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 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.
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.
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.
It has been much too long since I’ve shared some new work from my studio work table. I have been busy creating new sculptures, but other computer work priorities have kept me from telling you about them here. As a result they have actually backed up a bit, so I have three new pieces to share today. They are all being saved for my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in May.
A Frog to Start the Trio
Pond-er is the first of these three new art doll sculptures. Yes, he is reminiscent of Rodin’s “Thinker”, in a lighthearted amphibious way. He is an ultimate example of my frequent aim of minimal anthropomorphism. Trying to create figures that express human characteristic as minimally as possibly, and not by simply dressing them up in clothes. Pond-er is a natural for this approach, as the famous sculpture he is based on is also a nude figure.
Pond-er is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature frame. His eyes are glass beads that are sewn in place. Admittedly, he does just make me smile, and that is why I created him.
Two of Three
Secondly, I’d like to introduce you to Morph. Morph is a rainbow zebra pega-fly? Tricky nomenclature aside, Morph is just a flight of fancy on my part. In my head I saw a zebra with butterfly wings where the black stripes became the borderlines of the wings, and the white gradates into the colors of the rainbow. I think that my expression of these ideas in Morph is pretty spot on. I will admit that Morph isn’t necessarily imbued with any particular human characteristics, she’s just a feast for the eyes. Though, she may express some thoughts of change and inclusion through her coloring and metamorphic nature. Morph’s construction is similar Pond-er.
A Bear in Solitude
The last of these three new pieces is Considered Solitude. It started by looking at the word solitude, and finding that a bear is an animal that is supposed to be representative of that concept. From there, I thought what might a bear do in its moments of solitude? Mine is carefully considering a daisy. This seated figure does have a simple scarf wrapped around his neck (perhaps it’s an ascot?) He just seemed to need something extra. Considered Solitude has the same felted wool over wire and quilt batting construction.
All three of these new works will be available at the end of May at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. I will share more details as the date approaches.
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”.
The state-wide juried show Resolutions 2022 has come down at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, so now it’s time for us HGA artists to have a bit of our own fun. “What’s Up Doc?” is my offering for our new show Anything Goes. We installed the show a couple of days late due to a bit of snowy weather, but it is now hanging in the HGA Featured Exhibit room for you to check out.
It is not often that I do a new version of a favorite piece very quickly. I like to let some time pass so that each stands completely on their own within my portfolio. However, like all things pandemic related, normal gets thrown out. I really liked my rhino Plague Doctor from this fall, and he found a home rather quickly. So, this time around I chose a smaller, but no less brave anthropomorphic plague combatant.
What’s Up Doc – Details
What’s Up Doc is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature I created. His fur is a custom color mixture of wool that I felted together to give him the appearance of a wild rabbit. The ridescent glass bead eyes are sewn in place. I created the walking staff from a stick, glass beads, glass gem, copper wire, and needle felted wings. Doc’s hat and mask are hand stitched from faux leather and recycled suede from an old pair of boots. His medical shoulder bag is needle felted wool with hand sewn bead closure and strap clasp. The sculpture stands 11 inches high and balances on his large hind feet with his staff for a bit of added stability.
The Anything goes show will be on display at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts through February 20th. Check it out, and maybe take home something special for a Valentine’s surprise!