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.
Continuing on the theme of “body”
Gourd Project update
Here is a reminder of the process I’m following to dry the gourds.
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.
This week I had the opportunity of getting into the photo studio and setting up the full complement of clay entities I’ve been working on. I’m still trying to understand all the settings on the camera, but I’ll be back in the photo studio again next week to take photographs of the entities in smaller groupings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Entities on a Window Sill
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.
Well, I gave it a body and a HEAD! Oh my gosh, his head is awful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DIGRESSION in which I received the following TM:
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.)
And then, because I was into taking photographs of the doll, I kept going…
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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?).
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.
No apple music? Try listening to this one track from the album, available on YouTube.
Liked that one? Try this:
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.
Back to the cowboy, now…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s inspirational artist is Luo Li Rong. This link takes you to her Instagram page.