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.