Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bas Relief Stone Carving

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

“Bas-relief” is a phrase that describes a very particular type of sculpture. “Bas” is a French word that means, “low” and an example of a bas relief is the relatively flat design on a coin. Before I knew any better, I used to refer (a bit derogatorily) to bas-relief as “Puffy Painting.” I had no interest in this particular form of art.

However, many years ago, I took a workshop with famed sculptor Eugene Daub in Colorado. We sculpted “in the round” for three days and then studied relief sculpting techniques during the last two days. He laughed at my “Puffy Painting” comment and then proceeded to show me the error in my thinking. Relief, whether “bas” or a high relief (more 3-dimensional), is not simply ‘puffy.’ Relief sculpture is a compression of form. So the “puffiness” has a rather specific shape.

Part of the beauty of relief sculpture is that a sculptor has more opportunity to create an environment, as painters do. Many drawing elements are used, such as perspective and foreshortening. However, since reliefs are still sculpture, and not a truly 2-dimensional art, drawing skills are not enough. I find relief sculpting very challenging because of this compression of form. I have since created several reliefs in plastilina (oil- or water-based clay) for casting into bronze. See the bronze sculpture “Rehearsal” with a colored patina, included here.

But recently, I accepted a commission to create my first relief in stone. That “upped the ante” in that once removed, I will not get to add the material back. The commission is to create a Gable Stone, such as is made in Amsterdam for a private home in Houston, Texas, USA. Gable Stones are placed in an exterior wall of a home, typically near the entryway. They identify the occupants of the homes in some way, but are more personal than a Coat of Arms.

I have been quite active on Facebook lately and started a Fan Page to help me meet others who are interested in art. I will be showing the progress of this Gable Stone project on the Fan Page, so if you are interested in seeing this as live as I know how to make it, please consider becoming a FAN by clicking on the link below. (You must have a FREE Facebook account first, I think.)

I will not be posting any more images of this work-in-progress (like the one below) on this blog or on my Web site, until after the sculpture is complete.
Thank you for your interest!

And, of yes, this is a Texas limestone . . .

October is National Arts and Humanities Month

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life as One of the Madonnari Italian Street Painters

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Thanks to one of my long-time art newsletter readers and blog supporter, artist Jeanne Rhea, I have been invited to speak in Raleigh, North Carolina during my travels in October.

Here goes:

The Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild is hosting Texas and Florence, Italy-based artist Kelly Borsheim for a presentation titled "My Life as One of the 'Madonnari' (Italian street painters)"

When: October 15, 2009, start = 7 p.m.
Where: Artspace
201 E Davie Street
Raleigh, North Carolina
Details: $5 for members of VAE, Artspace or CMMAG. All others are $7.
Open to the public. Bring a friend and enjoy a bit of Italy right here in Raleigh

The talk will include topics about creating temporary public art, including a few techniques and tips about street performing. Kelly will share images and stories of her experiences recreating art masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance and other periods of time and place. She will tell you some of the more humorous experiences with tourists, journalists, cops, and the Italian government. And, Kelly will show you the work of many other street painters from her first competition in southern Italy.

Read Jeanne’s blog here: