Cleaning up my studio in preparation for Studio Tour 2019 (August 17-18) means finishing up unfinished projects, finessing less satisfactory projects, shuffling & categorizing work, etc. Some pieces go outdoors, becoming slowly disintegrating Yard Art, others are completed, improved & better presented, and a few just filed away out of sight.
Many of my assemblage & collage works come together slowly, and I accumulate found objects that claim me; really, I don’t claim them! Many of these items do find a place in a finished work, but that may take years. Meanwhile I arrange & re-arrange the most interesting finds along with my most experimental creations. These get photographed and enjoyed, but also take up a lot of space and collect a lot of dust. Some of these just need to be abandoned, they will never “fit”.
The piece shown here evolved from working with wax a few years ago. The center part is made from mat board, dried grasses, thread and cheesecloth saturated with wax. It has been mounted into an old wooden desk in-box, painted black. For a long time it featured a folded paper sad dog, but that bit of paper finally lost its charm, and the mountainous rock and a cast resin figure took its place.
I cleaned it up today, making a few alterations, and mounting the polymer clay bones (on the top) and the sleeping resin figure permanently. This should probably get a glass or clear acrylic facing to keep out dust and protect it, but … it is, of course, an odd size. I am not going to order glass, or carefully cut and bevel acrylic unless someone wants to buy this piece. And that is not too likely to happen!
I made the dragonfly shown above very quickly, as an experiment with Creative Paperclay. I hate waste, so I mounted it on an ( cheap & irritating :-)) 6″x6″ canvas board that I had prepped and forgotten, adding various other remnants and parts that pile up around my studio! It will be mounted as a gift, probably for my two year old granddaughter’s bedroom.
I love the serendipity of the colors above: the daisies and the exquisite shell just found on a beach walk!
Art, making, and how I feel before, during & after!
Before starting, I am drifting, uncertain, and shifting various ideas and visual images.
Once I start work, I am excited, engrossed, and enthusiastic. It may be tough at times, I may feel my piece is ruined or will never get to the level I want, but mostly I am engaged and energized by the work! At some point I am really excited about ambitious work: I can smell success!
Then when I am finally finished with a good piece there is triumph, but that is generally short-lived. I start to lose interest quickly, and soon I will lose much of my interest in the work. It may actually bore me, even when I remain satisfied with the quality and content of the work.
Maybe that is why career artists often develop their words (!) and find stories for their artwork and why they make art. The story may come during or often after the art work is complete. But a story allows the artist to remain engaged with a piece after it is finished, and to retain more enthusiasm for their finished work. Enthusiasm is very important for marketing art, so lacking a outgoing patron or gallery owner, the artist may need to be the enthusiast! A good story not only helps the artist stay engaged with an artwork, but it allows the artist to share their enthusiasm, through their story, with potential buyers.
I don’t tend to analyze or create stories about my artwork, or about why I work. I find that difficult…!
Hard to explain this sketch, or maybe not. I have yard art that I am very fond of, and would love to “translate” into more durable form & media. This doodle is about that, and may help me achieve this eventually. It won’t be as simple as just remaking the work in sturdier material & form, as something vital will likely be lost in the process… I need to capture the essence that I like, rather than try to duplicate the work.
When my mother was young, my artist grandfather Robert Sivell moved his home and art studio to the small harbor town of Kirkcudbright, on the River Dee, on the Scottish side of the Solway Firth. Kirkcudbright was then known as an artist’s town, with quite a colony of artists living or visiting regularly.
Recently residents of Kirkcudbright have expanded the local historical museum, opened a new art gallery to show works by local artists, and created this video honoring past Kirkcudbright artists:
The following is a lovely video that honors one specific artist, Johh Halliday:
As this painting has evolved, the title has changed from “Can We Listen” to “Can They Listen?”. The finished color palette of the painting (at left) is so “white guys in business suits” that the figures are no longer “we”, but rather “them”. The figures have now come to represent so many of the predominately white male U.S. senators currently in the news.
I did not set out with quite this plan, but I have been listening to the news, and thinking of the Senate Judiciary Committee members as I created the painting. Some all the Republican Senators who will soon vote on Donald Trump’s poorly behaved Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have climbed onto my “canvas”.
I have found things to do with clear flexible cutting mats! I have made lamp shades, but there are many other options.
Clear translucent flexible cutting mats are readily available and affordable. You can apply paint, acrylic medium, art papers, and digital transparencies on this material. With a little care and planning, the cutting mat can be transformed into a great lamp shade, and the design will glow when lit. If you want to feature a design, photo, or artwork, use translucent paint or print to a transparency. Or apply opaque papers or paint if you just want to see the artwork when the lamp is unlit.
The lamps above are not new, but I don’t think I have ever featured them in my blog. It is an interesting functional way to display my work, although it does take some trial and error to get the translucency and color saturation to work. I wanted to enjoy the designs when the lamp was unlit and when lit, because I am greedy that way :-)!
I applied my art to clear flexible cutting mats to make the shades. The lamp bases came from thrift stores, and are probably bases from broken lava lamps.
I have used this technique to create wall sconce shades that feature photo portraits of community members; these are installed in our community common house.
I was limited by the mat sizes, but 18″x24″ and 20″x30″ mats are available now, which provides me with more options. I am currently working on a different home improvement project that will also feature my art over flexible cutting board material. I found larger sizes available from ChopChop Food Service and from Norpro.
This is a really handy material: stiff but flexible and easy to cut. It is very durable, the sconce shades have been in place for about 10 years.
It was a surprise to me that I did not find anything when I Googled “things to do with flexible cutting mats” or “things to do with flexible cutting boards”! Nothing on YouTube either. Someone else must have found a creative use for these affordable & readily available mats.
Reading an Oxford University “Short Introduction to the Meaning of Life”, I discover/decide that I am a creator of fiction. As a voracious reader, primarily of fiction, I used to think I might be a writer of fiction. But that never came to pass, I did not even dabble in writing with any energy.
Instead I (eventually) became a mixed-media artist. As such, I decide now that I do create fiction: I am a fiction writer without words.
I justify this notion on the basis that I am certainly not a representational artist striving to realistically portray the world around me. I am in no way a documentarian, seeking to identify and describe actual events or objects. The idea or recording what I see in front of me bores me to tears.
So I seldom draw or paint what I see directly.
I don’t make art to record people, places, or things; I create in order to satisfy something in myself that I cannot put into words, or record with a camera.
While I certainly include representation in my work, it is rare that representation is the primary purpose or focus in a finished artwork.
Perhaps I use “indeterminancy and obscurity” to reflect (rather than portray) a personal and emotional truth.