Thursday, March 27, 2008
Earle was born in 1916 and traveled extensively as a young man, painting and showing his art wherever he went.
In 1939 he started his own Christmas card company, designing and screenprinting his own work. I have a HUGE book of this art and it is mesmerizing! He did a lot of commercial work during the 30s through the 60s. He even created an animated trailer for West Side Story. Earle worked for Disney Studios starting in the 1950s but kept on doing his own artwork too.In 1988 Eyvind Earle moved to Carmel, a small city on California's mid-coast and his paintings reflect his surroundings in a uniquely sensual yet organized vocabulary. If you've ever been to California, especially around Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur, his paintings capture the grandeur and fore-shortened vistas perfectly. And there is always a touch of humor in them too.
Earle died in July, 2000. To learn more about him and to see more of his work, go to the Gallery 21 website. His work is breathtaking.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The second set are the Kaleidoscope Benches.First we mosaicked the kaleidoscope designs onto mesh. Then used thinset to adhere them to the benches. Next we mosaicked the benches themselves. And finally we did the grouting and sealing. The substrate for these is foam, carved to the designer's specifications, which is then covered with cement and fiberglass mesh. These are the size of small cars! Think cement Mini Coopers covered in tile and grout! Heavy and beautiful.
These benches are in Kaleidoscope Park on Handel Street (near Lone Tree Way) in Brentwood, CA.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
It's called The Crucible. Think high school industrial arts classes on steroids. Think blacksmithing, glass blowing, metal forging and welding, fire, grime and sweat.
If these things sound appealing then you have to dive in and take some classes.
Last year I took a Blacksmithing For Women class and it was the hardest two days I've ever spent and I loved every hot and dirty minute of it!
The Crucible offers all kinds of classes for men, women and teens. Woodworking, neon, glass flameworking, blacksmithing, foundry (wax working, metal casting, etc), ornamental ironwork, jewelry making, motorcycle maintenance...the list goes on and on.
As if this wasn't enough, they also offer - get this - fire eating fundamentals, stilt walking and contact juggling!
The Crucible is a must-see if you are in the area and a must-do if you love this kind of hands-on art creation!
Their annual Fire Arts Festival happens July 9-12, 2008. This is a one-of-a-kind art festival featuring the largest collection of fire and light sculpture on the West Coast.
Check out their website www.thecrucible.org
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Additionally, this semi-retired used car dealer is also well known in the filming industry as the guy who can provide you with just about anything you need from classic cars to caskets for your shoot. It's also been rumored that he's worked for wine and cheese in his not-so-distant past, but that fact hasn't been wholly substantiated just yet.These pieces are now showing at the Jingletown Art Show at ProArts Gallery, 550 2nd Street, Oakland, CA from March 18 through April 25. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 21, 2008
Baseball is different from any other sport, very different.
For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs.
In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.
Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.
In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager.
And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you'd know the reason for this custom.
Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.
I enjoy comparing baseball and football:
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.
In football you wear a helmet. In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?
In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness. In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different: In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A few years ago I learned that Native Americans had a special name for each month's full moon. Ever since then I've had the idea to create a drawing for each one. The names are evocative yet simple. And I love almost all moon imagery anyway. So here is my first entry for March's full moon on the 21st. It's called Full Crow Moon. It is 18" x 24" and is drawn with a simple 6B pencil.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
There was a time when a full figure meant wealth and so full-figured gals were prized. Since food became so plentiful in our country in the mid-twentieth century, thinness and even skinniness became valued more than curves.
There is a movement now to change this attitude, propelled by the pride that African-American women and Latina-Americans have in their curves. And more and more men are coming out to speak their minds on the subject too - they like those curves.
When you see a real belly dancer, she will not be thin! And once you see her dance, you will have a new respect for it as an art form with an athlete's use of muscle and movement.
In America belly dancing has unfortunately become thought of as a form of stripping. This kind of dance was seen for the first time here at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, which was celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of the New World. Animals and human acts were brought from around the world for the entertainment of the fair-goers. Women from the Middle East in pantaloons and loose blouses dancing to odd never-before-heard music and undulating their abdominal muscles were a scandalous sensation. This was a time when American women didn't dare show an ankle or leave the house without wearing rib-crushing corsets.
Belly dancing became known as "hoochy-coochy" dancing and was incorporated into vaudeville shows and spread across the country, usually as bawdy stripping rather than artistic entertainment.
One of the most historic tales of belly dancing is the story of Salome and John the Baptist in the Bible. The story goes like this: A woman named Herodias had an affair with her uncle, Herod Antipas. They eventually divorced their spouses to marry each other. John the Baptist spoke out against this not only because of the divorce but also because it was an incestuous affair. Herod Antipas put John the Baptist in jail but didn't have him killed because he feared reprisals by the masses who considered him a prophet.
Herodias had a daughter from her first marriage named Salome. At a birthday celebration for Herod, Salome danced for him, his lords and commanders. He was so pleased with her dance that he promised to give her whatever she asked for. She said "bring me the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter". He did so and the rest is history.
Here is a great website to find out more about belly dancing and to hear music, see videos etc. www.shira.net
On Our Backs. It was pretty revolutionary at the time but looking back - it was cheesy! We put it together - put it to bed, so to speak! - in the front room of an old Victorian house in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
Back then I was just starting out as a graphic artist and lesbian so I thought this was a great little place to be. Whenever I am the only graphic artist on-site, I like to call myself the Art Department! And so, for 4 issues in a row, I decided that I would do myself the honor of creating the covers for the magazine. Here are 3 of them.
I worked there with three women, one of whom was Lesbian Sexpert Susie Bright, who has gone on to fame and fortune indeed.
Now, during my time there I also did a lot of illustrations for the stories in the magazine. This led me to be contacted several times by people from across the country to contract me to draw pictures for them. Sexually explicit pictures, of course. Now, really, I was a pretty nice and naive girl back then - sex magazine designer aside. But when one guy from Denver wanted me to draw some "spanking" illustrations, I got suspicious and turned him down. Those early-80s days were the beginnings of the resurgence of intensely conservative beliefs and laws in this country. I could just picture myself drawing those pictures, sending them to him and then being arrested for using the US Mail to send pornography. So I turned him down.
But, another man contacted me who lived in San Francisco. We talked on the phone and he seemed harmless enough so we met and he laid out his ideas of what he wanted me to draw. He was very explicit in what he wanted and brought examples to show me too. Here are two of the examples that I can show here.
In front of me sat an delicate, slender, frail, effeminate man, wearing glasses and having dark hair. Well, lo and behold, he wanted me to draw some pictures of "a delicate, slender, frail, effeminate man, wearing glasses and having dark hair" in positions of servitude to older, cruelly domineering lesbians. Sheesh! I was, like, um, er, I don't know....but when he slapped $300 on the table I said I'd have them done in a month. I finished them and called him several times but he never came to pick them up. So I still have them. This subject matter didn't appeal to me so I didn't do a very good job on the drawings. Here is the one of the three that is fit to show in public. Ah, memories of a misspent youth!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
At the time, I just wanted to try the medium itself and thought that the female nude is the most cliched subject in all of art. Using that form, I felt, would free me from having to really come up with some special subject. I just wanted to concentrate on learning mosaics first, making actual "art", second.
But people, it has turned out, really like my nudes. I get a lot of compliments for the way that I capture the 3 dimensionality of the body. At first I was taken aback by the praise and wondered what people were actually seeing when the looked at these pieces.
The female body is curvy side to side and front to back. And the joy and challenge of getting people to see and feel that physical volume is the artistry of it for me.
I've been asked to teach my technique many many times. So here is a series of pictures taken of a recent project.
First I draw the figure based on an idea, image or some feeling I've experienced. Then I trace it onto a substrate of either plywood or, if it's for outdoors, Hardiboard. Then I cut it out with a simple jigsaw. I seal the wood with bonderizer, which you can buy at a tile store, or with white acrylic paint.
To begin, I choose from which angle my light source will come. For this piece I decided the light source would come from the left.
I used regular mirror to delineate where the highest points of the body would be. To stay consistent, I do the entire mirror phase first. To the eye, more light hits where there are larger pieces of mirror, less light where there are smaller pieces of mirror.
Then I decide on my color palette. I choose a high or bright range. Colored mirror works best for that because the color sparkles and glitters in the light.
Next I choose the mid-range of colors. These tessarae should be non-mirrored but can have rough surfaces or mottled coloring so they pick up and reflect light in odd and interesting ways.
And last I decide on the deep colors to use in the shadows on the body, where the light would shine the least.
On this piece, my highlights are red and gold mirrored glass, the mid-tones are flat yellows and oranges, and my deep tones are blues. A very simple palette.
Then I just keep in mind the shape of the limbs and muscles and the movement of the actual "personality" that I want to convey.
You can see in these pictures how the tessarae follow the curves of the breast and thighs, the long muscles of the arms, the bulk of the hips, etc.
Then I throw in some non-sequitors - series of tessarae here and there that don't make sense for a body but serve to keep the viewer interested. After all, they know it's a nude!
You can try this style on a basic shape like an apple. Just make sure it has ample volume with bright highlights and deep shadows.
The finished piece, and it's companion, are waiting to be grouted. I'll post them soon.
So we've established that I love Op-Art and optical illusions of all kinds. The philosophy of Op- and Pop-Art was based on serious ideas formed in the studios and drawing rooms of the post-war 1950s. By the time the 1960s rolled around, the art and design world were ready to spring bold, bright colors and explosive ideas onto mainstream America. And after the grey flannel, button-down repression of the 1950s, Americans - some anyway - were ready. One of the influential artists of that time was Peter Max. His art was trippy, spacey, and colorful. It was art for the masses - the new young hippie masses, that is. It inspired the look of the movie "Yellow Submarine" and even later in the art segments on "Monty Python's Flying Circus". To me his art just screams "1960s" in the same way the rock posters of that time do. He started out as a graphic designer, working on album and book covers, posters and advertisements. His art of that time featured spiritualized beings in cosmic environments. His creations were ubiquitous during the 60s - they were printed on everything from clothing to clocks to linens. He was one of the first artists to wed his fine art with the everyday world of consumer goods.
You can see a lot more of his art at www.petermax.com
Here is an ad he designed back in the 60s:
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
"My aim is to create art that exists in time as well as in space"...Yaacov Agam.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I love optical illusions. I have a collection of little plastic images from gumball machines, Cracker Jacks, etc - they are ubiquitous - and I think they are called "lenticular" art but I'm not sure. I describe them like this: when you move them from side to side, the image changes. For example I have one that is the image of a flame...when you move it, the flame appears to flicker. I know everyone has seen these things but they are hard to describe!
The Israeli artist, Yaacov Agam has spent many decades making this kind of art - in graphic art, fine art, large commissioned public pieces and even in architecture.
This is a quote from one of the many many sites about this artist and his work:
"In 1953, Agam created his first "polyphonic paintings." In these works, two or more different abstract compositions are painted on both protruding sides of a relief of a zigzag section, in such a way that one composition is seen when the panel is viewed from the right side, and another when viewed from the left. The frontal view of the panel presents a series of varied compositions which result from the merging, or the "fusion" as Agam calls it, of several main compositions.
Agam transformed this simple device into rich and complex works of art by applying it to his highly developed geometric compositions. Moreover, the spectator perceives not only the gradual merging of one composition into the other but may also comprehend each successive view as a perfectly independent new composition."
I have included a video so you can see what I am talking about because this is an art form, and a part of pop culture, that is very hard to describe.