Sunday, October 23, 2011

#13 Highland Park, IL show-"Rachel", "Nude Study I"

For the last few days I've been juggling 5 different projects at my studio and all of them with approaching deadlines. The most recent one is getting two of my 12x12 reliefs ready for shipping to a juried show in Illinois. This will be the first time I've exhibited my reliefs to the public so I'm excited to see if anything happens. "Rachel" and "Nude Study I" are plaster originals 12"x12" that I will have for sale at the Illinois show November 4-December 22.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#12 relief sculptures

In the last few weeks I have felt the urge to expand my portfolio to include reliefs. This came about after talking with someone in the cemetery business who was saying that the popular way to memorialize someone is laser etching, not the traditional sculpted relief which has been around since forever. Laser etching is a process that takes an existing photograph and etches in exact detail onto a black granite headstone. In my opinion, it is cheap and unattractive and very representative of technology that cannot replicate what the human hand achieves-beauty. As much sophistication as our technology is, it still fails to prove to me and many others that it is has the ability to match the human touch. Of course, it is incredibly popular and it seems that every headstone that has some design on it has a laser etched image of the deceased. The problem that I see is that every single headstone is starting to look the same. Black granite with a highly rendered image. The other stones are not being used because black granite allows for the necessary contrast between the polished black surface and the etched part which is much lighter. The other stones would produce little or no contrast so they are not being used. So in a sense all of these headstones are looking the same. What I am hoping for in the future is for people to start to recognize that traditionally carved monuments or bronze plaques that are hand sculpted become more appreciated as they provide more options than what our technology can currently produce. Lets say that someone wants a portrait, but not flat, but slightly raised. Perhaps they want it raised another one inch. Perhaps they want a high relief. These are options a highly trained artisan can create, not a machine. It means that someone can have black granite or white marble. It will mean more cemeteries will have unique headstones and statues made of bronze and stone and will be beautiful as they once were before technology made them all ugly and monotonous.

So for the last few weeks I have been spending some time doing reliefs. I have done, to date, 6 of them and I have been very excited at each of them. I've casted a few in plaster and polished. Here is the last one I did, it is 12"x12" and shown in clay. It is actually not round, but square and I used photoshop to make it round so I'm not all against technology.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#11 Broomfield, CO Art for Awhile program and Green Thumb

In a couple of weeks I'll be placing my 4 1/2 foot tall garden gnome called "Green Thumb" with the city of Broomfield's art for awhile program. It is a one year art on loan program that was started in 2009. Nine sculptors were selected to display their works for one year and this will be the first art on loan program I have been involved in. I'm very excited about the opportunity and feel fortunate to have been selected. The sculpture will go just outside of the newly completed library near an open field. I will put pics up as soon as it is installed.

#10 letting creativity flow

You never know what people will like. When I was a few years younger and making art I had the idea that I had to do just one thing and be known for one style. So I consciously focused on one thing and when my mom would ask if I could do a portrait I would say no, it's not my thing mom. Usually it ended with a -sheesh at the end. Mom taught me many many things which shaped my artistic goals and vision. To this day, I ask her about ideas and business and listen, sometimes wishing I hadn't even asked. But her words have always rung true. 

It was earlier this year that I started seeing that I wanted to start working on larger projects. I wasn't landing commissions so I figured I'll just start making large sculptures that I feel like making, kind of a 'what the f..k' attitude. I decided to do whatever I felt like doing and this was sort of new to me. I was doing what I wanted in the past, but I think I was still limiting myself artistically. What naturally came out of my sometimes twisted and backwards mind was garden gnomes. I have not seen much of this done and I had been observing the artwork of one of my favorite illustrators of faeries and gnomes, Arthur Rackham. The gnomes, in particular, have fascinated me because of their mischievous personalities and the potential for storytelling. I own several of Rackham's books that he illustrated and after studying his paintings I got the inspiration to sculpt some of these little creatures that he was painting. I didn't blatantly copy his works directly, but took the essence of his gnomes and put it in clay. Rackham is a huge influence on the garden gnome series I started. The result was my first in the gnome series called "Green Thumb". This little guy is a gardener. He is the gardener of little milk thistle weeds that make him smile and throw his arms into the air as if to say 'success!' To me he is saying more than that. I think of him as saying 'success' that I have branched out to try something entirely new. He is saying to my mom 'see! See what just happened!'

Having recently embraced this attitude of expanding myself and in a sense planting seeds in many areas of the arts I have learned to let go and not care what others think. Art is about growing, not proving myself to others. 

Another example of this is in the movie "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey. Possibly one of his best movies. It is the story of a lonely man who lives a boring life until he experiences the life changing conference he attends that asks him to experience life saying yes to everything. He embraces life and life begins to change very rapidly for him and all for the better. He pretty much goes along with whatever is thown his way. This is the philosophy that I am trying to express. Going along with whatever it is that I feel like doing. 

A friend, fellow artist and inspiration to me is a wonderfully talented sculptor named Bets. Bets has also planted a few seeds in me about ideas that I am thrilled to even think about. For a long time I have wanted to do some kind of an art instructional book for artists. I have been kind of stuck with the idea and haven't thought much about it until Bets told me I need to do a simple 20 page booklet on basic sculpting, one that I can simply print out on my own computer. She said if I were to teach a 1 week course what would I teach. This got my mind going like a semi truck racing down a steep hill out of control- holy c..p!!!! I also had the encouragement and support of another talented sculptor Pam. Pam said she would purchase it as soon as I finished it. And the both of them fed me ideas that have simply made my mind swell with inspiration. Now, I can't say when I will get to this instructional booklet, but it is brewing in me and the inside of it is making more and more sense in my mind. 

I believe doing this book will also lead to another of my passions that I have really wanted to do for about 5 years, making an ecorche. It is a sculpture with the skin removed showing the superficial anatomy of the human form. I have worked from ecorches over the last 13 years, some good and some bad and would like to do one that I think artists need. I believe the ecorche and the instructional booklet will actually happen since embracing what mom had been trying to tell me for so many years 'let go of yourself and do what feels right'. Thanks mom!