Monday, April 25, 2011

Sculpture on display.

What absolutely infuriates me is being in a show where all the curators are either painters or non-artists who think that sculpture is a kind of very thick painting and they display it as such. I've seen sculpture lined up like vehicles in a used car lot, I've not only seen it backed up tight against a wall so that you can only see the front and the sides, I've also seen it tucked into a corner so that all you see is the top and the front.  I swear, I think if they could figure out a way to frame it and hang on the wall, they would.
        Sometimes I wonder if they do it deliberately. I was standing with a sculptor friend mine while he was talking to a curator of a very large art show when he asked her, politely, not to place the piece butt up to a wall, which would hide the back side of the piece. So she didn’t. This is the instance previously mentioned where the piece was crammed into a corner so that all you could see was the top and the front. This was an incredibly complex wood carving with loops and whirls all through it, kind of looked like and Escher print and so she stuck in a place where it was basically one dimensional and all the work put into it was totally wasted. And it was on a pedestal at about knee height. Six year olds appreciated it. There were more instances at this show where there was no understanding that the work being displayed was three dimensional. Sculpture has: a front, a back, two sides, a top and a bottom. I really wish some of these people would get this concept through their heads.  I’ve decided that from now on I’m going with the notion my work will be curated by someone with no concept of sculpture and so all my work will be on turntables so at least the viewer will have a chance to see the work from all sides, despite best efforts of someone to make it look like a painting.

Sculpture is the stuff you trip over when you are backing up trying to look at a painting. (Jules Olitski)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why so uptight?


It takes two to paint. One to paint, the other to stand by with an axe to kill him before he spoils it. (William Merritt Chase)

I wonder why I get so tight assed when it comes to my figurative sculpture. Anyone who knows me well enough can tell you there are definitely times when I can be a few sandwiches short of a complete picnic and you’d think someone with those qualifications would be totally out there in la-la land when it comes to creating art work and yet time and time again I find myself working the life out of my sculpture instead of just letting go and allowing the work to have a life of it’s own. I start out with a certain easy, flowing, relaxed idea in mind and yet I can’t stop working on a piece until I’m getting down to putting the eyelashes on. And what really bugs is the fact at one point I’ll have reached the look I want and yet I’ll continue on until it’s completely lost.
  Could it be the ADD? Its a fact that ADD can make a person focus intently but sometimes on the wrong thing. You can find yourself hyper-focusing on something that is totally pointless. It’s funny how on the one hand I don’t focus on the things I need to and on the other I get trapped into putting all my attention on the unnecessary.  What I need is some kind of limiter on my work. I recognize I have this inability to know when to stop, so what am I to do? Simple, get an axeman.
            Or in this case, a wife. To paraphrase an old saying, she doesn’t know art but she knows what she likes. Now I’m the sort of person who hates any interference by anyone  when I’m working on a piece, but I’ve had to overcome this issue and invite her to view and criticize my work while it’s in progress. And in the past when she’s suggested a piece is finished, I’ve placated her and then gone on to ruin the piece. It’s my piece and I’ll screw it up if I want to. But now I have recognized that she’s been right, so after a number of unsatisfactory pieces I’ve decided to take her opinion as gospel and when she says it’s done, it’s done. And not only that, she can spot those errors in a piece that I’ve seen so many times I’ve just gotten used to them.
            So now she stands behind me with a symbolic axe just to remind me what can happen if I have a sudden urge to overwork a piece. And it works out just fine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things.

After five weeks of staring at my computer and trying to build a website with just the barest of ability, I’m finally finished and now I’m having a heck of a job getting back into the routine of making art.
    I had a really good routine going before I dove into website making, work on sculpture, work on glass, work on a painting. Throw in some household chores, exercise, some reading, some writing, music and I had a pretty full productive day. Now I’m bumping around the studio trying to figure out what to do next, even though I know there’s a ton of stuff that needs to be done. And it’s not like I’m depressed or down in the dumps about anything, matter of fact I’m feeling really good. It’s just that I can’t get my act together to get things back up and rolling again.
      Well hopefully I can get myself rolling again pretty soon. I’ll have to set up schedules and things to do lists again and force myself to follow them, until it becomes habit.
       I was going to cast a bronze today but woke up to 30cm of snow all over the place. I’ll have to wait till that melts off a bit before I can set up the foundry again. Hey, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. R.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Did I do the right thing?

      Five weeks ago I decided that to spruce up my artistic career, I should get a better website. This came about because of a book I purchased over the holidays called. “Starving to Successful…” by Jason Horejs. Good book, all about how to approach galleries and how to have the back up for your art. I figured the first thing I should do is re-do my website to make it look a little more up to date. Now I couldn’t afford a website designer and any “free” help had always turned out to be disastrous.  So my question to myself was, should I just leave things as they were or do it myself. I knew it would take time and there’d be one heck of a learning curve. I’ve got Dreamweaver and I’ve messed with it before but I’d never gotten to the point of actually getting anything online. So this time I decided to commit to getting it done and doing nothing else until. Five weeks later it was finally complete. This is where I had to ask myself if it was the right way to go about it. I suppose if I’d had the bucks I would have just hired someone to do it, but that doesn’t always turn out the way you hoped it would. And now I have the ability to update my own site whenever I want to. But that was five weeks I could have spent making art. I always tell people not to do things they can’t do, leave it to someone who can, but I went ahead and did my website on my own. And it took me a couple of times to get it right. I’m happy enough with it, but a website designer could have done a fancier job. It seems to be a trade off.  I suppose all in all I’m happy with the result and the cost, but I’d still recommend to anyone that wanted to try this, to get someone who knows what they’re doing.  R.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's an artist?

This was written in response to the question of whether or not using photographs when doing a painting  was alright or if, I assume, you should only work from sketches or life. While I don't approve of someone merely copying a photo, I do believe that using photos for reference material is quite useful.

"But that's what makes the difference between an artist and someone who simply makes note of what they see. Not everyone who has a camera is a photographer. Not everyone who wields a paintbrush is an artist. It's the picking and choosing and the combining of elements that makes a work of art." R.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Opening statement

It's all about communication. There's different kinds, speaking, writing, and the visual arts. The first two are very direct while the third is more elusive and ethereal. As my website deals with my visual communications I thought this would be a good place to do a bit of writing. I find I do my best writing when responding to someone else, a discussion of sorts. I belong to one art group out of the UK and an arts newsletter which encourages postings. I think I'll take those postings, edit them a bit and re-post them here. It does me good to see my thoughts down in print, when you write stuff down you have to be more clear than when you have a bunch of thought just bouncing around in your head. It's like a sketch book for artists. An artist can have all these great ideas for work but unless you get it down on paper you can't really tell if it'll work out exactly the way you think it will. It's a matter of making the insubstantial, concrete. R.