I have always loved making things. As a child, I sold watercolor greeting cards and beaded jewelry in my father’s place of business. I made my own clothes. I painted and crochet and embroidered and set bezels and on and on and on. While reviewing an old diary, I see that at one point, I had wanted to be a world famous fashion designer. I did have a small stint at making playful fabric hats (Bell Hats Over The Pacific) and other children’s dress-up items, but I moved on to working completely on my computer.
And in the digital realm, there is no actual product. Yes, I can and do print on paper and aluminum substrates that can be used to dress up walls. But my earlier passion was to make garments and personal adornments. For this, I have had to wait for the technology to print designs on fabric. And it is quite an interesting world now that artwork can be translated into fashion on demand! The first manufacturer I used gave me a good looking garment, but the fabric was thin and I was worried about having a Lululemon moment. Fortunately, I have found a company that produces a fine product that I am proud to present.
I decided to use my artwork “LoveWins” for my first foray into digital printing on fabric. The piece was made in support of marriage equality and I think using it for fashion is an expressive way to share the love. The leggings and beanies I started with are a fun and cool way to take my artwork off the walls and share the love with the world. You can find them and other designs I’ve been working on over on my Art of Where site here!
This summer I had the opportunity to do a finite series of 50 small artworks in 50 days. I set up parameters for the work, one aspect was that I incorporate a technique I haven’t used before in the kaleidoscope pieces.
For the entire series, I designed a custom paint brush that I created in the program Studio Artist (Synthetik Software) to create the backgrounds from each of my base images. Studio Artist is a graphics synthesizer that can apply individual brushstrokes based on a photograph or image. The program looks at the contours, luminance, color and texture and then can either auto-draw or be specifically directed by the user.
Watch the animation and you will see the brushstrokes being applied in Studio Artist. From the resulting “painting” of the sunflower base image, I reflected a portion around into the background. The additional layers are more similar to my kaleidoscopic work. They are reflected and distorted, but still keep the starter image intact.
I meditate on Bird OParadise when I am in need of powerful inspiration. There is nothing shy about this piece. The structure and boldness of the Bird of Paradise flower is apparent in the artwork.
The dominant motif is the vibrant orange square. Its double fortified walls are suspended from a blue perimeter above a featureless green field. Inside another blue boundary is a dynamic sun. The orb’s horned aggression is held in check, trapped inside crystal.
Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for “Bird O’Paradise.”
When creating this piece, I struggled with the warrior forms that were advancing. The orange is fierce and somewhat aggressive. It is from the “head” part of the bloom. The edges are hard and there are dangerously sharp points. But nature has balance. The flower itself provided relief from the forceful orange with its indigo petals that happen to be fused into the shape of a heart.
Blue is the complementary color of orange. They reside across each other in the color wheel. Nothing that is in orange is in blue and vice versa. Mix them together and you get mud. Keep them separate and they create tension. The hot orange does not overpower the cool blue, nor does the blue subdue the orange.
It has long been a goal of mine to make my artworks move. I get a chance to go deeper into the trance-inducing nature of my kaleidoscopes. I also have the opportunity to show the audience how my work is constructed.
Cochlear Calla Lily is constructed in very few parts. I was taken by the simplicity in form of the subject blossom and wanted to reflect that feeling in the work. There is a simple background layer and a central hub. There is a large wreath-like motif and four corner doodads.
The most complex part of the piece is that main motif—a twelve-layered repetition of a single image. When I give my artwork movement, I can show how these distorted and reflected calla blossom dances into place around the wheel.
What fun to work with a flower that already looks like it’s been spun around in a kaleidoscope. I have loved the passion flower since childhood. My grandparents had a large slab with a roof that they called the Summer House. The pillars that supported the roof were covered with passion flower vines. My younger me didn’t really remember the flowers. I was fascinated by the strange fruit that the flower produced. I recall them first looking like an egg, then aging into something akin in texture to a stale marshmallow. I called them Easter Egg Flowers.
I was reminded of the beauty and sensuality of the flower when I decided to grow the vine in my home garden. We had a large fence that would benefit from a clinging vine. The blooms as well as the spiraling tendrils have become subject to several of my artworks. Others include Passion On Grass, New Passion and Passion Tendril Vessel.
The photograph shown here was taken in the spectacular gardens of the Spalding House, which is part of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Unlike the lush surrounding gardens, this scene is a moss covered branch with some rather ordinary ferns. They are part of some plantings at the base of a building, not really exotic at all, at least not in comparison with the rest of the grounds. The composition of the photo is not spectacular either. But I liked the crisp focus of the fern and thought it was worth playing around with it in my workspace.
In much of my work, the subject matter is not always readily apparent. Not so in this piece. Rather than blending and bending the base image beyond recognition, I chose to keep the structure of the fern’s leaves as the highlight the piece. I wanted a feeling of dense tropical jungle created by the fingered leaves of the plant. The central motifs are more typical of the majority of my kaleidoscopes. The base is detectable, but more obscured by various manipulations. But as you move outward, the structure of the fern is readily apparent and at the border, the piece is very literal. As a balance, I warped the center into a heavily distorted glass bubble, a crystal ball if you will. Look in to the sphere to see if there is fern in your forecast.
The peace lily exudes calm and serenity. Its starkly beautiful form and chaste simplicity easily flow into languid patterns.
At my third session creating artwork on site at the LA County Arboretum, the weather was gloomy. The diffused lighting allowed me to capture the delicate differences in the shades of white that cannot be captured when the lighting is bright.
I will return to the Arboretum on Saturday, June 4, 2016 (11:00 AM to 4:30 PM) for my fourth and final time making art there in conjunction with my exhibition,”Reflections in the Garden.” I will once again take up residence in the Gallery at the Arboretum Library, creating another artwork on site!