Friday, January 14, 2011

Guinea and Marble Carving

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I wanted to write some more about art, but this week it has been too cold to carve stone. I spent this past weekend labeling postcards, ordering giclée, and doing many other art-business tasks. Now, I am a bit happy that the weather is not so warm because I am working on a painting for a competition and need not the distraction of the marble.

Art News -- Pastel Workshop Savings:

Robert Adams of Hawaiian Art Journey recently told me that he would like to help celebrate my ten-year anniversary by offering a special savings to you:
$100 off (that is $10 x 10) Registration for Art Workshop "Pastels in Paradise with Kelly Borsheim" in Kona, Hawai'i April 17-22: Register BEFORE 28 Feb.

So, how about that? Now, I would like to leave you with these two images of some of the company I keep when I carve stone. These guineas are half-wild and wander around these parts, mostly kept by a neighbor. I feed them a bit too, which is why there is a jar of bird seed on my work table, blocking the view of my current work-in-progress, the “Gymnast” in Colorado Yule Marble. It would be wonderful if I could finish her before May, but for the moment she waits . . .

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gratitude Artist Life

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

11.1.11 (Today) marks my ten-year anniversary as a full-time artist. Before that, I was running my own business selling beeswax and candle-making supplies from my Web site and, during the winter holidays, shows. Lumina Candles & Art served me well. I had started it in the early 1990s after my friend Jamshid gave me a honeycomb beeswax candle as a gift some years before. At the time I just needed a hobby to compensate for my 60-hour workweek doing image preservation for a photo lab in Austin, Texas.

The preservation job involved retouching negatives with special dyes (sometimes with the aid of a microscope), and then making a print on fiber paper and painting on that. Not airbrush style. My work still looked like a photograph, like the original before damage. I was also fortunate enough to work on projects involving the preservation of images in the collections of such clients as National Geographic and the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, Stokes Imaging Services succumbed due to poor money management. I went down with the ship, but decided then (1995) to leave the photolab industry, learn what the Internet was, and take my hobby business more seriously while I continued to study sculpture.

My friend and fellow lab technician Mark gave me a 2-hour lesson at his home about what the Internet was and how to teach myself how to write my own Web pages using the free resources online. One of the best two hours I ever spent! I built Lumina's business up and quickly learned a lot about Web site content and marketing.

I took the art plunge in January 2001 because I had just spent the previous four months working incredibly long hours with very little sleep. I was up all night packaging beeswax orders to make sure that everyone had the holidays they wanted – at least what I had control over. I remember telling my father that January that I felt like the “Christmas whore” and I was exhausted. But that kind of crankiness also told me that I did not like who I was when I spent four months without making any art. I thought my family deserved better and I gave Lumina to some friends on this day ten years ago.

That first year as a full-time artist, I used up all of the money I had earned with Lumina, mostly in bronze casting. However, I also realized that my art had improved dramatically with full-time attention. To this day, no matter what my other concerns, it is my need to grow my work and express ideas that drives me. The fact that I keep learning more and more is what lifts my spirits.

I can also tell you that this is no easy road. But I have been very lucky and very grateful to all that have helped me along this path. While I still struggle with ideas of what it means to be self-sufficient, my understanding of generosity has expanded. My life is such that I have had to learn how to accept things from others more than most perhaps. I know that each person who buys me a meal, treats me to a museum, gives me clothing or a place to stay for the night, a ride or exposure to something great, tells someone else about my work or even finds me (or becomes) a client, saves me money or time and is part of what allows me to continue my life. Everything is connected. I no longer see a person’s generosity as belonging to “during that time” because I have learned that EVERYTHING that I receive from another FREES me to apply my own earned resources to my larger goals.

Pictured here is my half-life-size bronze sculpture “Reginald.” I began working with the model in the late summer of 2000. The sculpture then sat in my studio for many months while I shipped beeswax all over the US and beyond. I then cast him in 2001. That first casting was sold in October 2001 from my Web site to a gallery in West Hollywood, California. (I still have never physically met this repeat buyer.) Art sales from artist’s Web sites were not so common then. And if I had been surprised by what the Internet allowed me to do with candles and beeswax, I was even more grateful for what it could do and has done for art and artists.

So, with an attitude of gratitude, I want to thank you. No matter what the timing is or the duration of your joining me on this journey, you are a part of it now. Like it or not, we live in a culture which trades in (or values) money or time. Do not ever underestimate the power of a kindness you give another.
How wonderful, really.

Thank you,
Kelly Borsheim

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stone Carving the Head

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have been able to carve stone these last few afternoons – the weather in this part of Texas has been quite lovely and surprisingly warm for winter. Continuing work on my “Gymnast” marble sculpture, I decided that it was time to tackle the head of the figure.

The critical part of myself admonished me to just start on it and botch it early on in the process because I would hate myself more if I did all of that work on the rest of the figure BEFORE ruining the face. Thankfully at my age I fully understand that this is only the voice that spurs me to take care to do my best work possible, but …to get to it. The other reality is that my training is to work the figure all around, developing the composition to the same level everywhere.

When I find myself hesitating, I have learned to stop to figure out what my brain is telling me. When I find myself unable to make one part of the stone carving smaller even when I KNOW it must be done, it is because another section of the stone nearby is way too large. There is another part of my brain unwilling to make the necessary changes because it is still seeing the (spatial) relationship that currently exists. And thus, the next step is to take an action that allows the parts of my brain to come to an agreement. Seriously, this is the way that my brain works.

In this case, I am referring to the fact that I could no longer make myself carve the face smaller until I reduced the larger mass of hair surrounding the face. In these first two images you may see that I have begun to carve away the hair above the ears. I am also beginning to remove the “Helmet Hair” effect, by carving the marble closer to the surface of the temple and forehead. Hair lies on top of the skull, but when pulled back, it is not such a bulky form.

In the last two images, I show you how I did the same thing to reduce the size of the left half of the face of the figure. Because I want her ponytail to fall over the back of the gymnast’s neck in an asymmetrical way, her head remained bulkier on the left side where I had left lots of stone for hair. To help myself see just how much I needed to carve, I redrew my centerline down her back and remeasured.

It is true that everything is relative. And also: that making one change affects the other relationships in the composition. All I can tell you is that one of the best feelings in stone carving is not being able to remember what the stone looked like before you made your cuts. Thus far, I have not botched her face!

An aside: I have been getting a few inquiries about whether or not I will be returning to Italy. I am aware that some people read this blog because I have written so much about that charming country. Yes, I will be returning this spring. And in a few weeks, I will be visiting London. I hope to be sharing some tidbits about my museum visits from that trip as well.

I am at the stage in my stone carving of the “Gymnast” that there will not be dramatic changes happening within one or two days’ work. And with the weather becoming more winter-like even as I write this, my time with this project may become more and more interrupted. I am not sure if it will interest you to see every little detail of this carving, so I will try to share some more of my images of Italy and art in general.

Feel free to send me requests for writing topics. I never want to waste your time.
Thank you!