Winter = creativity. 

As is usual for me, Winter is a slow period for the sculpture business. Rather than spend my time carefully categorizing my favorite local brews by IBU and hangover severity, I’ve been flexing my creative musk oils—er, muscles— with a bunch of 2d work. I picked up one of the big iPad Pros, and it has been a revelation. I’ve used Wacom tablets for years, but have never had the experience of drawing directly on the display surface. Well, not with the level of precision that Apple’s Pencil provides. If you have any desire to draw digitally, do yourself a favor and try one out.

These designs are made with a vector drawing app called Assembly. As the name implies, it primarily involves assembling pre-made shapes into compositions. I enjoy the challenge of resisting complexity. I add textures with a variety of other apps, and run the final design through an app called Percolator to give them the packed-circles look.

Also have been doing some sketching on the iPad. Nice.

WordPress.

Switching this site over to WordPress in order to (hopefully) secure it from any future structural changes in my hosting provider.

Note to others: The original spirit of the web is being slain by the likes of Tumblr, Facebook, et al. YOU should take ownership of your online content, not hand it over to the latest corporate fad or nameless overlord.

Some links are currently broken. I have a back-up over here.

Overcome.

“Overcome” in Little Rock, Arkansas

“Overcome” installed in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“We are not afraid, we are not afraid. We are not afraid today. Deep in my heart I do believe. We shall overcome someday.”

On September 25th, 1957, nine brave schoolchildren walked into Central High School and became symbols for a nation. They symbolized the righteous striving for equality and justice that continues to this day. I have chosen to refer symbolically to this event in my sculpture “Overcome” to honor both these students and what they represent to us all as a society and a culture. Nine shapes begin, caged by a lattice of injustice and segregation. They rise up and come together, and, leaning upon their collective strength, break their bonds to soar free. Each form is an arrow pointing skyward in continued aspiration for the greater good and an indication that more is yet to be done. 

Here’s some shots of the installation:

Below are some more photos from the fabrication process.

What’s Happening Now?

I’m currently working on my largest and most complex design to date: “Overcome” for Little Rock, Arkansas. Below is a rendering of the 3d design in Solidworks.

“Overcome”

And here is a gallery of my progress over the last few weeks:

Update.

A few of the things I’ve been up to since my last posty.

The Rotary Wheel is installed in the Rotary Plaza in Little Rock.

And so is the Mockingbird Shade at the Children’s Hospital in the same city.

“Mockingbird Shade”

WaterMusic is brightening up Jen and Scott’s beautiful new home!

Death Star.

This image of the galaxy Pictor A and it’s mind-blowing beam of X-rays wandered across my consciousness via social media.

The Pictor A galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its center, and material falling onto the black hole is driving an enormous beam, or jet, of particles at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space. This composite image contains X-ray data obtained by Chandra at various times over 15 years (blue) and radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red). By studying the details of the structure seen in both X-rays and radio waves, scientists seek to gain a deeper understanding of these huge collimated blasts.

The details of this thing are pretty incredible:

The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation across space. The Universe, however, produces phenomena that often surpass what science fiction can conjure.

The Pictor A galaxy is one such impressive object. This galaxy, located nearly 500 million light years from Earth, contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls towards the event horizon, the point of no return for infalling material. This energy produces an enormous beam, or jet, of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space.

To obtain images of this jet, scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at various times over 15 years. Chandra’s X-ray data (blue) have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red) in this new composite image.

By studying the details of the structure seen in both X-rays and radio waves, scientists seek to gain a deeper understanding of these huge collimated blasts.

The jet [to the right] in Pictor A is the one that is closest to us. It displays continuous X-ray emission over a distance of 300,000 light years. By comparison, the entire Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter. Because of its relative proximity and Chandra’s ability to make detailed X-ray images, scientists can look at detailed features in the jet and test ideas of how the X-ray emission is produced.

In addition to the prominent jet seen pointing to the right in the image, researchers report evidence for another jet pointing in the opposite direction, known as a “counterjet”. While tentative evidence for this counterjet had been previously reported, these new Chandra data confirm its existence. The relative faintness of the counterjet compared to the jet is likely due to the motion of the counterjet away from the line of sight to the Earth.

The complete description from the Chandra folks is here.

I was inspired:

Creative Choices.

An artist’s life is often a cascade of choices; making decisions about subject, medium, style, color – the list is basically endless. Each choice prunes the tree of possibilities and dramatically effects not just the final result, but also the process. Making a painting with hammer and chisel is pretty difficult.

The choice of sculpture as my chief focus came as a natural progression from my exposure to and background in construction and carpentry. From laborer to craftsman to artist. The tools of these trades impacted not only the output of each discipline, but the artist himself: my body paid the price for my choices in the form of tendon and joint damage. Pain is another highly effective filter, forcing me to put down some tools and pick up others – like the computer. Working digitally enabled me to continue exploring form without the pain, the frustration of lost dexterity. The medium of 3D software comes with its own constraints and demands, including the obvious level of remove from the physical interaction with the work, as well a the massive intellectual overhead of learning how the software functions. I’ve run through the litany of software I use on this blog before, so I won’t burden you with that again. Suffice it to say that the number and complexity of tools between me and what I want to make can be frustrating. If I have to watch one more half hour tutorial video just to get the effect I envision, I may explode.

Inhale.

No boom.

I’ve once again taken the Oblique Strategy of returning to the beginning: my first exposure to creating on the computer was via vector drawing and Adobe Illustrator. In pursuit of simplicity and creativity through constraint, I’ve elected to see what I can make using just my iPhone and the App ecosystem thereon.  A company called Pixite makes several interesting creative apps, including a simple but powerful vector drawing program, Assembly – far simpler than Illustrator, but that’s the whole point. An added bonus is portability and the freedom to sit or lie in any position while working – it’s a great way to relieve the stress of desk jockeying (not to mention standing around all day on cold concrete, melting frigid stainless steel together).

Here’s some of the things I’ve come up with:

PS I’ve posted some things before in a similar vein.

Mandala for Mariner.

Percolator 2.4 (2.4)
Grind: Extra Fine (Small Circles & Effect: Saturate), Brew: Color Gels (1/4 Pic & Full Blended Circles), Serve: Stirred (Vignette Tone & Slate Texture)

Ooh, pretty!

Some earlier iterations:

Return to Simplicity.

I’ve been exploring Modo and Zbrush and Keyshot and… tired of the massive layers of complexity that stand between me and actually MAKING. Return to the beginning.

Exploration.

I am of two minds. Split, like what the Native Americans called “Two-Spirits.” I am coming to terms with this aspect of myself on multiple fronts, including creatively. Each Winter, I am drawn inward, away from making objects of the real world, and toward objects and imagery that only exist in my mind. Perhaps due to the increasing darkness and isolation of the season. Take a peek:

Taking a breath.

Been too long since I updated things here. Mostly due to massive time suck of remodeling our kitchen, and the cascade of chores that stem from taking something like that on.

Anyway, I made a giant elevated Rotary Wheel:

Shipped it off to the site – supposedly, it’s been installed, but I’ve no proof that it isn’t at the bottom of the Arkansas river.

I also designed and fabricated some privacy screens for a local client (thanks, Chris!)

AND, I made a 3d interpretation of a university logo for Harding University in Arkansas.

Installation.

 

Loaded the Through the Looking Glass piece onto the trailer and hauled it to its home in Little Rock last weekend. The installation went flawlessly; good thing, as we had a surprise (to me anyway) dedication and press event 3 hours ofter we got the thing in place. Impromptu speechifying is not my strong suit, but damn them torpedoes, dog.
Below are some images of the whole shebang.

Through the Looking Glass – DONE!

 

Finito.

After a long week of cutting, grinding, welding, and bolting – the convex hexes are all attached to Through the Looking Glass. That means that I’m finally finished – the only parts still without a home are those for the base, and they need to stay off until the piece is installed. Heavy sigh of satisfaction; I really like this thing.

Below are some more action shots, showing the process for attaching the convex hexes. Those in the “field” and along the inner edge are a piece of cake; the ones that follow along the elliptical edge each have to be cut to shape and a custom rig for bolting them on has to be fabricated. I was able to get about 8 on per 8 hour day. Very labor-intensive and a bit hard on my hairline.

Now I just need to get the thing to Little Rock. Are you guys ready yet?