My artwork never travels in a straight line. The way in which I’ve been creating since the completion of the Creative Experiment has been the greatest influence upon that. I would also add that I’m a fairly impatient artist. Wanting my artwork to ‘get done faster‘! This is especially difficult when working with glue and gesso.
Half of the artwork that I’m currently working on seems to fall rather neatly into the above description. At times, I need to remind myself that completing my artwork quickly isn’t the main goal. My artwork needs to take the time it needs to help me create it and myself.
My fascination with Erittäin Heino Suomalainen bottles has been documented several times in my blog. They were used for the legs of Blue Doll #10. There is just something about them that speaks to me on a creative level. Perhaps it’s because they are so distinctively shaped?
About a week ago, I decided to cut one of the bottles I had on hand in half. Then add paper mâché and gesso to the surface. One bottle, cut in two, became two bottles cut in two. Part of the reason for my doing that is because I wanted to have options for the artistic ideas I wanted to use.
Here’s the interesting thing; what these pieces are becoming is not exactly what I initially had in mind for them.
Just as it’s difficult to satisfactorily describe how I “just know” what do create as an artist. It’s equally as difficult to explain how I change the direction of a piece of artwork mid-creation. Again, it comes down to something similar to “I just know“. Which, even as I type it seems as if I’m not being truthful. Because I don’t always know.
Between the “I know” and “I don’t know” for myself as an artist is the place in where the creative decisions are made. My knowing and not knowing exist simultaneously. With a lot of space between the two, linking them. This in between space is where every artistic outcome is completely possible. Being ability to navigate this strange space is where the artwork is created over and over and over again. Each time with a different end product. My job as the artist is to choose one final shape and bring it in the physical world.
For anyone looking at the final, physical artistic creation, this is what the artist wanted to make. For me, it is only one of infinitely different outcomes. Knowing this propels me as an artist to go back to that in between space to explore more options for the artwork that I create.
The original idea I had for these bottles didn’t seem like it was ‘enough’. The imagined finished piece wasn’t what I felt it needed to be. Within that in between space, is so much stuff. By ‘stuff’ I mean basically everything. There are portions of this space that I actively attempt to bypass too.
There are hard and fast reasons for bypassing some of these places within the in between space. Some of it has to do with styles, some with design. And there are some things that are too emotional. So I just bypass them. They aren’t locked away. I see them. They are acknowledged. I just choose to leave them floating around.
One of the designs that I had been bypassing were fixed, rigid legs. From what I can understand about myself creatively, this comes from a deep childhood desire to have some of my own toys have articulated heads and limbs. These design elements are ones I find so satisfying to look at and manipulate that they have become fairly standard in my doll design.
What’s in that bypass?
The fixed, rigid leg construction for the four bottle dolls just would not let me go. No matter how much I thought about it. This type of leg was the answer. I let go of my fear and just decided to go with it. Then, I started looking at how I would design and create the heads for the dolls.
The “I know” part took over. Each of these dolls would have geometric forms for heads. Period. No more thinking about it. It’s just how they much be created. I made a few sketches to see if I really, really wanted to make heads like this. And the answer was yes.
As I began creating the arms and legs. Then the heads. Some of the bypassed places in that in between space began to come to the surface of my thoughts. That’s when it hit me. What I was beginning to create was similar to the memory of a doll-like toy I’d had when I was very young. The toy kind of freaked me out a little bit. But I liked it a great deal. I was cheap and plastic. More than likely, it was tossed out before I was 10 years old.
I knew this had to be true, because I had the “I know” feeling. Again. I cannot explain it well. It’s a physical sensation. It’s mental too. Ha! While writing this, I gave it all a test. I thought about the pieces I’m working on. Pulled in the bypassed plastic doll memory, as well as the bypassed rigid, fixed legs. And yep. Totally got the “I know” feeling.
For quite some time, I have believed that the reason I make the artwork that I make, specifically dolls and toy-themed artwork, was because I was making them for the child I was. That somehow, I would have chosen them as my toys instead of mass-produced dolls and toys. But I think it may go a bit deeper than that.
Why specifically would I spend so much time in an extremely specific and short period of my childhood? While the above reasons are true. I think that a greater portion of my rationale may have to do with control. Control of who and what I am. How I think. Where I go. Who I interact with. Perhaps control is too limiting a concept. Perhaps autonomy is a better descriptor.
All of the above being said, and to make a long story just a little longer, I feel as though I’m working in the correct direction with regard to the four bottle dolls (as I’m calling them right now). Working on them is helping me to create myself. Or perhaps know myself in a greater sense. Man. That in between space is wild. I never know quite what I’ll find in there!
Abrupt change of topic:
Gesso. While I’ve been working on the four bottle dolls, changes have been made to my homemade gesso recipe. I decided to try using chalk instead of plaster in my mixture. I’m quite pleased with the results so far. It’s far easier to sand than the plaster based gesso. There are still places in which the paint surface is bumpy. But I’ve found some solutions to this problem that I will be trying in an upcoming batch of gesso.
I’ve also added some talc to the mixture. I like how it gives the gesso added body. And it makes the gesso smoother to paint onto the surfaces worked on. I’ve also finally realized that I need to actually create a recipe for my gesso that can be replicated. Presently, I’ve just been creating the gesso from ‘feel’. As in, it needs more water, it’s too thick. Or I need to grind the chalk a little more, it feels to lumpy.
The concepts and designs of the bottle dolls are working well. And in a direction that I find extremely satisfying. I’m getting my gesso recipe closer and closer to what I want and need it to be for my artwork. OH! And of the four boxes for 12 cm dolls and the 10 tiny doll brooches have been painted! I’ve set them aside so that they can dry completely (five to seven days) and then I can add more paint and drawing to the surfaces of them.
So…yeah. My work is progressing. In the physical world and the emotional world.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.