A short post just to catch you up on some new work and happenings.
Another Proud Fisherman
I was sketching a few weeks ago, and decided that I’d like to revisit my little puffin fisherman, but in a more minimalist fashion. So, let me introduce “Proud Fisherman #2”. This puffin has placed his catch on the ground to share how magnificent it is. He didn’t stay on my work table long, as I had some empty pedestals in the gallery to fill, so here’s a shot of him in the gallery.
He is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature, with hand sewn glass bead eyes.
I have been dropping off additional prints from time to time, and thought that I’d share the latest batch composed from fresh flowers and leaves on the gell plate. All of these prints are one of a kind acrylics on paper with some watercolor hand finishing.
but not HGA? I have been quite busy the past few weeks creating something a bit different. I was invited to create a piece for a rather well known reoccuring show, The National Teapot Show at Cedar Creek Gallery. Yes, I did type “teapot show”, but no, I did not create a functional teapot, or did I? Well, to be exact, I created a sculptural piece that is a one-of-a-kind functional handbag, but you cannot serve tea from it. This quirky and slightly surreal creation is titled, Tea With My Octopus Teacher, and features a spotted red octopus encircling a creamware teapot.
The piece references two works of mine: “Multitasking” – a tea serving octopus, “Clutched” – a black evening clutch with an aqua octopus, and the award winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher. The sculptural bag measures 10″x 10″x 6.5″. The octopus’ intertwined tentacles serve as a handle, and a button closure secures a fully lined interior. The show opens May 20th, and I’ll share details in a few weeks.
Save to Feature, or Not?
This is a question I perennially find myself wrestling with. I had already started hoarding work for my show in September, especially any that I felt photographed particularly well. However, taking some time to create my teapot and recent sales have stretched my available inventory. I know this is an excellent problem to have, and as a result I’m taking a couple pieces into the gallery this week.
The first piece is completely new, and is titled Songs and Wishes.
This sculpture features a little vignette that includes a singing frog, a mouse wishing on a dandelion seed head, and a dandelion partially fashioned from recycled denim. As I had mentioned earlier, many of the pieces this year incorporate two or more figures. I enjoy the movement and playfulness in this sculpture.
The sculpture is needle felted wool, and recycled denim over wire and batting. I also included stuffing beads in the lower portions for ballast. You can see Songs and Wishes at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting this Tuesday, 4/25.
I introduced the second piece going to HGA a few posts back.
Ele-vate features two small elephants helping each other climb up some wooden blocks. all of the elements are tied together in what is also a quite playful piece. This sculpture will be at HGA starting on 4/25 as well.
As I have been prepping sketches for this year’s Featured Artist show, I have been scanning images online. It is something I do in the planning phase of most sculptures I create. As I may have mentioned, I’ve been working on sculptures with multiple animal figures. A cold search for images with 2 or more animals has yeilded many points of inspiration. One image that caught my eye depicts two bears. In the photo, a momma grizzley bear stands on all fours with her young cub presumably along for the ride on her back. The youngest of the two bears looks so very comfortable and content. This is the feeling I strove to evoke in my piece Mommy ‘n Me.
The mother bear is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature form. The young bear is wool over batting, and is felted on to mom’s back. Both bears have hand sewn glass bead eyes.
Happy, But Not Completely by Accident
Last week, I introduced some of my gel plate monoprints. I mentioned it is a process in which you do a lot of learning by doing, seeing what works and what doesn’t. There are a couple of points in the production of each print where you hold your breath… Will the photo-transfer of the lazer print be clear on the plate? Will the whole print come off the plate clean? What will result of the final mixing of the foreground layer and the background colors?… There is a certain amount of variability in each print that is somewhat out of your control. So, it is a moment of surprize each time you peel back your final paper.
One such print I produced yesterday is Flower Print #3. This print has several layers. I pressed a composition of flowers from my garden in a layer of blue and green and pulled off the negative space around them. I then applied a second background layer of yellow and white. Finally, I did a single overprint of yellow on the side facing full bloom. The result is a quite painterly looking print of my flower composition.
Additionally, I did a photo-transfer of an image of my sculpture Remember Whales. It is always exciting when the print transfer has a nice crisp impression. I created this print with a mixture of green and blue in the foreground, a white background layer, and just a touch of watercolor to highlight his eye.
I have been playing in the studio with the idea of presenting images of my work as well as the sculptures themselves. I did not want to merely produce cards and prints of the photos I take of my work. The process of producing gel plate monoprints caught my eye, and I decided to try my hand at this unique medium. This type of print uses a synthetic surface that looks and feels like a slab of gelatin. Each of the prints produced is an unique original piece of art. You can utilize a wide variety of media as the printing “ink.” I have been using regular acrylic paints to produce mine. One gel print technique allows you to use lazer prints (and some magazine images) to incorporate photo transfers. I have used this to create something completely new from the work images I share here with you.
The process can be a bit temperamental, so I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting and learning. I finally have produced a few pieces that I’m happy with, and will be taking them into the gallery in the form of matted prints (5×7 & 8×10) and some blank note cards. So far, I’ve produced photo transfers of my work, and some completly original print art using found objects like spring flowers. Each piece is completely unique, and may include over printing, multiple colors, or hand coloring with watercolors to finish. Below are a few examples…
I will bringing the cards and prints into the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts as soon, as I get them all priced, labeled and entereded into inventory… Hopefully, in the next day or so.
… Then the Fish
Conversation Bubbles is my newest anthropomorphic sculpture. This hanging mobile sculpture is something a little different. The piece features three needle felted aquatic creatures. I took some liberties with the exact species, but they based on a yellow tang, a pink tailed trigger fish, and a mauve stinger jellyfish.
The glass bead “bubbles” raising from the two fish are my marine version of cartoon conversation bubbles. Not sure what they are talking about, but it may have something to do with a gulf jellyfish being in their tropical Hawaiian reef.
Both of the fish are needle felted wool over batting with glass bead eyes. The jelly fish features a nuno-felted layer over a majenta needle felted layer. The top of the jelly has hand sewn glass bead dots.
The mobiles hanging system brought me back out to my metal shop to hand forge the copper “waves” from wire. I used large jewelry jumprings and fishing swivels to attach the figures and beads with fishing line. I am not sure yet if I will hold this piece back for my show or not.
The title is me playing around with things that help a piece of digital content be found by search engines. I do not think my tinkering in this post will really bring any more traffic to my little art blog. It is a price I’m paying for my own education and entertainment.
Annual Feature Show
Right now, I am beginning to decide what sculptures to hold for my feature show, or make available immediately. I also need to decide which images to use to highlight that show. I reassess these decisions as work sells, and my gallery inventory dwindles. This year my feature show is in September, so I will hopefully be making many such decisions between now and then. Perhaps you all can help me decide with the sculptures below? I will update you if the availability status any work changes for any reason.
The title of the feature show I am in is RECIPROCUS. As you might guess, that is the latin root for the word reciprocal. We artists in a show come up with our titles together. I suggested “Interactions”, as several pieces I had been working on recently had two or more figures in them. A previous FA show already used that title, so Reciprocus was suggested as an alternative.
Ele-vate is a pair of elephant babies helping each other climb. They are needle felted wool over wire and batting, and are integrated with the wooden blocks they are climbing. Yes, the title is a terrible bit of punning, but you just have to go with it sometimes.
Everything has a Price
This sculpture features a lone zebra who’s stripes become a barcode. This piece is sort of a nod to the other big project I worked on for the past year or so, leading a team to set up HGA’s point of sale system. At times it felt like that was my job. This sculpture captures that. He is needle felted wool over wire and batting. Though this scupture is a lone figure, I created him with the intention that he is looking directly at the viewer and interacting with them.
My cranes are captured in a moment within their courtship dance. They evoke human behavior with out the need to be contrived. The cranes are a combination of needle felting and nano felting (wings) over wire and batting. Their legs combine black yarn and needle felted wool roving. The delicate pair is joined together, and they support and balance each other to stand on ther own.
The new show, It’s All About The Story, Volume IX – Jaki Shelton Green, opens at HGA next week. The opening reception will be during the Last Friday Art Walk on the 24th. The piece I shared last week, Rabbit Games and Midnight Rainbows will be part of that show.
Some readers out there may remember that The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts sometimes pairs up with talented local authors for a show titled “It’s All About the Story.” This year, we will present volume IX of that series of shows with poet Jaki Shelton Greene. My piece for that show is titled Rabbit Games and Midnight Rainbows.
The show will be on display at HGA from February 14th through March 26th. There are two events connected with this show. The opening reception will be during the Hillsborough Last Friday Art Walk on February 24th from 6-9, and Ms. Greene will be reading in the gallery on Sunday, March 12th from 4-6 pm.
You can read all about Jaki Shelton Green and her work on the website Jakisheltongreen.com. The HGA artists have primarily created work that responds to a collection of her poems titled Breath of the Song.
The themes and topics of Ms. Greene’s poetry are wide ranging. Some are brutally honest and speak to a wide open audience, others are very intimate and personal. I first read through the collection to see if any topics or titles jumped out at me. Though there is a poem titled Paper Dolls, I felt that would be just a bit too “on the nose” and didn’t want to be overly literal, especially when responding to poetry, So, instead I read through again looking for visual phrasing that spoke to me.
Rabbit Games are born
Within one of several poems in the collection with the title Eva, I came apon the following lines…
and only precede midnight rainbows / we played the games of / rabbits
Instantly, I saw two celestially patterned rabbits dancing in the moonlight, and I started sketching Rabbit Games and Midnight Rainbows. I have to admit that this is one of those pieces where the creator has fallen on love with their creation. I can’t wait until we install the show in a couple of weeks. The two rabbit figures are needle felted wool over a wire and batting armature. They have large glass gem eyes. They stand on their own and support and balance each other.
We hope that you can stop in and check out all the other amazing work in It’s All About the Story Vol IX: Jaki Shelton Green.
Blog note from last post: Ususally art work in a feature show that sells stays with a red dot until the end of the show. However, there was a special request regarding my piece, So Many Questions, so the penguins have already gone on to their new home. My piece “Remember Whales” is serving as a stand-in until the show comes down on February 12th.
The next featured show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is Melting. Melting is the first of two HGA member artist group shows to start 2023. This show’s title is up to the interpretation of the individual artist, but was originally suggested with a nod to the topic of climate change. My piece for the show features an Emperor Penguin and his chick, and is titled, “Too Many Questions.”
Penguin Dad and Baby Wait for Mom
For this sculpture I recalled watching the Oscar winning documentary, The March of The Penguins. One thing that many will remember from the film, is that the male penguins tend to the eggs and hatchlings. Meanwhile, the felmale penguins walk to the coast to fill up on fish immediately after laying their eggs. The mother’s round trip takes about 2 months. During that time, the males huddle for warmth while they incubate the eggs, and then tend the penguin hatchlings. The fathers do provide some early sustanance for the young chicks, but survival ultimately depends on the timely return of the mother.
At the time of the making of the film (2005) the coast was about 70 miles from the Antarctic ice sheet where the Emperor Penguin breed. As the ice sheets recede, the distance to the shore, and sustanence to survive grows. This, in turn, makes the round trip for fish and back grow longer and longer.
In my sculpture, I have anthropomorphasised my young penguin to be at about the level of a human 2 to 3 year old. As any parent will recall, this is a time when, “why” is a favorite question. I envision my young penguin chick to be asking his dad why it is taking mom so long to return.
Show Runs January 10th through February 12th
Check out all of the work inspired by the theme, Melting, at the Hillsborough Gallery this month. The show will be in the Featured Exhibit gallery January 10th through February 12th, with a reception during the Last Friday art Walk on January 27th from 6 to 9pm.
Ok, I’m a couple of weeks late this year in typing up a post about the holiday items I have available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. So sorry for the delay, but there is still plenty of time for you to stop by and pick out that special gift or little remenmberance.
Mice are Stirring
For the past few years I’ve created some smaller one-of-a-kind seasonal mice sculptures for the holidays. The former pieces were trios or pairs of caroling mice. This year I chose to create a couple of solo mice figures.
Coco Nightcap was the first of these two small sculptures. As you can see he was an adorable anthropomorphic mouse figure wearing a nightcap, and holding a steaming mug of coco. I said “was”, as he was purchased and has moved on to a new home.
After Coco Nightcap vacated his pedestal position, his friend For You took over. For You is a seated mouse figure holding out a brightly colored wrapped gift for you. He also features a bright purple knit cap. He is still available as of the typing of this post (in fact, I’m sitting in the gallery looking at him as I write.)
A Forest of Trees
The little needle felted trees I created last year seemed to be a popular choice, so I contunued them this year with the addition of some soft sculpture ones in denim. The new denim trees are hand and machine stitched, and feature hand needle felted “ornaments” on them. The needle felted trees again are snowcapped with white wool, and decorated with hand-stitched glass bead ornaments. All of these tiny trees measure around 9-10 inches tall, and stand on a natural edge wooden base.
In addition to my puffins and polar bears I added some baby harp seal pups. The little bundles of fluff with the big black eyes are perfect for rendering in needle felted wool and glass beads,
A number of my original anthropomorphic needle felted sculptures can always be found at HGA. I also have a few non sculpture pieces like wet felted vessels, felted handbags, and needle felted wool “paintings.” Check out the gallery website for our hours during the holidays.
My fetaured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is now down. The remaining work has been distributed around the gallery, and I’ve had a chance to sit at my studio table again. Getting new ideas going after mounting a show is sometimes a tricky activity. I always need to rev up my sketching. Not everything that I put to paper ends up executed in 3D, but this seems to be the process that works for me. I also take in a lot inspiration visual and otherwise. This can include anything from scrolling on Pinterest to catching a phrase while reading.
Following the Spark
The idea of Persistence came to me from a couple of directions. I first just had the thought of creating a snail, no deeper meaning connected. I like the interesting form of the animal, and the endless variety of the size and shapes of their shells. When an idea occurs this way, I will often do a search of the topic. I look for meanings or symbolosm connected to the image.
Among the results that came up when I searched snail symbolism was a short story by Virginia Wolfe titled Kew Gardens. In this story an unnamed narrator is observing the garden along the side of a flower bed. Several pairs of people walk by each engaged in conversation. In between these snippits of dialogue, the narrator turns to describing the flower bed itself. Several of these descriptive musings note the progress of a snail. One critique I read of the story describes the snail as a manefestation of Wolfe’s depression. I have to say that I disagree with that interpretation. The snail seems to be steadfast in its determination to keep going on its path, and completely unaware of the concerns or even existence of the people passing by. I saw this little snail as persistent.
He is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting form that contains a small sand bag inder his shell. The sand bag provides ballast to keep his head up. Hand sewn glass beads serve as his green eyes and tips of his tenticles.
Pandas are often fodder for anthropomorphic art. The real animals are just so full of personality. The giant panda usually gets the attention, but the red panda can be equally as engaging. I came across a photo of two red pandas trying their best to intimidate the other. The result is nothing short of adorable! Much in the oxymoronic fashion of “ugly-pretty” I found their intimidation scary-cute.
My Panda is needle felted wool, over a wire and quilt batting armature. He has hand sewn glass bead eyes, and knotted yarn claws. This work features quite a bit of felting with a reverse needle to provide him with his fluffy look.
Last New Work Struts
Strut is just what he appears to be. An anthropomorphic rooster wearing spats and an ascot, and using a glass-topped and silver-tipped walking stick. Roosters seem so embued with confidence and flamboyance that depicting one as a bit of a dandy borders on cliche. He does seem to pull it off with flare, however.
Strut features colorful needle felted wool over a carefully balanced wire and quilt batting armature. His tail feathers I constructed by stitching a central anchor line in a strip of denim, and then fraying and trimming the sides. His spats are needle felted wool with copper brad embellishments. I used glass beads for his eyes and cane topper. The walking stick itself is a trimmed down chopstick painted black, with a jewelry ferrule tip, and silver wire and glass bead top.
That’s all the new sculpture work I have for you for now. Stay tuned.
It is impossible to filter out all that happens in the world, and just create sculptures that depict cute happy little creatures. So, I’ve responded by creating some cute happy little creatures trying to say or do a bit more. “Helping Sunflower” is the next piece that will be available during my feature show in May. In this sculpture, three woodland creatures are working together to help a sunflower stand tall and straight.
The whole world is now aware of the sunflower as symbol of Ukrainian national identity. We are also painfully conscious of that nation and its people’s need for help right now. I decided to depict that need and hopefully the resulting aid through this piece. My blossom is being aided by a trio of woodland animals.
The raccoon at the base of the sculpture is doing more than holding up the stem of the sunflower. I filled his bottom with a small pouch of glass gems so that he provides ballast to this taller than average sculpture. His construction is needle felted wool over foam, batting and wire. His glass bead eyes are sewn and felted in place, and his whiskers are fishing line knotted in place. The fur is purposely felted in with ends loose to provide a fluffy fur coat and tail.
Mouse Has The Leaves
A field mouse is perched on one leaf while he steadies another. His construction is felted wool over quilt batting. The mouse eyes and whiskers are the same as his raccoon friend.
Robin Provides Sunflower Air Support
At the very top a robin in flight grasps a petal in his beak. The robin was the trickiest element construction wise. I wanted to make sure he appeared to be pulling the flower upward. The wire armature travels up through the petal edge and on into the bird. The wing edges are left purposely loose to give the illusion of movement. The robin features needle felted wool over wire and batting with hand sewn glass bead eyes. The sunflower incorporates recycled chopsticks and wire in its stem, a machine stitched center that provides the illusion of seeds, and individually formed petals.