30Jul/131

“Lucky Sevens” Gets Going

Posted by Sermarr

Today was mostly prep for "Lucky Sevens". I had to cut 2x2 boards to make a backing for the plywood that it's being painted on. To keep it straight. So that means very detailed measuring, then painting them red and letting them dry, then putting screws in the corners to attach them to one another, and then using my nail gun to attach the plywood to the backing boards. Then I mixed one of the base colors. The flesh one that stays constant through them all to bind them together. It was a big mix of a little of everything-buff,copper,green,pink,red oxide,burnt sienna, white,yellow ochre- and then paint my arm to see if it worked. Then paint some of it on a red strip because it changes character with a different background. Skin is a lot browner than I usually think. So I finally got that done. Then I had to paint tiny dots in the center of each of the 49 spaces because the red outlines are so faint it's hard to stay oriented. Then started with the middle to put some of them in and see how they looked. I feel dread and excitement about this project,just like its counterpoint "169 Faces" The amount of concentration that it takes to begin something like this is huge. I don't really know how to paint smiling faces,so each one is fearful to do. But I'm determined and so it will just have to be done.
At last I got so frustrated that I went to the grocery store to get out. And what to my wondering eyes should be over the parapet of one of the buildings I walked past but A WHITE HORSE! (A statue, not a real one). Never saw him before and it is just an ordinary commercial building. But hopefully it is a sign. Of some kind.

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28Jul/130

Day Of Walking And Waiting

Posted by Sermarr

Today was frustrating in many ways. I went to Pearl Paint on Canal to get clear gesso to put on my red background to protect it. And to get an embroidery hoop for "Hang Them". On the way I walked down Bowery Street which is being renovated into very upscale. It used to be Skid Row. I saw this marvelous add-on over a brownstone. Then I went by the park outside Gracie Mansion (the mayor's place of business) where they had an outdoor sculpture show. And across from it is the Woolworth Building which at one time was the world's tallest building,all forty stories of it. Lots of construction on much larger buildings now. I read a thing that said that part of the air in Manhattan is particles from fat due to all the restaurants because everyone eats out a lot. I surely did see a lot of restaurants everywhere. And a lot of tourist souvenirs/junk on canal and Chinatown. And lots of tall white tourists with their kids
Anyway when I got home and put the clear gesso on the red, it didn't work. It looked pasty and splotchy. So then I had to repaint over the top with my red mixture (barely have any left) to hopefully cover it. AND NOW I HAVE TO RE-MARK ALL THE LINES AGAIN!
Oh well tomorrow!

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28Jul/130

A Search For Color For “Lucky Sevens”

Posted by Sermarr

Having put two layers of primer on the board for "Lucky Sevens" I now had to find the right color for the backdrop of the portraits of wedding couples. I have been captivated by the wedding photos in the NY Times for years. The subtle and distinctive variation in two heads is fascinating to me. And now I'm going to paint 49 of them. Yike! This is a counterpart piece to one that I painted called "169 Faces" which was about snapshots of people at low points in their lives. Everyone's had low points;it's just not clear what will happen over time. And I learned to paint faces! So I've wanted to learn to paint smiling faces. And this is it. It will actually be 98 faces since they're 49 couples.
So I tried all different background colors. And the winner was…deep red. You can see from the picture that it highlight the faces rather than overpowering them. Just like black did for the others.
And then it was a hunt for the perfect red among a lot of reds. Finally I added some blue to the one that was closest. And so the board is now prepped with three coats of deep dark red. And has been measured and marked for the pictures and the names underneath each picture. And now it's on the easel needing one coat of clear gesso to protect its surface.

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26Jul/130

Assembling Pieces, Baking Focaccia, and Doing Ugh Work

Posted by Sermarr

Today was a mixed bag of things I had to do and things that I had been avoiding. Finally I could not walk past their undoneness anymore.
I taught myself via web instruction how to put drywall screws in, the ones with the little plastic jackets. A woman on YouTube taught me. You could see her camera on a tripod and two kids wandering around trying to get her attention, even shaking the tripod. But she stayed focused and got them to quiet down and taught me what I needed to know. So I worked in my office,an avoided area till now. I hung up bulletin boards, also hung up things in a closet. Now that I know how simple this is, I am even going to hang up some more pictures. Amazing how much power doing something you've feared you couldn't do gives you. I am trying Eleanor Roosevelt's "Do one thing you fear every day". Moving here has made that easy to do. Each day has new unconquered hills
So while I was doing bill paying,ugh, advertising my small studio for sublet,ugh, I did things that are interesting and require time to sit. So I made focaccia (basically yeast raised pizza dough with your fingerprints and herbs on it), and primed three newly cut plywood boards so I can begin on them tomorrow. Also I went dumpster diving at Dyke's lumberyard across the street. I had found these wooden skids with wide grooves routed down the middle;they throw them away as they're basically a part of a palette for materials. I can see a piece called "The Tie That Binds" from them. But I need a lot of them and guess what? They throw away a bunch each day. Today on my trip over Scott came out and asked what I was looking for and will keep them on the side and I'll go over at the end of the day and get them.
Hooray! Bills got paid;studio went online to be advertised; focaccia got made; boards got primed; drywall screws were mastered; and boards were gotten from the dumpster. Not a great art-making day, but a great day anyway

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25Jul/130

“Box Of Secrets” Is Finished! Hip-Hooray!

Posted by Sermarr

I worked for hours finishing "Box Of Secrets". This picket fence required precise spacing. 1/8 inch apart. And I had to cut down the big pickets from Popsicle sticks,making a pointed head and cutting 1/4 in h off the bottom to get the right height. I wanted them to look like prim and proper teeth - all canine-like. So after gluing and two coats of paint, I think they do The roof is 22" tall at the peak, the outside edge of the front picket side is 40". And the side is 34". Now my problem is what to do with it! I'm not set up for sculpture. So I'll have to move it somewhere. And I think the next piece "The Ties That Bind" is going to be sculptural too. I can see parts of it in my head. Maybe I'll make it tomorrow.
I need to do paperwork things like insurance and pay bills and deposit checks and now that I'm really flowing over with ideas, I so do not want to do it. But I will have to force myself to tomorrow.

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24Jul/131

Magnificent Art In A Sacred Space

Posted by Sermarr

Today I walked from one art thing to another. I started my day with breakfast (yum,nova and scallion cream cheese on a toasted onion bagel) at Barney Greengrass at 86 th and Amsterdam in the Upper West Side,where I lived many moons ago. Then walked to the Cathedral of St John the Divine, an enormous Episcopal church in the Gothic style. It is gorgeous inside; it has a Rosé window as big as Chartres (bigger than Notre Dame & St Patrick's downtown. And for good measure, a minor rose window under it. All the stained glass throughout is beautiful. And I went to see an exhibit of Jane Alexander's work. She is an artist I saw in South Africa. And her work is about apartheid/injustice and usually has half human/half animal figures arranged in tableaux. This was awe inspiring because the cathedral/curator had arrayed her work in the smaller chapels around the sides and back of the altar. It was so strange and jarring a juxtaposition of her animal people in their often harsh cruel looking arrangements in the middle of these altars and stained glass windows. I took a few pictures but the real thing was amazing. And very inspirational to someone like me whose work is almost always about injustices of some sort

Then I walked to the middle of Central Park to see if I could sit and wait for the free tickets that are handed out at noon for the Shakespeare plays done in a theatre in the park. I have great memories of sitting in line for tickets and seeing Meryl Streep, Sam Waterston etc and a fabulous James Earl Jones as King Lear. The line was very long and interviews with those in line said that I would need to get there about 10 to get tickets at noon. Everybody had a book/chair/mattress/food and was having a great time waiting. Just like we used to.
Then to the Met Museum for lunch and Italian Renaissance altarpieces…my favorite pieces in the museum The colors and composition are amazing to me
Then to the Whitney to meet Serga and her brother and sister in law to see an Edward Hopper show. It was very interesting because it showed all his preliminary sketches for many of his most famous paintings, complete with markings for which colors to use where. Just like Van Gogh's letters to his brother did.
Then I walked 65 blocks (that's about 3 miles) to the lower east side to meet someone. My head was full of things I want to try so I hardly noticed the distance and it was great exercise since I've been holed up reading lately
It is a great thing that it has cooled off some. It was in the 80's today instead of the nineties. So much more conducive for life.

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23Jul/130

The Yard Is Here For Secret Boxes

Posted by Sermarr

I got the cut OSB wood today and amazingly the dimensions I thought would work, do work. And the thick blacks lines of dye on the OSB worked by accident to be a front walk and a border for where the house sits. I love working with this board. OSB means Oriented Strand Board and instead of the veneers of plywood it is a bunch of particles that are smushed and look all chaotic criss crossed I painted over it with watered-down white acrylic for a whitewashed look. And then got white border boards painted. Then painted the floor of the inside Then screwed the house down. And nailed the side boards on. Only thing remaining is the front picket fence. Only the front will have one so it will look like teeth.

The reason for the neat white border when the house looks like it's sprouting gigantic black mold is to portray the placid exterior that lives over family secrets when everything needs to be neat tight and bleached white looking
So here it is

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22Jul/130

“Secret Boxes” Is Finished…Except For the Grass & Fences

Posted by Sermarr

The "Secret Boxes" has finally wended its way to being finished. Except it needs grass and picket fence. Today I worked steadily to get more panels ready for the sides and more gnarled things to come out of the roof and sides. Then I glued and clamped some of the side panels to the upper frame. Then came the time to use my beautiful new nail gun to nail all the pieces together. And I could not figure out how to make the air pressure increase. And none of the horrible instructions helped. Or the Internet. Porter Cable, the manufacturer, does have the terrible instruction manual on their site but no contact number for questions. There were some great videos made by women on how to use a nail gun and compressor,but it didn't answer the question. So I poked around and finally figured out the release valve works the opposite direction from what I thought and then it went along great. All the panels on the side and roof and most of the gnarled rubber/metal things are now nailed down. So all I need is to get the OSB wood that has been ordered for the platform for it to be attached to. And then to make the pickets. Whew! This has been a long process due to lack of energy, lack of skills needed, and the studio not being set up exactly right. But it's all coming into place now. I'm thinking of renaming this piece "Family Secrets" or "Box of Secrets". But will have to see. I read about some other people being held in a home. They're alive and not related to their captor but the house looks normal on the outside.

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21Jul/130

New Cord/Thread Holders

Posted by Sermarr

I even had energy to fix my inefficient cord holders. I had been keeping them threaded on long dowels on one of my rolling A-frames. But they were hard to access the middle ones and the threads kept getting wrapped around them and they fell off when I moved them. Not good. So I learned to use a drill press that aligns my drill at just the angle I want it (these screws for the cord needed to lean out so the cord could sit on the screw easily). So it worked and now all my cord is easy to reach and I can see the colors very clearly when I want one. These things take a bunch of time but I find them necessary to get the studio to work easily when every thing is accessible and in sight

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21Jul/130

At Last… Progress on “Secret Boxes”

Posted by Sermarr

Today the heat abated. It's now below 90 degrees. And I had a lot more energy. Had some great beginning ideas for painting lots of smiling faces. We'll see if it develops.
But I did make some progress on "Secret Boxes". I had to change the name because the house is a big box, I realized. And I made some carpentry decisions to get the roof to have another support for the other roof pieces to lean on. And I woke up thinking that it needs a very neat picket fence around it. And it needs to look neat ....and a little sinister and forbidding. So I worked on doing it with dowels. But after spending an hour cutting and shaping them I realized it needs to be like the flat pickets. Not round stakes even though they would look sinister. So I went into Manhattan to have lunch with my daughter (yum, onion bagel with Scottish salmon and scallion cream cheese-only NYC has the greatest bagels) and then to Pearl Paint on Canal Street. And I found them already cut into little pickets just the right size. I also had to buy Popsicle sticks to cut the big pickets from. I went into every floor that Pearl has,all five,and scoped out all the paint supplies. So here is what's happened,including some new boards that are needed to complete the house

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