Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Over this past winter, I began a series of mosaic panels around a "hair" theme, mainly based on an image in my mind of an exhibit consisting of multiple pieces, all with the same basic design of a long, undulating shape with a woman's face, but all done with different colors and andamento.  I bounced my idea off of Mike, who felt it would be a good practice for me to repeat the same design over and over, and to create a collection that could be presented as a real body of work.

I began with some long wedi scraps I had lying around, cutting them to the shape I had in my mind.  The first was purple, and very rudimentary, though I did practice using a more classical style of setting my tesserae by cutting all of my glass shards into little squares, which I found tedious.  Also, this piece is ungrouted, which is sort of the trendy way to work in Mosaic-land, but I rarely feel comfortable with my own work ungrouted.

In the meantime, I felt the need to go back to my persistent interest in mythology and culture to explore stories like Rapunzel while trying to understand why we put so much emphasis on hair.  I mean, why do we save locks of hair as mementos?  Why do women have to cover their heads in certain religions?  Why does our hairstyle tell the world so much about our identities?  Why wasn't I allowed to cut my hair until 7th grade?  Why does our hair even grow the way it does, on our heads, and continuously?

I've been keeping a sketch journal and reading whenever I find time, making notes, drawings, and writing about my own personal hair story.  It is pretty fascinating (to me.)  Here's a bit of trivia for you: The ancient sun gods were depicted as an orb with golden rays (sometimes interpreted as shining hair) emerging, which evolved into the halo as a symbol of divinity, which turned into a crown worn by royalty to indicate their divine right to the throne.

I've been working hard to stick to this theme, but I'm aching to make something different.  I keep small, simple projects going on the side as an outlet for my need for change.  The hair series keeps evolving, and while I've stuck with the theme, it won't be a room full of the same image over and over.  I just can't do it. Now, my symbolism has turned personal, and the mosaic on my easel deals more with my childhood, in which hair played a significant role.

Also, some upcoming exhibits required submissions, and I feel this work is my best foot forward, so they may start getting distributed to various shows, if I'm accepted.  Even if they are not accepted, I will not be in a position to reject potential buyers, and I've had inquiries.  So, my vision of a traveling Hair exhibit is slowly fading.

This one is titled "Growing" which is what it is really all about.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Delayed Gratification

Olympia hosts two major Arts Walk events each year, in Spring and Fall.  Spring's festival coincides with Earth Day, and is the larger of the two.  Downtown streets are closed to traffic, so they fill with performers and festival-goers.  On Friday night, there is a beautiful luminary parade, and the Procession of the Species on Saturday afternoon is the highlight.  An amazing number of residents parade through the streets in celebration of animal and plant species, dressed in costumes, dancing, walking on stilts, playing instruments, or walking inside of something like a  huge whale that spurts water from its spout.  So many people participate in the Procession that it takes 2 hours to watch them all pass the throngs of enthusiastic onlookers.  Each business features local artists, so it is an opportunity to see all of the creative work being made throughout the community.

Spring Arts Walk was this past weekend, so I've been working hard to have everything finished for a group show.  As I've mentioned, business has been painfully slow since Fall, so I was feeling optimistic that I might catch up a little bit this weekend.  I did sell a few small things, and I received a lot of enthusiastic feedback from visitors.

Spring is moving very slowly this year, which has been the main topic of my posts.  I keep planting seeds for greens, but only a handful have sprouted, probably because we are still getting frost at night and not nearly enough sun.  Our chicks and ducklings are growing fast and seem to be doing very well, and we get our turkey poults tomorrow, which does help to remind us that it really is springtime.  Somehow, it feels like the delay in the season is strangely connected to this lull in commission work and art sales.  I am awaiting deposits on two potential projects, but I have learned not to plan around such possibilities as they often fall through.  I have applied for several exhibits, but I won't receive confirmation until June for events that begin in July, so I have work that I can't sell at all, and my summer plans are up in the air.  Ah, the life of an artist...

Two days ago, while feeding our newest bees, I wore gloves with cloth on the back (instead of leather.)  A bee stung me through the fibers on my right thumb, and the reaction has been quite severe.  At first, it was merely painful, but I kept working, cleaning the house and moving my workspace back to the outdoor studio (I've been working in the warm house all Winter.)  By evening, the whole backside of my hand had swollen and the skin was extremely sensitive.  It bothered me all night, making it difficult to sleep.  Yesterday, the swelling spread to the pads of my hand on the front, partway up my fingers, and a couple of inches down my wrist on both sides.  I wasn't able to work at all.  This morning, it is still swollen, but less painful.  I have had to continue basic tasks like making meals, cleaning dishes, and taking care of animals, but I'm clumsy and must do most of it with my left hand.  I've tried every remedy I could find online, but nothing works.  Benadryl has no effect on the inflammation, but it does help me sleep through the discomfort. So, I think my frustration with my work is exacerbated by my billy club of a hand.  Typing is one of the only things I can do with it, so I'm catching up on all computer-related tasks.  Submissions have been typed, receipts entered, inbox organized, and now I've written a long, boring blog entry that can't possibly of much interest to anyone.

I need to go back out to the new hive today to see if the queen has been released from her little cage yet, but I'm actually quite nervous for the first time.  I can't even fit my hand into a glove at this point, and it would seriously suck to get stung again.  Where's my farmhand?