Monday, July 15, 2019


"Efflorescence", 31" x 41"
Looking at this as a finished piece, it looks like I just blorted it out effortlessly. But what a pain this one was!  And that's true for lots of human made stuff in this world--it looks easy peasy fait accompli-eezy once its done, but actually what appears to be a graceful gesture is more of a chaotic, inelegant rasslin' match. So here's a peek into the sausage factory.

First of all, I had the figure completed in glass about two years ago and it was sitting awaiting resolution.  As I am wont to do, I was hoping something would just dawn on me and I was hoping that this something would: 1. be fantastic to contemplate 2. be fantastic to look at  3. be above and beyond anything I have ever done before 4. Do justice, complement and otherwise work with the existing figure in terms of "stylistic execution" (for lack of a better term.)

Of course, despite all these grand intentions and conditions, I had NO CLUE WHATSOEVER what form any of them would take.  And that, in a nutshell, is why I think intentions in art are wack. Intentions, ideas...we all have them and they are all just wonderful until the rubber hits the road...and then, suddenly POOF!
I forget, remind me what the Buddhists say about expectations? (No, seriously, I remember!)

The face that launched a thousand snits
The source of all this agita was that I actually liked the figure I had made. This is always a recipe for disaster.  If I had felt more neutral or if I had even disliked the figure, I would have felt freer to be daring and experimental, after all there's nothing to lose and nothing to live up to.  The problem with achieving good results is that they demand more good results and the instant that becomes a condition of art making the whole process becomes very difficult psychologically speaking because now risk is dangerous instead of fun.
One of the weirdest things I had to do to make this piece happen was make a SECOND head. The reason for this is that I was convinced I would not do right by the first one....anyway, you may see her again, in other words.

So, while I said above that I hoped the "perfect" solution would just spring wholly formed into my brain complete with Ikea instructions, that isn't what happened.  What happened was I swam a lot of laps at my dad's apartment in San Diego.  Every lap I swam I thought about how to resolve the piece.  Is she falling out of bed?  Being attacked by a bear?  A wolf? Next to a pile of snakes?  In an abstract background?  What is she thinking about?  Is she an "annunciation"?  Is she falling?  Cringing?  Fearful?  Waking up? Just sitting there?

I tried really hard to have her be in a boat.

Here's an idea...or maybe not
As I swam, my brain trotted out all the known possibilities.  And that's the problem.  I already knew them...because I had, for the most part, already done them before!
Of course, if I knew the unknown possibilities, I would be psychic, such is the nature of unknown-ness.  But that's the whole game in creativity isn't it?  How to generate something new and different out of the ether into material form.

Well, I have said a lot about how I didn't resolve the piece and here's a sad but lucky and awesome fact: I can't tell you how I did resolve it either, because I was, indeed, blessed with an "aha"moment.  It was so brief I have no clue how to analyze it.  All I know is that I was, in fact, drawing and working on the piece (in Photoshop) when it happened. I wasn't swimming...all those laps for nothing!!!!  Please take note, creative types: I waited over two years for this to happen and was basically constantly on the lookout.  Dunno if that helped or sabotaged me,  but its a fact.

Despite what I said about newness being important this idea is not new-new.  I have dealt with barf many times before. That's probably because I am terribly phobic of vomiting.  I have also dealt with flower barf before.  I have certainly done a LOT with birds!  But there's all sorts of standards for newness and originality and this fits my "new enough so I can sleep at night" criteria. 

So, when I had my epiphany, I had been following the lead of  having the figure in a dark space reacting to a visitation of a large bird, like of some sort of "annunciation" (of what I do not know).  I have a lot of terrible thumbnail sketches most of which don't exist anymore. My last piece, "Sky Life" had the motif of birds carrying flowers in their mouths, so, being lost in the realm of "what I know" I considered repeating that motif, when BAM!  Instead of holding the flowers in order to transport them, I  thought, the bird should be crapping the flowers!  And then BAM!  No!  Not crapping but barfing! 
And I saw the sine curve that defined the trajectory of the spew.  Such a NICE LINE!  And that was that. Except, yes, I could use some Ikea instructions.  I always feel like a rank beginner when I make this stuff!

Ultimately, I can say that when I look at this piece as an observer myself, it is an image of a bird vomiting a really nice looking post Renaissance bouquet on a female figure in such a way as to somehow anoint her.  The vomit has an "ejaculatory" quality...its a come shot of sorts and all that might imply, so yes, its true to the idea of an annunciation!  What it means to me is to be showered in something beautiful that should be per usual, if your meaning differs that is a delightful thing.

Yes, I DO love Dutch still lives of the 17th c!
Three more things:
1.  A friend inform me that when a bird really, really likes you, it regurgitates on you in the manner of a mother bird feeding its chicks.  I did not know that when I designed the piece, but boy, does it ever fit the them for me, so I am claiming it as part of my inspiration, retroactively.
2. I named it "Efflorescence" because efflorescence refers to both a disgusting, frothy excrescence that erupts from dank basements but also implies some kind of flowering action.
3.  The cut line, (or solder line, if you prefer) that spans the upper third was something crucial to my excitement in making this resolution.  To me, it feels like an audacious stained glass design thing to put a honking big, obvious sine curve RIGHT THROUGH the area of interest!  I found that oddly satisfying.

Technical notes: as per usual, the image is carved into the flash glass using hand tools, some plugged in and some not. There is also black vitreous paint fired on and silver stain and some pink. 
Three layers of glass comprise the background.  Lambert's Red on Clear 1001 r/clb, St Just 221 blue flash and Lambert's Au/cl.  On the red layer we have stencil black vitreous paint and silverstain. There is some pink cold paint--some of which I believe I actually removed from the blue layer as why bother?  I have the aurora!
Layers comprising the head.  See the other caption for glass used.