Friday, February 26, 2010

Sculpture and 10 things in the studio #4-6

Studio things that make me happy 4-6. Late posting today because I was hammering out an art proposal. Lesson learned today? If I don't like a drawing, it's so much easier to start over and simply redraw it than waste 90 minutes applying photoshop CPR.

4. Familiar tools.
Several of which have been with me from the start. 30+ years of working together making sculpture. They know my hands.

When I work on a job site I am totally focused about having them either in my hand or placed in my toolbox. Even if it's the modified tongue depressor. Yes, I can replace it, but it would take a hour of my time to get it just so again.

5. New tools. These are golden means calipers. They divide up space proportionally. The shorter section is to the longer section as the longer section is to the entire span. I find my eye naturally does the right placement, but if I've any doubts They're a great way to check work.

I've had the plastic proportional calipher for years. It was a good idea badly executed. Made by Now and Zen. The book that cam with it is handy but the plastic isn't accurate, it's curved. Everytime I pick it up it irritates me how cheaply it's made.

I fianlly found a decent pair. They are a pleasure to use. Made by a fellow in Argentina, Javier Holodovsky. His website is His email is

5. The garden surrounding the studio.

I've had studios in warehouses in bad parts of town but after finding someone murdered in doorway next to mine I no longer craved that "cutting edge".

In a warehouse if you step outside, you're on the street. There is no transition. Here I can hose work down, do my dirty work outside, eat lunch in the sun and be inspired by the garden.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sculpture and 10 things in the studio #1-3

Carolyn Parker at Rose Notes tagged me asking for a public declaration of ten things that make me happy. Since this is a sculpture blog I'll just look around the studio for answers. It's good to take a momemt the count your blessings. Rather than scroll for pages I'll break it into multiple postings

1. Studio mates To make any art, but especially sculpture, requires spending an inordinate amount of time working.


Tweety PI, aka 22/7, the canary punctuates my day with showers of song. Doesn't matter if I'm quiet in my office or making shop noise grinding, hammering, - he just sings. It's always a blessing.

The rest of the peanut gallery are big birds, the three parrots: a big blue and gold macaw, Beauty Bird. A warrior of an Amazon, Kibu, and my crack baby cockatoo, Sydney. Lots of talking, no criticism. They make me laugh with their antics and fierceness.

3.My library is 90% art books. So satisfying to literally have a world of knowledge at my fingertips. (The books are hidden by sliding doors when not in use.) Four feet of books on the middle ages, obscure texts in Japanese with great photos, 2 1/2 feet of Asian art book, How to's and biographies of Tillman Riemanschnieder, Eli Nadelman, Manzu, Brancusi, Barlach, Kollewitz....

They are the constellations by which I navigate my own seas.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sculpture and 4 x 4 inch squares

Nothing clever to say today.

Just wanted to show the progress for the castle of the little queen. Carvings are on end-grain old growth cedar. That means instead of knife and chisel, I'm using flex-shaft and grinding the patterns. It's efficient but unpleasant- noise, dust, and less control.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sculpture and Maquettes

The best way to understand a castle is to build one.

I'm playing with a cool set of blocks. Made by HABA, the Master Builder Set, is a good start. Unfortunately the Medieval Castle's 110 pieces with 21 shapes is still not enough. I'd need 4 or 5 sets to build anything substantial.

It's served it's purpose by giving me ideas how to proceed, so next step is I'm making my own blocks with construction lumber.

This facade of faces happened and then back to the pleasures of cardboard for model building.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sculpture and Spatial Perception

Color is such a cheap seduction.

The world farther away than 12 inches from my face is a flat plane of fuzzy colors. No edge definition means no depth perception. I live in impressionism.

I got my glasses late in 8th grade. Edges and focus were a revelation. Since that day, I've never taken sight or the experience of depth for granted. I still walk around trees just to see the subtle shifts of relationships of the leaves and branches.

The world is alive with subtle changes of depth and shapes and edges. That's what makes relief carving so fascinating.

Working with this coarse AAC is like low resolution (myopic) carving. The work isn't finished but I've decided that the comb tool marks will be the finished surface. They trap the light far more than if it were smooth.

What sort of finishes do you leave on your sculpture?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sculpture and Burial Practices

image from neatorama

"Now that the living outnumber the dead...........Speak my language." (From her 1994 album Bright Red. Thank you, Laurie Anderson.)

It's happening already. In Singapore the dead are being dug up and cemeteries closed to make room for the living. "Essentially, it is a spatial competition between the living and the dead." said Lily Kong, Director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, who has studied funeral practices. And that means a shift throughout the region to crematoria and columbaria.

Columbaria comes from Latin meaning a dovecote? Like the many nesting sites for pigeons but now human resting sites. That's means many changes for a culture where ancestors are revered and graves are a place of worship.

How does this relate to sculpture?

When the Singapore exhumation is completed, the headstone is smashed and trucked away as rubble and used in landfill or new construction. No more existing record of the person or of funerary art. Keep in mind that much of what we know about any ancient culture comes from intact burial sites.

New traditions are emerging- all digital, include web sites designed from mourning rituals that sell virtual candles, flowers, and offerings. But nothing tangible. NO SCULPTURE!yikes!.

Writing this, Dot's song from Sunday in the Park With George by Sondheim comes to mind.

If you want instead when you're dead
Some more public and more permanent expression
Of affection
You want a painter, poet, sculptor preferably
Marble, granite, bronze
Something nice with swans,
That's durable forever sentiments exactly.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sculpture and AAC

It's not a noble material.

AAC stands for autoclaved aerated concrete. The mix is heated and expanded with lots of air. It's sort of the stay puffed pastry version of concrete. Used primarily as a light weight building material, for insulation, it's an interesting new medium for sculpture.

You can carve it very quickly, it's soft enough that you can use a bread knife or anything handy to carve, rasp, file it. I hogged out the background with my drill press and a dull bit and then used a small stone comb tool and my steel gouges.

Available in 24 x 12 x 12 inch blocks, I cut each block in half lengthwise for these reliefs. Each new carving took about a day to complete. That's fast.

These new carvings are going to debut at Portland's Yard Garden Patio Show this weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sculpture and Tableaux

Brother Jerome visits the moon.

Sculpture can be beautiful in itself, but it comes to life when it's contrasted with other things. Away from the void of the gallery, sculpture creates relationships between things. Stories emerge.

That's what happened with this beautiful sheet of special production, reactive glass from Bullseye Glass. It's a new year's gift from Roger Thomas. The mysterious pthalo blue/green evokes Chinese mountains and the sea. It looks like a brush full of watercolor plunged into pure water in a white bowl.

I placed the little 19th Century carved mannikin, dressed as a monk for a St Francis study, and the hand carved volcanic stone sphere in front of it. I don't know why, but I heard the title: "Brother Jerome visits the Moon" It's like a 3D fable.........

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sculpture and Architecture

A serious building gets silly.

Inflation is hitting the museum world. In a good way.

Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic for the New York Times, reviews plans for two inflatable additions by the New York firm Diller Scodidio and Renfro to the Hirshhorn Museum.

One bubble would fill the central atrium and literally pop up past the roof. It would be used as a 1,000 seat auditorium and allow for performing arts and film series to use the museum. Another smaller pod would serve as a cafe/lounge.

The inflatables would allow the Hirshhorn to avoid restrictions on permanent additions as they can be blown up and taken down quickly. Read the article here

I just hope they give Claus Oldenburg a percentage of the admissions when the inflatables are up....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sculpture and Hand Made Hideous

Several folks have suggested I sell my sculpture on Etsy.

"I know you'd have to change the size, material and content of your work, and do production work instead of fine art, but you could, like, you know, SELL THiNGS!"

Sigh... I've actually considered doing it, then I found Regretsy.

"Handmade? It looks like you made it with your feet." is their tagline. Regretsy is a snarky take on the earnest hand-made scene. I browsed their SOLD page and learned that what was hot on Etsy was hilarious on Regretsy.

Posted by "Helen Killer" who writes, "I don’t know what the “freebies” are that come with these hideous sneakers, but with any luck they’ll be change of address forms. Because as soon as someone in your neighborhood sees you wearing these things, you’re on the list to get your emo weepy ass kicked every f'ing day for the rest of your pathetic life."

Brutal. But sometimes a critique is necessary.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sculpture and Promotion

Everyone's a critic.

"I don't know art but I do know crap when I see it!"

A good friend sent me this:

"The writer responds to questions about "how to make a living writing", and he replys - "it's like cleaning calf pens, you shovel until you get a big enough pile that someone notices."

I think your pile might be big enough this year, Patrick."

Let's all hope that my art pile is large enough to attract the right kind of attention, not the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Photo from Food Freedom website)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sculpture and Architecture in Novi Sad, Serbia II

More photos from Novi Sad, Serbia to share with you. Taken from the Serbian sculptor's website, ALT DEUTSCH SILBERHOLZ