Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

I had the opportunity to teach “Hand Building With Clay” to students in grades K – 4 for the City of Santa Monica’s  CREST Enrichment program.

After learning the pinch pot, coil and slab techniques, students had the opportunity to use slabs (pancakes of gently flattened out clay) in a different way, by laying the slab of clay over a sort of armature of loosely balled up up newspaper, so that it would harden in a shallow bowl form, and create a mask.

As the forms dried, and the clay hardened, the newspaper was removed, and the clay became ready to paint, embellish and add to.

Some students chose to use the convex surface of their half spheres or hemispheres as a place to create symbolic forms and shapes such as stars and hearts, rather than a face or character.

Students played with using the paint pens by working on paper first.

The paint pens allowed them freedom from choosing and washing  brushes, adding water, and controlling “loose” acrylic paints. They could use the paint pens to create intricate patterns like a drawing tool.

Students learned to pounce or “stipple” with the paint pens, using their tips to apply paint to creases and crevices in the clay.

Students could then add feathers, beads, pipe cleaners and other embellishments to their masks, to further develop their characters, designs, forms and images.

Some chose to focus on color through painting, adding a carefully chosen addition to enhance their character.

This young artists has incised, or drawn into the clay to create they eyes, and added clay to build out the nose. The mouth uses both techniques.

Students used foam plates to mix new colors on, as well as for palettes.

Mixing all the colors together was a popular choice, and helped the students to understand some of the principles of color mixing.

Detail and focus ruled, even with the younger children.

This young artist has mixed the secondary colors of green and orange, from his palette of primary colors, red blue and yellow.

We used both grey and red air dry clay.

Here a young artist mixes green…after painting the outside of the pot blue, and the inside yellow.

These two kindergarteners had a wonderful time painting and creating together!

There is something about painting that seems to clear out irritability, and at least temporarily suspend human anxiety.

It is wonderful to see creative”flow” in action!

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Mask Magic 2

Mask Magic 2

At a building owned by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), I conducted a two-part mask making workshop! Families who rented units in the building attended, with children, spouses, and neighbors.

webcThe work created is breathtaking, and was shown last Friday November 4th at an exhibition entitled,
The Artists Among Us“.

Here is this chapter of their story.

webiDuring the first workshop, participants learned to pound out slabs of air-dry clay, create an “armature” with newspaper to give their masks depth, and form their clay slabs over the armature.

weblThe following week, participants used acrylic paints to add color, visual texture, design and pattern to their masks and other clay items, and also enjoyed painting on thick watercolor paper. As acrylic paints dry quickly, and are no longer water-soluble once dry, the artists were able to continue to add paint, details and layers.

web1Reveling in color and brush work, this young artist filled her surface with exploration.

webaI did not see this couple enter the room, and suddenly there they were, painting with complete concentration.

webbParticipant interaction makes the whole experience the more rich.

webdEach got their own palette of colors on a Styrofoam plate, with empty plates available for mixing and discovering colors.

webeGreen grass with delicate characters above.  She must love purple. Maybe she will add it later to her painting!

webfFocused artist and craftswoman.

webgAdding detail.  Every brush I brought seemed to have been used!

webhShe seems to know exactly what she wants to paint, as if the vision was already inside her head.

webnEnergetic color, imagery, brush strokes and composition create movement in this piece.

webvA lion happened on this plate!  Painting? Mask? Both?!

webzHe said it was his first time painting…he must be a natural. What talent!

Many thanks to the marvelous and devoted  Rene Melara, programmer extraordinaire, for the opportunity to work with these wonderful participants, and see their artwork blossom.

Bravo!

Mask Magic

Mask Magic

At a building owned by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), I conducted a two-part mask making workshop! Families who rented units in the building attended, with children, spouses, and neighbors.

The work created is breathtaking, and will be shown Friday November 4th at an exhibition entitled,
The Artists Among Us“.

Here is this chapter of their story.web1web2The mask is formed of clay….then painted…

web3then shown.

web2Women share as they create.

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web7A seasonal offering sculpted…webiand painted.

https://artissima.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/mask-magic-2/web6A Dia De los Muertos sugar scull is created…webkand comes to life with color and pattern.

webtClay characters drying.

webyColor helps to define the mask personalities.

webwPainted plates are another way to create masks and characters. The round shape suggests a lion, and the paint defines it!

webuColor, texture, shapes, and the artists’ choices bring the forms to life.

webs“Once in a blue moon…” (!)

webrEmotions are elicited through facial expression, color choices, and the way the paint is applied to the textured, sculpted clay surfaces.


webqWhat a line-up!

weblStrong sense of design and pattern.

webmwebgwebcFocused artists

webfMeticulous painting creates detail.

web4Bringing out the eyes…

webo   Proud participating artist with her creations.

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webpThe fruits of love’s labor.

The Transcendent World of Agnes Martin

The Transcendent World of Agnes Martin

“When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection.
Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.
My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.” — Agnes Martin
LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art) hosted an exhibition of the paintings of the extraordinary artist Agnes Martin which closed in early September.

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Martin seemed to have painted her way though tremendous challenges into the realm of tranquillity. Her art was healing, for her, and for many of us who are privileged to view it.

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Although her work truly has to be seen live and in person to appreciate its indefinable combination of rigor and sensuality, I share here a few images of this true original.

Untitled #12

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The Sea

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i am looking forward to reading the first full-length biography of Martin:

Agnes Martin Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal

“Over the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin’s austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism, even as she battled psychological crises and carved out a solitary existence in the American Southwest. Martin identified with the Abstract Expressionists but her commitment to linear geometry caused her to be associated in turn with Minimalist, feminist, and even outsider artists. She moved through some of the liveliest art communities of her time while maintaining a legendary reserve. “I paint with my back to the world,” she says both at the beginning and at the conclusion of a documentary filmed when she was in her late eighties. When she died at ninety-two, in Taos, New Mexico, it is said she had not read a newspaper in half a century.”

Incredibly intriguing.

As are these paintings.

Moses @ 90: Inspiration

Moses @ 90: Inspiration

The extraordinary artist Ed Moses is showing recent works in the former Santa Monica Museum of Art in Bergamot Station. He is 90, and I was told that most of the works on view were done in 2016.

          Now that’s an inspiration.

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Moses seems to continually reinvent his oeuvre, breaking new ground with unexpected juxtapositions of color, form, materials, dimension, and use of shapes and space.

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web3He works in series…huge gestural paintings that seem to leap off the canvas, yet retain molten centers of passion and energy.

web2  He breaks into the paint, using a “secret sauce” that makes it crack when “activated’ by applying another layer of paint over the dried layer of what sounds suspiciously (to my decorative painter’s ear) like crackle glaze, or at least shellac or white glue, both of which can crack through wet paint laid over it. The effect is stunning.

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web5Fun house mirror? After a fashion. This room is a whole installation of reflective metal, painted and cracked pieces, and applique, which combine to transform the world into something never seen before.

web12The distorted head silhouette appears to be a repeating Moses motif…showing up in painted dialogue,

web8and appliquéd onto other wild pieces like these screens stenciled with delicate wallpaper-like florals and punctured by squiggly worm-like cut-outs.

web9On some pieces the head shapes are partially cut out from the surface in concert with the other cut-out shapes and lines,

web7Here shocking yellow cut-out squiggles are sliced with blue. Determinedly undulating,  they seem to be trying to subvert the gray and lacy ivory butterflies and blossoms of their riotously bucolic  environment. I mean…background.

These stunningly inventive works don’t need to come alive…they are alive.

And happily, so is the prolific and endlessly creative Mr. Moses.

LACMA Treasures…California Dreaming

LACMA Treasures…California Dreaming

A Sunday visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yields up varied treats for the heart, mind and soul.

WEBa“ANGER” (My husband said he loved this piece and that it reminded him of me. Hmmm…)

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A Klee beauty….WEBcUntitled“,  (1929), Paul Klee

Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection

“Included are examples of rare early prints of the genre known as ukiyo-e (oo-key-o-eh, pictures of the floating world); superior works from the golden age of that art form at the end of the 18th century by Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Katsukawa Shunshō; and 19th-century prints by such great masters as Utagawa Hiroshige, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and others.” –http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/living-moment-japanese-prints-barbara-s-bowman-collection

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Here comes  the monk….

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A “Floating World” indeed.

Like LACMA…

Building Work

Building Work

In a recent after-school enrichment class, entitled aptly enough, “Art, Artists and Art History”, students created their own “built environments“, then painted mini-murals on them, inspired by artist / muralist Diego Rivera.

WebS.In the process, they learned about color mixing…

WebD.composition…

Web1. WebE.two and three-dimensional art,

WebQ.painting  techniques and how to cover a surface,

WebI.planning, drawing and imagination,

WebL.their color preferences, (“I like purple!” declared this 6 year-old artist),

WebP.how to create “windows and doors”,

WEB_04.and look through them,

WEB_03.and best of all, how to create their own special world, through color, imagery, texture, openings and space.

We celebrate this!

PaintedPages2: The Painted Book

PaintedPages2: The Painted Book

Painting on denim, reading color, the ties that bind, the vocabulary of color. 

These are themes that come to mind when creating “painted books”.

WEBeA multiple signature book, bound with hemp cord, covers of board covered with painted denim,  pages made of painted denim bifolios.

WEBaOne piece covers front and back covers, and spine piece.  Creating a book with a painting..

WEBdEdges left raw.

WEBlInside front cover is unpainted denim, overlaid with painted piece.

WEBb    The acrylic painting gives the pages a satisfying heft…WEBcThe content is color…

WEBnand texture.

WEBkAnd a river runs through it…when do the elements of shape, texture and color come together to create an image that would be interpreted by the viewer as in generally the same way?

When does a collection of elements become a “thing”?

Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Lest you think that only smooth interior walls or whitewashed exterior ones can provide the surface for mural magic…let me set you straight.

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What is a mural ?  Related to the French word “mur”, meaning “wall”, the term “mural” is derived from the Latin mūrālis, which means “of a wall”, derived from the Latin mūrus, or…WALL!  And…there are so many kinds of walls…

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Some sport a trellis, such as the wall I was to paint for my client, Maureen.

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This was her view through her kitchen window, in a neighborhood that is often permeated in dense fog.

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Well, picturesque though it might be…the trellis had to go.

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Underneath, the corrugated texture of the wooden siding posed another painting challenge.

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Maureen’s contractor and landscaper, Greg Spry of  Spryscapes had designed a bench for the deck, so the mural needed to work with it.

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The deck opened out directly from the living/dining area, which informed the mural’s color palette.

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I also took inspiration from the colors, textures and patterns of pillows, textiles, artwork, and other details inside,

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as well as from Maureen’s business card.

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She loves flowers and plants, and with that fog,  they can be challenging to grow and maintain on the deck.

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Taking a cue from the wall’s trellis “history”, I designed a composition of curving vines, punctuated by big splashes of brightly colored blossoms, and made it to-scale.

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On a rare lovely, sunny day, I set up a little outdoor studio right on the deck , and set to work.

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The essentials: mockup, palette, and rags.  Oh yes…the paints are out there too.

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I began with a rough chalk outline on the wall, closely following the design depicted in the mockup.

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I laid in the underpainting for the leaves , “vines”, and and stems, over which the other colors would go, in a cool green hue.  I had cut stencils (incredibly useful!) in varied sizes for the leaves, and adhered them to the side wall with blue painters tape in-between color applications.

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Next came the underpainting of the flower blossoms in a brilliant yellow.

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All the paints used are artist’s  acrylic designed for mural painting, which I bought at the Precita Eyes Muralists Community Art Store in San Francisco.

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Next, I laid in the other colors, and added details, complexity and depth with layers of color that shifted in value from dark to light and back again.

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I used sets of strongly contrasting complementary colors to add energy, intensity, “pop” and vigor to the design.

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I disregarded the edges of the strips of siding, and its corrugated texture, and painted right over it and into its texture, applying layers of slightly watered down paint to the painted surface to fill each area, and give the sense of unbroken blossoms of color dancing across the wall.

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Maureen’s painter had base painted the wall in a neutral color, which made the technicalities of my task easier, as his efforts helped to unify the surface.

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The idea was to create a rhythm, and feeling of movement, color and pattern across the wall.

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The colors would change with the light, but always add a

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sense of whimsy, magic and joi de vivre to the deck and to the home,and to animate it,

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all the way to the end.

(Of course the painting is varnished to protect it from those foggy elements.)

  Now Maureen has a magical, motion-filled garden to look at when she raises her eyes from the kitchen sink, and looks out the window to  the deck. These are flowers that don’t require watering!

Here’s to the bon vivant, Maureen, Cheers!

 

 

A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

  A Saga of Flying Cranes: Process

I have had the opportunity, the honor, really, to work on a very special project for a historical residence, in the historical West Adams District of Los Angeles.  I was brought in by an architect specializing in the restoration and preservation of  historic buildings to transform a custom cabinet, designed to cover the living room television set, into a singular work of art.

I worked closely with the architectural firm, and project manager,  interfacing with the owner, interior designer, builders, and foreman, as we developed the design from concept to a specificity of  colors,textures,  materials and composition.

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Along the way, I amassed and created inspirational images, painted, gilded and stenciled mock-ups, to scale drawings, and numerous samples.

Once inspired by images, and with the design process determined, it was time to bring the rubber to the road…and take the concept to the surface!

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The inside of the four cabinet doors were stenciled with a customized motif that was variously rotated, flipped and reversed into variations that were combined to create an  elegant,  complex, yet fluid composition.

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The individual motifs, and the pattern they created when combined were designed to complement and reflect the pattern in the rug,

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and the carved images of  a free-standing wooden cabinet in the room.

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Even the decorative heating grate cover is an inspiration, and is integrated into the overall design and feel of the room!

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The architect’s office created a mock-up from copies made from the stencils themselves, and put together in the desired sequence for reference, to insure no mistakes were made.

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Due to virulent vigilance, none were.

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Stencils based on the chosen designs were drawn out to scale on acetate, a clear plastic material often used for this purpose, and hand-cut using an xacto knife, on a “self-healing” cutting mat.

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Once the stencils were used, colorful paint residue made it easier to see their pattern, and also served as a color guide. The hand-cut stencils can be too delicate to wash off, so the paint stays on them.

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After careful measuring and positioning, the stencils were taped into place over the primed, latex base painted, gold painted and several times stippled door panels..and the colors were applied in a stippled (or pounced),and  layered fashion.

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Stenciling is truly the art of delayed gratification…the total effect can really only be seen when done.  You have to  love it.  If you do, the effort, the care,  the patience and the high wire act is worth it.  It is for me…I truly love the process, and how complex the results can become.One of my favorites is the extraordinary ceiling of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, housed in the Chicago Art institute.

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After the stenciling  was completed, three applications of composition gold leaf, also called dutch metal or schlag, were applied to the front side of the doors. Each surface was delicately sanded in-between, with a fine sandpaper of 400-600 grit.  Visual delineation of the  squares of gold leaf was the desired look. The  surfaces were  then sealed with a coat of  oil varnish designed for use over dutch metal, to prepare it for the painting.   Dutch metal will tarnish with any contact with water media, so this varnishing step is crucial.

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Finally, the initial painting of the “saga of flying cranes’ began…first in primer, as the paint is acrylic, and it would not stick to the oil-based varnished surface. Washes of color in acrylic were then built up over the surface, and detail laid in. The painted surfaces were lightly sanded between paint applications, to keep it smooth and satiny.

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More color details were added to give depth, dimension, and a bit of pop to the scene.

The colors were carefully chosen and designed to work with the room’s rug,

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(glorious colors and patterns…found by the amazing architect and designer and their team.)

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 fabrics, textiles and accessories…(some might say that pillows are necessities!),

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as well as the wall colors and finishes in the room. The undertone of deep blue violet in the birds also provides pop against the complimentary gold background.

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It was important to the architect that the crane’s feet have personality!

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Inspired by the film, “Winged Migration“, these cranes have grit and determination…they are going somewhere, and they are going to get there!

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On-site in the residence,  I treated the sides of the cabinet in the same stippled fashion as the interior surfaces of the door…but no stenciling here. I applied layers of stippled color over the primed, them base painted, then gold-metallic painted surfaces, as was done with the inside of the cabinet doors above.

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The room is handsome, serene, streamlined, and somehow both warm and inviting, and cool and elegant.

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I am looking forward to gong to the site soon,  to see and photograph the doors installed and the cabinet as a whole.

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When I do, I think I  will be tempted to say…”You’ve come a long way, baby!  You’ve flown the coop!”

Are You looking forward to flying in this New Year?

I hope You are able to take flight in 2013.

As we know…time does fly…so let’s fly with it!