Monday, April 30, 2012

Sculpture and Faux Bronze #1

I was going to call this post Faux Fantasy, but that sounds like a transvestite strip club. 

That would be more exciting.

This is about making concrete look like bronze. But like that fantasy strip club, it's all about putting on a lot of paint for a good show.  It's not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to go over the top garish to have it work.

It really is theater.
Bouquet for the City by Patrick Gracewood © 2012

Bouquet for the City by Patrick Gracewood ©2000
Here's how my relief sculpture, Bouquet for the City, looked in 2000. It was featured in Lake Oswego's outdoor sculpture exhibition, Gallery Without Walls.

I couldn't afford bronze and was exploring cast concrete as a medium for public / outdoor art. I loved the glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). It's very strong, the walls are an inch and a half thick, not a solid block, so that means it's a reasonable weight for sculpture.

I struggled with how to color it. I never liked the yellow cast of the concrete, but it was what the factory was using that day. It was free.  Can't complain. Concrete stains turned out to be an acrylic product that faded over time. I never reconciled that yellow with the pink.

Worse,  I fell into literalism. Pink flowers, green leaves. Why did I work so hard creating a composition about texture and patterns and space if it was going to be steamrollered with one for one coloring? I faded the green into the background. It just looked dirty.

Having this problematic relief installed right by my studio front door meant CHANGE was necessary.
This week's posts show how I "turned" it into bronze...with just a little "fantasy."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sculpture and Presentation

See how much easier it is to see the sculpture now?
Finally you can see the art. The sawblade is not junk sitting around, now it's the perfect backdrop.

The dark color of the stone and the quiet forms of the sculpture needed a very quiet background in order to be seen. Pedestal top and shaft were painted a rusty brown.

(I'll probably paint a bit of faux rust patina on the pedestal to break up that expanse of solid color.)
This is the first thing you see as you enter the garden through the little gate. A perfect welcome for next month's open garden and open studio.....

The dual nature of the saw blade / halo makes me laugh. Always a good sound in the garden.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sculpture and Presentation

"It ain't over till it's over!" 

In the garden, siting sculpture, that means it isn't finished until it's just right.

Sometimes that resolution takes a long time.
Here's the Chinese lohan sculpture installed.
The base needs to be repainted a quieter green, the concrete top stained darker, the Italian cypress will fill in behind....... but the head doesn't stand out enough.

 It should work, but it doesn't. What to do?....................
Ignore it for a while....

Meanwhile this enormous saw blade has been lying about being too cool for the scrap heap but functionless............................ Cleaning the up garden, inspiration struck.
What better backdrop for a Northwestern holy one than to have a halo that can physically cut through illusion and ego?

Thematically, it's a perfect solution. It evokes the flaming halos in Asian art.  Both Eastern and Western art traditions have depicted their enlightened beings surrounded by halos.
Shiva Dancing, India, Guimet Museum

Standing Buddha with a halo, 1st-2nd century AD (or earlier),Gandhara
Saw blade and base are at the welders right now. The right solution is worth waiting for....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sculpture and Nina Katchadourian

On long flights across the globe, most people endure the confinement and boredom.

Nina Katchadourian makes art.
 One of Nina's biggest aesthetic skills is her ability to be present to the moment and really see what's in front of her. (Her other good art skills are her sense of humor, knowledge of art history, and a deep curiosity.)
All photos by Nina Katchadourian ©2012 used with permission of the artist.

She calls this series, Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. 
There is something so touching and funny about this series.

Who hasn't played dress up or struck a pose in a mirror? 
Or has needed to have a good talk with yourself in a mirror in the bathroom?
Who hasn't felt like screaming "Get me OFF of this plane RIGHT NOW!" 

But who goes into the bathroom and transforms "the fanny gasket" toilet seat covers,
turning them into linen and lace?

Who evokes the hardships of Flemish Calvinists, hard lives hundreds of years ago by using 21st century cell phones and paper and her own expressive face?  

Nina Katchadourian, that's who.

Nina's website is here. Her art is represented by Catherine Clark Gallery.

Nina writes,"While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone.

The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight.

I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.

I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone.

At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Nina is brilliant.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sculpture and Painting

Lessons learned from this painting:
The plan is to help you begin and have something to follow.
Every plan has to be able to change. Sometimes Radically.  
The plan is not always what you want to wind up with.

Color is magical.  
Any painter, from the middle ages on, could have told you about Einstein's theory of relativity.  
Color only exists in relationship with the colors around it.
Change one and you've changed everything. Sometimes Radically.  

It's good (once you've survived it) to challenge yourself in new media and styles.
You improve your skills. Sometimes Radically.    
If you've picked an unfamiliar genre, you study the masters of that style and deepen in appreciation and connection with the artists who have gone before you. 

Sometimes Radically.

Initial sketch for portrait. How good to have begun with this idea rather han ended with it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sculpture and Painting

Painting is easier than sculpture. If you don't like something, you start over by painting it out.

Mark saw the portrait at this stage, loved the portrait and hated the shapes surrounding her.
Luckily he was able to articulate why and what he wanted instead. You can see the pencil marks for the new shapes. We looked at the Mucha book to see how often he used off centered circles as framing devices.
It's a funny place in the making of any artwork where the desire to finish it confronts the desire to make it better. 

It's time for the hard questions: What does it need? and How do I do what it needs?

After painting in the new surround, I made a list. See if you can spot the changes between the image at the top and the finished portrait.

Here's my list:
1. rotate left eye to have same focus as the right eye.
2. Shift highlight on nose to the right.
3. Push the background further back with a raw umber glaze.
4. Make the blue a little duller, also with a raw umber glaze. Dark stars bright periwinkle.
5. Step up her coloring to hold its own against the background and the newly added gold.
6. Vary the line thickness on her left shoulder.
7. Repaint (several times!) that orchid at her cheek.

Mark wanted stars. I wanted them to be quiet and slightly irregular but not chaotic. The easiest way wast to make a stencil so that there would be an underlying relationship between the stars. Here's the stencil.
And here is the completed painting installed in the custom oak door made by Mark Downing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sculpture and Painting

Fern's portrait is finished and on its way to being installed in a beautiful hand made oak door.

Portrait by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
Mark Downing asked me to paint a portrait of his wife, Fern, in the art nouveau style of Mucha. The more I researched Mucha, the more intimitaded I got. The man was a master draughtsman and colorist. It says a lot that Mark made the intire door before I started painting.............

Go to Mark Downing's Atelier to see pictures of how he made the door.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sculpture and Color

I'm fighting dealing with this portrait right now.

No problem with drawing, but the painting is messy, it keeps getting away from me. Not just the colors but how it goes on to the primed board. It's oozy and sloppy, so unlike carving. Surprize!

Gotta solve how work in such a different there's nothing I'm willing to show right now.

But in struggling with it, I am noticing color more. This quiet riot of color got my attention.

Not just the flowers but my purple Barbie tool box,  red pillow, the oranges and russets in the rug and wood and how all the warm and cool colors relate to each other....they shouldn't but they do.

Now if only I can pull off something 1/3 as complex.....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sculpture of John Frame and Drawing

I saw the wonderfully dreamlike John Frame show at the Portland Art Museum.
Sculpture and photo by John Frame.
The lighting was beautiful on the tiny sculptures but that made it so dark it was almost impossible to draw. Luckily I was able to sketch four in the brief time I had.

The book about Frame's work is called Three Fragments of a Lost Tale. 

In reading it, I realized that I misunderstood what I'd posted earlier. Mr. Frame does title his characters. (Don't believe every thing a docent says! and fact check!!!)
John Frame's "Pere Jules" drawing by Patrick Gracewood ©2012

"The Crippled Boy as a Monument" drawing by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
John Frame's "Argus Questions" drawing by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
 Drawing after a John Frame sculpture, "Osep Naz finds the windmill reliquery" by Patrick Gracewood ©2012