Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Swimming with the fishes

The clear, warm, dry days that typified our stay on Norton Island, as it turns out, are not typical of this slice of Steven King's heaven.  The heavy mist rolled in and out all day Sunday, - our last full day, and it hung on as we departed the following morning.
Seven souls with all their baggage and a week of shared existence crossed over the foggy nothingness of the reach on a flat bottomed skiff as if crossing bouy festooned Styx with Charon (Rob) at the helm and a single headed Cereberus (Daisy) on board pointing the way pointing the way forward. 

Without the outboard running, the scene could have appeared as if ripped out of Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

I ventured out one last time to do a little more tinkering on the beaches on the second to last day.  As I was hammering lengths of driftwood against an edge of rock in order to cut the pieces to desired length, I felt as if I was cast in a Bear Grylls-like survival show, dropped on an island with limited tools - with not survival as the objective, but to litter the shore with bits of crafty flourish.

Exploded Stone
 By chance, some of the material I took with me to the island was some amount of my own beard and hair cuttings...disturbing as it is even to write it...let alone to look at it as a viewer with that knowledge, I'm sure.  But I'll own it.
.....It's all part of the island's DNA now.

 Another split rock, this one sits just outside the Art Barn.  It was improved upon by the other visual artist, Lilach Schrag with the addition of a rusty bolt, below.

Shell Game:  one of three placed around three different beaches.
The buoy tree arranged by my fellow residents.

So how did I spend my time when not combing the beaches? Well it took sometime to unwind strands from the ropes that washed ashore. That was a tedious job that I got bored with quickly, so I only did enough to create the sampler above.  But I do dig the rich colors that were not initially apparent on the beach.  Additionally, I worked on some oil paintings that were part of the intentions I brought with me onto the island, and I made several small watercolors and drawings in response to the island environment, some of which can be seen in the studio shots posted previously, like the exploded buoy drawings (the more colorful geometric ones.)

A week, or ten days is just about enough time to acquaint oneself to the environment one is in.  The work I created while in the studio was small and largely observational, getting the lay of the land, as it were.  Much more observational - although certainly abstracted - but definitely of a representational, ilk .  Feeling out the place, taking it in, and responding in an immediate way.
It's fascinating to me to see the process by which a place moves from being foreign to known.  Within days, shortcuts between vital locations are identified and made habit, and in a process that is  undoubtedly repeated with each new group, place names are given to geographic features, as if for the first time.  Within a week's time we adapt and a sort of experiential propriety falls into place.
My time in the studio mimicked this process, and given another week, I can imagine the results would begin to turn more toward a more internalized digestion of the environment.
So I did several small drawings, a bunch of small oil paintings - the beginning of a project I had come prepared to work on, several things that made it into my sketchbook, and various other things, many of which can be seen in the studio photographs in earlier posts.  I also did some brushed ink drawings of fissures in the boulders along the shore - which amounted to not much, but good exercise.
I had intended to finish working on Friday and leave two days for relaxing and reading - and preparation for the "art show"/open studio scheduled for Sunday.  But I just wasn't done and I yet had ideas and material to process, so I kept working - though leisurely - through Sunday.  This last bit of effort rendered a batch of collages that combined some "orphaned" paper I brought from home and bark from a particular tree on the island.  Embarrassingly, I'm not sure what kind of tree it was....either I forgot or I never knew it's name.  These collages are all 9"x12", I believe.

Angelika brought this mouse/note pad back Germany for me.  It essentially translates to "Is it art, or can it go?"  Which greatly sums up the position of alert I'm constantly in.  On a ground level, it's the unspoken question always in the air as I'm moving through the studio (and when I'm attempting to clean the studio) and even through the streets.  A sort of hunting and pecking for significance.  Of course, by using the term art, I never seek to invoke the grand, Corinthian columned, carved in stone, notion of the monument of art.  It's a compromised place keeper of a word that stands in as representation of some thing that seems worthwhile and worth experiencing....but that's definitely not right either.   Still working on it.

Regardless, this German phrase,combined with Ray Bradbury's quote "By doing things, things get done." (which I believe I quoted here before) together can serve as a shorthand bible for my studio pursuit.

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