Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Birds 30 May

These are some experiments I did with color and pattern, and as always, thinking about shapes in boxes. I've been looking at wallpaper books and am drawn particularly to patterns designs from the Arts and Crafts movement through the 1930's. For the color, I used marker and colored pencil, but when I scanned the images, the colored pencil washed out completely in places, such as in the background of the Flicker Tail-- a drawing I like for it's sense of flight and height.

The colors are not just faded but distorted, so I either need to photograph them, which is a lot more complicated than scanning, or find a different medium for color. Still, it's a good, quick way to do studies. All of these were inspired by images in John James Audubon's  "Birds of America", but needless to say, I don't aspire to imitate.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fritz Kuhn: Iron and Apples

I'm always struck when an artist takes  radically different ideas, like iron and apples, and brings them together in one work of art. I love the delicacy of Kuhn's initial sketches, which emphasize the fullness and ripeness of the apples. He evokes that sense of life in the finished ironwork (second  photo) through his use of abstracted shapes, solid and void, rhythm and repetition. I'm especially taken with the ink wash studies (bottom photo), as pattern and movement in a 2D format is something of particular interest to me right now.  This is a great example of  the development of an artist's work, one which clearly illustrates the evolution of specific ideas, and how they all come together in the finished product.

- Photo credits: "Fritz Kuhn, Stahl Und Metallarbeiten"

Fritz Kuhn Iron work

Maybe it's the iron locks and nails on the clothespin scarf
that got me thinking about ironwork. Having grown up in New Orleans, I was surrounded by lots of old cast and wrought ironwork. These images are from a book on Fritz Kuhn that caught my eye in the ironwork section of the library last week. (So lucky to have access to a library with such a section....)  I really like the patterns and sculptural quality of his work. 
Iron and silk scarves-- all in one week--  reminds me to stay open to the expansiveness of one's creative affinities.

- Photo credits: "Fritz Kuhn, Stahl Und Metallarbeiten"

Fritz Kuhn Blacksmith


This is ironwork by a blacksmith named Fritz Kuhn who worked in Germany from the 1920's-50's. Information about him is scarce-- I scanned these photos from a library book written in German which, unfortunately I don't read. In any case, beautiful work-- love the spiky insects.
- Photo credits: "Fritz Kuhn, Stahl Und Metallarbeiten"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Clothespin scarf

Iron locks, chains and keys.  Nails hammered into silk; ropes and lassos and wooden clothespins on a scarf given to me years ago by a dear, close relative long since gone.  I'm guessing she bought it in France in the the 1950's or 60's--a whimsical era for scarves with themes that go beyond color and pattern. This one is a mix of familiar objects in an offbeat vignette of everyday life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Henri Stephany sketch for Ruhlmann Co Wallpaper-1925

Sketch by designer Henri Stephany
Photo credit from the book:
"Wallpaper" by Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz

I'm crazy for this sketch by Henri Stephany for the "Roses Stephany" wallpaper manufactured by the Ruhlmann company in 1925.  I love the floating, layered effects of the sketch, drawn loosely and expressively in colored pencil and ink. A printed version of the wallpaper is below,one of likely many variations on the sketch. The wallpaper is fun, but I prefer the sketch.

"Roses" Wallpaper by Ruhlman
Photo credit from the book:
"Wallpaper" by Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Birds 22 May

Mapping the universe

Lately I've been thinking about how we explain the universe, not just the stars in the sky, but how we make sense of the open field of seemingly unrelated elements of our lives-- objects, ideas, the need to survive, sensations, events, the imagination, memories, personal relationships, dreams--pretty much everything which is the universe of who we are.  What connections do we make?  What do we see? What does that tell us about who we are?

Above are some maps I made by connecting random dots and seeing what emerged. Mountains and a moray eel appear twice; two figures in the middle of the second map are either dancing or arguing with one another, I wasn't sure which. There's a neighborhood, two things that fly-- a kite and a bird, a flower and a seed, time in the form of an hourglass, math and geometric shapes, a jewel stone, ideas and a question mark.

Anselm Kiefer
Sternenfallen (Falling Stars), 1998
 Mixed media

What got me thinking about all this is a couple of  works of art that convey this kind of interpretive complexity in different ways. In Anselm Kiefer's "Falling Stars" series the artist asks "Why do humans need to explain the universe?"  "What does that tell us about who we are as humans?"  He uses the night sky and the array of myths associated with constellations to show how humans from different cultures throughout time have not only explained what they saw, but connected it to their earthly lives, making the stars into maps of events, peopling the sky with characters and drama while investing it with supernatural power.

Aboriginal painting

Aboriginal artists take an aerial view of life, looking down on the earth's surface, rather than up to the sky to explain their universe. They use a field of dots to document everything from crucial survival info such as directions, paths, and location of water, to spiritual concerns including the organization of ritual ceremonies, showing aerial views of seating plans and specifying attire for attendees. One work of art may contain creation stories, topographical features, genealogy, sounds, all recorded with lots of dots-- which, as I consider this painting,  my maps, and the Kiefer, brings up a another question-- "What's up with with all the dots?".  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1950's silk scarf

I came across this 1950's silk scarf that was either my grandmother's or mother's, or maybe first one, then the other, and now mine.

Everything about it makes me feel crazy-good.  There's an obvious Japanese block-print influence in the fluidity of the lines, as well as the saffron, aqua, pink-and-black color combo. The bright red border has nothing to do with anything, but once you put in some like-minded umbrellas as trim, it works.

...and the fashion!  McQueen must have seen those claw-foot booties before he brought them (back) to the runway several years ago, and the fantastic trench coats are screaming Claire McCardell's "American Look" of the 1940's and 50's.

Claire McCardell Dress 1949

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kuya Shonin

Kuya Shonin
Rokuharamitsu Temple, Kyoto 

Six syllables in the form of Buddhas emerge from the mouth of the monk, Kuya Shonin, as he repeats a chant and strikes a gong.   Sound made visible-- a surprisingly  modern idea, and one I would not have expected in13th c sculpture.