'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Friday, April 29, 2011

Close companions

'The Kiss'
Acrylic/Mixed Media on Wood Sculpture
Even before I start a new piece of art, I get happy. It's sort of like love. Magical or maternal.
The giddy anticipation of what's to come. Like spring or Christmas. And here I go like the seven dwarves whistling off to work at my art.
It doesn't matter what shape it comes in - paintings, assemblages, or sculptures - I form a unique relationship with each one. But some can be more unique than others. Not all are hearts and flowers.
Large 'Momma Box'
Acrylic/Mixed Media on Wood
Some works can turn into significant others - challenging you to think creatively to obstacles they present. Like a wrestling match. In the end, we both emerge intact and a little more mature: they've accomplished what I had intended: 'looking fine.' And I've learned a bit more about tenacity without losing the vision. (By the way, don't try this at home - it doesn't work on real people. They can be their own piece of work.)
'Coming of Age'
Acrylic on rough wood
And some can be like offspring. They want to please. We bond. It bonds. I mean sometimes the sculptural elements of the wood just fit magically together. The lesson there is not to use excessive amounts of bonding or overwork it.
In astrology, the fifth house represents creativity: having children and/or making art. Many famous women artists only created art. Georgia O'Keeffe comes to mind immediately. Marilyn Monroe, Jane Austin, Chanel, Julia Child, Emily Dickinson, and that great woman artist of maternal intimacy, Mary Cassatt. The muse as suitor and/or offspring. Go figure. The nice thing is whatever form they take, they're all good for the soul.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rabbit Run

'Rabbit Run' wall assemblage
reclaimed lumber, house paint
The Easter bunny is caught in the crosshairs this holiday season. How interesting it didn't have any initial association with Christianity. (Its start was in pre-Christian fertility folklore.) But it couldn't outrun destiny and merged with the chocolate bunny. Do you bite off the ears first, too?
Nevertheless, this critter will be on people's minds a little longer. The next full moon is the Hare Moon (May 17, 2011).
The moon's symbol in Chinese tradition is - the rabbit. (The peacock represents the sun). Together they are the Yin (moon) and Yang. The rabbit (Yin) holds the magic and strength of the heavens. Look up on the next full moon night and take it in.
The Chinese Zodiac keeps it in the spotlight longer still. This is the year of the Hare, or Rabbit. A Hare (Rabbit) Year is supposed to nurture a time of calm, renewal, good taste and comfort. Can't we all use some of that?
I've used 'hare' or 'rabbit' interchangeably so far, but I've read you shouldn't confuse them. The difference being rabbits are born hairless and hares are born, well, you know. Hares also run faster and don't freeze in place when frightened. Not sure how well those bunnies would keep in the freezer then. Chocolate gets a coat of white on it if you do that. Called a sugar bloom.
At this time of year, with all this attention on them, I can imagine rabbits/hares/bunnies would like to be laying low about now (but that's for the chicken discussion).
Easter eggs also have a pagan background....

'Black Dotted White Chicken'
wall assemblage
antique barn board, electrical wire, dowels, house paint

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Folk Art Diary: My Mistake

Miami Coquette, 1998
Art is a series of making mistakes. And that's a good thing. Making mistakes in life - I'm not sure if it's such a good thing there.
It's much more fun making mistakes while creating folk art. Mistakes feel right at home in the folk art genre. I think it's an integral part of the folk art legacy. Folk art owns it. And proud of it. Even shows it off.
As I continue along my art path, mistakes become testaments to having given another possibility a chance. We all deserve that, so why not a blob of paint? A hole drilled there? Hmmm, maybe it will turn out better than the original idea.... Sometimes I regret it as I attempt to pull a panel nail out of a sensitive piece of wood, losing both the hard fought for wood element and hours in the end. But as in life, I learn not to do THAT again. And adapt accordingly.
Too bad we can't erase missteps we've taken in life as easily. Wouldn't that be too perfect? However, the parade there goes only in one direction. Maybe that's why I like to meander along the messy, scribbled, erased, repainted backroads of art.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The scent of old wood

Silent soldiers ready to report for duty
Sometimes when I'm busy and 'in the zone' making a new assemblage piece, I cut a recycled board and release a waft of history.
All the recycled wood I use carry memories of their own.  Oh, what they must have witnessed. The stories they could tell. Much of it comes donated by local Vermont farmers. Or tradesmen. Or practical, no nonsense folk.

But I'm reminded of my great uncle's home. Or my family's hope chest in the attic. The summer camp (before remodeling). Walking trails as a kid in the woods....
Long gone memories jarred back to life while standing at my bandsaw, 'just doing my job.' 
How is it that these scents can bring me to that time? Do you know what I mean? It's always a surprise when nostaglia joins me while I'm at work. Nice company.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

All Good Things Come In April

'Reading Poetry Out Loud'
Acrylic on Rough Pine
April is Poetry Month.
I love poetry. Especially poetry that has a dry, humorous side. With that said, I'm a big fan of Billy Collins. Have all (but the most recent one) his books. A lot of them autographed. I've seen him read in an intimate church setting here in Vermont. Felt like I was in church. He's inspirational. And he reads his poetry so well. Not all poets can say that.
Sometimes when I read his works, I laugh til I cry. And that's over poems I already know. Why are they still so funny? I used to read his poems to my parents over late afternoon cocktails. We'd all be having trouble catching our breath. Ahhh, sweet memories.

I'd love to find other poets with the same sensibilities. If you can recommend any, I'd be eternally grateful.

I think of my art as a kind of visual kindred spirit to Mr. Collins' take on life. Noticing little subjects that happen all the time, all day long, gives me lots of material to sort through. Life is funny. For good and for bad. Ohhh...and it's National Humor Month also.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Folk Art Diary, chapter 2 - Almost there

'Swinging from the rafters' housewife-
ready for her closeup
Here she is.
Almost finished.  
Just need a second look at her tomorrow with fresh eyes. You always find things that need painting or re-working then. (The crowbar is an assemblage sculptor's version of an eraser.) She also needs to hold her wooden spoon in her dangling (not pictured) hand - you can always use an extra hand in the kitchen.

The one thing I didn't think of when making her - that I thought of while painting her - was the angle she'd be viewed from when completed. Being a mobile of sorts, that perspective wouldn't be as complementary as I had imagined unless you were standing on the ceiling. What - not the norm for an art lover? So I added a few more pieces below to give 'interest,' without added 'flash'. 

Anyone care to add a critique? I always appreciate comments on my artwork as seen through others' eyes. Or come see her when complete at the Shelburne Museum's www.shelburnemuseum.orgDiamond Barn Gallery (see previous post).