Things are moving right along in the studio, one-third gearing up for Christmas, another third tackling ongoing projects for 2012, and the other third having complete creative spaz attacks. It feels great to wake up each morning with lots to do, with each piece inspiring the next in an endless loop.
One project, in particular, I just finished. One of my casting partners, Resins by Randy, has started casting in low-melt metals, such as tin and pewter. That got my immediate attention because this material opens up new possibilities, everything from ornaments and decorations to functional housewares and key chains.
As I mentioned in my last post, I bristle at being told what I can and can't do, and this is especially so of my art work. Over the years I've had various individuals (even art instructors) tell me that equine art isn't real art and, what's more, that realistic art isn't real art. Hey, whatever makes them happy, but that train of thought obviously doesn't work for me. I have my own drum and I'm bangin' it. Loud.
Similarly, I've had others throughout the years poo-poo my desire to create functional art, such as switch plates, key chains, sinks, installation tiles, stepping stones, fountains, or even to create fantasy pieces, such as Unicorns, Dragons, Kirin and Pegasi. Apparently those sorts of things aren't real art either.
I can certainly understand why on both counts. The idea that real art doesn't have a practical function - it exists simply to express - is common. I get it. But I also love the idea that art can be integrated into function, that they can be one and symbiotic to each other. In our mass-production world, I rebel against the notion that function and art are separate by definition. I say squish 'em together and see what happens!
As for fantasy critters, an aversion to them in the art world is completely understandable given the cheese-factor associated with all of that. But I'm reminded of the Unicorn tapestries and the wonderful Grecian coins and splendid Asian art that integrates these motifs without apology. These creatures are a part of our collective culture and when approached in a certain way, I believe they can transcend the cheesiness of airbrushed pink Unicorns dancing on rainbows and snorting pixie dust.
All this has taught me that it's not the subject so much, it's how we chose to portray it. Anything can be made profound and transcendental, even a blade of grass or a shoestring. Just as easily, too, anything can be cheapened into demeaning banality. It all depends on the creative spin.
Art knows no boundaries, so why should I? As my long-suffering hubby hears on a regular basis, "I'm gonna do whatever I wanna do however I wanna do it!" I create my art this way. So in this spirit, I just finished the first of many future pieces, in this case a Unicorn ornament destined to be cast by Randy in either tin or pewter (haven't decided which yet).
Oil clay original, 2.5 x 3". I'm going to make a plaster mold and then make a ceramic casting. I'll then clean and detail that up because at this size the oil clay gets too gooey. Even the Hard NSP Chavant, which I use, is too soft to hold detail well at this size. Then I'll sign and stamp the back, bisque fire it, and send that along to Randy for production. The hole at the top is for a hanging ribbon or some such contraption.
I'd like to keep this piece a limited edition exclusive to the metal, but I'll probably also make a limited number of ceramic castings to use up the plaster mold (probably in porcelain). I hope to have this edition in my Etsy store in time for Christmas, but we'll see.
It was really fun sculpting the piece, and liberating in many ways. And since I'm not in the camp that interprets a Unicorn as a horse with a horn, I got to play around with body parts. For instance, he has the ears of a Pronghorn antelope, a leonine tail, and eyes that are more deer-like. While I wanted to make the horn much longer, casting logistics prevented that though I got to put a curve in it, which I prefer. Sculpting that horn was a hoot! How often do I get to do that with horses? Um. Never. Really looking forward to sculpting more horns of all different kinds, since the options are open for a mythological creature.
It'll be so fun to start delving into my functional art lines along with the mythological animals. There are no limits other than those we impose on ourselves. When we create from our sincere passions, that's art enough for me!
"A forest bird never wants a cage." ~ Henrik Ibsen