Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pretty Bird

I love taking before and after pictures of my work, although I don't do it nearly as much as I should. The images on the left have one day of classwork left on them. The images on the right show what the piece looked like after I spent several days on it at home. I took pictures of the fabric that was underneath the model so I could work on that detail at home. Being my third figure sculpture class with Ellen Tykeson I decided that I needed to really push myself this term. Prior to this I had never sculpted fabric and was determined to make it read. There is always room for improvements but I have to say that I am pleased with the results on this first attempt.

I have also been working on opening up to conceptual and contemporary work. I still have my beef with much of what is produced with the excuse of being "modern" art but I am beginning to have fun with the conceptual side. I am absolutely in love with birds and I do what I can to work them into my art. I took this opportunity to do just that here. The woman's head is a mourning dove. A bird I love. For years I thought they were actually called "morning" doves. So this puts a slightly different twist on this feathered friend. The wings on this piece are less accurate. I did use reference images however, they are shorter than a wing should be. Nearly half the wing is missing. Only the primary feathers are really represented here. But then that leaves open several different interpretations. Is the wing sprouting from the body or is it in fact receding?
After deliberation over several titles I ended on "Pretty Bird" for this piece. Is this a woman past her prime who is no longer "pretty" or does her beauty exist even now as she ages. Is she like a caged bird trapped in this body or does she sing with joy as she seemed to sit comfortably nestled in her own "nest".

The meaning is in your hands.
What do you see?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Open Studio Visit with Ellen Tykeson

If you haven't seen Ellen Tykeson's work, go check out her site now. Don't look later, look now. She is absolutely amazing. I have taken a year's worth of figure sculpting classes with Ellen and have learned so much. I will be forever grateful. At the end of this last term she opened up her home studio to her students for the first time. We were a very lucky bunch. Here are some pictures from that evening.

This is a piece-in-progress that is due to be finished and installed by summer of 2010. I can't wait!

The full-sized version of this pair is a kinetic sculpture that is in the lobby of the new River Bend hospital in Springfield.
This winged-women will be beating her hands on a beautiful piece of glasswork. Much as a bird caught indoors will flutter against a window.

For this piece Ellen was inspired by a photo of her, her sister and a cousin clothed in similar ruffled suits on the beach as very young children.

Ellen's favorite figure of the four that make up her newest piece. Being a bird person myself I am partial to this individual as well. I love her surfaces. Extremely well crafted and amazingly fluid and organic.

Me and Ellen at the end of the visit. Thank you for opening up your creative space!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Project Puppet 2009 Puppet Contest - Faye the Hyacinth Macaw

Faye is a hyacinth macaw with dreams bigger than the jungles of her homeland could contain. After a lifetime of hopes left unrealized and dreams only half awake she is breaking out and making her debut here with aspirations of stardom. She is witty, smart, flamboyant and with talent to spare. When asked if she was a "natural blue" she simply smiled and replied, "I'll never tell". Her greatest strength is her classical training as an opera singer, a skill which she practices daily. (Much to the chagrin of her neighbors) She is counted among the top students in her acting class which she attends at the local learning annex on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her hope is to become an actress and star in a romantic comedy opposite Luke Wilson. Keep your eyes on this rising star as she will certainly be shining brightly in an off-off-off Broadway show near you.

I stumbled across this puppet contest about a week and a half. It really was an accidental stumble too! I had not intended to take on yet another new project with my already hectic schedule. But alas, I did.
The theme for this contest is "The Jungle". My mind went wild with what I could do with a puppet in regards to jungles! As I searched the internet for all types of animals and images from tigers to monkeys to leather-loin-cloth wearing men I found my thoughts swirling around birds. I am quite the bird enthusiast and I try to work them into my art whenever I can. I have been dabbling in soft-moving-mouth puppets for for only about one year to this point and wanted to push my skills! And before I knew it, Faye the hyacinth macaw was on her way in to this world!

The contest required that you choose one of their simple series patterns to be your jumping off point from which they hope you will revise the pattern as you need to and make it your own. Here is the first of two main pattern designs I began with from Project Puppet, the pinhead puppet pattern foam skull:

Added a crazy macaw-like upper mandible.

Didn't like it, cut it off.

Changed the pinhead completely, re-inserted new upper mandible, there, much more macaw-like.

Lower mandible placement test.

I happened uppon this wonderful body design from a demo-video on You Tube. Of course, I did'n't write down the puppeteers name and now that I need it to reference, I can't seem to find the video! Thanks anyway!

Testing the look of the major parts before moving forward.

The second major element I used from the Project Puppet pattern, the body sleeve. However, I did have to create a longer version right away because the body piece (on the left) would not fit the length of my macaw. I intend to use it to cover my arm through the body of the macaw and become the neck at the top. The re-invented body-cover is on the right.

Body cover and pink-head body-sleeve (now neck-sleeve) are assembled.

Fit test #2. Looking good.

I stitched the lower opening of the neck sleeve to the bottom of the body.

The top edge will receive the same treatment, leaving the neck un-attached which will allow the neck to move freely of the body.

It's time to fit the outer fleece to the beak. The upper and lower mandibles are measured.

Pieces are cut from black fleece and hand-sewn to the foam base.

I found some really stretchy dancewear material to use for the yellow skin on the side of the macaws lower mandible. You can see how closely my puppet resembles the reference photo.

Time to make a fleece pattern for the head. This was also a new technique to me that I picked up trolling websites. Amazing, amazing stuff! Saves so much time!

Pieces cut and assembled. Here I am pinning the fleece to the foam base to be certain of the fit before I hand-sew the pieces on.

A wing is cut and assembled ready to be fitted inside its fleece covering. I opted to leave out several photos of wing-assembly here only because I later opted to remove the entire two section on the right.

The pieces ready for assembly.

Here is Faye, nearing the end!

For the feet I am using a technique I learned from the Project Puppet website on making fingers poseable. It's a wonderful technique!

The feet nearing completion.

*My camera battery died shortly after this picture so I don't have any feet covering pictures until the completely piece.
Whew! If you've made it this far, you're a trooper! Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caricatures at the Douglas County Fair

Here is a small selection of caricautures that I drew while at the Douglas County Fair last week. I wish I had taken more pictures.

Included here are some new themes that we have added to our list including the knight and the bubble bath. The girl on the pig was one of four 4H members that I drew with their prize winning critter over the course of the week. I drew two girls on their horses and one with her rabbit. Too cute!

Also included here is a shot of our booth Tuesday morning with our amazingly massive and eye-catching new banner!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Douglas County Fair - The Calm Before the Storm

Tony and I had a rare opportunity to wander through the Douglas County fairgrounds at 7:30 this morning, several hours before the fair would open its doors to the public. It was a unique experience since I've never wandered through a fair without the cacophony of noise and motion that are part of its experience. It was a bit creepy, a ghost town of sorts. Here are some random pictures I took and with the help of a little Photoshop work they are ready for your viewing pleasure.