Art School: Semester 4, Week 8

Greetings everyone, and welcome back. I know I say this every week — or at least it seems like it — but it’s been another whirlwind of stuff, and as I look back I wonder how I kept up. And how I am keeping it together.

The dog news continues to be good. Tinkerbelle seems to really be improving, with better coordination in her hind legs. She’s still not perfect, and her hips are still wobbly, but she is definitely getting stronger and working on new ways to keep upright when she charges around the back yard. This afternoon she executed a series of bunny hops with the rear legs that worked surprisingly well, for example. Overall she is definitely improving, which is far more than we expected was possible just a few weeks ago. That is great news, though I still worry about the disease at some deep level, given the fatality rate that vets see in infected dogs. Time will tell.

Today’s post is later than usual because we had a lovely day out, visiting the Rennie Museum and lunch out. One of my fellow students (actually, it was her her mother who suggested it) invited us. We had a lovely guided tour of the museum — currently showing the work of Kerry James Marshall, an African American artist of some renown — followed by a lovely lunch at a local restaurant. It was a nice break, and you all had to wait a while longer than usual for this post as a result. Sorry, not sorry.

In other news, there is no other news except school. (You know, someday I will run out of ways to rephrase that. Honestly.) Let’s get into that:

Professional Practice

This weeks class discussed copyright and the legal and moral issues around using the work of others. Copyright, in particular, is interesting here in Canada because there is a stark difference from US law: in the US, to gain the maximum protections available to you and your work, there is a copyright registration process you can go through. Not so in Canada. Here there is no registration process at all, and once you create a work of art it is yours, even if you sell it. The owner cannot modify it without permission from the artist. (At least they may not do so and display it.) There have been court cases that made this clear.

We have just over a week left before a larger project is due (the “apply for something” project, I am calling it) and after that the only thing left is each class participant has to give an artist talk to everyone else. I am honestly glad this is slowing down, and I have picked the thing I will prepare an application for and will continue working on it once this post is done. And because I know someone will ask, I am going to create an application for a scholarship from the BC Arts Council, but I seriously doubt I will actually submit it. I can’t do so for several months in any case, and I have several reservations about the entire process. But I need to do the things the class requires, so I will prepare the application as if it will be submitted, and rethink it next year as the submission deadline approaches.

Design

Last week you saw the lamp as it existed at the time. Since then there have been several rounds of changes. Mostly minor stuff, thankfully. The big thing is that I actually put LEDs inside it (temporarily) and wired them up to see how it did:

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First Light

Not too bad, honestly. (And remember, this is an accent light, not a reading lamp.) The change since this picture (that you would see) is that the top now has holes to let heat out, and emit light upwards as well as down through the cones.

I also took a picture of the parts set as of a week ago:

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An incomplete parts display

Since then as discussed, I’ve added holes to the top (the six pointed star in the lower left. I also added paper insert there as well (which is not pictured) that matches the hole pattern in the top. It helps reflect more light down through the cones. The four spars you see above the main triangular bit have also changed a bit, as have the six interlock tabs next to them. So the total parts count is 23, and I think I am done with the design now. Things seem to work and look right, so I am going to concentrate on other things.

What things? Here’s the list:

  1. Lay out all the parts so they are pretty and look like a nicely created kit when laser cut.

More than enough to keep me busy for the rest of the class, I think.

Aboriginal Carving

Last week I created a drawing to use for my carving project in this class. It features a large, stylized flamingo in the front, and a number of tacky, pop culture icons in the background.

The instructor, however, changed the assignment, and while all that I created is fine, it now must include a self portrait, specifically a profile. In other words, now we must be present in some way in the final thing. The instructor took my picture in class, and I have stuffed it into Photoshop and am in the process of turning it into a set of stylized lines. After that I will play with composition until I have something I can work with. That needs to be done by Thursday.

In the meantime, on the left is an exercise I did at home over the weekend, creating incised lines of a few different kinds in red cedar. And on the right is a hunk of basswood with a flamingo drawn on it that I am going to try to carve fully in the round. The basswood is very strange. The shop manager tells everyone in the sculpture classes that it is the best carving wood. Now that I have tried it, I have to disagree. It’s hard, and weirdly coarse. Very strange wood to carve compared with red cedar. Apparently yellow cedar is even better.

After talking with the instructor, I am probably going to cut the outline of the flamingo out on the band saw in the shop. That will be a LOT easier than cutting out that interior void with the knife.

And for anyone reading this and wondering about my sanity: yes, I know, there is a high probability the neck will break while I am carving this thing. It’s a scrap of wood, and I am trying it for fun. The right way to accomplish this sort of carving is much more complicated, and requires three different pieces of wood glued together, so you can keep the grain properly oriented. That isn’t happening here, and that is OK. It’s only a thing to play with.

Also, yes, I recognized flamingos are again a thing in my life for some reason. Read on for the worst of it.

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Sculpture

Last week I think I mentioned I had an idea for my final sculpture project, but that I was still thinking about it. Well, I discarded it. In the end I didn’t like it.

Instead, I have plunged ahead with this:

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The only drawing I made of my sculpture project

You see why my design sketches are ugly. I can convey an idea, or how something works, but pretty drawings take me a LOT of time, which is exactly what sketching is NOT all about.

Anyway, even that drawing has already been superseded a bit, but the general idea remains the same. Imagine a giant flamingo (again) — about six feet tall — with a foot for its head. That’s the plan. And yes, really, that is the only drawing I am working from. I can see the end result in my head — including the changes from the original sketch — and I am off creating it.

The head is made from a cast of my right foot:

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From upper left… that’s me with my foot in a custom built box full of Alga-Safe, the mold making product we are using. (It’s the pink stuff you see in the other photos.) The photo was taken by my classmate, Jessica. I was stuck there for about eight minutes while the mold setup, so she grabbed her phone and did the deed. It’s nice to have friends? :)

The upper middle photo is the resulting mold, filled (overfilled, actually) with hydrostone. The two feet you see (top and right) sticking into the picture belong to two different Heathers. No, really… Heather and Heather. Both very nice people. You can also see the metal rod sticking out of the cast material, held in place by bits of welding rod that was laying around in the studio. That will connect the foot/head to the neck of the creature.

Upper right was taken the next day and shows the entire mess removed from the box, waiting to have the cast foot removed.

Lower left shows the fully removed foot, and the very unfortunate break that happened while I was attempting to remove the excess material at the top. My bad. In my defence, though, this is all new to me, and I had no clue how fragile it was. I cleaned off all the stuff above the break, and decided I can live with the size as it is. I hope.

The lower right photo is a closeup of the top of the foot, and here you start to see some of the other issues I have to deal with. There are cracks of a strange sort, bubbles (both concave and convex) all over it, and a couple of places where mold making material did odd things. I have decided to attempt a fix for these things, though, and am pressing on. More work for this weekend.

In addition to all of that — but not pictured — I’ve begun to weld the interior armature together, and am over engineering it in my usual style. That, however, is because this thing is going to be large and heavy. The body will be about 30 inches wide, with the neck curving up and over it (looking backwards over the body, and somewhat to the side). The creature will be made from a metal framework, filled with spray foam insulation, and covered with burlap soaked in hydrostone, and more hydrostone over the top. That entire thing will be sanded smooth and painted. Pink, of course.

The head will separate from the body, and the body will separate from the legs and base, all to make it transportable.

As I say, I can see all of this in my head, and I am working on it as rapidly as I can. More photos next week, I hope.

Links

Once again I have no great links to share. It’s been a constant jumble of school work for me. I was on campus all five full weekdays last week, despite having class on only three of them.

Actually, that isn’t true, but this week I am putting two interesting links at the end, so you’ll find them down there.

Other than that I have only the usual Art School Post Index. Because Medium didn’t get the ordering right when I imported posts from somewhere else, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.

Pictures

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Vancouver in the Mist

This picture is a tad interesting. On the far right is the SeaBus, going south towards downtown Vancouver. We missed that one by only a minute this morning, so we had to wait all of 14 minutes for the next one. As you can tell, the city has some fog, though it was all burned off in the areas we went to. Also interesting is the large ship in the centre. Actually, that’s two ships and a barge with two cranes on it. This set of ships has been anchored together for a week now. The big crane from the barge is being used to pull all the cargo off one of the ships and put it onto the other. Honestly this seems like a very slow way of accomplishing the transfer, and I don’t understand it.

Anne suggests that the ship being emptied out might have some serious mechanical issue, and the only thing to be done is move the cargo to another ship. That might be right, and if there are no open docks where this could be done more quickly — since they are all booked up — then perhaps this sort of mid-harbour transfer makes sense. But at some level it seems very inefficient and a bit odd.

Then there’s this last photo from today:

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The Final Resort

We were early on our way to the museum, so we stopped for coffee. The building we stopped at had a glass elevator in, and this view into the bottom made me laugh. I didn’t even notice all the trash when I took the picture because I was so amused by the giant springs. I guess if the elevator ever falls, they will cushion it to some degree, but wow. Just… wow.

And In Conclusion…

No video this week. No time to find something to share. Instead I give you two links.

First, some lovely images of flying birds:

And second, a story by an author I know, and whom I recommend following, David Pablo Cohn:

Written by

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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