Armatured and ready

Kim Marchesseault building an armatureI put together a couple of quick armatures for a sculpting session last night at Litmus Gallery and Studio with the Raleigh Sculpture Group. I use this type of armature to build my clay figurative sculptures on. Jock Gault taught me the basic principle for this simple form during a class at NC State Craft Center about a year ago.

I make these out of round outlet box covers with a 1/2 inch opening and a male PVC fitting with a copper tube inside. I stuff rubber or cork around the copper tube inside of the PVC to achieve a tight fit and use Liquid Nails adhesive to hold it securely in place. Very simple and cost about $10 for parts at Lowes. The tube unscrews from the base if needed for removing your sculpture when you’re ready.  I have a larger metal tube for heavier sculptures that also screws into this base. I cover the hardware base with tin foil before putting clay on it. These are so easy to make and give me stability during the initial soft, wet clay stage and a lot of freedom with my forms.

I get to be there

The most fantastic thing about my work as a pre-school art instructor is I get to be there to see so many incredible things. I had a student who was so stressed out when he came to my class the first time, I could tell I wasn’t seeing the real him.

On his first day, this child drew a couple of lines then tried to retreat to a corner of the room and hide out away from the other kids by reading a book instead of participating. I just couldn’t let him do that.

I brought him back to our project. (Disruptive scenes, broken crayons, spills, and great effort on both his and my part have been conveniently removed for continuity and brevity.) He showed me the ways to help him. Kids always tell you what they need. He asked me to draw his picture for him. He explained he didn’t think he could do it right. 

This child has above average visual-spatial intelligence, and slightly lagging fine motor skills. He couldn’t stand to see himself make mistakes so he was choosing not to participate at all. …which meant he was loosing out on the chance to improve his fine motor skills.

I drew a couple of goofy, quick sketches in front of him on the paper liner we use for our tables beside his project.  He quickly pointed out all the mistakes I had made in them and started to get a bit worked up and I said to him, “I know I didn’t draw these things perfectly, but I’m having fun and trying out some new things so I’m not going to worry about the mistakes I’ve made. I’m just going to keep on drawing and trying things out.” He picked up his oil pastels and completed the project that day with lots of encouragement.

The final day of our session together he traced a pattern while I held it for him. I pulled out some special scissors and he cut with them while I held his paper and turned it and *he insisted on doing all the cutting himself* because he realized he could. He was so thrilled. This child who used to hide in the corner and try to avoid having to participate actually said, “Look at me, you guys! I’m doing it!”

Ever had one of those days where you just want to run around jumping and cheering?

During our snack/story time this child started making somewhat disruptive gurgling noises in his water cup. I had been meaning to find some special contribution he could bring to our classroom so I put down the story book for a little while and got my own cup of water. We, as a class, gurgled and hummed the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star into our water cups while one little girl sang the words for us. We were awesome! So we played a few more songs before picking up our storybook again. That was a great day. Would have been just ordinary if it weren’t  for the kids.

Devaluation of artists

” If a work can be called “art” simply because its author claims it to be such, then there is no such thing as art. If anything can be art, then nothing is. And this principle has a broader application: If anything can be true (or moral, good, right, etc.), then nothing is. Rather than a servant to society, the artist has become a spoiled child, creating arbitrary distinctions that only he can decipher.”Elizabeth Fisher, National Review

I think art ethics have sunk even lower than that. Many have given themselves permission to simply copy the work of others without innovation, change, contributing nothing. They don’t even bother to challenge themselves to come up with new ideas.

I’ve seen people make a mold out of a piece of art they bought at the store, then use it to press their clay into and sign their name to it as though it’s their own work.

I’ve seen people flat out copy other people’s work by tracing it onto their paper. These are people who can’t come up with their own ideas, who can’t redesign and innovate. Some just can’t draw. What makes them think they should be making sellable art if they don’t even like what they draw themselves so they have to trace others?

“And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be Super! And when everyone’s Super… No one will be.” Syndrome, The Incredibles

Many have simply given up on ever being able to create something original because they assume everything has already been done. If everything has already been done, there’s no use living. There’s no more purpose. Society has reached its pinnacle, its zenith and doom is the only thing to follow. To stop improving and innovating is to cease to evolve.  Maybe I’m naive, but I refuse to believe stagnation is our destiny.

I’m all for being inspired by others, building off of the work of others and incorporating techniques and ideas into your own work. That is a fantastic starting point. Add something special to it to make it your own, though. Progress. Evolve.

Really good guacamole

avocadoheart by Brooke MarchesseaultI knew the guacamole would be incredible today. My daughter sliced open the avocado and twisted to release the seed. She found…

I hab a code

3technobugs by Kim MarchesseaultThese earthenware sculpted Techno Bugs were fun to make. All are slab construction, even though I know experienced potters will look at them and go, “Whatttt???” because they’re so round and smooth. -But again, I say slab construction, hand carved and glazed designs.

Dark day

It was raining last night.  I had to go alone to this charity darkday-1art auction because my husband is sick and I promised I’d be there. My piece was in the auction and earned second place in the prior event.  There I was in the middle of a crowd of people I didn’t know. It was one of those days where everything went wrong from the very start and to finish it off, I had to be alone among strangers. I tried to smile and laugh and be friendly.

They catered in fancy foods, had a selection of beverages, but I didn’t eat or drink anything. I engaged in pleasant small talk with a few people on the outskirts. The fringe.  I’ve learned to just smile and say as little as possible. I’m too intense for people. I think too deeply on everything. I know that. People don’t realize they don’t want to know what I have to say.  I protect them and myself by keeping it nice and shallow and by smiling. I’m terrible at playing the games.

There was a man at the auction -the man who volunteered for the job of transporting all of these works of art from location to location. His wife told me he always talks about how much he hates my piece because it’s heavy and it swivels. The first time he moved it, months ago, he didn’t secure it. It fell over and was damaged.

I accepted the news that it was broken with composure. I didn’t cry or complain. We repaired it and it was fine.  During the pre-auction mingling this moving van guy starts talking loudly about how my piece got broken and what a pain it is to move. I say nothing. Maybe I should have spoken up, but I was among strangers and I didn’t.

The auction began. People took seats. I found myself standing next to a nice, likeable, young looking guy who was soft spoken. He started helping the moving van guy move some of the pieces to the side and we enjoyed speaking a bit. He was the most pleasant and real person there, I think. I didn’t tell him I made one of the pieces in the show.

As each piece was presented and sold by the auctioneer, it was moved off to the side. The (insert colorful description) moving van guy from earlier got on stage and takes the microphone from the auctioneer and he rushes through the next couple of pieces that were pretty nice, including the first place piece. They went for shockingly low prices and were quickly moved to the side. Then up came my piece.

The moving van guy, who had thus far been quite vocal about how much he hated my piece, was the one with the microphone. Why couldn’t someone pleeeeease just have taken the mic from him? He said the name of my piece, mumbled it was the second place winner, then read my name and said something under his breath that tapered off without finishing his sentence. Bidding was quick and low. The likeable guy standing next to me bid on my work. I liked him even more. Someone else raised and …quick and low. gone.

I chatted with the likeable guy and pointed to the piece that was my favorite. I told him it took real talent to craft it. It didn’t place in the show.

Moving van guy and the auctioneer saved their favorite for last. Admittedly, this was absolutely the finest work in the event. It was my favorite.  I’m completely appalled the artist wasn’t recognized with a place in the preceding show. This piece was really built up by the auctioneer and the moving van guy, though. I mean, they loved it and they pulled the artist up front while his piece was on sale (who turned out to be the likeable guy I was talking to the whole time) to really play up the fact that he was present and that everyone should raise the bidding higher. (wait…I was there and no one said a word about me being there when my piece was auctioned. A little favoritism?)  His piece pulled in a LOT of money.

I said goodbye and left quietly.

So I’m torn between elation that this amazing artist, and likeable guy was recognized -who should never have been overlooked to begin with, and complete disappointment that some parts of the auction were blatantly mishandled. Moving van guy, who I was always cordial with, turned out to be a major thorn who absolutely worked against me at this event. I mean, I’m all for recognizing excellence, but you don’t have to beat everyone else down in order to do that.

Belgian beer and an umbrella

Artist, Scott Renk, has generously offered to buy me a Belgian beer and an umbrella. Do not assume I take bomb threats lightly! I would love to link to his site on my sidebar, but the link is invisible. Perhaps there is some silent war being waged between mac and wordpress? I am naive. I mean, I was even shocked when I met Scott, -to discover they let kids teach high school! :P~