Archive for October, 2012

October 29, 12,

Artists as ambassador or just some normal guy trying to make stuff.???

I took a week off.  Sort of, we visited some places in the CZ.  Beautiful inspiring places, I was searching for something to trigger work.  My work over the last few years has been about my experiences as an artist living abroad, trying to communicate the uniqueness of the places I live and work through my art.    I reflect on Gauguin who painted what he saw when he traveled.  He was able to communicate the environment of the place.

I leave for France/Switzerland in a few weeks.  I am to give a talk on my work at a musician’s residency.  The hope is that they will tell there music friends about my work and then the music residency will grow into a music and visual arts residency.  I want to talk about this life I live and what it means and why I think it is important.  I just don’t know if anyone else will think it is.  Doubt…….. Don’t like it, but it is a great motivator to help one define ones purpose and understanding of ones own processes.  I JUST used the words “ones” in a very academic way.  Sounds pretentious.

Responsibility or self imposed purpose?

The question on my plate at the moment is whether to make the art I have in my head that has wanted to get out or make the art that is a reflection of my surroundings.  I feel a responsibility to show my relationship with this new place before I loose the newness of the feelings.  I also feel a sense of purpose to create the work that has been lingering in the back of my mind for years.  I don’t see a direct connection between the two except that they share space in my brain.

Running it by your most important critique!?!?!?  Ouch.

I ran the above thoughts by Christy, just incase I said something stupid, ya know cause I am putting this on the inter-Web…


Her response in Blue…

Hmmmmm a couple of thoughts…. How do you feel about everyone and anyone knowing your thoughts/doubts/etc?  Do you enjoy having it all out there- is this what you want?  It seems almost like some of it is related to the art/process and would be great for people to follow while other parts are a more personal journey in your mind? Or maybe both are equal in importance for everyone? Your call on how deep you want to get on the web?

Second and more importantly – F doubt!  Since when do you care if others feel it’s important? Do what you do and what you feel is important – because you have the opportunity! If you are doing this because you want to prove something to me others or unknown people I’m going to be pissed.
Finally, why must it be one or the other?  The art in your head VS the art here and now?  YOU HAVE TWO WALLS – USE THEM. You have flexibility you have space you just forget that you don’t have to choose.
Oh yeah, 
Love you baby

My Response to her Response….

Here is where I am at this point;   I say I want to open the studio door.  Fine, it is like a magician sharing his tricks.  You almost never get to see what or how or why an artist makes work.  So, for me to edit what is part of my thought process is dishonest, I think it is dishonest to the viewer whoever they are and it is mostly dishonest to the process.  Now, I am okay with censorship in the case of someones well being, I get that, but am dealing with the understanding of saying I am  going to do something than shrouding it or not being totally open and honest.

Addressing Doubt, the entire process of creating is and should be infiltrated with doubt.  If you don’t ask, who cares, than you don’t stay honest to the process.  Peggy once told me to ask myself who cares if I make any of this stuff?  Good question, who cares if I write, open the studio door, respond reflect, I guess the only person it really matters to is myself, Its obviously a good question cause I have been obsessing over it while I have been working on the sculpture.   Time has disappeared, that’s nice, hasn’t really happened since I was in the studio in Millersville.
I am lucky, on so many levels, but this one is massive, I appreciate your honest, you are better than the artist’s wife, someone once told me that their wife was their biggest critique, I never believed them.  I still don’t believe it in their case,  then again I have never been there when she may have told him to get his head out of his ass either…….

Christy’s response to my response to her response to me asking her to look over what I wrote incase it was stupid………i.e. I am a guy and I need special help sometimes…

So…it sounds like you don’t run things by me.  Honesty is important.  you haven’t run others by me.  Give it a try the way it was intended. You don’t have to do it if at any point it stops working for you.  

I guess I get what you are saying about doubt…but the balance has to be right – right?  I mean you have to answer to yourself first and foremost.  You said, “ I guess the only person it really matters to is myself,”  REALLY?  Isn’t it possible that you won’t always know who is affected or cares for some time?  When you taught all those kids and asked what does it matter – the programs shot – what was it all for? Then you see years later the amount of people that really were effected.  And those people matter and were affected positively by you.  That’s what I mean about not doing it because your going to get a pat on the back from a group of musicians, or from Facebook, friends etc. Do it because you HAVE to, and I think things will fall into place.  Maybe over thinking this now? Can’t wait to see what you’ve been doing.  

Enjoy! C.


November 5, 2012

Today was a physical day in the studio.  I better start painting again, cause I forgot how physical sculpture can be.  Stand, kneel, bend, repeat………I am feeling it in my hips.  Something that wasn’t there the last time I was sculpting regularly.

It was a diet plan for the sculpture today,  it has been fondly called Frankensculpture because of all the appearance of the screws that hold it together.  I took all the pieces apart one at a time and dug out the foam from the inside to make it more slim and proportionate.  I used plastic coated rope as corsets to tighten the width.  You can see this in the pics.

It one of those days where only you see the simple yet important changes.  I enjoy this type of work sometimes.  Not all the time,  but when it has to be done, it is the type of work that is extremely important.  It you in a wrestling match with the piece and you cant loose, cause if you do the piece dies.   Lets call it a draw……

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Back in the studio after a week off – Oct. 29th

It wasn’t really a week off?!?!?!

We returned from our small yet fulfilling trip around the CZ and enjoyed coming “home” to the village for the first time.  It was strange, but when you move someplace new, you need to go away from it and come back for it to feel like home.  A place to hang your hat and a bunch of other cliché’, but I guess they are born out of truths in some way.

The piece I started in the studio was calling, and we had unpacked and as always Christy noticed my unrest before I did.  She strongly suggested I get back in the studio and continue on the large-scale angle that I have started before we left.  We made molds, one evening, then I spent the next day working through the transition of moving the piece from vertical to horizontal as well as piecing and abstracting the next molds.    See pics.


Oct. 19, 2012

When was the last time…… You did something for the first time?!

These words are written on the top of my studio wall.  I am trying to keep that in mind while working and living.  Call it a mid life crisis if you want,  I am comfortable with that, I just want to make sure that I dont piss away my time.

A few years ago I began a journey with a series called the Angel Series.  Redundant…..  I have left them as singular pieces for a while, but they show up in different forms as they did in the Ballet series I did while living in Moscow.  I hear them calling, but am mindful of the words in the studio.  With this approach I am in the process of working on a full scale Angel.  I began thinking about the piece when I had lost large metal piece that I had started but never finished.  I was unable to retrieve the piece from its storage area before it was tossed out.  Downer,  but I wanted to attack this process again and this time for the first time complete it.

I am working with burlap and plaster.  There were several studies for strength and application process and I think I have found a good mix.  Finding Plaster or Gypsum in a different county involves google translate,  luck,  and perseverance.  Two trips to the local hard ware store later we got the goods.

I began casting the figure last night,  there were goods and bads,  when you cover burlap with plaster it becomes quite heavy.  It made it impossible to create the figure standing up in one piece, so multiple casts laying down will do until I get to the breasts, arms, and head.

This process takes me back to Mrs. Brewers elementary class room.  I think I was in first or second grade.  We make plaster cast animals. I made a lion.  I loved the process,  the smell,  I think we built them from paper towel tubes or newspaper rolled up,  doesnt really matter, what does matter is that I am all grown up now and doing the same thing only different.  So,  I guess this means I am not doing something for the first time at all, but regurgitating old processes into new ideas.  Close enough for now, cause I am loving this process.

This first piece is supposed to be a private commission,  but I dont feel right starting something someone is paying for until I have me feet under me.  It is sort of like flying a plane,  and you havent been in the cockpit for a long time,  the pressure not to crash is to high so you need to spend time in a simulator.   I have been researching, trying to find a focus.  The down side is,  I wrote these words on my studio wall- “When was the last time you did something…..for the first time?!    A real downer when you are trying to get back on the bike.   a few hours, then a day or so,  nothing too dramatic,  but I finally decided to just make marks.  I think I know where this is coming from,  but not sure,  So I keep going with it.  Some days I am okay,  others, I walk back into the studio and think it was done by a high school freshman at best,  This is also the first time in a long time I have gone without a net,  just started making marks and seeing where it takes me.

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Oct. 15

Went back into the bull today,  started to look at visuals and noticed that bulls horns dont stick up like devil horns,  amazing what the mind knows but the eye sees.  Reworked the horns on the bull.

Oct. 18

The progress on this piece is slow,  but I am seeing progress.  I am more interested in the dialogue between the viewer and the bull.  He seems to be looking at me as if to know he has this figure on his back.  IN a still calm way,  with no excuses, he is good with it.  I also em beginning to create space in the painting,  slowly,  It has helped to have other projects going in the studio.

Self-Portrait, Q&A

Posted: October 15, 2012 in Studio Practice

The bull has raised questions from friends and family about how I view myself and why do I see myself as a bull?

It’s a story  42 years long, some times it is filled with strength, anger, joy, peace, rage, quiet, dignity, assurance, vulnerability….its a list of adjectives/noun/verbs just like anyone else may have.  There has always been a big personality that exudes from within me.  I enter a room and you can feel it.  I don’t want that to be perceived as ego,  but it is truth at least  to me. This is not a blessing and in many cases has been the opposite.  If a bull would enter a room you would feel it as well.  You would either be drawn to it, frightened by it,  in awe of it, amazed by it, annoyed by it,  but you wouldn’t just look at it casually and say,  oh there’s a bull, aint that something.

Bulls often bring thoughts of solitude and content in that solitude.  This is relative because I have always appreciated my alone time.   HOWEVER,  I do enjoy balancing that alone time with family and friends and social gatherings and and and.

Strength, of the physical type has never been an issue.  For the first time in my life last year I felt weak.  Not strong enough to pull or push or hold or carry something when needed.  When things were really bad I retreated into myself.  Visions of a bull standing  on a hill,  looking, seeing,  understanding, but quietly waiting.  Moments of anger, frustration, but reliance on inner strength.  I feel bad to those of my family and friends who happened to be there during those moments,  but the reality is that my core was still there.

It was a very strange year for me, in many ways I felt connections to challenging years of my youth.  I remember going deep into myself.  It is something that I feel when looking at the bull.  It is there,  it is taking up energy,  giving energy, aware of what is happening,  but waiting it out.   Knowing its own strength will be its greatest asset.

To me the relationship is tied to the astrological sign as well,  I don’t give it much credence,  but I feel it relates well.

I found this when looking up Taurus personality traits. The gift of the Taurean is resilience, fluidity and endurance. Taureans are often accused of being too fixed in their opinions and too slow to embrace change or mental motivation, but their insights have settled slowly, taking time to mature, and thus carry a strength of permanence that is resistant to superficial movement. What manifests as stubbornness to some can be seen from the opposite side as reliable reassurance and rare constancy. When Taureans adopt a cause or commit to friendship, they honour their pledges and allegiances, remaining steadfast to their loyalties through thick and thin.

It is often said that you can’t push a bull, you can only lead it from the front. Approach Taureans from the wrong angle and they simply become the immovable object that even the most irrepressible force won’t shift. Although their nature is not aggressive, when locked in combat they possess the ultimate strength – the determination to do nothing at all, except refuse to shift. The capacity for stillness is a rare talent, and should a Taurean decide to park itself down and just sit, slow persuasive tactics are the only antidote. Brute force, intimidation, fear and threats roll off the back of a creature that knows you will tire of the game before it does.

Taurus personalises the expressions ‘solid as a rock’ and ‘down to earth’. There is a true affinity with earth, and being in the world of nature and surrounded by the products of the earth is a source of spiritual strength.  Productivity and creativity are also appropriate keywords – Taureans are never happier than when putting physical form to their concept of harmony and beauty. So you will find many involved in the creative arts, or demonstrating creativity in practical pursuits such as flower arranging, pottery, creative cookery, etc. For them, there is a real sense of relaxation in just ‘doing’ without the need to overtax oneself emotionally or mentally. Once motivated to begin a project, they shine through their noticeable powers of endurance and resilience. More than any other sign, this is one of hidden reserves of power and strength. Of solidity in form and character.

On the other hand it also says that Taurus are often reserved, I have never been accused of such a thing.  You can only believe what you know and not what you read.



Posted: October 13, 2012 in Thought Process - Conversations

On Thursday of this week I met a Scultpor name Cestmir Suska.  He is a gentle man in his sixties who has worked in Prague as a scultpor his entire life as well as had several residencies in Vermont and other parts of the us.  He has started an artists group and co-operative in his massive warehouse studio.     His work is monumental and makes mine look small.  We hit it off really well, spent the morning talking art,  then he took me to the butcher shop in the village for lunch.  He asked me if I like soup, I said yes,  he then told me it was a special soup today.  I asked what kind,  he said Blood soup..  Turns out it was incredible,  and filled with Barley.   here is are photos of the two of us.  Nothing goes with blood soup like a salt roll and Gambrinus.



Working like this in this blog is enabling me to slow down in someways and review,  in other ways it is speeding up the production or creative flow,  it is making the observation and reflection more intertwined.  I like this,  Got my first honest response/critique in a long time,  there were many questions,  the truth is, I am a sculptor,  I paint like a sculptor trying to cross from 3 dimension to 2,  but hey ho,  beats lighting fires….

Here is my start of a self portrait,  I am starting to see where these paintings are coming from, where they have been,  and perhaps where they are taking me.

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I had a great conversation with Dan Cook,  who I respect as an artists,  he can paint,  sculpt, play all kinds of string instruments,  and he is crazy smarterer than me.  He is a good friend and a founding member of the Airy Hill School of Artists.

I love this conversation,  and value it.  The last points got me thinking as well and strangely enough I went back into the piece and then compared it to other paintings I have done,  It is interesting to see them in a relationship to the other works.  There is often a frontal approach with perspective moving from front to back and not really from a three quarter profile.  I think of Giacometti,  It has certainly creeped into my own work as a painter.  I welcomed its influence as a sculptor cause it made sense to me,  it is how I see figures,  or want to anyway.  I hadnt noticed it in the paintings until you said something.  I knew it the elongation of the form was part of the paintings,  but the directness in perspective or view was not as obvious to me.  People I have always been drawn to as painters.  Chagall, Giacometti,  and Rosenquist for composition.  Funny you mention Matisse,  because the only work of his I really relate to is the later work in the paper cut outs.   The continuation in these paintings for me is the simplicity or the color pallet and the line.  I enjoy the almost drawn line that appears in all of these.  A process I find invigorating,  I think it comes from the direct connection to the painting.  Most of the paint I apply is with a knife or brush, but then I go back into it with a piece of charcoal.  the paint gets on my fingers,  and the feeling of the charcoal across the surface just feels right.

This blog process is becoming a welcomed part of the work as well,  I continue to update the previous posts and enjoy seeing the work grow and change.

Ritual,  simple things, like the walk down the steps,  the walk to the studio,  the smell of foam, for you it must be a unique shift but still the beginnings of the creative process that turn on the switch.  I find these conversations welcoming,  I find them motivating,    I know I am alone in the studio but not alone in the creative process.  It is good for artists to know that there are others making the long walk from the couch to the studio,  or the other way around on some days.   long gone are the days of welcoming people into the space dressed only in hand towels.

I just spent two hours with a computer guy who cant get my apple tv to mirror,  dont know why,  but I didnt feel like going into the studio until I read your email. thanks for that,  going to go work on the bull face.  Thats not a metaphor for anything either, the bull has no face.


There are a lot of strange rituals that I think every artist has in their studio.  This one for me as often a downer.  I retired my painting trousers today.  It is filled with mixed emotions.  Although at first it may seem a bit over dramatic,  it is so because they just dont fit.  70 pounds ago I wore them in my original airy hill studio,  then in the Ruby Studio in Moscow,  and now,  I just cant paint and keep them up, so I have retired them.  70 p0unds from  lyme disease and all that came from that,  I find myself in the best shape of the last 20 years. I told Christy I was going to retire them today and she said keep a swatch,  so there you go…

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