Friday, July 29, 2011

Sculpture and Little Girls

"If you build it they will come."
Not faeries, but the little girls who desperately want to believe in them.

What a composition of form and color...
There are several quiet spaces in my garden. Secluded, overgrown. The girls seek them out to hide and play their games. Concrete blocks become altars. The sculpture, with flower offerings, becomes shrines.

When I came upon the evidence, my frustration was at the mess, The trampled forget-me-nots, the stripped leaves, the picked unripe currants. Then I looked at the carefully placed flowers, fruit and leaves, my initial irritation turned into a deeper sense of awareness and loss.

These 8 year old girls won't be playing these games that much longer.
Don't rant and rave.
 I left their things untouched. Let them stay innocent little girls for as long as possible.
Maybe the faeries are protecting them.......?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sculpture and Finishing the Hat

(With thanks to Steven Sondheim)
But now the problem becomes what to do with the hat.
Too many visitors have said that she looks like one of Rein Poortvleit's gnomes.
(I was thinking more along the lines of ancient Egyptian crowns. No one gets that reference. Sigh.)
 On the original hat, the little one just drew scribbles and randomly put on small stickers. This carving is the jump from life to art. I didn't want to carve something so delicate as a paper crown so that frees me to invent my own decoration. I chose a rose rinceaux, an endless vine pattern.  I've draw and studied these patterns for years, they fascinate me.
This was the first time since I began carving this statue that I doubted my choice. Was the ornament  prettier than it was true? Should I have made the pattern more of a contemporary scribble?

Friends visiting said this pattern was what she'd have made if she'd been able to create it. I let that decide me.

Time for another line from Sunday in the Park with George:
"The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on."
  So having chosen the pattern, I began to carefully build it up with gesso.
More in the next post.

There's a part of you always standing by, 
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat...
Starting on a hat..
Finishing a hat...
Look, I made a hat...
Where there never was a hat

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sculpture and Paint

He's PAINTING the wood!


Several reasons.

The most obvious is that I want you to see the whole sculpture, not get lost in the beauty of the cherry wood or be distracted by its flaws and repairs. Trust me, Bondo and wood putty are not that interesting.

I realized that carving wood could be much easier after reading the wonderful book, The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany by Michael Baxandall.  If you love wood sculpture, read this book.

Once you loose your fear of making mistakes, you can begin carving with some confidence. 

To see how far the carving has come, visit this link. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sculpture and the Water Lily Festival

No lily, That's a Lotus at Hughes Water Garden
 It's Water Lily Festival this weekend at Hughes Water Gardens.

I'll be showing my sculpture, St Francis. There will be artwork by local artists, classes, workshops and art inspired by water.

Visitors are asked to bring canned food to help support the Oregon Food Bank, always a good cause.

In summer Hughes Water Gardens are a great place to visit. Beautiful water lilies, aquatic and earth bound plants in a lovely setting of ponds and paths.

Here's some pictures I've taken over the years I've participated in the Water Lily Festival.

The little monk sculpture in the perfect location.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sculpture and 17th Century Carved and Painted Saints

I could watch this video over and over.

It's so relaxing to see other artists patiently at work, not hurrying because they know their work will last. (And if they're working for the Getty Museum, they know they'll also be paid!)

Seventeenth-century Spanish polychrome sculpture was different from monochromatic stone or bronze figures, the carved wooden figures were made to be as life like as possible.

Artists created new sculpture techniques to achieve the presence of living saints. They used glass eyes, wigs, and paint for the figure and layers of gesso, paint, and metal leaf to mimic sumptuous fabrics like brocade.

Learn about the techniques of estofado in this video from the Getty Museum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sculpture and Whales

Sculpture won't mean much if the world is bereft of wonder.

Two of the most moving primeval experiences of nature I've ever experienced are watching lava boil into the sea in Hawaii and seeing the whales and dolphins off Cape Cod.

Here is a successful rescue of a young whale entrapped in a net by members of Earth Island Institute.

Post script: When I write I try to have some sort of flow to the week, always with the focus on sculpture. What link between Janet Echelman's work and this wildlife rescue?

I just realized that the thread is the fish netting. It's both wildlife hazard and a new sculpture medium.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sculpture and Janet Echelman

Janet Echleman takes her imagination seriously.

In return, her imagination has taken her on a world wide ride into the future of sculpture.
Echleman has created an entirely new form of sculpture. It reminds me of the Aurora Borealis

Her sculpture is a new direction for public art.

Echleman's sculpture is designed on an enormous scale that can hold its own against skyscrapers because it uses the sky and winds. Janet's goal is to soften the hard edges of the city through sculpture that is soft and flexible. Her work responds to the environment, the wind, water and the light, to engage the viewer with its color and movement..
Photos from Janet Echelman's website
It all began when she turned disaster, a show with a no show of her art materials, into wonder and exploration of an unexamined material. She began using netting to create her art.
Watch Echleman's Ted Talk

Count how many times Janet Echlemal says "The language or the technology didn't exist, so we had to create it." 

She is brilliant.

See more of her work here.
Read a CNN interview with Janet Echelman here

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sculpture and David Bales

David Bales is a talented friend. He's worked as an engineer for artists, and as an artist for engineers to facilitate architectural and public art projects. He's a photographer, designer, and a master problem solver.

I needed him for brute strength.

After helping set up my display at Rare Plant Research, David wandered the grounds and took these beautiful photos. I wanted to share them with you. Here they are, in no particular order.
The Tower at Villa Catalana. All photographs by David Bales.

The Grape Arbor. Instead of stone, the arbor is made of recycled concrete.

The Artist's Hands.....

Colorful Planting with Glass Mulch.

Playful Chandeliers in the Grape Arbor. All photographs by David Bales.

David Bales website is here.

I just finished the little lion and will feature him a post about him soon.

I love the play of light across the rough surface of this carving.

All photographs by David Bales.

My favorite photo. The end of a perfect evening.

David Bales website is here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sculpture and Lighting

You can hold a revolution in your hands.
 Showing your work on location means thinking creatively about practical matters.
How do you light your artwork without electricity, or extra long, cumbersome, extension cords that are ugly and a trip hazard?
The St Francis relief lit by LED lights nested in potted plant. Photo by David Bales.
I bought and brought small LED XB (extra bright) lights to illuminate my sculpture after dark.
Less than $10 each. To warm that cold blue white light, I taped orange theater gels onto the lights.

They worked like a charm.

I brought a potted plant to disguise the base of the sculpture, and just nestled the LED light into the plant. No plants were harmed in this exhibition because the lights weigh so little and emit no heat.
LED puck light with two layers of orange gels taped on to warm the color of the light.

How are you using new lighting technology to show your art?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sculpture and A Pop-Up Studio at Rare Plant Research.

It's a lot of work to move a sculpture studio to Villa Catalana for one evening...
Villa Catalana at Rare Plant Research
A Pop-up studio means moving heavy things. I hate flimsy tables, so it means bringing my smaller work bench. The one with the steel tubing legs and solid 2 inch thick x 5 feet long maple top. The one with a heavy steel vice permanently attached to it.....
The good news is that once I'm set up, I'm at home. Anywhere.
I began a new carving,

and showed finished sculpture.
My six guests and I had a table at the end of the grape arbor that looks out over a large pond. The busy swallows were replaced by even busier bats. No mosquitoes.

We talked and ate and laughed as the sun slowly set. Time seemed to expand because everyone knew how precious it is to have a reprieve from cares, to be with friends for a meal on a warm evening.

It is a lot of work to move a sculpture studio. The secret is to move it to a perfect place and time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sculpture and A Pop-Up Studio at Rare Plant Research.

 I'll be taking the Gracewood Studio Pop-Up  (my workbench, tools and art) to Rare Plant Research this Saturday as part of their Garden Party.

I began several pieces last year to have something to show while demonstrating carving. It's very satisfying to return this year and show finished sculpture.

Rare Plant Research is hosting the 2011 Garden Party at Villa Catalana, the Romanesque inspired home of Burl and Cindy Mostul. Good food, music and art all in a beautiful country setting. For an evening you can be in Italy..........

The new St Francis carving, the little Lion, and my other work will look right at home at Rare Plant Research.
St Francis relief sculpture by Patrick Gracewood ©2011 31 inches x 20 x 4 inches
To see more of Villa Catalana's buildings and gardens, click here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sculpture and Macedonia

Another cultural war is brewing.
This one is over a 1000 year old Big Name brand.

Who owns the rights to Alexander the Great?
The giant statue ready to be assembled. Photo from the Econimist.
A new equestrian sculpture was placed in the main square of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. It's old school impressive at 92 foot tall, weighing 30 tons, and costing thirteen million (US) dollar (9 million euros).

The bronze sculpture was cast in Florence by the foundry Ferdinando Marinelli.  Placed on a 10m concrete pedestal it will be surrounded by a fountain. It's BIG.

The artist is Valentina Stefanovska,who worked on the sculpture for three years. Officially it's bland name is, "Warrior on a horseback" but all involved know it depicts the hero of Greece, Alexander the Great.

And that's where the trouble starts.

Macedonia and Greece are in dispute over who lay claim to the heritage of Alexander.

Macedonians claim they have the same right as Greeks to call themselves descendants of Alexander, arguing that Macedonia in ancient times was one geographical territory, and its heroes now belong to everyone living in its separate states of Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. Greece, however says its neighbor is falsely laying claim to its history and ancient heritage.

Ancient history and art serve contemporary political agendas? Read more here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sculpture and A Pop-Up Studio

The (temporary) view from my work bench.

Landscape architect Richard Schultz knows how to throw a party.
His rules for a great party are simple:
Find a fabulous river front property.
Build your dream home.
Invite friends and family.

This lovely site was the first for my summer's pop-up sculpture studio.
Have work bench, will travel. Look at the AAC carving in the center and compare it to the last photo. It's becoming it's own group work of art!

For the Schultz's 3rd of July party, along with my carvings, I brought tools and some AAC for people to carve.  Here's some photos of guests who tried carving for the first time. (Sorry for the glare off the water, it's part of the burden of working on location. :-) )

Aside from people's excitement at carving, what was interesting was how the trial block of AAC began looking like an art work as each person took what was there and changed it to suit their own ideas.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sculpture and Jason deCaires Taylor

 Jason deCaires Taylor has a new sculpture, called Anthropocene.  It's located at the Manchones Reef, in Cancun/ Isla Mujeres, Mexico at a depth of 8 meters.

Anthropocene by deCaires Taylor. all photos from the artist.
A life size 8 ton cement replica of the classic Volkswagon beetle. The sculpture is designed specifically to house marine life whilst exploring the significant impact humans have had on our planets ecosystems and the subsequent affects to future generations. The VW beetle or "votcho" as it is known in Mexico is an iconic symbol and the classic shape was still in production until March 2003. Its rounded aerodynamic shape makes it perfectly suited to maintain stability underwater from strong currents and tropical storms.
More of his

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sculpture and Jason deCaires Taylor

The sculpture of Jason deCaires Taylor only gets better with time.

In fact, time changes it completely. That's the point of his work. His art is a collaboration with nature.

I've written about his work here and here.