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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Outside The Box

Thinking Outside The Box

When I was contacted by PlacerArts to participate in an upcoming event named:  "Outside The Box"
I accepted.  

Outside the Box is an annual fundraiser benefitting PlacerArts. Each piece of art in the Outside the Box show is inspired by a plain wooden box. One hundred participating artists are given two months to create a work of art, with just two rules: the final product must fit through the gallery’s front door, and be able to stand on its own or be hung on the wall.  

I requested my box be shipped to me and when it arrived I was most surprised.  Why, you might ask?  I did that assumption thing we are not supposed to do, and I just assumed I would receive a tidy little box, and then I would paint on and in it, typical of my style.

What arrived was five slats of wood tied up in a tidy bundle, that quite obviously could be made into a box.  Well now, thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective.  It requires novel, lateral and creative I did just that, thought about how I could create something different while staying true to my muse, true to my work, true to my style.

If you are familiar with my work you know nature is my muse, it's the natural environment that appeals to me, that drives my creative thoughts and actions. Nature, the natural environment not altered by human intervention.  One of the elements in nature that captures my attention is rock.  The power and permanence of stone is represented frequently in my work, it's a recurring theme.  Sometimes I like to take the inspiration of unaltered nature and present it in an unnatural composition so that in fact, it is altered.  The theory behind this is to get the attention of the viewer and to encourage thought about nature. 

Recently I have been painting cairns, definitely altered rock.  Stacked rock to be exact.  So my outside the box thinking took me straight to painting a rock cairn inside the box and perhaps attaching rocks on the outer surface of the box, maybe creating a small cairn inside the box in front of the painting. It would be an interesting work of art, but not exactly lateral thinking.  I kept looking at those slats......and after a couple bike rides through some very rocky terrain with wheels spinning, both mine and the bike's, I decided I would sculpt with the box.

The 'box' went off to my favorite wood worker and came back to the studio inside a cardboard box.  It had been shaved into sawdust, every single inch of board, sawdust.

My plan was to sculpt with this sawdust, so I need to figure out how I was going to do that, because I haven't done it before.  Several chat rooms and web sites later I discovered I should use wall paper paste as a binder.  Off to Lowe's for the paste.

Let me tell you, sawdust and paste are a gooey, sticky mess.  I managed to get it everywhere;  on my painters apron, on my clothing, on the counter, on the floor, on the door handles, on my phone, on my cats.  Everywhere.  

Eventually sawdust, paste and fingers worked together and  the shapes I wanted started to appear.

After several days of drying I brought out the paints to turn these sawdust patties into something that might look like rock.

After a great deal of experimentation with paints and mediums the rocks are complete and ready to be stacked.  

And trust me, it wasn't easy.  It was a frustrating experience, an experimental experience, a time consuming experience.  I went through moments of complete dissatisfaction with what I was creating, then ah-ha moments, and now, finally,  I am ready to begin the stacking. It will happen this week and I will post photos later in the week, so check back to see the completed project. In the meantime, take a look at PlacerArts and specifically at Outside the Box.

PlacerArts is the Arts Council of Placer County, a nonprofit, public benefit catalyst for the arts and humanities and the State-Local Partner of the California Arts Council for the County of Placer. 

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