Jackie just decided to have a studio sale later this month, so I irrationally decided to try to make a sculpture or two in time for it. There’s virtually no chance of getting any ceramic sculpture done by then due to the necessary drying times and the pesky laws of physics…but I’ll ride the motivation wave anyway and see how far I get. This guy will hang on the wall, and he’ll have a funny pointy hat made from ………. riveted aluminum, of course!
He looks like he does because I have a thing about looking waaaaay back into our collective past(s?) to when we were proto-humans…with occasional blips of intelligence and understanding rising briefly above the baseline of animalistic inner and outer experience — as our knuckle dragging forebears gradually evolved brains capable of self awareness, reasoning, complex language, the arts, and a voracious curiosity to make sense of their surroundings…and of their very existence. With them began the mystery of how I know I’m “me” and you know you’re “you.” It’s that mystery that each and every human animal, all around the world, shares in common. And that commonality is so much greater than any “differences” we think we have! “The ghost in the machine” is the most amazing phenomenon in the known universe. I’m grateful for the privilege of experiencing it firsthand! I wish we could all focus on *that* for our eyeblink lives…
I just finished the fuselage section for an approximately 34″ final sized rocket (photo shows size relative to 25″ version). I developed a darker patina for this one. Intervening projects and seasonal commitments will likely prevent me finishing the rest of this 34″ version for several weeks.
Egg sculpture made from hand-hammered aluminum with baked-on patina, ~300 rivets. It’s alive! It can keep its balance due to “shake weights” I put inside…by shaking it gently to adjust the internal weights, you can get it to stand upright by itself on any flat surface, as seen in the photos. The internal weights also help it to stay put so it won’t roll around.
This is one of the most challenging art objects I’ve ever made! First I made a full size version in wood, to which I carefully shaped each aluminum section to fit the contours of the wooden form (aka buck). Each one is unique, because I cut the sections freehand, with no pattern or plan. Ditto for the patina — hand applied and manipulated — never the same twice. I used hardened steel alphabet punches to hand stamp letters into the corners of each plate, to help me put all the pieces back together again after the hot patina and burnishing stages. Constructed with care to last for generations.
I scaled up my prototype rocket design to this 25″ x 10″ version, and did multiple patina tests to come up with this scorched re-entry look…like it’s been to the asteroid belt and back a few times! Check my Etsy store for availability.
I made this hammer-formed aluminum rocket sculpture in exuberant response to Elon Musk’s recent announcement that SpaceX plans to send two wealthy tourists on a joyride around the moon! Wow! He is also seriously planning to put humans on Mars…not just to visit, but to live there. We are a space-faring civilization on the cusp of colonizing our solar system.
Lightweight, sturdy riveted construction, natural aluminum finish. Made from repurposed aluminum pans from estate sales.
Sci-fi, iconic retro, atomic age style…innocence, optimism, adventure, science, curiosity, audacity. Aiming for the perfect idealized nexus of form and function for a rocketship.
It’s my original design: beginning with a pencil sketch > scanned into computer > did some geometry for truncated cones to help figure out what shape & size to cut each section > hand-hammered each piece to stretch and form it into the compound curves needed > entirely hand-riveted.
It’s been very gratifying to see my vision for the perfect rocket appear in metal before my eyes! It makes me happy when I look at it…recalls a long-dormant boyhood earnest eagerness to see the future unfold.
Out of the blue the other day I got get an email from a German publisher offering a respectable fee for rights to use one of my paintings on a book cover!
” Büchergilde Gutenbergasks for your permission to use the painting named above for the cover (hardcover) of the book club edition of Sapphia Azzeddine, “Mein Vater ist Putzfrau”. Print run: 2,000 copies. Retail price: EUR 14.95. Publication date: 2nd quarter 2017 (April 2017).”
The title translates something like “My Father is a Cleaning Lady,” written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy whose dad cleans a library at night.
The concept draft they sent for the front/back/spine design:
I responded: “After reading about Buechergilde Gutenberg on your website, I would be truly honored for my artwork to adorn one of your special Buechergilde editions! Your historic book club sounds like a wonderful grass roots organization of people who value not just the words and chapters in a book, but also the aesthetics…the presentation…the sensory satisfaction of holding and reading a beautifully crafted book.” (They then requested and I granted permission to quote my response in their marketing.)
I painted the portrait as a class demo when I was teaching a portrait painting class a few years ago. It’s one of my faves from my portrait painting period, so I’m glad it will receive a wider audience.
All in all, this has been a wonderful, serendipitous surprise! I look forward to receiving a few copies of the final hardbound book around May 2017.
It’s insane how much work goes into a piece like this! But I’m nearing completion of the individual parts — now to pull them all together. I like the burnt brown patina on the hammered metal eye surround, made from an old aluminum cake pan I got at a moving sale a couple days ago.
It’s hard to describe in words the drive I have to __________. First of all, what words do I use for ________??? I haven’t been able to come up with a concise descriptive term for it…I’ll try jotting down some candidate words & phrases, as fast as they come to mind:
follow the energy
freedom of expression
what I’m on the planet for ::: vocation
self image, identity, self respect, letting my inner artist out to play
expand vocabulary (of a particular medium) to the max
see what comes out ::: be surprised ::: off the wall
get lost in the *process* of making
let ideas run wild, sidelining the inner critic
suspending the cares of life for a little while, focusing all my energies in a positive/creative direction
Okay, that felt good to walk a circle around the urge and try to describe the salient aspects of it…but I can’t write all that every time I want to talk about “it” in a sentence…and I’m aware that this very act of trying to figure out words is robbing me of time I could be spending doing the actual thing I’m trying to describe, but I’m also aware of the value of putting my motivations into comprehensible form so I can better understand them and align all my inner energies in support of those goals…
I sometimes feel vaguely embarrassed/guilty about the intensity of the drive I have to indulge my inner artist. It seems to be asking for a level of priority that is impractical in relation to everyday life’s realities. It sometimes comes across as wanting to “do whatever I want” all day, every day, which is of course absurd.
It’s really not all that unusual, though; you hear it all the time from musicians, artists, dancers, actors who want to quit their day job and do ________ full time. In fact, I just saw a documentary in which a woman wanted more than anything to be a dancer, and then actually became the principal dancer in a national ballet company, but then got so tired of performing Swan Lake over and over that she quit to do her own thing: interpretive, self-expressive dance.
I deeply resonate with the following as well: In an interview with British artist Nicola Hicks, the questioner asks, “How do you balance life between living, working and loving?” and she responds, “I’m completely useless at it. I never feel I’ve got the paths right. The one thing that is never allowed to suffer is the work, which is a very hard decision to make, but I’ve found that for me that’s the way it has to be. If the studio work suffers there is no hope of anything else working. So other things have to be dropped. (…) All I know is, if you let the work go you have no hope, so there are sacrifices.” (excerpt from Flowers East: Nicola Hicks, The Pale Green Press, 1996 edition, ISBN 1 873362 315)
For the past couple years (up until recently) it’s been a struggle to get *any* free studio time, for weeks/months at a stretch. I chose to let other priorities take precedence. During those stretches, I literally felt like my life was on hold…which made me feel guilty, because I really have a good life! But right or wrong, it *feels* like I’m not truly living when I’m separated from making art (i.e., unconstrained studio time).
I’ve written a fair amount on this blog about the (self indulgent?) seemingly monumental struggle it’s been to rearrange my life just to free up a few minutes or an hour or two per day of unconstrained studio time — in the hope that someone else out there might identify with my experience, and find encouragement to keep on keeping on!