Friday, April 30, 2010

Sculpture and Crayons

I found this artist on Teresa Cheek's Art is the Answer.

In addition to other work, Artist Diem Chau carves pencils and crayons. The work is funny, charming, but also an amazing economical way to carve. Pun intended. See more of the work here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sculpture and National Identity

Sorry tourists, the harbor is empty.

The iconic "Little Mermaid" sculpture by Edvard Eriksen has left Copenhagen for China. She is representing Denmark in the Shanghai World Expo.

"What else could we have sent? A Danish hot dog? A Lego Block?" says Peter Romer Hansen, senior director of business development. "She is great in her smallness. She is tiny but her longing to go out to see the world is wonderful."

That's right, a fairy tale by Hans Christen Anderson, of a mermaid who longed to become human, became a sculpture in 1913 which became a a much loved national symbol that is now representing her country on a state visit to China.

The idea to send the mermaid to China belongs to the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. He designed Denmark's pavilion at the fair. The mermaid and her rock will be displayed in a pool of clean seawater from the Copenhagen harbor, that's to show the kind of advanced environmental technology that Denmark wants to sell to the Chinese.

Sculptural diplomacy is alive and well.

Story from the NY Times by John Tagliabue. Photo credit here

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sculpture and Mark Langan

One of my tags is "the pleasure of cardboard". I use it for making quick maquettes, padding, packing, and floor protection when painting.

Artist Mark Langan creates on of a kind sculpture using cardboard as his medium. He uses the ready made textures of cardboard to create patterns both realistic and abstract with just matt knives, glue, and recycled cardboard.

Most sculptors would never think of his audience and collectors. With cardboard as his chosen material, Mark contacted corrugated manufacturers, packaging companies, recycling firms, green industries, organizations and related events. Many business have commissioned artwork. His sculpture currently adorns the boardrooms and lobbies of paper related firms throughout the U.S.

Mark Langan's Website and an article on his work.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Sculpture and Seed - "Form vs Texture"

Another beautiful book. Seeds Time Capsules Of Life by Rob Kessler and Wolfgang Stupy.

The plant magazines often talk about a plant being "sculptural". Agave, some cactus, and this Euphorbia Obesa, that I couldn't resist. It's a round sphere of eight segments with each segment having a tiny bumpy ridge. The entire thing covered with stripes and chevron patterns of two shades of green

What we don't notice is how sculptural seeds are. The Seeds book uses highly magnified images of individual seeds to show how well structured seeds. Different forms adapted for dispersal by wind, animal, water, or propulsion.

Looking at the book, I realized it's also a primer on the difference between form and texture. I often notice sculptures where the artist got carried away, creating such detail that it starts consuming the form. Photos below from the Seeds book.

Here are three clear forms with texture.

Here are three examples where the surface texture has become so strong that it has become form. Each in turn has a new surface texture. Each zoom in changes the texture to form. It's something to be mindful of when modeling anything. Just know that the more elaborate the texture becomes the more likely it is to be seen as form. Just stay very clear on what story you are trying to tell and make sure your sculpture isn't eaten by it's texture.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sculpture and Basalt Fountains

image from NW Stone works

We're lucky here in Pacific Northwest to have beautiful natural stone. Here at the studio that means round river boulders, remnants of the Missoula Floods. A short drive away are many volcanic flows of basalt. The most beautiful basalt is columnar. It has naturally faceted sides and is stunning. That's how it looks naturally, in above photo.

While at the Home and Garden Idea Fair, I saw a well designed fountain made from three choice columns. Designed by Krista Lawrence of Eden's Gate Landscape Design. It was made by Tom Monaghan of NW Stoneworks and installed in the display garden of North Fork Landscape.

You can see a slide show of the entire process of Tom making the fountain here.

It incorporates three basalt columns, one horizontal that acts as a cradle and base for the other two. It's a distillation of our natural waterfalls and is both natural and a very abstract landscape. Perfect for the right garden at $15,000.

"Sculpture- Amber and Insects"

Found an interesting book at the library, Amber, the Natural Time Capsule by Andrew Ross. Ross curated the amber collection of the Department of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, London. Photos from the book.

What's interesting about this book is that it's as much about fossilized insects as it is amber. Two thirds of the book is about identifying the insect inclusions. Ross has charts to help identify the different phylum of bugs, and also ways to recognize more recent fake amber made of plastic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sculpture and 10 things in the studio #8-9-10

Last installment of what makes me happy in the studio.

8. The woodshed. No naughty highjinks, just wood. Big slabs of black walnut, sequoia and cedar. Smaller chunks of exotics, jelutong, mahogonny, cherry. I'm stockpiling big chunks of fir, both lumber and logs, for future projects.
The box of ivory piano keys went to a good home. The woodshed also houses the molds for many of my relief series and assorted bird cages.

9. When it's cleaned up (every Saturday) the studio is also home to our contact improv dance jam. It's been going on for over 20 years. Dancing is the best prescription to hours of standing in place sculpting. Get out of my thinking and into my moving body.

10. Having so many parts of my life in one place. Even if they sometimes all want my attention at once.

Work, Garden, Pets, Family of all sorts, why would I want to leave?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sculpture and Armenian Golgotha

I grew up with my mother repeating her mother's admonition to finish all the food on my plate. "Think of the starving Armenians!" To a child in southern California of the 1960's, it made no sense. "What's an Armenian?"

Driving to the studio, I was riveted to the radio. Poet, Peter Balaklian, was discussing the Armenian Genocide of 1915. His great uncle, a Christian bishop and survivor wrote the book Armenian Golgotha.

Balakian describes the plan that inspired Hitler; the Turkish systemic destruction of the Armenian culture by first cutting off the head of Armenian cultural life. All the intellectuals, all the religious leaders, the poets, the journalists, anyone who could speak up was arrested and executed. Over a million people were wiped from the face of the earth. Then the silence descended.

Turkey denies it ever happened.
90 years later, any mention of the genocide is a punishable crime in Turkey.

Where am I going with this on a beautiful spring morning? Death and rebirth? The power of the arts to survive and tell of history? I don't know......

After listening to the program, Carolyn, the little one and I went next door to help our neighbor. She's a new mom, her cherry tree was destroyed by the high winds we had yesterday. Baby down for a nap, we went to work.

The three adults were working, chopping, sawing, making piles of branches while little Lulu "helped". She piled the small branches for a while. She discovered that the flowering branches made peace signs. "Two kinds!" "Babu, Do you know this kind of peace sign?"

Somehow the morning fits together. An unspeakable horror finally being told, working with women, one old, one young, one a child. Cleaning up a shattered fruit tree. A child learning how to work, but mostly playing, showing us flowering symbols of peace.

Peace to you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sculpture - Art Nouveau and Romanesque Art

Jugendstil is what Art Nouveau was called in Germany. After going repeatedly through several hundred pages of Der Modelleur
I'm seeing direct links with Romanesque Art.

There's the interlocking lines and patterning. There's also inspiration straight from nature. The buildings bloom with plant and animal life. There's humor and horror, the macabre and the whimsical.

Why are so many modern buildings impersonal and boring?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sculpture and Conceptual Art - Marijuana

photo credit

I love a good think.

Amy Stewart lays out the practical issues of legalizing marijuana in California as if it were conceptual art.

She's writing about Humbolt County, California, where she lives. Her essay on Garden Rant covers the topics Responsible business practices, Eco-labels, Develop standards for THC content, Own the home gardening market.

She's thinking about all the issues, and implying more- think of the graphic designers, tourism souveniers, lawyers, city, state, and federal agencies. Business outsourcing the growing to sunny third world places like Bakersfield, Ca. What happen when giants like Phillip Morris tobacco gets involved?

Stay around and read the comments too, they're worthwhile.

It doesn't matter if you like or dislike pot. I can't stand it. You'll think about all the issues involved with marijuana in a different light. That's art.

Sculpture and Peter Andrusko

I showed the cornice carved by Peter Andrusko in an earlier post. Here are shots of the fireplace installed on site.

In addition to the carved upper cornices, Peter cut the corbel elements to fit and modified much of upper components in his studio prior to installation. Most of that work doesn't show, but was vital in turning fragments into a unified whole.

The fireplace is beautiful, makes you wonder what the room will look like when it's finished, no?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sculpture and Preston Bailey

Who says sculpture has to last?
Who says Art can't be funny?

Preston Bailey is in the business of creating magic moments for people. His blog "Inspiration and Transformation" is a jackpot of both. Click on Artistry to see some jaw dropping "bouquets".

I checked out two of his books, Inspirations and Fantasy Weddings. Wonderful to look at in bed before going to sleep. That most of these floral sculptures only last an evening makes them even more magical.

These pineapples made of full sized sunflowers are 10 feet tall!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sculpture - Medal for a Murder

Not every high level assassin mints his own gold coins to commemorate the occasion.

This unique gold coin went on display at the British Museum on March 15th. Yes, that's the Ides of March. It commemorates the assassination of Julius Caesar with a portrait on one side and two daggers and the hat of a freeman on the other side. The hat was a symbol of the conspirators belief in the Roman republic instead of the tyranny that Caesar represented. Most likely it was worn as a badge by one of the killers.

I wish they'd shown the entire coin instead of cropping it. Of the two know examples of this coin, one is believed to be a forgery, so maybe they're just taking precautions.

More on the coin here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sculpture- Jean Nouvel and the National Museum of Qatar

The New York Times published photos of Jean Nouvel's design for the National Museum of Qatar. Nicolai Ouroussoff writes about it here. Photos from the article.

It's design is based on a "desert rose." That's a crystal foration that occurs during the evaporation of salty bodies of water in arid, sandy conditions. They are classified chemically as gypsum. (For sculptors, plaster is a kind of gypsum.)

Beautiful inspiration from the natural world to create the man made world.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sculpture and "The Sacred Made Real"

This should have gone up Easter week. The nice thing about art, if not my posting schedule, is that its timeless. Photos from the National Gallery Website.

The show, "The Sacred Made Real" was at the National Gallery in Washington, DC last year. The focus was on Christian religious sculpture and paintings on loan from Spanish religious institutions.

The sculptors and painters did every thing they could to make the art as realistic as possible. The materials for the Pieta include polychromed plaster, macerated linen fibers, gesso- or glue-soaked fabric, wood, papier-mache, glass and other materials.

Talk about mixed media!

It was such a revelation and a relief to me as a wood sculptor to realize that these over the top figures are NOT all carved from wood. They didn't carve every vein, that was quickly build up in gesso. Those beautifully carved draperies? Well, it's fairly easy to make cloth look like cloth, dip in plaster, arrange folds and voila! Drapery.

Those artists were also on deadlines and budgets and used whatever materials would work most efficiently.

Here's a good background review on the artists, the work, and how the guilds worked in the 1600, by Stanley Meisler from the LA Times.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Sculpture-Contrast and Context"

Contrast and Context are key to how we perceive sculpture.

That's especially true for sculpture fragments.

By itself, the little Christo is too small to hold your attention. After years of being lonely up on the wall or being hidden in drawers, this carved Jesus figure finally has a home.

The antique trunk
I broke down became the perfect background for him. The trunk's method of slotted construction was used to create the panel and frame. The rough finish doesn't compete with the polychromed figure. The scribed circles allude to haloes and cycles. They also reinforce the patterning in the repousse metal INRI. (Another homeless fragment)

Siting sculpture is often about creating a composite sculpture, binding different things together. In this example, the narrative comes from the religious nature of the art and the simple materials. Each component adds contrast and context to reinforces the whole new work of art.

Happy Easter.

Sculpture and Antiques

It began with a rescue. In the rain. Very tired and on its last legs, the antique chest caught my eye.

Hand forged clasp, wooden hinges, oak, bands of hand scribed ornamentation. 19th Century? 20th but pre-electric? Turkish? Eastern Europe? The stamps were illegible.It remained an enigma for three months.

Any guesses on where it's from? If you have a similar trunk inherited from your Romanian grandmother,or have a wild guess or know about world antiques, please let me know.

It sat in my studio, taking up precious space until I finally had the perfect use for it. More on my next post.