New Mexican Sculptor

My photo
New Mexico, United States
I'm living in New Mexico where I sculpt and paint. After a long absence from art, I am now creating smaller bronze figures. This blog is mainly devoted to that work.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Painting of Giselle

I am planning a new sculpture. In the mean time, I want to paint my dog a bit. Here is the under painting for an oil I am doing. She's an IG. I was thinking that I wanted to do a calendar of IG paintings and give a portion to IG rescue. Maybe. I'll probably become one of those one-subject artists whose only subject is my dog.

First I made a quick ten minute line drawing directly on the canvas from life.
I do the underpainting of white and black gesso. Gesso is cheap, and dries easily. It can be tinted, if you want to do a color under painting.

Then I paint in various stages, building the color up, usually in more transparent washes (this is oil, so it is fat over lean). Here, I block out the volumes, creating more or less 3-dimensionality to the canvas. I do Giselle's under painting in a minor color of her coat, more of a dun, and whiten her fur areas. I also add pink to her skin.


The biggest noticeable change here is that I intensify her color, she is what you call a "blue fawn," which is a dilute blue. Poor girl suffers from blue dog disease as well. I build up the folds of cloth surrounding her. My idea was to have her somewhat camouflaged, and do the painting in a monochromatic way. It obviously uses more than one color, but It needs that.


Shadows, indication of left front paw, more of the white draperies:


The dog's front paws have appeared:

This is the second "Giselle" painting. This is the first:

As I was doing this, I thought about my "style." This painting is very similar to the sort of free hand drawing I did when I was in High school. I think I have always had a touch of someone like "Thomas Hart-Benton" in my style. You know, more stylized figures. I've never been fixated on making "true" representations of the subjects I use to make art. As the early non-representative artists pointed out, there is no need to exactly copy anything any more.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Preparing for the Exhibit

These are some photos I took at the gallery as we were finalizing the placement of the horses for the exhibition. This is the Summer Invitational, Gallery 9 Lincoln Nebraska . The show will be opening up Wednesday, the postcard says it will open July 1st. I'll be there on First Friday. I am the guest artist of Judith Andre. I like Judith's calm, and her ability to at least seem unruffled during a crisis. Today she was splendid as one thing after another went hilariously wrong.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Patina: painting with rust

Patina protects as well as beautifies. Traditional patina is a chemical reaction creating a kind of scaled rust that colors and protects the metal. For my patina, I used traditional Liver of Sulfur which gives a light to deep senna brown, and I used a deep blue alkaline dye both products from Sculpt Nouveau (whom I would like to give a plug here). The deep blue over brown creates a nice black-ish color. After mounting the sculpture on the cultured marble base, I was quite satisfied with the result.

"Down From The Clouds" 1/12 2011 C.R. Larkin Copyright

As you can see the coloration draws out the sculpted muscles of the horse. I liked the way the metal base transitions to the marble base. I also like the "rough" look of the sculpting. Although the sculpture actually took about 45 days, it has a casual immediacy to it. This had been my intention. I have seen too many horse sculptures that are too perfect that they become overworked, and look like plastic toys.

This was my first try with a Patina. I could not get the weed burner to light up so I took advantage of YouTube and watched a piece by a jeweler who used hot water with her liver of sulfur. I left the sculpture out in the sun to heat it a little and applied the liver of sulfur still warm. The result was immediate. I don't think that I will be worried much about experimenting with any other patina.

The other horse is being done as well. I will post something tomorrow or the next day.

I now have something like 7 days before change day at Gallery Nine. I need to spend this time making 2 bases for these pieces. Yes. Big wooden boxes. Oh what fun.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fettle the Metal

Bronze working, is of course, an ancient art. Bronze is an alloy of two soft metals, copper and tin. The bronze age followed the stone age, basically, so no great technological advancements are required to create lost wax castings. From what I have seen, you need a flame hot enough to melt the stuff, and a few buckets of a variety of sand, mud, and wax.

The grinding disc near the face of "Down From The Clouds" (DFC).

I've come away from the foundry (hopefully safe from the flood) with two rough sculptures. They still need finishing. Fettling means to sand the burs, and to smooth and polish, and basically finish the piece. The phase after fettling is the patina. I've ordered up some liver of sulfur (dark to light brown), and some cupric (which creates a sea green shade). This is a very basic pallet to work from. I am hoping to expand my library of colors as time goes on.

No sculpture comes out of the fire perfectly, I have learned. I do not believe in overworking, and I believe that the accidents of the furnace and the bronzing process are as important to a work as the accidents of the painting process. Working something to death, is what happens when a sculpture ends up looking like a plastic toy. The tool marks of sculptures are synonymous to the brush strokes of a painter. But in fettling, you do have a second chance to tone things down a bit if you wish. Each copy of the work is a unique puzzle, and an individual piece of art, and craftsmanship. In the case of the bronze, the work is a combination of the artist's work and the expertise of the foundry craftsmen. I have tried to keep as much of my own work in this as possible, and I hope to become more involved in the actual melting and pouring of the bronze as time goes on. I would at least like to cast my own "under twenty pound" objects.

Seeing these two in the shiny gold coloration of raw bronze gives me a completely new feeling for them then when they were in dark green clay. They just have a different feel to them. I still like the title "Down From The Clouds" for the smaller running horse, but the larger, for some reason, I started to think of the book of Job (yes, it was the opening scene of Secretariat), but something in that Psalm fits my horse perfectly. What put a quiver up my spine was "He cannot stand still as the trumpets sound." I don't know why. I don't "see" a scene from Biblical days. I see a scene from the Civil War (American). So, as of now, I think I have changed the title of "Hard to Catch" to "As the Trumpets Sound."

The face of "As the Trumpets Sound" (ATS).

I had a very fruitful meeting with the gallery owner today. I drove the sculptures downtown during a rain storm, and met with Judith Andre, the owner of Gallery Nine. This group is very talented and serious-- The venue is lovely, I brought these two horses in today for her to inspect, considering I got into her show with only a photograph, I thought it was the least I could do. I believe the show (July 1-30) will be excellent.

The meeting got me thinking about what my true objective was. I am a folk singer, not an opera producer. I really see my art more as folk art. I seek "folk art" like subjects. I feel comparable (in the meanest sort of way) with Andrew Wyeth if anyone. That style has always been my goal. I am often blown off course by comic book art and so on, but let's face it, when I grew up by the end of the 20th century, what was the true "folk art?" -- Star Wars.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bronzes and Evacuation -- Omaha, 2011

Hot Shops is located near to the low lying Heartland of America Park, where, at present, the proverbial "100 Year Flood" (you know, the one they said would never come) has raised the Missouri river to 30.4 feet where flood level is at 29.0 feet as of today (June 8th, 2011) at 10:14 am. Heartland of America Park is a picturesque urban park, close to pricy eateries and tourist spots, and of course, the artistic center of Omaha...the restaurants, the galleries...not my thing really. I've never been rich enough to scrape enough together to go shopping in the old market or eat at whatever microbrewery is the place to be at the moment. It's the working artist I applaud. The guy with the dirty finger nails and the welding torch.

So here, I will introduce you to the experts who are helping me to produce my bronzes; Les Bruning the owner of Bruning Bronze at Hot Shops, and his assistant Micheal Godek. Both Bruning and Godek are working artists in the Omaha area. Godek seems to do a lot of welded art, and Bruning is also a college teacher nearing retirement. At some point, Les talked about the flooding river nearby, and the riverside art presently underwater. My personal thoughts were that city planners tempt fate when they allow these merciless giants into their cities. True, riverside walks are picturesque and a nice addition to an inner city, but people tend to forget that water can bring down a mountain, and a few buildings are like piles of sand to a river like the Missouri.

Today my work was to supervise the welding that needed to be done on the bases of the sculptures, as well as the tail of the smaller horse. This is all work I have never done. Earlier in my life I did some large public art as an assistant, but I never really participated in the bronze work. This is all new to me, but I have a good idea how it is done, and I have enough courage to take the tools and work with them, instead of standing idle, (AKA "supervising") while others do the work for me. I truly believe that a metal sculptor should not do art with her pocketbook, yet so many do.

Photo: Omaha Artist Micheal Godek examines a weld.


Examining the sculpture so far, I decided that it would benefit from some tool work back at the studio. By the end of the day, I decided to do the bronze chasing myself. First, it saves on money, and I believe in trying to create as "perfect" a piece as possible. How difficult could it be? (I'll tell you how that turns out). So, I loaded the sculptures and bases in the car to go back to Lincoln.


I was tempted to drive over to the river to look at it. I'd lived near that river for ten years both in downtown Omaha, and in Council Bluffs, Iowa, but the area was not my own any more. I felt like someone wanting to sneak a peak at the house I grew up in. What was the point? Was it my nature to take risks? I had gotten into a very tricky business. Art is a craps shoot, like living next to a flooding river.

I was probably thrilled by the bronzes. I can't bring myself to think about emotion right now. There is still much work to be done, and I have some other sculptures to think about right now. I'll wait until the opening to experience these feelings, reflect over the process, when I am standing with a glass of wine in my hands, when the pressure is finally off. That's the life of a working artist. You push them out like baby birds to prepare your nest for the next clutch of eggs.