Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roy Lichtenstein: An Artists’ Creative Process

The idea of an artist’s process has always fascinated me. Everyone thinks and works in a way unique to them. The steps an artist takes that lead to a finished painting is incredibly interesting and telling. Every artist can paint a line on a canvas but none of these lines will look the same and it is who they are and what they bring to the making of that line that makes each artist and each painting unique.

In the 1960’s Roy Lichtenstein brought his unique voice to the art world. His hard-edged precise compositions have been said to have defined the pop art movement. This summer the Art Institute of Chicago has brought together the largest group of Roy Lichtenstein’s work, including drawings, paintings and sculptures, to show the scope of his process and interests in the exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective. I was most taken by the portion of the exhibition entitled Works on Paper. Here a collection of preliminary drawings that were made as precursors to finished paintings reveal the process behind so many of the art included in the rest of the exhibit.

Roy Lichtenstein once said “It’s all thought up in the drawings and all accomplished in the paintings.” Sketching the beginnings of a painting on paper was an important part of his creative process. It allowed him to rearrange elements until he reached the narrative end he wanted. By jotting down notes on these works on paper he was able to record the thoughts he had on the painting or direct his studio assistants with directions on color, etc. Sometimes, he would enlarge an image to work out some of the compositional details. These studies were often superimposed onto canvas through the use of a projector.

Over time as Lichtenstein’s palette expanded, collage became a part of his process, allowing him to arrange the elements of the painting by combining cut and painted pieces of paper. This process resulted in a complex, multilayered final composition.

It is fascinating to see the many steps that Roy Lichtenstein made throughout his creative process; the many changes that went on in between the initial idea and the final painting.

In my next post I will explore my own process through a step by step look at one of my newest encaustic and fiber sculptures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Process of Making a New Sculpture

I always find it to be wonderfully thought-provoking to learn the whats, the whys and the hows about a particular piece or about a body of work. Understanding an artist’s process can be incredibly fascinating and telling. I am a very process oriented artist and this is evident in many of my series including my encaustic Urban Windows series, my encaustic tile Tesserae series and most recently in my encaustic and fiber vessels and sculptures. Last month I began a new encaustic and fiber sculpture and I thought that it might be interesting to document the making of this new piece.

Window no. 34 (6.75"x6.75",encaustic)

Tesserae X (18"x18", encaustic tiles)

Since I made my first encaustic and fiber Vessel in 2011, each work was created in a purely intuitive manner. As my designs became larger and more complex I began to create models. Coming Together began as a drawing and from this drawing I made a paper model.

By creating this model I was able to determine that in order to get the result that I wanted I would need to begin with a shape that was 9 feet long! So equipped with this daunting information, I began by cutting out strips of cheesecloth. Once I made the decision as to the general color palette I wanted this piece to have I painted the many fiber strips with encaustic paint. I mix the colors for each strip separately ensuring an interesting and complex finished look.

The strips are then folded and woven and given a layer or two of clear encaustic medium all of which give the piece additional strength. At this point the work is given a wire armature which allows for support. Using pottery tools, the entire piece is hemmed and the shape of the sculpture is formed.

Coming Together (9”x12”x13”, encaustic, cheesecloth, wire)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Digital Interpretation of My Encaustic and Fiber Vessel Series

Digital artist Thomas Broadfoot creates remarkable three-dimensional art. Recently, Thomas told me that he had created a new work inspired by my encaustic and fiber Vessel Series. As you can imagine, I was very flattered and excited to see the result. The Basket is the first in a series using his interpretation of an object that is weaved. http://artbysilentgallery.broadfoot.biz/blog/2012/05/the-basket/

Using a computer program called Hexagon, he begins a piece by doodling until a concept is formed. From here, he creates the depth, dimensions, shape, color and size of the object. While creating The Basket, Thomas determined that through the use of thickness he was able to emulate a weave like pattern. Another program, VUE, is then used to create the background, texture, dimensions and materials, generating the final look and feel of the piece

Each piece can take anywhere from 20 hours to one week to finish. On any given day he can have between 10-35 pieces in various stages of creation. He sees this as an advantage over a traditional artist who has to depend upon the physical space of their studio as to how many pieces they can be working upon at any given time.

Thomas likes to think of himself like as an artist using 21st-century tools.
Please visit his site to view his extraordinary works of art.

Monday, May 7, 2012

They’re taking Marilyn down today! And while some will miss her, I must say that I am happy to see her go. I am talking about J. Seward Johnson’s 26 foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe that was installed on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile last summer. Art or kitsch was the popular debate. She was wildly popular as a photo op with tourists due to her size and location. I went beyond the love/hate issue with this piece of public, art and posed the question “is bigger always better when it comes to art?” in a blog post that I wrote for FUSEDChicago.org in September of 2011. Below is that post.

Is Bigger Always Better… When it Comes to Art?

This summer’s installation of “Forever Marilyn”, Seward Johnson’s large scale public sculpture of Marilyn Monroe on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, has served to renew the debate about whether large scale public art always qualifies as “art”. So, when considering art, does size matter? This discussion has led me to ask the same question of all art regardless of it being public or private.

Large scale art can allow for interaction and stimulate interest. It often is something that you notice, whether or not you want to. Does that make it intrusive? When we walk into a gallery and are greeted by a large-scale painting is its imposing size that beckons us?
I believe smaller pieces are more intimate to make and to view. Small pieces of art invite the viewer to come closer, to experience the art close-up. Yet time and time again I hear the question “don’t you work larger?’ in response to my Windows Series which, framed are 6.75”x6.75”. On numerous occasions, I have been advised by art consultants to “work bigger” because that is what their clients want.
Of course moving the discussion in this direction opens another can of worms; do we allow our creative process to be dictated to us by the client?? But regardless, it is an issue many artists face.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Crafts National at Mulvane Art Museum

Today is the first day of the Crafts National exhibition at the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas. I am pleased to be one of the 87 geographically diverse artists included in this excellent show juried by independent curator Gail M. Brown. The exhibition ultimately chosen by every juror is as unique as their vision. It is always of great interest to have the opportunity to get a peek into their thoughts on juroring a particular show. Below are some thoughts from Ms. Brown from the exhibition catalog.

"“What Is Memorable?”
A national juried exhibition holds the promise of an abundance of meaningful choices. Within the context of the unknown and the tantalizing anticipation of the new, “possibilities” can be dizzying, including those of familiar vocabulary exploring fresh directions. This new exhibition opportunity as well as exuberant expectations from a constant viewer, was fed sumptuously by a diverse applicant pool. My desire to be introduced to works by artists I had yet to know as well as to recent works by those I recognize, and some of whom I have been watching extensively, was met and exceeded.
I seek to discover the exquisite object, the presence of the hand, the mastery of craft materials and processes. I relish anticipating and acknowledging media specific works of focused and accomplished exploration. I marvel over works which exceed preconceived media limitations and offer daring risks and expanded possibilities. And mainly, I seek ideas- explicit or enigmatic- to mull over and to return to. I was not disappointed. Be it in concept, narrative, imagination, scale, investigation, mastery et al, the applicants and those forms chosen challenged and captivated me. Many works acknowledge the makers’ absorption in repetitive, sequential steps, obsessive actions and multiple elements directed toward the singular completion of a sometimes provocative, challenging, exceptional idea. In their diversity, they each enhance and celebrate the continuum of the memorable handmade object.
I was “gifted” by works of unique vocabulary, the unexpected, undreamt of and the radically new, the enticing use of technology and/or the ever-seductive, timeless, functionally referenced, domestic form. I delighted in the originality, personal stories, experimentation and technical prowess, diverse ideas and execution, mastery and promise and, most of all, the abundance of “joy.” All of the above contributed to the memorable nature of this opportunity. Thank you all!"

Crafts National runs from May 5-August 19, 2012

image: Vessel 26
Encaustic, Cheesecloth
10” x 11” x 7”