Saturday, October 18, 2014

Turkish Light Still Life Painting

Dear Art-loving friend,

Shortly after carving stone in Bulgaria this past summer, I then went to Istanbul for a few days.  I did not buy as much as I wanted, however, I am a sucker for burning things… so I bought a couple of the tea light candle holders that glow with glorious hues from the colored glass mosaics.  One of those became a model in my next project, “Turkish Light.”

I have always moved slowly; ask my parents if you believe this not.  But while I have come to accept this part of myself, I still work to improve my productivity in creating art.  And when it also helps me to improve the quality, well, … you know that accepting the idea is a given.

I have also come to accept about myself that I have a self-sabotage mechanism in my brain. To that end, I refer to the idea that no matter how many times I do “shape exercises,”  my first attempts at drawing anything are way off.  It is difficult for me to do demos when I teach in part because of this problem.  [Another problem is talking while drawing… they rarely mix in my brain.]  Anyway, despite the encouragement by some to simply start my compositions in paint, I prefer to use charcoal.  

Pentimento is the Italian word that describes the concept of “the sins of the past will continue to haunt you.”  I know that oil paint goes transparent after many years and I know that red is a tricky color. I do not want my bad drawing to show through.  And I know that on this composition of red, white, and black… I increase the odds a bit of having problems.  So, you see me figuring out my design in charcoal on a mid-toned primed wooden panel.  

 I was not sure that I wanted the vase thingy as close to center, but later decided to leave it as is.  I liked the shapes between the objects, too.  Once my drawing was close enough, I used egg tempera to paint in the light shapes.  This is opaque and dries very quickly… like acrylic, but I think that I like egg tempera better, and hopefully it leaves more of a tooth for the oil paints.

I then layered in some of the cadmium orange and the serious reds.  The black came later.  These colors take forever to dry (an exaggeration, I hope you understand) and I had to be careful not to smear a thing, yet keep the edges I wanted soft … soft.  This painting then went up on a shelf to dry for about a month, I think.   

I took her down occasionally to develop the painting in layers, letting each one have about a week to dry, if I could manage that.  My models stayed in place while I worked on other easels.  Ok, so THAT part of the process is not particularly efficient for productivity, but hey, I love red and black, both slow driers.  It was the egg tempera trick that gave me light and speed.  There… I have given away all of my secrets.  So, I will go home now. 

I started “Turkish Light” in mid-July.  I finished her in mid-October.  Sadly, in my new flat, I have not yet figured out how to get a high-quality image of an oil painting.  But here is the shot that I have.  

“Turkish Light” is available.  She is a 50 x 35 cm (19.6 x 13.7 inches) oil painting on Italian Geso-vero’d primed wooden panel.  Please contact me if you would like to own this gem or gift her to someone you love.

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Donatello Bas Relief Sculpture

Dear Art-loving friend,
My friend and fellow sculptor here in Florence, Italy, enjoys giving lectures on art and art history.  Jason Arkles has recently created a new series of podcasts, called “The Sculptor’s Funeral.”  That title alone ought to get some attention!

The podcast that I listened to this Sunday morning was all about the sculptor Donatello.  He has not been one of my favorite artists, but Jason makes a great argument on why I should never discount Donatello’s importance or creativity.  Give it a listen, will ya?
Oh boy!  bronze mirror of nude men bas relief sculpture
"Oh Boy!" bronze mirror of men

Over fifteen years ago, I took a sculpture class from Eugene Daub.  We did a portrait in plastilina in three days and studied bas-relief sculpture the last two days of the week-long workshop in Colorado.  Eugene made bas relief interesting to me because for some reason, I had not understood the possibilities of having a sculpted figure INSIDE of an environment.  Looking back, I probably just had very little experience looking at bas-relief sculpture in general.  The idea of adding architectural “frames” around a figure intrigued me.  I remember thanking Eugene for opening my eyes to this art form, admitting that I had only thought before of bas-relief sculpture as “Puffy Painting” and had not been interested in it.  He seemed amused.

Eugene Daub taught bas relief with the same idea that my friend Vasily Fedorouk did:  as compressed form.  From then on, I looked at bas-relief in that way.  I had often assumed that some artists just did that badly.  Perhaps you can imagine my surprise this morning to hear Jason’s voice coming through my laptop to say that Donatello was the first sculptor to understand and successfully demonstrate this idea.  Sculptors before used mainly outlines to describe their forms!

Rehearsal, bronze bas-relief sculpture
"Rehearsal" bronze bas relief / wall hanging
Since Eugene’s class I have tackled many bas relief compositions.  Here are just a few:
"Oh Boy!"  [Mirror of Men, what a fun way to brush one’s teeth in the morning!], "Rehearsal" (the woman waving the large fabric over her head), and "Infinity" (created for the eighth wedding anniversary gift of bronze material, note the figure eight as the outside shape).

I have been thinking of new compositions to create in bas-relief because I think the story-telling ability is very similar to painting in that respect.  But I hope you enjoy the compositions that I have created thus far.

[Ask, please, about availability, or commission some art for yourself or another.]

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Infinity bronze bas-relief sculpture by Kelly Borsheim
"Infinity" bronze bas-relief sculpture by Kelly Borsheim