Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Onwards and Upwards

Semester One I put you on the top shelf of the closet. It's time to move forward my friend. Walking to campus a week ago I came across an inspiration. Behold...The Couch in the Forest.

Couch in the Forest

I caught the above view out of the corner of my eye. Yup, it's a couch in a forest that sits atop a hill close to my new digs. I find the combination of interior and exterior fascinating. This idea of placing something where it doesn't belong has been what I've spent the last few years exploring in my work (birds set inside domestic environments). I'm exited to research how I can incorporate this semester's work into this combo. Below are some collage experiments from my workbook to help me find my way. (The top two are altered Jane Puckey landscapes.)

Two panels per painting?

Extracting and replacing?

Substituting purpose?


Borris and friends.

Borris detail

One week away from finishing my first semester of grad school! I'm a little more tattered and humble than when I began but I've kept myself alive. I've had the normal end-of-semester-freak-out nightmares, the only difference now is that I have an accent when I yell, "Painting is not dead!" in my dream.

My final hand in for studio practice is Borris but I've made him a new home. He is a painting within a painting now. I really wanted to build an environment that he could sink into. He looked unnatural against the stark white wall that he was on for the crit. I took away the medals and ditched the idea of a collection of numerous paintings and instead used sparrows to represent the idea of colonialism that I've been researching.

After cleaning up the studio post-Borris, I had the overwhelming feeling that it was now time to finally get on with it and make some damn art! It took living this semester for me to finally feel solid and confident to move on and make some thoughtful, educated paintings. Let's do this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I. Heart. Sparrows.

13 Blue Sparrows

14 Sparrows on Blue

Oddly enough I've become totally obsessed with sparrows. They are everywhere here as they are everywhere on the planet. (Sorry if this is redundant to past posts...) I started painting them in NZ out of irony that they are the only birds I see every second of the day. Walter Buller is a man I've been doing much research on for my theory paper. Blah, blah, blah, he discovered and documented many birds in the 19th century that no longer exist in NZ while at the same time being responsible for many of their demises, blah, blah. An interesting and highly inspiring fact to me about Buller is that he introduced the common sparrow to NZ.

If you read the earlier post on the Stephen's Island Wren (Lighthouse Keeper's Cat story) then this may all sound vaguely familiar. I reworked the original painting, Light House Keeper's Cat,into what is now 14 Sparrows. I lost the wren/cat narrative and I'm fully focusing on the sparrows. Today I completed 13 Sparrows and plan to continue with the idea of these two paintings. Sparrows.

Critique Uno Final (until the actual final)

So this is actually what I presented at our first critique. Old Borris with the pretend medals. I think I got good feedback but was kinda stuck with the first comment which was..."I don't get it, why would you paint wallpaper? Why don't you just buy some wallpaper to paint on?". After I slaughtered the question-asker in my mind, it sunk in that I'm the sole postgrad using representational painting at present in a highly conceptual art university. The lone ranger.

I've gotten lost in all the research I've been doing and realized that I've started to make work based on my reading and not finding reading that flows with my artwork. A group of us went out after the 4.5 hr. long crit and had beer for lunch and then hit the local bottle shop for some adult beverages to take back the the studio. We sulked and drank.

We have to turn in our final work in two weeks based on changes made from the feedback from the crit. I've moved Borris to the small wall outside of my studio cubicle. He will be my final presentation. I'll jazz up the space a bit. Feeling a bit deflated but excited to get back on track.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Semester One Crit


Powder Horn (made out of Borris)

Uncle Eli (killer of Borris)

Last critique before our final Semester One critique is on Wednesday. Finished these today. I intended to show all three together but maybe I might just show ole Borris. They vary in size so I haven't hung them together to get the full effect. I envisioned what would happen if the windows were left open in pretend Uncle Eli's trophy room. I can only assume that sparrows would fly in wanted to hang with Borris. If I were a sparrow, that's what I'd do.

Now I've got about 2 weeks to write a 4000 word paper. It's overwhelming. 4000 words really isn't that much, it's condensing what I've been researching (scientific illustration vs. contemporary art, animal as object, how 19th century colonists influenced the material & knowledge that we have from that time period in regards to animal depiction, etc.) into a cohesive string of words. All of this while trying to stay alive in a strange country and attempting to tune out the chick behind me who is blasting tunes from facebook. I'm definitely close to going apeshit. Maybe I can work that into my thesis.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Borris & Shog Show


Did some work on ole Borris the bear/ox/cat critter last night. Mainly used old-fashioned finger painting.


So the whole pretend colonist trophy wall wasn't going in the right direction. I decided to sacrifice the lamb/dog creature for this project and he has now become "Shog", the studio deity who battles bad art and dumb ideas.

I'm scrapping all but one of the medals of honor and dedicating the wall to Borris. I want to paint some black and white hunting photos, a powder horn, maybe a gun. I'd love to find a perfect location to show the work for the critique. I don't think hunting lodges are too common around these parts.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Semester One Project Progress

As you know I've become fascinated with 19th Century colonists. I've researched, read, painted, and researched some more on the topic. Mainly I've focused on New Zealand colonists during the Victorian Era but I didn't want to be the a-hole who has been in NZ for 10 minutes and thinks that she knows the entire history so I decided to make up my own fake colonist. Here is a very rough draft of the story that my paintings will revolve around:

My pretend great-uncle was a 19th Century colonist. Elijah Lucifer Lush was his name but he was always Uncle Eli in the great adventures I was told as a child.

In the spring of 1840, Uncle Eli and his young pregnant bride traveled from the green meadows of his homeland to settle the rocky shores of an untamed wilderness filled with savages and undiscovered beasts.

He was a business man by trade and went on to become one of the wealthiest and most well respected men of his time, most notably in the fields of discovery and science exploration.

Uncle Eli was known for his trophies of exotic animal specimens, indigenous textiles, and depictions of native peoples which he sent for exhibition in museums around the globe.

In a nutshell I will depict through a series of paintings one of his "trophy walls" filled with madeup mounted animal heads, medals of honor, portraits, etc. I have about 4 weeks to complete this project so I've gotta work my tail off. I want to have a shit ton of individual paintings and will display them as a group for the critique. Here is what I've been working on...

Above is my first madeup critter. It's a sheep/dog/pig/deer hybrid. I haven't figured out his bio but he is ferocious. And tiny...this is a life-size rendering. The next four paintings are medals I created. Haven't made up what they are for yet. They all need work.

This is the critter I worked on today. It's a lot larger than the others and it was super fantastic to work on a larger scale. I've mainly been working on small experimental paintings. This dude is a bear/boar/bull kinda creature. It is in it's early stages so it could change a great deal. Again, I haven't figured out how he rolls but I'll tell you one thing...looks are deceiving cuz he is a very gentle creature.