Sunday, April 28, 2013

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


Is this new paper on the floor?
It’s been a while since I posted a home project – so I thought I'd start with this mini-project. I’ve been giving more thought to the idea that art is a good motivator for me and trying to use that as a spring board to try to learn some new digital skills. This lamp was in the house when I moved in (I extracted the "Before" photo from a digital movie – thumbs up for a new skill there J). I used masking, primer, and neon spray paint to give it a little update. I like the way it’s now bright and cheery, and the solid color helps the 3D surface decoration stand out. The contrast of the shiny, curvalinear base vs. the matte, structural shade is also nice. (The vase and curtains were in the house too. The flowers are 2 for $1(!) at the grocery store, and the table is my best ever off-the curb find (+ a lot of tlc). The chair is a past spray paint project). I may still paint the foot silver (haven’t decided yet). It's not a Grecian urn, true, but I like that it has a history with the house that pre-dates me. In terms of phase 7 and seeing patterns – I think I may be a little bit like my feline assistant, who rubs her face on everything new that comes into “her” house, in that I want to invest time and energy in things that are close to me as a way to “ensoul/artify” them. This may sound weird – but wait – I have some historic support ;).

I titled “Big Collage” this week (a close up is going to be on a post card at Sketch in Hudson J). I decided to name it “Lacrimae Rerum.” It’s Latin (which I know could be a little off-putting, but…) there's a special reason connected with the meaning for keeping the original text. The phrase comes from one of my favorite poems (after the Metamorphosis), the Aenied. Aeneas is contemplating art(!) He looks at a wall painting of the Trojan War and  remarks that here in the scene are the “tears of things/tears for things.” In Latin, the phrase is ambiguous and can mean both the human tears for the way things are, but also tears of the things themselves - as if the artwork expresses sympathy for mankind. 

I think it's a good fit for the iconography and ideas in the big collage. The idea of an expectation of empathy from art is especially meaningful to me right now because in some of my reading, I came across a question (from Theodore Adorno) of whether art and engagement with beauty are offensive in light of tragedy. I keep coming back to this because I can't decide what I think - on the one hand, I can appreciate a view that making art (or beautifying a lamp) could be seen as especially useless or maybe even disrespectful in light of terrible things, like recent events of these past few weeks on a global and national level and closer to home. On the other hand, I don't see how not trying to bring out beauty in one’s surroundings could make tragic situations better. Hmmmm. I don’t know (going to have to keep thinking on that one), but I do think the expectation that art be responsive to tragedy is interesting. It seems like having this expectation of art is indirect evidence of the existence of a soul. It also supports the view that art is special and different from other things (or to look at it another way - one doesn't expect a washing machine to stop working when bad things happen in the world; so if this expectation exists for art, it must not fall under the heading of "thing" in quite the same way that a washing machine does. hmmmmm)

Pieces for a new life-sized collage

late 14th century column from
Spain in Gallery 456 in
The Metropolitan Museum
Now back to the fun stuff ;)

I had a lot of art-adventures this week. I'm working toward a new life sized collage (yay!), and did some research for it at one of my happy places – the Met, where I saw these gems. I also attended my first gathering as a member of the National Association of Women Artists (thumbs up!), and saw a wonderful exhibition of new works by Nene Humphrey at Lesley Heller Workspace (up until May 24th - recommend!).

Great Indian Fruit Bat, ca. 1777–82
Circle of Bhawani Das
India (Calcutta)
Pencil, ink, and watercolors on paper
I saw so many amazing artworks, old and new this week; but it's nearing the end of the semester, and I've been trying to cram in a lot of reading. One text in particular seems to say that a blending of art and the world leads to an erasure of art. I got to thinking about the art I encountered this week and also about seeing the raptor last week on a walk after drawing them in the studio, and realized that I couldn’t disagree more. Here's an excerpt from my adventures this week, to show why, to me, it seems like a blending of art and the world doesn’t make art disappear, it makes the world re-appear :)

From a walk the next day

Nene Humphrey, Braiding Round , 2012
Victorian Mourning Braids made with wire
3 feet in diameter
at Lesley Heller Workspace until May 24th

Monday, April 22, 2013

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

So, speaking of patterns...
I added the patterned background to this piece from last week as well as copper/gold tones to the eye. As if conjured, I came across this on my walk (and am kicking myself for not having brought a camera with a zoom - doh!) But I feel incredibly lucky to be close to conservation areas where I can see birds in their natural habitats (and super excited that its warm enough for me to spend time outside again!)
In other news - the panel piece from February is going to be in a show in Hudson, NY: Art Biologic at Limner Gallery(!!) Exhibition info and online gallery: As part of phase 6 (start with what you know and build from there), I limited my focus for juried exhibition applications to galleries within a 100 mile radius (unless there was an existing connection or special reason to apply.) It looks like that was a good decision - I've been to Limner Gallery many times and like the work that's shown there. Transporting this piece will be no problem, and I'll be able to invite friends and attend the opening. Overall, I feel like I can be more engaged because the show is close by, and I'm really looking forward to sharing this piece (live). 

I've continued with spring cleaning of the studio, and it's been a
great opportunity to look for patterns. For example, I noticed that I really like being able to see my supplies if they come in different colors (pens, pencils, paint); otherwise, I prefer them contained (canvas, white paper, graphite pencils, charcoal). I got some open bins/ shelving (and added casters :)) for the colorful supplies and put the rest in the closet.

While the studio was all nice and clean, I had a studio visit. I think it went really well - lots of good ideas! I can't wait to try a few new things (though right now I'm trying to be disciplined and finish up an on-going (non-art) project before I dive in.)

O the joy of having a closet in the studio!!
It's hard for me to believe I've been living in the owl house for 6 months now. It's really starting to feel like home. I've continued with spring cleaning beyond the studio as well, and one funny thing in the spirit of phase 7 has been looking at the house in terms of the "things I like" list (it's a real list that usually lives in the studio). Even though the list was created in reference to art-making, it corresponds closely to a lot of my home decisons (for example, grey+ is on the list as one of my favorite pallettes, and all the paint for the walls are shades of white and gray; repeating patters are on the list, and I've added little moments of repeating patterns throughout the house; plants, check (in every room); adorable creatures - the feline assistant has that one covered.) Noticing things that were absent from the list is giving  me ideas of ways to improve the space (after it's clean).

One thing I've been thinking about in terms of space/time management as I clean is that, in general, things take longer than I expect. It's taken me a year to work up to working big. I've been studying to make an animation. I'm not sure exactly how long I thought the research phase would take (it's not the first one I've ever made, but it's been a long time). Even though I've decided on some of the iconography and discovered that I can use a computer program I know well, I've barely scratched the surface. On the other hand, making the big collage in under two weeks borders the limits of  what I would have thought possible.  I think the pattern here might have more to do with energy and focus than time per se.  When I focus all my energy in one direction, things go quickly, but when I have energy going in too many directions at once, I end up feeling like a gold fish whose in a plastic bag is springing leaks like a strainer (coincidence that there's a floundering gold fish on the forest floor in Big Collage?) Also, art-making/care is a huge motivating factor. Things I wouldn't normally enjoy (like sitting at a desk and learning new computer skills) become ok if there is art at the end. Not sure where I'm going with this one - I guess seeing a pattern is only half the battle ...
packed and ready to be re-installed

re-installed - everything made the trip
without damage (thumbs up!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something)

Happy Tax Day (haha?) It's been a little bit of a transition coming back to Earth after the 'art-heaven' of VCCA. Some good news - Big Collage fits on my wall at home - with about an inch to spare on either side! This is great because I can put it back up and continue to work on it (or at least think about it and be confident that it's finished before putting it away.)

to be cut out for collage
Making Big Collage at VCCA was really helpful in terms of pushing the limits of my art-productivity. In terms of Phase 7 - seeing patterns (and doing something about it), I think this piecemeal way of building a big thing out of little things and looking at them on the screen as I go to make changes was a good fit for me. I've started to put this into practice at home, and this week I made these - the left one 18 x 24" and is for a collage; the right one is a finished drawing on gray paper for a friend, 8.5 x 11").

finished drawing for a friend
Making Big Collage inspired me to try to focus and be more ambitious in art-making at home.

I gave it my all and, on the one hand, it seems like I produced these really quickly. On the other hand, I've been trying to sort and organize my photos from the past 6 months (digital spring cleaning.) Grouping like photos and assigning any group for more than 10 its own folder (then backing up and deleting unnecessaries) has helped me see patterns of what I notice/see.

Of course, there's a folder for "cookies" and one for "cute kitty photos," and "home improvement," but when it comes to birds, I was a little surprised. I needed sub-folders ("owls," "taxidermy", "wing anatomy," etc.) In total, there are more than 200 bird photos from the last 6 months. I don't feel like I took quite that many, but on the other hand, I see birds everywhere (at the jobs, on walks, in art), and there have been a few magical "art field trips"(to the zoo (x2) and the natural history museum). It leaves me wondering if ambitious work (for some) requires a degree of artistic obsession or if the tendency to see/notice develops out of making the artwork? Hmmmmm.

Other good art-news this week - I was accepted as a member of the National Association of Women Artists! (:D)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Final review - VCCA

"Big Collage" - a life-sized, multi-piece, mixed media  assemblage :)
Back home again from VCCA after a stop in Georgia and reunited with my feline assistant (who is purring as I type this and providing an alternative to the keyboard for where to rest my hand :)). I am so happy that I had a chance to go to VCCA, meet other artists and writers, and work Big! In labeling the parts and mapping them to pack up, it came to light that Big has 45 parts! Hahaha - that's like almost a year's worth of minis in 10 working days (13 days at VCCA - 2 days (1 each for setting up and taking down) - 1 day for rest)! Though I'm happy to have had the chance to make the Big Collage, packing it up was a little sad, because I'm not sure when I'll see this one assembled again (though I was able to transport it - it fit in the car - barely). On the other hand, while driving, I had a few ideas of ways to make the next ones even bigger (imagine me laughing like a mad scientist - whahahahaha).  But for now, rest.
some parts, prepared for storage

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

VCCA - the big reveal