry stone clay, two inches by one inch. View #1.

I also finished Cat Body since my last post. Baby Body (before I was born) and Cat Body, as well as being part of the larger work I creating, are also part of my assignment for 3D design and integrated studies at the college.

Here is Cat Body.

Cat Body. Six inches high at the head, and ~8 inches from ear to tip of tail. This is the first time I’ve used water colour on one of these figures, and I think this figure might be the transitional figure as I move away from using acrylic (plastic) paint to the more environmentally friendly watercolours. I was really intrigued to watch as the watercolour paint filled the cracks and imperfections of the cat’s head, feet, and tail, and I think there might be some great opportunities to explore in that relationship between the paint and the clay.

Entities in studio for second photoshoot

I have the studio booked again for photoshoots on November 9 and 10. Each time I go into the studio I’m adding the new entities and learning more about their interrelationships.

It takes a really long time to upload each photograph to WP, so I’m only including a small handful of the 200 or so that I took last week. Also, most of them are kind of crappy, so I’ll try to include only those that I think capture some of what I’m trying to express. I have annotated the photographs, as all the entities are “named” now, and it will provide a sense of the narrative.

The Empath is sitting next to The Dreamer, who is in the final hours of life. An entity looks on from behind. The Empath is present during the limen, as the ailing dreamer is about to pass through.
Opera Singer, consoled by her earthly consort, The Cowpoke, expresses deep sorrow.

The Receiver/The Dreamed (the figure on the left has two names) sits with the Opera Singer next to The Dreamer.
The Opera Singer and The Receiver/The Dreamed recede as The Dreamer prepares to leave.
Two unnamed entities watch over the moment when the breath stops moving in and out of The Dreamer.
Time arrives to claim the breath.
The Empath attempts to intercede, but Time will not be stopped.
The veil is thin.
Time claims breath, The Dreamer ceases to dream.
Dog Body accompanies Time as it backs away.
Gold Fallen From the Hem of Her Dress embraces the departed Dreamer.

Body: Jive Body and Cat Body; Music: making musical instruments from gourds

But first…some music. Try Dorothy Ashby. In my musical explorations, I came upon the harp playing of Mary Lattimore (contemporary American harpist), which took me to a BBC radio show (available on the BBC app called BBC Sounds) called Late Junction, hosted by Verity Sharp. In the 29 October podcast is a Mary Lattimore mixtape, introduced by Mary Lattimore, and featuring a number of harpists who influenced her own development as a harpist. The mixtape features harp greats like Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, the latter of whom was active in the 50s and 60s playing “afro harp”, and “jazz harp”…

If you don’t really like harp, the playing of Dorothy Ashby or Mary Lattimore or Alice Coltrane may change your mind.

Here is a link to Dorothy Ashby on the album “Hip Harp”, from 1958.

And here is Alice Coltrane in a late career harp solo:

And here is a link to Mary Lattimore’s 2016 album called “The Withdrawing Room”. I chose to include this one instead of her more recent “Silver Ladders” because I’m more familiar with it, and I love the atmosphere it creates – I listen to this while in my studio. Beautiful.

Jive Body

Continuing on the theme of “body”

I made this for my friend Lynda, who is a dancer. It’s called Jive Body; I don’t think she jives. But she would if she could. Maybe she used to.
Lynda asked me what the wire was for, what she was supposed to do with it. I told her that it is both an energy receiver and an energy transmitter, and that she should/could attach the wire to whatever she wants…including the air. I think she should connect to the harp music of Mary Lattimore.

Cat Body

Gourd Project update
The gourds have been washed in warm soapy water. I chose these four gourds for their exterior appearance. It’s not a sure thing that all of them (or any of them) will “make it” through the drying process, which takes six months, but I’ll work with what I get.

Here is a reminder of the process I’m following to dry the gourds.

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-dry-or-cure-gourds-1403445

After these have dried, I’ll cover them with rubbing alcohol and then put them on a open-to-the-air (indoors) drying rack for a week before removing them to a somewhat darker and cooler space where they will wait for six months. That will take me to the end of April, just in time for a summer project. In the meantime I’ll research and source the materials I’ll use to build the harps that fit across the cut gourd, the type of skin/s that I can use to cover the open side of the gourd, and the types of materials that I might want to use as strings or other percussives that will vibrate to make sounds.

I am not a musician, nor do I have any experience as a luthier. But I love sound. Right now as I write this post I’m listening to Mary Lattimore’s album The Withdrawing Room. Here is the link again, just in case I can tempt you.

Cheers.

Assemblage of entities into a tableau: “desiderium”, Loveletting, Sons of an Illustrious Father, poems, Odyssey

The word “desiderium” means “desire, characterized by grief, because the desire can never be met”.

This tableau that I pulled together out of various elements is meant to represent the entities surrounding a person in their last hours. The first photograph, which tries to capture everything, is a fail, so I’ve added a number of other photographs to focus on some of the individual elements. The shell hanging in the middle is a pendulum and the small book covered in cellophane is a book of poems called “Loveletting”, in which each of five poems is an attempt at loveletting, a word based on the concept of bloodletting. A band called Sons of an Illustrious Father has a song called “Loveletting” (lyrics here: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Sons-of-an-Illustrious-Father/Loveletting), and here is a YouTube video of the song by the actual band (sound, no visuals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duOKZHs7-LY), but other than that I could not find it mentioned anywhere on the big bad interwebs. I used the word and then later found the song by Sons of an Illustrious Father.

Desiderium (full on view)
Desiderium (with focus on far left entity and poetry booklet)
Desiderium (with focus on silver entity and reclining figure under light blanket)
Desiderium (with focus on far right entities)
Desiderium (with focus on shell pendulum)
Desiderium (reclining figure with wires)

Music, Skateboarder, a new Entity based on a drawing, catastrophic water event, lyre-making

Here is the music, sort of. I love Laurie Anderson, and I love the idea of making my own instrument, something that has no preexisting rules for how to play it, and something that is not necessarily tuned to any currently used scale. I’m not sure if that is possible. But I’m going to try.

Catastrophic Water Event

This is a short post this week, in part because I’ve had problems with the plumbing in my condo, with plumbers, ServiceMaster folk, and building management traipsing around in here. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that my life has been disrupted and I’ve not been feeling that great. Mostly I’m riddled with worry.

Skateboarder
The skateboarder is now lashed to a plexiglass rod in an attempt to create “air”. I have to continue to build it up with the plasteline, but I know I’m stalling on this because I don’t really like where this piece is going, and it feels like I might put in a lot of work for nothing. So, that will require some strength of will that I didn’t have this week.
Here’s another view of the skateboarder on the plexiglass rod. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in a piece of wood which will become the stand for the piece. I think the rod is probably a bit too high, so I’ll cut it back a couple of inches. I’m thinking of getting a 1/4 inch rod for the angelfish.

This skateboarder is part of an assignment in the sculpture class, as is the following piece that I worked on while the plumbing was making life horrible. Generally speaking, I love working on long-term projects, ones that I have to put together piece by piece over a long period of time. However, I also need smaller projects to work on at the same time, so that I get some feeling of accomplishment along the way. This is why I have the two projects running side by side, and then of course the lyre-making project, which makes it three projects.

From above, this piece is based on a watercolour drawing I did in 2019. Like this sculpture, the drawing is simple, and my purpose was/is to capture the posture of a person in the final hours of their life. This figure is lying on a simple bed and in a position that he has been placed by a care aide.
In an earlier phase, I just really wanted to capture the simplicity of the end of life. As I watched my father dying months before I drew the original picture that this is based on, I was struck by his breath, how even as it seemed that most of everything else about “him” had shut down, his breath kept entering and exiting his body, and then it seemed that it wasn’t even “his” breath but that it was what I started to think of as “life”. And I kept thinking, watching the air go in and out, that “life wants to live”. After he stopped breathing, his heart continued to beat for another ten minutes.

All life really wants is to live. A convenient metaphor right now is to think of the breath of life as a virus occupying our bodies until our bodies give out.

Here is the original drawing, which I called The Yellow Rose. The yellow flower in the window is meant to be a rose, and I placed it there because my mother had loved yellow roses, and I imagined her, in the form of that rose, to be in the room. My father outlived my mother by thirty years.

So, the skateboarder and the small sculptures I’m making here are both part of my sculpture class. I have proposed to make a life-sized skateboarder, using my grandson as my primary model, and 100 “entities”, these small sculptures made of air-drying clay. 100 is an arbitrarily chosen number, but I chose it because I consider myself to be a slow learner, and I’m hoping that by the time I get to the 100th entity, it might actually be pretty good. Also, when you do multiples of things like this, set a goal of 100, that gives room for what I do and how I do it to change and evolve, which may be the same as saying that I might get better. Ideas beget ideas. It’s addictive.

Lyre-making

Making a lyre is a longer term project that is not necessarily attached to any course I’m taking, or going to take. I introduced the project in an earlier post, and have since managed to find some squashes to turn into gourds to turn into lyres.

I also bought some strings for an eight-string ukulele. The next step is to clean and sanitize the squash, put on a screen to dry for six months, and then once dry, hollow them out and start to prepare for covering with a skin.

Next steps for lyre making:

find skin for covering

design a “harp” structure to be placed over the skin which is covering the hollowed out half-gourd. The process I’m following for making the harp is described in an earlier post, and while that maker cut out and shaped pieces of wood for his lyre, I’m going to look into other possible materials to use for the harp part of the lyre, and because I love working with figures so much, I’m going to see if I can make the harp structure look like figures instead of just pieces of wood.

Here is a photograph of the “harp” part of the lyre. This is attached to the gourd, and then strings added to the harp. What I’d like to do is design and make these three pieces as figures instead of merely functional pieces of wood holding the lyre together. http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
This is a short youtube video showing the lyre maker playing his handmade lyre. Paul Butler is actually also a musician, and wanted his lyre to be playable.

Assemblage (assignment), Bacon Grease, Two New Figures, Entities on a Window Sill, Working with Sausage Casing, Lyre-Making Progress, The Skateboarder and the Angelfish Progress (another longterm assignment)

I gathered together these five items and MIGHT make an assemblage from them for FIN 140, Creative Processes.
Bacon Grease on the bottom of a pan.

I made two more entities this week. They each have a set of wings, although it’s difficult to see them in these pictures. More to come.

Last year I saw some art that used sausage casing…hmmm…I can’t recall who the artist was, so I’ll have to look that up and update this post later, if I can find her.

I want to use sausage casing for the wings on this second entity, so before diving in, I did a test.

I grabbed a random piece of wire and twisted it, also randomly.

I then cut off a piece of sausage casing from one of the strings of casing, dipped it in water, and wrapped the casing around part of the wire, to see what would happen.

The casing immediately became very difficult to handle as the water made it very slippery. Next time, a bit less water before wrapping it around the wire, and maybe use tweezers to handle the wet casing.

I dabbed a small amount of blue acrylic paint (Golden transparent phthalo blue green shade high flow acrylic).
I like the way that the blue infuses the cracks of the sausage casing. I think I’ll try doing the same thing with some watercolour paint to see what the difference is. I left this to dry overnight.
This is what the dried sausage casing with dried acrylic paint looks like this morning. I like the look, but will also try using watercolour paints to see if I can get a subtler look.
Sausage casing infused with watercolour cobalt blue hue is a much better fit for the entity.
Entity is painted and one wing has been added. Paint will be repainted and details added.
Entity is painted.

Entities on a Window Sill

This morning’s rising sun looked great on the entities on the windowsill, casting shadows on their bodies and reflections onto the window behind. Well done, Sun and Entities!
The orb of an interior light fixture reflects onto the window, providing a backdrop for the entities.

Lyre-Making Progress

I’ve found a couple of squashes to turn into gourds, and one, or both of them, will become a lyre. I also have a set of eight strings ready. This project will likely take me a year or longer. Updates kept here.

The Skateboarder and the Angelfish

I made this watercolour drawing in 2019.
Here’s the armature for the first maquette. The long term goal is to create a life-size sculpture, using duoMatrix-G. Right now there are two test pieces of duoMatrix-G sitting outside to see how they fare in the weather. This armature will be covered with Plastilene, which will allow me to change the configuration of the arms and legs because as an oil-based non-drying clay, it will not harden. After I decide on the position of the body, I’ll make another armature with the “final” posture, and use LaDoll clay and work on more accurate body proportions to see how it all works together.
Here is the armature with some Plasteline on it. The pants need to get narrower at the ankles. I can work on that on the next armature, as well.

Skipping Man, Horse (maybe? no. not yet), school stuff, and lyre-making research

Remember this hanging blue figure from last week?

Well, I gave it a body and a HEAD! Oh my gosh, his head is awful.

Wrinkles on his forehead.

The cat mostly ignores me until I start to work on these figures. Here the cat is starting to chew on the small copper coloured wire bits that I inserted into the end of the scarf as tassels.
This view shows the Skipping Man with his feet glued to the base, and the base partly painted with bronze paint. The front foot is surrounded by LaDoll clay. I know better; I should keep the feet to the end and put the wires from the armature into drilled holes in the wood. Having to stabilize the figure this way with paint containers while the glue dries is not really the right way to do things.

The scarf has been painted, but I still have a few more details to add on the scarf, and I need to remove the paint containers and paint the rest of the base.

At this point I’m starting to get excited about putting on the finishing touches and looking at the whole ridiculousness of what I’ve created.

And, and, and…

Art School stuff:

one of the courses I am taking (I am taking two) is called Creative Processes. The first assignment is to make an assemblage.

I had an assignment which I documented elsewhere (in an actual physical process book, and on my school blog), so I won’t include all the process documentation here. But here are some photographs I took along the way.

Research

My Modern Met, from June 9, 2017, has a full article with photographs of wire sculptures. I’d like to get to the point where I can work JUST in wire, and have it look good. For now, though, I’ll continue on the current trajectory until I’ve learned everything that I want to learn.

I can’t include the link to the Met here, because the Met doesn’t seem to allow itself to be linked to (?).

Last year I thought I’d like to try to make a lyre. I found a great website describing how to do so, and I put the idea aside until this fall, when I’d be able to find some gourds at the market.

How to make a lyre with a gourd:

http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html

How to dry a gourd:

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-dry-or-cure-gourds-1403445

Tardigrades and other stuff including the cowpoke, the horse, and the opera singer

I don’t actually have much new to add this week. I started school AND I was really tired so I took too many naps.

But, I did “finish” the cowpoke, and here are some photographs of the cowpoke, and then some with the cowpoke and opera singer.

You can just see one of the spurs in front of the green. I had to embed the cowpoke’s feet into a bed of stones, all held together with glue gun glue. The boots feel apart at one point, so I also had to rebuild them. The belt buckle has an “A” on it, put there not to stand for my name, but because the capital letter “A” is so fun to paint.

I modelled the hat on a stetson that I saw on the Stetson webpage. I like how I managed to keep the ears sticking out of the hat. Everything is really rough, lots of cracks, uneven coloration. I’m torn between thinking its not good enough and thinking that I love the imperfections, that anyone playing with this cowpoke will not only be in relationship with the “toy”, but also will be aware that there was a “maker”, also with imperfections.

I have a thing about “perfect” toys, mass produced or not.

Here the cowpoke is about to lasso themselves an opera singer.
shadows and reflections…
After I put the cowpoke and the opera singer on the shelf to marinate, I started to make a little wire dog. Under the wire dog are two paint brushes marinating in coloured water. Bad bad.
I also pulled out an armature I had made a couple of weeks ago. I had planned to return to this AFTER making the horse, but apparently I’m stalling on the horse (haha, unintended pun).
I added a skipping rope to the blue figure and hung it from a lamp. I’m really drawn to those “ropes” and hanging figures…because they move, or have the potential to.
As soon as I picked up the clay for this figure, my fingers immediately started to work differently as they applied the clay to the body. I wasn’t as focused on defining the limbs; rather, I started by creating clothes on the figure. It felt really different, and maybe that’s why I needed to sleep for a few days before returning to the figures.
I embedded a tiny stone in the figure’s chest.
Well, um, I really like doing this. Glad I found a retirement hobby…but I also have another hobby in retirement:

DIGRESSION in which I received the following TM:

LATER:

Interesting to note in the above screen-shot that all but one of my crypto choices are (were) in the red. Also interesting to note is my total investment is just over $200. I know my limit!

BACK TO THE MAIN STORY:

ART SCHOOL STUFF:

So, I went to my first class in FIN 140 this past week; our first assignment is an assemblage. Here is what I have done so far to get ready. We are to gather up 4 – 5 non-precious objects, do an object analysis, and then bring them to class with various connecting devices such as string, tape, glue.

(I’m taking two classes this fall, and I suspect there may be some competition between what I WANT to do and what I HAVE to do for my assignments. Lots of naps.)

Object #1. Found in a ditch, and is apparently a connector piece to hold together sections of temporary fencing. I love my ditch finds.
Object #2: A doll I bought at a thrift store several years ago. I have a box of such thrifty dolls, and I pulled her out for this project because she has a very weird face.
Object #3. I don’t know what this is really, but I think its for gas lines. Or maybe water? I like it because those two black things move. And because it has the word “no” on it…heh, or likely that’s the word “on”.
object #4: this is a tiny bottle I found on a beach. It may be too small for this project.
Object #5. A thrift store find several years ago, I like this because it still works. It too might be too small for the project.
Object #6: the top of a much longer bottle. I forgot to take a photograph of the whole bottle because I got distracted…as I will demonstrate below.
Doll looking through bottle #1
Doll looking through bottle #2
Doll looking through bottle #3

And then, because I was into taking photographs of the doll, I kept going…

Poor thing is merely a repro.
But she has a great face and doesn’t seem to mind her status as a repro. I detect a slight smile on her lips, although her eyes look a little deadened.

I wonder what is in the light in the middle of her eye?

Okay, enough with the doll already. But I’m putting these pictures in here to remind myself (if I ever read this again) that I tend to get carried away with figures, especially human (doll) figures. Because yeah, I had a lot of fun on Friday night taking those photos.

RESEARCH

Tardigrade Research

A New Type of Tardigrade (2018)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-new-type-of-tardigrade-just-turned-up-in-a-parking-lot/

DOLL MAKING RESEARCH

WIG MAKING:

Because I have quite a bit of human hair, and because I’m currently working on model figures, some of which have hair, I’ve been curious about how to best add the hair to the figures. Last week I made the opera singer, who has long grey hair, but I just fumbled around with attaching hair to their head. I thought it might be a good idea to find out a better way (better ways?) to work with hair. The following video is a start in that direction. It actually looks really easy.

https://www.adelepo.com/blog/2017/07/make-a-wig-for-a-doll

“My Imaginary Friend”, an opera singer, a cowpoke, a horse, and a conflict…

I returned to an earlier painting I had been working on, but which got covered by a black cloth and so I forgot about it. Much of this week has been about returning again and again to this painting, adding layer after layer. It started out as a charcoal and pastel drawing, but morphed into an acrylic painting. 16 x 22. The last time I posted it, it looked like this:

Figure with container next to it.
After another layer, it looked like this.

In this iteration, I addressed the container on the right, starting to give it more definition again.
The container on the right turns into an entity.
I want to return to this piece and enhance the lime green of the figure on the left.

Opera Singer With a Cowboy (and a horse)

The other thing I’ve been working on is the Opera Singer With a Cowboy. Here are some progress shots.

I have a lot yet to do on both figures, but especially the cowboy: hat, belt buckle, maybe some chaps? But definitely the cowboy needs a horse.

When I resumed work on the above drawing/painting, I found another drawing beneath it, so I started to add to this one, too.

Last spring, Angela suggest that I try videotaping myself while I am making something. Talk out loud, Anne, she said, while you are in your process, and record that too. The following two videos are attempts at doing that.

“The Disagreement”. While working on this piece, I was thinking about the differences in perspective between those who object to getting the covid vaccine, and those who have been vaccinated. It seems to be a conflict between emotional and logical arguments, and I can’t see how this can be resolved without coercion.

Research horses

I’ve had this sculpture since leaving home; given to me by my mother as I left home, as apparently I was the only one of the family who actually liked it. I’ve been dragging it around…no, actually, I love this horse very much. Today I decided to try to figure out (again) its provenance.

The original sculpture was created by P.J. Mene, and if this is an original Mene, I should be able to find his name on the right of the base. I can’t find his name, but I can see the first word of the title, which is Djinn.The full title of the piece is Djinn, Etalon Barbe and I think I can barely see the rest of the title.

The first word of the title, Djinn, is barely visible. But this is not an indication of the validity of this piece; Mene’s casts were also used in Russia, and Russian casts often include a Cyrillic inscription. I can’t find any Cyrillic inscription on this piece.

Here is a photograph of an “original”, in excellent condition. My sculpture is missing the fence (broken off many years ago when I was a child, maybe even by me?).

Menagerie.

making a horse

Before I could start making a horse, I needed to understand both the proportions of a horse, and the relative proportions of the horse I wanted to make compared to the figure that the horse is intended to accompany (the cowpoke).

Using the proportions illustrated in the diagram above, I drew the following on a piece of scrap newsprint.

Using a diagram of a horse skeleton that is approximately the same size as the drawing, I started to bend some wire for the horse armature. I plan to make the skeleton armature as complete as possible, so will not finish this week.

Lola with Unicorn Rainbow Juice (hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles)

Resumption after a break…to be a bit lazy

Today’s music is the album Bismillah (translates as “in the name of allah, spoken before any undertaking), by Peter Cat Recording Co.. Here’s a link to the album on Apple music.

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/bismillah/1509634619

No apple music? Try listening to this one track from the album, available on YouTube.

Liked that one? Try this:

The singer needs legs, so using canon of proportions to decide how long they need to be…roughly. Also pictured is the so far headless cowboy and the armature for a skipping as yet undefined figure. Lying beneath is sculpture #1, a reminder of what needed to change. Poor dear.
These legs seem right.
My new smartphone holder for making videos…if only I could find a pink skateboard & a Malibu beach tshirt.
Set up with blueberry jam in background
Sound on test of new video setup. (With broken weird glasses found in a ditch)
In this 28 second fast motion video, I’m preparing the legs by attaching them to the interior armature, covering them with smaller gauge wire to ready them for clay addition, and glueing them to frame. While doing this prep, I decided to have a seated singer, mostly because I didn’t want to have to solve the problem of an external armature/support. You can see that my cat is visiting me while I’m working, which I think attests to my concentration and emission of alpha waves…is that what cats love to bathe in?

In this quick video, another fast motion, I’m securing the legs to the edge of the dress with clay, then adding a ridge of clay along the bottom edge of the dress. While working, I decide to fatten the legs with the addition of aluminum foil. I hadn’t been thinking about that until this stage.

Adding aluminum foil. I know I used the word “fatten”, but really, those legs are damned skinny…
Legs…and a tongue!
A yard sale find…several baggies of real human hair…the grey seems suitable for this figure.
Refreshed eyes and tongue. The bright pink settled down into something more tongue-like by the next morning.

The bright green backdrop is part of the tripod kit I bought. The folds, I am told by the accompanying literature, will go away in time, and I’m not to iron them out (probably because the heat of the iron will melt the fabric). So, I’ve hung the fabric on the line where I hang the awaiting armatures, and will see how long it takes for the folds to disappear.
Anyway, the green is not meant to be a permanent backdrop, but merely a place holder so that I can edit the photos or videos that I make with the green backdrop by a background of my making or choosing.
So…the next step, is it to find editing software that I can work with, change the background, create “sets”, write the libretto for the opera, engaging all the characters in some kind of “processional”…because, yes, I’m thinking that the original wooden characters from FIN 131 are not only the inspiration for these current characters (who will likely be the inspiration for another cast of characters made with something else as I move forward), but also function as the prototypes within the opera that I write for them. Now, there’s a big statement…someone who understands very little about music is going to write an opera…hmmmm.

The gauntlet has been tossed on the ground…

Back to the cowboy, now…

Notes to self: This cowboy has animal ears. I think I added ears because I was too impatient to take the time to make a proportionate human head; it’s “easier” to create a fantastical creature because I don’t have to really pay attention to proportions, or getting something right. I seem to be more focused on making something a little bit strange looking, rather than making something “right”. Is this a fault? “Should” I be trying for perfection? I think this habit is in part related to lack of skill, but also related to lack of knowledge about how to work with the media I’m working with. How can I make things look better…for example, how do I get rid of or cover the cracks with this medium that dries so quickly? Could I be putting a coating of some other medium over the clay before I paint? Should I have a clearer sense of the outcome I am seeking, and work diligently towards that outcome, instead of letting myself go with what occurs to me as I’m working? For instance, I had intended and visualized a human cowboy, but as I was working with the head, I allowed myself to be distracted by a non-human head that was forming in my hands. Should I push against that tendency and guide my hands back to making a human head?

How do I get better working with the medium, yet maintain the “rough” look?

…some of the questions I ask myself while I am making relate to the struggle between process and product…

I find myself getting impatient to finish, and not only to finish, but to move on to the next piece.

Because there is a next piece, a new armature, waiting to be filled out. I create the armature for the next piece because I am “afraid” that if I don’t have something waiting for me to do, I’ll not do anything at all, I’ll lose the drive, I’ll lose the ideas, the creativity.

But by having the next thing to do on deck, I’m also in a constant state of excitement about moving on to that next thing, to see “what will happen next”, and of course to continue to build the cast of strange characters that is populating my apartment, and giving me amusing things to look at.

So, what’s this “amusing things to look at” about? Each piece I make is imbued somehow with the intentions I had for the piece, the process I engaged in to make the piece, the challenges and decisions I made about the piece, the thoughts I had about the characters and their personalities as I made them, and an excitement about how the most recent piece would “fit in” with the existing pieces. When I look at each piece, I can see the story of that piece.

I can’t overstate the depth of curiosity I feel about the growing field of characters that are filling up the upper reaches of my living space, and I imagine them moving around, dancing and talking to one another, coming alive. I find those imaginings to be entertaining, and I get a lot of pleasure from knowing that I have created those creatures who cavort, either while I am watching them, or just on their own without me.

I have a sense that I am not finished making these pieces, some more human than not, and some more not human, but imbued with human motivations yet not constrained by the mainstream of society…because of course they don’t won’t “fit in”, and so they’re free to be the goofy strange beings that they are. Lucky them.

Too much writing.

The opera singer is sitting behind me, the cowboy is on the table beside me. They would like me to write them an opera (libretto), and all the other characters need their lines, too.

How the heck do I do that? Write a libretto. Sheesh.

More Returns

But first, today’s suggested music. I’ve listened to Einaudi quite a bit, and these two numbers are a bit of a departure for him. I like where he is going in his musical journey.

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/reimagined-chapter-1-volume-1-single/1575831066

Two returns of note.

I pulled an old drawing out of the pile of old drawings that I don’t like and started to add some colour to it. There is no date on the drawing, and no photograph in my files, which means I must have not seen any possibilities inherent in the drawing. Yet I tossed it on a table, and pulled it out and started adding to it. I still “don’t like” it, but have learned that me not liking something is a mostly meaningless response.

In this light, the charcoal looks a bit purple, but it’s just regular charcoal. Maybe the green does that, too.

I can’t recall my original intention for this drawing other than I love working with charcoal and I might have wanted to depict an ethereality between the figure on the left and the pithos on the right.
I’m not overly fond of green, so I often use it when working on something I am struggling with.

And I worked on a sculpture, adding some colour to its “wing-hands”; wanted to photograph the sculpture, and the only place that seemed like a good place to photograph it was on the extended arm-ature of The Sensate, the central piece from The Procession, which itself is a work in progress.

Here’s an older picture of The Sensate (nee The Watcher)
“Time”
It’s terrible to try to photograph these things with so much visual noise around

Adding this new piece to The Sensate redefined the piece, and it now represents time, and so together, the piece is called Sensate Reaches Out to Time…it looks like time is escaping.

Even more returns…

I can’t help but take photographs of the figures hanging out in the windows. They look different every time I look at them in different lighting conditions.

Here are a few photographs of existing figures in the studio, seen in new light.

These two…I MUST take them outside for a photoshoot. I know they’d love that.
This one is up a little higher, so most shots make it look heroic.
These two cats get to hang out together.
A shot of the “left window” gang.
Early morning picture on my way to the bathroom. I had to stop to take photographs as they were calling out to me to notice them, their silhouettes.
These two are always on about something, chattering away to one another.
Sunrise pushes through the shutter slats and changes the drawing on the easel.
Sunrise shadows.
More shadow play

Today’s inspirational artist is Luo Li Rong. This link takes you to her Instagram page.

https://instagram.com/luo_li_rong_art?utm_medium=copy_link

Research

the carnyx

carnyx.org.uk/mouthpiece-of-the-gods

Boudicca

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Boudica/

Aria

Today’s music. This YouTube video is my go-to whenever I need inspiration to take me into the depths of my own emotions. Etta James’ timing, the backup group’s ability to go where she takes them, the way her emotional depth is revealed as she sings…yes, I watch this piece frequently enough. Her soul revealed during eight minutes of raw emotion, and likely fueled by heroin.

(I think that the version I used to watch on YouTube has been taken down and replaced by this version, edited to remove some of her “vocal digressions”. This version is still good, but quite heavily edited, maybe several minutes shorter than the one I used to watch, and includes an ad 3/4 of the way through.

It’s one of my dreams to be able to make a sculpture of Etta James as she looks in this video, her expressive face, her eyes.

I’m calling this post “Aria” because I’m trying to make an opera singer. Eventually I’d like to make a sculpture of Etta James, so this piece is a start towards that, a kind of skill-building exercise working towards making her. I still have a long way to go, and may never get there skill-wise, but I’ll get somewhere different from where I started.

This is where I started with the singer, as I attempted to break away from the two arms/two legs armature.
I didn’t like the tissue paper results, so I tore it all off.
I also removed its head when I draped plaster bandage around its body.
…and started another series of five armatures destined to “hang”. At this point I envision that they will be black.

The singer’s arms and neck have been created with La Doll clay; her head will also be sculpted from clay.
the figure on the right has now morphed into a cowpoke, complete with a lasso, and…
…complete with spurs…
The singer is covered with slip. And has a head.

I’m not exactly sure about the relationship between the singer and the cowboy, but it may become clear to me as I work on each.

…and to put me in the mood (for the cowboy)…I just have to say, I loved living in Alberta…

Research

Getting familiar with cowboy hats:

https://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vectors/cowboy-hat-drawing-vectors

Belt buckles

https://www.bootbarn.com/mens/accessories/mens-belt-buckles/

Spurs

Camping projects

But first, the music link.

I didn’t listen to much music while in the woods, but just before I left, I was listening to Maria Teriaeva. Here’s a link to some of her stuff on Soundcloud.

As I write this, I’m listening to a number entitled Paris Texas.

I brought this one with me on the south Vancouver Island camping tour. This photo taken in Goldstream Park.
Armatures for human figure and dog
At this point I’m thinking that I don’t like the body language for this piece, especially the arms. But I know I’ll leave them like this and focus on the crossed legs and the “scarf”. Every piece feels like something I’m learning through. Eventually, I think, I’ll make something very beautiful.
From the back, this rounded bum will flatten as the figure sits on the picnic table (Juan de Fuca park, China Beach campground)
The dog gets a base. As I work on the piece, I start to “see” what needs to be added, subtracted, what’s wrong, and what’s right. I never let myself get distracted for very long by the imperfections. I just keep going because I’m curious to see what will happen next.
As I worked up the dog’s body, I could see (too late) that the body is WAAAAY too long. Still, I like the doggo. It’ll stay as is.

I imagine horns for the human figure, and I see that the neck is too short on the dog (not to mention all the other disproportions). But what can I do, I ask myself, to partially correct this disproportion, because I know it will bug me.
So, I decide to cut the lower wire of the dog’s neck and tilt dog’s head back.
At Heather campground, on the far (west) end of Lake Cowichan, the human figure gets wound wire hands and feet, and the antlers become more like feelers. You can barely see the faint teal wires joining the hands to the feet. Later, I’ll add some wound wire on the figure’s lap, with pieces joining one hand and one “horn”.
The dog gets a teal-coloured “aura”, to match the teal wiring around the human figure.
Here’s a better view of the dog’s right ear, which is slightly askew. Yes, proportions are all wrong, so I tell myself that this is a mixed breed dog, a rescue. Rescued from the depths of my imagination.

I read somewhere that there’s a lantern making event in the Comox Valley, so I decide that my next figure will be “lantern-like”. I don’t have a plan for the figure other than to get away from making legs and try a different type of armature.

At the end of each arm is a twisted wire “hand”. I chose black because that was in my travel kit.
The head gets black wire bits added to it; I’m thinking of an eventual spiky look for this piece. Black spikes, like coarse hairs or something vague like that.
Vertical wire reinforcements so that the figure doesn’t collapse when I finally decide how to finish it.
Elk on the main road through Youbou, early morning on the way back home. It’s smokey from all the fires to the south and the east of Vancouver Island.

Back home on the workbench, and the human figure gets some paint. Not content with this colour, so I wonder what will happen next.
The dog gets a coat of silver paint.
“Friends”
Both pieces arrive at a natural resting place. I can put them aside for now, watch them to see how they change in front of my eyes, listen to hear what they ask of me.
This is a favourite photo, as it shows the cracks, the silver that has been put in the cracks, and the mess of wire on the figure’s lap.
Really, my favourite place for these pieces, sitting on the wooden crates as silhouettes against the sky. This is where and when the wire lines do their best magic. I also prefer to have the dog facing away from the human figure so that they both face outward together.
I need to adjust the figure at far right as they were displaced by the wooden crate.
So. That feels better. The figure hanging in the upper right is a Barbie doll covered in plaster bandage with shards of broken mirror glued to her hands and her back (kind of like wings). She’s a remnant of 2015, I think, when I started with assemblage in the depths of the barn.
Ugh. I started to cover this figure with tissue paper, but didn’t like it, so pulled it all off again.
I found the figure “Time” hanging onto “Sensate”, and off in a corner out of the way. “Time” needed to be moved into the centre of things, so it was added over two other hanging figures.
“Sensate” has been relegated to a corner of the studio.
“Time” is just hanging around, now.

Inspirational artist of the week:

Sophie Kahn. My friend Elaine Smith (elainesspace.com) sent me a link to Sophie Kahn’s work. I am especially enamoured of the “externalized” armatures. Well, that’s what they look like to me.

https://www.sophiekahn.net/

Returning to an Earlier Project (some words about plastilina)

As I work on this part of this post, I’m listening to Vivaldi’s Gloria. Choral music can put me into a state of deep concentration and frequently feelings of love and tenderness. If I am listening to certain kinds of music while working on a sculpture, it seems to help me connect to the humanness of the piece I’m working on. I think that is why I like working with the human figure.

This music, written to the Glory of God, when I hear it, reaches from the thorax of the human singer(s) and connects directly to my own breathing, and I feel as if I am truly living, that I am part of the human condition, such as it is. Here is the link to Apple Music, the best $100/year that I’ve spent. Parts of this can also be found on YouTube.

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/vivaldi-gloria/695478701

This plastilina on coated aluminum armature kept leaning over from the weight of the plastilina, so I had to prop it up with a jar. I knew I had to find a solution to the falling over-ness.

I was looking at photographs of other sculptor’s sculptures and was reminded that sometimes an external armature, in the form of an object or another figure, is used.

As I started working on this addition, I kept thinking about the many ways in which we “hold one another up”. There’s another expression I’ve heard, “walking each other home”, which isn’t quite applicable here, as the figures are not upright and walking. But I see the upper figure as trying to do something difficult, and the lower figure is there, helping. This would not be a permanent state of things. It is meant to represent the ways that we all hold one another up, both literally and figuratively. It is a beautiful thing to do, to “hold” another person. So much comes before that…seeing, recognizing, loving, respecting…and then this act of giving.
The lower figure still needs a lot of filling out work. But the position, I believe, is correct, even though I discern perhaps a little too much distance between the two figures, almost as if the lower figure is not close enough. But even as I say that, I think that the distance cannot be right or wrong, merely the distance that it is, which, like a metaphor in a poem, tells a part of the story between the upper twisted figure and the lower supporting figure. There may be another story in another sculpture.

I always save the heads for the last because it takes a long time to get the skull just the way I want it, and of course the facial expression is crucial to what the piece is saying. I’ve experienced making a facial expression that is not what I had intended, and it completely changes my intentions for the piece. That seems to be okay, so far. In fact, it’s better than okay, because it helps me to see how a different facial expression can change the understanding of the body language. It also feeds my need for almost constant movement or change.

Here’s a great shot of the crack in the plastilina caused by the pressure of the figure having to maintain that position with no support. It is evident that I’m avoiding the details of hands for now, because I have not yet addressed the techniques of making good hands; and I avoid the details of feet by putting shoes on my figures. I think mittens might look odd, so I’m just leaving the hands plain, and thinking that the more I make hands, the more adventurous I might become over time. But I feel that I cannot prevent myself from making more pieces just because I can’t (or won’t?) do hands. Times winged chariot, and all that…and allusion chasers…here is the reference: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44688/to-his-coy-mistress

The thing about plastilina is that it isn’t really a “terminal” medium. As I understand it, plastilina figures are generally created in order to make molds with them, and those molds used as casts and the final figures made from any one of a number of different media…hydrocal, concrete, bronze…that seems beyond my scope at this time, as the preparation of those materials is messy and not accessible to me in my apartment/studio with a mere kitchen sink.

Plastilina is an oil-based clay which never dries. It maintains its form, but does not dry out, and I could at any time decide to dismantle the piece and use the clay for something else. That’s part of what makes it a good medium for creating molds and casts.

I imagine many sculptors who work in plastilina have many sculptures in the medium which never get off the shelf and made into molds and casts.

While I’m on the subject of molding and casting, I watched a short video in FIN 100 in which the bronze casting process was shown from start to finish. It was a technical video, a basic figure was created, a mold made, and a cast filled with bronze and then the mold removed to reveal the bronze statue…despite the technicality of the video, I found myself weeping as I watched the process. And I’m a little bit teary right now as I write about this, and I’m not sure if that’s because of the Vivaldi playing in the background or because of the memory of the emotional reaction I had to the video. The reason I record it here in my “notes to self” blog is to capture that experience for myself, to remind myself that there is something important about the act of sculpting to me. And, I’ll add now, the relationship of sculpting to music.

Here is the “artist of the blog post” link.

https://www.christophecharbonnel.fr

I’m attracted to the large size of this work, the larger than life-ness of the figures, and the scoring on the bodies. There seems to be attention to the correctness of form, but without the need for the surface of the forms to be smooth and perfect. In literature (especially in poetry), we talk about form and content and to what extent and how form and content speak to one another, and how then, to understand the poem.

When I look at some of the photographs a the above linked page and see the armatures, I get a little bit jealous, but also excited to see “how it is done”. I seem to have a deep attraction to armatures, and I even love the word…although six months ago it was not part of my vocabulary, but merely waiting in behind my awareness to become part of my life. I even recall the first time Angela said the word “armature” in a class, and I thought, “what’s that?, I want that, whatever it is, just because of the sound of the word”.

But, that’s enough writing. Am I right?

One last thing. This morning on FB one of my friends posted the following article, one I’ve come across a few times over the past several years, but every time I read it, I learn something new, or it resonates in a different way. I’m putting it here in my “notes to self” blog because I want to keep it closer to me.

It’s about creativity and the concentration required for creativity. This speaks to me now because I spend most of my days in deep concentration while I work on my stuff. Somehow it seems important. There are, of course, references to Mary Oliver, that brilliant poet and essayist.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/10/12/mary-oliver-upstream-creativity-power-time/?fbclid=IwAR2Ffq4RE9X-JAxE1Em1xgRxBTplKXXBtA6QtTmGrfdxVkxM3ISoEMITxkw

Small Things

Today’s music is The Beatles…any Beatles. Right at this very moment as I write this, I’m listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and singing along. I recall, at 13, walking around my home town with that album tucked under my arm, looking for anyone with a record player who might want to listen to the album with me. I could have listened to the album at home on my own record player, but it seemed important to also broadcast to my friends that I actually had this album.

So. The Beatles. But would I want to be 13 again?

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band-remix/1573250333

And today’s artist (a new feature on my artist blog, which I mostly think of as a “notes to self” place) is Simon Bacon. You can see his work here. If you are reading this, please look, and you will see an example of the type of work that I love and that inspires me. Specifically, I saw a photograph of his sculpture entitled “Adam and Eve” on a sculpture page on Instagram, which took me to his website. So, “Adam and Eve” was the sculpture that I was initially drawn to.

https://www.simonbacon.com/

And my own small things that I’ve been working on over the past week are here. These are smallish, about 8 inches or so, and made from aluminum armature covered with La Doll air-dry stone clay. So far I’ve avoided painting the sculptures I’ve made with armature and clay, but I imagined these new ones as “test pieces”, which frees me up to mess around. Of course everything is always a test piece. Or, as I learned this past year in art school, a maquette. I love maquettes. Here are some maquettes.

this figure hangs just below another figure…a samurai made from twisted wires. And both of them are hanging from a massive globe/light fixture in my apartment.
Gold figure under wire samurai

I’m liking making things that can hang. That might be because I have very few surfaces left in my apartment, but a whole lot of empty space over my head…

This cool cat with a skipping rope (stone clay and wire) is now living with someone else (riskily given away as a gift), so I need to guard these pictures. I loved it so much that I had to give it away…if that makes any sense.

The next few shots are of Copper Dog (stone clay on wire armature, painted with copper paint) in a variety of lighting conditions. Copper Dog is my second attempt at a dog, as I’m trying to make familiar things as I work through my “apprenticeship”. The armature for copper dog was complex and more detailed than the armature for the first dog I made. Now the question is, did I photograph the armature before I started working with it?

Copper Dog on my workbench, natural light.
Copper Dog in makeshift photobooth, natural lighting.
Copper Dog in new home, North Island (Caitlin Hartnett)
Cat occupying makeshift photobooth. She likes to be the centre of attention, so I think she must be a middle child.
This figure, another stone clay on aluminum armature, is a WIP. I’m using the green bowl to stabilize the wire orb while I work on the figure, doing some paint touchups with Micaceous Iron Oxide paint. I need to address its hands and revisit its feet, the latter of which are painted silver.Also…eyes… This figure will also hang somewhere in my apartment until I can find a home for it.

July 23 – move out day!

Today I’m listening to my own Apple play list entitled Feels, a compilation of musical pieces that appeal to me from many different genres. On shuffle, I never know what will come up next, but whatever comes up has some emotional association for me from some part of my life.

Here is a link to the playlist…I’m not sure if this will work if you don’t have Apple Music but happy to hear from you if you can access or not.

https://music.apple.com/ca/playlist/feels/pl.u-Ymb09aRipKRpW

Here’s a quick time lapse video of my workspace as I prepare to pack things up. Yup. I learned how to use the time lapse feature. Not that difficult really.

July 22

When I listen to Julianna Barwick, I am transported to the place where I can focus closely.

Today I focussed on creating a more robust figure. So far, my figures have been skeletal, and intentionally so, as I worked on trying to understand the skeleton. But I wanted to have more flesh, so my goal with this final figure is to create one with some fat and muscle over the skeleton.

Tomorrow morning, July 23, will be the final few hours in the studio before I tidy everything up and head back into my home studio.

My plan is to work down the arm and the leg that are attached to the platform.
I’ve started to build up the thighs here. I’ll leave the left leg for the end, as I am sure that once it is covered with clay it will start to droop the whole sculpture backwards.
Here I have started to build up the glutes.
more definition on the right arm.
I’ve added some “fat rolls” above the left hip, but they don’t really show up enough. Trying to work from my imagination like this points out to me how much I’d like to work with a live model. But I can’t imagine finding anyone who might want to hold this pose for very long.
The right leg has more definition, and I’ve added a shoe and a right hand. I also built up the “rib cage” as I felt that my figure was too thin. I still think the figure is too thin, but it is starting to look more like a real person. At least to me…
Here I’ve added a small stomach and a pubic mound. I’d really like my figure to get much bigger, but I can’t seem to get myself to add large enough amounts of clay.
From the back can be seen the scapulas. The left leg has yet to get its first layer.

July 20

Today’s music…

Today I worked on some heads…

I found this paperclay in a thrift store, and today I tried to add moisture to it, to see if I could make it usable:

The paperclay turned into a bit of a porridge, so I covered the kneeling figure in blue shoes with the mush to see what she would look like. I guess she looks okay still.

Then I moved on to the Plastilina; this block has been sitting in the studio since I got here on July 5, and I’ve been working through the elements of the procession . I’ve been dreading working with it, because I thought it would be hard…and anyway, it’s plastic, so not the best thing to work with.

The studio time this July has been great for experimenting with new things. In addition to finishing the pieces from Procession, I got to try out using three different types of modelling clay: the Das, the Premier/La Doll, and now the Plastinina.

I have three more days in the studio, and on the third of those days I’ll be packing up and closing the door behind me (and going kayaking and biking and camping for the rest of the summer until I start school again in September). So, I’ll spend Wednesday and Thursday with the Plastilina.

July 19

First of all, today’s music.

Here is a photograph of what I had completed by the end of Friday, July 16. I’ve narrowed down the “players” to the six figures on trolleys, six on the stage, five chorus members, the kneeling figure, the reclining figure in red boots, and three figures who will be holding up the reclining figure in red boots. Also, the winged standing figure.

Monday morning visit from Lola, my product tester.

July 15

Today’s music: Tashi Wada and friends…

Pink
Procession with yet another layer of enhancement

Trying to figure out what to do with this figure
She could lie directly on the bier
And she could become part of the procession

Now I think a couple of “bearers” are needed to carry this load.

This figure is getting ready to have air dry clay added. I’ve supported the extended scapulas by leaning them onto a cardboard box. I’ll have to build up the scapulas slowly, bit by bit, and let the work dry before proceeding.

Here’s a video of me working on the aluminum covered armature. I recommend doubling the playback speed, and I will make a much shorter and faster video next time.

July 14 halfway point

My last day here will be July 23. Next Friday. I’ve been treating my time in the studio like a job, keeping more or less regular part time hours from Monday to Friday. Working away from my home studio is a different experience of making, as I didn’t bring everything with me, and at home I’m inclined to spend a minute or two on a particular activity on my way through the studio, which is in the middle of my living space. So while I miss the ability to make small random additions, I do like not living in the middle of everything I’m working on.

Here is where I got to by the end of today, the 14th…

In this grouping, the figure with the largest head now has a full tail.

Procession figures got another layer of attention

July 13

Today…

I still need to work not only on the main project, but also on side things, just to keep my brain from fixating on one thing.

I recovered this piece to see if I could do something with it. That remains to be seen.
I’m experimenting with covering an armature with aluminium foil.
New green arms for this one today.
a digression project
Finished the repair job on the chaton’s arms.
Arm and headdress for “Will”
Figure in centre back is new today; has a kind of horse head made from aluminum foil and a wire tail. Not finished…
Slightly better view of horse head and tail.
the figure in the foreground centre is the first one I made, who now has feet and “gloves”. Still no head. The heads take much longer than anything else, and I need a few hours of concentration time.
An arm and headdress for one of the original 12 figures.
“Here, let me show you how that’s done”.Something new.
On deck for repairs and additions tomorrow…Wednesday.

Today’s music, On the Nature of Thingness, by the International Contemporary Ensemble. Especially, but not only, the number entitled “Mobius”.

This music got me thinking about the Jack-in-the-box toy, and I began to do a bit of research about jack-in-the-box mechanisms, which are available out of China for ~$1.00 each, but with a minimum order of 100.

Here are a couple of short articles about The Nature of Thingness. The second article includes a link to a short vimeo showing one of the “machines” used by Phyllis Chen.

https://www.newsounds.org/story/nathan-davis-and-phyllis-chen-surge-forward-nature-thingness/

https://acloserlisten.com/2016/04/07/international-contemporary-ensemble-on-the-nature-of-thingness/

July 11 not a Studio day

A couple of visitors from out of town dropped by today. I met them at the studio and showed them my stuff. Then I went kayaking, as I needed another day away.

Karen and Liane

But having two full days away from the studio was good.

While working on the small chorus members, adding La Doll clay to the armatures and making skeletal type figures, I had started to think about the lacy nature of the pelvic bone, and wondered if I could create or copy a lace pattern from somewhere else, and use the clay to “make lace” as part of the skeletons/choral figures. But the thought didn’t really go anywhere…until this morning on my walk, while I was listening to a radio show called Jazz Record Requests, a show found through BBC sounds.

In an interview excerpt with Julian Siegel, Siegel was talking about the inspiration for his latest album, Tales from the Jacquard, and that he had been thinking about lace, and how lace and the patterns of lace might influence his jazz composing. His sister, his story goes, introduced him to someone who worked at the one remaining lace factory in Great Britain, the Cluny Lace Factory, in Ilkeston, and a contact there sent him some jacquard cards…

http://www.clunylace.com/

A quick search took me to photographs of jacquard cards, cards with patterns etched into them that are placed onto jacquard looms, a loom that automates the process of lace making.

But, better than my words, is the following video briefly explaining how jacquard cards and jacquard looms are the predecessors to today’s computers.

And, because I mentioned Julian Siegel having been influenced by jacquard cards, here is a YouTube video of one of his pieces from the album, Tales from the Jacquard.

But how does this all fit together, and how does it influence what I’m doing in the studio now?

I will, on Monday, remove most of the Minor Aspect figures from the piece, keeping only the two larger ones. I’m going to drop the Major Aspect and Minor Aspect monikers…

Outgoing minor aspects…

I’m going to continue to make the chorus members using La Doll clay on wire armatures, and once I have completed the five that I wanted to have for the chorus, using the same technique that I started with (clay directly on the wire), I’m going to start experimenting with building up the armatures with other non-deteriorating materials. Then I’m going to experiment with making “lace-like” appendages on the additional figures that I make AFTER I finish the five choristers.

Three choristers to work on on Monday

This means that this week my goal is to complete the five chorus members, begin three new models that will be the basis for the “lace work”. I will read more about lace and lace-making…

Armature ready for “lace-making”

And, I have both visual and auditory inspiration to help me reach my week’s goal.

The two remaining “minor aspects”, but I’m dropping the minor and Major aspect monikers…

July 10

Not a CVAG studio day, today, because I need to play. No, the kayak isn’t broken, it’s modular, and I haven’t tried it yet. If I make any more posts, it means I haven’t sunk and drowned.

Time to go kayaking…but first…
The Sensate has been updated by covering all the pink and brown with antique bronze. I think I may have to take her into the studio so that I can look at her without all the “noise” around, although my dog is a good grounding presence in the home studio…

Also, I’m not liking the purple, so am replacing it with teal, which I think works much better.

July 8

Started the day by covering this 18 x 22 inch piece of paper with taupe chalk pastel. The lines are created by pieces of tape stuck to the board behind, as well as by smaller pieces of paper that I put in behind the paper while I’m scribbling pastel onto the paper. I’ll let this settle for the day, and then return to it in the evening. One thing I can always rely on is that something I’ve done earlier changes when I go back to it. Sometimes in surprising (good or bad) ways.

In the CVAG studio, I started by getting chorister #2 ready for applying the modelling clay. I’m using the Premier clay now, and will move on to La Doll when that runs out.

Today’s music provided by Anna von Hausswolff.

The Chorus (why?) lots of words below that are mostly “notes to self”. Just skip the words and look at the pictures if you prefer.

Because I’m working on the chorus members, its probably timely that I provide some information about why I’m including a chorus as part of this piece.

Five chorus members at various stages of completion

Some background, first. The piece comprises what I refer to as the twelve major aspects, and an as yet undetermined number of minor aspects, all of which are representative of events, states of mind, or states of emotion drawn from my life.

Five of the major aspects are currently on the stage, and one of the major aspects, the Two-Headed Heron, is above the stage to the left, looking down on the players on the stage.

Six Major Aspects (The Cassandra Players)

The minor aspects at this point are on tables to the left of the stage. I’m not sure of their full extent upon completion, but I have a vague notion that there will be twelve of them, although I won’t worry if I only develop seven, or 15. The exact number doesn’t matter; what matters is that I continue to build until I get that feeling that tells me to stop.

Six Minor Aspects

While I was working on the piece a few weeks ago, I thought that because I am combining some aspects of Greek mythology with a reification of my personal mythology, it might be interesting to include a Greek chorus. The problem, I thought, will be to convey to the person looking at the installation, what it all means, and how it fits together, but also without providing too much interpretation.

So I thought the chorus could provide some information, or at the very least, some guidance. According to Wikipedia, a Greek chorus is as follows: “A Greek chorus, or simply chorus (Greek: χορός, translit. chorós), in the context of ancient Greek tragedy, comedy, satyr plays, and modern works inspired by them, is a homogeneous, non-individualised group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action.”

So, the chorus pieces I am making MAY be somewhat homogeneous in terms of their basic structure, but various in terms of posture and gesture. Their voice can be collective, although I’m not sure of that yet, either. But the chorus will comment on the “dramatic action” as seen in the Major Aspects on the stage, the Major Aspects in the actual Procession, and the Minor Aspects that will accompany the main stage and the Procession. Maybe. Although yesterday Linda pointed out that many players that form part of a procession have no voice. Think of a graduation procession, for example, where many players show up in their regalia (which itself is a form of voice, so the regalia needs to be able to be interpreted), but only a small few have a voice in the ceremony itself.

Procession

And this begs the question: how will the voices of the chorus be heard? The answer to this question daunts me. Do I have to write a script to accompany this piece? In Greek plays, the chorus often comprised 15 to 50 members (and I’m limiting my chorus to five at this point), moved from the right of the stage to the left of the stage as they sang the “strophe”, from left to right as they sang the “antistrophe”, and stood in the middle front as they sang the “epode”, the final explanation of the play, intending in each of the three strophe, antistrophe, and epode, to illuminate to the audience what was happening in the play and suggesting how to interpret the play, and how to react.

I don’t think a 21st century audience is interested in being told what they are looking at, and how to react to it, so if I write a script for the chorus, that script needs to provide minimum explanations/interpretations.

And the chorus cannot be homogeneous.

At this point, I am not clear myself how the elements of my personal mythology tie together, what all the parts of the piece “mean” to me, why I am even doing this. So it is too early to write the script for the chorus. But as I make each chorus member, and when I return to working on the Major Aspects next week, I will “think” about each piece and the meaning of each piece.

I’ll try to write those meanings here…in an attempt to learn, as I am doing, what it is exactly I AM doing.

This afternoon’s music is from Kit Downes, ‘Dreamlife of Debris’.

Here is a taster from YouTube.

And more afternoon music from Olafur Arnalds.

I finished repairing Anger, Frustration, Restlessness. I had problems with the mid-section and the arms, and it’s still fragile, but this figure is one of my favourite Minor Aspects. I still need to remove or cover huge gobs of glue, but I think this is largely finished.

As for the Chorus, I’ve decided on postures for each figure, and it looks to me like a rock band rather than a homogeneous group who sing as one, one message. That’s what I wanted. two of the figures are attached to one board; I realized afterwards that that will make it awkward to add the clay and to move the figures into different configurations. I may cut it in two.

When someone comes to visit, everything looks different…