Something soapy this way comes

"Little White Lie" soap carving

Day 318: “Little White Lies”, Soap Carving

Awhile ago when I was working on these illuminated quilted plaster sculpture things and these gesso texture paintings/ illuminated imprint combos (as you can tell, I’m getting really good at categorization), I had a few more sculpture ideas that have been waiting in the wings. I’m still hammering away at this great commission project (don’t worry, I’ll show you when I’m done) and it involves a lot of standing and staring and deciding and fretting. So after a few hours on that, I decided to dig up some of the supplies I’d purchased a long time ago to start on one of those lingering sculpture ideers.

Warning- this is not white chocolate. Then again, even if it were it'd be safe from me. It's not even CHOCOLATE! It's flipping cocoa butter and sugar. CALL IT WHAT IT IS.

The concept is a series of small carvings entitled “Little White Lies” made from soap. My idea is to project a light at them in front of a large wall so that they make big, ominous shadows. Today’s piece was a “proof of concept” attempt. I wanted to make the carving organic in shape and kind of gnarled so it would feel like a wisp of smoke or a gnarled mummy finger or something, which I think I accomplished.

If there are any shadow puppet specialists out there, I could use some advice.

But the projecting of the shadow- something I had assumed would be pretty simple seeing as how I learned about shadow puppets at the ripe old age of 5- turned out to be trickier than I’d thought and will require more finagling. I think the effect will also be better with a cluster of carvings. In my mind, I see all these sculptural, white illuminated pieces displayed together in some undetermined gallery as a little solo show. Then again, I’ve never had a solo show. So if anyone’s got any ideas on how to make that happen, feel free to share. 😉

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Nebulous

Binary jellyfish loading... 90% complete.

Day 310: Binary Jellyfish

I’ve never looked at dots/patterns in a painting the same after seeing some of Ross Bleckner’s work. VeriSign used to have a piece up in the second story lobby which surprised and delighted me to no end. I used to ogle it when we’d sneak up to the engineer’s lounge to use their fancy coffee machine. Then Bravo’s Work of Art Season 2 casting call was held in a gallery exhibiting some of his work- huge fabulous pieces in an exhibition titled “Ross Bleckner paints like Freddie Mercury sings” and it was all I could do to speak to the portfolio reviewers and not drift off into humbled stare-silence. While I tend to find myself drawn to realist subject matter (like cityscapes) most of the time, there’s something so free and open about abstract work.

Today’s piece is a color study using only gray, white and slate blue on 16” x 20” canvas. As I laid out rows of dots, it began to feel like some kind of digital representation of a jellyfish, floating and blinking and loading into virtual existence in the dark blue brain of a computer somewhere, so I finished it off with a white round flourish up top. Even though it’s subtle and has little contrast, I like looking at it next to yesterday’s piece in my studio.

Ugly bags of mostly water

Day 257: Forms continued

If you’ve been following the blog, you may recall my illuminated-figurative-quilted-plaster piece from Day 237, “They’re forming”, (OMG I totally used another Star Trek reference for today’s post title without even realizing it. NERD!!!). This is the other piece- and in fact the first piece I thought of doing- but it took a little longer to finish.

I learned that I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) a couple of years ago. More recently, I read that this condition contributes to obesity because of the hormonal imbalance. I’ve struggled with my weight since I “became a woman”, but I’m not saying PCOS is to blame. I’m sure that never taking an interest in exercise and having a long term love affair with carbohydrates has something to do with it, but at any rate, I have to say I’ve thought of my health more since seeing the “string of pearls around the ovary” on the ultrasound those years ago.

I wanted to make a sculpture that depicted PCOS in kind of a pretty way while referencing my issues with body image. I know that might sound kind of weird, but I had an epiphany last night while I was falling asleep about my artmaking. I realized that I really enjoy taking things that might go unnoticed or that most people wouldn’t find beautiful on first glance and transforming/arranging them into something more interesting or aesthetically exciting. So there you go.

Like the other one, this was made from rigid wrap casts of my body that my lovely husband helped me with. That shell was placed around a wire armature attached to a wood base. I bent aluminum screen into the top to support the fabric.

Internal view before adding fabric

I sewed together two layers of white curtain sheers with grey thread stitched into a cellular pattern resembling the polycystic ovary; the wavy oval pieces are the ‘cells’, the larger circles are the ‘cysts’. Take my word for it when I tell you that this representation is much prettier than the actual cross-sections I researched in Google images. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of surgery shows? Blech!)

Now I've got "Baby Got Back" stuck in my head. GREAT. Oh, you too? MWA-HA-HAAA!!

Bright white LEDs placed on the ovary section of the armature glow through the sheer material in bright points while also casting larger white circles into the cystic area of the fabric (which I didn’t expect, but which is a cool effect!) when the piece is lit only by LEDs.

A 15-watt chandelier bulb adds more glow and better illuminates the cellular stitching, but is low enough to allow the LEDs to still be visible. It’s hard to see in the photos, but they also give off different light (blue-white LEDs/yellow-white bulb).

When I began this piece, I was mortified. Seeing my most-loathed body-section right in front of me almost made me cry. But I was determined to see it through and turn it into something that didn’t make me want to run out of the room when I saw it. I never would have thought I’d accomplish that, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. Yay!

I really want to make a joke involving the word "cheeky" BUTT I'm going to refrain. HAHA! I CRACK myself up. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Fabric detail with both LEDs and internal bulb lit

Did you just say “elfin dingleberry”?!

Day 255: Squash, an illuminated sculpture

I have this inner brat who constantly finds things to be irritated about. Like when my husband picks the same three songs to listen to every day for a week but flips out when I do the same thing. Brat starts off with a mental tirade… “SERIOUSLY HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU LISTEN TO BAKER STREET?!?!”…but then ends up enjoying the song about 30 seconds in anyway despite herself.

(FYI- Rob’s other picks lately are “Don’t fear the reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, “Wolf like me” by TV on the Radio and “Gamma Ray” by Beck. I’ve been partial to “Tamacun” by Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Party with Children” by Ratatat and “Life in a Glass House” by Radiohead recently. In case you were wondering. Which I’m sure you were. /tangent)

"Squash" sculpture, unlit on its side

Also, today is my friend Jennan’s birthday. She is now living in Hawaii, so my new birthday joke to her and her whole family from now on is going to be “hey, I know! Why don’t you go on a trip to Hawaii for your birthday? Oh wait…” 😉 Happy 30th Jen!

On to the art! I had this idea for an installation made up of illuminated quilt sculpture orb/cocoon things last week, so today I decided to try out the technique for constructing them that I had jotted down in one of my (many) notebooks. This involved creating a basic form from copper wire, covering that with mesh (partially plastic embroidery mesh and partially aluminum screen), quilting panels from scrap white fabric & batting, covering the form with the fabric and lighting it.

As I had originally envisioned these in hanging groups, and seeing just the one feels like seeing a single grape on a stem, I’m not super jazzed about it yet. But as a “proof of concept” kind of exercise, I’m pleased. I plan to try some different shapes; hanging there, it kind of looks like a punching-bag-shaped-pillow. Or an elfin dingleberry. Lying on the ground on its side, it feels more like a magical gourd. Welcome to my mind, folks. 😉

"Squash", illuminated quilt form sculpture, about 12"x6"x6".

Haven’t you heard?

Day 245: Catch

“Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!” 🙂 If you watch too much Family Guy like me, you’ll now be reliving the “Surfin’ Bird” episode in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. But I couldn’t help it. I’m using birds and words.  (For those of you who don’t watch Family Guy, I’m referring to liberal use of the abovementioned song by The Trashmen in a particular episode. And if you don’t know that song- do yourself a favor and don’t google it.)

Today’s piece is composed of a frame donated to me by a fellow artist (who, coincidentally uses black and white in her artwork) and some more bird cut-outs from a vintage Spanish/English dictionary. Though “disquietude”, “bridle” and “catch” are all visible amongst other smaller type, “Catch” seemed to stand out the most to me. Instead of layering birds like yesterday, I decided to suspend just a few from thread. This allows them to move with the air of the room and cast shadows. I know it’s simple, but I like that about it.

"Catch", paper thread and frame

Is it Autumn yet?

"Autumnal" illuminated sculpture, about 1' tall

Day 241: Autumnal, an upcycled illuminated sculpture 

This morning, I took a walk through the park and along the levy near our house. As I went, I picked up a few interesting leaves. Sacramento is the “city of trees” after all- or at least, so says the paint on the side of the big water tank/alien spaceship thing along highway 5. If you visit this blog regularly, you’ll know I’ve been working in mostly white lately. That’s because I’ve been exploring sculpture techniques, and I feel like I can’t handle both color and three dimensions at the same time. Then again, having that extra dimension is so vastly different than working on a flat surface. I don’t need the color the way I do on a canvas.

I spent a good hour or two trying to do this other falling leaves thing with some scrap drafting film, wood and these book pages, but it was rapidly becoming a hot (glue gun) mess, so I put that aside and began anew.

Today’s piece, “Autumnal” is an upcycled sculpture using an inner embroidery hoop, book pages (from 2 vintage dictionaries, a Nancy Drew book, and my old college literature reader), some copper wire salvaged from another failed sculpture attempt (hee hee), and part of an IKEA shelf I never used but kept hanging around for a couple of years, which became the base for this piece. I may not use my supplies immediately, but I sure as hell use them eventually!

View from above

What’s cool is that it’s very lightweight, so it can be a tabletop sculpture, but with a couple of brackets, would also make a neat sconce. Also, when you move it, the wire springs around and makes the leaf shapes scrape against each other and it totally sounds like actual leaves. 🙂

Most of the leaf pieces were traced from leaves I picked up this morning. Some visible words are “autumnal”, “nympha” (as in mythological nature beings, not sex addicts) and some lines from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. I think it’s nice both lit and unlit. You can see the different colors and thickness of the paper when it’s illuminated, and it makes some pretty cool shadows on the wall too.

Into the White 2

"Into the white 2", gesso on framed drafting film 16"x24"

Day 240: Into the white 2

Wow, “Into the White 2” totally sounds like some kind of crappy surfer action movie sequel. You know, like the lame rip-off version of Point Break for the WB or something. (Does that channel still exist?) It seems like I’ll sometimes hear songs that I think are an instrumental version of some classic tune, but then they vary just slightly by a few notes- so as to avoid a lawsuit, I’m assuming. The same thing happens with made-for-tv movies. You get stuck on some random movie that you leave on because you or your spouse is convinced that you’ve seen it already, but then before you know it, 90 minutes have passed and you feel scammed.

 

Anyway, this is the other drafting film impression of the other “Little Big Blue” painting, which I put on a frame today. I tried again to illuminate it with a lower watt bulb, but it zapped the second I plugged it in. Hence, not the greatest photographs ever, but you get the idea.