Friday, January 8, 2016

New Work: Precarious

Precarious
12" x 16" acrylic painted papers on wc paper
Inspiration:
The above piece was completed this week and is based on my reading in Colossus by Michael Hiltzik. The book describes the planning and building of Hoover Dam. If you aren't familiar with the dam or the history surrounding it this book is a great introduction. One of the ideas that really stuck with me was the issue of safety. It's really impossible to imagine what these men were asked to do in the desert, in the heat, and under some of the worst working conditions imaginable. The descriptions of the various accidents was horrific. And while my piece may seem playful or not too serious, I am not slighting the gravity of the subject.

I chose some imagery that I thought could represent some of those ideas that were more factual in nature: the four tunnels, the cliffs and the pulleys installed between them to carry loads of cement, the workers themselves, the sun and the water. I saw several photos showing the scaffolding and other building structures required to work on the project. And I chose colors that to me represent water and desert and heat.

Process:
OK, I had a hell of a time with this piece. The  drawing was pretty good but going to color presented me with a complete balled up mess. I really lost my way and finally just chose colors that I thought would be pretty together and representative. Once I got out of that mess I was good. The piece went very smoothly thereafter.

A Story:
When I was in high school I had a teacher for US History who was a little kooky. She might be described as a Berkeley hippie; a real free spirit. We had an assignment to write an essay on a topic of our choosing. No subject was given and we were to pull together whatever thesis we wanted and support it with whatever reading and research we wanted. Being a literal and unimaginative person, I had a very hard time at first not having a subject given to me. It was the first time I had encountered this type of writing but interestingly enough, not the last. In college (the second time around) I had yet another history teacher who gave us all the same type of assignment. Six papers to be exact and all with a free form thesis. (Honestly, as if I had no other classes.) My point is that this way of writing has served me well. Creativity is nothing if not pulling loose and disparate ends together to come up with some kind of a whole. And that is how I am viewing these pieces that I have been doing. I seem to be pulling bits of information together from different sources and coming up with one finished piece of art. Does anyone else see their creative process like this?

OK, I sure hope everyone has had a good week. Thanks for reading and for maybe even answering that last question.
Libby

13 comments:

  1. Very original and clever, Libby. The manner in which you indicated the worker is subtle, almost as though he is part of the structure itself. I think the colors work very well. I especially like how the white space is used.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol,

      Thanks Carol. I was kind of worried about the figure to begin with and tried to integrate him into the scene as much as possible. I haven't yet made the leap to full integration of the figure into the background (so he becomes part of the structure) which is something I am definitely interested in doing.

      It's always such a challenge for me to put the pieces together so that I think they balance. Lots to learn:)

      Thank you as always for your observations. I appreciate them!

      Libby

      Delete
  2. I am always impressed by how your work, while abstract, can easily convey your chosen subject! Interesting how you find your way creatively. My personal process usually starts with an emotional feeling often brought on by nature, color and pattern. When I have experimented with abstracts I end up with an unrecogniable mess!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen,

      Thank you! I am trying hard each time to straddle the line between obvious meaning/symbolism and a greater blurring of that obviousness while still having the composition be a good composition!

      You know I am always interested in the creative processes that other people use. And I think your comment is really important and speaks to a connection to the work as being necessary for success. Like you, when I work without meaning or feeling or connection, I end up with a muddled mess! Seems obvious but honestly, I think much of the mystery of how to make art lies in this emotional connection. It's interesting to me so thanks for answering my question.

      Thank you again for your visit. I appreciate it!

      Libby

      Delete
  3. I LOVE the guy on his side.Then I stopped to think... Is he falling? Representing the lost lives?
    I know you have a meaning for everything so you have me thinking.
    Like the active angles and think the title is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie,

      Smart cookie! Got the meaning in one try.

      Yes, I was after the images of the men who fell or who were otherwise maimed, crushed or blown up during the construction of the dam. Although I have just read the one book so far about the making of the dam, it doesn't take a safety expert to figure out that working conditions were not optimal!

      Hey, I'd really like to hear about your impressions of your visit to Hoover Dam. We are planning a trip in April and so any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

      Thanks as always for the visit and comments.
      Libby

      Delete
    2. Hoover Dam suggestion- take the tour! Make sure it is the tour that does the power plant and tunnels. It blew me away. I first heard about the dam at school in England so it was like being inside a National Geographic video when I was actually there. The sheer scope and power is beyond comprehension.
      I have not seen the new bridge finished, but it looked so graceful when it was almost completed.

      Delete
    3. Julie,

      OK! Yes, the tour. Definitely both aspects are interesting. I have read a little bit on their website and it all seems like it is going to be great. I wasn't aware yet of the bridge and so that should be good too.

      Thank you for the tip and comment. I am sure that the whole trip is going to be incredible.
      Libby

      Delete
  4. Yes, I totally understand about pulling odds and ends together and creating some from the mess that has a pleasant visual substance and hopefully meaningful too. However I find pulling these elements together into a strong composition to really be fun. Looks like you are having fun too and learning from the experience. Keep going! I've been to Hover dam and taken the tour. truly amazing that it was ever built.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Libby I can feel through this piece a sense of falling and tumbling going on. Your depiction of the figure adds the perfect element to this work. Having been to Las Vegas and feeling the heat when I was there I just can't imagine what a difficult job this would have been and dangerous as well. Once again Libby another superb work. Hope you have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie,

      The scale of that project just boggles the mind in all respects. The temperature alone is enough to stop me in my tracks!

      I wasn't too sure about the figure but thought I would give it a try. I guess just getting comfortable with using the figure is something I am going to have to work on:)

      Thank you again and have a wonderful Sunday:)

      Libby

      Delete
  6. I had to laugh when you said you were a "literal" person in college. I can relate. Is your sun sign an earth sign, by any chance? (I don't really "believe" in astrology, but I have noticed people who are earth sign people are "grounded" and make brilliant engineers. (I'm earth). Anyway, I love what you've come up with here. You've described "precarious" just beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Celeste,

      I am a Tauras so I think that is an earth sign. I am right on the cusp though and so often think that I have traits of both Pisces and Tauras. I think! LOL:)

      And thank you for the compliment on the work. I ended up being pretty pleased with the results.
      Libby

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it! I reply back in an email if you are signed in and I can see your address. Otherwise I will post the reply here under your comment. I tend to cut and paste my emails too so that others can experience the back and forth which I think is integral to blogging.
Libby