Katie's Seafood Market is on a pier in Galveston, Texas. And right next door is Katie's Seafood House where a person can eat seafood from the market. If you don't want to eat there, well, you can trot next door and choose your own fresh seafood. I do both.
The market has a door that customers walk through and, directly opposite, is a large door that, I'm assuming because I've never seen it happen, fish and shrimp and other ocean yummies are unloaded from the boats into the market. But boats aren't always at the back door. As I mentioned, I've not seen one there, though I'm sure I arrive much later in the day than the boats. Who I have seen are pelicans.
Pelicans wait at the backdoor, or front door, depends on your perspective, for the people selling and cleaning the fish to toss a head or some guts, or other pelican approved delicacies.
I took the above photo while waiting to purchase seafood on the people side of the counter.
People and pelicans doing the same thing! What. That makes me giggle, and take a picture.
Look at Pelican's raised foot. Caught mid-walk. Arrested by the sight of the fish. And that is how the Pelican Goes to Katie's pieces came to be. I thought the pieces were finished, but when I looked at them something was missing. I looked at the picture again. Ah ha! Fish.
Some Pelican progress photos.
These pieces were unexpected and unplanned. I don't mean that I didn't have an idea of the steps I'd take in creating them. That I did have a loose plan, an idea, once I knew I would make them. But I didn't plan to make these at all.
They come from three different instance all in an online art group I participate in, The Push Past Ordinary Society of Creative Dreamers.
First a live sketch exercise focusing on hands. If you're like me, you might avoid drawing hands. Instead of being scared or intimidated by the exercise, or, more accurately, to get rid of the fear and intimidation, I decided to focus on the fingernails and to go for the tone of spooky. I figured spooky could include distortion, which I was sure my hand sketches would have. Whether or not any of them would be described as spooky, I don't know. But what did happen is that I got away from feeling scared and intimidated. Some of those sketches are below.
In the middle is my first pinkie promise.
The second was from images of Iris Apfel and her glorious bangled arms. My online art group looks at an artist a month and have a creative theme each month. With the creative theme of fashion we looked at Iris Apfel, who I had seen but hadn't really considered. Her bangles and and bracelets are a visual treat. She also wears great layered necklaces. One fascination for me is that just the thought of wearing all of that on my body makes me uncomfortable. I'd feel strangled and weighted down, but the fact that I'd never wear such excess makes it more interesting to me, and, despite my personal preference not to have too much on my arms or neck, the bracelets look cool. So, I elongated the pinkie promise arms and added bunches of bracelets.
The third inspiration was a post in the online group about blind contour drawing using both hands simultaneously. Oh my. What fun. I tried it. I loved it. I continued doing it. Now, not everything lends itself to being drawn with two hands at once, at least not for me. A face, yes. Hands, no. So I did blind contour drawing but with one hand. Mostly my dominate hand. If I get stuck finding myself trying to make the hands look like real hands, I'll switch to drawing with my left hand. Using the blind contour drawing incorporates lines, distortion, looseness, and a bit of the random. All of which I love.
Below are the other Pinkie Promises in this series in various stages of progress.
Time, much time went into the Pride, Trans, and American flags. Making patterns takes time. When I first started drawing patterns the marking reminded me of quilting. But, I thought, much less time. Not so sure about that anymore. Does it really take less time to draw a mark as it does to stitch one?
The problem with the amount of time needed to finish a piece is all in my head. Not that the time is in my head, that that it is a problem is what is in my head. Watching Great Pottery Throw Down I heard one of the artists say as she made a sculpture, "It's nice to spend time with a piece." I quickly wrote that down and posted it at my desk.
Time isn't something to fly through, just like finishing art isn't to fly through. What I'm infusing in the art I create is my vision, emotions, connections, experiences, and love.
This is especially important to me while creating these pieces because they grew out of an admission to myself that I now see the American flag as a symbol of threat to me and my way of thinking, the way I choose to live, the people I love, and the things I value. I see the flag being held aloft as a dare and a threat of violence. I didn't always see that, and this I believe. If the American flag isn't redefined, re-claimed as a symbol of freedom not bullying, of inclusion not exclusion, and of idealism not indoctrination then the American flag will become what the Rebel flag is now--offensive and outdated.
I'm off my soapbox now. Here are some images of the pieces as they progress.
After making all the patterns in the flags, I cut the stylized flags into strips and wove them together. Next I created a patterned substrate to put the flags on. Some of the backgrounds I wrote on. All got dots and a dark top coat. Finally, I collaged the flags to their backgrounds. Below is a peek at the finished pieces.
Each of these is a sketch, which means to me that I've used scratch paper and made the images rather quickly to get a visual of my idea.
I started working on Pride pieces months ago. Does that happen with you, too, starting something with enough time to hit a deadline, then missing the deadline anyway? I think what took time with these pieces was me not knowing where to start. I knew I wanted to avoid showing anything traumatic; I wanted to avoid being cliche, and I wanted to be respectful.
My first sketches were of faces, which I cut portions of the paper away. The holes, in my mind, are to create layers and symbolize the complexity of an individual. I distorted the faces, which is what I do when I draw faces. I find distorted faces more interesting. But I didn't finish the pieces.
Weeks past, and this bit of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself kept coming to mind during the weeks.
"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
I'm leaving the faces aside for now. Instead, I turned to the flags-- Trans, Pride, American. I made each with water color in a simplistic design with no effort to make any of the flags realistic. The proportions aren't even correct, because I used 8.5" x 11" paper. On each flag I created a pattern, (or will create a pattern) several patterns. Patterns to me add complexity--multitudes, if you will--add movement and energy. Creating patterns also gives me an opportunity to spend more time with each piece.
The pieces are still WIP (works in progress), but I want to post this in June, and I might not finish before the end of June. Creating patterns by hand is slow work. (I'll write an entry about the slow work of creating at another time.) The next step, the part I'm not to yet, is to enmesh the flags.
But that's another post.
This floral series is filled with emotion. They come from a challenge, to create a floral piece while listening to only 3 songs that you choose.
I don't always take challenges, but sometimes they are a great way to work on something that I wouldn't have otherwise. This is one of those. Doing these pieces cemented how much I am moved by and inspired by flowers.
I chose the three songs, "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Tina Turner, "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge, and "Going Home" by Ulali, in that order.
All the songs are fraught with longing, and I see them moving in a progression starting with the window that Tina Turner sings about, which moves to the window in Melissa Etheridge's song. "Come to My Window" adds the element of home, which is a guiding element in "Going Home."
Looking at the images of these pieces, I almost don't recognize them. They are so much of the moment, and the moment passed as the music faded. I get emotional remembering the feel of being immersed in the music and carried by the emotion of the singers and musicians. All that power, all that longing, all the elements of home and placement resting in the facility of the flowers. And the flowers now look powerful, too, to me.
Aren't they funky? I had a great time creating them. Honestly, some parts of the process was frustrating, but everything about the concept was intriguing and engaging. The series started with the prompt "Banned or Challenged Book." I chose In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak.
I chose the book for two reasons. Firstly, I do love picture books. I have quite the collection. Secondly, the idea that a picture book might be banned or challenged flabbergasted me. Maurice Sendak's book wasn't in my collection. In fact, I was not familiar with it, though I was familiar with Sendak, and like most people, I knew him from Where the Wild Things Are. I promptly bought In the Night Kitchen, read a few articles explaining the process of challenging a book, and read other articles on Sendak's book in particular.
In the Night Kitchen was challenged because Mickey, the protagonist, appears naked in a couple scenes. Now I don't want to go into challenging and banning books and what I feel about it here. I will add that I did a video on my YouTube channel highlighting this very book, though that, also, has nothing to do with the challenge to this book and has everything to do with the food mentioned in the book.
There are many interesting articles about this book and why people find it offensive and why people find it interesting. What struck me after reading the book was Mickey's unapologetic proclamation of self. "I am Mickey." And this is where my images come from. Each unapologetically embraces themself quirky hair, surface and subsurface pattern, scarf, hat, and all else that makes them an individual.
Here are a few more tidbits about the images. In the story Mickey is almost baked into the morning cake, so each of my people wears a cake on their head, and Mickey escapes by fashioning an airplane out of bread dough, so each of my figures wears copious folds of scarf made out of scored bread. (I also mimicked Sendak's color palette.)
This series fits into the inspirational category of domesticity, to me, because of the influence of food and the influence of children's literature.
Last bit: Bill Moyers conducted an interesting interview with Sendak on NOW: https://vimeo.com/33284145