Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ten years of not being an artist

This morning, I got to thinking about how life has turned out for me over the past ten years*.  Ten years ago, I was contemplating having a career in the arts - actually doing art as a job rather than for recreation.  My dream job was to work for Weta Workshop.  I was pretty serious about it, but was put off by the fact that there isn't much money in the arts and there's a lot of competition for jobs.  I figured the sensible thing was to get a degree in another field on the basis that you don't need an arts degree to be an artist, but you do need a degree for pretty much everything else these days.  And thus I started down the inevitable path of becoming a data analyst.

All things considered, I'm pleased I went with data analysis since it involves fewer hours and better pay.  The art is just for fun, and that's fine by me because anything you do for a job is, well, a job.  You have to do it every day even when your mojo's on holiday and you'd rather do literally anything else.  And that leaches some of the fun out of it, even if it's something you love.

I had a look around to see if I could dig up something I made ten years ago so you could all have a good laugh.  This is all I could find.

As you can see, my fixation with metallic paint goes back a long way.

*The reason for this sudden and uncharacteristic attack of introspection is that today is my birthday, and that means it is now ten years since I have been legally classified as an adult, i.e. old enough to vote.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Designing for public transport is tricky

Yes, I definitely think I will submit an entry for the Wellington public transport unpaid advertising job art contest, as discussed last time on Seditiosus.  Getting started is quite easy.  The council has thoughtfully provided scaled templates to show which parts of the carriage/bus/ferry can be painted and which can't.  You can choose a train carriage, bus, or ferry according to preference.  I'm going with the Tranzmetro train carriage, since that's the form of transport I use.
Actually designing something is a lot harder.  As you can see, the train carriage is not an ideal work surface.  Between the doors and the large windows there really isn't a hell of a lot of space to use, and what space there is is broken up.  However I have thought about some elements I want to put in there:
  • Train tracks - railway lines offer so many opportunities to screw around with perspective
  • Ferns and assorted plants
  • Rocks
  • Some abstract stuff, probably modelled on plant cells

The train line that connects my suburb with the city center mostly runs through cuttings and along the sides of hills.  There's vegetation everywhere.  It's actually quite scenic if you like that sort of thing (I do), and that's what I want my design to reflect.  It's the nicest thing about my daily train experience and it will offer plenty of opportunity for texture.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Why must public transport always spoil my fun?

Like many Wellingtonians I work in the central city, where the scarcity and prohibitive cost of parking forces me to rely on public transport.  Yesterday, while flicking through the monthly leaflet that Tranzmetro uses to publish its latest unlikely excuses, I saw the following:
I thought I might submit an entry.
Wellington public transport has a bit of a PR problem.  Specifically, the problem is that people talk to other people about their experiences with public transport.  I'm under no illusion that my, shall we say, individualistic style is what the council is looking for to promote their sub-par "service", but the entries will be posted on Facebook where I am confident I could at least get a respectable share of the public vote.
But when I downloaded the entry form I discovered the admission criteria, buried in the small print at the bottom of the page.

"We need to get a marketing firm to do an advertising campaign, but then we saw their prices so we thought we'd get some sucker to do it for free."

Of course the council doesn't actually want to know what public transport means to me, but this is even more blatant than I'd expected.  Still, if I were clever I could probably fly under the censors' radar.  My previous experience with the council suggests I may not even need to be all that subtle.  I'll put some thought into this...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A shout out to an artist I really like

Amy Eisenfeld Genser is a paper artist based in Conneticut who uses colour and texture to create surreal reef-like structures.  They're not quite sculptures, and they're not quite paintings; they're a fascinating combination of both.  Amy uses canvass or wood as a base for her work, and one of my favourite things about her work is the way the paper structure wraps around the edges of the canvass.
Mineral Yellow by Amy Genser
Mineral Yellow, by Amy Eisenfeld Genser
I particularly like Mineral Yellow because of the way the colours highlight the different textures in the piece.  Amy uses a lot of bright colours, and she's clever with them.  The following picture is Mineral Turqoise, which uses colour to give a fantastic sensation of depth.  Most of the colours here are blues and greens, but there are also some subtle pinks and yellows.  These highlight the overall colour scheme and make it more vibrant than it would be otherwise.
Mineral Turqoise by Amy Genser
Mineral Torqoise, by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Amy's work makes me want to explore colour more in my own work, but she also does some very nice monochrome art.  And when she uses neutral colours the texture in her work becomes even more apparent.
White Undulation, by Amy Eisenfeld Genser

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The tooth worm

We all know oral hygiene is important, and the above picture illustrates why it's so important.  Tooth worm eggs get stuck between the teeth, where they hatch out into little worms like this and burrow into the teeth, unless they're removed by proper brushing and flossing.  This specimen, as you can see, has completely eaten away the tooth it was found in.

Remember to floss folks - you don't want one of these little sods gnawing on your molars.

Before the development of germ theory, it was commonly believed that tooth decay was caused by tiny worms, imaginatively known as "tooth worms".  The tooth worm myth has a lot of appeal for me, because it's actually a fairly good attempt at explaining tooth cavities given the science available at the time.

As early as 5000 BC people were observing the little holes made by tooth decay and hypothesizing that microscopic worms, perhaps similar to woodworm, could be the culprit.  They weren't able to test this hypothesis, since the microscope had yet to be invented, but it was still a reasonable hypothesis.  It wasn't too far away from the truth either, when you consider that bacteria are tiny little creatures.

Friday, 1 March 2013

And now for something completely different

Well, not completely different, but different to the kind of thing I normally post about on this blog.  A friend of mine has a daughter with a birthday coming up, and she wants a wolf sculpture.  This time, instead of plumbing the unwholesome depths of my imagination, I will be celebrating the beauty of nature.

We live in an age where high quality, realistic fake fur is readily available, but I haven't really worked with it before.  The more I think about that, the more I realise what a lamentable oversight it is on my part.  I've got some very nice grey/black fake fur for this project, and I'll be using it to make a nice soft wolf - a bit like taxidermy in miniature.  Therefore, step one involves wrapping cotton wool around a wire frame to make the basic shape.

I honestly don't have anything much to show at this point, so let's take a look at something else which is interesting and wolf-related:

This is Head On, by Cai Guo-Qiang.  It's a really stunning piece, not least because all 99 wolves are life sized.  But they aren't wolves at all.  They are made out of sheepskin, with the wool dyed to look like wolves' fur.