Sunday, 26 August 2012

Thank You My Family

                                           “It makes my heart thump” she said...

This week I experienced a treat. We had my sister-in-law and her husband in town, visiting because of a family function on her husband’s side. They were very thoughtful and took several breaks from that event to do some things with us. One of these things was to come and visit me in my studio. I was delighted.

When they arrived I opened the door letting them into the entrance area. They paused, staring at the “formidable” stairs going up to the second floor. They both turned and looked back at me with large questioning eyes, confirming if it was true that they would actually have to ascend these stairs to the second floor. It was then I was reminded they both had very grey, I mean really white hair! “No problem” they responded almost in unison, with might I say, an appreciated “forced enthusiasm,” and away we went....slowly up the stairs.
I happened to have several pieces out and we discussed them one by one. They were very kind in their appreciation of what I was doing. Since they had missed both my showings to this point, they had seen only pictures of my work.

I was also trying to be sensitive to their interest. Did they really want to see more? I actually have all my pieces in my studio, wrapped up and ready to go for any future showing. After I’d explained this and became aware of their time constraints, they chose two pieces they would like to see. We worked together in fetching them from storage. I unpacked them one by one and set them out in a well lit place for them to view and photograph.

It felt a little like opening night of an art show. This is a time when viewers come to see the art for the first time and have the unique advantage of having the artist present. It’s a time where they can discuss the work with the artist, ask questions and so on. And so it was in this case.

The other side of it is, the artist can see the raw reactions to his or her art. This can be very informative for the artist. Something the artist can remember as the creative work continues.

You have heard the saying, “A prophet is not accepted in his own country.” Family is very special.

The recognition, appreciation, understanding and support of family in my creative work is a priceless gift.

Thank you, my family.

“...consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
Romans 11:18

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Finishing Well # 3.

Things are really coming to a head!

The “head” of anything is very important. When we look at a person/animal/being we naturally want to see the head. Our eyes simply move there because we will learn a lot about the life form we see by observing the head and the features of this head.

The head of any creature will tells me a lot, and decisions will be made within fractions of seconds regarding what I see. For, besides the shape and make-up of the head (Animal, human, alien etc. that being an important revelation right there!) it also holds the facial features of the being. This is really what I want to see. It’s the facial expression that reveals it’s mindset to a large extent and will give me a clue as to how I must begin relating. Is it angry? If so do I need to defend myself or run? Is it happy? Again my response will be dictated by what I see. If it’s human and I see a glum facial expression I need to decide what I say, if anything. If it’s a face showing joy, it is much easier and I can respond with a smile and an expression of gladness in my voice and words of greeting. These are things I look for and respond to in fractions of a second. I don’t even think about what I am doing here, it comes natural and it is absolutely necessary so I can begin relating in an appropriate way.

So when people come to view this sculpture, they will be jarred first of all because the head and the body do not match! This is obviously not normal! Why would a human body have an obvious animal, even fox kind of head? Then, secondly there is the expression of the face. It is sort of questionable...looking through a telescope, (also not normal) tongue sensuously liking it’s lips with kind of angry or questioning eyebrows. So, now we need help. This is confusing, even disconcerting. The help comes from the name, “Foxy David”....

Definition of “Foxy”: “is a description of sly discrete young lady’s, (or men) that are on the hunt... foxy is a term that can relate to anything and anyone at any time.” Urban Dictionary.

All of this just  to indicate that the foxy head is a way of getting the viewers attention and the mind bender process involved in attempting to solve the riddle. Then the realisation of the humour of the piece (hopefully) when arriving at the knowledge that it’s about King David ogling the beautiful bathing Bathsheba. Using the "foxy head" to modernise the old "never to have been considered funny" old Biblical story. It's the physical different "foxy" (cultural slang inserting new meanings) head that brings a new and surprising present day slant on it all. 

It’s my playing with the human process of analysing the head. Once you realise what has inspired this piece you will begin to see other much more serious elements in the piece which speak to the various sad consequences as a result of his unfortunate actions following the ogling of the lady.

As you can see, I’ve just begun to paint the darker brown colour onto the fur, then rubbing, leaving the darker brown in the crevices which highlights the furry aspects of the head.

Things have come to a head!

“Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes.”
1 Kings 20:38

Sunday, 19 August 2012

"I Can See Clearly Now...."

I have already bugged you all with two blogs having to do with the development of a particular sculpture having to do with King Saul. Sorry about that, but this is a process and I’m slowly gaining traction on the thing. I think!

OK, I’ve represented this in several sketches already and I have basically rejected both, except that there are some elements I will keep. So far I’ve rejected the chair/throne of roots. To much like a wicker chair! Not really communicating the feeling of rage, mental illness and bitterness for the situation. Looks more like a chair for relaxation on the deck!

Then I had the more updated throne and again, I rejected that one for the same reason in that it did not help the basic message of the piece. It’s a great throne with lots of history but not for this piece. I’m not sure why I’d moved away from my first idea of  the dramatic and vicious  “Game of Thrones” chair.  It just seems to help making decisions with a visual and that way I can “see” what will work more clearly.

So, now I’ve done a sketch of the king on that throne. Much better. Speaks exactly to the kind of mind and attitude Saul had in the end.

The last drawing before this one had roots moving through his torso, binding his limbs etc. I like that as a representation of his bitterness. Rooted in his heart and limiting and guiding his decisions in many ways. I will also keep that snake head idea for the sculpture.

Now, to render this in clay will be a different matter. There is a lot of “fine” stuff happening, like all those sword blades sticking up out of the throne and that spear in his hands. That’s what can so easily break when it is fired and becomes ceramic. This will be a new challenge. I may have to change the style and form on how I do this so that the piece will not be too fragile and yet communicate the message.

Stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll be boring... sorry “exploring” that subject with you in the future!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
James 1:5

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Finishing Well # 2

Sanding the tombstone smooth...

The first layer of.                                                        The final coat and rubbing work in progress. paint is on and drying

On July 29th Blog I wrote about “Finishing Well” while working on Foxy David 2.

Last week you saw he’d been fired and today you can see how my “finishing” work has continued.

The first thing I’ve done is paint him with a coat of gesso. This is simply to have a good base for the rest of the colors I will be applying. Then, since I’m looking at something of a bronze finish for him I need to do a base coat of secret background colors. I know, isn’t that fun. Your are getting in on a secret. These colors are of course important in that I will be rubbing the final brown coat to reveal these background colors and have a result that will highlight important elements of the sculpture. You can see the results in the final photo.

For this to work the base background has to be completely dry before the final brown is applied. The reason is that as I apply the brown finish color I begin, in a minute or two using a wet paper towel to dabbing/wiping the not yet dried brown away in the appropriate areas. So, if the background is not completely dry you will have a whole different thing happening. The colors will mix as you rub the brown and you will end up very easily revealing the white gesso undercoat. In this case, this is not the affect I wanted so I made sure the undercoat was dry before applying the brown coat. On another project, that might be just the right thing.

The purpose of rubbing the darker coat of brown is for several reasons, but mainly it can be summed up in the word “highlighting.” So again, depending on the affect or finish one wants you will need to work accordingly. Sometimes you may wipe most of the final coat away so that only the indentations and carvings remain dark and are highlighted on the lighter background color. That can be a very nice affect for a finish. In this case I did much less and removed the brown in a gradual way highlighting folds of clothing, edges, corners, knees, leather straps etc. More of a weathered look I guess.

You can see that his cape is red! Well, he’s a king right? He needs something “royal” and also, it just looks more interesting and richer.

Next I’ll be tackling that foxy head and then finish off with the cape!

“The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.”
Colossians 1:26

PS. Sat. night we are celebrating our daughters birthday with an “outdoor moving night event” showing an India Jones flick!  Over 40 guests registered. All kinds of different flavored popcorn and more... Very exciting and amazing event. Now I just need to find my Indiana Jones hat... 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Foxy David # 2

As you know, a while back I sold my first “Foxy David”. So, I had to make another one. On Tuesday of this week I fired “Foxy David #2!

This one looks different from the first one. The first one was made after the preliminary hearing, fresh from hearing for the first time what had actually happened to our daughter. Plus also, hearing for the first time how it came about that Grant and his friends had actually been checking out the girls at the store next to the school. Had he “stalked” Candace?

What has happened since then? Why would this second version look so serious and angry? The first one is strangely quit and more fun! I mean both have their serious side, the power sword, the spy glass, the tombstone of death and the foxy head.

Possibly, over time I’ve changed. I have now done Samson, with a similar theme, the objectification and control of women. I seem to have something happening about my attitude toward the male who abuses, uses and mistreats women. I see it as the male confused, misunderstanding and misusing his masculinity and power. What is power? How do I show strength? Servant-hood and forgiveness is seen as weakness so, sadly, aggression is chosen as the way of revenge and perceived success.  

Are the recent various mass shootings an expression of general male panic as they feel somehow emasculated and so are seeking to demonstrate their ability to be powerful and avenge themselves? I would suggest their minds are ruminating over and over about hurts, insults or offences, against their person, (“male rights?”) real or not. (Including being bullied, not being treated with respect, humiliations, even police arrests etc.) Choosing to react and respond in many and various destructive and useless ways to make things right for themselves. In their minds, getting even or revenge.
Basically living the “un-forgiving” lifestyle resulting in the continued growth of anger into deep bitterness.  Ultimately bitterness will cause people to act out in unthinkable tragic ways like shootings at schools, theaters, places of worship etc.

It becomes very clear I as a father and almost grandfather must attempt to model and propose good and healthy ways to deal with “life” and what it brings. (Both the good and the bad!) Ways that both male and female can experience joy, openness and fulfilment to all the wonderful things life has to offer. This will result in “true life” and a positive lasting legacy.

 “Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?”
Job 38:29

Saturday, 11 August 2012

You Should have Seen the Old Guy Move!

On Sunday night, Aug. 5th I arrived 5:30pm at the “Gallery in the Park” art gallery. This was by appointment and the staff were ready for me. The gate to the receiving area was open already, I drove in and backed to the door.

The curator, Odia Reimer and her staff were already working. They all looked so different as before I’d seen them dressed up hosting guests coming to see the show. Now they were all dressed down in work cloths, getting ready for the next showing, pulling out nails, mudding up holes, moving plinths, all the while talking casual, telling jokes etc. I was warmly welcomed.

After a few minutes conversation about the past showing, we carried the  packing materials for my pieces up to my showing area in the second floor.

I noticed something funny about my wrapping materials. They seemed rather out of place in this setting!

I could not help but think of how impressed I’d been with how everything had been done with such class. Opening night, there was wine and cheese served to the guests as we mingled, visited and viewed the art on display for the first time. Just a beautiful classy evening.

Next, on June 21st there was an evening featuring a talk by Pat Bovey a former curator of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Again a beautiful informative evening done with class. In July there was an “Artist Talk Night”, again tastefully set up.

Here I stood, seeing my packing materials, like for the first time. I could not believe it! The place suddenly looked like a janitorial company wholesale store! A bunch of five gallon pails of various janitorial products such as floor wax, degreaser, stripper, disinfectant and anti- bacterial products, to mention a few. Then there was a plethora of other items to pack sculptures with that did not happen fit the handy five gallon pail mode, these of course were various shapes and sizes of garbage cans, tubs and tool box type of containers. And as if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, there was also a bunch of packing materials in the form of sheets, blankets, rags, bubble wrap, masking tape, and so on that went along with all that stuff! How “un-classy” can one get?

Thank God I had not come wearing cover-alls (with a can of oven-cleaner in my back pocket,) medical gloves and a dust mask over my face!

I suddenly felt very rushed to get my stuff packed up. I needed to get out of there as fast as I could! Suddenly, I was so embarrassed that If I’d had a dust mask along, I’d have been tempted to wear it!

You should have seen this old guy move!

“Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.”
Genesis 9:23b

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Artistry in the Olympics

There is something mesmerising about the Olympics! What is it that draws us to view activities that challenge the human being to be all they can be? Why all the anticipation of the whole world to travel to or gather around TVs to watch something like track and field or a rowing event? Usually, we find it difficult to go to our own kids school or community track events back home. What is going on?

There are the obvious of course, such as seeing a city at it’s best hosting the event, showing off its beauty and culture to the world. Meeting people from around the world. Encouraging world peace and cooperation, as someone said, “A party with a purpose.” And of course seeing athletes perform at their best.

I believe it has mostly to do with this last point. When something is done “at it’s best”, in this case being “best in the world” something different is going on. We naturally love to see something done at that level. If someone is known to be run or jump or row a boat within hundreds of a second of a world record we are curious. How do they do that? What do they look like doing that? Plus, we feel like we must celebrate that somehow. It is an achievement we would never ordinarily actually see or experience. So, we are drawn to it.

Then also, this activity at that level becomes art. That is I believe what really draws us. Often, this is not the original reason we are drawn to go, but it is what we suddenly experience when we are there, watching. I don’t believe we often even recognize it or call it "art", but at that level of excellence it simply becomes artistic and we are drawn and mesmerised by that.

By definition “artistry” is “a superior skill that you can learn by study and practise and observation...” This is the Olympics! A life’s focus on for example, on swimming or archery or cycling, track and field.... I find it so amazing that we are still breaking records. I years ago I thought that at some point that would end. That we would come to a place where humans could not go any faster in that water and that would be it. Not so. The human spirit cannot be limited. Humans will study, examine, test for drag, work, exercise, discover foods that give energy and strength and exercise and battle all their waking moments to achieve the record and in the process possibly create a new one. Such mastery becomes pure art. 

It’s the same with music. We go to hear good music and hear the beauty and artistry of the performance. We know the performer has spent years perfecting their art, and again we love to bask in the excellence and artistry of it.

In addition, by nature of the Olympics, the events being of a physical nature we see athletes in top physical form. So alongside the skill achieved we see the particular physical attributes of the human that lend itself to each particular discipline. Yet all of them in top condition for their events. Runners look different than wrestlers or the shot-put group. Some are short, others tall and thin, some huge, yet, in their performance, once again each is artistic in it’s own unique beautiful way. You wonder how those thin Ethiopian runners will have the energy to run those long distances! Each body is pushed to it’s human extreme potential in the performance of their event, and so the muscle rippling artistry is revealed.

Most athletes are not attempting to be “artistic” but come to understand that in the drive to perform the event at it’s “elite” level, it becomes an art.

Some events I particularly enjoy are synchronised diving, rowing, swimming, gymnastics and racing. The beauty and artistry of each is stunning.

By the way, have you noticed how some of the ads have also picked up on the artistry of the games? Check out those Rona ads, pliers doing synchronised swimming...fantastic.

Now, there’s another thing. Watching the Olympic artistry also inspires. Regardless of the results, each athlete will do their best. We love that and celebrate that. The whole world feels good for them just even getting to the Olympics. Also, we who attend or watch, go away inspired, thinking we can do anything, determined to go for a jog...achieve whatever...amazing is it not?

How beautifully we as a human species (inside and out) have been made!

“Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?”
Deut. 4:32

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Inching Towards Clarity

Last weekend in my “Change of Pace” blog I began working on a potential sculpture for my talk on Oct. 11 on “Forgiveness and Mental Health.”  I have not seen any promotion on this event so the title my be worded somewhat different, but this is what it is about.

Let’s see, I’ve moved somewhat in my thinking. First, the throne. It is still a toss-up as to what kind of throne I will use. In my research I ran across the “Throne of Coronation” which is used by the Hebrews, Irish, Scottish and English to crown their monarchs. Including Queen Elizabeth 2. Under the seat is a stone called “The Stone of Destiny”. Now in all the excitement of learning all of this I did two sketches using this throne. Now, I did also make some other variations but, I had to decide on a throne. So I lined them all up and it became really clear. No matter how much sentiment I might have for a particular throne, like the “Throne of Coronation” it was obvious that the one made of swords was the way to go. This kind of throne speaks to the mindset and evil end of one who allows unforgiveness in their life. It speaks of not letting go, continually thinking about wishing bad things onto those who have offended you. Then moving to looking for chances to actually do something to make life miserable for them and so on. Before you know it, roots of bitterness are present and growing and allowing that to happen will only result in problems and issues that will bring one’s own life and relationships into jeopardy.
I’ve decided that the next sketch will be a throne of this nature, probably using not only swords but other military items that may speak to Saul’s particular issues. So that has been decided.

Also, the emotion of the piece. I am thinking now that he look older, tired, but angry and dangerous. I think I’ll also move the spear back to the middle like in the image last weekend. He’s looking to “fresh” in the one above!

Then, there is the question of the “roots”. How would I represent that? Here my left brain kind of took over and I struggled with tree roots growing up out of the ground and as in the past sketch becoming a throne etc. Where would I put the tree trunk? Under the chair? And so on. This resulted in weird and cheesy mental images that just would not make sense. I had to remind myself that I’m not going for reality here so it wasn’t until I sketched the piece above that I allowed the roots to come from his heart and spread from there. What an answer! After all, it’s inside the person the roots are developing, spreading  and doing their destructive work. So that works for me.

As you can see, this image has the king without clothing on! Reminded me of that story "The King Who Had No Cloths." Everyone else could see the truth but not the king. Same with roots of bitterness. They are not easy for the unforgiving person to see. Yet others can see it! Ouch. Saved me time on doing research on what Kings of that time wore though, fantastic.

So, I will make him semi-nude. This also helps in making the roots going in and out of his body and binding him, much more clear to the viewer.

Do you know that there are some groups that have and are working hard to prove that Queen Elizabeth 2nd. is a direct descendant of King David? Amazing. I wonder if it’s true?

“Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness.”
Duet. 32:32