Friday, October 31, 2008

Shadows on Wood / Context and Content

Here's the finished carving "the innkeeper". I love how the sunlight gives full play to the range of textures and also extends the sculpture beyond its physical boundaries into the realm of shadows. These carvings are meditations on emotional states of being as well as a working meditation on the nature of wood.

What does the wood want to do/be? Douglas fir is a coarse wood. I raise the grain further by torching it and brushing with a brass brush. The veneer relief tree and horse silhouettes are cedar, with a finer grain. Knot holes, checking in the wood are all OK. In fact this work was inspired by the big knot that forms the halo behind her head. It's hard to see, but at its center is a split that forms a perfect cross. A cross, a circle, a Madonna, I had to make this piece! The wood told me what it wanted to be.

The shrine's little roof is a good example of the way I'm working the wood. It is just big enough to give the idea of shelter. Split from a single block of fir, one side has a rise, the other has a depression. The two halves make a whole that your mind doesn't initially perceive but your hands and body sense and know as true.

Raining today, perfect for staying inside and working on a new carving.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Haute Couture Organic Kinetic Sculptures #2

Tait came to see the garden and wound up wearing the next version of the HCOKS. (see title.) The materials were chosen for maximum kinetic potential and color.

I read somewhere, wish I could find it, about a woman famous for her clothes and hats saying that she didn't consider a hat a success unless it had made someone laugh.... now that's style.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2 years 22 issues and what I learned.

I’ve been with Pacific NorthWest Sculptors since the first meeting at the Queen of Sheba restarant. It has grown beyond any of our original expectations. Initally a way to meet other sculptors, PNWS is now an organization that offers much more: opportunities for professional development, different venues for showing our work, chances to learn new techniques and materials.

It’s still a great way to meet other sculptors.

I took on the newsletter thinking I could help without having to attend meetings. Little did I know that it would force me to meet so many people and learn skills other than sculpture. When I began, I asked a writer for help. Her words of advice were, “It’s good to have a strong opinion. It’s called a voice.” “Edit ruthlessly. Cut out anything extraneous, you just cannot change the meaning of what a person is saying.” “ Don’t clutter things up with too many different ideas. For the reader, simple is easier to understand and remember.” I’ve found that advice works as well for sculpting as it does for writing.

Under the end of the month deadline and last minute additions, something I wrote and liked would be deleted to make more space. Lessons: Don’t get too attached to your work. Leave space for last minute revisions. My working motto for getting the newsletter out each month became: Done is better than perfect. I’d send out one month’s issue and begin immediately on the next month so that working was more flow than dead lifting an entire month in one day...

Being editor gave me permission to ask questions,
to be curious about other folks art, how they make it and more importantly why they make it.
Seeing is important to learning about art.
So is listening.
Sculptors are storytellers, even when our work is abstract. Hearing Rick Gregg talk about coaxing steel into a sweet bend, listening to what the material is telling him or Sarah Swink speak about her dreamlike quirky ceramic figures gives a visceral appreciation for their work.

The newsletter is a good place to practice telling the story of your art, sharing the excitement of beginning or finishing a piece. The writing and photos doesn’t have to be perfect. Fear of it not being perfect not only stops us from creating art, it also stops us from promoting and selling our work. Lesson: Put it out there! (I had a captive audience, of 650 Garden Writers of America looking at my botanical sculpture for 90 minutes at their 2008 Awards Banquet because I wasn’t afraid to ask if there was any venue for garden inspired sculpture at the conference.)

Finding Voltaire’s quote: “ I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” allowed me to have my own aesthetic opinions and wholeheartedly celebrate our collective creativity. PNWS is not about any one kind of aesthetic or medium. We all are here trying our best in an art form that takes a lifetime to learn.

Thank you to each artist who shared their work and process in Artist Profiles. Thank you to everyone who helped make the editor’s job easier by including all the pertinent information with their art images. It’s well worth the time to think your goal through and supply all the information you want other’s to know about your sculpture or show. That makes it much more likely you’ll be published than if you leave it to someone else to dig up the information.

I’ve enjoyed these last two years and everything I’ve learned. It’s time to put that time and energy back into my own sculpture, which now includes writing about it here on Shadows on Stone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Careful Chaos of Tim Fort

There is a wonderful childlike pleasure of carefully building something in order to destroy it. Tim Fort's art and video allow us the pleasure without the hours of tedious set up. I love the tension when the momentum appears to stop. Enjoy.

Haute Couture Organic Kinetic Sculptures #1

Working for two weeks on an enormous Dragon (28 feet long x 28 feet tall),  the goal was to cover as much ground as fast as possible.  I wanted to take the time and make something small and well crafted. 

I gathered grasses and flowers from my fall garden to create these little hair/hat sculptures. The chinese lanterns and hydrangea provide color, the grasses transmit the slightest movement of the body. They're both lovely and funny. The first batch went to the great folks who run Koji's Osakaya on NE Weidler.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Baroque Music of Fall

Another glorious gift of a day. Sunny, warm. There'll be plenty of time for November's tears and melancholia. Right now, it's October's Baroque Music. Parades of color,horns and drums, stately marches for the beginning of an orderly descent of leaves. Sudden flurries as groups of fallen leaves decide, en mass, that they're not yet willing to be inert sodden piles.
They make mad dashes across busy streets
in riots of color.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the Light in the Studio

After years in a large but dark studio, the light in my new studio continues to delight me. With large windows to the south and west, skylights, and no forest between me and the setting sun the light pours in. It often catches me unaware and shows me a highlighted version of my work.
I made a cardboard pedestal for the finished carving called "the innkeeper" and put it out of the way.  The afternoon light gave me an edited - haiku version, just the building's edge and the small pregnant figure.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Such a Post Modern Moment

I love working sculpture. It’s often paid my bills, but also because it’s free from having to be ART. It can be direct, amusing, whatever, as long as it serves it’s primary purpose as bike rack or shop sign, etc.

I saw this nicely done steel shadow outside Philip Burnett’s photo studio on NE 50th. After taking the picture, it hit me. A sculptor taking a photograph of a sculpture of a photographer taking a photograph.

It was such a post modern moment that I had to leave immediately.

the Vowel Plant

I love my Aeoniums.................A E I O U.    no Y.
They are like goofy green flowers or
a head of rubber lettuce trying to be a palm tree.

Perfectly asymmetrical mandalas.
Tough as nails.
Lovely in color and form, chartreuse, burgundy, chocolate

When anyone get gets too tall, a good wack and they begin again as stubs. 
Time to bring them in for the winter, where this one inspired a drawing and a photo.

Saved by Tiny Lions

I have drawers full of small sculptures, a library of 3 dimensional ideas.
Every so often they save me.

I needed to design a lion's head for a winery's iron gate on very short notice. Rummaging in the cabinet I found a gold leafed glass lion's head from Venice and a terra cotta lion, neither one larger than 2 inches. They gave me enough information to begin drawing. The finished drawings of full face and profile sent out late Sunday night to be seen by the client first thing Monday morning.

Like any bid, I do it in the hope of creating and being paid for it, and then it let go.
It seems unlikely that the bronze lions will adorn a new gate when razor coil will do the job in the current economic situation.
So this is a good place for both drawing and tiny lions to be free of the drawer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Margaret's Ghost

Carolyn Stuart and I performed "Margaret's Ghost" in L.A. and Seattle at the Seattle Festival of Dance Improv  earlier this year. We're still exploring who and what the ghost is.

For Youtube we divided the 15 minute performance into parts 1 & 2. # I is the intro and setup for #2. It's a single camera from way back in the lighting booth, but it captures a bit of the magic when things go well on stage. At the end because of the close up, you can't see that I'm holding Carolyn, apparently by her head, a foot off the ground.

Dance reviewer, Michael van Baker at Seattlest said, "Two outstanding performances left us convinced the fun isn't just for dancers and dance groupies, though. "Margaret's Ghost" by Carolyn Stuart and Patrick Gracewood, is a study in the quicksilver side of contact improvisation-
a duet that abstractly could be viewed as the work of a single organism. But it's also very much modern dance in it's reflections on age and the body and relationship. At one point, Gracewood is cradling Stuart as if she's in a bath, slippery as an infant; she's buttery-jointed, and almost mindless in her emotive presence: playful, fearful, trusting. You love art when it makes you feel as alive as that."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cat on Cake!

Ann Fleming and Marty Rudolph stopped by with a birthday carrot cake. I was showing Marty the garden when we hear Ann's shout of "catoncake" ? 
Oh, " Cat on Cake". 

It sounded so Dr. Seuss, 
but there was Oreo, licking up the cream cheese frosting........

the lovely Calandrinia Grandiflora

Calandrinia Grandiflora, is from Chile, its delicate but spectacular blooms hover above the blue thick leaves all through late summer and fall. With the low angle of October sunlight, the shadows seems larger and more solid than the day-glow magenta blossoms.

I bought a start from the Water Conservation Garden at Cayumaca College in El Cajon, CA. It starts easily from tip cuttings. The tall stems are a strong contrast to the stout bluegreen leaves. It looks great paired with the orange carex "Prarie Fire" and the chartreuse sedum "Angelina".
Almost time to bring inside for the winter, but not until the last flowers bloom.

Oh Unhappy Sun

Went to the Portland Art Museum today. Walked by the north side of the new wing where the designers have committed Bas Relief-icide. What were they thinking? Who signed off on the installation?

The large architectural reliefs are displayed flat to the light, above eye level, and on their backs so that they can collect rain water and moss, which will destroy them.  The only ones who can see them are the pigeons overhead. Why didn't they just put them in the dumpster? It would have been a better aesthetic decision.

And then there's that mowed bamboo...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

milagros and pumpkins.

I was born on 10/21/1954
I'm 54, so this is my year to be square and balanced. 54 x 54.

In the garden,  the little monk is wearing a strand of milagros, sent to me for my birthday. Shiny wishes for healing and well being.

If only they could protect us.

The real blessing is our friends, thinking of us and wishing us the best.
Being there through thick and thin, and bringing presents of milagros and pumpkins.