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.

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.

First, some Bach. Then, “The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect”; “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”; “One”, and “Two”, and “Three”; Student Incubator at CVAG

Today’s music: Bach, The Art of Fugue

The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect
insect closeup
insect closer-up
Existential Crisis 1
Existential Crisis 2
Existential Recovery
Existential Stability
The Genesis of “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”
New Year Baby, January 1, 2022, 7:03 pm. (aka Incipient Variant)
“Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”

One, Two, Three

These next three, just playing around. I wanted to see if I could create expression with very simple elements, no internal interpretive cues. I’m currently reading a book called “Asemic: The Art of Writing”; I am being influenced by the idea of asemics, markmaking that looks like some sort of writing, calls the viewer to attempt to interpret the marks/lines by trying to “read” them, but of course they are not representative of any particular language, but merely representative of the “act” of writing and in that way these lines tend to foreground the “art” of writing.

I am attracted to this, and have been for a long time. So far, I’ve tried to work with a depiction of eyelashes, and maybe a way to go with eyelashes is to make them look “asemic”, as if the printed eyelashes are some sort of language that refers to the inexpressible. The more I engage with visual expression in the form of image-making, both 2D and 3D, the more I recognize that like language, both oral and written, there is an interstices that can’t be breached, can’t be expressed. The idea, the feeling, the emotion, lies somewhere beyond words, beyond mark-making, beyond line. Maybe it is somewhat like the extremes of grief and ecstasy.

So, I shall begin more consciously to explore this beyond place, this ineffable and mutable truth.

“One”
“Two”
“Three”

Today, January 8, our 3D design class installed our projects at the CVAG. Here are a couple of photographs of my part.

The day was bright and there are too many reflections on the window to adequately see.
The entities related to the moment of death have converged/are converging

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.

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.

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)

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.

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