Well the Polar Vortex has reached Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago is shut down for two days, so I don’t have to go to work. I’m spending my days holed up inside my home, cooking good food and catching up on lots of small things that I rarely have the time to do. This seems like a good time to take photos of my new work in the light of mid-morning.
I have gone in a slightly different direction for my Plankton (nickname Tinkamink) project. I decided to make a limited edition artist book before working on the wall installation. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I have had some work accepted by Vamp and Tramp, and they are interested in the Plankton book, so I quickly finished in order to ship to them. Secondly, I have applied to the Whitely Foundation for an artist residency at Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. It is there that I hope to focus, and complete the wall installation of Plankton. Wish me luck!
Plankton artist book
I have also taken photos of some of my recent pottery. I’m getting a bit better at predicting the outcome of some glazes at the Pot Shop Evanston and I feel I’m beginning to develop a personal style.
Ocean gleaming bright, salty tasting, glistening, never ending sea
Batter bowl, honey mustard glaze
Slab built tray at a Ware workshop (Ware glaze)
Sea urchin votive, honey mustard glaze with ash
Venkatesh’s Christmas mug, black underglaze with cinnamon glaze
Meet Arkham, he is a bit larger than the other three octopuses at Friday Harbor Labs and he is a bit bristly. He is the main man in the study being done in Gire Labs, where they are studying navigation and sensing. Because he is a bit darker and moodier, he is more reclusive, but when I manage to take a photo he is quite dramatic. He uses something called papillae in his skin to make the dramatic horn-like bumps.
While here, I have also been given a studio. Ashwin and I spent hours in the studio yesterday, where I draw and he writes in his journal. I knew I would want to do some sketching here, but somehow ‘a place of ones own’ makes all the difference. Now I may want to buy some big paper and go larger! I can’t wait to get back to the studio again today, it’s bright and airy and smells of fresh wood.
In between sketching sessions we go down to the water to scavenge for treasures, the shore is full of driftwood that we take up to the studio. I know I want to draw octopus, but I think I could also get swept into drawing pieces of driftwood, or printing the grain. I’ll just have to come back again for round 2!
Former scientific study specimens – now dinner
This is the story of the bimorphic gynandromorph who couldn’t sing. He/she is split down the middle, with the red side being male and the gray side female.
The following is from a BBC article on gynandromorph animals by David Robson:
‘Unsurprisingly, courtship for these animals sometimes presents difficulties…..The other birds largely seemed to ignore it. This isolation is apparently common for gynandromorphs. Either they are quietly shunned, or actively attacked, by their peers’
Haven’t we all felt this at some time in our lives? There is something so sad and beautiful about this bird with no mate and no song.
A title I have stolen from Patricia Edmonds in the January 2017 Issue of National Geographic.
This is not just a drawing. I feel it says something special, so I have moved it from my last post to this one. To quote the NG article: ‘The difference in appearance between a species’ males and females is called sexual dimorphism. The term implies that there’s a bisecting line between sexes, a clear divide. But in the animal kingdom, a lot of creatures straddle it.’
I thought this ‘bilateral gynandromorph’ so beautiful that I had to draw it. And I post it today in support of the Women’s March yesterday, and the spirit of openness and acceptance that it engenders. Get it? En-genders? 🙂
March on ladies, and the gentlemen who support them!
As it has been almost a year to the date since I posted anything, I thought it might be time to end this blog. But after looking at it again I realize that I still enjoy it. So just a small post for now, of some drawings I’ve done this year and one I finished today
Buddhist caves at Ellora
Ellora is a place I have wanted to go to for such a long time, since I was studying Asain art as an undergrad. I don’t know how to describe this experience and it can’t really be explained in pictures either, but here is a taste of the great beauty I experienced. My favorite spot is the Buddhist cave with the ribbed ceiling, and the stupa with Buddha carved into the front. There were very few people when I was there and I was able to sit quietly on the floor and breathe it in. A once in a lifetime experience – the enormity was overwhelming at times. These caves were built by hand from solid rock between the 6th and 9th centuries!
Man from Jain cave
Man blowing into a conch shell on a post in a Jain cave
Three stories of Buddhist monk meditation quarters
Perfectly aligned posts carved from a solid mountain. This cave lacks decoration because it is for meditation. Only the two columns flanking the entrance (halfway down on the right) have carved pots with overflowing plants as a welcome.
Buddhist cave for worshipping the Buddha.
Ceiling of cave
Looking out from behind the stupa
The largest Hindu Temple in Ellora. Carved from solid mountain from the top.
This temple is for worshipping the god Shiva. It is built in the shape of a carriage, but instead of wheels it is carried on the backs of elephants and other animals.
Elephants, lions and gryphons supporting the temple
The Hindu temple from behind
Dyes on the studio wall remind me of a Cy Twombly painting.
Yesterday I took a fabric printing workshop at Tharangini in Bengaluru (the city has officially changed it’s name since the last post). It was so much fun to spend time in the studio, touching the beautiful wood blocks and printing with them. We began by practicing on a sheet of wrapping paper and a gift bag. We were then given two cushion covers to design and we could choose from the hundreds of blocks lining the walls. The printing process is quite different from block printing with a brayer and printing ink. The textile color is not as tacky. It is spread onto a flexible support and overlaid with a rough jute fabric for blocks with larger print areas. For finer blocks a fine smooth muslin is put on top of the jute and the ink is encouraged to seep up through the layers.
The owner, Padmini, told us about the history of Tharangini, then introduced us to some of the materials and the steaming process. Everything used in the dying and printing process is Eco friendly and often organic.
Gum Arabic on the upper right and pomegranate rinds on the bottom. The pomegranate makes a dull lime green color.
The steaming area for fixing silk dyes.
The container on top of the red oven in the foreground is where the water is heated, it is then piped into the tall metal cylinder behind, where the fabric is first top loaded and then steamed. The cone in the foreground goes on top.
For me one of the greatest highlights was seeing the teak wood blocks being carved. The artisan had his small chisels custom made in Calcutta. I love how he lightly outlines the pattern first, then carves with chisels and mallet to get a deep relief carving. Teak is a very hard and durable wood. I’m in awe of this craft.