Coming light, now partake
Lights vectors, photons take,
Information, vision's sake.
Punching through, clouds charcoal blue,
Reflected, refracted, bent-bounced issued through.
Current arrangement of vapor's containment
The values and wavelengths, a visual inveighment
Eviscerated, punctured by rays in this bright stint.
Pink, orange-lemon glowing the orb's infinite glint.
The shifting marks
The lights, the darks
Enter the air, cumulus voluminous.
The refracted arc
Water drop's spark
No real location, fragile coloration.
The time-angle perfect, for red and azure's trick,
Ground and sky interface, sharing in light's grace.
Delineated, undersides shaded
Rolling on now, wind current aided.
The storm? Over.
Sun's new disclosure.
The table saw has limitations, like any tool, but some of those can be overcome with tricks of the trade. Table saws are primarily meant to make strait cuts (ripping) but by clamping a piece of wood at an angle and taking other precautions, the saw can be used to make simple but elegant cove molding. This makes sense from a financial standpoint, as a comparable molding prefabricated would cost around 3-4 dollars a linear foot. By comparison, a board foot of rough sawn cherry can be had from 2-4 dollars, so the saved money is worth the effort. Additionally one isn't limited to a single cove size. By simply increasing the angle of the board away from parallel to the blade, the cove will take on a gentler, larger curve. And if my lumber supplier doesn't have molding in the species of hardwood I want, I can simply begin with a board of my choice, with custom results.
The reason I made this molding is because I'm in the final stages of building a cherry mantle to be installed over a rock fireplace. It's the second mantle I've worked on (see my earlier post) and it's sure to be an improvement over my first. The main improvement consists in how I attach the cove molding to the underside of the top board. Rather than relying on the 45 degree beveled surface on the back of the molding as the only point of attachment, I'm going to secure a strip of wood (to the large flat area) that effectively extends my glue surface and gives me a place to install screws (I'll explain this more in a future post with additional images). The result will be the lack of nail holes through the front of the molding, and tighter corners on the sides of the mantle. I'm excited to see how this turns out and look forward to making mantles a regular addition to my woodworking repertoire.
For a while now I've wanted to consolidate my writing about art and furniture from past blog posts. In the file below I've compiled all the blog posts from my old wordpress site, which spanned most of 2012. The site is still around, but I don't actively post there,(www.speierworks.wordpress.com). In the future I plan to collect the work from 2013 as well. I might end up with enough material for an e-book, so stay tuned. In the mean time, enjoy some of my early adventures in writing with the free download below.
The Armoire and the Arduous
(I originally posted a longer version of this on my old Wordpress site around Christmas 2012)
This was one of the most labor intensive, ambitious projects I've undertaken. I continue to learn through mistakes and see the value in failure. I heard someone talking about something called “failure value” the other day and it appeals to me in light of all the things that go wrong in life. Its ok to mess up as long as I gain something from it and grow through careful reflection. I like to impress upon my students the importance of learning through mistakes and seeing the value in not getting and answer “right.” I prefer they see how they got where they are and that there was value in reaching the apparent dead end. I found myself at many apparent dead ends this go ’round. Holes where there shouldn’t be holes, split boards where no splits were welcome. All valuable lessons I’ll carry with me into the next project.
I think like lots of folks, I like to have plenty of control over things and outcomes. Woodworking is a good exercise in realizing how little I control in the grand scheme. Things move, swell, crack, don’t fit together, I bloody my knuckles and hit my head on things, inhale too much dust and smash my fingers in the cold (a terrible delayed pain sensation). I’m sure my experience is not unique, I mean that of frustration and occasional futility. The constant tug of entropy on our lives. But what we gain by putting energy back into the system and fighting against it. There is value in failure, satisfaction in completion.
To think of color as a degree of darkness adds light to our total visual understanding. Viewing one color can also be thought of as the absence of perception of the other colors "out there." If color is understood in purely physical terms, then white light is merely a combination of the components of the visible spectrum. It follows that any individual color would be the result of somehow restraining the expression/presence of the others. Painting affords a record of what was and equally important, what wasn't bound up in an experience.
Color choice in painting doesn't simply aid in the recording or one experience or enrich the possibility of memory, it results in an art-ifact that has potential or power to further elicit response in a viewer. The pigments and marks on a support after the art making process have assumed a structure and communicate spatio-visual relationships with each other. They exist now to impress/impinge upon and inform/form the next viewing/viewer.
Marks are filters and mirrors. Light comes to a surface and at that interface there is an energy transaction occurring. Light not reflected is absorbed, increasing the temperature of the surface ever so gently and imperceptibly. The reflections re-tell and reconstruct the story or experience of the artist, a sort of transverse translation. The transformation from sight to thought to mark to reflection to perception to reception is surely altered in virtue of the degree of mediation from the source. The meaning/essence is not lost though. As with any language/mode of transmission there is usually sufficient lexical overlap for an intended construal, you just have to work at it (ART-WORK).
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Color is hard to define. Often our attempts end in ostensive definitions, or instances of pointing, and this isn't the only philosophical consideration that emerges when attempting to understand color. There's also the issue of demarcation, or making distinctions between and among things by listing some set of essential characteristics (blue is a color that evokes such and such an emotion or is the color of the sky). Ask a physicist what blue is and he'll tell you it's electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength between 450 and 495 nm (Each nano-meter is 1/1,000,000,000th of a meter). But why? Why not 449-496? In this instance we find the perennial "problem of the heaps" among our colored confusion.
Whatever color is, it must at least be understood in terms of relationships. The drawing above used more than 20 different "blue" pastels." Individually each hue (color) looks blue and seems like a clear case example, as opposed to being green for instance, or purple. But when all of the versions of blue are combined into one space, they begin to demand an understanding dictated by their relationships to other blues. Some look more purple, or some look greener, and then some blues have the addition of white pigment, which adds further complication and nuance to how we construe them.
The tendency to read colors in terms of their relationships to others is important in composing a picture. Consider the color of the paper above, a warm cream color (a variant of orange), interacts differently with the various blues differently than a "neutral" gray or black would. This choice of surface color is not without consequence. If an artist has a somewhat muted palette of colors, they can be accentuated and keyed up by using a surface that has a greater degree of neutrality. This is especially useful if you're using less expensive pastels, whose pigments tend to be less vibrant. The toned down color range of many pastel papers helps to direct attention to the colors used. I don't see much use for example for white paper or colors close to it, when painting with pastel. White papers reflect all or much of the light back to the viewr and tend to overpower the pigments in use. This visual competition can be mitigated by using neutral grays, blues or browns. The toned down quality of these surface colors will compliment the pastels instead of diminish their brightness.
Color relationships should be explored for their tendency to create different effects or evoke certain sensations or emotions. Complimentary colors (red and green for example) tend to create tension when juxtaposed. Similarly orange and blue. Complimentary colors are found by selecting one primary color (red, blue or yellow) and pairing it with a mixture of the remaining primary colors (yellow set against red+blue or purple). The pairs always include one primary and one secondary color. These color arrangements, like sequences of words in combination with vocal inflection and tone, should be studied and practiced to the point of near mastery if an artist is going to be capable of expression through visual means. The painter who understands color relationships is like the musical composer who knows how and why to use a minor second or perfect fifth; both are in a position to make a lasting aesthetic impression and shape the imagination.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.