Monday, December 7, 2009

Tooting my own horn?

A week ago, I took "Chlora's Writing Room" to Dallas to introduce it to "Typo". I thought they would play well together, but they seem to have communication problems. Hopefully they will outgrow them because these two need each other. It is probably all the fault of that awful Frida Kahlo posing like St. Sebastian, impaled on the typewriter paper and still nursing her wounds. That wounded deer should deal with her pain and quit inflicting it upon others. It is enough to make poor Van Gogh cut off his other ear and turn it into a pencil sharpener, as above.

But on a much happier note, Adam is 25 today, and here he is, looking at the just-finished "Mourning Has Broken". If this piece had not been such a technical challenge, yes, I'd toot my own horn. But this golden horn buried in purple cloth has been one of those pieces that has tried my patience. Perhaps it should be named "Mourning Has Broken and I Glued it Back Together". Or "Mourning Has Broken, Pick Up the Pieces." Anyhow, I started this one way back in the spring. Conceptually it is complex, and technically, well let's just say I learned a lot.
It took the trip to Paris to get me excited about finishing it up.. Sitting there in the Orangerie, immersed in the waterlilies (the "Morning" one I'd painted on the lid and it self-destructed in the high firing)... I had an idea about how to redeem the broken lid (shown in an earlier post). Turn it into a mosaic, and toss the pieces into the case, like coins in the musician's case in the Paris Metro. I must say it is mightly fun to bash up porcelain with a hammer!

Also I saw "Impression Sunrise" in Musee Marmottan for the first time. It had seemed quite trite to use that obvious painting on a piece that deals with Easter sunrise services. But, the real thing was much more beautiful and nuanced than I imagined, and it just had to go on there. It tucks into the front of the case and peeks out of the case like the sun peeking over a mountain.

On the mute is painted Signorelli's fresco from Orvieto Cathedral, "Resurrection of the Flesh". I saw this fresco cycle a few years ago, and must say it is one of the wierdest images in art history...all those skeletons and bodies crawling out of the graves...Somebody really should mute that story!

Also from Italy, we have Ghiberti's scene of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, from the Golden Gates of Paradise (on the Florence Baptistery). I carved a portion of this, emphasizing the horns, on the bell of the trumpet. Compare the wet carving with the finished one, finally overglazed in gold.

The sheet music is Jeremiah Clark's "Trumpet Voluntary." It was a toss-up between that and Scott Joplin's "Pineapple Rag" which I could not find. Big thanks to Jenny Whitten and Tim Trickey for the loan of his middle-school horn and case from the 60's. It was a great model. Tim tells me it is actually a cornet, and yes, there is a difference, but when you make one out of clay, and it warps, I guess it doesn't matter. I have a new appreciation for brass players after following all the complicated loops and buttons on that thing. And, it took a lot of gold! The separate mouthpiece, overglazed in platinum, reminds me of the tuba I played in seventh grade. The tuba was bigger than I was, but I could get some noise out of that thing! Maybe if I'd played a trumpet I'd still be tooting my own horn.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PARIS for a Hymnal

The barter: the piece above for two weeks in Paris! Sherry wanted this for Marcus, who loves both the Beatles and the old Baptist hymnal. It is called "Broadman Meets the Beatles" and here's some details:

First, Matisse's joyful Nasturtiums and Dance
superimposed over "Joy to the World"

Sherry's favorite Nativity at Night by Geertgen tins von Saan
superimposed on "Let it Be"...which afterall,
should be a Christmas carol!

Right: Andrei Rublev's icon of the Trinity,
along with "Here, There & Everywhere"

Below: The backside of the hymnal (in process)

And, Gericault's gruesome Raft of the Medusa accompanies
"Love Lifted Me"... read those lyrics and you'll see why.

YES! I got to see the real thing at the Louvre! My image bank is so stuffed it will take months to process this fabulous trip!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"In The Making"--
Seems everything is always in the making...and here's new photos of my piece by that name.
Since the last blog, I have been to Paris!! Woo Hoo! Is my little brain packed or what? Too many ideas and too little time. The piece above has many little parts and I adhered them all down onto a board of porcelain graph paper. Otherwise it'd come back from this exhibition tour in many more pieces that it should have (it and "Rochambeau" below are off for the by/for exhibition tour beginning at Regent College in Vancouver.) It was fun playing with different arrangements of these parts and here is the final result--all sorts of implements for measuring, dividing, and connecting. When painting "God the Geometer" up at U of BC, I discovered that the Jesus figure is gently holding and steadying the chaos as he measures it up, and that the earth also has a halo.
Anyhow, all the work in the previous post came out of the kiln OK! More or less...the Big Chief tablet broke in two in the final Cone 019 firing. Bummer, as that is an unusual occurance. So, well, I got out the glue. Here it is, "Rochambeau" (Rock/Paper/Scissors). Not bad, with Courbet, Matisse and Rubens meeting Big Chief, no wonder there's some tension. There usually is when making big decisions...maybe "The Decider" needs this one.

Thanks to my friend Rusty Jackson for the photos. And to John Cobb for building the coolest crates--which double as display cases--for the by/for exhibit. They are works of art in themselves, see:

And also, at last we have some good photos of "Launch of the Lark". Its owner, Larkin has given permission for it to be in a show at Laity Lodge, which I will install this weekend. It'll be a walk-in show for the October Arts retreat, which is really fun. Here's the boots, with Olympic runners on their toes.

More later, as Rusty sends more photos, and as I get my messy batch of photos from Paris sorted out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The kiln is packed and inching upwards to cone 6. It took awhile, but finally the mess of pieces started in Vancouver has straightened itself out...I think...into five different "tableaux". Above is the hymnal I'm doing for Sherry & Marcus. It is the vintage Baptist Broadman hymnal, but in this version it meets the Beatles. Alongside a couple of favorite hymns are "Let it Be" and "Here, There, and Everywhere"....with art adaptations that also tinker with the sacred and the secular: Matisse, Geertgen ton sins Jans, Gericault, and Rublev. Painting those itty bitty lines of music was a pain in the body part that sits too long in the pew!

The other four pieces all involve art supplies. "Chlora's Writing Box" (the typing paper box and lid, with Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, Gauguin's Arlesiennes, and sketch of "Christ in the Garden of Olives" is also in the kiln. ) This one will warp and probably split, as box forms usually do...arrgghhh, so here 'tis before the fire does its thing:

Next to the box is the coffee can with Klimt's Kiss on it. It'll be stuffed with implements for painting, sculpture and writing, so it is called "All in One" perpetual quest to integrate the three art forms. This may turn into a lamp with a finial that looks like Michelangelo's Pieta....see below. I don't get to copy sculptures often, and that was really fun, reminding me of my first trip to Rome in 1968 when I bought the big replica. Back then you could get up close to the art and I almost touched the hem of the Virgin's robe.

The pencil case, modeled after one I still have from the third grade, became separated from the idea of rock-paper-scissors, which then has become a piece of its own. The pencil case, with God the Geometer (in previous post) has a rash of measurers, separators and connectors. The Rochambeau is a Big Chief tablet (torn corner will have Rubens' sketch for the Judgment of Solomon), plus a rock with Courbet's Stonebreakers, and the most delightful huge pair of scissors painted after the Dallas Museum of Art's Matisse cut-out. Then all around those items are scads of paintbrushes, pencils, ceramic tools, etc. We will see tomorrow what sticks to the shelf, warps, blows up, cracks, and/or loses its color!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vancouver artist-in-residency

Thanks to Erik Newby for these photos!

Above: Ginger, Shannon, Roger, Nancy, Kathy, Matt

Just back from 2 weeks in gorgeous COOL Vancouver...I was one of 6 artists working together in a big airy studio at the Univ. of British Columbia, invited by "by/for", an organization that encourages the church to be a patron of the arts. We were all quite productive, became close friends, and thoroughly enjoyed the BC area. The photos are by Erik and Shannon Newby of Vancouver (Shannon is one of the six-pack), and her daily blog gives a good record of our experience. Here 'tis-- Our theme was "In the Making", and an exhibition will result.

The bisque pieces I carried on board all made it OK, except for one that broke on the way up. It was tricky packing porcelain, paints and tools. At least the airline didn't frisk me this time! I did underglazing on several small pieces, which will end up in a big tableau for the MAC show, hopefully. Here's some in-process shots:

Basically, it is a bunch of art supplies. So far there is a box of typing paper with Van Gogh's bedroom on it ,a coffee can with Klimt's Kiss, a pencil case with God the Geometer...and assorted small items such as tape, pencils, wood tools, brushes, stapler, sponge.

Now back at home in my tiny studio, the painting continues. Also need to make a Big Chief Tablet; am eager to paint "Matisse's Scissors" What you see here is the underpainting, which looks pale and matte at this point. Lotsa gold and silver yet to come...along with shrinking, warping and cracks...

Other objects I envision for this include a big paint box and palette, a cardboard box of clay, turntable and rolling pin. This'll be about 7 individual pieces once done, but when assembled together, I think I'll call the whole mess "What Art Supplies." Chlora will have fun with this...scattering these art and writing supplies all through the twelve stories that make up "Chlora Gets Real." Getting her painting, sculpture and writing all together could be the culmination of the story. hmmmm....we'll see!

Friday, July 10, 2009

When it gets moved from the studio to the living room, it's done.
So here is "Launch of the Lark", after a third and final firing to tone down
the sheen and to gain metallics. The real Lark leaves in a month!

We will get better photos of her and her piece. A couple of details, of the Van Gogh adaptation "Wheatfield with Lark", the white gold zipper, and the fireworks with Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

I've taken 40-plus in process shots of this piece, just to show how it was made and all the little decisions that go into it. This turned out to be one of the best pieces in awhile (in terms of the technique working properly), thanks to the kiln being fixed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 5th...nothing blew up except real fireworks last night!

So here is how it looked in the kiln this morning.

No bad cracks! Everything shrunk 20 % as usual, and the boots seem tiny.
That's good, they belong to a third-grade Larkin....only problem is the Velvet underglazes turned shiny. You never know. But an overglaze will take care of that, and so maybe the zipper will also get a metallic, and a bit on the sparklers.

I am pleased that the Van Gogh "Wheatfield with Lark" color held up. A bit shiny perhaps...hmmm, did he varnish that painting?

One more round and it should all be finished.
Best firing I've had in quite awhile. It helps to get the kiln recalibrated every now and more overfirings!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July Firing of Fireworks

It is fitting that the "Launch of the Lark" receives its vitrification firing today, since this piece is full of fireworks....see above...these are bisque and underglazed, ready to meet the heat. Maybe they'll blow up! The kiln will go to Cone 6, which is app. 2300 degrees. Which is about the temp outside today in Austin, TX...
This is the piece for Larkin's graduation--see first post to view it as greenware, naked, poor thing. It turns out to be about Independence Day. Next post I'll show the sequence of handbuilding and underglazing the backpack and boots, a full technical disclosure. But I'll have to get the Larkin over here to show me how! Here's all of it in the kiln; too tall to sit on a shelf, so is on the very bottom of the kiln.

Tomorrow we'll see a big difference-- I predict the backpack will slump and will have a crack in the back, as there was a small one in the bisque. This will have to be repaired and disguised's porcelain, just have to deal with its limits. Hopefully the sparklers and rockets won't bend too much, but they'll stick to the alumina hydrate which I figure will look like gunpowder. Colors will both deepen and fade. Might need a low fire to attach some pieces and brighten colors; we'll see. Don't plan to add a metallic to this one, but could do the zipper and tabs in gold or white gold if the bronze bleeds out. Boots SHOULD be fine....they were the easiest part. Here they are in all their glory, with ancient Greek Olympian runners on the toes; some are distance runners with torches (to light the fireworks); the others are sprinters.

And one last shot of the backpack, fully loaded with fireworks. Note the rocket with Van Gogh's "Starry Night" on it. His "Wheatfield with Lark" is on the backpack pocket. One rocket is called "Panama Red Devil", the other is "Granada Grenade", for Larkin's previous travels. There is a parachute, a string of firecrackers and a pack of LEADER sparklers with George W. as in Washington. And of course, a Longhorn. And a tag that says "Sparky Larky Making Tracks".

Chlora has big plans for this. It better not blast off!