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.
Time has a way of speeding up when you are real busy. I see that I haven’t posted in a few weeks, and BOOM! my featured artist show, Interconnected Visions, opens tomorrow evening at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. It appears I have some catching up to do.
First some additional introductions.
This is Showoff.
Showoff is a Malabar Giant Squirrel, Ratufa indica. Yes, they are a real animal, native to the forrests of India. Also, yes, some of them have purple-magenta-ish coloring. Mine is perhaps a bit more vibrant? It is hard to know for sure. I did find numerous photos just as colorful, but there is no way of knowing if the individuals who took those images might have enhanced them. I created Showoff simply because purple squirrels exist, and I think that is pretty fantastic. You may find it surprising, but it appears that their bright coloring actuallty helps them blend in among the treetops, as the patterning breaks up their outline. These squirrels are also quite large, roughly twice the size of the Eastern Grey squirrel.
My Showoff is not trying to remail unseen, in fact he is waving at the viewer to attract attention. He features the same needlefelted wool over wire and batting form as my other sculptural pieces.
What else can be said about an ice skating flamingo? Be Unique is a response to a request. A lighhearted urge to be oneself no matter what the “normal” role may be. She appears to be quite proud of her skills, and has a naturally colorful skating costume. Be Unique is also needle felted wool over wire and batting. Her internal armature anchors into her sparkly base.
Something different for this show.
I created several wet felted vessels for this show. Wool fibers have scales along thier surface. These scales grab on to one another as fibers are pushed past each other in the felting process. In needle felting, I stab the loose fibers with special needles that catch and move the wool.
Wet felting uses soapy water and agitation to felt the fibers together. These vessels were created by layering loose wool roving over a balloon. I then spray soapy water on the wool, and cover the wool with tulle netting. Bubble wrap is then rubbed over the tulle in small circular motions. The process of layering, rewetting, and rubbing is performed for several layers. I remove the balloon between some layers to guage thickness and tightness of the felt, and to check the structural integrity of the vessel. I also “boil” the wool by wetting it down and placing in the microwave for short bursts. This additionally tightens the felt.
I created two bags for this show as well. One is quite causal, and the other a bit flashy.
My Grey Felted Bag was wet felted over a foam form. Layers of wool are placed on the form with edges that wrap around to the other side. The wool is wet, covered with tulle, and agitated with bubble wrap in the same manner as the vessels. I cut the top of the bag open, and then cut handle openings. I finished off the handles by stitching with yarn. The bag is lined with purple cotton that is hand-stitched in place. I added velcro to the liner under the handles as a closure.
My Butterfly Clutch is a combination of wet and needle felting techniques, and a little recycling. I first created the envelope clutch bag in similar manner to the Grey Felted Bag. It also has a lining of the same purple fabric sewen inside. The striking monarch butterfly wing was needle felted for an earlier piece that I wasn’t quite satisfied with. I scrapped that sculpture, but kept the needle felted wings. One wing already made its way on to a denim shoulder bag. I attached this wing by needle felting it directly on to the closure flap of the bag.
I’m of a vintage to be able to remember ‘Save the Whales” as being a thing. I know that the global moratorium on whaling isn’t complete, and doesn’t block all whaling. But, it has allowed many species of whale populations to rebound. Why did I find my self thinking about this the past week or so? It might have some connection to watching my daughter doing some fundraising for Ukrainian refugees at school, and working an internship at a non-profit that deals with poverty issues. It is inspiring to witness empathy and caring. In recalling this rallying cry from youth for people to care about something, I was inspired to bring my own whale to life.
I’m not sure if some would count him as anthropomorphic or not. I do not have this humpback whale doing something overtly human, and he’s certainly not dressed up. However, I find a certain intelligence expressed by most species of cetaceans. My whale seems ready for a conversation. His bright blue eyes sparkle with knowing, and he is propped up on his fins to look the viewer in the eye. A conversation with this humpback might prove quite embued with humanity
Remembering Whales is needle felted wool over wire and batting. HIs upper coloring is a hand blend of grey and blue fibers. Blue glass beads are sewn and felted in place for his eyes. He will be available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts the last week of May.
Next week a new show installs at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Entitled, Stirrings, the show will feature new work by HGA member artists. For my contribution to the show I thought about the first few anthropomorphic pieces I created. Though I had sculpted animal inspired art dolls before, this was a whole new direction. High Fashion, was one of the first of these creatures, and she has remained one of my personal favorites. Dare to Clash recalls her predecessor. This giraffe is displaying her own unique style.
Perhaps she is over doing it just a bit with the animal prints, but her purple flats are on point. She also seems quite happy with her visor and large hoop earrings. They show off her long slender neck.
“Dare” stands a little over 13 inches high. She has bright glass bead eyes capped off with long black lashes. Her custom footwear is hand sewn from faux leather.
This piece really a represents a labor of love. I fully recall how labor intensive adding all of the giraffe spots to High Fashion was. Now I added leopard spots, and tiger and zebra stripes to mix! Needless to say, she took quite some time.
Dare to ￼Clash will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting Tuesday, February 22nd. Come and check her out along with all new the “Stirrings”.
Artist Sunday, It’s like Black Friday or Small Business Saturday but for art.
I’ve joined artists, creators and makers across the country for Artists Sunday. It’s earth’s largest art event, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 28th, encouraging consumers to shop with artists. Think of it like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday but for shopping for art!
ARTISTS SUNDAY is one week from today!
I’m thrilled to be participating in Artists Sunday this year. Here’s what to expect this holiday season! Artist, galleries and arts organizations everywhere will be ready to share their work with you for your holiday shopping.
To prepare for the day, I’ve already added new work at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts for you to browse and purchase. Plan a special Artist Sunday trip to HGA. Additionally, I took my Etsy shop off of the “vacation mode” I placed it on for my Featured Artist show last month. So friends, family, and followers who are not in the Hillsborough area can also check out and purchase my work on Etsy.
Subscribe to my blog on this page, and you will not miss updates updates about my work. I try to share each new sculpture as it emerges from my studio. I’ll will also alert you about special shows and events like Artist Sunday!
Make a holiday wish-list so your loved ones can gift you items from local artists and crafters like me. Create a shareable wishlist using one of these tools. Then send your list to your friends and family. Be sure to include your favorite pieces from my collection!
Check back hhere for a link to the HGA online holiday shop when it goes live on Black Friday, November 26th.
Monday morning the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts was buzzing with activity. The artist/owners were busy installing the holiday 2021 version of the Art of Giving show. We completely reinstall the gallery for the holidays. Twinkling lights on white branches appear in our front window with a wide variety of ornaments. Blown glass orbs, ceramic bells, and hand painted miniature paintings are a few examples you will encounter.
I’ve already shared a couple of my new holiday themed pieces. They, along with others are now available in the gallery.
Emperor Cocoa is my newest original sculpture for our holiday 2021 Art of Giving show. This anthropomorphic penguin is holding a mug of steaming hot chocolate. He stands about twelve inches tall. Constructed of needle felted wool roving over a wire and quilt batting frame. The art doll figure stands on his own with help from his tail for balance. He is intended for the holidays, but he can bring cheer all year long.
Other Holiday Offerings
Along with the original art doll sculptures, I also produced some holiday exclusive items. This year I’ve again made Lantern Houses. I created them last year in response to the Hillsborough Solstice Lantern Festival. Each year Hillsborough has a Lantern Walk along the Eno River. Last year’s was altered due to the pandemic. Instead businesses and downtown residences displayed lanterns. I created these little needle felted structures to house an LED light. At night the light shows through the windows and doors, and makes the translucent walls glow. Additionally, I created miniature Christmas trees on natural wood bases this year. These stand between 8 and 12 inches tall. They are accented with hand sewn glass and crystal beads.
I do still have my original design puffin and polar bear ornaments available as well. Stop in at HGA to check them out, and do a little holiday shopping.
Now that Thanksgiving has past, the holiday gift season is in full swing. It certainly has been an interesting journey to this point this year. With much of the prep work for online sales needing to be completed ahead of time, it is almost a little anticlimactic. I do, however, find myself keeping an eye in several different directions at once. In the past, I only had to attend to my work at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Now, there are new tasks and more things to learn.
Winter Ride went to a new home over the weekend. So, in addition to packing it up at the gallery, it also needed to come off of my Etsy page. It is a strange experience when a piece like this sells, especially early in the season. I had this sculpture front and center on a pedestal in the first room of the gallery. This prime location obviously did its intended job. So, though I love that this one-of-a-kind piece will go somewhere it will be treasured, I’m just a little sad to see it leave.
A New Season
I also experienced my first Etsy shop sale over the weekend. Imagine my surprise when my phone suddenly made a “Ka-Ching” sound. This brought new things to learn, like Etsy’s built in customer communication, and updating the status of the order when shipped.
Since two items came off my LWSculptedShop Etsy store this weekend, I guess I should put something new up. I just completed another of my needle felted pins, so that might be a good place for it to find a sales home? This little relief sculpture measures 1.25″ x 3.5″ and has a hand-stitched rigid back and standard pin clasp. It features some curly wool from the sheep of another HGA artist, Susan Hope’s, farm.
I hope that you will take the time to see what the small local businesses and artists around you have to offer this holiday season. Many like our gallery have had to adjust the way they do business face-to-face, and/or establish online sales outlets for the first time. I can speak from personal experience that the learning curve on both has been steep for some. If you are lucky enough to have the ability to give gifts when so many are struggling it would be wonderful if some of those gifts came from local artisans and shop owners.
This week is the last Friday of the month. A new featured artist show, Construction, is going live online for HGA. But, Three Narratives isn’t really going anywhere. My anthropomorphic art dolls will remain available both within the gallery featured sales pages, and here on my Available for Purchase page.
At the Gallery
Those same anthropomorphic art dolls are now at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts awaiting our controlled reopening. As you can imagine, a space where patrons linger, converse, and touch objects is rife with contact concerns. The HGA owner artists are carefully considering all the angles we can think of to safely start to welcome visitors back. The current plan is to offer private appointments one weekday, and open a few hours with precautions on Saturdays. Details on both options are still being finalized. I will share all that information with you here, as soon as I can.
Not Just Anthropomorphic Art Dolls.
Even with the move towards careful reopening, we are building and refining HGA’s online sales offerings. As you might imagine, something that required building on the fly has experienced a hiccup or two. The experience of the past few months has taught us that we need to develop this side of our gallery further. Keep checking in with me here. I will continue to share new developments. In the mean time, take a second look at our special Art Under $100 show. This show features pieces donated by the HGA member artists, and all proceeds go to maintaining the gallery.
I admit it. I fall prey to finding humor in puns, and some of my new creatures are obvious candidates for punny titles. My swan dancing in her toe shoes titled, “Too En Pointe?”, is a prime example.
Swan Lake is the world’s best known ballet. I choose to depict this most recent dancing figure as a swan. I think that choice might be a bit too “on point” for some. For those not familiar with dancing terms, dancing up on toe shoes is called being “En Pointe.” I suppose I could have made her title an even greater head shaking pun if I had called her “TooToo En Pointe?”
Title aside, I enjoy how this sculpture came together. She is a commanding figure at 18 inches tall and her wings spread wide. That she somehow can maintain her en pointe posture dancing on water makes her just a bit magical.
More Performing Creatures
If you are familiar with the romantic comedy Notting Hill, you might recognize the title of “Happiness Isn’t.” There is a painting, La Mariée (The Bride), by Marc Chagall that plays a role in the story. The main characters Anna (Julia Roberts) and William (Hugh Grant) discuss the imagery of the painting. Anna states,”It feels how love should be. Floating through a dark blue sky.” William quips, “With a goat playing the violin.” To which Anna responds, “Yes, happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat.” That clever exchange was the inspiration for “Happiness Isn’t.”
Even though the goat in the actual painting appears to be holding a cello, I chose to depict my figure with a violin too. He is one of those figures that just brings a smile, and has no other job than to contradict his own title.
Things are changing quickly as we navigate sharing and marketing artwork online. I’m not sure this month’s Featured Artist show (changes Friday, April 24th) on the HGA website will be presented in the same way as the current one. There are some new gallery offerings going up just about every day. Keep checking in both here and on our Hillsboroughgallery.com site to see what is new and available. I just made some pricing updates on my own “Available for Purchase” page. You may want to recheck your favorites. I’ve revised the newest back to last year’s scale, and I have taken in to account the need to add on shipping costs.
It really has been much too long since I updated readers on what’s going on in the studio. I have been busy sculpting away in the studio these past few weeks. Much of what I’m working on is for my yearly featured show this coming April, so I’ll keep that under wraps for just a bit longer. In the mean time, let’s look at “Tattered Swan”. She is my piece for HGA’s next show, “Green”.
But First, Some New Year’s Resolutions…
Each year, somewhere in late summer HGA puts out a call-to-artists across North Carolina. This call is for our yearly state-wide juried show “Resolutions”. Some 200 or so pieces were submitted from artists across the state. 38 wonderful works in a wide variety of media were chosen for inclusion. The show “Resolutions 2020” will be on display at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts January 6-26.
Following our yearly Resolutions show, the member artists of HGA mount two yearly group shows. The theme of the first of these shows is “Green”. I chose to interpret the word green as sustainable. Sustainability being my focus, I decided to begin with my material choices. As felted wool has been my material of choice for the past year or two, I looked first at the source of my fibers. I first purchased wool roving for this figure directly from the farmer at a local farmer ‘s market. My second fiber choice was to recycle. I saved dryer lint from loads of laundry over a period of months. and used it for my second source of fiber. You find this unconventional material used in the figure’s wings, hair, and costume.
The dryer lint presented me with a puzzle to solve. Its fibers are quite short, and their varied sources make the “Felt-ability” highly variable. I first turned to wet felting. The result was something that resembled home recycled paper, but was devoid of any tensile strength. It crumbled to the touch. I took this fragile material, and sandwiched it with paper thin layers of recycled quilt batting that I had peeled apart. This provided much needed long fibers, and crosswise stability. I needle felted these layers together. The result was a tattered and weathered looking fabric.
I often have my iPad propped up with something playing on it in the background while I work. I had just rewatched the movie Black Swan the idea of creating another dancer figure seemed long overdue. My intension was not to pull directly to the movie imagery, but rather relate to the way it captured both the distress and beauty of ballet. I also strove to create a figure in a snapshot of movement, caught at an instant without connection with the ground. The result is the piece I’ve titled, “Tattered Swan”. I chose to utilize the local wool and the felted lint just as they were without additional coloring through dye or bleaching. I like that this has the effect of the piece looking somewhat classical. Almost as if she were carved out of some sort of material.
Check out Green
“Tattered Swan” and all of the HGA artist’s interpretations of green, will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts beginning January, 27th. The opening reception for “Green” is Friday, January 31 from 6-9pm.