Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ox and O's...the movie

_Drawing from inside cover _ evertson©09

_My hand stamps found their way into my Artifact and Art Box; which contains the "game", Ox and O's. Loosely based on the tic tac toe game or in some countries, Noughts and Crosses; my piece is an assemblage of reflections. This assemblage although an art piece is also a game to be played.

Ox and O's...the movie

_As I carve my stamp hands; as much as I am trying to work out symbolic themes, I often find myself carving pairs of simple opposites. That dualistic thinking led me to "package" the idea as an art game of opposites. Noughts and Crosses appealed to me because of its simplicity as well as its role as an early childhood learning game. Much of the creativity we learn as children is from the result of play. I liked the fact that it becomes easy to develop strategy. With such a rapid learning curve every game soon ends in a draw. Of course, at that point the child learns all the game has to teach and moves on.

_The Ox reference comes not only from both simple word association of ox with x, but also its historical reference to Zen ox herding pictures as metaphors of the spiritual journey.

Ink painting by Gyokusei Jikihara _ 1982
Poem by master Kuoan _ 12th century

_The particular stamps I use in this version of the "game" are the Brush Holding Hand and (the word) Artifact. The creation and the created. An oblique reference to the unique struggle that can arise in artists and other "creatives" between immersion in process and a product. Process/ Result.

Collage_ Samsara V1a_evertson©09

_The interior collage is based on the original art of Ria Vanden Eynde, who inspired me to include a samsara reference to my box. Her original drawing of the grasping hand is shown in the post from November 14th.

_The Ox is a favorite subject of mine. About 10 years ago after a trip to Thailand I did some sketches based on oxen being worked in fields. It was probably during that time I came to realize the aptness of the ox in the herding metaphors.
Ox in Candlelight - evertson©05

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ox's and O's

_Artifact and Art Box containing Ox and O's - ©evertson09

_Ox and O's with the Artifact and Art stamps

_While working through various carvings of my Hand ᔓtamps I knew I wanted to use them as more than a chop or addition to the mail art I exchange with other artists. I used the tic tac graphic to frame some of the designs and this brought to mind using the hands and their carved symbols in a game.

Starting to wrap the binder board frame with book cloth.

This is the construction of the Artifact and Art Box. The box contains my "game" of Ox and O's. The piece measures 4.5 x 11 x 1.5 inches and contains two stamps as well as other art and "game" material.

Box taking shape with an interior drawing
and a formed copper mesh cradle for each hand.

Cover and ox pen drawing. Box interior showing
Hand ᔓtamps, Samsara collage and pull string
for interior compartment.

Raised lettering on cover is created by stretching the
book cloth over hardened glue.

Tic tac toe is a simple child's game that many have played for ages. Using an X or O as a mark, the players take turns trying to achieve a win by making three marks in a row. As children we sometimes develop strategies that enable us to win; until our opponent catches on. The best play ends in a draw. Simple games such as these are combinational games and the simplicity of the rules lead to predictable choices.

Glueing the interior cover drawing

The box contains two of my stamps: A carving of a hand holding a brush; my symbol of art or artist and the carved word Artifact. The game play, of course, is incidental to a speculation on the nature of our work as artists and by extension our production. A constant play occurs between our works as artists in the marketplace versus our role as conveyers of status, information or insight, and who receives it and how access is distributed or obtained.

Inking the game grids

Even art that attempts to negate the status quo of the fashionable leaves behind relics or artifacts that themselves become collectable.

Ox and O's blank grids - "Instruction Sheet" in center

The center interior picture in the box is the collage I made using Ria Vanden Eynde's "Samsara" drawing of a hand grasping toward a ball (pictured in the previous post) as a starting point. Her note to me: "Samsara: because of our continuous grabbing/ reaching for/ holding on to (what we think) will make us happy, we suffer."

Finished box showing interior artwork and Hand ᔓtamps

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hand ᔓtamp

Finished Hand Stamps

_As I work through my ongoing Hand ᔓtamp project, I go back and forth on their nature. Sometimes they seem to be a commodity but more often they seem to have an art nature. I suppose this does come down to my intent and I do tend to intellectualize things that may just as well fall into the realm of practicality. I've explained how I simply started with a single hand that I carved initials into the bottom of to act as a personal signature for work. This led to the idea of making other chops as symbol for addenda to drawings. a second thought, more information, the tangent created in the origin.
Yet they are simply nice compact art objects in themselves. I probably will offer some up for sale and post those in my blog side bar. Alternately, I have a feeling that there is more I want to develop in this. As I've researched chops and seals, I've been overwhelmed by the number of rubber stamp companies offering complex and relatively inexpensive stamps. Many of these seem to target a craft audience. They seem widely available in shops and online.
In contrast I've also been humbled by the intricacy of many oriental stamps. I've also been humbled by the complexity of stamps produced by mail artists for use in their work.

TAM Rubber Stamp Archive is a blog curated by Rudd Janssen in the Netherlands and documents this art form from the early 1980's on. While Rudd archives and offers publications many of these personal stamps are rarely seen except by other mail artists.

Lancillotto Bellini is another artist whose work in rubber stamps is quite extrodinary. the following video is a brief overview of Lancillotto's work; a worthwhile side trip to see his very personal stamp portraits.

I wrote last post about free association in letting design manifest and how it ran in series, yet this past week my carvings have been along the line of opposites and dualities. While I'm not exactly carving the ubiquitous yin yang yet I did do order and chaos and a sun and moon. I may need some non-duality carvings for a while as they seem somehow more profound or internalized in groupings.

CHAOS/ORDER stamps - ©evertson 09

As I work on the plaster miniatures, they are becoming more like art objects rather than a commercial or utilitarian product. I can start to envision them evolving a bit from my original thoughts. I think of my own hands. Once a child's; untested and unblemished; now middle aged, calloused and scarred. Alternately strong and fragile; having physical memories of all the things they have touched. The memories that have shaped my hands... their own patina somehow beyond my mental construct of how they got this way.

Hand ᔓtamps after hardener and wax - experiments with paper and cloth visible to left - ©09

The hand stamps began formless, as simple white powder - plaster. Mixed with water and placed in a mold. Yet somehow they come out unique. I use a petroleum jelly for a mold release; even thinly applied they give each hand a unique accidental skin. an ultimately uncontrollable series of swirls and fingerprints and tiny air pockets that despite any pretense I have at uniformity they become as individual as you and I. A mix of play and chance. Their skin needs protection and I apply a resin hardener to toughen the fine grain of the plaster underneath. (The dust we come from?) I mix and apply pigmented waxes and they come out aged - different - reflections of their symbol and the beginning of their journeys.


My Belgian friend Ria has been busy with mail art and I've received a new picture from her. This time an original drawing that she requests I "do something with it". Her drawing "Samsara" concerns itself with the Buddhist concept of suffering through our continuous grabbing, reaching and futile holding onto what we think will make us happy. She also knows that for months I've included hands in my work. perhaps by my next post I'll have my "additions" ready to show her.

Ria Vanden Eynde - "Samsara" - pencil on paper

Jennifer Zoellner sent a large package that completely baffled me when I picked it up. What a delight!! Jennifer painted a wooden paddle with her intricate and iconic doll imagery to produce this fascinating piece. The 16" x 10" paddle has found a place of honor on our mantle. Thank you Jennifer for this major piece of work.

Jennifer Zoellner - Paddle - 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

New and Improved

New stamp designs - all ©09 Evertson

Signs, symbols, letters, numbers, pictographs, glyphs, runes, hieroglyphics, etc; I spent the past week primarily on my Hand ᔓtamp project. there are possibilities in this work that goes beyond my original thought of a seal or chop. As shorthand picture or idea stamps, I see that they form tiny addenda or tangents somewhat similar to the way a traditional oriental chop may work to express an ideogram that completes a subject. In the sketchbook they seem to run in series of word or picture associations. Three letter words: WOW, HOW, NOW. Four letter words: VERSO, EXIT. Magic squares to tic tack toe to checkerboards to see saws. CHAOS to ARTIFACT to moon with clouds. Free association on a small scale, similar to the way I deal with collage whether on the computer or cut and paste.
Probably the fundamental skill of artists in general is this associative ability and translation of the idea via the artist's media. Poets and musicians come to mind as well. In science there is the famous example of August Kekule discovering the structure of benzine after a dream of an ouroboros.

New stamp designs - all ©09 Evertson
Ouroboros: bottom middle

So for the time being I am continuing on the association path and letting the tangents travel as they will. Free association, automatic writing or chance. Perhaps a pattern will appear; or at least the appearance of pattern.
I tend to wake up with a few ideas and sketch them for later workup on the computer. I work the designs at 2x scale as the stamp bottom I'm working with is small, about an inch (2.5cm). The carving time depends on the design; from 30 minutes to over an hour. After the hand is carved I paint on a resin hardener before testing the design. When I'm satisfied with the design I apply more hardener to the hand's surface as well as coloring with pigmented wax and paint.

construction of box - clasp in foreground

Completed cork box for "initial" stamp - Evertson©09

I worked up a small box for one of my initial stamps (WᴹE)
using binders board covered with cork. I carved the small wooden clasp that is attached to the box with fine braided copper wire. The box is lined with felt. The box took so much longer to make than the handstamp contents it makes me wonder how the boxes that hold my traditional stamps are made. People working for pennies a day? The small clasp boxes are sometimes quite the works of art in themselves. I'm still working on the overall concept of where this project is going but after working on the box I've decided they could only be offered on a limited basis. (if..if..if)

Around the World Mail Art

Artist and photographer Ginny Lloyd sent a postcard based on a selection from her book GINA LOTTA POST. Ginny is involved with mail art, visual poetry, artist books and artistamps among a host of other activities. Plus she's about to move to Jupiter. (Florida)

Ginny Lloyd - "Homage to Poland"

From Luxembourg, artist Branka Djordjevic′ sent a small painting from her "Little Pieces" series. The series was begun in 2000; this example is painted on paper and mounted to mat board. Very lush and textured.

Branka Djordjevic′ - "Little Pieces"

Many thanks for the art surprises in my mail!!