Sunday, March 28, 2010

'Bumper to Bumper' bronze turtle sculpture accepted for NSS show

This week I was delighted to learn that the National Sculpture Society accepted the large version of my 'Bumper to Bumper' turtle sculpture as part of 2010's annual show.
Unfortunately this year the New York part of the show won't be happening since they've moved offices, so it will only be on display at Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina.

Exciting news none the less, it has to be one of the most prestigious shows in the country, and I feel extremely honored to be participating for the fourth time.

Speaking of four, I've previously posted four 'making of' demo's of my large 'Bumper to Bumper'.

If you'd like to check them out, click HERE for a post which has a whole bunch of 'how to' posts listed within it, including the Bumper to Bumper ones.
Or instead you could type 'Bumper to Bumper' in this blog's search bar if you like!

I've also made it in two smaller sizes.

Incidentally, I just recently got my medal and certificate from Brookgreen Gardens for the 'People's Choice' award from the 2009 annual show, for my large bronze, 'Sumo Wrestling Toads'.
I was told it was very popular with the security guards at the New York location too!
Brookgreen Gardens had sent the medal and certificate many months before, but they'd got lost in the mail.

So, a pretty good week I'd say!

I have other exciting things going on, but I'll save some of that for future posts...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tree frogs in progress- Tree frogs on a vine

Yep, they're a bit dark and a bit blurry, but they're not finished and I like 'em that way since it adds a little wiggle room for your imagination, and they feel somehow more alive!

I've been busy with all sorts of un-related things (some of which will find their way onto this blog) so these frogs are taking WAY longer to finish than they should...(I can't believe they've been sitting around since December...)

Hope you're liking 'em so far!
My muse is still eating far too many crickets, an amphibious creature after my own heart (except of course you'd have to change out the crickets for something more like cheese. Or peanuts.).

Or a nice vindaloo. Mmm. Always good.

click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Which way do you swing?

Here's a pendulum.

Is there a portion of this arc between these two extremes where you like the art pendulum to swing?

I’m only applying this to representational art by the way.

At one end, the pendulum would swing to hyper realism.
Perfect in every detail.

At the other end it would find a caricature of exaggerations so extreme that recognizing anything would be a bit of a challenge. But it’s there if you look hard enough, or know what you’re looking for.

Hyper realism is too far off in one direction for me.
It loses believability because it’s so realistic, if it isn’t actually moving, something seems terribly wrong. It looks lifeless and frozen in time.

Exaggerations that almost become completely abstract don’t do it for me either. If there's anything worth looking at, it's lost on me.

Growing up I would find Michelangelo books and Bugs Bunny cartoons equally engrossing.
Imagine my excitement to learn that Leonardo made cartoons!
When I got to see some, I was quite disappointed.
Not what I had in mind at all!

What Michelangelo and Chuck Jones had in common was a keen observance of natural truth, and just the right amount of exaggeration to breathe vibrant life into their very different handiwork.

Of course Chuck Jones needed to push the pendulum further towards the exaggeration end of the spectrum to achieve his goals, but even so his work always remained in some sense believable.

So I suppose for me, when the pendulum leaves the realm of believability (even for Bugs Bunny!) it also leaves me cold.

I find art always needs some emphasis or slight exaggeration to feel life-like.
For my tastes, the optimal amount depends on the medium.

And how far you go determines your personal taste and style.

Or vice-versa.

That's all folks!

click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Sunday, March 7, 2010

If you don't like Picasso you're in denial.

If you don't like Picasso you're in denial.
So says V.S. Ramachandran, who's a neurologist investigating scientific explanations as to how and why we respond to art.
Of course I don't agree, and I'll explain why.

(skip to about 1:17 onwards for the Picasso bit)

It's as long as a movie, so I watched it in short bursts of ten minutes or so at a time since I have the attention span of an aphid, but it's fascinating. Definitely well worth watching the whole thing.
I'm going to paraphrase a lot, so watch the lecture for the man in his own words.

He points out how certain rules of thumb that are present in art relate to and stimulate certain known areas of the brain which have very specific functions.

For example, he suggests that multiple views of the face in one image, such as you see in cubism, stimulate brain cell a) frontal face recognition, brain cell b) profile recognition, and brain cell c) three quarter view recognition, all which then go to a master cell for remembering or recognizing an individual's face, which gets 3 times the stimulation as normal.
So cubist art has an intense effect on our more primitive brain which then stimulates an emotional response.

One thing he wants to do is explain Picasso's genius, and his arguments hinge on his assumption that his key prediction will turn out to be true.

That prediction, which is untested so far, is that everyone will have a measurably excited skin response to Picasso (which is unconscious).
This is of course because Picasso is a genius.
The skin response shows that the work is having an emotional effect on our 'primitive brains'.

But he is assuming Picasso is a genius.
I propose that notion is a con.

Anyway, he predicts our response would be like how seagull chicks get over excited by an abstracted and exaggerated representation of their parent's beak.
The parent bird's yellow beak has a bright red spot on it.
Three red stripes (instead of one red spot) on a rectangular yellow strip (not even beak-shaped), presented to a chick without the rest of its mother being present, excites a begging response even greater and more frenzied than the response to the normal real beak of the chick's actual mother.

If seagulls had art galleries, Ramachandran points out, they would all worship the artist who made a long yellow rectangle with 3 red stripes on it and pay millions for it, without knowing why.
The reason why is that the brain ignores irrelevant details, focusing the chick's attention on the key visual element of importance; the recognition of the beak.

And it's made even easier for the chick by not even needing to recognize the beak's shape, only a key element or two (red spot on yellow background).
And now it's got 3 times the stimulus (3 red stripes) so it gets over stimulated and goes nuts.

The thing is, lots of people I know don't like Picasso.
Some who don't like his work may begrudgingly admit he must be a genius since the experts say it's so.

But does Picasso really tap into the 'primitive brain' as Ramachandran assumes (ie IS Picasso a genius?), or did his work instead appeal to elaborate intellectual theorizing, while having little visceral effect (ie have we been conned)?
Did the adoption of his art by intellectuals become the reason for him being proclaimed a genius by those same people who were busy doing the theorizing?

I'm guessing V.S. Ramachandra has 'bought into' the established opinion of Picasso as genius, and therefore assumes Picasso is a great artistic genius, and expects his skin test results to prove it.
I think it would be funny if the results showed no more response to Picasso than to average 'control' tests.

And when asked why some people don't like Picasso, Ramachandran says that they do like Picasso on a visceral, underlying, more primitive subconscious level, but they don't let themselves admit it because the more advanced modern brain tells them it would be silly to like something that doesn't look real, or other reasons like that.
Our reasons for not liking it are revealed as 'the emperor's new clothes'.
We're just kidding ourselves that we don't like it.
He says we're in denial if we say we don't like Picasso.

But that's only if his assumption of Picasso's artistic genius is correct.

But what if it turns out his assumption is wrong?
What if it's the case that Picasso appealed to the 'higher brains' of the intellectuals of his day, which allowed them to get all Freudian with their theories (or whatever was the fashion at the time), while Picasso's work was actually leaving people's primitive brains un-tickled?

That trend (incomprehensible art-speak about incomprehensible imagery) would seem to have accelerated since Picasso's time.

If testing shows that to be the case, the emperor's 'new clothes' would turn out to be the opposite:
It would be Picasso's genius that turned out to be phoney, people only believing it because they've been told to by experts all this time.

I think a lot of testing will shed a lot of light over time. I'm very interested to find out what results show about people's underlying, physically measurable responses to various artistic stimuli.

I think that during testing people shouldn't know if they are looking at touted geniuses or vilified hacks or the work of kids or even animals during the testing. And control elements should of course be added of simple photos of faces, people, nudes, objects, hard to discern photos of unusual viewpoints of ordinary objects, almost random photo's of mud puddles, blurred bushes, as well as ordinary viewpoints of ordinary objects, and unusual objects, etc etc.

With a great deal of data and analysis, some predictable, repeatable effects to certain stimuli will no doubt be discovered.

If it turns out my, and many other people's smart modern brains don't like Picasso while our primitive brain responds, I can live with that. OK Ramachandran, I must be in denial!

If it turns out people's smart modern brains have been convinced that Picasso is a genius, while their primitive brain shows no significant response, I can live with that too.
I'd be surprised if it wasn't the case.

I read that Picasso made 86,000 artifacts.
Out of 86,000 completely random artifacts taken by a camera on a timer attached to a roaming cat I suspect some would stimulate the primitive brain by pure chance!
So some response, to some of anyone's work would be expected. But enough to be hailed a genius? How much would that take?

For instance, a photo of a bush with say a rock behind it (accidentally taken by the cat) would stimulate our primitive desire to make sense of partially obscured objects (is that a lion?).

I'm curious to see if I just 'don't get it' with regard to so much modernism, and other -isms, or if the hypothesis that people have been getting the wool pulled over their eyes for a long time is true (I suspect it is).
My curiosity can live with either outcome.
I'll keep doing doing what has value for me all the same.

This kind of stuff is really interesting. Science should try and tackle all natural phenomena in my view, including what makes us tick. I'm glad V.S. Ramachandran is having a crack at this no-man's land in his enthusiastic way, I know I'm capable of self delusion, as are many others.

I also know people are susceptible to accepting all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons.
Even things that seem to make no sense on any level.

So am I in denial or not? I suppose only time and lots of testing will tell...

p.s. I recommend listening to all of V.S. Ramachandran's lecture since my paraphrasing hardly does the man justice! His delivery is great, too!

click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille