'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Monday, October 31, 2011

November 1 Day of the Dead Art

Bucket of Garden Jesters
(keeps the evil garden hose away from
your flowers)

Can you tell which one is alive?
©robin r kent
I love the Day of the Dead art. One of many categories in the folk art genre. To me, it's the pinnacle of what folk art can be.
Even though I'm a New England folk artist, where restaint and limited affect is the style, I sometimes secretly desire to be a Latina folk artist where flourishes, over the top embellishment, and highlights in outrageous colors flowing freely from the heart, is the norm.
And I'm comfortable with the subject matter. Often I feel surrounded by other worldly spirits as I work. Maybe because some of my work is suggestive of real beings as I glimpse quickly around my workshop or studio. Another group of collectors appreciating my work. Some are more alive than others and always stand out amongst their brethern. They give suggestions or solutions if I'm open to their whispers.
So just when you are over Halloween, here's the next event celebrating all seen and unseen facets of our collected humanity. Long live the Day of the Dead.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Professional Halloween Outfit

'Trick or Treat Man' wood wall assemblage
©robin r kent 
It is a ritual getting ready for Halloween. It's also something I do everyday. But I figure it substitutes easily as a good Halloween outfit. Here's how it goes:
First, the splinters. My hands wouldn't be in costume without them. It can be obtained by working continually on wood assemblage. Many make a better effect. Best to start a week or so early. (When was my last tetanus shot?) They can be embellished by fingertips painted with black primer or exterior house paint. It's usually applied while holding an art piece as I paint all sides.
Then, the ear protectors. Makes a good first impression. They are the large, old fashioned kind. Sort of like the headphones we used to wear back in the 70's but instead of blasting music, they only permit you to listen to yourself breathing.
Which brings me to the next part: the face mask. I think this is the piece de resistance. There's nothing like the combined vision of ear and face protection to send the cats running. Very effective. Of course, turning on the power saw doesn't hurt either. More atmosphere. When donning the face mask, I like the way it makes my hair stand on end. And the sawdust/wood chips add highlights. They are continually applied during the multiple 'on and offs' necessary while in costume.
Now the clothes can be more creative. A woodworker's apron with many layers of multicolored paint is considered the little black dress of the outfit. Many times it is worn over flannel pajamas, sans foundation, with mismatched oversized socks. The ability of the socks to pick up sawdust and grit give them an animalistic allure.
There you have it.  An astonishing vision to trick or treaters on either side of the door.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Artist's Sketchbooks and Recipe Files

'Bouillabaisse' Assemblage Shadowbox,
wood with acrylic paint
©2011 robin r kent
Sketchbooks are like photo albums of your past. 
I have one from a lifetime ago when I traveled with little money but carried a big, beautiful, oversized, black, bound, blank sketchbook. It was intimidating putting the first mark in it. Didn't want to ruin it. Now glad I did.  
Funny how I remember sketching on each page. Hot or cold, sunny or grey, company or alone. Even remember friends' side comments while drawing. Recalling those conversations now give new meaning to what was said then. The years added gravitas to flippant remarks. All recalled while I look at these drawings. Didn't realize the peripherals were being recorded, too.

My recipe file evokes a similar nostalgia with handwritten recipes from friends and relations. The Palmer method script my grandmother used to explain how to make cinnamon buns. Many have departed, but their personalities remain written in these formulas now found under spatter stains. I see them puttering in the kitchen, pointing out culinary secrets as they stir. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Deeper Than It Might Seem

'Princess and the Pea' wood assemblage
©2011 robin r kent

I always wished I could be a musician     
and sing as freely as Dylan.
To perform live  - in front of strangers even - who understood perfectly. 
Doing it my way,
never having to change a note.

Guess a painter it is then.
Same initial evolutions: from puppet, pauper, pirate,
to poet. Put down on paper.
Change. Begin again. No one knowing the final creation 
- revealed for all to see -
isn't exactly as I always intended it to be.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

If it doesn't move, paint it

Painted Turtle rocks
©robin r kent
I walked around with a paint brush aimed at everything, figuratively speaking.

The cards said I would work in a 'earth-based' medium. What did that mean? I knew I could capture what I saw, but then, what manner and means to describe it? My options for what to paint and what to paint ON expanded.
Rabbit & Raccoon rocks
©robin r kent

Scandinavian-French Country style Cupboard?
©robin r kent
I added painted rocks (remember that era?). I still have some untouched in my cellar.
Monet's Rocker
© robin r kent
I had dabbled in painting furniture before, but it took hold when I met Jim. He repaired old furniture found here and there. Painting on surfaces other than canvas was fun for me. Like condoned graffiti?

I painted sailing ships on bureaus, farm scenes on sideboards. I decorated new pieces he built on commission in Scandinavian, French Country, and Rufus Porter styles.

My hand loosened up. As well as my mind. Many surfaces, but I kept searching.

As we got older, the pieces became smaller. (I still paint children's furniture.) Shards of furniture are the perfect size for assemblages and sculptures. Not as hard to move as a 8 foot cupboard. That satisfied my three dimensional creative urge.
Whatever 'earth-based' surface is the right choice, if not canvas or stone, then it's wood. For now.