Monday, May 26, 2014

phase 3 redux - develop thoughtful algorithms

This week - working on elements for vanitas still lifes. 

mixed media, life-sized

cut out and photographed with black velvet in the background

I was asked to participate in an upcoming still life show at Thompson Giroux Gallery next month. I love still life, and I'm excited to be part of the show!...I also need about 3 new paintings, so I instituted the emergency schedule and have been at work on these by 6 am most days. That should help, but in addition to the quantity of time, I'm testing a tempus fugit project theory concerning the quality of that time. In the spirit of phase 3 and designing thoughtful algorithms, I'm trying to build it the smart way. 

Tempus Fugit Project algorithm:

1) don't panic; it's not life or death (haha - since these are memento mori, that's a little funny, right?) 
2) review information and identify relevant criteria (these need to be painted still lifes, medium to large scale.)
3) obtain the necessary materials (the paper is arches oil paper, and I was lucky to find enough of it locally at sketch :). The paint is golden high flow acrylic.)
4) put away unnecessary stuff in studio/ studio clean. (on-going)
5) determine subjects and research as necessary. I studied Dutch and Spanish 17th century still lifes for a project last spring, so I feel ready, but I also looked at some of my favorites online.
6) collect and/or photograph objects.The skulls and flowers come from my house, but other things, like a baroque candlestick, for example, I photographed last week on my field trip to St. John the Divine. I'm still searching for a good shell...

The algorithm was helpful in getting started, but I'm also looked at the way I'm painting the still lifes. I want to make them in a way that shows how I see them. I see still lifes object by object, so instead of gathering everything together and  developing the whole painting in stages, I'm going to paint it object by object, finishing one thing, then moving to the next. So I listed the elements critical to a vanitas still life (skulls, flowers, fruit, then a selection of candlestick, shell, shiny object). I'm working on similar objects at the same time in order of importance (skulls, then flowers, them fruit, etc.)  

I think this is a good approach for me because it allows me to "batch" similar objects. It's more interesting for me because I get to examine the variations in two objects of the same type and appreciating the tiny differences between them. Then, I cut them out. When I have enough objects, I'll arrange them. I can photograph, look at the compositions on the little screen, adjust, repeat until I have a composition that I'm happy with. Then go back in with the shadows and reflected lights.

There's another aspect of this experiment - both the material (golden high flow acrylic) and the support (arches oil painting paper) are relatively new, becoming available in the last few years. I love new materials :) 


the cut out sections of the paper are from the skulls

This is about 6 layers in - charcoal, gel medium, grey pencil,/white pencil, black acrylic, white and grey ink, color pencil

This is in the "gray +" phase, before I start applying thin layers of color paint.
(I don't keep track of the number of layers of paint, but for the skulls I used 4 pigments - black, white, yellow and green. For me, that's the minimum for an object that's in color (balck, white, warm tone, cool tone.) There are probably about 8 - 12 layers, with some areas being more dense than others.
 The flowers are a collection of objects that combine to make a unit
 (each blossom and leave is like a distinct object), so it will have many more layers of paint. (eep.)
a nice droplet :)
The bouquet on the right is from my yard, but I didn't have any roses blooming yet,
so I "needed" to get myself a rose ;)
Feline Assistant Jr. approves -
 doesn't she look like an adorable, feline Ferdinand?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Books, Prints, Cathedral and more

A very busy week:

my finished book :)
  final session of Pop-up case book class at
   the Art School of Columbia County !
Class Picture -  Pop-up Case Books, Spring 2014
class  - me,  Tom McGill, Mary Young and Beth Thielen (instructor)
my second book

Used the new book-making techniques to assemble the bunny collages

I made a visit to St. John the Divine in New York
Xu Bing's giant phoenix sculptures
I missed seeing these at Mass MOCA, so I when I heard they were being reinstalled
in the cathedral,  I thought - field trip!
 Added bonuses!
Keith Harng altar piece surrounded by
grisaille stained glass (!)
Winged figure with giraffes  (!?!) - that's a new one for me

getting ready for round 2 of medallic engraving in June

The Philosophia needs a top - 3 possibilities

I kept working on this - especially on the interaction of the fingers, book, sleeve and leg.

Attended a print workshop at Zea Mays on pronto plate printmaking with Nancy Diessner.
practicing for the upcoming vanitas still lifes

This workshop was a fortuitous last minute addition. I was really happy with the photopolymer class I took with Nancy two weeks ago. Photopolymer is a good solution to some of the issues I was working out, but, after learning more, I realized that there were actually several distinct issues and that I really wanted to learn pronto plate printmaking too, a non-toxic lithography on polyester plate. A spot opened up at the last minute and voila!
I redrew a favorite from etching

One can never have too many parrots

Para -art news:

Openings in New York City and Hudson:
Me, once again dressing not unlike my work
(red pattern shirt, big collar, hat)

"Truppe Fledermaus and The Carnival at the End of the World" by Kahn and Selesnick at Yancey Richardson, NYC
Celebratory visit to the plant store
I looooove seeing all the pretty colors...

...but all I want to keep are shades of black
(not unlike my wardrobe actually)

Feline Assistant Jr. helping in the studio
(practicing to be a mime :P )

Feline Assistant #1 helping with laundry

Monday, May 12, 2014

phase 3 redux - develop thoughtful algorithms

Continued working on the Sophia
- now she has a neck, but no left foot.

the outline of the dress is chalk directly on the wall, and the black bands are
ribbon and tape. I especially like the cameo which is a tiny print, cut out and
suspended on gold embroidery thread.

I also made this this week for an upcoming show
It's a 12 x 12 collage of "Il Matta" (the fool),
which is actually my card in the tarot deck, as opposed La Papessa,
the card that relates most closely to the installation piece, Sophia at the top

It's a sculpture in low relief, the button and one of the bells are real so 
that if people walk by too quickly or too close, it jingles 
(which I find hysterical). 

The buildings are from these blocks that I carved for Mini #47 in 2012.
It's sort of funny because these pre-date my discovery of the Nuremberg Chronicles.
that I've literally had under my pillow for the last 3 weeks (love, love, love).
On the one hand, I probably like the book because it reminds me of  artwork;
on the other hand, seeing the book motivates new artwork,
so it both reminds and inspires at the same time (weird).   

Monday, May 5, 2014

phase 3 redux - develop thoughtful algorithms

I painted the wall red and bound all the little angels and demons together. Thinking of preparing the wall as an algorithm and having learned from painting Spes's blue wall, this time I got matte paint, patched all the holes, and primed, before painting (funny how that leads to a better result ;)).

In a further attempt to build it the smart way instead of the not as smart way, I made the red rectangle the size of a standard hollow core door (36 x 84"), so that if I ever need to install this somewhere and can't paint the wall, I can mount it to a painted door instead (and since hollow-core doors are readily available, I wouldn't need to ship them, I can prepare them on site).

I used some of the new book-making techniques I've been learning to affix the side prints to one another. In my quest to eliminate the need for glue, I used brads. They accordion down into a 10 x 7.5 inch book (very portable - two thumbs up). Also, because only the top one it attached to the wall, I don't have to worry too much about hanging them straight, since gravity does most of the work.

The hardest part may have been holding myself back from adding more patterning in the small collages. On an individual basis, they could have taken more patterning inside the scrollwork patterns (and one of the joys of collage, I tested it, then changed my mind.) I had to keep reminding myself that the end goal was how they would look together as part of a larger piece where they're already pattern within pattern within pattern, and that more would not be as pleasing a visual relief (sigh).

Still working on the central figure and planning out a canopy to go over the central portion (so the whole thing is in a house that is a bigger version of the one in the side collages.) Only problem there - I've reached the ceiling (mad scientist laughter - whahahaha).