Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Parrot Whisperer

Richard Brandt is a man of many talents: Artist, Chef, Photographer. Sustainability.

One of his lesser known abilities is basilisk tamer. Here he is with a fierce creature, the golden eyed Kibu.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Inn Keeper Sculpture #2

Sculptors find ideas in the damnedest places. Creative Woodworking NW has a good streetside dumpster for scrap wood. Most folks use it for kindling. I find myself picking up these beautiful thin cuttings and bringing them to the studio. To SAVE them. It's true.

As they were taking up valuable studio space, I got the idea of using of using them as dimensional veneers. They add another layer of texture and meaning to the story, the horses in the manger behind the figure, and the the tree of Jesse growing behind the stable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Inn Keeper Sculpture

You can see a painting, take it all in in a glance. You have to live with sculpture.

The qualities I enjoy creating in a sculpture are often the very qualities that make it difficult to photograph. Unlike a painting, sculpture can't be reduced to a single viewpoint shot. If it is, you know that 364 angles are calling for their turn. It's actually more than that- as sculptural space is spherical, so in any photo there are thousands of missing views.

Complexity, depth and layering, and the fact I can tell different stories on different sides of my sculpture are what keeps me creating. The Innkeeper is a small intimate carving that invites you to circle, adding up the clues to her story.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Witch in Context

Witches can be right. Giants can be good......

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Sculptor as Witch

"Don't you know what's out there in the world?
Someone has to shield you from the world.
Stay with me.

Princes wait there in the world, it's true.
Princes, yes, but wolves and humans, too.
Stay at home.
I am home.

Who out there could love you more than I?
What out there that I cannot supply?
Stay with me.

Stay with me,
The world is dark and wild.
Stay a child while you can be a child.
With me."

Stay With Me by Steven Sondheim from Into The Woods.
There is plenty of time to think when carving.
I'm taking a crash course in Archetypes, the hard way. By living it.
The new carving of Lulu wearing a paper crown has opened it's own doors to the underworld.

I'm experiencing the dread that probably every parent or guardian from seeing only a part of the future. It's coming too fast. One week she's wearing a paper crown. A child of 5. The next week an unsettling glimpse of the beautiful woman she will become. And somehow I've turned into a barking dog, charging the to the end of my chain to protect her, barking at the future.

That fierce urge to protect has it's own dangers. No one says it better than Mr. Sondheim.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still Thoughts in a New Light -photos

Spent the afternoon with Ann Flemming photographing our new work. We were thinking about how we think about our art and talking about talking about our sculpture......................
..........................................Just writing it is confusing, no wonder that's it is so hard to do alone.

Photos of the monk from "Still Thoughts".

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Gift of 500 Years

Friends may not share our passions, but when they understand them, it is such a blessing. Ben Yang (Creator of the YangFang Snow Saw) gave me a small chunk of cedar. Saved from the burn pile because he saw what it was.

It may not look like much but it is at least 500 years old. Old Growth Western Red Cedar with such fine tight grain. I've never seen anything like it. Already have a carving in mind for it... but for now i'm just enjoying being able to hold 500 years in my hands.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oh My Darling Clementine Wood Sculpture

I still had the tiny wooden crate that contained January's Darling Clementines citrus. There is something Renaissance about the ultramarine blue and orange. The "Darling Clementines" printed on wood is too cool to toss, so I took it to the studio.

A fruit crate, tiny brass hinges. even smaller brass screws, a wooden artist's manniquin, and a song.....

What emerged is a Clementine Valentine angel for my sweetheart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Gardener's Prayer

Chard and red flax in the garden above.

This is best read out loud. It's funny because it is too true.

If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this: "O Lord, grant that in someway it may rain everyday, say from about midnight until three o'clock in the morning, but you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in, grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender and the others which in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants---I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like- and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spirea, or on gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron) and not too much: that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen."

From the Gardener's Year by Karel Capek.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poetry and Sculpture

James Merrill's epic poem The Changing Light At Sandover begins describing his failed attempts at writing a novel. He decided to write it instead as an epic poem. This section inspired my approach to the carved wooden figures I make.

"I yearned for the kind of unseasoned telling found
In legends, fairy tales, a tone licked clean
Over the centuries by mild old tongues,
Grandam to cub, serene, anonymous.... orphaned form, whose followers,
Suckled by Woolf not Mann, had stories told them
In Childhood, if at all, by adults who
They could not love or honor. So my narrative
Wanted to be limpid, unfragmented;
My characters, conventional stock figures
Afflicted to a minimal degree
With personality and past experience-
A witch, a hermit, innocent young lovers,
The kinds of being we recall from Grimm,
Jung, Verdi, and the commedia dell'arte.

I love the line"a tone licked clean Over the centuries by mild old tongues, Grandam to cub, serene, anonymous."

The excerpt above and my love for folk art inspired me to make figurative sculptures as small archetypes. A small figure can pack a big idea. Being small isn't threatening. It allows the concept to get into the viewers mind as everyone has played with dolls and puppets. You can say more dangerous and true things about life and death "playing" than are normally allowed. What's funny and true at one scale is bombastic at a larger scale.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Swept Away By Beauty- The Stendhal Syndrome

The Stendhal Syndrome is a defined as a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly 'beautiful' or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

I remember looking at a folding screen of poppies at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. At first it was simply pretty, but the longer I looked at it, the more I saw until I was in tears. The painting came alive showing the life and death of not only the poppies but also the life and death of the painter - gone these last 200 years. I was seeing what he wanted me to see as he pointed out the rain that had knocked over several plants, the physical humor of the poppy's cap balancing on top of an opening bud.

The best writing on the Stendhal Syndrome, not as pathology but as a necessary part of being fully human is Jeanette Winterson's Art Objects.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Metaphor in Sculpture

I've been thinking about metaphor in sculpture, and all the while it is staring me in the face. This little Korean carved stone figure, a gift from D is not a person, it's a rock, but her sweet smile welcomes everyone to the garden. Figurative sculpture combines the human with qualities of the medium. Something as fleeting as a smile with the endurance of stone. Warmth and Stillness............

Friday, February 6, 2009

Things that make me happy

Susan Gallacher-Turner of SculpturePDX tagged me asking for 6 Things that make me happy. Only 6? Since this is a sculpture blog, I'm choosing artwork that is in the garden. Each has its own story, collectively they all contribute to my daily experience of working and living.

Richard Brandt, a friend who can always make me laugh, made the wood fired water jar that lives on the friendship bench. Its surface bears the history of the wood and flames that created it. The asters count as well.

The reliefs mounted on the wall outside my office, some of which I've designed for clients or friends, others collected over the years are a relief reference library lit by the afternoon sun. The sun counts too.

And the carving of the little monk wearing an impromptu snow turban.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Acanthus as Architectural Sculpture

Working on a very large Corinthian Capital- over six feet tall with lots of acanthus leaves. It wasn't until I started sculpting acanthus foliage for architecture that I recognized the plant from my childhood..... those scratchy tall flowers with the big leaves that grew in the wet shade. Didn't like it at all then. Now I have Hollands Gold (bright yellow green) and the standard acanthus mollis with dark green leaves. Seems only fitting to have them growing in my scuptor's garden when they've helped me pay my bills.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Architectural Ornament

Working again for Architectural Reproductions. Another casino. Big, Bigger,Biggest. More gold leafed fiberglass. Shock and Awe Kitsch done with absolute sincerity 'cause it pays the bills.

While out getting a snack, I noticed this sweet relief of a child on the Boise Elliot grade school. Nice to see art in context that isn't glorifying Mamon.