'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

May the Force Be With You

'We Are Stardust' Assemblage with Acrylic paint
©robin r kent
Even though this holiday season isn't going the way I expected, I still feel its unassuming, familiar spirit this time of year. Maybe it's the early darkness that gives focus to the bigger picture, or maybe it's the stillness that accompanies it. Whichever, it dwarfs my energy with its magnitude, and I like that.
A similar judgement is used when choosing subjects for my next piece. I consider different traits: some grandiose, some meek. I had done a few pieces - assemblage and paintings - of a mystical nature a while ago and it was surprisingly rewarding. Might be time to revisit that, especially this season.
Will try to put it on my 'to do' list. Before the springtime comes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Pillow and Art Questions to Sleep On

'Sunday Morning' assemblage  Acrylic on plaque
@robin r kent
Continuing notes from my 'Artist as Nurse' series (see two previous posts.)

My pillow is my most important sleep partner. Soft, hard, chubby or extra long, its position is key to comfort. Each person has his/her own preference. But trying to help another with subtle position changes is no small thing. After a while I began to 'read' what might help: pull a pillow here, loosen a blanket there.

It's the same when painting or creating assemblages. A slight change in color or proportion can make a piece sing, or, will stop and shift focus to the 'uncomfortable' part of the work. Is it an organic sense we feel when interpreting artwork? How do we know such things intuitively?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lowly Thoughts Far From the Studio

©robin r kent
Even though I'm away from the shop, (see previous post) I can still go to it mentally and float through the process I use when creating a new piece. We can dream, can't we?
Mentally I stroke the grains on my antique boards. Always love the feel and texture of aged wood. Its pedigree used to mean the most to me. The most valuable wood I have are the boards from former barns. Even though they are not large enough for other uses now, the full dimension, hand sawn, vintage pieces add depth to my work, and are an art form in itself.
But I have a new love also. Its name is plywood. I love plywood because it allows my drawings to become art. Because its grain goes in both directions, I can cut circles and waves without worry of them breaking along the grain. Like a permissive parent, it lets me venture into the unknown to find my own (or its) limitations. I keep threatening to jump to the good ship 'Polymer', but plywood brings me back to the woodlands. I am now a former plywood snob.
The other unsung hero I find all around me whether in the studio or at the kitchen sink is the lowly rag, Like the barn boards, I always acknowledge its former life first. Some used to be my pajamas. Others were favorite beach towels. Recalling happy times as it scours the sink, cleans brushes. A useful second life in its retirement. We all should be so lucky.

Friday, December 2, 2011

No Pot Roast Around Thanksgiving

Woman at Rest Box
©robin r kent
Well, Thanksgiving didn't turn out as planned. While taking a pot roast out of the freezer, my mother was subject to the laws of gravity and keeled over backwards. The pot roast was for the next night's dinner and needed time to thaw. As my sister-in-law stated, 'They say red meat can be harmful to your health.'
Will be back in touch as soon as I change from nursing cap to blogger/artist apron. Here's wishing a Merry holiday season and better New Year to you all, spoken a might early.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Ways of Looking at Art

'When Spike Met Spot'
Acrylic on Antique Barn Board
©robin r kent

I recently read in an art magazine a comment on how any original creative work is always the interpretation of the artist. The gist was even photo realism artists looking at the same subject will paint it differently. A good observation I thought.
Thinking it out a little further, the same holds true at the other end - with the observer. Some art I think mundane, while other viewers go gaga; naive, contemporary folk art connects with me, others think unfinished or childish. Go figure. Something for everyone.

I suppose it’s best to start with a healthy appreciation of the basics and to master them: drawing, composition, and color theory are the ones I notice. Every work needs to have a proficiency of one or some of them to be successful. But after that, what?

It’s taken me years to loosen up and find my style. I’m willing to keep the parts I like and expand on the rest. Loose rules. That’s the nice thing about art. Whatever works goes. Or, go with whatever works.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How many Robin Kents are there?

Vanity Box
Mixed Media
©robin r kent
I know I have a common name. But I feel connected to it since I've had it for soooooo long.
And feel like I own it. All mine. But after looking into my blog neighbors (last post), now I'm wondering how many other Robin Kents are there?

I know there is an artist in Washington D.C. http://photographybykent.com  Fabulous in his own medium. And Robin Kent, a marketing and advertising professional in New York City is probably located the closest to me. Another Robin Kent is a British Architecture and Conversationist, now located in Scotland. http://www.robinkent.com Then there's Dr. Robin Kent. A consultant in the plastics industry. I think most Robin Kents are men.

I wonder what else we have in common. I wonder if they see things the way I do. I wonder if they'd like my art.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surfing My Blogspot Neighbors

Mixed Media
©robin r kent
Babies, quilters, musicians, knitters, photographers, and someone who had been removed. Wonder what for? What kind of blog was that about?!!
I'm curious how the blog powers decide to group us. Is it by chronological order when we first started our blog? I know it's not by subject matter. Not in any kind of order that I can tell.  And does it shuffle around every time you sign on, like a deck of cards? I have a hard enough time keeping my own papers in order. Must be something only the Giant Cyberspace Pumpkin knows.
I always have to search for the artists. Never can see enough art.
Artist connections through the blog have been deeply humbling. I have found truly gifted artists I would never have met any other way. Their art is fantastic and their writings and/or literary knowledge enlightening. Check out some of my kindred colleagues on my 'follow' list. Some are contemporary folk, naive, outsider artists in the same category as my work. Others are artists whose media or word style I'd like to experiment with someday.
I appreciate our friendship. They add a richness to my quiet life in the shop.

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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Time Check

'Cat on the Tablecloth' Acrylic on boards
©robin r kent
Falling into the new season. Such a color-rich, earthy, mournful season. And often taken for granted. You can look past it, down the time tunnel, and into the new year.

It's the beginning of the annual art crunch. One seasonal clock tick closer to the mother of all deadlines. Sometimes winter is too long; fall is always too short. And it comes with an extra long 'to do' list.

Paintings and sculpture deserve much time now. I have a list of projects promised to be finished before year's end. And the clock doesn't do the 'fall back' trick until early November. Even though it's a 'free' hour, it's too far away.

The cats sense the change as well. The windows they sit in are now sometimes closed. What a surprise for them to find that out mid-air. All those rustling leaves just might be hordes of tiny wildlife on the other side of the screen door.
They keep tabs on the time frames for daily routines. I'm sure they wear wristwatches under their furry sleeves. They know when dinner is expected, to the minute. Maybe it's stop watches they wear instead. I never need an alarm clock. That's their job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baseball has been very very good to me...

Wall-Relief Pitcher
©robin r kent
Roberto Clemente?  Chico Escuela on Saturday Night Live? Sammy Sosa?

Whoever said it first doesn't matter. Next to making art, it's my favorite professional sport.

The processes of both are similar: getting lost in its slowness, but noticing the quick nuances. Building on itself, keeping the interest of what might happen next. The quirks and personal ticks being part of the fabric making up the whole.

Then reflecting on what was done in the following days. What could have been done differently.

Some become classics like the vision of Carlton Fisk's waving his ball fair: the game winning run in the 12th inning of the '75 World Series.

I live in a divided baseball family in this section of New England. Part is Yankee territory, part Red Sox nation. That made it hard to decide what uniform to put on my wall Relief Pitcher (right).
I switched back to being the artist and made up my own team colors. After all, it is my team. Next year we're going to win the Series. Love those Boys of September.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Signs Among Us, part 2

Gallery barn door & breezeway; kitchen porch
currently being renovated. Old 'Artisans
at the Bend' sign above window. We're closed for now. Note
Christmas lights at the ready. A Vermont tradition.

Just like a serial movie with a 'really, really likes me' theme, I've been encouraged to show more of the signs I've done locally. I think this should suffice.

I'll start at home. While the side of our barn/gallery gets updated, the 'hand' sign directing visitors near the door stays intact. I've run from the other end of the house to answer the call, hearing 'eighty five, eighty six...'
Caption on arm says it all...
This XL piece has been swinging on our
porch for years. We leave it out as an
example of housepaint durability

Here are others around town:
'Art in the Snow' open studios is held one weekend
a month January-March. Fellow artists helped make
copies of my prototype and placed them around town.
Larger than life, they add a presence to the winter population.

This sign was outside a few years ago as a supplement
to the Artist Guild's annual project, called 'Sunflowers.' It was
in a public setting ready for a photo op similar to the Shelburne Museum's
sign (previous post). Fellow artist Patty, pattysgrecci.com shows how its done.
'The Inside Scoop' sign announces their
real fruit smoothies. It was helpful to taste-test
the raspberry (my favorite) made of real fruit. The sign
color was matched to it. brandon.org/insidescoop

Lastly, I painted this HUGE 'picture frame' - the opening is the size
of a narrow door - for part of a stage set honoring our town's
famous folk artist, Warren Kimble. Bet you recognize his work.
Again, no picture when it was up in lights. It's not really a sign,
but one of my favorites, as is he. http://warrenkimble.com/

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Signs Among Us

©robin r kent
Sandwich board for Cafe Provence
 leading to the upstairs entrance
©robin r kent
My show in the window at Frog Hollow Gallery

Garden Goddess sign on Rt 7, directing traffic to the shop

I hear the leaves whirling in the driveway. A sign of things to come. The change in season is echoed by the changes in my shop and barn. Exterior repairs to what nature tore down. Interior editing has been a goal for years (see my first blog entry 3/17/11) but never has come to pass -
until now.
Cafe Provence's citroen 2cv truckette
sporting my illustration of Chef Robert

Jim is in mourning as he says goodbye to many of his objets trouves. He has such a good eye; there are many still being kept. I'll be able to put them to use in future folk art assemblages.

Speaking of signs, here are some photos of signs I made for local venues. I'll need to make a new sign for my reassembled gallery, too.
My brother and his wife testing the sign in my shop
for the Shelburne Museum (notice Callie, bottom left)

Shelburne Museum Circus sign in place

My 'Open' sign with my art in the window
at the Brandon Artists Guild
©robin r kent 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quite A Sight

Courtesy Burlington Free Press
Here's downtown during 'Tropical Storm' Irene's visit to Vermont. The state took a hit with my town being an unwilling star.
The river jumped the bridge and took the road instead.

My studio/barn and home were not affected  - we live a couple of blocks up river - except that it was eerily quiet to have no traffic on the street. And sights I won't soon forget.
Amazing that within a week, the building worst affected was moved, (we lost 4) the road repaved, the bridge cleared. The opening at the Brandon Artists Guild www.brandonartistsguild.org went on, followed by a town wide turnout for some live music in the park's bandstand.  Love 'dem strong Vermonters. www.brandon.org

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saws 'R Us

The now improved, freshly outfitted bandsaw,
my favorite artist tool (with art associate, Remus)
Below: Queen of Hearts, before and after

There I was on Cindi's blog www.oldblackcatboo.blogspot.com with friend and fellow artist, Sandy Mastroni www.smastroni.blogspot.com 

I never would have thought our connection, other than art, was the use of saws, shared by all three of us.

Of course, everyone knows power tools are the tie that bind women together. Just not a Kitchen Aid mixer in this case.

And only yesterday I was getting even more intimate with my bandsaw after a bearing froze. Only knew from a distance what either of those terms meant, but I know better now.
    After disassembling much of my saw, I gave up and called the tech department for assistance. Didn't want to strip the screw I was trying to loosen with all my might. The man on the other end of the line confirmed, in a husky southern drawl, that what I was doing was correct. He had to repeat this a couple of times before my ear attuned to his accent. So now I can interpret toolspeak with a southern drawl. You never know what you're going to learn next.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walking with Robert Frost

'Down the Road' Acrylic on Antique Vermont Barnboard
©robin r kent

Went for a short walk collecting sticks for future sculptures near Robert Frost's cabin in the woods. I had been at his cabin a while ago (years), and wanted to see how it was faring. Mr. Frost would be proud. It's beautiful and looks the same.

Then on to its neighbor, Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of english, where graduate courses in literature and teaching of writing, creative writing, and theater arts are offered. Another gracious old beauty.

I am rediscovering a new respect for words. Not mine. And not that I'm a big reader. On the contrary, short art articles (with pictures) are my favorite. Followed by poetry. That's where Robert Frost fits in. As we sat where he and others worked to capture that perfect word, I couldn't help but think of my dangling participles, incomplete sentence fragments, and dependent clauses ricocheting above us in cyberspace, raining down on this beautiful, word-loving campus. I felt the need for a broom.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'Raining Cats and Dogs'...

My artwork waiting pickup by its new owner
...is the title of the second annual animal art show now going on at The Framers Market, Manchester, New Hampshire.
My Dog-Tired Catch-All box (left)

And they're giving a portion of the proceeds to the Animal Rescue League of N.H.

I was glad to be part of it since I love their taste in art. 

And I love companion animals. 
Especially homeless ones. 
'Well behaved pets' are invited to attend, too. 

Live work of art looking for an owner
The Rescue League brought some of its viewing audience to survey possible future human owners. Hope they found a few. 

It's a good thing the gallery is too far away for me to attend or I'd be coming home with something 3D in addition to a piece of sculpture.

The show runs through September 9th.
1301 Elm Street, Manchester NH

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's Not What You Think

'Multitasking Bachelor Sailor' wall assemblage
©robin r kent, photography Tad Merric
This time of year, my mind has a hard time staying on task. So many opportunities, so many things to do. So many things needing to be done. Many layers. I can become easily distracted but my inner compass nags me about how far I'm veering off course.
When I finally land in the studio, and start wrestling with a new art assemblage or sculpture, I find what I thought most important is not. And the unintentional peripheral experience is. It's not the work I learn from, but the play.
I'll paint something deliberately, only to find it was a chance brushstroke or wood shape that captured the elusive essence.
Unwittingly, I've found this observation useful in other aspects of life, too. Do one thing, learn something totally unexpected. Everyday a surprise.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer's Going Swimmingly

Framed acrylic painting with assemblage
©robin r kent
With this kind of heat, it's great to be able to find a friendly water spot. Mine is a fresh water lake made from aquifers surrounded by trees, grass, and woods. I love the ocean, too, and miss its briny smell. Maybe someday we'll get as close again as we used to be.
The fresh water is warmer now and friendly to the skin. However, I've always had the hardest time diving in. All my friends could just 'cannonball' off the dock and get on with the water play. Not me. I had to suffer through a slow and steady walk into submersion. No shock allowed, and progress hit a major slowdown when cool water approached the midriff. Maybe I had to process it all before I could adjust to it?
Now when it comes to art, I love water based acrylic paint. (How's that for an unabashed segway?) No problem diving in. No smell, no messy clean up, and it only hits my gut in an emotional way.
Just like being a kid at the lake, I can play all day in that kind of water. After being bouyed up - weightless - in its magical maritime world, returning to land feels heavy; leaving it an adjustment. Good thing I know how to get back.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eyes Notice Everything

'Sea and Be Scene' assemblage sculpture
©robin r kent

When viewing art, eyes notice awkward colors, positions in portraits, thicknesses in bands of brush strokes, etc.
Then how come we can be so oblivious at other times?

Maybe that's the thing about art. It makes you look and holds your attention.
To me, learning 'how to look' means:
1. explaining how to stop the action of whatever is happening around you
2. see the art within it
3. understand how each section contributes to the whole, and
4. remember for future reference.
In a split second. No luxury of gazing at the subject in daily living, unless all you want to draw is attention. Other eyes notice everything, too.
It's the remembering part that is the most difficult to me. Especially as I get older. But it seems to seep back in an unconscious way when called upon at the easel or workbench. It's nice to know there's a part of me connecting with what I see even when I'm oblivious.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Art is Energy

'Any Which Way' wood wall assemblage
©robin r kent
Picking up the paint brush is like picking up a magic wand. Sometimes you don't know what will come out at the other end. It can be explosive where you don't have to do much other than hold on loosely and let it go. But it can also be cranky, where you have to cajole what wants to come out. Vibrant is the easiest where you stand back and feel the warmth.  Moody is the least understood, needing the most support, and can be the most gratifying in the end.
What all these have in common is energy. Creative energy to be more specific? A vibration bouncing off the canvas, wall or in the case of sculpture, standing on the floor next to you. Collectors have reaffirmed  my feelings how some of my sculptures have their own presence. Like another person in the room. Trying to say something if given the chance. Yet always available to listen to your thoughts. Sometimes they can be delightful company, and other times surprise visitors when you forget for a moment they are there. That's happened more than once. 
Like Geppetto, I'd like to be able to make exactly what I want, but not always get that in the end. Each piece has an energy of its own.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Year of Thinking Creatively

'Two for the Road'
acrylic paintng on antique barnboard
©robin r kent
Before it goes too far down the road, I thought I'd point out the longest day of the year was last Tuesday. Closely followed by the year's halfway point: today. Is it all just rolling by, or is it just the season?
For me, this year has unintentionally turned into the 'take stock' year. Evaluating what I've accomplished, what I like, and where I go (grow?) next. A good milestone for the 2011 halfway point timeline.
I'm comfortable in my primitive style, or is it more contemporary? Do I want to drop 'folk art' from my moniker?  Does using it narrow my audience when they'd be more receptive to another term? Any suggestions?
Does painting on canvas dilute my existing body of work? What about tackling more 'serious' subjects without wry undertones?
In the meantime, I'll keep on pedaling and see what comes of all this. There is no roadmap so I'll have to listen to my inner backseat driver. I'll know if I took the right road after a few pieces are behind me. Hopefully before the end of the year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Music, food, and contemporary folk art. What an ensemble.

'Jazz Piano Player' framed assemblage
©robin r kent
For some, modern and contemporary folk art can be similar to jazz music, in a way that when you see it, you like it. For others, maybe not. But I believe you can develop an appreciation for it.
In the culinary arts, if you're a gringo like me, it took small steps to appreciate Sriracha hot sauce. I've come to love Mexican food. And Thai. Of course, French. Actually I love all food. But what I thought was spicy is now mild.
It works the same way for music. I needed to hear the familiar. If it's got a good beat, I can dance to it. Goes right to my soul. I didn't 'get' Herbie Hancock at first. How can you dance to that? Now I drift along 'kind of blue' easily, painting alongside jazz greats (and smalls). Miles Davis is my musical version of Marc Chagall. Charlie Parker resembles Jackson Pollock. Guess I love music in the same way as food and art. Necessary part of life. Still have to work on my Opera chops, though. Gustav Klimt, maybe? (Want to suggest a visual artist to describe Bob Dylan?)
So, when scanning the artscene at it's dance, I find contemporary folk art in the corner, alone. How to catagorize it's persona? How to put the kind of art I paint/assemble/sculpt into words without people thinking of girls in profile with big bonnets when I add 'folk art' to the explanation? Yes, it is a melange of styles. Delightfully primitive, yet sophisticated, with a hint of visionary.
Maybe let people discover their taste for it a little at a time. There's such a rich of diversity on the contemporary folk art menu. Good thing it doesn't have any calories.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dreams and other-worldly places

'First Cup'
mixed media wall assemblage
©robin r kent
Last night, and for a few nights before that, I've had interesting, busy dreams. Many were thinly veiled metaphors for people and places from my past. It was nice to be in familiar surroundings visiting them again.
Another dream was just a bunch of busy work. That day's schedule had been over the top and I found myself matching socks in my sleep. It was the first time I can recall editing a dream in progress saying 'this is a waste of dreamtime' and starting a 'second feature' without really waking up.
I used to read Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' when younger, but now I just enjoy the ride. Who needs to go to the movies?
Many times my art problems can be solved there also. It's good to get some distance on them. There's a notebook next to my bed, but I usually remember anyway.
I fly a lot in my dreams. Always have since childhood. But I never flew too high and always had to 'peddle' to stay airborne. I must have learned that while swimming in flippers. It was handy. Still is.
Gravity is something I never took seriously. As a child in bed at night, I could look at my ceiling and think of it as a floor. I could mentally walk to my bedroom's threshold, which looked like a short wall in a submarine, step over it, and continue walking on the ceiling down the hallway. It was such a pristine surface with nice lighting. And so quiet no one could hear me. Try it. It's a good exercise.
Once when I had a childhood fever, I remember my mother kneeling at my feet offering me thin slices - like shiny needles or wires - that cut the air into three dimensional surfaces. She broke that dream by washing my face. I always remembered that invisible 3d concept of volume and came across it only once more as an adult.  But that's a story for another night. 
How do you dream? Any come true? 
Time to say goodnight. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Timing is Everything

'Waiting for a Bite'  acrylic on antique boards
©robin r kent
If there's one phrase I'd use to sum up my life, I'd say it's 'timing is everything.'
As I get older, I find myself using that as the final adage to every story, experience, lesson I've come across, first hand or not. It always fits.
I never was particularly aware of timing when I was younger. I'd get lost in something that captured my attention and have no recollection of how long I'd dwell on it.  Cool early mornings in summer, fishing on the lake with my parents. Watching the red and white bobber drift for what seemed hours. Hoping for a bite, if the time was right.
As a teenager, I remember holding on to my friend's pocketbook as we walked through an art show or museum because if I let go, I'd be unable to keep pace. I easily fell into visual quicksand. Loved looking at art. It just felt right being there.
As an an art director, I watched as the copywriter had a new computer installed. This was the beginning of desktop publishing's glory days. That one computer could do things the whole production department took hours to do. The days of 'cut and paste' in galley form were numbered. But I couldn't get the hang of it. We didn't think of layout the same way. Who could blame it?  Written in code... not the way I approach design. And it wasn't about to budge. Almost a karmic 'your time is up' for many of us oldstyle tradespeople. The world had shifted again into another time*.
So I was forced back to my fine art roots. Always a good place of retreat. Maybe it was a rebound way onto the path of creating folk art for the years since. All I know is the timing was right.
Do you find things more easy or difficult depending on the timing? Do you see the ebb and flow of events run through your life? Many divergent factors joining together at the same time?

*Finally got the jist of photoshop last year.  Just had to wait for the timing to be right.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Tilling the soil

'Three Carrot Gardener' folk art wood garden sculpture
©robin r kent
I have to say I was taken by surprise to find one of my long ago paintings of crows on a beautiful site called     www.crowaday.blogspot.com
Terry Davitt Powell displays sensitive, stunning art with crows always the subject. Loved looking at all the variety in themes a black bird can evoke.
This is the time I become aware of everything popping. The lilacs have gone whoshing by, and just as I started to mourn their scented passing, the mock orange flowers. With all the vernal explosions around me, how can I concentrate?
It's my busy time of year in all respects. I must avoid the distractions of hearing the grass growing, or deciding where to plant the raspberry patch, or courting too many Red Sox games.
It's time to dig deep. What to create? I've just begun to weed the brambles of my mind. And I know some unlikely volunteers always pop up. Any surprises for you?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Folk Art Diary: A Trip To The Candy er, Hardware Store

'Milkman' folk sculpture
©robin r kent
I remember being dragged along as a six year old or so, doing Saturday errands with my father. One of the most dreaded stops for me was the hardware store. 'Too much stuff with too little color (dull grey), and what was the point of it all?,' I thought. How boring.
When I grew up I found myself still as the companion in hardware store stops. My energy immediately drained when we hit the threshold. It was a man's world in my mind. Let's get outta here. How boring.
But as I grew into creating contemporary folk art, I found I was missing the tools and thing-ys needed to make the wood sculpture and assemblages do what I wanted.  I gradually understood those thing-ys had names and functions.
Come to think of it, the workbench in my family's basement belonged to my grandmother. She was the daughter of a Swedish boatbuilder turned carpenter. Must have some of that dna. My favorite childhood toy was the wooden cobbler's shoe: you'd bang the (colorfully painted) dowels down into the sole and then flip it over and hammer again.
Self Portrait with Tools
©robin r kent
It all began to fit together. Um, maybe not so boring.......
I started to notice what a difference 1/4 inch of a screw length can make when it bores into your palm. Or how a dull bandsaw blade can set off the fire alarm without any notice.* And the classic purple thumbnail caused by a misguided hammer, or my favorite moniker for it's cousin: 'the persuader'.  No wonder they call some folk art 'naif' or 'naive art' and 'art brut.' Not boring at all.
My bookkeeper thinks it funny that under 'Artist Supplies' I have the following listed:
band saw blades, exterior screws, fastener bits, panel nails, washers, baling wire. Well, bailing wire in Vermont, anyway. All these little silver thing-ys have a function.  When I see them now in their boxes hanging on the store display, I can picture them already doing their job.
Glad to be part of a profession where some of it's skill comes from evolution and intuition. How 'bout you?

*It lends an atmospheric mood to the shop with low hanging clouds of smoke - a similar ambience can be found in my kitchen while I sear a steak in a cast iron pan.)