Saturday, December 29, 2012

Architectural Art

I'm fortunate to live in an area of the south which is vibrant with the arts.  It wasn't always so, over 30 years ago when I moved here from Massachussettes, but it has grown so more over the years.  During the hippie days many of the artys and artisans fled to th emountains where inspiration lay all around them and land was inexpensive. But now the arts have also moved into downtown and even better for me, the Far West End or the Pebdletson Street area, which is like the Montmarte area of Paris. Because of the 65 galleries in Greenville and 100's of art studios - there are plenty of places to find inspiration and sometimes even the oddest supplies.
As much as I love paperarts, there come the times when I need the smell of linseed oil and the weight of heavy metal in my hands- so I leave my scrapbooking area and head into my studio.  I've been painting for ten years and as I've explored lots of techniques, I've discovered my most rewarding work is mixed media - especially oils and metal.  Copper is my favorite metal to work with because of its versatility in colors from copper, to various shades of verdigris depending on the decay to a burnt bronze color when heated.
I went through a period when I lived in my art studio at the Village Gallery in the Pendleton Arts District, when making assemblages was challenging and fun - but I've found it limited to whatever found objects I had on hand - with oil and metal, I can tell the story through the painting and it's theme, then add the metal as accents, exaggeration or even as an exclamation point.  I love architecture but like with everything else I paint, it becomes transformed during my personal perspective on the world - part of it due to my bad sight since 9 years old, the other due to the dreamy aspects I tend to add to every scene in my head - and as often as I can in real life, as long as I'm not driving - and then there's the emotional angle - I am a highly emotional person so everything I do is driven by whatever emotions are driving me at the time. A very fine painter,         put a name to the style - "Emotional Expressionism and that works for me.
I'm working on a series of architectural paintings, inspired by the work British born, Wendy Farrow, whose paintings make me want to be walking through the buildings or standing outside - she also does figurative work, landscapes, abstracts fine arts photography. Her travels, time living in Canada and Paris offer lots of inspiration for her architectural works.
These two paintings my series (I have a third in the works of London Bridge) were a lot of fun to do. The first one is called decision and was inspired by the movie "Stay", probably my absolutely favorite movie of all time. I loved the paintings form the movie but also the film maker's play on the Hudson Bridge, which is so beautiful and seductive, that it becomes a main character in the film, and is the love/interest and antagonist for the lead character an artist,  brilliantly played by Ryan Gosling.   I chose some of the same colors and tonality used in the film, and kept the New York skyline bathed in mist and drizzle, as its shown in one profoundly potent scene.  Then came the fun with the metal - I simply used graphite (a form of metal - lead dust) for the suspension wires of the bridge and then incorporated a drawing I did of Henri Lethem encased in a hammered metal frame displayed on a found piece of brass (I pick things up in parking lots and from the side of the road all the time).
For the city skyline, an artist since 911 must deal with the whole emotional miasma of the empty spots were the twin towers were.  I chose to focus on the Chrysler building by adding a neat folded metal piece,  but I couldn't leave a blank area in the skyline so I added two copper obelesiks as a sort of reminder to myself mainly.  My skyline is not realistic at all with the line up of skjscrapers in New York - I wasn't going for realism here at all since "Stay" is often set in a dream like or otherworldly setting in the minds of both Henri and his psychaitrist, Dr. Sam Foster played by  Ewan McGregor
The second painting is part of my series of drawings and paintings which I'm creating to help flesh out the plot of my steampunk novel in progress, Orchidelirium.  The building is based on a ruined estate in wither Britain, Germany or France from a vintage photograph I found in a shop on Etsy.  The seller sold a number of photos which had not title or photographer credit.  I never knew if they were the sellers own cast offs or if he owned a photo lab and these were developed but never picked up at his store. The photos ranged from the 1950's and onwards and most of them were in black and white and all looked to be taken by professional photographers, I received everything from nudes to architecture, urban to countryside shots - although the countryside shots depicted a photographer taking photos of the country!  Not wanting to limit the photo by adding it to a collage, I decided to paint it instead.  It morphed a bit in the process which suits my idea fine for the mansion of Arisfont Flourent, a main character.
The house is set in England not far from London and is in near ruin.  I incorporated two lovely pieces of metal  - the one near the top of the building is a cast off from my friend Ryan Calloway's blacksmith Shop, Creative Iron works. 

  At one of his art shows, he had boxes of cast offs outside with a sign on them "Free"  so I carted off one I could actually carry.  This is forged and cut iron and it's heavy! If you have a chance you must visit this blacksmith shop - it's large and amazing and Ryan, who was a blacksmith and did restoration work in New Orleans is a master blacksmith.
Oh yes, back to "Waiting" The bottom piece is also heavy and a find with a story - up in the Blue Ridge Mountains you'll find one of the sparkling treasure hunting shops in a town called Saluda, NC. It's just one of three beautiful towns  filled with art and originality, which also includes Tryon,NC and Landrum, SC,  in the string of gems along the way to Asheville,NC
Random Arts is a rarity - a shop with heart and soul and all the goodies you need to feed both!  You will never know what you'll find here - but it will always be surprising and magical.  It's a paradise for altered book artists, journal makers, extreme scrapbooking, assemblage and jewelery artisans.  All the findings are here - many vintage, some rare, all enticing.
This reminds me that its time to make a trip before the snows make the curvy mountain roads scary and see what's in store.  Random Arts also features workshops with nationally known artsists and artisans throughout the year so don't forget to check out their schedule of events.
Okay, so back to "Waiting."  The piece of metal on the bottom of the building was one I found in a grab bag at Random Arts and it serves well as a sort of gate.  It's also very heavy and is obviously a part of some type of machinery - I just don't know from where, what it did or why they made it.  But it's fine with its cryptic markings and adds the paradox of uniformity to a painting that is anything but.  Tucked into the left hand corner is a photo of Ellen Terry at 16 my Julia Margaret Cameron, my absolute favorite photographer of all time.  I was fortunate enough to see some of her original works at one time in New Orleans and promptly purchased the most expensive book I've ever owned there - but boy, it was worth it.  I encased Ellen, who represents Cecila, the protagonist of Orchidelirium.On the left side I added three "windows" using Tim Holtz fragments through which Cecila can see parts of London, including London Bridge, which was  a market district during the late 1890's. 

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