Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Tile Project that Wouldn't Die IV

I'm having trouble yet again getting back into the studio and into the unbroken time of thinking and working. I never seem to be able to get away from the house.

There are so many decisions that have to be made and problems that crop up daily. It's impossible to just nip out to the studio and do some work.

To Whit:

We're still working on the bathroom tile project. One bath is finished and I am refreshing the wall paint and re-caulking the tub. It's the only available bathroom on the ground floor and it's pretty crowded at the moment.

You see, our house was built by a Swedish emigrant who made his living there painting interior room decorations in houses and churches. There are some of his work still in existence in the house today. Come to think of it, this house has had three owners and all three have been artists. humm, interesting.

Thanks to a visit some years ago from a couple of nice little old ladies who used to visit their Uncle Sven (I don't really know his name) when they were little girls, I found out that once, the back wall of the basement held a painting of about 8' X 15' of "Dewey's Entrance into Tokyo Bay". And on the floor, now concealed by many layers of concrete paint, was a rendition of an oriental rug. (Red paint keeps re-appearing each time the current paint gets nicked.) Too bad the previous owner didn't like it.

I wasn't too crazy about this linen closet door, but the thing has grown on me. I just don't have the heart to paint over another artist's work. We also inherited many indoor decorated shutters which are now living in the barn, but that's another story entirely.

But back to the current house project: The Tile renovation had expanded to redoing the floor of the hallway powder room/bath. The original floor was ancient linoleum. So ancient that it was the marbleized, swirly green malachite-looking stuff . I hadn't seen a floor like that since I was a child. (And incidentally, the very same lovely stuff was the surface for the kitchen counter! Ugh! The countertop was complimented by a Pink (PINK!) kitchen sink. The first thing we did was install a steel sink and I tiled the countertop.)

Today, we have a new, lovely grey-ish porcelain tile floor that makes the room great. The original owner/builder decorated the walls with painted sailboats that look to me like in the style of the 1920s or 30s art. When we re-did the windows, we carefully protected the work and now I have to refresh the paint in the mural to match the new coat of paint needed for the walls. I'm experimenting with the use of friskit to block the fine lines and to preserve the coral paint. I Really don't want to redo that part of the walls just yet. You can see where I have tried to do an overpainting of one boat hull and it didn't work too well. I've since found a much better match for the original color.

Ignore the mess on the shelf. It's my catch-all place since we had to abandon the master bath.

I love that old florescent chrome lighting fixture. As well as the old iron tub spigot. They are vintage for the house--sometime around the early 1940s. I have the old mirror out of the frame. The wall under the fiber board is solid pine planking.

Would you believe I walked into an antique store and found these two metal bookends? And did I have to buy them? You bet! I didn't care what they cost. Turns out they were very cheap.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Cardbox

This is a hand-constructed paperboard box covered with special paper.

I fell in love with this paper the minute I saw it in an art supply store.

The box is made of grey heavy board cut with an exacto knife and glued together. The inside is lined with the same paper that appears on the base. Trickey to make, but also fun to do.

I've saved every scrap of this paper and plan to use it again sometime.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Value of Art - Who Decides?

What is art worth?

Is the value based on aesthetic worth?

Does the artist decide?

Is the value the result of a consensus of opinion?

Is it a result of hype?

Does the market decide?

Does the market decide fairly?

Just who or what decides what art is worth?

Perception and value come into play to some degree.

How you perceive a work may be a big influence on how much you value it.

Where that art work is placed also influences how you view it:

A pot in a kitchen cabinet or on a table looks different from one sitting on a shelf in a show booth with lots of other pots like it. And different yet again when it is located in a gallery with other art "Stars" vying for your attention.

A piece on the table and one sitting alone in a lighted cabinet with glass doors could cost exactly the same; actually be duplicates, but one will be judged as worth more because of it's location and presentation. An isolated object, separated from the rest, is enhanced by it's location. A picture of a work, properly lighted and rendered in a good color printing always looks far more 'important' than the actual piece itself.

Put it in a modern museum with only a few other objects and it really looks important and the monetary value skyrockets. After all, someone decided that this was a worthy piece.

Museums pieces are vetted by art experts and it is known that they pay astronomical sums for art. Or it was a donation from either a wealthy person or even the artist. In any case, the work is judged to be an outstanding example of it's kind.

I'm always a bit saddened and sorry to hear someone say, "I don't know anything about art." or "I'm no expert when it comes to art." because they are afraid they might make a bad choice or throw their money away on something that another might sneer at. This is too bad because the market really is not fair. Bad work gets into museums; excellent work can be produced by a master who never gets recognized.

In the end, it is the person who chooses, buys, and owns the art that is the ultimate judge of how valuable it is. It is the person who elects to posses, prize, view or live with that art who is the ultimate judge of it's value.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another glaze-painted piece

Ever sell something you wish you hadn't? Here's one piece I'd like to have back.

It's another example of glaze-painting. At least I took a photo so that I could reference that idea again.

I did masses of 'watercolor' mugs using the same technique. Although the process is tedious, I love the impressionist painting look that results. Also, each mug is unique although using the same glaze combinations creates the look of a set of mugs.

The idea is to use grouping of glazes as if you were painting a 2 definitional work layering the colors over a neutral ground.

Next time, I think I'll try a light tan base glaze.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Night I Got Locked in the Art Building

Talk about zoning out when you're working!

When I was a freshman in college, I was working in a third floor classroom one night in the Fine Arts Building, so engrossed in a project, I suddenly 'woke up' and realized it was already midnight. The building was awfully quiet. I walked out into the hall and looked at the clock. Sure enough, it was midnight--the building closed at ten.

I quickly put my stuff away and ran downstairs to see if the ground floor door push-bar would work. It was locked up tight. I went to the clay studio and tried the door. Maybe someone was in there still working or sitting with the kiln. Deserted. The fire lever door was chained and padlocked on the outside.

It was a Friday night, a three-day weekend. No one would be back to the building unless a custodian maybe or a faculty member returning to their office perhaps, but that was really a longshot. There were comfortable couches in the lounge/stairwell area. Bathrooms that worked. Yes, I could survive in the building. No food, but water was plentiful. There was a phone there too, but who would I call? I had NO MONEY in my billfold anyway.

I could break one of the glass doors.......maybe. I might find a hammer in one of the art rooms. I hadn't checked the doors there yet, but they were probably all locked. An alarm would probably go off anyway. I'd get accused of breaking in, even though I was breaking out. Would they believe me? Couldn't go out one of the windows--they were the tilt-in type and there was no room to fit through them. Even if I broke one of them, it wouldn't work.

What was my Mom thinking? I was supposed to be home. She must have gone to sleep. Would she call the police if I wasn't in the house the next morning? If she came looking for me at the school, my car would be in the parking place in front. She would be sure there had been foul play.

I rifled my purse. A single coin rattled in the bottom. I could make one phone call. Who would I call? The police? Who were the janitorial staff of the building? I hadn't a clue where to locate that number. Maybe the Fire Department? I flipped through the phone book. It was a tattered mess.

I decided to call my Mom. The phone rang and rang. "Hello?" a fuzzy voice answered. "Mom! Listen! I'm locked in the Fine Art Building on campus. All the doors are locked. I was on the top floor and didn't hear everyone leave. Look up Dean Bane's (the Dean of Students) phone number and call him. He will know who to contact to get me out. Look up his number. I'll wait." She located his home number. "If you can't get him, call the police."

In about an hour and nearing 2 a.m., I heard the rattling of keys and a dark figure was at the door behind the glare of a flash light. I waited. The door swung open and I heard Dean Bane's voice call, "Jeanette? Are you in there?"

"YES!" I said. " I've been locked in!" Big Laugh from Dean Bane.

"How in the world did that happen?" he says.

I explain through more of his laughter. I'm so embarrassed.
I swear him to secrecy fearing four years of teasing from my classmates.

"That's okay, I won't tell anyone. Your secret is safe with me" he says.

Evermore, whenever I would run across Dean Bane on campus or inside buildings, I would be greeted with a broad smile, a twinkle in the eye and a soft chuckle. "Hi, Jeanette" he'd say.

At my graduation Dean Bane handed me my diploma, shook my hand and whispered, "Don't get locked in any buildings."

Monday, September 8, 2008


Before I knew that you couldn't paint with glaze, heh, I made my "Swimmer" serving dish. Really, I lucked out here since the ground is a semi-matt yellow glaze that is very stable and painting over it is lightly done with cobalt.

The cobalt glaze was watered down. Since it is such a strong pigment, it shows up well even when thin.

Even though "Swimmer" is not falling, the imagery could be of someone falling as well as that of a swimmer. The inspiration for this design is the story of Icarus, the man who, along with his father, made wings of feathers and wax and flew. But Icarus, being a young man, became enthralled with going higher and higher and flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax and he plunged to earth and died.

Icarus has been represented many times in works of art and it's a theme that I roll over and over in my mind. One day I'll make a sculpture of it.

Hum--there's that flying theme again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brain Tricks

Ever walk out of a room and forget what it was that you left the room for?

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."

Ever walk back in and remember? Funny, isn't it. I've often wondered if it was going back and seeing whatever you saw reminds you of the original thought or what you thought of is sorta' left it floating around in the air.