This week's blog is written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art. Carl's wife, Kristi, is a bronze sculptor of western themes as well as a two-dimensional artist with oil, pencil and ink. Kristi's work is known for realism and projects her intimate knowledge of horses, dogs and the cowboy way of life.
Bronze patina is a thin layer that forms naturally on the surface of the metal alloy by oxidation over time. This oxidation is quickly evident in sculptures installed outside such as the larger than life-sized bronze of Chief Joseph seen as you drive into the town of Joseph, Oregon. However, patina, especially for smaller pieces that will remain indoors, is produced by chemicals introduced in the last part of the production process.
There are many steps to producing a bronze
sculpture. Besides sculpting the object in, most commonly, an oil-based clay, there is the cutting up of that initial sculpture into pieces that can be cast. These pieces are carefully molded with rubber and strengthened with plaster. Then wax is poured
into each of these molds. The wax positives are removed and covered with ceramic material that will be cured in a kiln as the wax melts out. The ceramic molds, reflecting each of the saved rubber molds, are now filled with molten metal then broken away when the bronze solidifies. The pieces are fitted, welded, and finished to resemble as closely as possible the original sculpture created by the sculptor.
It is time for the patina artist to do his or her work. The patina artist is a seasoned combination of foundry worker, chemist, and most importantly artist. In this final step it is artist collaborating with artist to produce a piece of fine art that will inspire and best represent the vision of the sculptor.
A typical chemical formula that will produce, for example light transparent green, includes sodium thiosulphate, ferric nitrate and distilled water. Skillfully applied by brush, and torched with just the right amount of heat, permanent color will be etched into the bronze metal surface through controlled oxidation.
Color after color, from chemical formula after chemical formula, the palette of the patina artist will bring a piece of fine art to its desired beauty.
Kristi can opt for a traditional patina that is brown with some bronze highlights showing through. But most often her bronzes are "full color" with bronze highlights, though she likes to keep the colors subtle.
Before the finished bronze leaves the foundry, it is buffed with carnauba wax and mounted to a base that
complements the sculpture. It is now, after many hours or work, finally ready for gallery display, purchase and finding a new home.
This week's blog is brought to you by Visual Artist, Lea K. Tawd.
Have you ever considered buying a custom portrait but felt nervous about the price or the process? I would like to share my process with you so that you can see how fun it is, and worth the cost for a personal piece of art for your home or as a memorable gift.
The most important thing you can do before you get started is shop around and find an artist whose work really resonates with you. As a portrait artist, the first thing I want to do is make sure that you are in love with my artistic style so that you will be in love with your painting! I have lots of artistic skills and capabilities, but what is fulfilling for me about painting portraits is that I get to put YOU in one of MY paintings! My style is whimsical and feminine, and my people are very stylized. If you are looking for a realistic portrait, there's nothing wrong with that, but I am not the artist for you.
The next thing you'll want to look into is the price. My prices start by the square inch, so I can email a price list to you. This will help you choose a size that fits your home and your budget. We will both sign a very simple contract to agree on any special requests and a date that I will need to finish by, and I'll ask for 1/2 of the price up front.
Then we are ready to get started! I'll start with a simple composition in charcoal, which can be wiped away easily. I'll send you a picture whenever I get to a "point of no return"--a part of the painting that can't be changed once I move to the next step.
Then, working from photos that you have sent to me, I will fill in the details so that the subjects will resemble themselves. I am not trying for realism, but I do want to capture their basic features and a "feeling" of the person I am painting.
Next I'll start to add some color. I'll go back and reference your photos throughout the process, and each time I send you a photo I will wait for your approval before I continue painting. Waiting can be really hard when I am super excited about working on your piece!
I prefer to paint my subjects with their eyes closed. When it is just one person, it gives them a sense of introspection and a moment of quiet. When it is a group of people, it shows them really feeling the intimacy of the moment, enjoying each other's presence.
A few final details, and it's finished! I'll send you a final photo to approve, sign the back and add a wire so that you can hang it as soon as it arrives. My paintings are on a solid wood panel, with a 1.5" thick cradle on the back, so there is no need for a frame.
The time it takes from start to finish depends on several things--my schedule, the time of the year, whether or not you have a deadline, and the size and scope of the project. We'll talk about all of that when we get started and I will keep you updated if anything changes.
Many of these steps will be similar with any custom work that I do or another artist does for you. I hope that seeing them laid out this way helps you to feel more comfortable with the possibility of purchasing custom art for your home! I am always open to answering questions, and will gladly send a price list with no pressure to buy. Just email me at LeaK@LeaKArts.com.
This week's blog post was written by Ammi Brooks of Ammi's Art.
I teach felting classes at Artistic Portland. My next class will be held on March 19th so I thought I would devote this blog to sharing information that my students (and anyone interested in felting!) will want to know.
A quick definition...wool fibers are laid out, wetted down and pressed together. The fibers entangle and then are shrunk (fulled) about 1/3-1/2 by repeated throwing or rigorous rubbing. (See my earlier blogs for an extended definition).
Sheep are not the only animal fibers that felt. Fibers from alpaca, llama, camels, goats (mohair) and rabbit (angora) also make beautiful felted items. Sheep are shorn once a year. This wool is called a fleece. It does not kill the animal, however, I understand vegans do not use wool products because man is interfering with an animal’s natural process. If left alone sheep’s wool will fall off in clumps.
As with human hair, each breed of sheep has its own fine-to-coarse-hairs. Above is a merino sheep which has one of the finest and softest fleeces used for making clothing...not the scratchy sweaters you may remember. The finer the fibers, the faster the wool felts. Thicker fibers are used to make purses, rugs, and other items that need more durability. Wool fibers also come in different lengths from short to long and straight to curly.
Two of my favorite sheep fleeces are the Wensleydale and Teeswater. They have one of the longest curly locks available and I love to include them in my scarf making.
For this scarf, I dyed the long locks orange.
If you are ready to start felting you want to buy roving or batting. All fibers you purchase at the store have been washed, cleaned and carded (combed out). Roving fiber is carded into a long continuous cord that is 2"-3" thick. The fibers are going in multiple directions (but generally more aligned than a batt). Batts are mangled up fibers like a blanket. Below is a roving of Merino and silk and below it is a wool batting.
Roving is also used to spin yarn. Some people knit hats, slippers and socks really huge and then put them in the washer and they shrink to size! This is called fulling...a distinction usually only known to Felters. One of my favorite ways of felting is to use wool fibers with cotton or silk. Any wool fibers can be felted into pieces of natural fabric such as silk or cotton. It is called Nuno felting (at one time called laminated felting). To make a scarf I like to use chiffon silk. It has a large weave and the wool fibers (the finer the better) move through the silk easily. It takes more time easing the fibers into a china silk that has a tighter weave than chiffon. To prove a point, one of my teachers felted through Levi material. It took six hours of rolling and rubbing
Below is a sample of Nuno felting with (top row) recycle cotton skirt pieces. The middle row is the china silk. If you look closely you can see the fiber coming through the silk with obvious folds in the fabric. The bottom has recycled silk chiffon pieces.
This week's blog is brought to you by Veronica Guzman of Maya Ceramics and Paintings. If you'd like to see Veronica in action, be sure to stop by Artistic Portland February 9th between 11:30AM and 1:30PM as Veronica will be demonstrating her work as part of Artistic Portland's "Countdown to Valentine's Day" event.
I have always said that when I’m teaching art, I am not giving art lessons, but rather giving students a chance to experiment and discover that they have the ability to create art by themselves.
Teaching children always amazes me; you give them the tools and techniques, but in the end, if you do the process with an open mind, you will find that they teach you more than you teach them since the process is reciprocal.
The way most of the kids paint is through playing and making up a story using their Imagination. Allowing this story-making and playing with forms and colors is very important for the creative process.
Painting and playing
That is why working with mixed media is important. It gives them a variety of materials and helps them explore more and use their creativity.
I guide the students to use a subject in order to help them stay motivated and inspired. I use stories, telling them more about life as an artist. We talk about the subject we will work on, or a specific artist that we will learn about; but after that the road of creativity should be clear for them to explore, and this way you will see the most amazing creatures and forms on canvases and papers.
Kids working together as a team.
I want to help students find their unique way to do things and also learn to work as a team with kids of different ages.
While living abroad I had the opportunity to work with kids of all nationalities and ages. Being a mother of two very different boys also gives me the perspective of working with different kinds of kids. I created a special workshop where all the kids from different ages worked together on the same project. The results were wonderful! Learning how your work is valuable, but also respecting others’ work, is an invaluable lesson.
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10am-6pm (noon-5pm on Sundays) to see and purchase Veronica's work in person! Check out some of Veronica's amazing work below!