This Week in the Studio

River Lethe

It is 9:20 am on Saturday morning. The rain is continuing to come down. The fall festival here in town has been canceled. So I took pictures of what has kept me occupied this week in the studio. Years from now I suppose I can add these to “The Things I Used to Do”. But for now here it is….my week in review.

The upper image is a piece I am doing in hopes of entering it in a juried exhibit. It is going to be titled something like “Along the River Lethe”. The river named Lethe is one of the four rivers that flowed into the Styx river in Greek mythology….all of them heading to Hades. And each of them having names that translate into Hate, Fire, Woe, Wailing and Lethe for forgetfulness and concealment. Those are the brief translations.

Because I am getting older and have always worked with the idea of concealed and revealed, the River Lethe seemed like a good place to spend some time. So I built a boat with its passengers concealed under water with only fragments of memory surrounding them, fragments floating by on the currents of threads….tenuous threads of memory. And I am thinking that the boat will get to its destination (River Styx) and forget that was the place to be and start back….back and forth on the River Lethe losing recollections.

I have made tiny bamboo ladders for the souls to enter the boat and store their bits of clothing bundles on the way down to the passenger level. The text words have been picked out of an old romance novel. Actually the best text when fragments are needed is a romance novel. There are so many prepositions and past tense verbs that when isolated carry endless meanings. I have used this book titled Moss Rose and written by Taylor Day or Day Taylor (isn’t that a great romance novel writers name?) for so many years when I just wanted text for my artist books. The Proust Pulley, Lost Volumes I,II, III, jewelry and collage work have all benefited from how Ms Taylor (Day) put her words together.

There is much more to go on the it and I am thinking the river itself will be part of the piece. Why not?

Also this week I have begun to pack for a three day masters workshop weekend at Arrowmont. This one is taught by Stoney Lamar and Dan Essig. One is a wood turner, the other a book sculptor. It is all about surface texturing. I am taking all the things I would like to try to add texture to. Likely they will be expecting wood turners with their bowls and book artists with their wooden covers. I am more interested in how their techniques might be applied to my own materials of choice so it should be a good class and a wonderful opportunity to be back on the campus of Arrowmont. It has to have been at least six years since I taught there. Here are my bits and pieces to take so far.

materials for textures class

Milk paint will be a good part of the class and I learned much about this medium from Dolph Smith when doing the book below in his class when we were both teaching in Australia back in ’03. Back then we used very thin veneer and cut out our designs. I was trying to create an image of old Mercer Scroggs window in his workshop shed. The front of the book has the window and then on the back is the negative space of the hammer with some nails. This was fun to do and ended up being coptic bound with blank pages.

mercer book

mercer book back

During the week I spent two days helping my friend and student, Patti, finish and frame her two white line print textile pieces. She is the one student so far that I know who took the idea of making multiples of her prints and then stitching them together to create a “quilt”. All of her carvings are 2″ square and printed by hand with enough border to allow for the breathing space as well as the overlap needed for stitching. I only have this image of her Springtime birds. The companion piece is Autumn and is all acorns and oak leaves.  We framed them in natural pine deep frames measuring 18″ x 24″.

Pattis white line birds

Finally this week included reworking a painting that makes little sense out of context. In a novel I am writing….very slowly….there is an artist who paints in a particular sequence using particular imagery and very specific techniques. And since Lydia was so thorough in her commentary about her work, I decided to see if I could paint the “picture” she is working on in the novel.

She paints in large 4′ x 4′ canvases and I only had a 3′ x 3′ one. First she creates a mood with a background around a hazy figure that just appears there on the canvas. Then she has a dialogue with that figure to reason out what is mattering to that person or her. That then is described in a detailed painting placed somewhere on the body. I liked her idea enough to give it a go. The first one is glopping on almost every color of acrylic I have with a palette knife and dragging it down top to bottom. I kept covering it with more until I got it in an earth tone I could live with or more to the point Lydia could live with. It hung that way for better than a month in the studio and this week I changed the background to something softer, using the electric sander to dig down deeper and then add lighter paints and sand some more. I was likely influenced by the posting of those large sanded kimono paintings in an earlier blog.

Lydias painting started

Lydias painting revised

One last, very last I promise, thing. I cleaned and waxed the last of the small foundry molds for the In Search of Lost Time series.

foundry parts

It’s the rain and procrastination that has made this blog entry so long. but it only took one hour to complete.

I will do better next time.