statue

16 October, 2013 at 6:09 am (art, blue-eyed crow, work) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Work in progress, acrylic on canvas. The actual statue playing the lute stands at the entrance to one of the mazes at Hever Castle (where Anne Boleyn grew up).

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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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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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90%

23 September, 2009 at 6:08 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, pack of dogs, work) (, , , , , , )

sorrow

This is one of the pieces that doesn’t seem to be quite finished, but I’m not sure what it needs.  I keep going across the room to look at it, but the solution has not jumped out at me, so I will let it sit a while then try again.  It’s funny how time can change what one sees in a work.

I am listening to a frog out in the woods while I work but the birds are quiet now.  I’m going to take a dozen of the apples weighing down the trees out back and make a crisp, then take the fiendish hounds for a long run on a trail nearby, they weren’t with me for the last two months of travelling and the one I adopted last year didn’t do so well with the separation (she stopped eating and lost a lot of fur).  The dogs I’ve rescued from shelters seem to do worse when I’m away, plus she is a dominant dog and doesn’t like the boss being absent, so long walks now that I’m back are essential.

Hopefully the time outside will be enough so that I can look at the pieces I’m unsure about and know what they need.

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sisyutl

19 April, 2009 at 11:19 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, work) (, , , , , , , , )

sisyutlcrowgrna

This is not finished yet, the 3-headed monster needs to be integrated and I’m not sure how I feel about the absence of writing.

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swirl

1 January, 2009 at 3:19 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

swirlsa

As usual I start making something and need a tool I don’t yet own (although there can’t be many left in that category).  Of course, the hardware store down the street doesn’t carry circlip pliers, either internal or external, so it’s left to internet shopping to save the day.

A close friend of mine pooh-pooh’s New Year’s Resolutions, he says you should make changes in your life through-out the year, whenever you think of it.  I agree (being fond of change, in general), but I think it’s good to be reminded periodically to examine your life, just in case you get caught up in things and forget to take a step back, look at the big picture and decide on any additions and/or alterations.  My list will get longer, but my first resolution for this year is to open an Etsy store this Spring.

dsc_0503aa

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lace

29 December, 2008 at 9:53 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, life, local, work) (, , , , , , , , )

leafpearlspiralpa

I’m forging leaves and swirls for some jewellery and an assemblage book.  The bits of wire sticking out will be removed as the rivets go in, and I am starching pieces of lace to be stretched between them.

Cutting up the lace, even though it is damaged, is hard – I love making things but have a very hard time breaking something rather than restoring it.  Friends have told me I’ll get over that someday, but it hasn’t happened yet and occasionally I think about going back to school (again!) because I’d love to do restoration, especially on textiles.

Finally I got to see who has been dropping clouds of pigeon feathers from the jacaranda and leaving wings to flutter down at odd times.  This is the first time I have seen one of these in the fountain, he had three watery baths plus a sun bath because that water is cold!

hawk2pahawkbathpa

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clock beetle

17 December, 2008 at 6:23 am (art, blue-eyed crow, friends, life, local, work) (, , , , , , , , , , )

watchbeetlea

I’m letting this piece sit for a while until I figure out where to go with it.  I spent much of today drilling tiny, tiny holes in wire which I will rivet tomorrow, also experimenting with odd-shaped rivets of various materials.

Last Saturday was a day of coincidental meetings.  At the show (which was in another city) I ran into the lovely woman who was my neighbour for the last seven years until she bought a house this summer.  Later, at dinner in a Peruvian restaurant, it turned out that the woman sitting next to me had been in the same Chinese (language) school that I was in, for the same three years, but we had never met before this.  Two friends on my left told us they ran into each other on a sidewalk in New York last month, neither knew the other was planning to be there.

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measured

29 November, 2008 at 7:50 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, work) (, , , , , , )

dsc_0487aa

On request, here is a picture of one of the legs next to two acorns so that the size is clear.

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