Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Sometimes I sell a piece that I'm not quite ready to sell. I really hate it when one sells too quickly. Six months to a year of having a piece is probably enough, after that it starts to feel old, the new work starts to push it aside and gain more attention. It also starts to take the lack of sale personally and I start to feel sorry for it. To sell in the half year period, half a year after being finished, seems to really be the perfect time to part with it. But when one sells within two months, that really is too quick. I'm sure this makes me less than the ideal salesman of my own work. I can talk about them all day but when people start getting interested in buying I start to get anxious, especially if it is one that I haven't had for that long. I'm generally happy to sell older work, but I tend to be more sad than excited about selling new pieces. I didn't really think much about this until this weekend when a couple picked the piece below. When they chose it I felt like asking them if they were sure they wanted that one, checking with them if there wasn't something else they wanted. But, when a piece is on the wall with a price on it, it is hard to backtrack and say you can't have it, not if you really want to be a professional artist. Lucky for them they were real art buyers and didn't need me to talk too much about the work, they knew what they wanted. If I had talked more I'm sure I could have talked them out of it.
16" x 13" x 1"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Managing the Colors

The new work is slowly coming together, some more than others. With this piece, tentatively titled "Frozen Flame," I'm pretty happy with the composition but still have quite a bit of work cleaning it up and polishing. When I'm "done" I want to experiment with creating a crackle effect and then polishing black into the cracks.
I'm pretty happy with how the book-matched wedges are coming along. I might want to add a little more yellow to add some intensity but most of the remaining work is in building the shellac and polishing.
But with this triptych I think there is still a long way to go. The top and bottom pieces are getting there but still not great, and the middle piece is way off, it still doesn't have a definitive direction. I should probably take the purple out of the middle and add more blue, perhaps also have some combination of purple or green on the edges.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trail and Error

I believe in the trial and error method of working. Try, fail, try again, put it to the side, think about it, try something else. I have a hard time conceptualizing whether something will work until I do and see it. If I were very good at drawing it might help but I have my doubts. I've struggled with this piece that I had started it about a year ago. It is from the same board of spectacular blistered maple that I used for two other pieces. For some reason, I'm not sure what, I decided to separate this book-match with something between them. I first used and sculpted a piece of walnut. I wasn't sure about the walnut so I went ahead and started painting the maple to see if they would work together with the colors, which it didn't. Not knowing where to go with the piece, I put it aside.
As I was working on the new pieces, I pulled it out again to see if I could come up with a better idea of joining them together. After playing around with a few ideas I went ahead and cut some pieces of cherry with a rectangle in the middle. I wasn't sure about it until I put it on the wall and realized it was a horrible idea. It just doesn't work together and the pieces are too far apart.
So I went back and cut some piece of walnut (so it could hide more easily in the shadow) in way to make the maple closer together, while keeping a small rectangle in the middle because I wanted to minimize the amount of wood between the two pieces. I like this version much better.
My inspiration for the above piece came from working on the book-matched wedges in which I decided to use a couple of small laths of walnut to join them. After struggling with the orientation a while, I finally decided to attach inclines going in opposite directions because I thought it was more complex/confusing to see the angle going in one direction but grain pattern going in the same direction. The two pieces of walnut space the wedges about an inch apart. I think it could work as a horizontal piece but it definitely works vertically. I'll probably set it for either direction.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Floating Triptych Draft

It took me a couple of days of thinking about it but I decided to join this triptych together with strips of walnut. When I found a scrap of really nice curly walnut laying around the shop it took me quite a while to decide whether to use it, how to use it, and whether it was enough to secure it. I like the idea of using walnut because the dark color will almost disappear with the shadows when it is off-set from the wall, and with only three strips in each section, it will give a sense of the pieces floating. I wanted to give some significant space (4 inches) between each board because I want to emphasize the live edge. I think this will work well but still not sure of the orientation. I'm planning on painting this one along the blue continuum, shades of blue in the middle, blue-green on one end and blue-purple on the other.
still untitled draft
36" x 39" x 1"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Next?!!!?

I've started a couple of new projects and I'm at a point where I'm really not sure what to do next. As I had planned, I took the three inch thick piece of curly maple and made a pair of book-matched wedges, bordered with cherry on the sides.
They are a little more than 2.5" at one end and 1/8" at the other. I had thought that I would arrange the thick ends on opposite side and make it a horizontal piece but after opening it up I decided it worked better with the thick ends together with a vertical direction. I find it is a little more interesting and complex to flip a book-match so the pattern is symmetrical but on opposite ends. The big question I have right now is how to join them together and, what if anything else, to add. I am thinking that I might want to have cherry or walnut laths pass through them like "Five by Ten".

"Five by Ten"
©Robert Hitzig
As I was beginning to add laths to see how they would look, I got the feeling they were taking on a human form and thought about adding circular pieces on the tops, but then couldn't think of a way to do it without making them look too human and forced. Laths are probably the way to go, I'll have to play around with different configurations. I believe another question I'll have is adding balance though. The lower halves are so thin, the laths can only be added to the top.

With the second half of the same board, I resawed it into three sections. I had wanted to make some more wedges but the outside section was too rounded, leaving large gaps in the wood. No matter how many ways I thought of doing it, it just wasn't going to work. However, with the three sections, I still have to decide what to do about the missing wood. One thought I had (my first thought) was cutting it square and filling it in with section of cherry or walnut, leaving open rectangles and then glueing stripes of cherry or walnut in between the flitches to create one large panel. A second idea is to use the lath idea again to connect them and just clean up, rather than remove, the natural edges of the tree. This will take much more thinking.

Monday, July 6, 2009

All SculptCycles Installed

I finally finished and installed my SculptCycles last Friday (7/3 - three days late). The four dogs were placed in front of The Drawing Board and the unicorn was moved from that location to the Montpelier tourist center along with a new unicorn. I'm happy with how they turned out but I think they improved as I made more. The dogs definitely benefited from being in a pack. One or two would have been too small to be noticed.
Two Unicorns

View of all four dogs

Big Dog
I like the ears on this one, they flop up and down. I wasn't sure if the feet would work and was worried they I would have to take them off but liked them when I was done.

I like the feet on this one the best, I also like the pedal reflector ears. I received the bike painted as it is and was surprised when someone mentioned that it looks like a dalmation. Having to agree with them, I think it makes for a good title.

Alien Dog
This was the first of the dog series for this year. I think it definitely has an alien character, especially with the antenna ears.
Small Robot Dog
I like the angular head, the ears spin and the head wobbles. It has a lot of character.

These sculptcycles can be purchased through the Montpelier Downtown Community Association along with all the other sculptcycles. Learn more at the SculptCycle website. They, and all the other sculptcycles are all reasonably priced. The dogs are only $150 apiece and the unicorns are $225 each. Hope they sell but if not I have some cool sculptcycles to go with my collection.