Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hearts, Hoops and Hang-ups

During my last few weeks at UF, I was working on a series about jumping through hoops. (Those of you in academia: can you relate?) I was talking with friends about the artificiality of those hoops and in my sketchbook, I started exploring ideas about the hoops being objects, such as a diamond ring, to symbolize status or betrothal. On the pots, I decided to go with the cliche' of a heart. He gets hung up on the heart while trying to jump through it.

I just got this one out of a kiln at the Armory tonight. I have several more of these to glaze and I will be experimenting with color. Stay tuned!

Stig Lindberg

I have had a bit of a crush on the work of Swedish designer Stig Lindberg (1916-1982) for a while now. Here are some of his mid-century 2-D and 3-D designs which exemplify his love of graphic art, pattern, line, and color.

Monday, August 9, 2010


While at the dog park yesterday, I met a woman whose husband hand-painted billboards for a living all over south Florida. His specialty was the coppertone girl--you know, the one whose dog is tugging on her bathing suit. His specialized skills became obsolete with the rise of mass-produced digitized and vinyl billboards.

Old hand-painted signs, like the one in the photo I snapped from a building in Beatrice, Nebraska, have always intrigued me. I am impressed by the large-scale format, the texture of the brick, the lack of transfer techniques, and the danger of the job. Although I have no idea what the farmer originally looked like, I can't help but wonder if it has become more beautiful with time. For more information on billboards and their history, check out how billboards are made.

While painting the nursery mural a few weeks ago, I tried to channel one of my favorite artists, Margaret Kilgallen, whose murals were inspired by hand-painted signs.

For a visual feast of hand-painted signs of the world, check out this flickr set.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

True Love = Clean Plate Club

Jack Sprat would eat no fat

His wife would eat no lean

And so between the two of them

They licked the platter clean.

I love Lucienne Day’s interpretation of this classic symbiotic tale on a dish towel. Day reduces the form of Jack and his wife to simple geometric shapes and patterns. She further emphasizes form with colored blocks left-of-center, allowing heads and appendages to break free of the borders. Jack’s spindliness is restated with a thin grey rectangle. His portly wife (unfortunately nameless but appearing unaffected.---happy even) receives a tangerine square. Their relationship is symbolized when their representative colors intertwine on one single dinner plate. Happy relationships are usually represented by a clich├ęd heart. I love how Day uses a dinner plate as an unconventional symbol of love between a chubby lady and her balding man. Jack shrugs as if to say, “whatever works!”

I first became aware of British textile artist Lucienne Day when visiting the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center exhibition, "Designing Women of Postwar Britain." For more information on this exhibition, visit the website here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Without A Studio: What to Do?

At the end of July, I embarked upon a project for a little boy's nursery in Gainesville. The parents had used the Pottery Barn Jungle Friends bedding and accessories. Pottery Barn sells wall decals for over $119/each. The parents liked the look of the decals, but wanted a customized job that incorporated all of the walls. They also wanted jungle vines which were not available as decals. I worked with the parents to come up with sketches and colors that would compliment the existing motifs on the bedding and wall valance. Together, we sized and placed the images on the wall using a projector. The clients had very specific ideas of what they wanted the nursery to look like. This made my job much easier and because we had very open communication, I knew that they would be pleased with the end result.

The project took about 3 times longer than I anticipated. Between the consultations, design work and painting, the whole project took about 50 hours.

I learned a lot through this process. In the future, it will make the most business sense to stick to an hourly wage. I will be cautious about accepting "pay by the job" rates. I will also be sure to ask about travel distance and figure travel time into my estimates. Time is money! I will also ask about wall condition and texture. Crisp lines are not impossible, but they take much longer when the wall is textured. Luckily the clients for this project had the walls professionally painted a pale yellow prior to my job.

The project was gratifying, especially since I do not have access to a studio right now. Working large scale in a 2D format, I kept thinking about installations and how I could incorporate similar motifs and composition into a show about functional pottery. I would definitely consider a mural project again in my future.