Monday, May 27, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something), round up

"Neo-Gothic (Iris)" 17 x 5," mixed media on two mitered panels

I tried (twice) to paint address numbers for my house, but instead ended up making this two panel collage. The figure is Iris - the Classical goddess of the rainbow and a messenger to the gods (inspired by the rainbow, pictured last week). Also, I celebrated the end of the semester with a YA fantasy book - I listened to The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan (which, as a big classics nerd, I love!) The author re-imagines classical mythology in a contemporary setting. The series chronicles the adventures and misadventures of demi-god heroes in a way that I feel is in keeping with the spirit of the original myths.

But back to the artwork! The elongated proportions (17 x 5") and style are similar to "the refrain," but this piece has a more limited palette. For me, the frequency of a technique is inversely proportional to its potency (aspects of drawing (like line weight, color, extreme value contrast, etc.) don't stand out as much when they're used everywhere in a piece, but are more striking when used sparingly in the right context.) In this piece, the neon stands in for "light" (like a contemporary version of the way gold is used in medieval art.) I wanted it to function like a well-placed rest in a piece of music.  The color is pure, straight-out-of-the-tube-neon laid down in one, translucent coat over dry black and white. The technique allows the modeling to show through the unmixed color (it's a favorite method of the 19th century French painter Ingres - this black and white "like" is in the Met, and another, full color version is in the Louver - too bad he didn't have any neon paint available, no? ;) )

It feels like I've been working on phase 7 for a while, maybe because the idea of "notice patterns, then do something" overlaps closely with the concept of the whole Tempus Fugit project.  (Also, while I really like lists, I usually stick to a maximum of 5 to 7 items per list.)  Maybe one of the big patterns in terms of time/space management is that I'm always in a rush. 'Tempus Fugit,' is usually translated "time flies." The "flies" is not winged-creature-like flight, but taking flight on the battlefield, so I think of it more as: "time slips away." I'm in a rush because I feel like there will never be enough to see and make all the art-things I'd like to see and make. Even though I've been trying to manage space and time to reflect art-devotion for this project, I'm finding that it's kind of like a drawing, where I can have an idea for the overall composition, but can only refine one area at a time. For the first half of the project, most of the focus has been on space (picking a location, moving there, and finding and setting up (my first ever!) long-term studio.) Still much work to be done, but I think I'm ready to shift the focus from space to time.

The first "time mission:" I want to spend a little time going back over the old phases of the project before going on to new ones. I don't plan to stop making new art (since I think by making pictures, then analyzing them), but I want to make sure I devote enough time to caring for artwork that already exists (for example - I used one of the figure drawings from two weeks ago as the basis for Iris.) Some upcoming space/time challenges for existing work - figuring out how to store "Lacrimae Rerum," framing the black scroll work piece in a way that is aesthetically/conceptually pleasing, but durable and light enough to ship to North Carolina (where it's going to be included in the Southeastern College Art Conference juried exhibition next fall - Yay!!), and developing a system for putting together and displaying "Fortuna" and other life-size collages in the studio.

Much to do, but overall - thumbs up for phase 7 and onward (backward?)!
close-up of a 2 x 2.5 inch section

Monday, May 20, 2013

Still working on Phase 7...

After the rain, another beautiful week in Hudson                  (c)Tatiana Klacsmann 2013
Last week I went to "The Last Word," the culmination of a project after my own heart, a consumng and labor-intensive endeavor based on devotion. Phillip Patterson copied the entire King James bible by hand, working on it for up to 14 hours a day, over the course of 4 years. Before writing the final two lines, Phillip talked about the project and described getting up every day wanting to work on it. I really admire his dedication and the idea of thinking and learning through doing and making (more in the Huffington Post).

Seeing the text reminded me of a passage, along the lines of: 'to one who has, more will be given, but for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.' (This passage has been bothering me enough that I looked it up in Latin and confirmed translation.) I think it stuck out to me because it seems so antithetical to the idea of charity, but examining it closely, the reversal from "has nothing" to "taken away" occurs without any action in between - so I've been thinking that maybe it's not a literal change in possession, but instead, a change in perception (ah - there it is - I'll bring it back to the art, promise ;) !). So I think maybe it's not about having or not having in a material sense, but the ability to recognize the good things in one's life. Why do I think of this as art-relevant? - Because it relates to sight and the power of perception/vision, and I'm working on another blindfolded figure. Also, I found these in the basement excavations (dead spider attached to the frame and all!), and NAWA's theme for upcoming programming is 'vision' (excellent!) It seems like the theme of sight is everywhere I look (;))

Hearing Phillip talk about waking up everyday wanting to write got me thinking about art-making. It's as if my mind is a computer and part of the processor is dedicated to keeping the 'artmaking' program operating at all times (even as a background program while I have other windows open.) It uses up a lot of RAM and, in my case, I think it's a systems file.  

This came back home recently (I had submitted it for a juried show in Germany opening this week. It wasn't selected this time, but it's a cool project: Anonymous Drawings, promoting an appreciation of drawing based on engagement and enjoyment). Taking a second look at this drawing, a few observations: (1) I can do a better job with the matting/frame (even given the restrictions of international mailing). (2) I made the words by stamping the individual letters, so I could have made any word, but I chose "and," then repeated it over and over and over so that it takes up all the negative space, blocking out the air. It's red as if for urgent for attention while the figure is faded (and actually erased and wiped out multiple times). In terms of seeing patterns - ummmm - uh oh! I tend to prefer "and" decisions over "or" ones (for example, I love mixed media and trained in the generalized "visual arts," rather than a specific discipline.) As much as I love incorporating lots of media and techniques, I'm reminded of the simile of the computer - it only has so much processing power and having too many big programs open at the same time makes the whole thing freeze and crash (might be time to close a few windows ;)).

I think this is funny - I didn't plan it, but the piece is
made of tiny stripes in red and blue, and I'm dressed to match!  
Onward to the opening! Art Biologic opened this week. I had worked on the back of this piece - painting it neon and adding gold balls so that it stands off the wall about 2 inches and is surrounded by a subtle, neon glow from the reflection of the paint against the white wall. I never got a chance to hang it at home, so I was super excited to see it in the gallery and it worked!

 Phase 7 has been productive - in looking at the house as a parallel to the "things I like" list, I realized that I have playing cards or references to them in almost every room (not that surprising, since they have a history as small, medieval prints, and "games/toys/models" appears on the  list.) (On a funny side note, I also noticed that, I have a goal for this year to travel to a specific art-filled place, and there are symbols, maps, or photos of it in every room too, haha). I'm still working on a way to apply this information to the latest works, so I decided to go back to working small for a little bit to try to learn through doing. In terms of narrowing the focus (more 'or' and less 'and' ;)). I think I may want to work in mostly red, black, blue and gold for a while (the colors typical of Late Gothic art, particularly in France during the second quarter of 14th century to early 15th century)  Of course, I will probably add some neon, safety orange (possibly yellow too) into the mix, keeping it lively ;) )
This started out as a panel from the hardware store that goes
next to the door for address numbers
Historic Examples
manuscript - the Bedford Book of Hours in the British Library
stained glass - Notre Dame in Semur-en-Auxois, France
sculpture -a reliquary shrine by Jean de Touyl, a mixed media wonder! I think it may be time for a "field trip" to the Cloisters to see this in person!

In terms of following through with existing work, I also re-photographed these (and added the monkey with an orange).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something)

 flowers -  from the house and yard
vase - archaeological remnant found by mining the basement
plastic bug - from the jar of plastic bugs (yes)
watch, broken - canaballized from another art work (originally picked up off the sidewalk)
fruit - courtesy of the fruit bowl
fabric - part of an 80's dress (complete with spakles and shoulder pads) picked up at a yard sale for less than a fancy cup of coffee - thumbs up))
the parrot and skull? - some of this week's new drawings ;)

Is it wrong that I find this funny?  

And there was figure drawing too :)
10 minutes
20 minutes
30 minutes

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something)

 (kitty thought: “O that crazy human of mine.”) 

More adventures in giant collaging this past week! This is Fortuna (she doesn’t have wings yet - soon ;)) I didn’t have a piece of art paper big enough for the skirt, so I found this map of Georgia in the car. My feline assistant had a great time “helping” move the pieces of paper around the studio. She also enjoyed watching me climb up on a ladder and hold the camera to the ceiling. I’m trying to put it together in a way that matches with what it is – using different pieces of paper for each material and layering them to reflect their positions in space (the bird on top of the glove on top of the sleeve on top of the skin).  

Some Influences for this work:
New York last week
Botticelli, Fortitude,1470
tempera on panel
Uffizi, Florence
Credi, Venusc. ca.1490
tempera on panel
 Uffizi, Florence

I’ve also been giving some thought to the back and how to attach the pieces in the long term. I delivered “Open Hearted” to Limner Gallery this week (J!) for the upcoming show (opening May 18th). I rephotographed the piece and finalized the back/hanging support. It’s neon with hand-written Gothic script and sits on 4 gold balls in the corners so that the piece floats about 2 inches off the wall and is surrounded by a neon halo. This effect can’t be seen in the photo, but I wanted to give viewers who see the work in person a little something extra – an affect of space, light, and reflection that the digital reproduction can’t offer (a new development in my quest to  understand/contrast/reconcile?  human vs. mechanical reproduction of imagery.)


Another art adventure this past week – I visited Zea Mays Printmaking for the first time. I’ve been researching less toxic and more environmentally friendly printmaking techniques for about a year now (which definitely falls under the heading of “things take longer than I anticipate” ;)). In that research though, I came across this gem of a studio. I’m a visual learner (surprise!), so even though online information is generously provided, I had a feeling that if I could see the techniques demonstrated, ask questions, and participate, the information would “stick” better.  I signed up for a lesson with an expert, director Liz Chalfin. I knew it was the right place immediately - the studio is bright, clean, and smelled pleasantly of food (soy sauce and vegetable oil are used in the process), instead of any chemical associated with a canister, meter, or biohazard label. Love, love, love!  I worked on two etching plates – one based on the parrot experiment and another based on last weeks falcon drawing. Learning the process in two phases (1) plate preparation, ground, drawing (2) etching, inking, proofing, currently, I’m in the drawing stage of phase 1, but will post the results when printed J

On the home front - I did a little gardening (and some cookie baking.) My "garden" is tiny - but colorful, and the cookies were a present for volunteers who helped with collections care at a local museum (baking to help protect and care for art - thumbs up!!) A funny side affect of this time/space management art project on my daily life - I decided to plant an apple tree (beautiful and a good investment because apples would rank very high on an edible "things I like" list). I do not have a van or truck, but after transporting the 9 ft roll of Lacrimae Rerum from Virginia to New York, moving an 8ft tree was a piece-o-(cookie)cake. Evidence of the transformative power of art!