Monday, December 31, 2012

Sculpture and Ritual

I'm busy building another bonfire sculpture for tonight. Too soon to show photos.
Enjoy turning the corner to become part of 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sculpture and Ornaments

Sometimes (especially during the holidays!) done is better than perfect.

This metal golden Japanese fragment had been in a drawer far too long. 
So has this blue glass orb. Inspiration for a sculpture mash-up.

Lovely cap + beautiful blue sphere + large screw eye + Bondo = unique Christmas ornament.
Both objects now are happy together and will live with the Christmas things. 

The top was epoxied onto the glass, then Bondo filled the space, anchoring the large screw eye bolt.
Such satisfaction in restoring a semblance of order to the world.....and having fewer projects.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sculpture and Ritual

What is Art? Is it the object? Or is that an artifact?
Is Art really seeing and seeking relationships, and making them visible and meaningful to others?
Does Art = Connection?
"Shane at Sauvie's Island" by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
I feel like I've been operating in Shaman mode for the last couple of weeks since my friend's son's death. A painting seemed necessary for his memorial.

I'm not a painter, and a portrait needs to be right on. No time for excuses, just begin!
Luckily there was a 34" x 48" wooden frame and extra canvas in the studio.

Working from a blurry photo on the large portrait felt like a conjuring act, a dialog with the dead.
I'd known him from his early twenties. "Why, why, why this?" Alcohol drinks a man.
Early laying out of the painting.
Unlike clay, the paint moves over and past my drawing. Painting isn't about exactitude, it's about layering. Time was limited, so was my palette. Titanium white, paynes grey, umber, ocher, pthalo green, and sienna.

His mother came into the studio many times while I was painting. Sometimes it was too painful for her to stay, other times we'd just sit with tears and talk. One day I asked her to leave so I could concentrate.

Another day she gave valuable criticism, "His ears are too big! The hairline isn't right."
It's amazing that a blurry photo still has exactly the right information of just this person.
That was painful in a funny way as I tried to get my ego OUT of the picture and really see him.

Oh, and pay attention to brush strokes, how is the paint applied?
Painting is not easy. It just has to look that way.
The last brush strokes went on hours before people arrived. No time to get flowers, so I staged   studio plants, green and alive, around the easel, and hung clip lights from the rafters.

Next to a life time of photos, the painting gave focus to the room and the evening. The family gathered around the painting to remember and be photographed with their son, father, brother.....

Don't be afraid to offer your work in service to others. Art really is about making connections.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sculpture and Paper Cuts

A sincere Thank You and Happy Holidays to everyone who visits Shadows On Stone.
Mother and Child papercut by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
I created this congratulations paper cut for a new mother... in 1986.
So nice to be reminded (and like!) what I did so long ago.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sculpture and the Landfill Harmonic

Out of trash and love, the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra is changing lives.

" leaves nobody out. Even those from whom art has been stolen away by tyranny, by poverty, begin to make it again. If the arts did not exist, at every moment, someone would begin to create them, in song, out of dust and mud, and although the artifacts might be destroyed, the energy that creates them is not destroyed." from Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sculpture and St Clare

It is so nice to be asked.

I'd submitted the St Francis sculpture for the Arts Council of Lake Oswego's outdoor sculpture exhibition, Gallery Without Walls. The committee was concerned that the relief is one sided.
(Who knew there were no more wall backed pedestals?)
They asked if I had a proposal to make it double sided.

St Clare by Patrick Gracewood ©2012

I've been wanting to make a companion carving for St Francis. 
The logical subject would be St Clare.*

Above is the drawing for the proposed relief.

* St Clare was one of the first followers of St Francis of Assisi. In the Middle Ages, when women were chattel, subject to men, Clare founded a monastic religious order for women and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Monastic life was a way for women of the time to have control over their own lives.

There can be a lot of history in a small sculpture. Helping to raise a young girl has made me think and practice empowering girls and women. Growing your own food was vital in Clare's time and makes good sense now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sculpture and Life and Death

Art doesn't change a damn thing in this world.

Making art, though, requires you to give your full attention.      So does viewing art.
Weath by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
Careful awareness of minute details and their relationships to everything else can change the world.
Paying attention changes the world by allowing us to be present with what is, exactly as it is.
Vulnerable, willing to NOT have an answer, just living in our questions.

This practice teaches us to be kinder, less reactive, slower to judge and more willing to listen.

Art allows us our questions, our emotions, and sometimes give us new answers to old questions.

Like, "How do we live?"
My good friend's son died unexpectedly. He was 42 years old. I've known him since he was 20.

These cones are so many subtle shades of brown and grey, alike yet so different from each other. Slowly fitting one next to the other gave me a measure of peace and acceptance of this difficult situation. I needed a place to stop and hide from the pain. Making this wreath gave me a focus.

An unbroken circle -with a hole in the center.
A wreath seems a physical metaphor for these emotions. A hole in a whole.

The last thing I'm feeling is festive. But I can practice being present- for myself and those I love.
The cones that have been inside the studio the longest easily release their seeds all over the floor.
.... life begins again.

I used this square of plastic grass. coaxing each separate tuft into the spaces between cones.
(Use a chopstick!) A touch of artifice that makes the wreath snap with texture.
And not a touch of Christmas red.
On the mantle. 
"God bless us each and every one" cried Tiny Tim.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sculpture and Life

Sometimes art (loosely defined) is best functional. And timely.

Friends are expecting their second baby, she's due this Friday. (and arrived a healthy (9 lbs!)

With new baby and family visiting, it makes no sense to have an uncomfortable chair. This old wooden chair with a rock hard plywood seat had potential, once it was re-glued and upholstered.

Now it's welcoming and comfortable place to hold the baby.
It was the best gift I could think of........and wraps up the last of the rug recycle saga.

Had I known starting how difficult this pile rug would be to manipulate around the six points of back and arms, I would have found another material. Patience and pulling and both staples and upholstery tacks got it nailed down. That's life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sculpture and the Trolley Trail

Toby J makes it look so easy.... So does the fast editing.

Artist Toby J works with chainsaws to create his public art sculpture for the new light rail line.
Toby carves a tree removed during light rail project construction to create one of the sculptures that will be located along the Trolley Trail in north Clackamas County.

Six artists, including yours truely,  are creating public art from removed trees. All of the pieces will be located on the multi-use trail, adjacent to the light rail line.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sculpture and Time

There's an arts organization in Portland that has a festival called TBA or Time Based Art.
There's lots of dance and theater, but no sculpture.

Sculpture is the ultimate Time Based Art. What other art form lasts thousands of years?
.....or seems to take a thousand years to master and complete a single work?
Portrait of the artist as a young tree.

Counting the rings, this tree was only 77 years old.

Wood carving is such an intimate art. It is working with a (once) living subject that changes over time. Getting to know and understand this being in my driveway is important because I'm going to be living with this project for the next two years.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sculpture and Vegan Lepidoptry

Sonja Bales is a 14 year old artist. She calls this series, "Vegan Lepidoptry." 
 After carefully study of real insects, Sonja takes her art beyond mimicry, using maps, currency,  
old text books, and decorative papers and plastic to make these new creatures. 

Sonja's work speaks to the different roles insects have in our culture: as exotic objects of beauty, 
as fragile migratory species, and as dream images....

George by Sonja Bales ©2012 used with permission of artist
Sonja says of her work, "My interest in butterflies was ignited after watching television on antique Lepidoptry (preservation of butterflies and bugs). They would poison the insect and stab it with a pin.


I decided to make a vegan butterfly using plastic, but was not content with the result. I turned to paper.  I felt the butterflies needed to be carefully paired with each swatch of paper.

I'm an impulsive artist, and once something's done, there's always plenty more to beautify."

Sonja Bales ©2012 used with permission of artist
Sonja Bales ©2012 used with permission of artist
Sonja Bales ©2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sculpture and Process


 I was having a conversation about what it would cost to digitally scan the large wood carving.
That scan would serve as a record, to be used to repair or replace the art if it's destroyed.

 The business owner called me "a relic" because I intend to do the carving by hand.
 It shows the limitation of his aesthetics.
                                            .... and his salesmanship.     Don't insult your customer!

To the computer controlled router all surfaces are the same. But foam is NOT wood.

I'm designing this wood carving to take full advantage of the nature of the material.
A wood sculpture is woodier because of the tool marks of saws, chisels, and the occasional rip and check of the wood. The sculpture's textures are a visible recording of the creation process.
Smooth is for salad bowls and furniture.

Computer controlled routing isn't better if the art isn't substantially better too.
All the fancy technologies are simply tools for the artist.
Just like chainsaws and grinders, chisels and that most special of all tools, the artist's hands.

a relic is a part of the body of a venerated person, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a touchable or tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect most religions. The word relic comes from the Latin reliquiae, meaning "remains" or "something left behind"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sculpture and Measuring

There are many ways to track productivity.

There's such pressure to Go Faster. Do More! Work Harder!
That mindset makes it too easy to injure my body again and get overwhelmed.
I needed a plan B of mindfulness.

Wood carving is one of the few processes where your mess is as lovely as anything you make.
What to do with these fragrant chips of cedar and fir?
I'm carpeting a garden path with each workday's debris.
Like the clever name branding on the dustpan and broom?
The simple act of cleaning chips off my bench and floor, slowly filling a bucket, walking outside into the day and pouring them on the path are a way to see progress in a way that is pleasurable every step of the way.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sculpture and Color

How's this for a creative color wheel?

On her own, our 9 year old gathered and gradated colors in the garden using blossoms and leaves.
This is a great interactive way for children to learn about the color wheel, plants and flowers.
Love it that she included black, white, and greys in the top row.
The egg cups are small enough that the garden isn't plucked bare by eager hands.
Good to remember when the world was colorful and blooming now that it's grey and raining. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sculpture and Models

Paper is inexpensive, perfect for designing the shelter for my carving on TriMet's Trolley Trail.

The concept has changed from barn-like, that overwhelmed the art and was too dark. 
The new direction, is more origami.The shelter is now both House and Tree. 

The metal will be bent to give dimension and make the structure stronger. 
Fabricated from only two sheets of metal, the folds relate to the sheet-stock nature of metal and the angles of man made buildings.

Then the cuts tell a different story! 
One of organic shapes, nature, trees and growth. 
The openness allows light in to cast lovely passing shadows on pavement and art.
Paper model by Patrick Gracewood. ©2012
It's brown card stock that I've colored with a sienna chalk to simulate CorTen steel.
Suggest, and then get out of the way! Here's the magic: 
Light transform this from an object into an environment.

Paper model by Patrick Gracewood. ©2012
 I love how the model looks like something out of early Disney. 
Not the mouse, but the magic of illustrators like Eyvind Earle.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sculpture and Criticism

Continuing Monday's theme of sculpture criticism...

Robert Hughes on the work of Jeff Koons:    
"So overexposed that it loses nothing in reproduction and gains nothing in the original".

Rest in peace, Robert Hughes.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Sculpture and the Muse'e d'Orsay

Ahh, the things that last are Art, fragments of Poetry, and snarky put-downs.

I'm reading the book Orsay Sculpture by Anne Pingeot.
Pingeot, a curator of sculpture at the Louvre, was instrumental in creating the d'Orsay Museum.

She's also a good writer.

In the chapter on Neoclassicism, she's explains that the style was important in the Second Empire because it flattered the current regime with the reflected glory of ancient Rome.  She admits that this grand style representing moral virtues often ran out of steam.

"This was true in the case of James Pradier who 'sets out every morning for Athens and arrives every evening in the Breda District'" (a district of Paris famous for prostitution) as the sculptor August Preault mockingly put it.

That line took my breath away.
I wonder what 21st Century art smack-downs will be remembered in 150 years?
Photos are not permitted in the d'Orsay, but I broke the rule for this sculpture.
This isn't Pradier's work, and it's not NeoClassical. It might be Jules Coutan's work.

I turned the corner and burst out laughing and then felt guilty. 
The craftsmanship is superb, it's beautifully executed, but it's so over the top hysterical.

This sculpture demonstrates two things clearly. 
1. That peaks of action and high drama are not the best subjects for sculpture.
2. How much tastes change. This sculpture is it's own 90 minute jungle movie.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sculpture and Upholstery, the bench #3

I know this isn't fine art, but I define a sculptor as someone who is actively engaged with the physical world. He or she is not afraid to risk changing an object into something different, rearrange spatial relationships and design new environments

Believe me, you would have run screaming from the maggot infested rugs. I almost did. Here's the conclusion to the makeover.

This bench has had a long and interesting existence. I discovered that it needed structural repairs
and glued and screwed in new bracing. 
That completed, we're ready to work with the carpet, it was cut to fit the bench with an extra 4 inches all around. Layout is crucial as I only get one chance to get this right. 

I was so focused on getting the job done correctly, I didn't take any photos of the process. Oh well.

Here is the finished reupholstered bench with its companion rug-apocalypse post modern off-set repaired area rug. A little work and a whole new level of comfort, no, LUXURY in the studio.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sculpture and Upholstery, the bench #2

Upholstery foam is easy to cut if you have the right tools. I use a sharp fish fillet knifes. Draw a line all around the block you want to cut, keep your knife level and keep an even tension on the foam as you cut.
Here are the two knives I use and their cardboard sheaths to protect the edge of the blade.
Here's all the foam laid out for the bench seat.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sculpture and Vanitas

Vanitas and Mememto Mori are sculpture tropes dealing with mortality. What lives, dies.

Artist Nathan Brunstein transforms ephemeral cardboard into amonumental Vanitas.
 Funny and moving to create the Vanitas sculpture in such a transient material and then display it in a public square. The cardboard skull is soup, but the siting and its interactions with the public is ART.

Death appears and disappears

The artist Nathan Burnstein  installing his Vanitas.

Remember your dead this All Souls Day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sculpture and Drawing

These Parisian stenciled skeletons look as if they are wearing the grates as costumes.
Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sculpture and Dance

An understated but moving portrait of a dancer. Jerome Bel made this short documentary
for Veronique Doisneau, a corps de ballet dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet .
Watch the clarity of every movement she makes. This film was her last performance.

Watch them all as each segment has a different focus.

part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sculpture and TriMet Public Art

The problem with trying to tell a linear narrative is that life ISN'T linear. 

Don't know about you, but my life is fractal, relative, and more than a little chaotic.
Especially since I've sworn to spend more time
at my workbench than at the computer.
Friends on FB told me about the article in the Clackamas Review before I knew it was running!  

It talks about the artists working sculptures for the TriMet Trolley Trail and mentions To Grandmother's House, my sculpture and the inspiration for it. 
Read the article by Raymond Rendleman
To Grandmother's House implies three generations, past, present, future, and a journey...much as people who last rode the trolley as children are now grandparents. “They and the community have worked for years to bring this project, the entire revitalization of trolleys and nature trail, to fruition.”

Photo is the third model of the grandmother and her shadow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sculpture and Upholstery, the bench #1

A most unfortunate series of events can lead to something good.

I'll spare you images of beautiful hand spun and knotted Afgan carpets roiling with wool maggots.  Left too long in someone's garage, it was tragic. I saved what I could. Cutting and exposing the remnants on the griddle of the driveway on a 105 degree day, followed by shampooing and drying in the summer heat. Sheep are tough, so is wool. Now what?
The plan is to use one remnant upholstering this vintage turquoise Greyhound bus bench.
In the studio is an old 8 foot long Greyhound Bus Bench. I love the goofy turquoise color.
This happens when you store upholstery foam in your wood shed during squirrel nesting season.
My goal is to use up all these stored supplies. Use them up OR GET RID OF THEM!

Potential applies to liabilities as well as projects...... 
How do you make the decision about saving materials and supplies?