Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thoughts on small-scale work

Why is it that all my 3D work is bigger than a bread box?  (Wow, did I just date myself as a child of the 60's!)  I always prefer to think that it is because I have large hands, and I need to work on a larger scale.  But I realize that the art I BUY is also bigger than a bread box.  I suspect it has something to do with my hatred of dusting.  Or the fact that my body is big.  Or that I'm way into bread.  I love salon walls, but have a hard time creating one in my house because most of my 2D pieces are large, and seem to desire entire walls for themselves.
The Hockaday Museum of Art's current show/fundraiser, the annual Miniature Show snuck up on me again this year...why is it that, in all my years in the Flathead, I have only entered this show once?  I always go to see the show, but can't seem to make anything tiny enough to enter.  I noticed that several of the unframed pieces were "studies".  Well, there's a clue to my disconnect...I don't do studies...or maquettes for 3D pieces...why not?  Why not use this smaller scale for exploration...for play...for experimentation, and see what comes out of it?
Why not make a LOT of small pieces, and see which ones speak to each other, and connect them, or group them on a wall together, in easily-changable arragements.  The groupings, although made of small pieces, would be viewed as larger works when hung.  And the flexibility would allow the viewer so much freedom to interact with the work...Alicia Forestall-Boehm has a current show up that has such a grouping. I saved the photo to my wall because it captured this very thought...how so many pieces can be seen as one conversation, connecting several thoughts.  Of course, each piece in the grouping needs to stand alone as its own art work.  Is it like a tiny series?  I love to work in series...maybe I need to look at it that way. I really want to be able to do this...to break my self of the large scale.  Get rid of the bread box..I need the counter space.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Jumping -0ff Points

I know a very talented sculptor who never goes to gallery shows.  Or museums.  Or any place where he might view art.  I was dumbfounded by this, and had to ask...he told me that he was afraid of inadvertantly stealing another artist's ideas or techniques or style.
A heated...HEATED discussion ensued (is it a discussion if only one person talks?).  All manner of arguement spewed out of me...don't we ALL take from other artists?  Didn't those artists take from those they viewed? And don't we all take from our surroundings?  From nature?  And did he actually think that he was coming up with original ideas in his isolated studio? Nothing is new under the sun...I found a thousand ways to phrase that.
Certainly there are some who set out to copy..to imitate...but the majority of us see other's work and things in nature as inspiration, breaking down what we see into art concepts of line, form, texture, movement, contrast, etc.  What we stop to look at on the trail will be a jumping-off point.  I don't know about other artists' processes so much (which is why I wanted an interactive blog), but I NEED jumping-off points.  My best work can be traced back to these objects, and rarely resemble them by the time the piece is fininshed. No need to worry about stealing.  Shawna Moore posted a great interview the other day with Robert Storr, as he spoke about the paintings of Gerhard Richter.  He spoke of the artist as having "a response to nature, but not the desire to represent it in any romantic or naturalistic way".  Yes.  That is it for me.  Response.  I am finally getting over the instant eye-roll reaction when asked, "what is it?"  I now have a new answer: "it is a response to..."   Abstract. Non-representational.  Responsive.  Another word to help in that ever-ellusive description of what I do.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Of what remains"  sticks still in my head..  Bones.  Artifacts.  Language.  The traces we leave behind, that speak of our existence, how we lived, what we found important.  Remnants.  Excerpts. What is collected, stored, put up and preserved? What is special to us? Empty your pockets...pile it onto the table, and start to really look at what you might bring home from a wandering afternoon.  Sea shells, rocks, nests, bones (of course), pods, feathers.  Kids always have these things...they are in tune with this sort of thing....
I know what it is....these things hold SOUL.  These things still have a VOICE that speaks, and we can still hear it. 
I am interested in the shape of things, and the closer these things are to natural forms, the more sculpturally intersting to me.  But there's another layer to it all...it's the more non-visual part...the part that the written word can get to with ease, but I cannot, at least not very often.  I can sculpt a ribcage...but how do I get to the concept of breath?  The inhale and the exhale, or the catching of the breath?  Each of the arts has an angle that it works. Sculpture has form...volume...density...but to be able to massage some sense of soulfulness into it, even a tiny bit, is a few-and-far-between acheivement. No wonder I have love for so few of my finished pieces.  The ones that have soul are evident. The others just stand there, wearing incomplete outfits.  
My many "finds" lay in my studio, artfully arranged, waiting...