25 February 2010

Dragon Mosaic Progress

Last night's progress:

Hopefully I'm not being too boring with these incremental (or what sometimes feels incremental) photographs. I just like to see the progress.

I also want to document the process a bit.

I've rediscovered that I set tough goals for myself - in regard to the artwork I do. It's not all that intentional, I just design projects that are not easy to do. For example, the dragons spine ridge - it's very slow going getting the pieces of smalti cut for that area. I thought, as of yesterday's post, that I'd have around 10-15 more hours in this piece, but in all probability, it will be more like 15-20 more hours, because of all the special cut background for those damn triangles... The glass grinder is helping, but even using it to smooth out the edges of the cuts I'm making, it's going to take a long time. I'll probably have around 60 hours in this by the end. And that will make the selling price up between $1,800 and $2,000.

But I have to say that even if I had realized in the beginning that this design would take so much time, I would not have done this mosaic differently.

And, looking at this photo, I realize that I forgot to add last night's tally to the hours. Add 3 more tic marks to the 40 that are there.

24 February 2010

Dragon Mosaic Progress

Last night's progress:

I now have around 40 hours in this mosaic. It will probably take me another 10 - 15 to finish it.

Hopefully I'll be done by the end of the weekend.

... and the mosaic isn't curved at the bottom, that's just the angle I took the photo from creating that effect. I have to shoot from an angle to keep the flash from glaring out on the glass.

I will eventually take the time (mostly involving moving a whole lot of heavy things around in the studio) to create a photo area where I can use diffused lighting and shoot the photos correctly...

23 February 2010

Dragon Mosaic

Here's a quick update...

After a few weeks of working on other projects I have returned to the dragon mosaic. I hope to finish it this week because another mosaic is burning away at my brain...

Here's what the dragon looks like now. Sorry that the image is a bit blurry. I took it on my way out the door this morning using the little camera instead of my professional camera. And everything about me is blurry in the mornings these days... I really need to get my breathing machine fixed so that I can sleep right again. It takes me until 7:30 or 8:00 to feel like I am tracking well...

I've finished all of the work on the dragon's body (except that I might do a bit of adjusting here and there...) and now I am laying in the background. I'll have to take a close up so that everyone can see the great color variation in the smalti. The background is a very dark blue with streaks and swirls and speckles of a medium blue. I am so much more happy with it than I was with the black. Doing the entire background with the black would have flattened the piece.You can see the area in the upper left corner where I had laid down the black and had to pull it up.

17 February 2010

Of Poets and Poems

I'd like to challenge Winona to do this. It seems like a great idea. Sharpen your pencils: St Paul looking for more sidewalk poems

If anyone is interested in working on a project like this I'd like to be in on it.


I was at the Valentine's Day Poetry night at the Winona Arts Center last week. I hadn't originally planned on going, but I feel that as the new WAC board president, I need to go to every performance event.

I didn't know what exactly to expect. I thought there might be a handful of poetry readers waxing euphoric over sophomoric lines with a couple stellar poets leading the way... something fun, but not a must-repeat event.

Turns out it was a great evening. The theme of the evening was love poems - in honor of the upcoming St. Valentine's Day. Winona's Poet Laureate, Ken McCullough led the evening with grace, gentle encouragement and at times, bawdy renditions of poems written by himself and other poets. His co-poet for the evening, Marilyn Klinkner, also read poems of her own creation and poems that have caused her both pain and joy. These poet-leaders brought a huge stack of poetry books which they spread out on the floor in the middle of our circle for others to peruse for poems to read out loud.

After hearing a bit from the poet-leaders, others in the group of around 20 joined in. I read two of my poems - Rain & Renewal. I hadn't know that people would be reading poetry written by others - so I only had my poems with me. But I did have my computer and I looked up a few other poems. I ended up reading Wandering Aengus, by William Butler Yeats; Dove Sta Amore, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and a Carl Sandburg poem that I cannot remember the name of. Someone asked me to look up Blessing by James Wright, which I then read. 

I'm thinking that we should consider having a poetry gathering a few times per year.

16 February 2010

Update: Foot in the Door 4

Final count - just about 5,000 entrants for the exhibit. Hopefully they won't all come to the opening reception - or if they do, hopefully it won't be all at the same time.

I think we'll go early.

Installing the exhibit

And I still don't see Lake Smalti in any of these photographs.  

Sketchbook - No. 055

Another nondeterministic* drawing. This one is in link. Everyone is telling me that the pencil ones smear too much. I kind of like the smearing, but I'll experiment with ink - I just might find that I like it too...

Anyway, here is last night's drawing.
* wikipedia discusses nondetermistic in regard to computer programming algorithms:
"a nondeterministic algorithm is an algorithm with one or more choice points where multiple different continuations are possible, without any specification of which one will be taken."
This definition actually works to describe how my sketches are constructed since I never know what they will look like when I start. I don't plan them as they progress; I just wait and see what happens next once a mark/section/line is laid down. What comes before guides what comes next. There are no mistakes. Everything has potential.

12 February 2010

Sustainability - Problems & Solutions

One problem with talking about sustainability is that it is an overwhelming idea. There is great resistance to changing our lives, especially if we think it means deprivation of any kind... even inconveniencing ourselves is sometimes more than we can deal with. I admit it - I have those days.

Another issue is that it is so very difficult to know when we are hearing/reading valid information, and when what we are hearing/reading is just sales hype - just Greenwashing.

A third major problem with sustaining the sustainability movement is it is so DAMN expensive to go green - or at least it feels like it is. Products seem to cost so much more when it bears the label - "Green."

And one last issue (at least the last that I can think of right now) is that there is not much solidarity in the movement. So many people are doing so many different things. I know that there rarely is the unity in a social movement that people think there is, but I cannot help thinking that a bit more unity and common direction would help considerably.

So, we are adding new sustainable ways to our lives, one thing at a time - CF lightbulbs, buying local produce, using cloth tote bags, riding bicycles whenever possible, driving less, investing responsibly, using fewer toxic chemicals and trying to talk more with people about sustainable living.

I have to think about all the work it takes incrementally or I will give up on it.

Foot in the Door 4

Update: Foot in the Door 4 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 

Just look at all these "feet" in the door!

They are getting the show installed:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I don't see Lake Smalti in any of these photos... but this is only the tip of the iceberg. I've heard that they've filled two galleries at the institute and have requested another one... haven't seen any numbers on how many works were accepted.

Wish I could be there to help out.
Maybe next time - in 2020, for Foot in the Door 5.

The opening reception is on the 18th, 6-9pm. It should be amazing to see all this art in one spot. I'm definitely going to go. I have my artist pass hanging on the (broken) refrigerator just waiting to be snatched up as I head out the door next Thursday morning.

11 February 2010

Sustainable Living

Most people I know talk about sustainability in regard to the environment. I think that is a rather narrow path to take. Sustainable living involves more than just dealing with environmental issues.

Sustainability is approached (not achieved) when the environment, the economy and society develop in collaboration using only the resources that can be replaced. An essential element of the concept is ensuring future generations’ ability to do the same. It involves fair trade and social justice. It means livable lives for everyone. If we cannot come up with lifestyles that everyone can adopt, it isn't really sustainable, is it?

Abelisto talks about sustainability and the treadmill of production. I have trouble thinking my way through that discussion. I, like so many others, keep trying to find ways that we can produce our way out of this mess. But I know we cannot. I know that we cannot have continual growth, our economy cannot keep growing - most of the growth we have achieved in the last 50 years seems to me to be a shell game, a global "robbing-peter-to-pay-paul." How can you call it growth if all you are looking at is profits? What about all those costs that keep getting deferred? Costs my children and grandchildren will end up paying...

As I said, I know we cannot fix this by producing - but I am having a hard time grokking it. Maybe it's denial - if we cannot produce our way out of this dilemma, how do we get out of it? Or can we?

Makes me want to buy a piece of ground and get sheep again (and all the other crap for a self-sustaining lifestyle). I think  I have read too many apocalyptic SciFi novels...

08 February 2010

Best Super Bowl Commercial

I don't have a television so I don't watch things on tv... not much anyway.

I did not watch the Super Bowl, so I missed all the commercials. I heard they weren't anything to write home about this year. But someone mentioned that this one was definitely worth seeing.

It is... I love it.

04 February 2010

Foot in the Door Show

On Saturday I am taking a mosaic up to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for submission for the Foot in the Door 4 show. It's open to all Minnesota artists. The work needs to be no larger than 12' x 12" x 12" or longer than 80 seconds (for video or time-based work).

The mosaic I'm taking is Lake Smalti. It's only 6" x 6".

Lake Smalti, finished but before thinset mortar was cleaned up.

If you're a Minnesota artist and if you have a small piece of work, I encourage you to take it to MIA this weekend.

02 February 2010

Dali Lami, Darwin, and more

Listening to Tadie and Abelisto last night set my head to spinning.

If there were more hours in a day, I'd take some more philosophy classes, some more history classes, some more theory classes, so that I could more fully participate in the discussion. But there isn't, so I'll concentrate on the things I must know, instead of the things I'd like to know.

Life is interesting. Each choice we make both expands and limits our horizons. Well, each choice has the potential to do so. Some merely limit us.