mixed media

New Artwork: Reclamation

I’m interested in starting a new body of work that involves growing aragonite and/or calcite crystals atop various substrates including sculptures, reliefs, and found objects. I am attracted to the conceptual and aesthetic power of nature overtaking manmade constructions. Additionally, aragonite and calcite are the crystallized form of calcium carbonate, a natural material that is the primary component in seashells and corals. Marine animals with calcium carbonate exoskeletons are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification; in order to grow these crystals, I am immersing limestone (which is a sedimentary rock composed of marine skeletal fragments) in acid, so in some ways the growth of these crystals is also a funerary rite for marine wildlife dying to climate change.

Here is the first completed work I’ve done using this medium. I’ve titled it Reclamation, and it is a mixed media relief including QuickCure Clay, QuickCure Glaze Coating, acrylic, aragonite crystals and salt on birch panel. It’s 12x9.25x2”.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Series "Gardens of Memory" London Planetree Leaf

And here is another mixed media leaf piece in the overall Gardens of Memory series. This one includes a London planetree leaf, methylcellulose, toner, and acrylic on artisanal handmade silk paper.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Artwork Series "Gardens of Memory" Oak Leaf

This is another mixed media leaf piece in the overall Gardens of Memory series. This one includes an oak leaf, methylcellulose, toner, and acrylic on artisanal handmade silk paper.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Series "Gardens of Memory" Homes

My new photographic transfer technique using methylcellulose and toner doesn’t require a flat surface for the substrate, so I also created this piece Gardens of Memory: Homes. Eventually displayed on a small marble pedestal, it is a mixed media sculpture including a found snail shell, bird’s nest, methylcellulose, and toner. The piece is probably a little larger than you might imagine - its core dimensions without the pedestal are 5.125 x 5.125 x 3.5”. The snail shell is that of an apple snail, so titled because they can grow to the size of an apple. I sold this piece while in Buenos Aires to another artist, the very talented Masako Kano.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Artwork Series "Gardens of Memory" Sycamore Leaf Diptych

Here is a new diptych, meaning partner pieces that will always be shown together. Diptychs can also be framed or otherwise physically linked together, too, but in this case I am framing them separately. These are mixed media pieces including sycamore leaves, methylcellulose, toner, and acrylic on artisanal handmade papers. The first paper is a very eco-friendly renewable dyed banana paper that I collaboratively made on a former residency in Peru, and the second is a handmade silk paper from Ato Menegazzo Papeles in Buenos Aires.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Artwork Series "Gardens of Memory"

As you can see in this earlier post, I worked atop two very large trunk cross-sections for a permanent outdoor installation. I also worked atop smaller trunk and/or branch cross-sections as well. Here are four new pieces in my “Gardens of Memory” series. The series is so titled because the substrate is very directly a part of a once-living tree (paper is too, but in a more distanced form), and the images atop it are from various botanical gardens I’ve frequented.

New Artwork: Catalyst

Here’s some new artwork to kick off a new year! This piece was inspired by my encounter with two octopi on my last scuba dive this summer with Silviu in Arinaga while on residency at La Pedrada de Noemí. It’s pretty unusual to see the common octopus, Octopus vulgaris, out and about during the day as they are typically nocturnal predators, but it was a very windy day with a lot of churning water and that must have drawn them out.

I have titled this piece Catalyst. It is mixed media including QuickCure Clay, aquabord panel, acrylic, and QuickCure Glaze Coating. Catalyst is capable of being displayed on a pedestal or installed on a wall. It is 13.5x14.5x6.25".

If you’re curious about the sculptural process with QCC, here are a few photos I took along the way. The first two are still in the uncured, sculpting stage and the second two are post-curing but pre-painting. I was actually quite drawn to the piece in its unpainted state, but I had to paint the panel at the very least due to its own mixed media, multicolored composition so I decided to go ahead with painting the whole piece. I might do a different version at some point that’s completely monotone, though, since I liked that quite a lot too.

One of My Non-Art-Major Students Is Now a Commissioned Artist!

Exercise science student Sam Schoon took my Advanced Honors Seminar in Interdisciplinary Art last year, and in the segment on physics and art learned about liquid dynamics and how artists can create beautiful abstract patterns through pouring slightly higher density paint onto a lower density one from our guest lecturer Dr. Pat Bunton of William Jewell College's Physics Program.  She gave her two small pieces of liquid dynamics artwork to Pat at the end of the course, and he hung them in his office.  A while later, his Department Chair saw them and liked them so much she had Pat reach back out to Sam this past fall and ask if she'd be willing to do a much bigger piece sometime this year for departmental decor.  Sam took up the challenge even though it was outside of her comfort zone, and she recently delivered the finished piece to Pat!  Below is a photo of us with her artwork right before she handed it over and was paid.

I'm proud of Sam for taking this on, working hard, and overcoming surprise obstacles in the process to accomplish this very cool goal.

SamSchoonartwork.jpg

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 13 - Exhibition Shots

Here are a handful of exhibition shots of the interactive sculptures and artist statement/exhibition text from my Quinta del Sordo exhibition in Madrid.

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 10 - New Artwork!

Here's my second interactive sculpture!  It's had less time for the algae to grow on it, but so far I'm liking it.  With the snails piece, having them entirely underwater wasn't necessarily a "death sentence" for the snails as a number of species of snails are aquatic.  There are no aquatic pigeons, though, so I made this one to have its head jussssst above the top of the container.

I didn't take many in-process photos of this one primarily because a lot of pieces to this one were really delicate while uncured (the feet, the beak, the tail and wing tips) so I was mostly gently cradling it while sculpting and then went straight into curing it.  But to the right is a photo of it post-curing but pre-powdering.

Cerdeira Village Residency Journal 6 Photos 1 - My Artwork

Here are a handful of photos of my overall exhibition space in the Cerdeira Village Elementos à Solta festival.  I already published individual piece images in my earlier posts, but here you can see some combined installation shots.

Cerdeira Village Residency Journal 5 - New Artwork!

When I was shopping at the market across from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, I saw a few azulejos tiles of rabbits, and I bought myself one of them - it reminded me a little of Albrecht Dürer's work.

After I finished the turtle sculpture, I decided I would do a rabbit and a bird as a partner piece to the turtle and nest mostly due to that market experience.  When I started looking at various images of rabbits in order to find one to sculpt, I decided that proportionally and structurally, a hare would be more interesting than a rabbit.  And given that I had been thinking about rabbits and hares due to this azulejos tile that reminded me of Dürer, I decided to base my sculpture off of Young Hare.

It was really quite fun sculpting a watercolor painting, as it were, and one that I highly admire.  I started off again with a styrofoam and wire base and then added QCC and began to form the body and head.  

I added the feet in three separate parts, and finally the claws and ears.  After every part was added, I detailed the fur and added some jackalope-esque branches in front of the ears.  This all took several days to come together, and obviously there were parts I had to construct myself in attempting to realize a three-dimensional animal out of a two-dimensional painting of it.

I had planned on sculpting a bird with the hare, but I liked the hare so much alone that I reconsidered.  As I was trying to decide what to do, I thought about how I would progress with the painting of the hare.  In the beginning I had thought about painting the rabbit in azulejos-inspired colors as well, but I realized when doing the turtle that the style that the shell and eggs looked quite good with it because they were fairly smooth, but when I tried to paint the turtle head and legs with various tints of blue, it got too busy and weird due to their pebbled surfaces (so I reverted them back to the clean white).  The fur of the rabbit is quite heavily textured, so I decided to paint it in a fairly realistic coloration through referencing Dürer's piece again but turning the colors just a little bit cooler in a nod to the azulejos theme and my own practice of using blue as a dominant color in my own work.

In deciding to paint it in naturalistic colors, though, I thought the two pieces wouldn't seem very related, so I figured I should do a bird - but a detachable bird, in case I ended up displaying the pieces separately as well or in case the bird didn't turn out so well.

I knew I wanted the bird to be in the azulejos color scheme, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to approximate an actual species/patterning like I did in the slider turtle shell design.  In the end, I decided the bird should be even more clearly a reference to the azulejos tiles; then there would be this strong representation in the bird and the eggs, a referential-but-also-naturalistic one in the turtle, and then an almost entirely naturalistic representation in the hare.

So here it is!  I also haven't accurately measured or titled it (though Young Hare will show up in the title somehow), but it is a mixed media ceramic sculpture including QCC, acrylic, and found branches.  Some of the photos below are of it in bright sunlight, so the cast shadows on the bird can be a little hard to parse, and all are against a brown/gray background which can make the branches difficult to differentiate too, but I will take photos of it in a white gallery space as well.

Cerdeira Village Residency Journal 3 - New Artwork!

When I woke up for my first morning in Cerdeira Village, I was still a little tired and quite sneezy - I thought I would escape from my Kansas allergies but there are apparently still plenty of plants I'm allergic to in Portugal!  I soon shook it off, though, and Julia and I made breakfast and started to get to know each other.  Next I went to set up my studio space; the atelier is downstairs and next door from the residency housing.  I took over two small pottery tables and a bigger workshop table and began working on my first piece.  

When I proposed my project for this very competitive residency, I took note of how ceramics-oriented the website was and my proposal was to make some fully 3D pieces out of QCC since of late I've been doing only relief work with QCC.  For my first sculpture, I decided I would create a slider turtle with branches growing atop its back supporting a nest.  I picked a turtle for a few reasons - 1) I'd sculpted two turtles a few years ago out of QCC but never felt I fully resolved their form and wanted to improve upon that work; 2) there is a multicultural myth that the world is supported on the back of a great turtle; 3) I hadn't seen very many animals in Portugal yet given that I'd only been there a couple days, but I had seen at least two different species of slider (red-eared and yellow-bellied) at the Estufa Fria in Lisbon.

I started the sculpture by carving a rough approximation of the shell out of styrofoam.  This was mostly to save on clay usage - I can only carry one bucket of it at a time due to the size and weight it occupies in my luggage, so I want to be smart in how I use it up - but also helps with the weight of the piece, which is important because I will have to ship my artworks back to the US and weight sharply increases the shipping costs.

Then I applied QCC in a relatively thin layer around the styrofoam and began to shape and detail it (hacking out bits of styrofoam as well if I needed to).  The shell took a lot longer than I thought it would to really shape properly; I did not finish it the first day.

I continued work the second and third days on the turtle.  After finally detailing the shell, I moved on to the head and feet.  I did them all separately so I could be very considered in my markmaking, and finally I assembled all the pieces and added a tail and other final detailing by the end of the third day.  I had planned to make the branches and nest out of the QCC as well, but I became enchanted by the local lichens that grow on the trees here and ended up pushing real branches into the turtle's back before curing the whole piece.

 Afterwards, I did add a nest and two eggs made out of QCC into the branches.

On the fourth and fifth days, I painted the turtle, nest, and eggs white.  I had got it into my head to reference the azulejos tiles so common to Portugal in the painting of the sculpture; the starting point was turning the natural light tan of the clay the bright white of the glazed tiles.  I had only brought one type of paint with me - my Golden OPEN Acrylics - which are great for normal painting needs but are really poor as a base coat due to their long dry time.  Here in Cerdeira Village, they seem to dry even slower - in fact, barely at all - and I ended up just going ahead and painting the turtle shell with an azulejos-inspired, painted-turtle-shell-based design on the sixth day here despite the shell still being faintly wet.  I also painted the eggs with a small decorative motif seen in the corners of some azulejos tiles.  The turtle and eggs took almost a week to dry, but aided by my eventual realization that I needed to put them outside in the sun to assist, they were handle-able by the time I needed to install them in their exhibition space the morning of June 2.

So here's the piece!  I haven't measured it yet, nor titled it (I've got some ideas mulling), but that will come.  It is a mixed media ceramic sculpture including 3P QuickCure Clay, acrylic, and found branches and lichens.

Exhibition Photos from La Maison Verte Residency at the Jardin Botanique de Marnay-sur-Seine

Here are a few images from the La Mason Verte June 2016 Artists in Residence Exhibition I had in the Jardin Botanique de Marnay-sur-Seine.  My exhibition was entitled Garden Lore.  The door, obviously, is permanently installed, and was about 20 feet away from the display area I used for the rest of my pieces.  Note how the garden staff tidied up the door's surrounding area for the exhibition and added a permanent sign with my details on it!  Two of the photos below (the ones with a bit of an apricot tint) were taken by photographer Abril M. Barruecos.

La Maison Verte - Artwork 7

My seventh piece at La Maison Verte was my intervention in the garden - my conversion of the water-pump door into a piece of artwork.  The door is 41x31x6" and is a mixed media installation including the original door materials, a poplar plank and back braces to replace the rotting base, 3P Quick Cure Clay, acrylics, screws, epoxy, and satin polyurethane.  It's titled Genius loci.  The piece is meant to be permanent, but of course the eye stalks and tentacles of the snail are relatively fragile so they may break if visitors to the garden are not gentle with it; that's in keeping with my overall message about the environment.  Nature provides us with so many rewards but in turn requires some human consideration and restraint.

Below is documentation of the project from start to finish!

And finally, a panoramic view to finish the post off:

La Maison Verte - Artwork 4

Here's my fourth piece!  It's titled Floating and is 3P Quick Cure Clay and acrylic on a 16x12" birch panel.  The whole thing is super shiny because I used a gloss varnish to seal and protect it, but I managed to get some images that aren't quite so glare-filled.  I also ended up gloss varnishing The Slightest Disturbance as well. 

La Maison Verte - Artwork 3 Progress Pics

I was much better about taking progress photos for this piece!  Here are some images documenting my process on Under the Bonnets.

La Maison Verte - Artwork 3

My third piece is pretty much done!  It's titled Under the Bonnets and it's 3P Quick Cure Clay, balsa wood, and acrylic on a 6x6" birch panel.  

La Maison Verte - Artwork 2

And my second piece - again, I may tweak it further, but it's taking longer and longer between tweaks...

The Slightest Disturbance features a Rana ridibunda or the synonymous Pelophylax ridibundus and is a mixed media relief piece made out of 3P Quick Cure Clay and acrylic on a 6x8" birch panel.  

La Maison Verte - Artwork 1

I'm not certain this is completely finished yet, but it's close.

This piece is tentatively titled Every Side is North.  It is 3P Quick Cure Clay and acrylic on a 6x6" birch panel.