FIN 230 Unit 1

September 20, 2021.

Frustration. My internet was down for the past two days. My printer doesn’t work. I can’t figure out how to use the proposal template online.

So, I resort to coming to the blog site. I’ll write down here what I’m thinking and transfer it to the template…later.


  1. Proposal #1 space: I wrote out the proposal template by hand last week when my printer was still working. I re-read it now, and it sounds silly. The idea is to make a large-scale statue of a skateboarder, on their skateboard, and a flying angelfish watching over the skateboarder.

I tried to draw this in 2018. So, this is the idea. Skateboarders talk about getting “air” when they jump; and they often look as if they are flying. It’s fascinating to watch skateboarders, usually young men, usually young men who are not part of team sports but who are individualists, standing apart, and they want to fly. They have their language (knuckle bump, and “peace”); they have their own style of dressing. And they have a passionate commitment to learning how to do tricks with their feet and their board. Often they look like they are doing ballet.

I’d like to do a large scale sculpture depicting this action, this passion, this individualism. The following drawing does not depict the posture I’d use, but it was a beginning drawing I did several years ago.

I’d like the skateboarder to be accompanied by an angelfish; the angelfish would be floating above the skateboarder, a being that rightfully belongs under water but which is flying above the skateboarder (with its ‘angel’ wings, and looking over the skateboarder, as if to protect).

The project would involve making a few small maquettes in a variety of poses so that I get the pose just right, capturing the movement, the passion, the sense of individuality. The angelfish would also need to be rendered in a few ways, mostly to capture the most effective placement of the fins and body position.

Small maquettes: made from wire armature and air-drying clay, I would make as many as I needed until I found the right position. I’d make a number of drawings first to guide the positioning of the maquettes. These maquettes would be 8 – 10 inches high.

A slightly larger maquette would follow after I find the right body position. This one would be made from plastilena and would become the model from which I make a mold for a casting in hydrostone.

Ultimately I would like to make a larger than life sized sculpture, in hydrostone, which is why I want to make the casting of the second maquette in hydrotone, so that I can see how it works.

Update: after discussing with Jeff Brett on September 21, I’ve switched to thinking that duoMatrix-G is a preferred product for what I’m doing.

Here is the information about that product; right now I have two small pieces sitting outside to see how they weather.

PLEASE TOUCH ME (the brain’s black box extrudes fantasy figures)

This second proposal conceives of space slightly differently, and reaches within the space of my brain, the “black box” and pulls out one hundred (arbitrary number) fantastical figures. I’ve made some of these figures already, and this project is a way to allow me to continue to make them, as I don’t think I have finished doing what I need to do, learning what I need to learn.

(The space inside my head may be physically small, relatively speaking, but it is infinitely large, emotionally and imaginatively.)

I imagine each figure, or pairs of figures, or perhaps small groupings of figures, sitting on it’s own black plinth, in a dark room. Some of the pieces can be suspended from the ceiling. The title of the piece is PLEASE TOUCH ME, and the viewers are invited to pick up, touch, look at, turn the figures, examine them.

The title is not only an invitation to physically touch the figures, but because the figures are products of the artist’s imagination, they are part of the artist, and the imprecation to “please touch me” is also an invitation for the viewer who touches a figure to also touch the artist emotionally by interacting with the figures so intimately.

So, the piece acknowledges that when we are around things, we automatically reach out to touch them, yet mostly we are asked not to, especially in an “art” setting. I want these pieces to be touched, and at the same time, I am asking to be “touched”, not physically, but emotionally, by the interaction between the viewer and the sculpture they are taking the time to touch, look at closely, examine.

They may break it, or drop it. Get it dirty. That’s okay. That is part of the process. That possibility is related to the desire I have to make things that are not to be put on walls or on shelves, but to be used and enjoyed and played with until they DO break…

I recall as a child having “imperfect” toys, and those toys may have been handmade with crooked, asymmetrical painting…with my face close to the object I was playing with, I would imagine the person who had made it, their shaking hand trying to make a perfectly straight line, yet only managing to make something crooked. I felt at some level that I was in an intimate relationship with that maker: me, a child playing with a toy that a real person had made. There is something very special about that. Actually, something magical.

Please Touch Me

The next two photographs of two most recent WIP’s that could be part of the Please Touch Me piece.

it’s difficult to tell, but the black wire on the back of this figure is actually folded to become “wings”. The next photograph is a “test”, in which I have bent some wire and put a small amount of sausage casing over it to see what it does. I may use the sausage casing on the wings of this figure above.
A little bit of water on this sausage casing made it very amenable to wrapping over the wire. I may need to use tweezers to hold it effectively.
I tried dripping a small amount of blue paint on the casing while it was still wet and will see what it looks like tomorrow. It just might make a great blue wing!
the next morning, the blue (acrylic) paint has dried quite nicely on the sausage wrapping. Later today I’ll try watercolour paint.
Second test: I wrapped the casing around two of the pieces of wire and dapped some water on the casing. This was much easier to manage.
I lay the casing, attached to the wire, into some diluted cobalt blue hue watercolour. I’m trying to find a more subtle blue for the wing. Meanwhile, the entity is waiting in the wings.
Here’s the comparison. The darker blue is acrylic phthalo blue (green shade), and the larger area is cobalt blue hue, watercolour. It’s much better, and just what I was looking for. Now I need to find the right colour for the figure’s body.
First wing attempt. Needs trimming and aging.

Silver Birdperson. September 23, 2021
Blue Winged Cat. September 23, 2021
Entities completed September 23, 2021 (Silver Bird Person and Blue Winged Cat)
added to the mix

Wednesday night update: I’m starting to get twitchy because I don’t have another “entity” on the go. I’ll get another skateboarder armature created, then another entity…

To find my next idea, I lay down on my bed and meditated for a while, let the images appear as I relaxed. I remembered that I had wanted to do a sculpture of a lying-down figure, and that I had been thinking of basing the figure on a watercolour drawing I had done of my father as he looked in the final hours of his life. He had become very skinny, and a health care worker came into his room every few hours to change his position on the bed. I’ll use the same angles in the armature as I used in this drawing:

This is an emotional process, twisting this thin frame into the same position I saw my father in as he lay dying.
The Bed. I’d like to cover this with a layer of plaster bandage first, for stability, and then use clay to create a bed surface that molds to the body that will lie on it.
Yes, with a thin layer of air-dry clay over the plaster, I think I’ll be able to achieve what I’m looking for.
Patience. (far right)


while waiting for the plaster to dry, return to the figure and decide on paint colour for skin. Paint.

pyjama: Golden light phthalo blue

sheet: Golden Naples yellow hue


skin colour samples
skin colour sample: titan buff, raw sienna, chromium oxide green…?
My father’s hand

figure out how to make a very thin blanket to drape over the reclining figure, perhaps sausage casing?

Note to self: up to this point, the entities I’ve made have arisen out of twisting the wire and adding the clay in a kind of evolving process in response to a visual idea I’ve had while dreaming or walking, with not much planning but careful attention to the experience of working with the wire and clay and what it wants to do. With this current piece, which I am basing on a drawing I did a couple of years ago, the process is slightly different. The wire bending and figure placement are based on an earlier conception, and I’m using the drawing as a guide for making the entity, and this feels very different, providing a certainty, or at least a stronger guide.

Does this mean that I “should” base all my entities on drawings, either made years ago or made for the purpose of creating an entity, and not on the more ephemeral “visual idea” that goes from my head to my hands (and wire and clay)? Is there something “better” about having the middleman, the drawing that takes its piece of the action?

I don’t think so. But, what drawings do, especially the very simple ones that I did with ink and watercolour or just watercolour a few years ago, provide some fecund territory for me to refer to. I think this means that those drawings expressed important emotional territory for me, and that emotional territory can inform what my hands do with the wire and clay.

Lesson from all this? Keep drawing however/whatever I draw, but don’t insist on having a drawing before I begin an entity, as the entity may arise from an emotion that arises from a lying or walking meditation. Trust both.

In the case of the emotion that wants to be reified in the form of a tangible entity, let that happen, because it is accompanied by a sense of urgency that pushes me to create, to bring it into existence before it subsides back into the sea.

the figure is on the bed which has been coated with some clay.
I’m finding this to be quite exhausting to work on, especially since this most recent advance in the piece feels “real”, although I know it doesn’t look real. So, why did I want to make this piece, anyway? As i work with it, it feels as if I am giving life (in an altered way)…a strange feeling I can’t describe.
is it morbid to depict a dying man? Perhaps, but is morbid wrong? We are all going to die, many of us reduced to a thin rake lying on a pastel yellow sheet, waiting to breathe our last breath.

Note to self: Working on this is reminding me that I had thought not long ago about making a kinetic piece called “life wants to live”, or something like that. Something that captures the inhale and exhale of breath of a dying person…the breath goes in and out unassisted even as the person themselves is no longer conscious of life, and what is left is life itself, on its own, moving in and out of the body.

Final Hours

October 10 Entity started

My goal is to make 100 (or 108) entities for the “space” assignment. So far, if I count the 12 creatures I made last winter in 131, and the 15 or so that I made over the summer, and the few I’ve made this fall, I’m up to about 42 entities. I’ve gotten rid of some furniture so that I can fit them into my apartment. I had about a week of not getting much done because of flooding in my apartment and plumbers tromping and in out. Even now I have three commercial fans and a commercial dehumidifier running (constantly) in the background…but it seems like there is always something going on. A bit annoying though.

At the same time, I’m going to try to make a turntable that will fit the plasma cut aluminum sheeting, with light. But today, it’s this figure.

deconstructing the skateboarder…I just couldn’t do it.
Skateboarder 2.0 (the reconstruction)
it’s interesting how PhotoRoom left in the halo of the light on the iphone tripod.
I’ve added the armature for an angelfish head.
When I start to let myself use wire again on the figure, it started to move for me and become a skateboarder entity and not merely a skateboarder. This is where I want to be. Reality is merely a suggestion.
Getting the black box ready.
somehow this mannequin head may figure in the piece as I conceive of it
I’ve been wondering what to do with this piece, which is taking up too much room. I’ve decided to dismantle it.
The helmet/head does not quite fit over this mannequin head. I have some ideas.
Playing around in PhotoRoom.

(Some) Summer Entities

This morning’s sun cast shadows across my windowsill entities and created reflections in the window. I made these this past summer, and I can’t overemphasize how important they have become to my day-to-day life, as they change as frequently as the light changes. I shouldn’t love them this much, I don’t think.

Skateboarder Project (postponed)

Initial attempt at wire armature for small skateboarder sculpture.
angelfish armature
Skateboarder armature at the house hanging with puppet on a swing and upside-down-doll head. A sunny evening.
sep 24 The skateboarder armature has been reinforced with a piece of found wire, curved like a coat hook (in its chest) and two pieces extending from its legs to form future feet. The top and lower single fins have been loosely connected to the body so that they can still move, but not migrate up and down the body.
working with plasteline on this figure and I feel stalled; I may start over again with another armature.

Wednesday update: bought some 3/4 inch transparent plexiglass rod to use as basic armature for the skateboarder maquette(s).

An exciting purchase means that I can move forward on a new idea for a skateboarder maquette.
The Skateboarder has been lashed to the plexiglass rod. I’ll continue to add clay to this figure as soon as I finish drilling the hole into the sculpture base (when the drill recharges). But, I’m looking forward to the next maquette, for which I will attach the wire armature to the plexiglass armature from the beginning. The purpose of the plexiglass armature is to see if I can get the sculpture to look like it is “in the air”.
This skateboarder was bugging me; I couldn’t move forward with it, so I pulled it apart. What a relief it is to have done this deconstruction.

Update: I am going to put the large scale skateboarder concept on hold and move the skateboarder over to the “Please Touch Me” project, to see what happens to the skateboarder. What I think will happen is that I will be freed up to make a skateboarder the same way that I make the entities: I start with an idea (ie, start with the idea of making a straight-up human majorette, but end up with something less human and less majorette). So, what will happen when I move the skateboarder into this realm? I don’t know. I’m curious to see what will happen with the skateboarder.

Two pieces of duoMatrix-G sitting outside on a piece of wood, to see what the weather will do to them. This material will be what I use for a test of a small version of skateboarder and angelfish and perhaps also the final version.

Next Steps:

This coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are supposed to be dry weather, and I will go to the skatepark and take photographs of skateboarders. Update: change of weather forecast means days of rain. I may have to proceed with what I have on hand for now. Not a problem, really.

I will make another armature to use as the first maquette, as this armature is not working well because it is not stable enough at the core. (update: I’ve attached the current armature to a plexiglass rod and will continue to work on the plasteline model; at the same time I’ll begin another model for which I will use La Doll clay).