universal upgrade, part 1

some time ago i made a commitment, to get some work done and really give my love of stone sculpture my full attention for a while. it seemed that would be the only way i could make enough progress in this tough and challenging medium. it is an art that takes time and physical energy and patience and the willingness to be dirty. the results occupy space and time in such a hard and formal way, even if the gesture is soft and lovely. to make this commitment, i had to let some other interests go. tattooing for one. so i may not get to have work on myself as often for a while, oh well, that is a sacrifice i choose for now. then i asked the universe to give me some support if this is the right choice for me, and got busy with my rocks and hand tools. i had started to speak of my journey with stone in my previous entries.

i’ve come back so many times to the love of the subtractive carving process and the way it feels very complete to me, being so physical, and sometimes so slow to see results, it takes me out of my mind. i hear the sound of the tool in rhythm with my mind’s eye and the physical ability i have to execute that visual relationship. now i’ve made a deeper commitment, followed through with some action, asked for support, made some progress. i’ve received support, encountered challenges and set myself up for a year or more likely a lifetime of sculpting with the tools and techniques and new material, but especially with the feeling that there is so much more to learn and say within the medium.

wow, so what exactly was the upgrade? things went so full circle and surprised me–i’ve  learned recently that people i respect in my community have been reading my words, here. okay, to step back a bit, where i left off, i was working on the ‘angelheart’ sculpture. what a stone–the detail, the polishing, it is like glass, very crystalline! i’m happy to say it is finished. renamed ‘Ananchel’ or angel of grace. Ananchel means divine grace, and she is here to offer us the experience of an open heart allowing the love of the divine to pour in. “she awaits to bathe us in a state of ecstasy, when every cell in our body sings praises”  and offers gratitude. “Ananchel provides the state of grace which allows the angels to fill us with love, inspiration, wisdom and rapture.” the color of the onyx really does vary from white, to a soft peachy color as shown in the photos, depending on the light.

   

what happened is that after i made the commitment and fumbled around with my motivation to put the energy into it, that i had the first upgrade; the pleasure of being commissioned to create a piece in stone for an indoor water fountain made of slate and built into the corner of a wall. i put the other pieces on hold, and went for it, finding the right stone and getting it approved, eventually having enough awareness of the project and the material i started carving. (this part took a while, looking at the rough rock in the shadowy corner, and trying to ‘see’ it in my minds eye) i loved working the stone, pyrophyllite. the consistency and color and smooth, tight grains. the idea of water and the shape of the fountain informed a feeling in me of where my eye and tools wanted to go together. also, there was a lovely patch of red on the top corner of the stone that the client really liked, however the red was pretty shallow and toward the front, so had to find my way around that brief red coloration and not overwork the area, a thought i dreaded. the following pictures are: the fountain, the sculpture, and the fountain with the sculpture.

  

i then encountered a problem with my growth. i made too much dust in my home studio environment (that was our garage and yard) and had to look around for a new place to work. i heard about Pratt in Seattle and looked into it for a studio rental. i rented the stone yard there to finish my piece and am so glad i did. it is a great place that has everything i need to continue my exploration of committment to stone sculpture, the tools, the air, the water, drill presses, the six inches of dust, etc. i have had the place to myself, except for a few random and changing artists and the department technicians which have been most supportive. this place allows me to keep busy and have more resources and and a good atmosphere to work in, as it is surrounded on two sides by a community park on the other side of which is a great local coffee place.

that is why you may not have seen or heard from me as much in a while. i’m encouraged to continue writing along with creating sculpture and visual art, and recently i contributed to a group show at artwalk in Issaquah, completed another five-day figure sculpture intensive and am getting ready to have a place in the local annual salmon days festival in one weeks time. events that are requiring me to finish pieces and consider how i want to represent myself and grow.

renaissance in stone

if ever there has been a time for a renaissance in stone, it is now. mother earth is changing, people are changing, and our entire world is responding. it is now i find myself reflecting ever more on the permanence of stone art. much of what we know about ancient human civilisations has come from stone art, masonry, petroglyphs, sculpture, and ancient writings carved in stone. the earth moves and changes and buries the pieces of our lives, whether slowly over great swaths of time, or in swift, fell swoops, as in the geological release of energies in the form of earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis. stone frequently survives and maintain its qualities and shapes, often over many thousands of years.

i believe there is great value in the appreciation and contemplation of stones, rocks, crystals and gems. in our rapidly changing technological world, i want to see more people have the opportunity to experience the appreciation of stone art. there are psychological and emotional benefits that come with having to slow down in time and in the thought experience. there are pure, hard, cool, smooth, subtle, vibrant and rugged natural qualities in a stone. these can be a soothing qualities to contemplate in our hectic, frantic, virtual, fast paced world. stone is actual reality, nothing virtual about it. the time has come for more art collectors and investors to choose to invest in the value of permanence, the value of art made from nature’s matter in its purest form.

i’m working on a new piece.  it is a compact piece of onyx. it is mostly white-ish with a translucent quality and the color deepens in places to a lovely pale peach. in the beginning, it looked similar to this, in size, general shape and color:

i purchased the pieces of onyx from another stone carver, who has an enviable collection of rocks and finished rock sculptures. i spent a good deal of the afternoon choosing from the different types of rocks and stones and shapes and sizes. this is my first time carving onyx. i was surprised it was so light in color, but when i saw how beautiful the light looked coming through the stone, i could not resist its calling. twice. i chose two pieces of onyx. 

i like to approach a chunk of stone that i am going to sculpt as if it is a conscious entity, with its own weight, particular shape and voice. i like to think it speaks to me, although it is rarely with words. the first piece of onyx that i felt drawn to carve had a more diamond or teardrop shape than that of the example above, and was slightly smaller. i saw, or heard, the angel right away. i was working on the stone one day for maybe an hour when my four-year old son came out and looked at me and the stone. ‘mommy’, he said, ‘you’re carving an angel’…and i felt very pleased, that he could see the angel too.

wings above the angel

after a short time of working and looking at the stone and getting a sense of where the angel was, (because i didn’t have a visual translation yet for my experience of the angel) i saw a heart, a valentine’s heart, not an anatomical heart, yet, 3D–perfect, right there in the side. i worked it just a little, and on both sides of the rock took off the loose, broken or dirty bits of stone. eventually the angels wings began to show followed by the appearance of the head and arms as well.

the first heart

i have been using several different chisels, two points, a rake, a small power tool, a large file, and a couple of paint brushes to sweep away stone pieces and dust, as pictured in the beginning. as i worked, another large heart began to emerge from the other side, along with another angelic figure wrapping the large heart. it now takes the working title, angelheart.

large heart and angel

 

i have shared my process thus far in the creation of a stone sculpture. it is a bit like falling in love. i will savor the time spent chiseling, defining, refining and polishing this piece from where it is now. in this relationship, the more work i put into it the more i get to know its form and beauty, until it is finished. there is already so much here, and yet it is really just the rough, a sketch of the finished expression. i intend to document the evolution of this work of art. i will check in with photos as the piece becomes more defined.

angelheart

the healing art of tattoos

 if you have visited www.istara.org, you may have read this paragraph:

i became interested in tattoos in San Francisco, as part of the urban tribal underground art scene. i felt that the tattoo scene as a movement was a cultural effort to heal, through skin art, many many layers of our collective human suffering, through the individual story, and provide a new acceptance for the uniqueness of everyone’s path and expression to heal. eventually i acquired a tattoo machine, and it has become a healing art for me.

we are all made of stars

so what does this all mean to me? the urban tribal underground art scene? at the time it was where its at, people of various ages and diverse backgrounds, rejecting the homogenization of the masses through corporate programming and the cultish fervor of groups of all types that require adherence to a dogma or any conformity. artists, persons frustrated with the system and the hushing of human spirit, came together to confirm a possibility, that of freedom of expression, and respect for diversity. in a new turn to the idea of the wild west, a reclamation of individuality and a remembering of our pioneering spririt, exploring a new frontier, in a cyber age of maximum saturation, it became necessary sometimes to extrapolate our pain, to wear it boldly/to set it free. 

painful karmic memories are released

the opposite of denial, acceptance. interest. a new means to relate, the forming of a tribal community in an urban setting, an attempt to make new definitions for living. finding a way to connect to nature through the ownership of ones body. all of these concepts are present in the current cultural tattoo revolution.  

one love

the surge in popularity and acceptance of tattoos in america is a reflection of this revolution. while people have always tattooed and gotten tattooed, in the last twenty years it has gone from an underground urban revolution to a very mainstream thing to do. it is the american spirit, even if the tattoos are symbols from other cultures, they have helped a person to reconnect to their native homeland, or spiritual homeland, and that is a part of the healing.

yantra to ground root chakra

in addition to externalizing pain, tattoos are frequently acquired for the acknowledgment of a great joy, such as a sacred union, a child’s arrival, an anniversary of a momentous occasion, winning a great race, accomplishing a desired goal, celebrating years of being clean and sober, acknowledging a son or daughters passage into maturity, or even re-committing to one’s faith. maybe it is committing to one’s life, as many of my tattoos have symbolised for me.

this vine has three leaves for three years clean n sober

frequently tattoos are in memorium, or commemorative. tattoos can cover many types of scars, to help with the look and improve a person’s self-esteem.

the morning glories are covering scars

 

i have discovered that tattoos remind me of how temporal our time incarnate is, and the eternal permanance of life. i imagine a day when i’m able to tell stories and show wrinkly faded tattoos to my grandchildren and wrinkly, toothless friends.

forest for the trees

i like the medium of collage because to me it is like viewing a frozen image from someones brain, the revelation as many disparate parts  composite and form into a new idea. or as i titled my last series of collages, aetheros portals a portal to another view, a sketch of possibility in quantum terms. i say quantum terms because of the fact that most of the elements of a collage are or have been pulled from another position, and thus have previous or current lives as different symbols, parts of other realities. this could happen infinite times.

i have collaged and re-collaged certain images so many times they are now existing in many possibilities at once. they may look very different, even unrecognizable, or appear as the same feature, in a different mood, a moment in time, or expression of emotion. i enjoy the discovery of bits of visuals that my eyes are drawn to being placed in a new array and becoming something different. i am reminded of the options we have to form realities, and to change them.

in my collage series i had several themes develop, where multiples of one idea or image occurred.  a few trees, the untitled ones, and the uraeus, named after the egyptian symbol of an upright cobra, often shown with wings, mostly associated with royalty. the symbol of the uraeus originally was a depiction of a state of spirit, when the kundalini, or life force, had crowned, reached its peak and achieved union with spirit,  all that is.

the first one, uraeus rising, is experiencing bliss. in pleiades dream, this visual is the imprint of an ancient memory. in earth/sky uraeus, also titled soul uraeus, it is in the balance of connection, connecting above with below, a perfect place to allow full expression of the soul.  together they represent three glimpses into the idea of ascension, the experience of spiritual freedom through having mastered form. in my process of recognizing and imaging the symbols, i feel i have imprinted the possibility for this idea.

in the tree series, i have three tree portals. there is tree one, with its flower, its metaphorical fruit. it is sheltering a small cat. various energies are formed around and under the tree. it is an enchanting place, safe and full of wonder. in tree two, it is a tree of wisdom. it appears to have a face, that may seem to speak. i wonder what it will say to me, to someone else.  in the third one, there is a magical forest. the trees are alive with consciousness and communication. it is like music, expressed in the light, shapes and climate, created by the density and reach of the trees. the title, forest for the trees, alludes to the loss of humans ability to witness and enjoy the natural magic of the forest, or of a tree.

i heart Art!

pages and pages of days go by
in this writer’s life
cut and paste world
collage of ideas
layer themselves into a vision
sculpting time into Art
i heart Art!

art is the vehicle that carries us back and forth through time. we become time travelers when we look at a piece of art or read what’s been written, as it has been completed at a fixed point in time, even if that time is ten minutes or many many centuries, back to petroglyphs and cuneiform. we create future time, with our ideas, both in imagining, describing and depicting other possible realities, as well as the more subtle shaping of the next moment by our choices and actions, our creations. that is the future, an extended idea of the now.

writing, sculpting, painting, collaging and music, also the process of understanding and  translating what other people’s needs are into skin art,  these are my teachers, friends that inform me along the way.  my capacity to understand the world grows with each expression, and the world grows with me.

the sculpture in the photo above is a great example for me of time travel and growing the world. titled ancestor, it was made during a time i was taking a class on mesoamerican art and architecture. the rough stone,  a mineral called serpentine, that left to nature’s nurture, would eventually become jade, was gifted to me concurrently by a friend, a jade carver. many of the colossal heads carved by the olmec culture in mesoamerican antiquity are carved from serpentine. i felt inspired by the rich, earthy green colors and interesting striations, and just dug in with my chisels and mallet. it is a fairly soft stone. when the piece, ancestor emerged, i felt surprised by the obvious influence of the ancient art i’d been looking at for three months! i realized that my own small percentage of hispanic heritage had found an opportunity to connect, in geologic time, to it’s roots, through the hand working of this stone. thus the name, ancestor. i had reconnected to myself and a part of the world culture. i am pleased with the original work that will always call to mind my remembrance.

in the law of time, when we are harmonious with nature, the only law that exists is time factored by energy equals art. the creative energy that exists is the same creative energy for us all, regardless of our medium, our skills or talents. that is why many artists say they have channelled their art, or gotten themselves out of the way somehow to let their creation flow. that, of course is why it has been said there is no original art. though all creative energy is from the same source, it can only come out as a unique expression when tapped by any individual. ah the beauty…