sequestered

8 April, 2011 at 7:30 am (art, blue-eyed crow, life, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I love looking at other people’s studios and hearing how they work. Blogs like from the desk of…, and Terri Windling’s ‘On Your Desk’ posts are always interesting, also books like ‘Artists’ Houses’ and ‘In Artists’ Homes: The Living Spaces of Contemporary Artists’ and, of course, artists’ own blogs, like Rima Staines’ Into the Hermitage and this multi-talented artist who experiments with making her own iron gall ink and sculpting from the skeleton out. Harry Ally so impresses me in this video, working quickly among all those other people *and* in front of a camera.

It’s amazing how different artists’ spaces are, and their ways of creating. Actually, I think part of my fascination with Harry Ally is precisely because he works so opposite from how I do, his paintings and drawings are so free and large.

So, here is where I work (you can click on the photos if you’d like to see more detail, hopefully I dusted well enough!):

Sketches strewn over an old suitcase (because if I put them tidily away I forget about them), a couple paintings-in-progress, a little house my mum built (a simple one, most of the ones she makes are more complicated, she also does lovely water-colour paintings of bits of architecture), and to the left the door to the teeny balcony (it can fit either one chair or a pot of jasmine, I chose the latter).

The work table: more sketches, bits for some boxes and tiny shrines (underneath the bank bag are the littlest micro-bits hiding from the dusty winds that sometimes blow in even when the door is closed), a tiny village a 6-year-old and I are slowly constructing along with mini paper dolls and their even smaller clothing, and a wind-up toy I love that throws off sparks as it rolls around. I found the table itself on the street, it has lovely barley-twist legs but a sheet of plywood on top (with ‘danger’ still on from its former life) so I don’t have to worry about protecting it. Note the lovely view of stucco – nothing to distract me there! (The view from the balcony is more treehouse-like – hibiscus, palms and jacaranda, a fountain down below and over the trees distant skyscrapers.)

Some possibly finished pieces hanging out on the built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves (I love these shelves!), another old suitcase barely visible bottom left.

The rest of the tour would include a small easel, an antique Arts & Crafts style table I use as a desk, an ancient cloth-covered trunk (all three found on the street), a chest of drawers with old fruit crates (avec labels) stacked on top as shelves for supplies, and bright silk longyis from Burma and cotton sarongs from the Philippines, gifts from a sister and a friend, covering big cushions on the futon because this is also the guestroom.

Also, numerous postcards and other flotsam and jetsam from vide greniers, gifts, and scavenged and found bits on the desk and shelves and tucked away in the drawers.

I feel very lucky to have this room, and I am completely dependent on it because I can’t work around other people. At all.

I don’t know whether it’s because I am too distractible to create around others or too self-conscious, probably both, but it makes art classes and retreats awkward (I practice the techniques but can’t actually make a piece of art) and group paint-outs or sharing a studio impossible.

And I can’t work in short bits of time, or with interruptions. Portions of an hour are useless to me, especially when I am doing the initial sketches for a painting. Sometimes I work for hours before I start to get what I want, then when I do I don’t want to stop for more hours until I’m finished (which means if I start in the evening it can be early morning when I finally put everything down). When planning the moving parts or secrets of the boxes I build it’s like I’m making an invisible path in the air, so as soon as there is an interruption it’s completely gone and I have to start at the beginning. And unlike the wonderfully free Harry Ally with his big brush and crowbar my paintings are built slowly, in layer after layer of washes and detail.

So, back to work here…

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the cause of my unhappiness as I sit in a garret without a glass of wine

2 March, 2011 at 11:57 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, life, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

at this stage I still hold out hope

here I'm fatally unhappy with it and call it terrible names

Okay, you probably guessed I’m not really in a garret. But I am sitting in a little upstairs room stewing, without a glass of wine. And can’t step out on the miniature balcony (3′ x 2′) for some fresh air and sprinkling rain because I’ve not tidied and some panels are blocking the door.

Is it bad to post frustration on an artist’s blog? When I read other blogs there are pictures of lovely new works and happy news of openings and sales, which is always nice to read (especially in difficult economic times!).

But tonight I am too irritated to post about the piece I worked on yesterday that I am happy with, because of this blue roof-scape.

It’s not even from a sketch that I was really wild about, I just wanted to complete it to work out some things before I start a piece whose sketch I do love. And after a day out and about I was looking forward to an evening of progress and foolishly put off a friend’s weekly visit to get to it. So instead of pleasant conversation over warm bread, cheese and a glass of wine in the dining room I am grousing over a painted wooden panel and haven’t made so much as a cup of tea.

Part of the frustration, I suppose, is trying to figure out when to give up. I spend a lot of time on colour sketches and usually know for certain when I finish whether I want to go on to paint something or not, so I normally do not find myself spending time on I am not fond of.

And I paint in many layers, so working on something means I am spending a lot of time with it. (I was very happy when I learned that an artist I love (Vija Celmins) works so slowly that museums wait decades to get enough of her work together to put on an exhibition.) By the time the first image above was taken this panel had gone through many incarnations and could still conceivably surpass the original sketch.

But now it’s murky, it doesn’t look like the sketch but is not an improvement on it, and although I have a bit of Renaissance script that was supposed to be the finish it’s currently dark enough that I think I’d have to do too much to make the final layers work.

So, devote more time to this piece? A look at my tiny supply of panels makes me feel less than generous to the uncooperative. But limited time means I don’t want those hours to have been unproductive.

I’ll look at it tomorrow after working a while on another painting, maybe the mood will change.

Edit: Below is how it looked last week, I have since changed it some more.

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my heart

1 March, 2010 at 5:16 am (art, blue-eyed crow, life, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Often when I go to compose a post I am tempted to just put an image of whatever piece I am working on without any text, I find writing very difficult. I love reading what other people write though, and admire how skilfully some people blog.

During a conversation there are the constant decisions and adjustments regarding how much of one’s life and thoughts to reveal. Bloggers, without knowing who will be reading, need to somehow maintain a balance between not revealing enough to intrigue a reader, and sharing too much, thus becoming instantly uninteresting.

I first started reading Rima’s blog because I love her lively drawingspaintings, and fabulous clocks with their medieval influence (and this game she made is fantastic), but besides being a talented artist (child of two artists) her talent as a storyteller sharing her adventures helps make her blog so entertaining (and popular).

Making the decision to take time away from her work to share the joyful times of her life is generous, but it must be hard to decide to keep writing at times like now when things are not going well. I admire how strong she is to be open at a vulnerable time.

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LXD

4 December, 2009 at 12:12 am (art, life, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Hmm, and I thought I’d be happy if I could do a decent tornado kick.

Best to click and see it big screen, but it’s a poor quality video, so even better see it on a really big screen if you know someone who has ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ TiVoed. These guys are so innovative, it will be fantastic if their online adventure is as good:

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oops

19 November, 2009 at 9:18 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

An experiment gone awry.

I love a bit of decay incorporated into things, which is why I love old buildings, Michael Eastman’s photos, and the furniture I inherited (although a small fund to keep the chairs glued and un-wobbly would have been a good thing to inherit along with). I’ve been working on a way to include that in some of my pieces, but how best to partially destroy my work?

Here is a piece I’ve been wreaking minor destruction on, pre-destruction:

It definitely needs some decay, so I go to work on it, trying to balance giving it some integrity while still leaving it vulnerable:

Then I become Kali, speeding up the destructive force of time, and the result is:

Far too much decay!

Tomorrow, back to the easel, so to speak. I will repair it to wreak (less) havoc on it another day.

At least it won’t need this treatment:

Done to erase the result of another experiment. One not to be repeated.

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urn

3 November, 2009 at 12:50 am (art, blue-eyed crow, family, life, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

shutterstroughsa

These are from this summer, all in my mom’s neighbourhood.

I’m working with photos for a few days to distract myself from some technical difficulties with the other series I’ve been working on. I’ve looked around to see if anyone else is doing a similar process with inks, pencil and encaustic, but haven’t seen any, so I’ll go back to experimenting with the propane torches tomorrow. So far nothing big has caught fire or blown up, that’s good anyway.

Earlier this evening I was showing a friend the website of one of my favourite photographers, Michael Eastman – his Cuban and Italian photos are incredible. Then I learned of the death of Roy DeCarava, another amazing photographer. I was trying to pick a few of his photos that I liked best, but it is so hard to choose. This is one of many, and this, and this. They are so evocative.

Now that I have loaded my photos onto this post I’ve decided I don’t like the way they look small. I love how art has such a different effect at different sizes (except when it doesn’t work small on my blog). I spent the day at an art museum with some friends recently, and was loving the difference between various pieces close up and at a distance. And the texture, that fantastic delicate texture of drawings and miniatures, it’s all completely lost in reproduction.

grassurnbells

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injured

30 October, 2009 at 12:08 pm (art, books, friends, life, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Fridadeer

These are details of one of the paintings in the stash that inspired Barbara Levine (former director of exhibitions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) to write ‘Finding Frida Kahlo‘. The trunks of materials (diaries, letters, recipes, paintings, stuffed hummingbirds, and so on) have been called forgeries by some interested parties in Mexico (ArtSlant article, NY Times article, Christopher Knight’s take), and I am curious to see how this all plays out.

Detecting forgeries is a difficult art, because the science can be faked (although sometimes people are so sure of their ‘eye’ that they refuse to believe scientific evidence to the contrary, e.g. de Groot insisting that ‘Merry Cavalier‘ was by Frans Hals despite the fact that some of the paints used were not developed until long after Hals had died), and of course mistakes are made both ways (a collector of Rembrandt burned one of his paintings thinking it was a forgery, later it turned out it probably wasn’t).

Both those claiming these were Frida Kahlo’s belongings and those crying fraud have a stake in the outcome, influencing the way they see these pretties.

Fridasig

I do love Frida as a deer, a friend almost bought this version years ago, but didn’t, because it would have been a quite a stretch financially – of course looking back he thinks it would have been worth the sacrifice. So often in life it would be nice to have the benefit of hindsight ahead of time, eh?

Click the link below to see more:

“Finding Frida Kahlo” by Barbara Levine from Princeton Architectural Press on Vimeo.

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broken

9 October, 2009 at 6:45 am (art, blue-eyed crow, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , )

broken

This window is in a beautiful building in the village my mom lives in, it was abandoned 19 years ago.

In my art I like to use images from my life and the places I’ve explored.  Damaged old buildings evoke so many emotions, and questions.

This piece is not finished but I haven’t figured out where to go with it next.

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doorway

24 September, 2009 at 5:46 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, family, life, Uncategorized, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

doorway

For this I used the image of my mother’s doorway – sitting here I can smell the stone and plaster walls (unless my sister is cooking ratatouille, bread pudding with ginger toffee, or some other deliciousness). The house dates back to at least 1595, the records before that were lost when the town was sacked in 1576, and when she moved in the only plumbing was a sink underneath the window to the right of the door, all cooking had been done in the fire.

I love row houses because I love town noise, and my mom’s house is so accessible when someone drops by for a visit, but my dream house would be a ‘portland’, a row house with a long strip of garden behind.  I recently stayed in a beautiful example of that in a medieval town outside London while visiting relatives (including my most adored aunt and uncle who are fixing up a barge in the gorgeous port of Sandwich), the garden was 40+ feet wide and 630 feet long, on a south-facing slope with orchard, pond and nuttery.  Perfection.  An upscale version, built 70 years after the one I stayed in, is Rothe House in Kilkenny, which has been restored and opened as a museum.  It would be great to be part of a project like that, they did such a good job on the gardens and orchard, and next time I’ll definitely spend more time in their library.

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15 kilos

3 September, 2009 at 8:28 pm (life, local, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

planetreespigeonnier

No art today because I am travelling, all packed to Ryan Air’s precise requirements.  These are photographs I took during a drive with my sister the other day, all things we won’t see for a while.  The farmer who sold us honey that day insisted that we come down to pick the tomatoes with him so that we could appreciate the layout of his farm.  The tomatoes were amazing with some herbs we picked and chevre on bread.

pickingtomatoestomate

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