Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mail Art Bag

'Envelope' ©09evertson

*** A good week for mail art at the very least! On Monday I was able to send off a piece to Wee-Hoo's (Jennifer Zoellner) Chromatophore project. The photo above shows the piece all packed with my message and ready to be sealed and delivered to the post office.

Writing words for inclosure in Chromatophore envelope

I borrowed the wire mesh media I have been using for several works in progress to construct an envelope. My 'message' was rendered in molten solder words.

'Traveling Man' totem ©09evertson

I also made a traveling man totem to enclose. Ultimately this media tends to be a bit fragile and I'll have to wait a bit to see how the post office makes out with it.
Several things were on my mind as I constructed the piece. My uncle Jack was quite a traveler. He worked for ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company) and spent most of his life overseas. I hardly ever saw him but on occasion he would sent postcards of exotic locations. His only message to me was the all purpose "wish you were here". I've always pondered those words as we really didn't have a relationship outside of blood. I've used those words in many pieces; sometimes referencing an actual location, but often a state of mind.
In this particular piece for Chromatophore those words and others were constructed and included in the envelope. They are included without instruction for their assembly into phrases and left for the viewer to assemble (or decode) as preferred.
The meaning is ambiguous; left to chance or layering of meanings. I was in particular inspired by the Italian poet Antonio Porchia and a quote from his work Voces, "I know what I have given you, I do not know what you have received."

Mail Art received from Rachel Freeman

In other mail art news; I received a couple of nice collages from Rachel Freeman the other day. Thanks Rachel :) I'll work up a return at first light! Rachel's work can be found here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life in the Way

Progress shot of hubcanvas for Landfill Arts ©09

** I always cringe at the saying "life got in the way". Usually someone was on their way to something creative or meaningful in their life when they were blindsided by the actual vicissitudes of living life. My last post, (well over a week ago) referred to a long overdue paint job to the exterior of our house. Despite hiring a friend to help, the work grates on me because of the art backlog. I've made scant progress on my Landfill Art project, I've got several new pieces to frame before a local show this fall and a ton of ideas are languishing in my sketchbook.
Of course I made the bed now I have to sleep in it; but while I still have breath I may as well complain.
I did steal a few hours to complete a mesh 'web' that will cover the hubcap for Landfill project. The web will help hold some of the elements I'm using in this mixed media piece. The photo at the top shows one of the hands I've made being soldered in place.

Spider web - solder on copper mesh Landfill Art project in progress ©09

A few posts ago now, Jafabrit's blog commented on tortured artist syndrome. She claims (and has science on her side) that this is PIFFLE. (go ahead - click over - I'm just raving) This may be just anecdotal but I am tortured whenever this "real life" stuff gets in the way of making art. The last two weeks have been sooo non-productive art wise that I've been feeling a bit psycho. My mental health guru/wife says in another week of painting I should be right back in the art world of long hours and little pay or recognition. "Does that make you feel better honey?" So in a fit of Van Goghish perversity I shaved my goatee and mustache; which she didn't notice for two days until I pointed it out. This leaves me with the conclusion that one of the symptoms of tortured artist syndrome is invisibility. Sigh...

Mixed media mail art envelope in progress ©09

Meanwhile, I'm almost overdue to send a mail art piece to Jennifer Zoellner's Chromatophore project. I suppose I could send off one of my promotional postcards but given the quality of the submissions she has posted I'd be headed for the wall of shame.
Luckily I'm surrounded by a tabletop junkyard of scrap from working the landfill Art project. So why not use some of this wire mesh mess to construct an envelope to contain a few words for Jennifer? The picture above is my progress on this idea as of last night. I'm free handing my soldering iron to make some words for my enclosed 'message'.
Plus to head off any further tortured artist syndrome I am vowing that not another clapboard or window sash competes with my attention until at least this mail art piece is safely in the saddlebags of my pony express rider.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Honey, you left the Vermeer out

Lovely craquelure development

**Nothing like a few days of distractions to make an artist appreciate studio time. Perhaps even the artist's family may prefer the subtle difference between the pacing, talking to oneself passions of the studio to the hair pulling, garment rending mania surrounding home repairs. The craquelure above is not the surface of a 350 year old Vermeer but instead our siding only five years after it's last painting. Luckily my friend Roger is a teacher. And many teachers paint houses to make ends meet during the summer. So while Roger scrapes, I try to stay in front of him repairing rot. (well, and build a table for a client, post a blog and complete some more soldering on my project for Landfill Arts...) I hope this strategy lets me get back to just two jobs a bit sooner.

Blindfold Art - My friend Roger paints a chicken

But, lest anyone think that this house painting isn't a serious business, Roger did have to undergo a thorough training. The blindfold art test being the final exam. (actually we had several couples over for drinks and ended up taking turns at blindfold painting.)

Visit the Eclipse Gallery site - Renovations almost complete!

Of course I can't complain when my friend Sarah Elizabeth, owner of Eclipse Gallery, has been in renovations for almost a year. Sarah is nearing completion and her first exhibition opening is scheduled for August 1st. I will be exhibiting in her second show opening in September; The 50 Artists/ 50 States/ 50 Mediums Show. Please stop by her site for a visit. You can also become a fan of Eclipse on facebook.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Finger Painting

** Admittedly, I'm a late adapter of the Brushes application for iPhone. I didn't see the value until I was recently waiting for a check up at the doctor's office. They don't call them waiting rooms for nothing. After tiring of last years magazines and convincing the receptionist that airplane mode on the cell isn't going to crash their EKG I downloaded the application. I was instantly hooked. The app turned my phone into a mini rendering tablet and I was off and running, er... finger painting; not even griping over the wait.

Pepper in Basket - first attempt with Brushes app

My first attempt was crude but the learning curve was fairly intuitive. My second piece "Fish" (at top) turned out a bit better and gives me a sense of the possibilities in this little app. Of course my self satisfied bubble burst when I decided to visit Flicker to see what everyone else is doing with Brushes.
I've got a ways to go on my finger painting. Still for all those times when I'm trapped in waiting mode without a sketchbook now I can just phone it in.

"A real brush" illustration from artist book in progress - You Are What You Eat - evertson '09

My working method above is a bit like the ink drawing techniques (above) that I learned from friend and mentor Keiji Shinohara. Although Keiji is mainly know for his ukiyo-e style woodcuts, he is also a master of japanese style sumi-e painting. He taught me over the course of a couple of years how to bring the 'color' out of the black ink.

Keiji Shinohara Ukiyo-e woodcut print

The Brushes undo function is able to cover missteps easily and the drawings can maintain the fresh and spontaneous feel of sumi-e. (without years of training) In the Flicker examples you can also find artists working very realistically. The only drawback is that one can have too many irons in the art fire.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Let it Go

** Damn I’m having a hard time peeling off those smiley red wax lips. You know the ones from your misspent youth when donning a pair was sure to produce a chuckle. (even from aunt Mary who is anything but) Another holiday extended family get together has passed into history and my smile is in danger of cramping.
I’m reminded of Frank Zappa’s autobiography describing similar sentiments concerning holidays where he would disappear into his studio before his brain geysered.
On my families side I’ve only got 92-year-old mom who mostly nods, smiles and then inserts some peculiar memory from deep inside her dementia. Small fragments of never forgotten slights or embarrassments, but luckily Karen’s family usually concern themselves with steering me into more profitable and practical pursuits. Though if I'm not quick enough to accept advice conversation rotates to family members who are more practical, profitable or gossip worthy.
C’est la vie. Perhaps material for an artist book someday. Or perhaps I need to reconfigure our Hallmark® lives with my own line of greeting cards with their attendant holidays. “Dada days” speaks to me as a way for families to experience role reversal as the artists get to offer suggestions on how to modify standard occupations. Preferably ones that take as much knowledge and dedication as the arts. The engineers can build nuclear trombones; hedge fund managers trim the topiary and lawyers…well perhaps they can argue amongst themselves with sign language.

Bill's "Squirrel" ©09
I think the problem is that since most people once had a picture posted on mom’s fridge or visited a museum they feel the need to offer suggestions. Or perhaps so much of contemporary art is a very rarified acquired taste that is just inaccessible during a casual get together and thus needs to be simplified. So when I hear aunt Mary ask, “what are you working on?”… The response should actually be what’s going on in my second job; not that I’m working out hypertext links for a series of digital works on the theme of insects so they can be experienced non-linearly. Yes, I should simplify my life with simple wording.
And just in – Bravo Network is holding open calls for reality show artists. Yes, in the vein of Project Runway or Top Chief a new series to catapult an unknown but ‘talented’ artist to the forefront of TV art lovers all across this great nation. I’ll have to pass on this because from the questionnaire I can tell I’m not enough of an eccentric.
Q. Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor? Yes No (circle one) If yes, please give dates and details. Use the back of this page or attach additional sheets if necessary.
A. If anti war protest arrests aren’t good enough I’d be happy to commit something more spectacular if I can be on your show.
Q. What if a branded corporation wanted to use your art in their advertising; discuss your perspective.
A. Oh please pick my art; just tell me who your sponsors are and I can suck up like you wouldn’t believe.
No I’ll pass.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little Oil - Big Oil

sketch book images

** Starting to take a few of my sketches for the Landfill Arts hubcanvas out for a stroll today. Like most of my work I've only got a direction I'm headed in rather than a great map. I mentioned in a previous post that I decided instead of a piece about my narrative vis a vis autos this mixed media work would be about oil. Oil and maybe BIG oil; I'm not that sure. We love our oil and it's refined sister gas. It gets us where we're going and we scarcely can imagine what we would have to change to live without our dependence on the substance. But... getting to this piece is all about exploring but the more I explore I find that while Big oil is a convenient subject there are many small hands in this issue as well.

mocking up hubcanvas

** The many hands theme is manifesting as small copper mesh hands that I am fabricating. I also remembered a train set I had many moons ago with a working oil derrick and pump. Sure enough they could be found on eBay. Only now they are collector items; not the kind of thing one would destroy to make art with, or would I? So I find myself on eBay looking for a real crappy version of this Lionel oil rig. Not being an eBay aficionado it takes a few bidding wars with train memorabilia collectors before I get what I'm looking for. So today I get to start mocking up the piece with my copper hands and my new oil rig toys.

** Todays bonus feature is the new and improved link to the A Book About Death webpage. New artists, slideshow view and links to artist's sites and soon to come information about the webcast and programs during the opening.