New ideas
Art-Blog (public)
So once again I've been absent from these pages and it finally occurs to me that what I need to do to keep up w/ my blog is to place it into my working calendar just like all the other things I block out time for such as studio, meditation, exercise, day job, etc. Better late than never I supposed though I'm a little confused as to why it takes me so long to get a clue...

So the 2 new artworks are done and will be posted to the website very soon. I'm doing that myself lately but still on a learning curve so it takes a while to accomplish as I need my mentor available to ask questions of. Still once I accomplish getting something posted to the website I feel empowered. I just put up the info in the exhibits page for the upcoming May 21 & 22 Spring Show at the 17th Ave Studios all by myself (w/ help), so check that out.....

I also seem to be using Facebook as a sort of quickie blog and sharing of information on up coming shows along w/ images of finished sculptures and or castings. So if you haven't already found me there do a search for Diva Design Studio and click "like" to be on the list of people who are in the know about my most up to date goings on.

That's all for today folks.......back to editing and uploading new images.

Recovery; finishing up and getting started
Art-Blog (public)
Well I'm almost back to 100% use of my shoulder. It still aches a bit after I've used it hard such in mat cutting or laying on clay. Nonetheless I'm back to work in the studio; making up for lost time and hoping I can get enough new work done by April to apply to Open Studios.

The first set of commissions from last Open Studios is finished and ready to be picked up. I'm so thankful for a patient client who understands I could only work in small chunks of time before I had to stop altogether and ice the shoulder. Now I've met w/ the second client to finish hers up which shouldn't take too long now that I can work longer.

Also starting to lay clay onto the acrylic plate over the drawing for the 3rd in the Demeter/ Persephone series.This one is about taking leave and the contemplative melancholy of the mother being left. I had originally drawn the figures close together but after studying it I cut them apart and taped them down w/ a space in between that I think will make for a stronger composition overall as well as visually reinforcing the space growing between the mother and the daughter.

I've found that the initial laying on of clay to fill in the figures is best done on a flat table where it is easier to put some pressure behind it to move the clay around. Even so I have to warm the stuff up on a heating pad; the #4 is rock hard otherwise. Once its all laid in and the highs and low levels to indicate foreshortening are roughed in them I can work on the easel.

Just need to keep working daily on sculpting so as to have enough work for the application deadline. Its going to be a push to make enough by April. I think I'm going to be working a bit smaller this year.

Enough for now,

Mea Culpa
Art-Blog (public)
I have not discoursed or posted anything for way too long a time. The problem is that I get busy with making art; marketing; prepping for shows; having domestic concerns like getting the laundry done and this is the last thing that seems to get my attention. And the latest obstacle is a shoulder injury that has stopped not only blogging, but all the afore mentioned activities as well.

Well actually it stopped it cold for about 3 weeks. Any small movement could produce extreme pain. Who knew you used your shoulder to get up off the couch; or even attempting to get upon the doctors exam table. So no movement; no driving; no making art. I did however get a lot of reading and movie watching done.

So now I'm better but not all the way back yet. Slowly and in small incremental steps getting a couple of commissions finished up from way back in October and Open Studios. I'm so grateful that my customers are the patient sort and very understanding of injuries that knock you down.

I don't take being knocked down very graciously I'm afraid. I rail at it all; whine; squirm and generally make myself and anyone close by fairly uncomfortable if not downright miserable. Again I'm blessed with patient folks around me.

So I intend to blog more frequently now that I can type again. Well type w/ both hands; I was using my left for awhile there. Amazing how we can adapt. And I intend to keep all of you better updated on what's in the works.

I will be having an artist reception
during First Friday Art Tour on January 7th for my work  which is to be hung up for the Month of January at Camouflage on Pacific in downtown Santa Cruz. A rather nice fit for my figures I must say. Come by for a knosh, a chat and a look at the art.

Be well

Strategies in the artworld
Art-Blog (public)
I've spent the last couple of days slapping clay onto the 2nd of my new series for this year. I've figured out a strategy to A) get the clay onto the board a little faster and easier and B) ease the strain on my shoulder while doing so. Laying the board w/ its attached drawing flat and applying clay over the larger expanses that don't have a lot of detail is working well. It allows me some speed in getting started in this sculptural process. And speed right now is of the essence since the application deadline for Open Studios is looming.

Folded into this pressure of finishing up new pieces for the application process is the fact I've taken a space in a local artists complex and need to move at least part of my studio. This move is to solve a couple of issues. 1) Stop dealing with the cramped parking and steep driveway walk for attendees of my Open Studio (won't that be nice?). 2) By being within a complex of other artists some of who do Open Studios Art Tour as well, this plus the better parking and walking issue will have a positive impact on overall attendance of the event and specifically my studio. Always good to get lots of visitors.

Working during the week at a studio complex will also put me in contact with other artists in the community especially my neighbor artist across the hall from my space is a friend and fellow papermaking artist. Interacting with her and the others will help my creative juices and keep me in better touch with whats occurring in the arts community at large. It will also allow me to participate in several other shows at the complex which is also a positive having given up doing the street art fairs a year or so ago.

So I need to juggle my time commitments wisely to get workbenches, vac systems, supplies and tools all over to the new studio space. I'll do the casting and embellishing process there and continue to do the sculpting at home. Which also means that I can clear out of the spare bedroom so that visitors can actually have a room to stay in. Again a nicety.

My overall strategy is to do this in small chunks and not as I would have in the past, try to do it all at once. Funny how getting older and a wee bit slower due to bodily restraints causes a new sense of patience about such things. Form follows function.

sculpture update
Art-Blog (public)
So lacking sleep today and still managed to stay focused on getting work done on the sculpture. Overall successful though my shoulder which has been having pain (calcification on the joint says the x-ray and Dr.) is now aching. So learning to not struggle w/ my position at the easel and make the up and down adjustments to accommodate an aging body. And afterwards put the hot pack on my shoulders to ease the ache. Art is very physical work.

I have returned
Art-Blog (public)
I have no idea who is reading this blog, but having been absent since last April I thought I should revive my posting here. Especially since this is linked to my website and hopefully I have clients and others interested in my work scanning over my words.

So the newly redesigned website is launched and I'm very pleased with its overall look. It has clean lines, better navigation re: the galleries of images and hopefully a better visual presentation of the "idea" that people can order different versions of an image they like.

This has always been a difficult concept to get across in my mind. Even in person it takes a bit of time and explanation to convey it to another person. So my hope is that with the various gallery layouts showing an images in several variations, that people will get the concept a little more readily.

If you are reading this blog/ posting then let me know what you think of the new design. And if you are on Facebook you can search for Diva Design Studio the art of Neno V. Villamor and become a Fan.

Look forward to seeing you either here or on Facebook.

Pretty much done except for the fun
Art-Blog (public)
So I went to Aloha Island Grille to measure the space for the opening I'm holding there next Friday May 1. It felt very good to be there planning and talking things over with Timmy, one of the owners. There will be both invited folks as well as those who just happen to go to Aloha Grille for dinner that night and discover that I'm there with my artwork. Its going to be a very fun event. Music, food, art, more food.

And I have a little more to do in the way of matting and framing a couple of the new pieces, but that is easily accomplished. Even relaxing in its own way.

So thinking about this opening, got me thinking about the artwork and how people may view it; react to it; want to purchase a piece, etc. And that lead to thinking about my particular "specialty" which is creating custom Multiple Originals.

Multiple Original simply means that the image I've created can be created again. What keeps this from being a Limited Edition is my ability to manipulate or alter certain aspects of each new casting that I make, such as the background base color(s) of the paper its cast in;  the paint colors used to enhance and embellish the surface of the casting as well as the collage elements that add texture to the surface. All those aspects can be made to suit someones color preferences or decor.

This is aided by the fact that I do not cast out the whole series at once; instead I make my castings on demand: in other words when someone wants to own one of my works. So my framed pieces that I have on display can either be purchased out right or they can act as an example of one of many ways a piece can look and feel with a certain subset of color choices.

Creating a piece where the client gets to choose color and textural aspects also allows a collaboration between me, the artist and the client. I know there are some artists that are not comfortable with that. And even some clients have asked me if that bothers me; if I'm somehow giving up "my" vision of the piece. That is the other function of my framed pieces. Once I've created that first one, that is my initial vision of that image. What happens after wards when a client wants one with "their" colors is my getting to see another vision of my initial idea; its a way for me to "play" further with the image. Artists who work in more one of a kind mediums don't get to do that. Giclee´s are not the same. They are simply reproductions of the same images as prints.

So come join me in Santa Cruz, CA if your in the area next Friday at Aloha Island Grille and see the new works and ask me questions about casting in paper.


Its coming together!!
Art-Blog (public)
All 4 of the castings of the new 2009 works are dried w/o any major upset in the process of imprinting the sculpted figure. I'm madly applying collage and painting to enhance the atmosphere of each piece. The papers I apply are fitting both in their designated spaces and in conjunction with the colors of the base pigment of the casting; the paints are blending and inspiring me as I go along. After the angst of casting, which is a more technical aspect of creating, I'm back to the joyous and spontaneity of my vision. In other words I'm back to the fun.

I love how the edges of the negative splatter shapes I created in the background take the color from crayon and sponge as I go over them in the manner of a rubbing taken from old gravestones or carvings in churches. I love how the colors deepen when I add water and brush to dry applied crayon. It excites me and keeps me going at this end point where I feel burnt out and exhausted.

And the figures come alive when I light them, being intaglio images they do that "now I'm inwards now I'm outwards facing" much in the way of that optical illusion image of faces vs. vases that is always so fascinating to me, even as I know its just my brain going to default mode of a 3D world.

I'm going to be OK and the art is pleasing me.
Right now that's all that matters.

Up against a deadline
Art-Blog (public)
I write a deadline vs the deadline, because as mentioned before there are several in my process. This deadline is getting completed with all sculptures so I can cast them. Two are done and have been cast in paper pulp with one of those drying as we speak.

The one drying is one of the new larger formats (30"x36"). Pouring and layering the various colors of pulp onto a large flexible plate which wants to bend as you add wet pulp on top of it, had me re-engineering my usual set up for pouring pulp about 3 different times. The first two times being accompanied by the gnashing of teeth, creative swearing and in one case where pulp was escaping to the floor, tears. Such is art making. It is filled with passion and sometimes that passion manifests in threats of violence against your equipment, your creation and your studio when it seems nothing is going as it should. I went up stairs, had a good cry, ate some dark chocolate and said "I'll think about it tomorrow at Tara".

Thankfully the next day brought a solution that worked well. I might mention at this point that I was also operating on about 3 hours of sleep the day before. One of those horrid menopause induced nights of wrestling the bed covers. So note to self: do not attempt a process you need to completely re-think when you have next to no sleep. I wonder if I'll remember that next time?

So back to the deadline. The final two sculpts are very close to done. The smaller of the two needs only to be "polished"; meaning I need to go over the clay with a fine wire tool to smooth out all the sculpting marks. This is almost a meditative process since I'm no longer designing or proportioning, all that having been accomplished. Its usually just this nice focused state of getting the clay to look believable as a set of muscles and skin laid over bone.

Then there is the larger of these last two pieces. Its being recalcitrant. And if that sounds like clay having a personality, well so be it. I used to tell my students that the material you work in imposes itself onto your vision. If you don't respect this about the material, you end up doing nothing but fighting it the whole time. There is no flow; no state of altered mind as you work; no trance state. And this last piece has resistance and I have to figure out where it wants to go and still keep the intention of the composition rather than the specific of it. Its mostly in the face and the off side hand. And it has a lot to do with foreshortened angles.

Foreshortening is the cross to bear for those that draw and low relief sculpt the figure such as myself. For those playing along at home, foreshortening is when an object or form that is long viewed one way, becomes shortened and changes its overall shape when viewed coming towards you. Think of a cylinder laying on its side across your path. You can easily see the overall length of it. Now walk to the end of the cylinder and look along its length toward it other end. You can still see its length but its shape is changed somewhat. Now crouch down and look towards the other end. Shape changes even more.

If you apply this to drawing or low relief sculpting a figure now you add other protrusions like hands with fingers on that cylinder of the arm. You also add the fact that it bends at the elbow, so you are in fact dealing with two cylinders. Oh and then there is the fact that one of the cylinders (the forearm) can rotate, changing its shape. Lots to deal with, when dealing with foreshortening. And of course we can't avoid that aspect or else we'd be doing nothing but stick figures. So that concludes our drawing lesson for the day......

Well enough rambling. There are deadlines to meet.

Slow progress
Art-Blog (public)
I'm listening to my partner play electric guitar along with Led Zepplin while I write this. Yes I know that dates me a bit, though maybe not as I've met youngers that enjoy music I grew up with.

So I've finished two of the four pieces I need to get completed in order to apply for Open Studios Art Tour here in Santa Cruz. Actually finished is a very relative term with my process. Since there are several points of being "finished" in my process, I should probably number them so as to indicated which step I've just finished.

In this case one piece is completed through all processes of the steps, due to the fact that it was a commissioned piece. And because the client will be claiming that particular casting, I will need to produce another to be able to show others (i.e. photographer, customers, attendees of future shows). In the second case, finished means that it is sculpted and textured and awaits being cast in pulp, which then needs to be dried, embellished and matted/ framed.

I'm sculpting the third piece, which is close to being finished and ready to texture. Both this and the last piece are much larger than I've been working in the past. This decision came out of 1) not needing to be concerned about how many pieces I can comfortably display in a 10'x10' Canopy space at an outdoor Art Festival and 2) encountering requests for larger works at local venues for hanging shows.

At any rate, working larger has a definite upside in terms of working out the anatomy. Much easier to sculpt larger areas of muscle and bone rather than trying to fit all that the body exhibits in its movement in a small space. And of course there is a downside to larger as well; more clay to move over a larger area, which requires another heating pad to soften the clay to be moved, since I work in the hardest grade of clay for casting purposes. Its also easier on my arms and hands if I can easily move clay.

I seem to be on schedule for getting it all done. So I'm not panicking....yet. There is still much to do. And it definitely means I've been chaining myself to my easel and keeping socializing to a minimum. Which since I'm injured and can't dance; and dance is my main social community, is actually working out OK. Though I have had to turn down or postpone some invitations from friends. So far they understand the need. I'll be glad when I can take a bit of down time.

Until next time....


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