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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?
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.