Sunday, March 31, 2013

VCCA update


(c) Tatiana Klacsmann
The Cathedral
I made the figure that's going to go inside the Big landscape (It's life-sized, and was made over the course of two days - no one could be more surprised about this than I am! For comparison, Obscura, from last year took about 5 months to complete. I worked on The Cathedral for almost 2 years.)

I'm surprised, but very happy - taking photos to make the adjustments worked really well (haha - my art experiment actually worked - what!?!) I'm so excited that I want to keep going and try to finish Big before my time at the VCCA is up in a few days. I've been working on this part over a white foam core background (so I can see the edges and proportions more clearly), but I'd love to incorporate it into the landscape of Big as well as continuing to work on other elements before I head home. But, as much as I'd like to work on it round the clock during the next few days, I've been giving some thought to a wise friend's comments about trying to be mindful of energy expenditure for the long term, and I'm taking a break. Last night I rested and cleaned the studio, and today I had a happy visit with wonderful friends. Or to say it in pictures:
(smiley face, two thumbs up, gold star!)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I have no words today, only pictures  :)
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Day 2

Day 2

Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 5 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something)

contemplating the rabbit hole

I made it to VCCA!  I arrived exhausted, but happy. It was a challenging week getting ready and hard to leave my feline assistant behind (only possible because I know she's in very capable and loving hands.) It was a long drive, but I got to stop for a visit with the lovely and talented Lisa along the way. Lisa works on large scale, nature-inspired drawings and paintings, and she's an inspiration to me in terms of tackling the project I have planned for the residency...

I feel a little bit like I'm cheating on the minis, but - the time has come - I'm going to work BIG! (How big is Big!? As tall as I can reach to hang the paper by myself (8.5 maybe?) and about 9 ft wide.) A grateful shout out goes to Fluxus artist Patrick Lichty for giving me the gigantic paper on which I'll be working (thank you, thank you, thank you!) I feel a little overwhelmed after working small (and medium) for a while, but I'll be using familiar techniques and breaking it down into smaller parts.
Day 1
Day 2 - with my home-made ruby slipper  to the right for scale

As for trying to see patterns, in thinking about the tracery piece and why I like repetition, I concluded that part of it may be that on a non-mini scale, I can't see the whole piece at once, but instead as fragments to mentally reassemble. (which is probably part of the reason I like minis and/or small discreet areas of extreme detail). It also might explain why I'm not "spontaneous" with large compositions - usually, I get an idea, then (try) to produce it that way; I don't move things around while I work. Because each thing is placed in relation to what's closest to it, a change could throw the whole thing off. Patterning and flat colors work well with this way of seeing to hold space between areas of detail because they allow me to know what's there and appreciate it without actually having to "look" at it. Hmmmm. It would also explain why I like to photograph my work each week - in a photograph made small on the screen, I can see the whole thing. So I'm going to try something new and photograph "Big" each day and let it develop that way. There is no overall plan for Big (it will be a surprise - for everyone, including me - Eep!)

Other things I've learned from attending residencies: to bring a roll of paper towels, extra (comfy) shoes, a big coffee cup (and in my case - a drop cloth for spray painting outside ;)).

In an ironic twist of fate - this entry is late because the internet was down due to a snowstorm (though I was trying to leave the now behind, it looks like I brought it with me - but I'm safe and warm in the studio, and I got some nice photos; it's all good ;)).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Work in Progress...

I made this this week! (While it may be unbecoming to say so, I really like it.) It’s part of my pre-VCCA planning (along with squeezing in some extra work and getting school projects in good order – eep!) The wings are from last week's block print and the figures are similar to the ones in “The Cathedral,” (which was in a juried show for the Southeastern College Art Conference last year). The egg came from Mary Anne. Since I spend most of my waking hours thinking about art, I’m really lucky to have jobs caring for and documenting artwork. I think of it like being an art nanny. I’m not the ‘parent,’ like the artist or owner who lives with it all the time and is responsible for it, but I come in to help take care of the art and make sure it has everything it needs, and also, love them. So, earlier this week, when I learned that this piece was broken, I was sad. It wouldn’t have been appropriate to cry, of course, but after watching the artwork it was a part of be born and grow, I also couldn’t bear to let it go in the trash either. So, I asked to take it home and repurpose it (see pictures of some of its sibling pieces here). The box is growing out of the doll and mini salon projects.

 Boxes have been on my mind for a while – this is the last piece I made this summer before moving. It contains things I picked up on my walks and/or saved. About the same time, I had a studio visit from artist Michael Oatman. He was incredibly helpful - his advice was specific and concrete, and one thing he asked was why I liked the things on the “things I like” list (which includes “boxes/containers,” as well as things like "shiny," "neon," and "body parts/organs." The list lives on my studio wall.) I didn’t really have a good answer at the time, but have been trying to figure out since then why I like to compartmentalize things. Even when I was little (and, um, still) I had little collections of things. I think it has to do with containing things so I can see them as discrete areas of detail and filter out “extraneous” stuff around them.

Along the same line, I also worked on this for the upcoming fall solo show at New River Community College(!) Even though, in theory, I’ve finished the work, in reality, I’ll probably keep refining until the show, adding things and working out the display. I like this as a way of displaying the minis - it reminds me of a 3D version of the panel piece from two weeks ago. Another practical reason to love boxes, containers (and rooms) is that they keep stuff from going everywhere. I was reminded this week that part of the reason I have a strict rule for myself about working in the studio and not all over the house is that I have a tendency to cannablize things for art (a terrible habit). The problem with seeing everything as a potential art object is seeing everything as a potential art object. (The “box” is actually a cutlery drawer, or was, up until about 5 minutes before I spray painted it). I was inspired when I found an awesome printer’s drawer at the salvage place I like. I took it down and as carrying it toward the register when I bent down to tie my shoes. When I stood up, it was gone. I was confused until I walked up to the register and saw someone hurriedly check out with it (sigh). I’m not hardcore enough to be mad, (my cutlery, on the other hand, is probably a bit let down). I also went to figure drawing.

25 minutes
5 minutes

Speaking of salvage and supplies, my favorite dollar store is closing (yes, I have a “favorite” where I like to get non-chemical cleaning supplies and supporting art materials (sandpaper, drop clothes, foam brushes, etc.)) Everything was discounted, and this is one of my favorite home fixes so far because it was very easy and very inexpensive – 6 light bulbs for less than half a cup of coffee! (Though they may not last, they appear to be the same bulbs as at the hardware store. I bought one spare just in case.) Other little home projects - I put up a special owl hook for my keys near the door. This was two fancy coffees, but I like it so much that I think it’s worth it. The brass screws came from the basement and it shows my nice orange house key and lovely yellow tape measure.



It wouldn’t be a full week if I didn’t make cookies – these turned out extra, especially well (thank you to my dear sister, the awesome baker, for the recipe and tips J). Even though I’ve been baking less often, I’ve started making full batches when I do, because it seems like there are so many people in my life I want to share cookies with (some of these were enjoyed with friends at home, but the others went to Atlanta and Afghanistan.) Sprinkling the globe with cookies - sounds like a good idea to me J.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Yes, that is an owl shaped plate  J
Sunny says: "o, it has feathers in it, it must for me -
thanks Mom, I'll guard my new toy diligently
(until something that moves comes along, that is)"

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Phase 6 -start with what you know and build from there (or practice, practice, practice), update 5

Figure drawing is back!
drawing tiny for 10 minutes

8 x 10 for 20 minutes

8 x 10 (on a  different shade of gray paper) 25 minutes

8 x 10 (on another gray paper) 20 minutes
Lots of time on paperwork this week (oy!), but I squeezed in the first figure drawing session of the spring (figure drawing - very in keeping with the theme of 'practice'). Also, I got back to work on a home for one of the dolls from a few months ago. I made the tiny working mobile of two-sided minis - patterns with a heart, a bird in a cage, a house, and a butterfly. Also, I made the house (with an oyster card as the roof), and framed the photo (used with mini #6. - on a side note, I updated parts of my artist site with some custom code (!) - and it seem to be working - thumbs up :)). The 'poster' is an add from my stash of 1946 newspaper. Last, but not least, I've been planning and organizing supplies to head to VCCA (and drinking triple echinacea tea and gathering energy to try something new ;).)

Decor-like home for the doll, complete with mini-mobile

Minis within a (semi-)mini 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

phase 6 - start with what you know and build from there (or practice, practice, practice), update 4

This past week, I put my "repurposing" skills to a new use - I repurposed a holiday. My thinking was that lots of people celebrate individualized holidays (like anniversaries), and with February being not my favorite month, I decided March 1st would be a good day to celebrate. According to the internet, March 1st was the old Roman New Year's 
I tried something new with the tulips. The red
 striations on white are for special "parrot tulips"
   that sometimes appear in Dutch still life paintings.
 I love the idea of a fusion of symbols for
flower, bird, and painting, all in cookie form! 

In anticipation, I made cookies (naturally - it wouldn't be a holiday without cookies.)  On the actual day, I went to New York to pick up the painting from the NAWA, show. To celebrate, I had a fancy coffee to accompany my smiley cookie, then went to the zoo and the Met with a fellow coffee-cookie-animal-art lover.
bonus to celebrating a personalized holiday
- flowers were in stock and discounted
 (2 stems for less than a can of soda - yay!) 
 A friend gave me a "cookie challenge." 
That's right - that's a whole row of "Grumpy Cat" cookies
(I'm practicing to bring a batch to a Virginia Grumpy Cat fan).
How I love the Met, let me count the ways:  
in tiny animals
and repetition
in bright colors
and patterns
and patterns
and last but not least,
a hybrid of a musical instrument
and figure!

more time with my favorite
Blue and Yellow Macaw

In the spirit of phase 6 and starting with the known and extending from there, I realized one thing I like about going to the Met is that, because I have a membership through a professional organization, I know I'll be back, and so don't feel rushed. I decided to apply that idea to zoo trips and splurged on a membership. The "repurposing" worked - I looked forward to the "holiday" all week, and it was a really fun day. (Point for Tempus Fugit!)

Apart from the holiday, I spent time in the studio. I finished (haha - famous last word) the panel piece and submitted it to be reviewed for a juried show. I also printed 2 new block prints as material for collages. I think the wings are really funny because they are such a bad idea. Unlike an etching (where the dark part of the image is the drawn on a prepared plate, and the experience is similar to drawing with a pen on paper), for a relief print, the white part is removed with a tool that's like a bent exacto knife. Each line has to be carved out - it is not an expedient technique for something with lots of tiny, curving, details. (Though it may have  been faster to redraw the wings, I like the almost brutal sense that I think comes through from physically carving the image out with a knife). I see this technique as relying mostly on patience and hand control (so it's a good piece for phase 6, and I think coloring the faux black velvet poster may have actually helped (!?!)).
Encountered this awesome piece in the subway tunnel - a series of sentences highlighting the misery of commuting. To me, it sees like the mass of people in transit becomes part of the piece because the way most people walk by without looking actually reinforces the meaning of the words. I like that the words stay the same, but the environment is always changing, but somehow the message and the setting agree
(Good thing I have the alibi of being a tourist so that I can take pictures in public places ;)).