Month: October 2015

chaos and peace

The winds are howling, the rain is slamming against the windows and the big boy (and girl) Republicans are shouting at each other and at whoever is listening (like my husband). It’s a night to stay inside and upstairs…away from the TV. I just downloaded a bunch of stuff from my iPhone and realized that I have a rather nice collection of photos to share with you, they seem to all have something to do with metal and rust.

When we were driving back from Key West to Ft. Lauderdale, we were brought to a complete halt on the seven mile bridge because of an accident. I had just been thinking that I wanted to take a picture of the old bridge which runs parallel to the new bridge. I got my wish although I am sure that the people who were in the accident and all the others who had to wait for it to be cleared up were not as happy.

9 mile bridge 9 mile bridge

A few days later I was out having lunch and there was construction near to the restaurant. I had to take a minute to enjoy the movement of this crane picking up and putting down a very large piece of concrete. It was graceful and fast! I am always amazed at the talent of someone who can sit in a booth way up in the sky and manipulate the large beast in such a delicate and graceful way.

crane

(BTW, I can hear the TV downstairs, I think that at least 5 of the candidates are all trying to talk at once. Makes for a really civilized debate doesn’t it?)

This next picture is of a barn that I pass with some regularity, and I always wish I would take the time to stop and take a picture. Well, next time I go on this road I will take the good camera but here is the iPhone version.

rusty barn

Izzy decided to get up onto the kangaroo. And, oh by the way, if you want to see another few pictures from the camera club, check out Earl’s photos on Flicker. He catches the sculptures from some very interesting positions!

izzy

Before the camera club came I cleaned up in the studio just a bit…these are some of the rust paintings that were rolled up into scrolls.

scrolls

And because there is somewhat of a metal/rust theme going on here, I will finish with some rust on one of the sheets of steel in the studio.

rust

camera club

Yesterday I hosted the first event since bringing all my sculptures home and finishing the kangaroo. The Carroll County (MD) Camera Club started arriving around 9 a.m. Over two hours later, the last of them left, happy with a successful morning taking pictures of the sculptures, the barn, the studio, Ginger, Lucy and Izzy. (Max decided he would rather take a nap than be photographed.) I was thrilled that they found so much to photograph and in fact some people are planning a return visit in the future. This is exactly why I wanted to open my own sculpture garden.

I am always humbled by the pictures that can be taken by those with good cameras and a bunch of talent. I have a somewhat decent camera and a modicum of talent but I do NOT have the patience to learn and remember all the tricks of the trade, it is as if that part of my brain has a little door that lets out all the information I try to put in it. I’m hoping that I will see more pictures in the future but for now I will share with you Cathy Gilleland’s photos. She took lovely close-ups of a few of the steel animals, some great pix of the live animals and blew my mind with her “Infrared” pictures…enjoy!!! (Click on any picture to start the slide show.)

transition

My life as an artist is changing…again. The layers are peeling away…

spiral
spiral

My career started lo, these many years ago, by a simple purchase. In 1990 I bought a starter pack of Fimo*. My niece had a pair of earrings that she made and I wanted to make some too. So I started working with this funny colorful clay and made myself a pair of earrings. I wore them to work and someone else wanted a pair. My first sales as a crafter/artist was for something like $5. And my career began. Just like that.

Throughout my 13 years in the polymer clay/craft world, I upped my game. Pushing the limits of the clay I would make reptiles and amphibians, pull toys, christmas tree ornaments, woven baskets and 2D art pieces amongst other things.

a simple polymer clay basket
a simple polymer clay basket

I sold them at craft shows, eventually moving my way up to the ACC wholesale shows in Baltimore. I filled orders for contemporary craft stores around the country. I began to wonder if there was more to life than making a product.

The next transition began when I took a class in metal fabrication in 2003. I had no idea what I was in for. The first day the teacher turned on the oxy-acetylene torch and I was petrified. Then we got to the MIG welding day and I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

In the beginning
In the beginning

By the spring of the following year I had finished my orders, closed up my polymer clay business and found a welding studio. The next phase of my career had begun.

Life-sized steel animals, stabiles, and abstract sculptures came to life and found homes around the country. I even won a few awards as I exhibited my work for the next 12 years. Pictures of my sculptures started showing up on Pinterest and Instagram. And I still wondered if there was more to life than making a product.

Throughout these 25 years I had occasionally stepped into the conceptual art world.

Contained Passion
Contained Passion

Making a piece that was a statement about how I viewed life would appear every so often, but for some reason, I could never immerse myself totally in this part of my creative process.

Until now.

Perhaps I needed to live life a bit before I really crossed that threshold. Perhaps the stars needed to align. I think I also needed to connect with the art community in a different way. The residency in NY at the School of Visual Arts earlier this year definitely helped me to immerse myself in a new way of creating. For whatever reason, I am finding myself in the doorway of a third major transition. It is hugely exciting and petrifying. I am asking myself to really communicate what I think and feel about myself, the world and my place in it. I am using my brain in a different way, reading more, pondering more, trying to find the words to tell what my art is about. It is a challenge on a very different level than learning to weld or selling to store owners. For once, I am not worried about a finely crafted product. I am more interested in the message, the feeling (ugh, do I really have to deal with feelings?) or the story. I know that not everyone will “get” my sculptures, and that is going to be another hurdle for me to overcome, my need for approval from EVERYBODY.

As you can see by this garbled post, it is all so new to me and I am working it out slowly. And that is okay, because it is no longer about the finished product, it is about the process, MY process. And occasionally I will invite you all along for the ride…but if I don’t post any pictures of what I’m working on, you will know that I am really enjoying the process but I’m not quite ready to share it yet.

*Fimo (Other brand names include Premo and Sculpey) is a man made clay that is the same chemical make-up as PVC piping. It come with plasticizers in it to make it workable. After you create something glorious, you bake it in the oven.

productive

It has been a super productive day today but I am starting to wear down so I thought I’d take a bit of a break and post something. I am off again tomorrow for one more round of travel, then I get to stay at home and be normal…until I get bored of that and want to go somewhere else again.

There has been such a shift in the studio since I finished the kangaroo. The floor is now covered with rice paper in various stages of rust/ink painting. Experimentation is the name of the game and boy oh boy is it exciting. There has also been a shift in my mind as I work to sift down all the thoughts and feelings I have into an understandable artist statement. I am having to learn a new way of thinking and writing, one that is a challenge because it requires me to actually put words to my ideas, my concepts, my reasons for doing what I am doing. I prefer to just make stuff, without thinking too much about it. But what I am finding (not surprisingly) is that by synthesizing it down to a few words, I have more of a focus, more of an excitement when it starts to come together.

Oxidation Happens group

You can see what I am talking about on the new page of my website. I have finally added the rust paintings (part of a series I am calling Oxidation Happens). It goes along with my idea of the website as retrospective, not just a catalog of the work that is for sale. Having a background in retail/wholesale production, I am used to thinking how best to sell my work. Now I have to think about how best to show everything I do and everything I am as if my website is my portfolio…seems a subtle point when I write it but it is work to wrap my head around it.

Alright, off to see how the rusting is going…