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.
Since before her first piece was published in the Clatskanie newspaper at the age of 12, Kristi has enjoyed graphite art, that is, drawing with a pencil. Of course that first published picture was of a horse, as horses have played a part in much of her artwork, with realism a most important element.
An attraction of graphite art is its simplicity and also portability. Heavy, smooth bristol paper is available at most art stores, as well as #2, #4, and #6 art pencils, tortillons (stumps for blend-ing), a good eraser, and Blutack to help with erasing and cleanup. Blutack is a brand of putty for mounting things on a wall without nails that can be shaped into a point and works for delicate erasing.
Kristi admits working with graphite is more relaxing than sculpting or painting and lends itself to pet memorial commissions, making a perfect photograph into a lasting piece of art, or releasing that hidden sense of humor. Kristi has even done cartoon strips illustrating people, places and events.
It’s been decades since her first drawing, but more than any other art form, Kristi’s life as an art-ist can be followed best with her pencil drawings. Walking into her oldest son’s home is an ex-ample how the perfect gift from grandma is a drawing of a beloved dog, a scene from the woods of Central Oregon, or a portrait of a grandson smiling from the back of a horse.
This week's blog was written by visual artist, Steve Yarosh.
Do you ever wonder why we do this dance? Scurrying ourselves in circles until art smolders and rises from the center.
Is it for money? Heavens no. Money rains far easier in other places than in the world of art.
So why do we do it? This crazy dance. Why don’t we just take an easier, more prosperous path – like any sane person would do?
The answer is simple. We are not sane.
We hear voices.
Whispers from somewhere, urging us to tilt our heads and look at the world differently.
“Maybe like this!” the voices sing as they gently push my head to the side. And I see something new that was always there.
It’s a gentle taunting – from someone you know is right.
They’re whispers of truth, and no matter how hard you try not to hear; no matter how long you pretend the world is just the way your teachers taught you -- it never works. You still see the world differently. And those gentle voices never stop.
I can feel them now! On my shoulder touching me.
“You know,” they breathe warmly in my ear. “It’s really more like this . . .” and they switch the shadows and light around.
“I know” I murmur back, and I tilt my head to see a little more.
I used to be a lawyer.
I had suits and thick books that people lived their lives by. And when they’d stray from the rules I’d push them back between the lines. For this I got money, and emptiness, and more money to live with the emptiness.
That’s when the voices started.
“Not this . . .” they gently sang tugging at my suit and turning me in another direction.
I tried ignoring them. I’d reach for the books and read out loud. “These Rules!” I’d say grasping at pages. But I could hear them laughing. “No . . . it’s over there,” they whispered, pointing me away.
And then one day I shouted back.
“Enough!” I screamed and I tore pages from the book. I flung them to the table and I cut and drew and twisted those pages . . . into a feeling. And the voices sang louder, clearer.
So here I am now. No suit, no books.
They call me “artist” and I smile without speaking. Because inside I know I’m just someone with voices. Urging me on.
“Yes . . . more like that,” they sing. “More like that . . .” as I listen, and draw.
This week's blog was written by fiber arts artist Ammi Brooks of Ammi's Art.
Nuno felting is a process by which raw wool is laid out in a desired pattern on silk or other natural fabric adding soap and water, then rubbing and rolling together until the fibers travel through the fabric. When the fibers come through it is time to shock the fibers by throwing it or rubbing and agitating the scarf thus shrinking it up to 50% of the original piece.
I put down a layer of rubber shelving (so the layers don’t slide around) then a layer of bubble wrap (for good friction) and a layer of thin plastic. On top of the plastic I laid out a chiffon scarf and on top of that tufts of raw white Merino wool. I use 100% wool yarn for part of the the design. Using wool yarn is important. The yarn will felt itself to the raw wool. I also added raw dyed silk.
I spray down the scarf with soapy water and put a sheet of bubble wrap face down on the scarf. Putting soapy water on the top I rub off the bubble wrap to agitate the wool and help the wool rub into the scarf. When the yarn no longer moves around it is ready to begin the felting process. This is where the wool is pushed through the chiffon scarf.
I take a short cut here...I roll up a wet washcloth between the plastic and scarf and tie it up with nylon scarf and kneed it and toss it on the table. This shrinks the wool and creates ruffles and the stockings. Then I put it into the dryer on no heat for 11 minutes.
After 11 minutes I unroll it and put the wash cloth on the other end and roll up it up again and give it another 11 minutes. By this time the fibers of wool travel through the tiny holes in the chiffon scarf. Now it is time to full (shrink) the scarf. I put hot water and soap on the raw silk makes patterns that look like rivers. My final fulling comes using a wash board rubbing really hard to shrink it further. I planned all along to paint the scarf with dye after felting. It didn't turn out the way I expected but I like it.
This little video shows show the final step in felting my scarf. As one rubs the scarf it shrinks it the way it rubs!
This week's blog was written by visual artist, Lea K. Tawd. Lea interviewed glass artist, Linda Gerrard of Linda Gerrard Art Glass.
What would you say was your “ah ha” moment in going from thought to passion to actually starting your business?
I thought making fused glass would be fun, but when I would bring items to work to show friends and they kept buying and ordering more, I was really surprised. My husband bought my first kiln as a Christmas gift and I was able to create much more complex pieces in my home studio. I began having home shows, people were very excited to find unique gifts and the sales and custom orders kept increasing.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Organized. I’m very methodical about how I put my pieces together and I like to work in a clean and organized space so I’m not searching for anything.
Where do you create?
I have a 300 square foot studio space in our basement with 2 kilns, an 8 foot work table, lots of glass bins and shelving and an adjacent 400 square foot space where I display and sell my art work.
What motivates/inspires your work?
I am inspired by the beauty of nature that surrounds us, our travels and photographs taken on vacations.
Who inspired you if anyone?
In the beginning, I was excited to find I could learn to fuse glass myself and I was inspired by all glass art. After improving my skills and deciding I preferred to make representational art, I learned of a couple experienced glass artists who made beautiful art and I was lucky enough to take a class from 2 of them which helped me improve my skill level and increase my ability to bring more realism to my art work.
Tell us how you choose your supplies, material, you use in your Art?
Fusing glass is a very precise process and you must ensure all glass in each piece is ‘compatible’. Glass is made with differing Coefficient of Expansion (COE) which cannot be mixed, so I purchase all COE 90 compatible glass for my work. I use large sheets of glass that I hand cut as well as stringers and various sizes of crushed glass called frit. Depending on the desired effect, I layer and arrange the glass and may use multiple firings to create visual depth. By controlling the temperature and time in the kiln, the pieces can be completely smooth or have very soft, or quite strong, texture.
Did anyone ever tell you couldn’t do it?
No, but people were very surprised fusing was something you could do in your own home.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I typically look through my photos for inspiration before deciding the size and shape of the piece I’ll be making. Since photos are far more detailed than what you can do with glass, I must then determine what elements to include in my design, how to get the depth I want and how much texture I want to have on the finished piece. This is necessary so I know what goes on the background, mid-ground and foreground and how many times it needs to run through the kiln.
What is the most difficult thing about making your Art?
Judging the ramp speeds, hold times and top temperature so I don’t break the glass and I end up with the desired texture.
Do you have other staff, partners etc.?
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
I’ve made a few pieces with a Heron (or Egret) and these are some of my favorites.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
I would love the ability to paint beautiful water colors.
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
I enjoy being outdoors, travelling, and playing with my granddaughter.
Be sure to stop by Artistic Portland to see Linda's gorgeous works in person! Artistic Portland is open Mon-Sat from 10 to 6pm and on Sunday from noon to 5pm.