Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Small Bowl

When you gotta make something you gotta make something. It's a blessing and a curse, the fairly constant stream of ideas and images and possibilities. It's been cultivated over a lifetime I suppose. I go for a while and then there is this pull to try to make one of them; to try to make something beautiful. But working full time and weekend chores doesn't leave a lot of time for it so this time I picked something small, something I thought I might finish with just an hour here and there.

Small Bowl
Walnut 12" x 5" x 4"

This piece went a little differently than my usual pattern. I usually have a well defined idea, maybe drawings and templates that I have done before I start. But this time there was just a rough idea and the piece of wood determined much of what I could do and generated ideas as I went.

Bark beetles bore into trees just beneath the bark leaving tunnel trails in the sapwood. Sometimes a chunk of wood looks fine until you remove some material to reveal these voids. So it was with this piece and with embellishment they became the hieroglyphics on the side - the undecipherable message from another species.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Poison Ivy

It's not really fair. Some bloke from the city comes out here to get a little fresh air and goes home with this. It looks like every other green leafy thing for chrissake. No thorns or warning signs at all. It doesn't look like something that will make you feel this bad and ugly to boot.

I know some people who swear they can get it by looking at it, or maybe a neighbor was burning it and they got it from the smoke, or it was just in the air that day. But apparently you do have to touch it. Actually any part of it; leaves, stem or roots. Dead or alive. Or if your dog was romping in it you can get it by petting him. That works too. I always thought it spread on the skin by scratching it but not so. It appears to spread but it's just different timing in the allergic reaction.

Urushiol is the bad ass chemical in the sap and about 85% of people are allergic. Most of us have heard the one about the person who was sure they weren't allergic. Or the one about the poor kid who couldn't walk away from the double triple dare ya.

It grows all over North America except Alaska and the southwest. It doesn't grow in deserts or above 5000'. Along the eastern seaboard if you stop by the side of the road to take a leak you're probably wading into it. So if you like to hike around outside it's a good idea to know what it looks like.

a healthy patch

"leaflets three, let it be"

I've always liked this song: The Coasters Poison Ivy, 1959

Friday, July 17, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

See Wall

I studied art for years and years. I learned to draw and paint. I was a realist and perfected my skills with studies of the human form and likenesses of those I met. I did landscapes that rivaled the masters. But eventually I was not satisfied with this work. It seemed almost photographic, too limited in its interpretation. I was unable to express the intangible, the thing we know we are all missing, and so my work became more and more abstract. This painting, "See Wall", represents the path of my work today. To me it speaks of the limitations we feel, the divisions and compartmentalization, the doors that did not open, the choices we might have made, the insurmountable wall that stands between us and true knowing.

None of the above paragraph is true. I kind of wish it was. But in reality this image is a photograph taken with a little point and shoot and tweaked a little in Photoshop. It actually is a sea wall standing 100 feet high. Just above it is a small town called Robin Hood's Bay that overlooks the North Sea.

Same image, different stories that make us feel so differently about the work. In story one this image is starting to have meaning that I can relate to. In story two I feel duped, the victim of a cheap shot, and I really don't want to consider it any more.

We have all seen abstract work in museums that are at least similar to this image but they have story one. For this image I had to see it, deem it worthy of recording with my camera, and then make aesthetic decisions as to how to crop and how much tweaking to do. But I did not need the degree of training nor the level of skill required of story one.

And I think this still carries significant weight in how we value works of art.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Robin's Girls

In Yorkshire, England, a farm on Danby Dale, Robin does the afternoon milking.