Event Booking
Web Links
News Feeds
Search - K2

Thoughts & Opinions

Wiki-Up Wanderings - May/June 2002


On a trip to Palm Desert over my daughter’s mid-winter break, we visited Grandma and went to Gallery Mack. I walked in, saw the work of my friends and amid the gauche atmosphere of too many BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes, I relaxed. There was Verena Schwippert and Reg Akright! And Tracy Powell and Michael Jacobsen! It was like falling into an embrace. I was impressed that so far from home, there was the NWSSA in force. Their sculptures were even more impressive amid palm trees and hibiscus than on the field at Camp Brotherhood. Imagine that.

I found a passage in an odd and wonderful little book, I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.  “There is so much that can’t be said plainly. Try describing what beauty is — plainly  — and you’ll see what I mean.” Then she said that “art could state very little – that its whole business was to evoke responses. And that without innovations and experiments all art would stagnate.”  Yes, I thought, yes. Evoke responses. That is what I am drawn to, and attempt to do in my work.

I am also re-reading Irving Stone’s book, The Agony and the Ecstasy, for the third time in my life. I find it fresh and intriguing...again. The first time I think I was 13 years old, then at about 25, now at 50. This time I have a companion book by Howard Hibbard, Michaelangelo. It has photos of all the pieces described by Stone, both those by Michaelangelo and those Michaelangelo was looking at for inspiration and comparison. A very satisfying and humbling experience.  I do wonder, however, if Irving Stone ever put hammer and chisel to marble himself. I find all of his descriptions of the chisel melting into the marble as if into butter faintly annoying. I mean really, butter?  I am working on carrara myself, and it ain’t anything like butter!

The past month has been slow-going on The Big One (which I may have to re-name The Pebble after reading about Verena and her tonnage). Bellingham became SNOW CENTRAL there for awhile and it was too darned cold to work at the studio. Speaking of which, there have been big changes. All that silence and dusty cobweb stuff I talked about? Gone. Our new studiomates moved in and the place is transformed. Bill and Frances do oil painting and  wood carving. We now have paintings on the walls, a couch and rugs, the smell of turpentine and oil paints, a refridge and wood chips! It is a bit tricky to keep dust out of their area, but we seem to be managing. There are more conversational interruptions when I am working, but the energy is good and the space feels happy. It will be so nice when the weather gets warmer to work with one or two layers under my ratsuit, instead of four!

I am now at the stage on this piece where I am close enough to the heart of the design to have an interesting phenomenon happen. When I first see it again after a day away, my eye can tell me immediately and exactly where I need to work and what I need to do.  I work there. Then my eye jumps to another spot, and I see the fix needed there. This goes on for 4 hours or so. I know I am making progress...but by the end of that time, I become blind.  I can’t see where to go next. Nothing looks exactly right and suddenly lots looks wrong. Then I know it is time to put the tools away.  If I push it, I will go too far in one area and throw everything else off. It is like a switch being thrown. That dramatic.  When I go back the next day, the process starts all over. Work proceeds in fits and starts and I have shown some friends what I am up to. They stand and stare, walk around quietly and cup their chins in their hands. I become unnerved and start blabbing about what I am doing, why I am doing it, what the piece represents, what I still need to do and on and on. They either say “uh huh” or “I see” and turn occasionally to look at me with blank eyes. It appears that their vision has gone way back in their heads and they aren’t listening to me at all. I asked my sweetie what this was all about when he reacted this way. He said that he needed time to take in the image and ponder on it for awhile. That he didn’t want to talk right away because the piece caused quiet and stillness to overcome him, and he would have to figure out his response before he gave it to me.

I bet you’re wondering what this thing is turning out to be, aren’t cha?


Studio Notes - Mounting Pins - March/April 2001


After expending the effort to drill a mounting hole perpendicular to a base or to the bottom of a sculpture there remains the problem of keeping the pin or sleeve correctly aligned as the epoxy cures.  Fast curing epoxies often don’t allow enough positioning time and slow cures try patience, as well as muscle control, if you attempt to hand hold the fixture while continually checking alignment with a square.

I have constructed several jigs by using a drill press to drill guide holes for various pin sizes in blocks of wood and metal.  The jig illustrated is an aluminum block with a 1/2 inch guide hole and a shallow, larger diameter hole on the underside to provide a cavity for the nearly inevitable epoxy squeeze-ups that could glue the jig to the work.  Dry fitting all of the pieces without epoxy to check the accuracy of the hole is advisable.  After partially filling the hole with epoxy and inserting the pin, or sleeve with a pin, I clean off the excess epoxy and place the jig over the protruding pin, moving it about until the jig surface firmly contacts the base or the bottom of the upturned sculpture.  Then the difficult part - walk away and don’t fuss with it until the epoxy is cured.


Wiki-Up Wanderings: The Big One Update - Mar/Apr 2002


The first time I went to the Bellingham Group Studio by myself was a rainy day. I unloaded tools and safety gear and my “rat suit” (coveralls with JOHN emblazoned over my heart).  I pulled back the oversized sliding door and walked into the big room, my footsteps echoing in the gritty silence. I went around and into the dust room.  I lifted the garage door. Here I would work. The Big One sat waiting on the worked up stack of dunnage that Scott had helped me build and then used his chainfall to position the stone. I flipped the breakers and lights came on.  I stood around for a while, listening to and feeling the space around me. Then I plugged in tools, arrayed chisels and hammer, laid out red crayon, took a deep breath and walked around my stone.

I worked tentatively, focusing on the parts of the image that I had glimmers of in my mind’s eye. It is always a trick when you work directly to have the patience to not dive into the first image that comes to mind. So I circled my stone, working areas and leaving as much alone as I could.  Three hours later I was covered with dust, not much further than I had been when I started, but happy. The studio felt fine. It felt very good as a matter of fact. The hanging dust covered cobwebs, the chip-strewn floors, the tools, dusty gear and the Sally Army chairs that were welcoming and familiar within a very few work sessions. As the days wore on, I began to ride my bike to the studio, enjoying the freedom from gas powered vehicles.

I worked away for a few weeks and came to the conclusion that I needed a breakthrough. Things were not working. Proportions weren’t right. I settled the problem in my head and let it perk.  Part of this process is about being able to see the problem.  That requires time spent working patiently until vision can take in what I am doing.  I work through the time lag between  “problem stated” and “solution”.  And yesterday, yesterday it happened.  That miraculous feeling when you know the solution. You see the way out so clearly that it is difficult to remember how you saw it before.

Within 20 minutes of madly chiseling and waving my grinder, dust flying everywhere, the solution was visually apparent in the stone.  Hallelujah! Now, at last, I know the piece will eventually come together.  Up until now, I have been worried.  Such a big beautiful stone.  And me, with no drawings or model.  What if it turned out amateurish and bad? What if it never came together and I ended up with 500 lbs. of marble dust? What was I thinking about, taking this stone? I should have stayed with table-top sized pieces. I should have done something figurative. I should have developed my idea fully, done drawings and models before I ever touched it. On and on.

What a way to spend your time! That is the diatribe I had to quell. I was glad to be alone through that initial process. My internal conversation had to counter all this negativity. I had to remember Michael Jacobsen saying  “Don’t question your muse.”  And Sabah telling me that he saw the spirit of my work as being true to my own creative impulse. So I worked on.  Then, this breakthrough. How happy I am.  And what a great place to be working right now. It can rain and the wind can blow but neither touches me as I work away. No distractions, no phones.  Just me and my stone.  How glorious to be at the stage of, “If this happens here, then this must happen there.” The pieces will fall into place and I must now trust that my skills are up to the image my inner vision reveals.

Such an adventure.