Friday, December 23, 2011

Images from The Firebird ~

The Ogre's Orchard ~

The Firebird ~

These not-quite-finished paintings are part of a set of 12 images from Russian Fairytales.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Firebird Frame ~

The frame is a collaboration with woodworker Jake Shackleford. This is the first layer of color - (Venetian red) - to be followed by ivory black and gold leaf. The Firebird painting has some layers of color to go too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zack Conklin's video ~

Photojournalist Zack Conklin spent 3 days with me last week, making this video. It was strange having a camera clicking every 15 seconds while I painted! You can see it here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Ogre's Orchard ~

The Ogre's Orchard is one of the images in The Firebird, part of the series of paintings of Russian fairytales that I'm working on now. There's a lot of work left to be done on this one - I've just started applying the color glazes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Keep the Wild Honeysuckle ~

"Keep the wild honeysuckle" was the cryptic advice given to me by my grandmother in a dream. I never met her, but knew her, from stories and the quilts, drawings & rugs that she designed, as an artist and a sensitive soul.

Anna's Doll

Anna would have been my father's eldest sister, but she died in the early 1900s, at age 6, of scarlet fever. When we looked in the upstairs of the Old House, I found two of her china dolls. My eldest sister has them now. Thoughts about the love that children have for their dolls, and that parents have for their children came together when a friend miscarried and asked me to make a little coffin - "a little wooden boat." It was one of the most difficult objects to make that I've ever attempted, not so much in its construction, which needed to be simple (tho without nails, it seemed to me) - but in its concept. Anna's Doll is part of that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cocoon Song ~

Cocoon Song ~ Baoku Moses, Dan Dutton, Brent Olds, Shane Gilmore & Susan Alcorn - Oct. 7th at the Singletary Center for the Arts, University of Kentucky.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Songs & Dreams; Oct. 7th concert at the University of Kentucky

Joining me for the concert were Baoku Moses, Shane Gilmore, Brent Olds, Susan Alcorn, George Wakim, Jack Walker, Ken Leslie, and Stan Nelson.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Prince Ivan & the Firebird's Feather ~

(For some reason this painting is hard to photograph - it's not this pale...)

This is the 2nd painting in a set of images from Russian fairytales. I'm using the so-called Venetian glazing technique for these paintings - first the image is painted using burnt umber and white, then the colors are applied over the underpainting in transparent layers. I still have a lot of glazing yet to do on Prince Ivan & the Firebird's Feather. Of all the paintings I've ever worked on, this one has required the greatest number of colors - 21 and counting. I usually work with 6 or fewer.

Here's what I used: Burnt Umber, Zinc White, Burnt Sienna, Transparent Brown, Italian Earth, Green Earth, Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre, Venetian Red, Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder, Cadmium Yellow Light, Aureolin, Viridian, Veronese Green, Hooker's Green, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Stil de Grain Vert, Ivory Black, and Mars Violet.

Here's my palette - (a piece of discarded foamcore.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Firebird ~

Here's how the firebird looks with a few more layers of color. There's still quite a bit of work to do!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Study for The Firebird ~

Yesterday I began a new series of of images evoked by Russian fairytales. I decided to start with "The Firebird" - because of the life-changing impact on my work of both Stravinsky's music, and the Ballet Russe.

I was in the 8th grade of my school when an English teacher played The Firebird for a writing assignment. I remember that what I wrote, while listening to the music (that was the assignment) - was maudlin, and false as well, but it made me aware of the power of music to tell a story, and with that realization I was determined to become a composer. I asked my parents for an instrument to compose on, and incredibly, my father went with me to a music store and bought an organ for me, my choice - because it was the only keyboard that they had. The only Stravinsky that I could find was the piano-four-hand arrangement of The Rite of Spring, in the Fantasia music book, so that's what I began with.

I'm pretty sure that I read The Firebird, as a fairytale, at some point when I was a child. I read a lot of fairytales, especially if they told of far-away places like Russia.

In time I would discover other resonances of the firebird image through study of Gaston Bachelard's unfinished final work on the poetics of the Phoenix.

What surprises me, just as it did during work on the ballad paintings, is how determined the image of the firebird is for me. I've painted a number of phoenix since first hearing The Firebird, but this one has a certain nature that I want to - should I say capture? ~ very precisely.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Living in the country ~

This summer has a certain mellowness about it that reminds me of days long ago here on the farm when there were more domestic animals, versus the wild varmints present now. Contemplating those images of the past, and how the activities of contented farm creatures create a certain atmosphere, I'm trying my hand at painting what I remember.

Living in the country is the constant thread in my work. The hill is a lovely place, exciting in its constant changes, comforting in its reoccurring seasons - I'm a bit of a fish in its water, unaware at times of how pervasively the environment pervades my thought and work. I realized the other day, with a bit of surprise, that this country-mousedom is probably the main difference between my art and most. And as Aesop's ancient fable makes clear, the city and rural life have distinct boundaries, and opposing fields of prejudice - each idealizing and denigrating the other.

These thoughts lead me to wonder at the assumption, fairly common amongst city folk, that their country counterparts have debased or non-existant conceptions of art, countered by the opinion of many country folk that though that may be true, such things are not really important in the bigger scheme of things. But in fact, both country and city folk alike adore their relative kitsch, as much or more, economically speaking, as anything else they put in their homes and public spaces.

Then there's the counter-current, in which city dwellers dream of bucolic sunny healthy happy farms with slow food and real dreams, much better for the planet than the traffic they're stuck in, and the flashing glittering towers of affluence, ease and grandeur that come, naturally, along with wealth, are located, of course, not in a backwater, but in a country-dreamed city.

Like Joni I've looked at clouds from both sides - and settled in where I've always been.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stills from You'll Always Come Back ~ The Ancestress

Containers: At the edge of what can be known - the shelter - the prison - the haunted house - my room - body - word - photo - sound.



"Earth - Illness and Suffering - The Permeable Nature of Things - Secrecy and Revelation - Wickedness and Righteousness - Exile and Movement - Death and Resurrection"

The Past, contained in Memory - The Present, contained in Time - The Future, contained in Dreams

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Salamander ~ (stills from You'll Always Come Back)

Maybe all abandoned houses are haunted. I made a joke that we were going to work in a haunted house to the YACB performers when the first batch of us went in. Then it turned out to be true - each performer, in one way or another, had some sort of unsettling experience in the house. Isaac and I, perhaps, were troubled the least - or took the strangeness for granted in a way that allows you to experience more of it. I think he and I live that way.

These are images shot on the staircase, with a gun we found in the house. Shane had the camera, I did the makeup and direction. We started in the cellar and worked our way upward, but the staircase is as far as we got.

Then Jordan was in the house and took some pics with his phone, and the orbs showed up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rabbit in Bronze ~

11" x 15" ~ One of two cast by Bright Foundry, in Louisville. It was a wonderful surprise to find that each part of the sculpture rings with a different tone - you can play a tune on this rabbit!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Poster design for Black Stravinsky ~

graphite & colored pencil on paper ~

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rabbit ~

This started out as a welded steel skeleton for a clay model to cast in bronze. But once Jesse had welded the skeleton, I noticed that some of the old pitchforks in the dandyland ogun piles had the right lines for the ears, and then it became a scavenger hunt for the rest of the parts. Most of the pieces are from old farm tools and machinery.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dance Bench for YACB ~

Plan for a bench ~ black granite, black walnut, steel pipe and wagon rims.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Moss Garden ~

The moss garden that we made last year for Richard is doing great. The moss and ferns like it, and so does he - so we're expanding it a bit. Sat. morning we moved this 5000 lb stone into place. A little spring will emerge from the V shape.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Cedar Horse ~

Shane & I, with help from Jake & Richard, installed the Cedar Horse. I was very happy that the horse proved strong enough to be transported laying on its side. This is an image contemplated for many years, so I'm especially grateful to see it realized in a 3 dimensional form. The mane and tail were the last pieces to be added - we went on a hunt for them in the cedar grove.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Horse ~

This cedar & fencewire horse is for my neighbor. There's still a lot of work to do, but I couldn't resist a ride.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Triptych for Love & Time ~ (1999)

These are terrible photos of the collage Triptych for Love & Time - today is overcast and the glossy paper glares with added light. It's a riff on Bosch's triptych. The little people are the dancers, photographed by William Cox, performing Love & Time, printed in various color combinations to fit the three panels. The rest of the images were cut from a large stack of magazines.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two studies for "Rabbit Recreations" ~

Spectators ~ sepia ink on paper

"Keep Your Eye On The Ball" ~ oil on canvas

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Study for The Archer ~

steel, plaster, marble, graphite ~ 48" tall

Some dreams form gradually, over a long period of time, without the slightest awareness of the thing being formed, or even that the formation of the objects worked on will turn out to be steps to a destination. Archery was a dream of my childhood, one among many. I made bows and arrows - the materials to make them were at hand - trees, sinew, flint, feathers - not so much out of a need, or desire, to hunt, or even to have an accurate aim. Perhaps it was about flight.

When I began making sculpture for my neighbor, the first piece seemed like the simplest solution to a request - "Can you make something using these big rocks?" One was flat, hence a dolmen, and hence oriented (by some belief) to the earth and sky, emergence and descent, sun, moon, stars. One was long, fish-like, by a pond, and the simple thing was to stand it up, becoming another sort of sign of passage - inevitably phallic, with a carved on spiral that turned out to be a recording of a love letter, if one only had a needle to set in the groove.

The next piece came from a request for a stone egg. Then 3 cubes of sandstone, scribed with curls and diagonals - the flowing vortex of wind, water, and flames, lines straightened by the will to signify precision. Then came the rabbits.

My neighbor happened to see a painting of rabbits that appealed to him, and showed me an image of it. I raised a number of orphaned wild rabbits in my zoo-keeping youth, and absorbed my mother's stories of the trickster rabbit, so I had my own images to draw from. I did, and they fit, leading to a series of rabbit sculptures, drawings and paintings.

Anyone who loves Japanese and Chinese painting, as I do, knows that the natural companion of rabbits is the Moon. One doesn't even have to know the Chinese myth of Houli the Archer, or the Greek Artemis, to guess that the missing piece in the collection is an Archer.

Tomb -Womb - Phallus - Egg - Rabbits- Moon - Archer ~ Happy Spring!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Primary Vanity ~

In earlier posts I mentioned that my first memory, of the primary colors, began a series of primary paintings and art of all sorts. They happen sporadically. Earlier this year long time friends commissioned me to make a new version of one of those - Primary Cat Attack. Soon after completing it, the Primary Vanity popped into my head, helped along by the thought that my collaborating woodworker, Jake Shackleford, would be able to make a sublime cabinet for the paintings.

The paintings are a combination of sepia ink, watercolor and oil paints, cut through to show the mirrors behind them. Each time that I approach the primary paintings the 3 colors take on different personalities. This time yellow seems wholesome; red fantastical; blue - mysterious and serene. I was almost finished with the red drawing when the outline of a Goatweed butterfly took shape merged with the face. That's a whole nother story.