Sunday, February 24, 2013

Phase 6 - start with what you know and build from there (or practice, practice, practice), update 3

I have some good news! Just when I was thinking “I really love Hudson, and I am so happy that I moved here, but I'm not sure that February is my favorite." I got an email. I had applied for a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in the fall (knowing myself well enough to suspect when I moved, that art time somewhere warmer would be like manna right about now ;)). I had been on the waiting list, but there was a cancellation, and I’m going to Virginia!! It is an amazing gift to be able to go as I am and spend some time focusing exclusively on art! I am so, so excited (I’d like to pretend I didn’t jump up and down and dance around when I got the email like a tween girl receiving Bieber tickets - but I did).  I have some time to prepare, so my goal is to plan for and organize a  Tempus Fugit sub-project so that I can hit the ground running when I get there.

In terms of art, this week I concentrated on the faux black velvet poster and finished it. I have to say, I find it intriguingly hideous, and it may end up on living on the back of my bedroom door. I broke one of my own rules with this though and worked on it outside the studio. I think the photos show exactly why I have a policy against that.
Because of the pens and markers, not the kitty 

napping is a-ok with me
It was fun, and I developed patterns within 
patterns. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I’d been dreaming of drawing, so in that sense – it worked! I now think of art 24/7 and dream in tiny, neon lines. On the other hand, it absorbed the time I otherwise would have put toward the block print (not good). I’ve been thinking, I like making these, and it's good practice, but I wonder if there's a way to incorporate them into my day without diverting so much studio time and in a way that doesn’t lead to pens and markers everywhere (apart from my just being neater with them while I work - I've given up the ghost on that one). One idea I had was getting a smaller size (or maybe photocopying to a smaller size - that way I could make multiples on better paper by manually loading the copier with art paper.) I was thinking of only using one color. That might be a fun challenge to see how many shades I can get out of one color just by varying the mark/pattern. Using black and maybe just a little color, the result may look like grisaille stained glass. The time issue remains (as yet) unresolved though, hmmmm. 

White ground lekythoi by the Achilles Painter
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Other art activities - about a week ago, I visited the Met (so much to see!) It was extra-special because I got to visit with a favorite professor (who helped inspire my love of Medieval Art and taught me one of my favorite art words - muldenfaltenstil :)) We looked at Greek vases together. I love Greek vases (even beyond my normal level of art-enthusiasm.) I wrote a thesis on winged figures and had to take a time out to refocus when I realized over half my examples were Greek vases (and I was discussing a time period from the Classical era through the Renaissance - oops). I particularly like this type - white ground lekythoi, and, as nerdy as it is, I have a favorite painter, the Achilles Painter. There are many things I like about these vessels (they're funerary, and, to me, they convey a quiet pathos in scenes of a final farewell between the living and the dead.) But one thing I hadn't thought about was the fact that the figurative sections are bordered by repeating patterns. I never made the connection before, but now I wonder if the mixture of figures and patterning had more of an influence than I realized (especially looking back at the early stages of the tracery piece, or even the recent panel piece from 2 weeks ago, and the way the figure is left open like those on these vases. Hmmmm. In terms of phase 6, I wonder if it's possible to work from what one knows without realizing it? Is it always the case and just a matter of cultivating awareness? Maybe practice gives time for movement of an idea from the subconscious to the conscious? Hmmmmmm.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Phase 6 - start with what you know and build from there (or practice, practice, practice), update 2

I went to the NAWA opening! I forgot my camera (actually, I remembered the camera but had conscientiously put the battery in the charger the night before...the best laid plans, ha! Thank you to Austin for saving the day!) On a more thoughtful note, though forgetting the battery was no disaster, it made me realize how challenging it is for me to leave the house right now, and I've been rethinking my goals for the summer. Usually, I apply for grants/fellowships for summer art programs (I try to learn/perfect a technical skill each summer), but this year, I maybe I'll stay home, work, and try to take some day trips or attend a local workshop.

drawing on block
Speaking of technical skills I've been wanting to make etchings. While I know how in theory, in practice, it involves some specialized materials (some of them toxic/dangerous); so, I've been thinking through carefully how best to approach. In keeping with phase 6, I'm starting with relief prints to get the tiny press up and running. I joined the local artist association recently, and they have a juried show coming up for collage. I'd like to enter - I love collage (like the Queen of Hearts last week), and for this, I'm planning to cut out the printed wings (...stay tuned :)).

in process
Also, in terms of practice, I got this (my feline assistant has already claimed it). Yes, it's a faux-black velvet, color-your-own poster. Now, one might think: "No, Tatiana, even on clearance at the big box store we love to hate, this was not a good purchase." But - I have an idea (uh oh :)). In a lot of my "real" work, I generate patterns. I draw on patterns I've seen around me or in books, but I got to thinking - in terms of practice - I bet I could use drawing to learn patterns better, hmmmm. So the goal here, in keeping with phase 6, is not necessarily a lovely, neon poster (or new kitty napping spot), but to practice drawing patterns so that they become part of my beyond-conscious vocabulary so that they come more easily to my "real" work. hmmmmm - we'll see.

(feline assistant says: "I'm glad you have come to see this situation the right way,
that is, my way."

in process

I also worked on the kitchen. It's been on my "to do" board for a while. In terms of practice and habits, I'm not exactly sure how many times I've moved in the last decade or so (I get confused about what "counts"), but, on average, more than once a year, about every 9 months. So, I have some practice at "homeyness-ifying" very quickly, but not so much at making slower, longer-term decisions. After getting some help to take down the cabinets, move the fridge, and instal some track lighting in November, I haven't done much. It was too overwhelming; so, instead of going task by task, I decided, to go with phase 6 and use a method I sometimes use for painting and music. I started in one spot (the left corner, where I stand to make breakfast each morning) and am working around the room, left to right, finishing each spot before going on to the next. It's probably a little weird to just paint one cabinet or half a window frame, but it's getting done, and I don't really mind having lots of paint cans open or cleaning extra brushes. 

That was the floor - sadness!
I'm especially proud of the floor - since "the big flood" this fall, I've been gradually peeling back 5 layers of flooring. Despite my efforts, the last layer is tarred down, and I'm having trouble getting it out near the cabinets. I've given it some thought and have decided to try something else (that doesn't depend on strength, but uses paint instead ;)) - I'm  faux-finishing the floor. The right side is painted wood; the left side is linoleum (from the 1940's! visible on the upper left); my faux-wood finish of the linoleum can be seen on the lower left. I'll need my super-sanding skills to join the seam, but I think it is turning out surprisingly well (fingers crossed). Other "cheats" in the kitchen - the stainless steel back splash is actually contact paper on poster board - I'd feel worse about that if it weren't totally functional :)) I spray-painted the outlet cover silver and covered the refrigerator cord in silver tape.) The shelf came with me; the jars and handles are from the dollar store/ big box store, and the curtains and plant were on final clearance. (I  stalked the curtains a little knowing they'd be discounted - a fancy coffee and a half! (pats self on back :)))

faux-finishing experiment

Sunday, February 10, 2013

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

with my model heart
O my - lots of snow and lots of art this week. When it comes to snow, I'm like a cat (watching from the window is fine, but I don't like having to touch it;) so, over the weekend, I stayed inside and worked on phase 6.

I've been thinking about the purpose of phase 6 (and Tempus Fugit in general), particularly in terms of forming habits. I just listened (and re-listened) to "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, and "practice" and "habit" seem pretty closely linked to me.  I've been wondering if these year-long projects (starting with Power in Precision) are related to habit-formation, since they are based on repetition through time. From this perspective, Precision could be about establishing the habit of continuous art-making, and the small scale of the the works allowed the project to be less intimidating and more practical. Once the habit of continuous art-making was established, other factors (like the scale or working time) could be expanded. Looked at from that perspective, maybe Tempus Fugit is a way of testing different time/space arrangements in order to reposition the habit of art-making so that it has a more prominent role. Hmmmm.

More specific to phase 6, when it came to "starting with what I know" - the answer was clear - minis! I made this tiny relief print of a heart this week because, while I liked the card I started at craft night last week, I felt like it needed more anatomically correct hearts in the corners and a toned background.

I know some of you have been wondering where the quarter went,
so I thought I'd bring it back for old times sake ;)
Due to my interest in the existence of the soul, I have a "thing" for hearts (and butterflies, and birds, and gold-paint, and ghosts (etc.).) It may also be a little Valentinesdayness creeping in, working with these this week at davistudio, and a request from a friend for an artwork, rhythmic and lyrical, that inspired me to keep going with the theme. I made this piece relating to my favorite topics of the soul and mechanical vs. human repetition

The grid came straight from working on the parrots, which are (finally!) finished. I find this piece very funny and humbling. I probably looked at the parrot live for about 20 minutes, and have since spent hours trying to draw it.  I needed all 9 attempts (practice, practice, practice). There's an especially big jump between parrot 5 (in the middle) and parrot 6 (right of center) - that's where I made the tiny parrot in the mini salon. I admit I was frustrated and disappointed after parrot 5, so I went back to the mini scale (the principle for phase 6 actually works - what-huh!?!) Now that I've practiced, I feel ready to etch the parrot (despite not having the necessary materials or set up - details, details, haha).

I also finished this stage of the piece on wood. As the detail photos show, there are lots and lots of tiny parallel lines in different shades of blue ink between the wood grain, which I emphasized in gold.  There's only one little spot that got smudged - I had some feline assistance with that (ahem).
I'm sure she feels really guilty about it deep down,
deep, deep down...
deep, deep, deep down...

On the topic of hearts - though I usually don't celebrate Valentine's Day, this year, I decided that it's an excellent excuse to bake, decorate, and give cookies.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Phase 6 – start with what you know and build from there (or practice, practice, practice), intro

Phase 6 was inspired by an unexpected opportunity I had this week to test out some framing on Miniature #39, which will be in the “Open Small Works”exhibition at the National Association of Women in the Arts Gallery in New York beginning Feb. 6th. I’ve been wanting to increase my woodcraft skills (though this wasn't quite the scenario I had in mind - I made 3 trips to local framers before giving up). While there were other options, I decided that framing is becoming an important element of the work (like in the carnival piece, the black scroll work piece, and the mini salon). Making the frame would give me a chance offer more of a transition between the internal space artwork and the space of the viewer; so, I gave it my best shot (I’ve decided to call this style “Baroque Minimalism” (haha)). I haven’t done much carpentry due to my (reasonable) fear power tools, but I tried to put to use the skills I already have - sanding, applying spray coats evenly, and identifying things that have "repurposing" potential (the piece at the bottom is a part for chair railing from the hardware store; it cost less than a can of soda.) Now that I’ve built a frame (and it wasn’t too scary), hopefully I'll improve with practice.

Speaking of practice, and in keeping with phase 6, I also re-worked this piece this week. I wasn't happy with it, but had sort of forgotten about it until a friend mentioned the temptation to rely on momentum to prop up less-than-ideal technique. When I started this piece, I was so excited to be using the letters in the background that I neglected the figure a bit, but I’ve practiced since the first go round (on the black scroll work piece), so I gave it another shot. I also have some new tools - I cut the edges with patterning scissors - a good tool for me to connect manual activity with a technologically assisted way of reproducing a pattern.

Other projects in the works – I mentioned last week wanting to limit my focus geographically, and I tried putting that into practice -  made this card at a local crafts night, joined the local arts association, and applied for some regional fellowships.

I also paid a visit to one of my favorite places - the Met. (Earlier this winter I wrote an article stemming from my love of the Met's late nights - Friday and Saturday). This time, there were exhibitions on both winged figures and birds (My heart be still!) - and speaking of hearts – I continued working on the new piece on panel (it’s got a ways to go, but here are some snippets).

It’s been a while since I posted about a home project, so I included a recent mini-project – covering the step stool with pretty contact paper that was in the house when I moved in. I’m still thinking through the issue of what qualifies as a “waste of time”? I worked on this early Saturday morning, when social expectations for productivity are low, and I was listening to an audiobook for school while worked on it. Still, it's hard to justify cheerying a step stool (and harder still to justify continuing to think about it afterwards); on the other hand, it's something I see every day, and I’d much rather see little flowers than black plastic…;)
Myƍchin Munesuke (Japanese, Edo period, 1688–1735)
  Date: late 17th–early 18th century, Accession Number: 13.112.20
from the Metropolitan Museum's exhibition "Birds in the Art of Japan,"