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Monthly Archives: October 2012

November is Writer’s Month

Well, the truth is I do like words, but that does not make me a writer.

This month is to be a challenge of trying to put 50,000 words in space. Certainly all my drafts are still paper, yes well, I am still not really into the computer age.
Already things are proving that the challenge is worth the commitment, that doesn’t surprise me, but it does please me.

Over a year ago I bought those magnetic business cards, to attach words to, so that I could write magnetic poems/prose/compilations? No idea the term to use. Well, could I ever decide what words to include? I tried favorite quotes, but that just lead me back to the beginning of my collection of words. This seemed redundant, as I have been using and abusing them for years.

But to write every morning needed an ice breaker, and I thought the obligation of writing a poem/prose/compilation would get me moving. So, if I don’t have the words, well steal them!  Which I did, all the book titles in the studio, in the house, borrowed from the library became the collection of words to write that first morning thing to break the ice to write, write and write some more. It is passing difficult to consider from a visual artist’s point of view that you are going to write 1666.33 words every day for the next 30 days.

As a visual artist I always felt words were if not redundant, certainly unnecessary for the making of art.  But, since entering this enterprise, I have realized that a lot of my work does hang on the thread of language, or is inspired by it, or is transformed into another dimension by the inclusion of words. How seminal is that to my understanding, and how late that realization is in coming.

Don’t go against the Grain

I have recently taken up wood carving in a big way.

Translating a set of sculptures made with plaster into the medium of wood is a challenge. By doubling the size even more so.

The originals were twelve to eighteen inches high, by  three inches wide.  The cedar I am using is eight feet tall by six inches wide.

Patiently I have narrowed my tools down.  A drill, pry-bar, a one inch chisel and rubber mallet, a three eighths inch round gouge.  So far this short combination of tools is working fine.

Patiently I have tried to remember bits of advise given to me over the years by my father who was a master at carving wood.  But I find remembering to be very hard work. Somehow, it is easier to just muddle along.

One thing I do remember is his advice to always work with the grain and not across it.  As the wood I am using has knots, the grain runs every which way.  That makes the whole project so much more interesting.

Picasso offered this advice to Francoise Gilot as quoted in her book, Life with Picasso pg.51

You know, we need one tool to do one thing, and we should limit ourselves to that one tool.  In that way the hand trains itself.  It becomes supple and skillful, and that single tool brings with it a sense of measure that is reflected harmoniously in everything we do.

The Chinese thought that for a watercolour or a wash drawing you use a single brush.  In that way everything you do takes on the same proportion.

Harmony is created in the work as a result of the proportion, and in a much more obvious fashion than if you had used brushes of different sizes.

Then, too, forcing yourself to use restricted means is the sort of restraint that liberates invention.  It obliges you to make a kind of progress that you can’t even imagine in advance.

These are the finished sculptures in plaster, when complete I will give an update on the reconfigured ones in cedar.  The ones in cedar do have their own personality, it is difficult to imagine doing a fascimile from one material to another. Fish to fowl?

Life Learns Us

We met a man in a bar a while back.  I don’t quite know how we got conversing, but that isn’t unusual for us. What was unusual was what he wanted to say:

There are four forces in the Universe:  Gravity, Electricity, Magnetism, and Love.

It took me time to appreciate that what he was saying was real, and when I did I made the four into separate paintings, small works 8 by 10 inches.

Recently I was reading a book by Melissa Pritchard called Salene of the Spirits. One of the characters sends a letter:

My life has been rich in ways human society can neither count nor measure nor reward, I have been taught (and how I resisted that lesson!) that love is an invisible energy which cannot die. It changes form, appears to vanish, then reappears…There is no thing such as time, and this life is a shadow dream at best, pale glimpse of a glory no one of us can imagine. I have little fear of death. It is a passageway and no one is ever left there alone or for long.