Friday, June 11, 2010

Soft Sculpture

So tonight, my boys and I rented "Alice in Wonderland".

It's funny, summer has started, but when I mention we're going to go to the movie gallery, both of my boys can tell you that means it's Friday and we're having Pizza for dinner (;

I had my misgivings about the new Johnny Depp Alice in Wonderland. To be honest, I'd hated what they did with the Chocolate Factory. But my boys wanted to see it, so I figured we'd give it a go.

I'm still at a loss as to why the queen and the hatter have speech impediments, but other than that, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. They did their research and the visuals immediately reminded me of what it must have been like the first time audiences watched "The Wizard of Oz" as Dorthy stepped into technicolor.

But I digress. You're probably wondering why a review of Alice in Wonderland would have a blog title of, "Soft Sculpture". (;

There were several points in the movie where I paused it. Right after she met the Cheshire cat, I paused and said, "See boys? See his smile? That's why we call it the Cheshire Cat moon." And then I pressed play, and it panned up on the moon to illustrate my point! My boys have long known about the Cheshire Cat Moon, before they knew much about the Cheshire Cat himself.

But just as the Jabberwocky was released, I paused the movie again, turned to my oldest and said, "Go get your jabberwocky."

Last semester, for one of my classes, where I started making three dimensional art for the first time, our last assignment was what the teacher liked to call "Soft Sculpture". Which is a lot like playing Dr. Frankenstein. The way the assignment started was that each student goes out and purchases/ finds several stuffed plush animals. Then, we bring them all in, and start taking them apart to mix and match them into something new: the Soft Sculpture.

Since I have two boys, and we were approaching Christmas, I knew I needed to make two of them. And I figured if I was going to make plush monsters, I was going to make them as tributes to two of my favorites.

So for my oldest, I created my interpretation of a Jabberwocky.


Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

As my oldest son came in with his plush, my youngest asked, "Momma, what monster did you make for me?"

And I told him, "Honey, the next time we watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I'll ask you to bring out your Kali Ma."

Now, I admit, before I began this one, I did a bit of research on Kali Ma. And used the following image as my inspiration:


Both of my boys were very pleased with their plush monsters, and enjoy seeing the movies that inspired them. And I constructed them well enough (Okay, it helps to actually know how to sew) that they've survived being owned by my boys for the last 6 months without mishap. (:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dick and Jane Adventures: Skip

Okay, so in my Principles of Digital Design class, we were each assigned a word to make a page layout for a joint book. The word I was assigned was, "Skip".

The first thing I did was look up a variety of definitions for the the word. And then it was time to come up with my idea.

And all I could think about were Dick and Jane. The terrible, funny, Dick and Jane Adventures I'd made when I was in 9th grade. After trying to to think of something, -anything- else, I decided to go with it.

This is the one that my teacher selected:

I say that this is the one she selected, because I made at least 6, based on different definitions (lol). If I get time, I'll do the rest of them.

What I like most about it is that I learned how to use the computer to make the images and writing sharper/crisper than just scanning in the drawings that I did.

5 Degrees of Separation

or "If Klimt Did Otters".

This assignment began with us being told to prime 6 -small- board canvases. I chose the 5" x 7". Then, we were told to choose on of our all time favorite, well know artist's images and print a copy out. The first image was to recreate it as closely as possible.

I chose Klimt's Three Ages of Woman, the Mother and Child Detail. The funny thing is that Klimt is NOT my all time favorite artist, his Three Ages of Woman has always been so interesting to me, but not something I -liked-. HOWEVER, I have always absolutely LOVED the Mother and Child Detail that's pulled from the image. I have it framed in our bedroom, in fact. I bought the poster well over a decade ago. To be honest, it's the ONLY famous print I own, so I figured it definitely qualified for the requirement of the assignment.

Now available for purchase in a variety of prints, tshirts, phone covers, and skins from society 6.
Here are 2 copies, one with flash to show the colors, and one without the flash to show the detail, of my copy of the original. I learned a LOT in the process of trying to reproduce Klimt. The man is an absolute MASTER of glazes and painting in multiple thin layers. I had to look at his image over and over, and I could -see- the layers underneath. I actually had to think a lot about putting this piece together before I even started applying paint! And I had no idea it would take as long as it did to do it (lol). I had to let each layer dry before I could begin working on the next. All in all, I would say that there are up to 9 layers in some areas.

And I was pleased to see I could do hands and faces as well as I did. Having Klimt as a guiding teacher, as it were, certainly helped!

So, we get our reproduction made-- and THEN we learned what the rest of the assignment was. It was a transformation project. The idea was to change each canvas a little bit-- but any changes you made, you had to keep and continue to progress throughout the canvases. So that by the time you get to the last canvas, it's -extremely- different from the original.

You may have noticed I said we had to prepare 6 canvases. You might also have noticed this blog is called -5- degrees of Separation (; When we get near the end, I'll tell you more about it.

Well, right after she told us, my face went -completely- blank. I had NO idea what I was going to do! Then two of my classmates suggested either turning it into myself and my sons (but I'd done plenty of images of all 3 of us, I didn't want to do that), or to turn it into an animal. That's when the light went off over my head and I knew -exactly- what I was going to do!!

Now available for purchase through society 6
This is my second canvas. I've made the people darker, changed the background to green, begun to change the shape of the items on the top, and started to turn the baby. Even at this stage, I had a -definite- plan to where I was going when it was all said and done (:

This is my third canvas, in room light and with the flash. The transformation of them is REALLY obvious at this point. No, they're -not- monkeys (; The background is now blue, the shapes on top are still progressing, and not the infant is facing forward.

Now available for purchase through society 6.
The transformation between canvas #2 and #3:

The first three canvases, side by side:

With canvas #4, I'm getting closer to the finished piece. The fish are starting to really emerge at the top, the greens are becoming kelp, and the animals are starting to look like what they are.

Now available for purchase through society 6.
The first four with the fifth canvas in progress:

And canvas #5-- it turned out -exactly- like I had in mind when I first had the idea. A mother and baby otter, floating among golden kelp, with green kelp and fish around them. But what I realized as I finished canvas #5 was that I was done. There were -supposed- to be 6 canvases, but #6 wasn't needed for my progression. I was done. I completed the 6th canvas partly because it was part of the assignment, but more importantly, because I had someone in mind for it (:

Now available for purchase through society 6.
I absolutely love these. Now, I have to figure out how I'm going to matt/frame them (:

Landscape, a discussion with Escher

So our third assignment in painting class was a landscape. Like each of our previous assignments, it began with researching landscape artists and finding the images that we really liked. Although he wasn't on the list, and his work isn't painting, I chose my all time favorite artist, M. C. Escher, to share with the landscapes that I like.

As I was looking at his Three Worlds, and his Puddle, and trying to figure out how I was going to do an interesting interpretation of my boys in the fig tree in the backyard, I had a complete and total "OH!!" moment! I would do the image of my boys in the tree in the style of Escher (or as close as I could manage to get.)

The other part of the assignment was to use either a complementary color scheme, or a split complementary color scheme. I chose to go with greens and oranges.

Like ever other assignment in painting, I started it with a little trepidation because I didn't know if I was going to be able to pull off the -idea- in reality.

Blocking in the tree, the boys and the background. As my teacher said, for a still life to have a chance at being successful, it has to have a noticeable foreground, middle ground, and background.

Starting to add detail to the leaves in the foreground.

Starting the second stage of blocking in my boys. The interesting thing about this project, which is different from most still life images with people in them is that my boys are NOT the focus. They're actually in the middle ground (:

Close up on my youngest on the lower branch.

Close up on my oldest in the upper branches.

Almost done. It actually took a LONG time for it to advance from the image below. I knew it wasn't finished. I knew, logically, that the ground shadow would, in reality, go towards the back, but I also knew that it wouldn't work with making it an Escher interpretation.

What it needed was the eyes of another artist. My teacher saw the same thing I did-- but could look at it and see the solution I needed-- the ground shadow need to come -forward- to complete a full circle of the Escheresque interpretation I was going for.

And this is the finished product.

Every person I've had look at it says the same thing. That this is a still life about a tree. That happens to have my boys in it (; And they're right! If you're not looking for my boys, they aren't the first thing you notice. You notice the leaves. Which is where you're -suppose- to be looking first (;

My first still life

So this was my 2nd real painting assignment in college-- less than my 10th painting ever-- and by far, the -largest- canvas I'd ever used up to that point.

24" x 30" .... I was a little nervous. It turned out to be a running theme with spring semester's assignments...

So the assignment began with us writing in our journal about items in our house that represent aspects of our selves or our lives. And we had to choose one of the items that matter to us to bring in.

It's a doumbek on it's side, between a wine glass and a bottle, with a little snow globe in front of it and a scarf draped over it-- the entire class was required to bring in a 'personal item' that we added together on a pedestal in the center of the room to create a still life-- then had to choose a view/way to emphasize the item we contributed. (: As the images progress, I anticipate it'll be -really- obvious which item is mine (; The other requirement of the assignment was to stay within a mostly monochromatic color scheme.

Before we began, we were to research still life images that other artists have done through out time. And the ones that really struck a chord with me were very much about medieval chiaroscuro. The dramatic lighting and intimate detail.

Once we drew out our items, the first painting assignment was to work from darkest to lightest-- with the first layer being 3 shades lighter than the final shade, and applied thinly. This is putting in the -darkest- layer (3 shades lighter than it will be when it's finished).

Then I started working my color scheme-- definitely going for the oranges (:

Even in the early stages, I was really pleased with the detail that was starting to show.

The background was much more in with the color scheme-- but it wasn't the dark background from the historical images that I liked so much, so I sacrificed a bit of my color scheme for what I wanted.

Can you tell which piece was my contribution?

If you said the drum, not only are you spot on, but I did my job of emphasizing it (; I chose it for a couple of reasons-- first, belly dancing and drumming are two of my favorite aspects of playing in the SCA. Second, they're both something I love to do. And Third, playing the doumbek is something that I taught myself to do 2 years ago. I'm no expert, by any means, but I'm also no longer a complete beginner either (:

And this is the finished piece. I decided to donate it to our shire event, Baba Marta, as a prize, because it had the feeling of the SCA to me-- the merging of the modern and the historic. On first glance, with no real detail, it could almost pass for a medieval piece-- but as you look at it, particularly the glass on the left, it becomes obvious that it's done in a very modern way.

And this is the painting being awarded to the A&S winner at Baba Marta, in March 2010. He's an excellent metal smith, musician and bard from Trimaris (the SCA kingdom that covers most of Florida).

Prints available here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My first stone vessel

Our very first assignment in sculpture was to select a soapstone and create a vessel. I have to admit, I was -really- nervous about getting started, as I'd never worked in stone before.

When I selected my stone, I didn't see the typical natural bowl in it.

The end result is more like a wasp's nest made in stone. I even left the inside of the piece rough to add to that idea.

I love the natural colors in the stone. When working the stone, you have no idea that it's there under all the stone dust, until after you've cleaned it up and finished it with a clear coat to protect the stone. I also love the rough area as opposed to the worked area.

See the rougher inside? It's not sanded at all.

The curved lip around the edge curves up towards the outsides. I love running my hands along the edge from the top to the bottom. So do my kids. It just calls to be touched.

When I started this piece, the idea was to create a piece for my coffee table (: (lol) There's actually a bit of a story to that. See, about 10 years ago, I had an absolutely lovely ceramic bowl with holes that was for my coffee table. I'd bought it in Missouri.

But my husband is clumsy and killed my beautiful bowl. For 10 years, I searched in vain for something to replace my 'holey bowl'. And as soon as I placed this on the coffee table, Mark looked at me, smiled and said, "You've replaced your bowl!"