My most recent sculpture to date is Sublime Transitions. It is about the “leap of faith”. A traversing of the known into the unknown for the possibility of bettering one’s current situation. To convey this “crossroads” visually, I have chosen to represent the concept in metaphor through the sublime change of state of a substance. This, of course, refers to the wondrous change that defies what seems to be the natural order of things. To pass to a gaseous form, from a solid, without turning to a liquid state. This phenomenon, of going directly from solid to a gas, is usually demonstrated with frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice), What is generally not considered when witnessing this is, that once this has happened, it is not reversible. Understanding this irrevocable nature of the sublime state is quintessential to understanding the concept central to my sculpture “Sublime Transitions”.
The sculpture starts “firmly footed”, rooted, grounded in the known. But on rising from that position the form struggles with the question at hand. It twists to and fro without a well-defined direction indicative of indecision and then continues it’s quest into the unknown as it forms a vaporous state in the shape of a hand reaching into the unknown.
Other views of this sculpture may be seen on this site by following this link—Sublime Transitions
The transitions in this sculpture have become delicate and tedious. Working with wood grain takes pretty intense scrutiny in order to maintain strength integrity that will self-support the structure. In other words, “you can’t always get what you want” I mentioned earlier the “dissolve effect” I was reaching for in this piece.
I am working to reduce the volume of the work as it rises vertically in a gradual progression. It becomes exceedingly difficult at the top where the piece can become more fragile than glass. The imperative then is to have each splintering element receive support from its neighbors. In short, I don’t have “free will” to go anywhere I want in shaping this piece. I have to constantly make exceptions to my direction I would like to take, while acknowledging what the material can support. A continual balancing act. Yes, tedious is the right word. Hopefully, the reward will be in how well I can achieve this effect in the end.
I have started the third in the five sculptures I intend to have ready for showing at the Krasl Art Fair On The Bluff, next month, July 9th and 10th. The sculpture Sublime Transition (shown here) is just beginning to show the vertical transition of the sublime “change of state” from its solid base to becoming vaporized. Right now as I work the piece to accomplish this impression, I look to find a balance in the volume where this occurs in equal amounts throughout the vertical rise. I seek to derive the viewer experience that they are witnessing a dematerialization of the form.
I must work the entire piece throughout its length, up and down while constantly revolving it to insure the impression is equal from all points of view. Because the piece is so tall it will push back the optimal viewing distance to perhaps ten feet or more. So when working the piece I have to continually step away to that distance. To not take this into account as I work through balancing the form would be to ignore the parallax distortion that occurs from working up close. Once the form I am looking for is found I can begin the refinements that will make the piece spark.
After eight coats of polyurethane Fourm Factor is finally finished, has had its promo pictures taken, and is now published on this site at the link below.. I love the soft feel this form imparts and the motion of the line as the eye traverses through the complete 360 degrees of rotation. It slumps in a relaxing posture giving a “peaceful easy feeling”, seductive as a chase lounge to the weary.
Fourm Factor’s title is a play on words using the form of a 4 as a factor in form. The idea was to use the numeral and embellish on its essential shape to realize the beauty that is constantly around us in the most inconspicuous places.
Fourm Factor is experiencing it’s final stage of finish. This process involves repeated coats of polyurethane, which are scraped and sanded until they are flat. Each coat fills tiny scratches or digs left over from the carving process until the a glass smooth surface is left. Glass smooth, but not glossy like glass. Too much gloss and reflection of light from the surface will interfere with being able to see the grain and color variations of the wood. The objective is to achieve a “happy medium” of enough gloss is present to appreciate the form though it’s contours, but not so much as to blind the presence the richness the wood itself has to offer. Each coat has to dry for about 48 hr. before it can be sanded and worked. I call this phase “carving in the finish” A sculpture in this stage of development takes 8-10 days just to apply the finish. This allows plenty of time to get started on another sculpture. Generally while working in my studio I find myself surrounded by about five sculptures in various stages of development, so that through the course of a day I am never without something that needs me. With this piece nearly finished I expect to start another one today. That makes this a especially exciting day. About half of my day will be spent on the new creation, and the other half will go to finishing the others in their various stages of completion. As I move from one to the other in this fashion, I find my enthusiasm for completing each remains a full height, while still using my time to full efficiency.
My latest addition to the five new sculptures I intend to include in the upcoming show Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff next month in St. Joseph, MI. “Resisting Destiny” represents inevitability. The insurmountable,irrefutable fact that we cannot control or run from what is our destiny.. It is always there all around you ready to engulf you as a tidal wave does, to sweep you off your feet, taking control of what you only thought you had control over just a second ago.
The Making of Resisting Destiny
For this sculpture I am using a piece of red oak shaping it to provide two distinct elements in a reflection way about to interact. In developing the design for my concept I work to incorporate the two elements in a way that they appear as perpetually linked, as if one. This continuity is important if the image is to successfully convey the feeling of the elements spilling back on themselves in a tumbling fashion like a wave on the beach. A sort of ordered chaos..
On the immediate horizon is my only outdoor art show this year, Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff, in St. Joseph, MI. I want to present for this show very best of what I have to offer and therefore am working diligently to the purpose. Faced with the challenge of producing at least five new works in the next six weeks has left me charged with enthusiasm and I find myself working late into the evening in fervor. and anticipation of what I might accomplish. The piece shown in the image here is titled “Fourm Factor” specifically to interplay with the words four, form and factor as the image itself does. Form being the factor, while four serves as the backdrop. The shape embellishes on the four enhancing it’s value as an abstract form. It all works together nicely as a package. The reality of four dissolves, and the form becomes the only thing of value. The subtleties of volume and shape come to the forefront in a residual way.
Making Fourm Factor
This piece is being carved from spaulted elm and the spault has created some magnificent nuanced changes in coloring to leave a complex underlying variance of tonal splendor. In order to make this richness of tone show in the piece, I must first painstakingly level all surfaces, removing bumps and shallows left over from the use of the more aggressive tools used in the development stages. To do this I use a tool, shown here, known as a cabinet scraper. Just a flat metal blade with a very sharp edge. It works similar to a wood plane in removing wood in minute curly shavings. Using this in a crisscross manner, pulling it over the wood, produces the desired result. A smooth level surface. Wood never disappoints, it just keeps giving and giving.
It gives me the greatest pleasure to announce that the ArtPrize Selection Committee for the Amway Grand Plaza has determined to include me among the artists who will be showing their work at that venue. The Amway Grand Plaza is at the very center of downtown Grand Rapids, putting it at the center of ArtPrize itself. The Grand Plaza is a luxury hotel part of Marriott Hotels. It has existed as a historic landmark of downtown Grand Rapids for over a hundred years.and dominates the skyline of the city. Located on the corner of Pearl and Monroe streets, it occupies an entire block of the city. With the Pearl Street bridge being a vital connection across the Grand River which divides the city east from west, it would be difficult to see any of ArtPrize without passing by this prominent hotel.as it stands right across the river from the equally imposing Gerald R. Ford museum. I am excited to once again to be showing my sculpture at this great event. ArtPrize begins Sept. 21 and runs until Oct. 9. For more information follow this link: ArtCompetition …
Wood is resilient. lt does not shatter like glass when you drop it. It does not chip when you strike it. Though it may dent or fracture under the same aforementioned abuses, the scars can generally be repaired to the original appearance. I have lost a few over the years that I deemed were not worthy of the time it would take to repair them to their original form. But before scrapping the work altogether, I begin looking at the piece with new eyes. I do this in consideration of the fact, that after all, I begin all of my work from a shape I didn’t produce, but one that the tree did. Generally that shape is the same repetitive cylindrical form that I must re-purpose to my own whim. So when I come across a shapely form of a crotch or stump it excites me to go places not yet traversed. I sparks my imagination. I look at creativity as not being without an analytical approach. I believe that man’s inspiration is at its height when confronted with a problem. Problem solving is sort of like putting the creative part your mind on steroids. Which brings us to the sculpture pictured.
I had an unfortunate shock last month when picking up some of my pieces from a gallery show, to discover that three of my works had cracked from the stress of the dry environment. In all my years putting work in shows like this, I have never had it happen to even one of my pieces. So confronted with the problem on this piece I began by simply carving out the cracks to a point where they were inconspicuous. Since almost all work carved from a tree trunk will generate some stress cracks from drying, I work from the rule that they should not be so conspicuous as to overpower the overall visual impact of the form with their presence. But visually, when the cracks are carved away, the very removal of the wood changes the balance and order of the form. It’s not unlike the “four legged stool syndrome, “cut the end off one of the legs and you must cut the the rest of the legs to make it balance it again”. So the piece you see before you, though it appears very similar to to the original, is entirely new, and it took me as long to make the corrections as it did to carve the original. This piece will sport the same selling price as the original did though I now have twice the time in it, So what did I gain? the satisfaction of arising to the challenge, and the delight that I like the result better than the original. There was after all, nothing salvaged here except maybe a piece of wood. Timewise I could have come out the same if I had simply discarded the original and started over in a new piece of wood. After all of this, in the renaming the new sculpture, of course “Metamorphosis” came to mind. But that being a tired and overused convention for art titles I decided on “Circumvention“, which still works with what I was attempting to say with the original but with an added wink to how it was derived.