Friday, February 2, 2018

Made It: Crooning Cottonwoods

This summer I had a piece in a show called Abstract Catalyst at the Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland, Oregon.  
See that turquoise circle?  Read on to learn more about its birth.

For the background of this one, I applied paint both in a circular pattern (thanks to a lazy Susan) from the center out and then went over it with straight strokes.  All I knew is that I wanted something turquoise-y.

Beginning to lay down the orzos.
Finished product!
Crooning Cottonwoods
30 inch diameter
aluminum, paint, vinyl

When I applied for this show, I titled it "Prairie Porthole," and that is what it showed under, but I regretted it.  I mean, the leafy-ness of the orzos did make me think of trees, obviously, and the color of the ocean, so I smushed them together.  But then I came across this stanza from the poem "Kansas" by Nicholas Vachel Lindsay:

  The wind would drive the glittering clouds,
  The cottonwoods would croon,
  And past the sheaves and through the leaves,
  Came whispers from the moon.

Pretty great, right?  A name change was required and I'm happy I did it.  It's a small thing but with abstract pieces titles can matter if you want to get a certain narrative started in the viewers' imagination.  I mentioned this in brief blurb in this post.

Also, the gallery used this piece on their promotional mailers, which I didn't find out about until it was returned to me (because it sadly was not purchased) and they included a postcard.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Made It: Bring Treasure

Another round one, this time with rainbow ombre!
I accidentally made a planet on the first go around.
 I almost never sketch, but this one was tricking me for some reason.  Digital sketch for your pleasure...
Pretty detailed.

Visualizing the ombre stop and shape

Blues + red-oranges make me happy.

Bring Treasure
36 inch diameter
vinyl, aluminum, paint
Title from "The Hands That Cling" by Esther M. Clark

Monday, January 29, 2018

Made It: Rouse

After the big hullabaloo of the Women to Watch | Metals opening at the Kemper, I decided to dive back into making.  I so loved how the painted background turned out on this one that I chose a design that wouldn't completely obliterate it.
Rouse48 inches tall x 36 inches widealuminum, paint, vinyl
Lots of details ahead...

That little blue peeking out, the brushstrokes, the silver edge...mmmmm.

 When it was time to put vinyl to aluminum, I took some inspiration from a tiny collage I made a couple years ago.
Pink Fire
5 x 4 inches, paper collage and vinyl
At first it sorta turned out like a mountain, which didn't float my boat.
So I peeled off some outside orzos, contoured it, added some more here and there, and I was much happier.
The title wasn't taken from poetry, I did some good old thesaurus work with ideas of fire.  "Rouse" like "aroused" like "growing" and whatnot.  I can come up with them on my own sometimes, see?

CHECK OUT MY INSTA FOR FUN STUFF.  It's fun to me.  Lately it's mostly ceramics because it's too cold to work outside and I have to sand outside so I don't die of particulates and whatnot.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Made It: A Border of Memory

Another very big piece.  Complicatedly simple.
A Border of Memory40 inches tall x 66 inches wide
 This little piece was my inspiration.  This was one of the first non-clock orzo sketches I tried out three or four years ago.  It's about 8 x 8 inches.
scrap wood, paint, tea bag papers, vinyl
 The layers were all shades of black with a hint of crimson here and there.  I dragged a scrub brush through the wet paint to add texture.

All white vinyl.
 As I went along I decided to start adding in reflective silver orzos into the design.  Without a flash or other bright light source it's barely noticeable, but if you use a flash on your camera you get a whole new perspective.
 Look at that glow!  Magical.

The ridges really show up in this picture.  If you buy it you can touch it all you want.
Booth shot
Title from the eponymous poem by Florence L. Snow.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Made It: Hot Brazen Heavens

This is a story of redemption.  

I made a line of extra large clocks.  People liked the big impact of the graphic goodness, but some didn't want the actual clock part.  So I tried out just doing the background and not adding the mechanism.  
Original Orzo Rainbow Burst
 But after I started making larger, more complicated Orzo pieces, I thought the unpainted, one-layer-of-vinyl finished piece above was kind of boring.  Still great, but looked out of place among its younger siblings.  So I painted it!  I painted right over the vinyl and everything.   Fun fact, the dark purple orzos were de-laminating anyway because the adhesive was apparently not very strong, so I just yanked them off and decided to see what happened.  (This happens when you get leftovers.)
I love an ombre.
 I took some in-between process shots but they are terrible.  Sorry not to have any to share.

You can see the ghosts left behind by the pulled off purple orzos (some were sticky enough to grab and keep some paint even through sanding) and some nice aluminum peeking through.
 Improved!  Redeemed!  Visual movement achieved!
Hot Brazen Heavens
30 inch diameter
aluminum, paint, vinyl
The title is much better, too.  From the poem "Good-bye to the Cottonwood" by Margaret Hill McCarter.

You can go back through my Instagram feed and see a video of the sanding process if you want.  It's kind of magical.  It's from June 27, 2017.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Made It: Flock

You know those big circular railroad crossing signs?  I get them without any signage on them and make them into art.  
You're familiar.
Working with a circular substrate is fun but sometimes a little hard to get started on.  I decided to use the curved edge in the design but kept the background paint marks straight.
 I kept fighting the look of a black and white cookie and tried to hug the edge without just tracing it.
Greys and silvers on yellows and greens.
 It took a long time to decide which direction is up on this one.  Certain positions made it look like an ocean wave or moon, which I didn't want.  
Flock, 2017
36 inch diameter
aluminum, paint, vinyl
 I titled it "Flock."  You can guess why.  Around this time I watched The Birds but I'm not sure if it was before or after...or if one had to do with the other.  Abstract/non-living birds are better for indoors than the other, more annoying/loud/pooping kind.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Made It: Hard-Handed, Tender-Hearted

This is the largest piece I've made to date (along with its size-twin I'll share later on), being as wide as I am tall.  I chose that length because that's what fits in my truck while still being able to shut the hatch.  The gallery I was making these for could only accommodate pieces that were 40" tall, so that gave me the limit on that side.  Conveniently, that size exactly fits between my wheel wells in the truck, so it was meant to be.

Hard-Handed, Tender-Hearted40 in tall x 66 inches wide
To begin on something this large can be intimidating.  So I just threw every color at it I already had out...that's typical of how I work.  If it's within arm's reach it's not safe.
Looking great?

Painted and sanded and painted.

Masked, painted, sanded.


Lower left.  You can see that pattern pressed into the paint pop up again there.
 After I got the background finished I tried out a few different approaches to adding the permanent vinyl layer.  This image is from me adding black and white orzos going from the middle out, but I decided against it and used that motif in the other large one I'll share in a coming post.
Whole thing in terrible basement lighting.
I chose to go with SO MANY pieces of simple black orzos dripping from the top.

Here's what some of the ones I've shared this week look like staged in my show a little better idea of proportion and scale.
So much easier to set up a tent with eight pieces vs. forty-eight!  Hope I get into some shows this year...
The title of this one comes from a poem by W.H. Simpson called "John Brown."  I guess he, like I imagine many farmers and pioneers, worked hard but had a soft side.  John Brown is Kansas's favorite terrorist, by the way.