Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 Part 3: Making 50 Boxes in 2015

Each summer, Sanchez Art Center gives artists the opportunity to make fifty artworks, 6" x 6" in size, one each day for fifty days.

For this show, I wanted to make fifty boxes using drawings I had made of people around San Francisco and Northern California.

In March, when I got the call for artists, I started to pull together images and ideas from among the drawings. I made a 6" x 6" square in the same place on uniformly sized pieces of paper. Each box design was prepared on this paper. I hung the sheets in a grid across the wired wall in my office so I could see all the designs together.
I needed more than fifty designs, as I knew some ideas would not work out. I ended up with 55 designs. Even though I had all the source drawings, it was clear that it would take work to turn source ideas into designs that made sense, then into drawings from which I could work.

Making Fifty Boxes
This was the excitement. I thought about each image. How does it make sense? What's the story? How does the composition work to tell the story? I wrote about the box: description of the location and text for a secret message to be included with each box. The excitement was physical when the conception came together, when I could feel the meaning and the relationships.

The grid on the wall grew as I developed ideas. The kind of work the sketches needed was conceptual. They needed story, action, humor and attitude. When I hit on those attributes, it was a rush!
That's why this project was so fine. It had tension building while I was finding solutions for story, form, relationships, construction, composition, color. It had resolution when I finally got the right story, color, relationship, and ultimately the gestures of the figure, the clothing design, the respective positions of the figures, the directions of their gaze, the shapes and emotions in their gestures.

All these strong feelings fifty times in succession. Every day, every day for months.

Fifty drawings, fifty color studies, fifty locations, fifty stories, fifty emotions, fifty sets of outfits, fifty landscapes, fifty wood boxes, fifty plexiglass fronts, fifty titles, fifty secret messages, fifty signatures. And, 101 figures!

Fifty Completions

At the time I did not enjoy the moment of completing each box. There were many difficulties with closing up the boxes. I had built the inside of the boxes completely during the fifty day period. I left the addition of the front plexiglass to August. Problems with the way the figures were fixed into the boxes began to show themselves as I was attaching the fronts of the boxes. Many failed.

I actually feared each completed box and did not want to look at it.

The installation at Sanchez did not go smoothly.

But now, I admire the completeness of the project and its components.

The experience of having completed something, and something worthy, repeatedly, fifty times, was very much like building a skill through repetition. Finishing a work of art is something I learned how to do.

I have been delayed in finishing my summary 2015 posts by a broken ankle.  There are a couple more posts I will be making to round out my comments on the amazing year. I usually don't include this kind of personal comment in my blog posts, but a physical injury at this time, in the midst of writing these posts, makes me realize how emotionally dangerous it feels to write about and publish intimate details of my studio process.  In the past month or so I have received many notes from readers and friends telling me how much they enjoy reading this blog.  I appreciate being able to connect with you and share my experiences.  Thank you all for your continued support! More to come!

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