It's difficult to decide when you really start being an artist, but I started studying art in high school, majored in it in college, then continued with my MFA. I've been out of school and creating since 2010, so that's a solid eight years of professional artist time for sure. During that time I've noticed a handful of recurring patterns and forms. One of them is roughly funnel shaped, like a "V". I think about the shape differently as I'm creating it. Sometimes is the valley between mountains, a cross section of a canyon, a would, or, more abstractly, as a void between two solid masses. The form doesn't usually make it into my final pieces. It usually stays in sketches and under paintings. This piece, Engulf, is probably the best example of this form in a finished piece. Even this example is not exact - the funnel usually closes at the bottom.
Today I was going through some photos for inspiration. I found a lot of recent digital photos to use in my Artifacts series, but I wanted something for my Parks Project. I went through some of the prints I have from my old film camera and found this one from Arches National Monument. (Sorry for the quality, this is literally a crappy scan of the print from my 3-in-1 printer.) There's that form again. I took this picture at least 16 years ago. It's interesting how things get stuck in the subconscious. I plan to paint this at some point. Who knows, maybe this shape will make it into a finished piece.
More on the Next Artifacts Piece
I've put several more layers on the next piece in my Artifacts series, tentatively titled Remnant No. 2. Right now I'm in the process of sanding it down so that the pattern is visible again. Unfortunately I put way too much paint on it. I'm four hours into sanding it and maybe, MAYBE, halfway done. But I took lots of pretty pictures as I went.
Lots of New Stuff
I've been busy in the studio over the last couple weeks. I started off doing some house keeping. Montaña de Oro State Park No. 1 is officially complete. I put several coats of varnish on it. The only thing left to do is to get a good picture of it.
I also stretched a new medium sized canvas and did these three smaller ones using one of my drop cloths. My plan is to do some small botanical studies on them, similar to Sequoia National Forest No. 1. I want the surface to be really smooth for the studies, though, which requires lots of layers of acrylic medium.
As I was going through my drop cloths and waiting for paint to dry, I found a bunch of small canvases that I made a couple years ago and decided to do something with them. I did some small pours over them using the same container of paint. After I did one more, I added some new color to it for the next pour, one right after another. It was a fun exercise, and I was surprised by how bright my colors stayed.
Once they were dry I put another layer on a few of them. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them, but they sure were fun to make.
One of my pieces is included in Site:Brooklyn's upcoming show, Painting in the 21st Century. The show is on view from September 21st through October 21st. If you're in New York during that time, stop by to see the show!
Here's my latest batch of glasswork. It's from a couple weeks ago but I still wanted to share it here. I fired the oval bowl I cut out a few weeks ago as well as some experiments. The smaller red and black circle is to experiment with some candle draping molds we got. The other smaller pieces are experiments in how small pieces work in a full fuse firing schedule. Here's the kiln before firing.
And here it is after firing. Most of it worked, though there were a couple of failures.
Here's what the painting looked like when I went out this morning.
It was almost dry, just a bit tacky in a couple places. So I set to work taking the contact paper off. It was harder than I thought. I actually had to cut through the paint to do it.
It took a lot longer than I expected but I'm glad I did it when I did. The paint did leak under the contact paper in a couple places. It was still wet when I cut the contact paper off so i was able to wipe it off. If I had waited longer the paint would have dried. Here's the end result!
I'm really happy with how it turned out. I still need to put on a clear layer of acrylic medium, sign it, and varnish it. None of that will really change how it looks though.
I'm back! We took a trip to Ohio at towards the end of July to visit family, and we've spent a couple of weekends in Springville, California with my parents. I did some glass work on those visits (I'll share that work later). But now I'm back home and back in the studio - er, garage and dining room table.
I made some progress with my Montana de Oro painting. Here's where I left it before I left for Ohio.
I wasn't happy with how the area around the anemone turned out. I decided to try to block out the anemone with contact paper and do another pour around it. Here it is with the contact paper cut out.
The contact paper is extra shiny. I painted over the edge of the contact paper with acrylic gloss medium a couple times to seal the edges. Then I mixed a few different colors and poured them over the piece. Here are some pictures of the pour as it's drying.
I've been experimenting with my pours in this piece. Usually I think my paints down with water, or water mixed with acrylic flow release. In this piece I've used acrylic pouring medium. The pouring medium keeps some body to the paint. The end result is a layer of acrylic instead of the stain painting I usually do. The colors typically stay more vibrant. It also captures the way the colors flow together.
I'm excited to see how this one turns out. Unfortunately it won't be dry until at least tomorrow. Then I get to peel up the contact paper. Hopefully the paint didn't leak underneath.
Update on the Artifacts Series
I cut out the pattern on my next Artifacts piece. I'm tentatively calling it Remnant No. 2. This is it after I cut out the pattern traced on the contact paper, applied some acrylic gel medium, and removed the rest of the stencil pieces. This layer will dry clear, but shiny and textured. The next step is to apply silver metal leaf to the pattern. That might be the last step, or I might add some more textures to and do some sanding, like I did with Artifact No. 2. I might change the orientation, too. There's a lot up in the air with this one right now.
More From Montana de Oro
I did some more work over the weekend on my Montana de Oro piece.
I'm not 100% happy with how it came out. I really didn't want the outside to look so brushy. As you can see I wasn't very careful with the direction of my brushstrokes. I tried using glazing medium, hoping it would level the paint out. But I either didn't use enough or it didn't agree with the slow dry blending medium I used. I think I'm going to block out the anemone with contact paper and do another pour around the outside. I don't think I want it to be one color. It has to wait for a little while though. I'm gearing up to head back to Ohio for a family visit soon. This is a good place to leave it for now.
I started talking about my glasswork here, but I don't think I mentioned that I started an Etsy shop. It's called Bobkat Ranch Crafts. Yes, it's really spelled Bobkat. My parents' names are Bob and Kathy, thus, Bobkat. My dad, my sister, and myself have been producing the working that's up for sale. You can get to it here.
Last weekend was another weekend spent with my parents and my sister up in Springville. That means no painting, but I did do some more glasswork. First, I turned more squares into circles. It's so much fun! Here they are before and after firing.
I fused some of these circles into a larger piece. I'll have more on that later, after I get some pictures taken. I also cut out a few more pieces while I was there. They still need to be fired.
The one on the left uses the rolled edges of the glass sheets. I've always want to to do something with the edges. I'll add some frit (small pieces of broken glass) to the empty areas between the rolled edges before I fire it. Then I'll slump it over our candle bridge mold. The one in the middle is going to be a cone bowl. Hopefully. If you look at my past posts you'll see I haven't had good luck with that mold. I'll have to fire it sometime when I can sit in the workshop to babysit it. And the one on the right will be a shallow bowl or platter.
Painting and Drawing