Abstraction

Working abstractly, problems and questions  soon appear. Answers come slowly.

The abstract image is very human.  It is produced from the mind almost as if it were a holographic slice of the artist's consciousness prejected onto a two dimensional plane. Where the image came from is a matter of interest to me. 

For example did the image emerge as a single  form, only to be 'read off' from the mind- in which case we might say that it is along the same lines as figurative art - the object being evident in a subtler realm and the seeing being the inner eye. Or might we say it develops as we work on it - to some extent we are discoing the content of our own mind. As one mark modifies the inner picture. Happy accidents are 'liked' and explored and maybe developed.  But what is the the overall form we are trying to depict. 

The image we create is a hologram of ourselves. Each painter creates something that has been formed by the life of the printer, their experiences, their  ideas, a mirror to the catalogue of images they have seen - other paintings included.  AS we get more expressionist, the image reflects more of the state of mind of the artists as well -regardless of his cultural and experiential background. (Q - did Jackson Pollock need to be 'trained' or did he simply need to find outward form for the contents of his mind?) 

 Thinking about abstraction is like threading apiece of string from one ear to the other through your brain then concentrating such that you can tie a knot in the middle. 

 

It can be said (if you squint with both eye and mind simultaneously) that 3 dimensional objects are just a rapid presentation of  two dimensions images. This is how we experience film of course at 24 frames per second. Might we be said to experience sculpture as a rapid succession of 2-d images . (Interesting reference here is the writings of John D Graham . In the modern world we are used to seeing the world sliced by time  (Eadweard Muybridge) and we have to trouble accessing the world this way. Sculptors previously probably did not.  I can see I need to think about this more...

My work is in wood. I have been a woodworker all my life and feel at home with the material. I am costly astonished by its ever changing character. I have written elsewhere about  the fact of each piece of wood being both unique in appearance and its own challenge in how to get there best out of it - here wood

                                                                 

 

 

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia.

 

 

The distinction between drawing and painting is  fast becoming blurred. We could probably find overlapping boundary examples that challenge   simple definition. As does 'installation'  versus 'sculpture'.

Wood is alive. It has a life hundreds of years after it has been felled and it is vital that the artist in wood understands the changes that the timber will go through from its growth  from sapling though felling,  milling and prepapration. To understand the  very  big difference between drying and seasoning: they are not the same thing. Wood can reach target moisure content within a coupke of years once planked but might take twenty years to season - that is to adjust to  the environment in which humidy ranges widely, temaperatures change, chemicals in the wood crystalise, resins harden over decades and so on. 

 

The artists first task with wood is the source the right piece. This can take a long time - but most woodworkers know where to find good  pieces and endlessly needle their estwhile friends for a baulk of something that inspires them. Most artists have an odd relationship to a fine piece of wood. It begins with a total disgust at the idea of  cutting into it at all - becvuase we see the beuty in the rought chainsawn log. Then, when we open it and see the unique grain, we cosider this to be the best presentation of the  piece. But we are not here to present pieces of wood - though I have sometimes  hung a flat planel on a wall for a while  just to enjoy what nature did.  Its also a great way to get the wood used to being indoors. (I'll avoid the term seasoning now). 

Here is an example

 

           Green Man. English Oak 450mmx 220 June 2007

 

This piece of timber is approximately  250 years old. It was felled, as far as I know, in the mid 1960's and was thus stable and acclimatised (and mentally well adjusted to being hacked into). I had been in my workshop for over a decade before I found out what its future should be. 

So you look at the figure. Consider how the form of the face will fit, where grain looks as if it wants to go that way already and where they grain might resist. (Nobody knows the meaning of the phrase 'against the grain' until they have worked with a chisel or plane on a piece of wood). The wood had an even vertical grain with some rays showing. See detail below:

The evenness and golden colour are worth enjoying. You can see here also the residue of tool marks. Evidence of the hand that made the piece. Grinling Gibbons didn't use sandpaper so neither shall I. It's worth clicking the link to the Wikipedia article on  Gibbons. He set the standard for woodcarving and his work remains astonishing.