After fumbling around with uneven inspiration in painting, I decided in September to start working with wood again. The big challenge was figuring out the direction to go. Naturally, I started looking at artists working with wood and I found a couple of inspirations. The two that were instantly a draw for me were Ben Nicholson because of his geometric abstraction and David Knopp who does amazing work with plywood, my favorite form of wood. Both artists sparked ideas the play on my desire for abstraction, dimensionality, minimalism and maintaining the characteristics of the materials I use, especially the wood.
My first series has been an experiment in technique, ideas and a test for inspiration. Having built tables in the past, I knew the challenges I would face in staining, but wanted to give it a go. One big challenge was the color factor. I wanted vibrant colors and for the wood grain to show through. This was easily solved. So knowing some of the challenges in technique, I wanted to test whether I had ideas to sustain moving in a different direction. Turns out, I have more ideas than I have time to complete them. I consider this a good thing because it also meant I was inspired and could see the move into wood sculptures as a medium that I could be satisfied with long-term.
The first series was not an easy one. I failed on the first two sculptures because I overworked the stain and it looked more like a painted surface than a stained surface. I really wanted to be able to see the wood grain. albeit brightly colored. From the comments of those who have seen the new pieces, I was able to achieve this. The other important part of the stain was pigment load and not using water to thin the acrylic paints. I was able to achieve this quite nicely using a special medium. Another challenge with the stain was mixing pigments with the medium as they had to be constantly mixed to maintain consistency due to separation caused by the pigments and medium having different properties. Something along the lines of the Siqueiros effect and, yes, that makes physics awesome!
One of the main components of this art is the wood itself. The new compositions are made using Baltic birch. What I love about plywood are the plies. The varying plies add a dimension that I believe should solidly be maintained on some level and become part of the art. For these works, I showed the plies in the red components of the sculptures and made them a focus point. In other pieces, they are only minimally apparent due to the properties of the stain as well as the wood itself. This will be a focus point as I progress with my ideas.
With new direction, I am looking forward to what comes next.