Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Day 401-406- The Making Of Falling Leaves



It took me a mere 2 days to make Flying Butterflies but it was almost a month's worth of experimenting before Falling Leaves was actualized. 


For Flying Butterflies, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was inspired by the story of the Greek sculptor Pygmalion who carved a statue so fair and realistic that he fell in love with her. Pygmalion eventually married his own creation after the goddess Venus made her come alive. I thought the Pygmalion story paralleled my own obsession with realism as well as my love for the fantasy in my small world. 

That was the genesis of Flying Butterflies, where the steel butterflies became real and then flew away. My poem, If I were a sculptor, was therefore both my tribute to Pygmalion as well as an insight to my own struggle for that balance between realism and fantasy when I create. 


A month after I completed Flying Butterflies, I started work on Tree. I wanted to continue exploring the same Pygmalion-Realism-Fantasy theme. One way would be if the sculptor's flowers could turn real


Some of you may remember this and knew in the comments that ensued that I did not like it. There was something else missing in this ensemble apart from all that I had complained about. There was no movements unlike the flying butterflies in the other one. I knew I had to get rid of the roses and give it something else but I just didn't know what.

 3 weeks went by. 


The day Falling Leaves was conceived was a special one. For the 1st time in the 18 years I have lived in this house, I decided to pick up the broom and sweep up the leaves from the driveway. I know, it is terrible, disgusting, sloppy (Birgit, I know you want to hit me now with your spade) that I have never done it but you don't understand what kind of an endeavour that is. The terrible heat, not to mention the deadly mosquitoes. Ouch! Ok, alright,  I am spoilt, I won't deny that now, but anyway, back to my story. 


After about an hour's worth of sweeping dead leaves and acquiring a tan that I have yet to rid till today, I decided I would re-work the tree. It came almost subliminally, the idea of having metal leaves falling from the tree onto the ground where they turned to real leaves. 


Anyway, I didn't associate then the idea of falling leaves with my earlier sweeping of the leaves on the driveway even when I was making this bunch that were to be the real ones on the ground. 


It was the next day when I was taking the pictures that my mind went Ding ding ding!


These were random pictures I took of the dead leaves and seeds in the drain (4 pictures up). In these pictures, I didn't see dead leaves anymore. I saw how attractive the colours of the dead and rotting came together. I saw beauty in decay. 

It kind of clicked then. The junkyard, the abandoned house and now this sculpture. They were all my attempts at exploring this whole idea of life in death, beauty in decay.  


It was almost inevitable that I should have a bird in this sculpture. Can you see why? Anyhoo, this was what it looked like before the bashing. 


Repainting the bird was fun. I finally got to use the really fine brushes I have been hoarding since forever ago


and tested the pastel chalks for the first time.


It took me a while to paint even simple accents like the strip on its head. I think I spent a good hour trying to blend the body colours.


The tail was the trickiest because the chalk colour didn't stick easily to the feathers. Even looking at the pictures now, I can't help thinking it could be more realistic and that I need more practice. 


Now who says we shouldn't sweat over the small stuff, huh?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Day 406- Home



A little bird told me. 
No, it was more like she sang to me. 


God loved birds and invented trees.
Man loved birds and invented cages.


I know you are not God but you did build a tree. 
And it is such a pretty tree.
With the falling leaves and the red hot bark and oh, 
those wee blue ones among the green.

And when I saw how they look just rather like me, I knew
I must be home.


If you had built this tree intending it to be a cage,
then I say trap away!
For if all cages are built just like your tree
we may never need to flee again.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Day 404 & 405- Falling Leaves



If Nature is my colourist, 
she will paint my tree with yellow iron oxide roots. 


There will be shades of rust on its trunk and branches. 
From orange to red to brown. 


She will give the tree's copper foliage a rich vibrant green 
and then make the brass birds blue.


Each little metal leaves will be dabbed the colours of autumn,


so that they will fall.....


to where you can no longer tell them apart from the real ones. 


Thank you, Ma Nature.

It's been a real pleasure working with you.


Let's do it again soon!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Day 401 & 402- Experimenting Rust


I had a gaudy tree I badly wanted to love but I just couldn't because it was so shiny and tacky and gold. Helpless and desperate, I looked up at the sky and shook my fist at the sun,  gold and shiny as my tree, and I shouted Help Me! 

In the blinding glare and giddy from the heat, I swear I saw Mother Nature smiled at me. Alright, my child, I heard her raspy voice sang, slightly out of tune, I will see what I can doobedoobedoooo.

But there are some things you will have to doobedoobedoo 1st, she continued in a terrible falsetto, before our collaboration starts. 

First you must tie a yellow ribbon of iron round the gold *oops tree, then you must sprinkle a spoonful of copper on the leaves to make the medicine go down, ow, ow. After that,  you can leave it walking on sunshine, woh-oh. 

I was over the moon. Who cares if our collaboration was born, Mother Nature and me, out of the worst medley of songs ever. I knew then that this tree would be covered in patinas of nature and I might just finally love it .


I went to lie down after that conversation with Mother N, my head still throbbing and my heart thumping. I didn't sleep easy although my real mama claimed I snored. 

I tried to tell her I wasn't snoring. It was this rusty tree I kept seeing in my dreams, mama. It had real roses growing on it and it looked crazy scary. I wasn't snoring, mama, I was SNORTING. I was snorting at what a nap mare that tree was!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Day 406 - The Many Colours Of Rust


I love the many colours of  rust 

Whether it is the green of oxidised copper


or the blues of weathered brass,


be it the dusty red of corrosive iron


or its brilliant yellow when the iron flash rusted in a flood;


I just love them all.


I know I use the word rust liberally but as far as I am concerned, all these patinas form part of Nature's perfect palette of secondary colours; colours you get after mixing air with metal.

Ochre to sienna, russet to umber,teal to verdigri, cyan to turquoise. 

What will art be like if we are to make it with this perfect palette of patinas?  

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