Traditionally appreciated by Chinese philosophers, scholar’s rocks, lower right, can be any size or any color. These abstract forms were meant to represent nature in miniature on which the scholar could meditate on the beauty and mystery of nature.

This Foundling, Last Stand II, features an elegant piece of driftwood, that to me, conveys the same sense of abstract beauty that rocks represent. Framed within a circle and a square, a form I return to again and again, only heightens the natural elegance of the wood worn down by the power of the sea.

A work in progress laying on my workbench, waiting to be engineered, stained and finally assembled, “Last Stand II” still displays such mystery, even lying down.

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A dear friend died suddenly a few months ago. She was bright, kind, and a loving wife & mother. She had a love of nature, of books and always went out of her way to help others. Her kindness is what stood out most to me.

With such a loss, there is a kind of helplessness that sets in. Death is a part of life and yet, it is so easy to turn a blind eye to it, until we are confronted with it. There is little to do but move through the grieving process.

For me creating is also a healing process. It does’t remove the grief, nor is this merely a distraction but it does allow me to meditate on the loss as I create something new. This Foundling is the third “memorial piece” I have created.

In 1928 Charles Demuth painted “I saw the Figure 5 in Gold”. I have seen this image in every survey of art class I have ever taken and in person. Demuth was making an abstract portrait of William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Great Figure” which evokes imagery of a fire engine.

The painting with its beautiful form and use of type frequently inspires me. I have always loved all forms of type, especially numbers. To me, letters evoke classic monograms and abbreviations which, by their nature are too literal. Numbers on the other hand are abstract… in a literal way. Is the ”three“ about the three bells or is the three merely an element to break up the form? The bells remind me of a fire alarm as well (three alarm fire?). Creativity is a curious thing.

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Rusted Type IMG_8821I am back from my travels to Norway, Denmark and Sweden and return to a country I don’t recognize. The Covid-19 virus has locked down so much of the country, leaving the city strangely empty. Panic was not present in the countries I visited… at least not while I was there.

What was present and throughout much of the world is a history that we don’t have in the United States. Being only 240+ years old, something “old” in this country is over 25 years. To the rest of the world it can be a few hundred or a few thousand years old. It is also no surprise that the Scandinavian history is beautifuly fused with the new. This combination speaks to a history, sometimes known and sometimes to an unknown past, that is so central to my work as well. This combination speaks to me so deeply.

In this sign the old type is presented in a new way with a background of beautiful rusted patina. The delicate script so effortlessly dances over the serif font behind it. Is it old, is it new? It really just doesn’t matter. It’s beautiful and it inspires me.

It would seem that it’s all a process, fit two pieces together, figure out how to secure them. Take the next pieces, secure them. Keep going until the entire work is all secured. Take the whole thing apart, stain it and them put it together again. Once I am sure that the entire piece fits, take it apart yet again and glue the pieces as I put the final piece together.

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It’s done, the creation was not nearly as direct a process as it could have been but I am pleased with the outcome. It did turn out to be more of an illustrative piece than an exercise in the beauty of a repeating form and yet, there is a repeating pattern of dots from the molding, to the metal grate, to the die holder, to the delicate row of chicken feathers.

In Memory II is about loss but it is less about any particular loss and more about loss in the abstract.

Although some people might find loss sad, in fact, loss is only a reminder of what you had—or still have. You can easily dwell on a loss or you can rejoice in the fact that you had the opportunity to have: met that person, acquired a possession, heard that song or had the good fortune to have been in good health. The choice is ours to make. Even more important, loss creates a space. It is only when there is space, is there room for something new.

As with all of my work, although contrasts or beauty are integral to my pieces, these Foundlings are more about the unexpected. It is my hope that this wakes us up to all we have and all we have to be grateful for.

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From time to time I use rivets, acorn nuts or bolts as a repeating design element. I suspect that this comes from a deep love of form and texture. Not unlike music, these “notes” add a subtle element that unites a work.

I would like to add these elements in an exact way and yet, they never really line up perfectly. Clearly my skill only takes me so far. I can be disappointed at my limitations but then, I realize that this inexactness adds a kind of warmth to my work. It humanizes it. If I made “perfect” elements, a kind of coldness would set in. This is what separates a human quality from a machine-like quality. This could, of course, just be a rationalization but I can’t dispute the warm quality of these Foundlings.

An art teacher once told me that the difference between a perfect circle and how you draw it, is called style.

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StainGlass_Blog_ComboFinally, after more than two years, the second stained glass window has been completed. Many complications and complexities made its design and creation a long process. For example, since there are many more pieces than the original window, there was more lead cane. More lead cane meant more weight and more weight put pressure on the glass causing some breakage.

As with most things, we never know how long a path we are on or how long a project will take. Unforeseen events or distractions may slow the process but in the end, anything worth doing is worth striving for. I am a believer in effort. Effort is a kind of care and this care has effects. Whether it is a project, or a friend, or a work of art, you can see this effort (or the lack of it) and it can make or break a task. It can also take your breath away. Inspiration is like that and it is what makes life worth living.

And I want to thank Laura Carbone, who built this window. Her patience, skill and artistry made this possible.

This piece, “Gothic Fluke” was another one of those pieces that languished in my studio for years. While working on a new Foundling I wondered what the brackets (to the left and right of the fish bones) would look like on this old, unfinished work. To my surprise, the piece just “woke up”. It came alive. All it needed now was a frame.

I had purchased four of these brackets a couple of years ago at the Brimfield Antique Fair. I had tried to use them with several other pieces and yet, as beautiful as they are, they just didn’t work. You also might recognize them as they were tried on Satori V, in another post. This didn’t work out either, but now, just like that, I am using these brackets on two Foundlings.

I do wish I had a better understanding of my creative process. I know that I am creative and I know that I am able to conjure up this creativity on an almost “as needed” basis,
but I do wonder if a new element “wakes up” a piece or if a new ingredient just opens
my eyes. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It only matters that I am pleased with the creation of a new Foundling.

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I am still so moved by circular designs. What is it about a circle that is both so perfect and yet so humble? In nature, circles are everywhere but a perfect circle in nature is really rather rare. Things can be round but there are almost always imperfections. A perfect circle has a beautiful coldness to it, but the circles found in nature, a hand drawn circle, or the round pieces that I use are bent, dented, or slightly “off”. They have that beautiful circle quality while having a human character that is so much warmer.

I can struggle to make things perfectly circular, or straight, for that matter, when I realize that perfection is more of an ideal. As I have written in the past, it’s a goal in which to aim for but never achieve. In fact, that is where the beauty lies—in that space between the imperfect and the perfect.

I had an art teacher who once said that the difference between a perfect circle and how you draw it is called style.