I’ve been thinking, building and drawing upon on some of the collages I’d made in my year long collage a day project, from November 2014 – November 2015. I’m still fascinated with the little pieces of paper I was using in them. To me, the little bits of paper are meaningful in different ways. Sometimes they’re found in my sea collages with the boats in them. There, the web of pieces in the sea reminds me of the plastics in our oceans and lakes, how a walk along the beach will show you bits of ribbon from balloons, plastic pop and water bottle caps, broken toys and other refuse. Other times, as in the images above, the pieces become more personal. They are literally, a part of our fabric of who we are, a quilt of our experiences. Either way, the pieces are ephemera of physical and emotional history.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately, reflecting about my parents, and my childhood. It’s amazing how much we are products of a complex mesh of experiences and the time in which we live.
After a needed break from all the busy-ness (is that a word?) of the ARTS Project show, custom orders, Christmas and New Year’s, I went back out to the barn to look through my stock of wood, to see any piece might speak to me about what it wanted to become. To be honest, inertia won out for too long, and I procrastinated over even going out there because it’s cold and damp, and it’s much nicer to pile under a cozy mass of cats and blankets, eat shortbread, drink eggnog spiked with 40 Creek, and read. I’m stuck into the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, and on the third book now, Voyager.
In my previous post, I talked about exploring my collaged world in painted form, but what happened this week surprised me. I began to paint, away from all the imagery I’d built up in the past year and away from the collage elements I’ve been incorporating. On Monday, I cut a board into 4 x 5 inch pieces, sealed them. I loved the size and weight of the pieces in my hands. I like working small and I think this size is a good scale for my imagery and approach. The portrait came first, then the hand. Yesterday, I worked on the tree. There might a couple more paintings in this series, to tell a story.
It’s almost the end of 2015. The ARTS Project Crafted show is finished, and so have some custom orders that have kept me busy. Christmas and the New Year are coming and work related things are winding down for now. It feels strange to not be working toward a show, sale or order but it is liberating (as long as it doesn’t last too long).
For the past few weeks, I’ve wanted to return to painting and drawing again. To make the most of this window, I think that’s what I’ll focus on for the next little bit.
These paintings are explorations into the world of two dimensional space and colour. I’ve been looking at my image bank of 365 collages and thinking about how to use them in painting and drawing. So, some of these images will look familiar if you know my tumblr blog. The paintings are small, only 4″ x 5″ hence, they are the almost the same scale as the collages.
I didn’t want to apply paper to my painting surface, but I like the disjointed effect that cut and paste collage has. I wanted something more integral to the surface than glued paper so I used a gel medium transfer process to apply the cut paper imagery to the surface.
There are numerous tutorials on the web that show how to transfer printed images onto a surface using acrylic gel mediums. It involves adhering the image side of the paper to the painting surface, with acrylic gel medium and letting it thoroughly dry. Then you wet the backing paper of the image with water and gently rub the wet paper pulp off the surface to reveal the ink of the image underneath. It’s a bit tedious to do and usually the remaining image isn’t perfect, but that’s a part of the charm. I love this because the imperfect imagery is ensuring that I keep my painting looser and rougher than I’d normally work. I have a habit of tightening up my technique when working in series, so I hope it doesn’t happen with these.
St. Melangell is the patron saint of rabbits. Go figure, who would have guessed that bunnies could be so fortunate to have their own saint to watch over them! Last year, now and then but regularly enough, white rabbits would make an appearance in my collages. Somehow, I discovered that they have a patron saint, so St. Melangell accompanies them from time to time. The image of St. Melangell holding a rabbit always makes me happy.
This is the fourth automaton in the Circus Automata Series.
The Strongest Man on Earth is made from wood, papier mache, air dried clay and wire. The figure is mostly wood but I have built up features and details with the papier mache and air dried clay, and I’ve also carved some of the wood away.
The strong man raises and lowers his barbell when you turn the crank. He has one wide cam which is offset, running the length of the axle it’s mounted on. The supporting wires that attach to the barbell connect underneath the floor, to a platform of wood which raises and lowers as the cam turns. The raising and lowering of the platform, in turn pushes up the wires which makes the barbell move up and down.
This is the third automaton in the Circus Automata Series.
The Dancing Bear Child is made from wood, papier mache, air dried clay and wire. The figure is mostly wood but I have built up features and details with the papier mache and air dried clay, and I’ve also carved some of the wood away.
The bear child tips from side to side when you turn the crank. He has two offset cams aligned counter to each other so when you turn the crank, when one is in up position, the other is in down position This motion tips the bear up from side to side. He’s not as graceful at dancing as the Daring Serpent Goddess, or the Never seen Before Bird Woman, afterall, he is a bear, and bears tend to lurch an lumber. I am happy with the way this movement turned out. The bear is attached to a platform and cams tip it teeter totter style as they rotate on their axle.
This is the second automaton in the Circus Automata Series.
The never seen before bird woman is made from wood, papier mache, air dried clay and wire. The figure is mostly wood but I have built up features and details with the papier mache and air dried clay, and I’ve also carved some of the wood away.
She spins and leaps when you turn the crank. Unlike the Daring Serpent Goddess, her cam is oval so when the long part of the oval pushes the disc she’s attached to higher, in turn, making her lift, while spinning. The disc and cam are made of wood that I’ve left a bit rough so that friction causes the disc to turn as the cam rotates on it’s axle.
Throughout this year, I’ve been working on a circus automata series. There are 4 all told. These automata are designed and built by me, using reclaimed wood and metal, papier mache and air dried clay. The figures are cut out of wood, then I used carving, papier mache and air dried clay to model the features
The Daring Serpent Goddess is driven by an interior crank driven cam. When you turn the crank she spins in circles to display the snake. The disc and cam are make of wood that I’ve left a bit rough so that friction causes the disc to turn as the cam rotates on it’s axle.
This is the resulting musical automaton, from the music box mechanism prototype I built, that I talk about here
As usual, Lost at Sea is built with as many reclaimed items as possible. The tines are made from hack saw blades, the chrome handle is a vintage car door window handle, the wood is leftover from previous projects, as is the sheet metal on the boat.
I was very happy with the sound quality. The bridge is mounted on a thick pine board that resonates beautifully. The crank is heavy enough that it overcomes the catching of the tines, making the music and boat’s motion, smooth.
You can watch this movie here, to see and hear it in action: