Sunday, July 30, 2006
I've been searching the web to find out what artists---modern and craftspeople---are doing with bark. I'm seeing a lot of traditional types of construction, or variations thereof. This woven birch bark backpack is by John Zasada. Barking on a large scale, for sure. I haven't come across any modern arty-artists using it (you know what I mean.) Have you heard of/seen any?
This hat (#2, although it will be done first) is really coming along beautifully and is almost finished. I'm even using willow strips along the bottom edge of the hat to act as a shape stabilizer and strengthener. Pretty neat to walk out along my driveway to collect art materials growing wild out there.... I 'sewed' it on using copper wire--not an easy material to control. All the while I was wrestling with it, I kept thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?"
I've also been doing some research into the origin of this shape of hat. India and all of Asia, Japan, China...a whole half of the world has been using this style of hat for thousands of years. I've thought of them as 'rice paddy hats' but they are also called 'coolie' hats, a derogatory reference. Hundreds of thousands of unskilled labor poured out of India and Asia during the 1800's, promised work or indentured servitude only to toil as slaves---including the building of American railroads at that time. The word derives from Hindi or Chinese/Pinyin (got very contradictory information) and breaks down to mean "bitterly hard (use of) strength."
I really would like to find out a 'local' name for this type of hat---in whatever language. Does the hat have a name not associated with the people who wore it during that time in history?
Seeing as I have a fairly big show coming up in October, I decided I'd better put down the bark even for a few hours and get back to painting. This fairly shot out of my hands and onto the paper.....in just a few hours it announced,"Done!" I swear, I just couldn't believe it! I left it on the easel for a few days, waiting for it to whisper that it needed more....it just couldn't be done that fast. I finally picked up paint and brush and did a few little touch ups here and there, then realizing that I was a hair's breadth away from screwing the entire thing up. Put down the brush! Step away from the easel! I did, and titled this piece, "Note."
Can't show you the entire piece---ruin the magic.
Here is a new start to a painting which began in one direction, fell flat, and I had to pick it up again, turn it around and point out where it should be going. Lucky save. It's a lot like the beginning to another painting I did just 2 months ago called "Red Message." This one will be much different, as I'm adding a strong directional light element to it. Most of my paintings in the last 2 years have been very 2 dimensional: all of the lines and shapes existing on a very flat visual plane. Time to start stepping out of that, I think.
Today Frommage and I were going canoeing...but rain, rain, rain has redecided us. We went for an 8 mile run/bike...he runs, I bike, he times it, I count mph and miles on my bike computer. Pretty good system.
Painting and bark-ing the rest of the day....rain, rain, rain.