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Chrysanthemums Chair, finished front and thumbnails of underneath/back details, 29H x 29W x 29D inches one-of-a-kind refurbished vintage chair as a base, woven canvas strips, layers of plaster cured, sanded and carved. Painted with acrylics, finished with varathane, and waxed to enhance colors. Durable, functional.
Chrysanthemums Chair front and back: plaster layering, sanding and painting in progress
Using knives and chisels, areas are carved away. The flower design is continually rebuilt by applying modeling paste and plaster, sanding, painting, and carving. Material is easier to control by squeezing out of baggies, like icing in a pastry bag.
Chrysanthemums Chair Work in progress. 29L x 29W x 29D inches refurbished chair, canvas, plaster, acrylics. Thumbnails: graphite sketch, acrylics, carving detail. Above: first application of paint over carved surface. Next, plaster will be applied to petal areas to raise the surface. When dry, the whole process will be repeated; sanded, carved and painted again. I like the white background, so may not add much green or any other color except as contrast and in shadows. This chair will coordinate with the large Chrysanthemums painting.
Symbolism and Significance of Chrysanthemums
With a history that dates back to 15th century B.C., first cultivated in China, where it is symbolic of honesty. In Egypt, Tutankhamen was reportedly buried with chrysanthemums. The plant is thought to have been introduced in Japan by Buddhist monks around the fifth century. Initially forbidden to grow except by nobility, the chrysanthemum is now a showy garden perennial common in gardens the world over, in a vast array of cultivars, shapes and sizes, with colors ranging in shades of purple, pink, red, white, yellows and greens.
In terms of design, the mandala formation demonstrates unfurling petals spiraling outward in succession from the center, like fireworks. It is easy to see why chrysanthemums symbolize optimism and joy.
A few states and sororities in the U.S. claim it as their official flower. Many European countries and parts of North America use white chrysanthemums in funeral arrangements, as they are associated with grief and mourning, whereas in Japan holds a “Festival of Happiness” to celebrate this flower each year, attributing it to the sun and happiness. There, it is a symbol of the Emperor and the Japanese Imperial Family. In Canada and the United States, the floral industry thrives on the notion that every flower has unique characteristics, and we communicate our sentiments through specific bouquets according to occasion. For example, the chrysanthemum is the November birth flower and also appointed to the 13th wedding anniversary.
Certain species of the plants are edible and contain medicinal properties. Leaves and roots can be cooked, used mainly in Asian dishes, and flower petals are boiled to make tea. Extracts of the plant, pyrethrins, are processed and preferred as an earth-friendly, biodegradable commercial insecticide.
In cold northern climates they are planted as annuals, whereas here in the Pacific NW coast they are winter- hardy, blooming each Fall. If the plants get leggy before blooms appear, they benefit from being cut back and are easily propagated. Colorful new “mums” add liveliness to flower gardens as seasons change, and they are some of the first to entice us at stores during Spring. Chrysanthemums are perfect in home bouquets, lasting longer than any other cut flower.
4 images: work in progress of Moche Ear Plug replica chair, faux turquoise and gold, 29 x 29 x 29 inches mixed media furniture.
The Moche culture lived on the north coast of Peru between 100 BC and AD 700. With no writing system, they left incredible representations of their activities through art on clothing, pottery, jewelry, architecture, and hunting weapons, illustrating themes like ceremonies, supernatural beings and warfare. This chair is a replica of an Ear Plug – one from a pair -found in the tomb of the Lord of Sipan, one of two large tombs discovered in 1987 just north of the village with the same name. Accompanied by sacrificed members of his court and wearing beautifully crafted cotton garments, the highly regarded king died at 30 years of age and was buried with ornaments, carefully placed crowns and various types of jewelry made of gold, gilded copper, shell, feathers, and precious gems. Over 250 ceramics were found, as well as figurines, banners, helmets, scepters and rattles.
The Muscovy duck was a symbol of water abundance to Moche society, and they revered gold as symbol of the light and sun. The color gold is associated with higher ideals, spirituality, wisdom and understanding. For thousands of years, Turquoise mining and adornment has spanned all cultures, prized as a symbol of nobility, invoking luck, protection, and the power of immortality.
I love the idea of incorporating arts and cultural history in my work somehow. The up-cycled chairs are the perfect place to do this. Here are some examples of the influence of history on previous art work.
Shiva as Nataraja chair in progress
The Lord of Dance symbolism
Eastern philosophy is full of symbolism for concepts much deeper than words could ever express. The teachings are so complex but beautifully simple at the same time. Divine concepts are depicted in human forms with worldly items to help us identify somewhat, and increase our understanding toward making healthy decisions in our lives – for mind, body, and soul.
Sculptures, pictures, and literature are charged with multiple meanings and contradictions conveying the extremes in Life, like the existence of intense joy and pain, and the importance of balance in day to day living, and practicing a middle road of contentment. The interpretations here only outline the more prominent symbolism of this famous icon. As research continues, this article will elaborate on the most important symbols of this sculpture.
The purpose of the dance is to release us from our ignorance and entanglement in the world of opposites, all set within the circular, rhythmic motion of the universe. We are to acknowledge, yet remain detached by their effects. It is said that Truth requires detachment and at the same time, knowledge and acceptance.
There are different names for the Hindu god, Shiva in his various forms. Though an ascetic, Shiva’s role is as householder, implying that we need not leave society to be devoted to following principles of Dharma; conduct; right way of living. In the aspect depicted here, Lord Shiva creates, sustains, and destroys life. As The Nataraja, he dances within the world of illusion, represented by an outer ring of fire. There is an inner ring of water, and some statues show multiple rings of fire and water. As he victoriously dances upon the demon of ignorance, Shiva’s matted dreadlocks whirl about him, capturing a number of heavenly bodies, like the physical representation of the sacred river Ganges, which fell from heaven to earth, first landing in Shiva’s hair so as not to destroy it. The moon is symbolic of many things, such as seasonal changes, life’s rejuvenation and love, all kept active with this dance.
The gestures of the dance represent Shiva’s five activities: creation – symbolized by the drum, protection – the “fear-not” pose of the outward-facing hand, destruction – by the fire, embodiment – by the foot planted on the ground, and release – by the foot held above ground. Snakes coiling about his body symbolize the life force within all of us – the Shakti or kundalini – and display his power over the most deadly of creatures. Also, as snakes shed their skin, so do our souls reincarnate, according to Hindu beliefs.
The first four first four Chairs were up-cycled second-hand store original Solaire Chairs, but I have found a decent source for newer ones, so finally some ideas I’ve had for years can be realized, and special orders can now be filled. With thin applications of plaster then sanding and waiting for successive layers to dry, four new Chairs, 29H x 29W x 29D inches, started April 5th are now in progress, concentrating on the details of two while the others cure. One chair, the priority, is of Shiva as The Lord of Dance, and one chair is an addition to the Zen Garden series. The third is a large replica of a Moche culture (1st century Peru) earring/ear plug, and the fourth chair will portray an Easter Island theme, something I’ve had in mind since I bought the very first chairs in the 1990’s. Until refining stages, the four can be worked at the same time while plaster is added, cures and is sanded down.
In this visual translation, the symbol of Om, first sound uttered in the Universe, weaves throughout, as if to involve a complete sensory understanding. All hand gestures have specific meanings, like the open front right hand facing us in “abhayamudra” gesture, denoting reassurance and safety for all who follow a righteous path. The drum in his right hand beats ceaselessly and infinitely, “Om”, while the universe is created, destroyed and recreated. The back left hand holds flames of fire, with both destructive and cleansing properties. The front left arm is held across the chest like an elephant’s trunk, with the hand pointing to the left leg and foot, lifted as a sign of liberation as the sacred elephant leads the way through jungles of ignorance.
The graphite design is first partially engraved with pencil in damp plaster, helping to show which areas to raise and hwich to recede. The addition, removal by sanding and carving gradually refine the design along with successive layers of paint which, when finished, the combination shows through as a mottled sort of patina, perfect for this subject. The icon on the finished chair will be gold-bronze colors, as the Shiva as Nataraj sculptures are traditionally made of bronze. Plans are for the background to be antiqued cobalt blue or teal.
Zen Garden #16, most recent of the Zen Garden series 29 x 29 x 29 inches mixed media on vintage Solair chair, in progress.
Initially the plan was to engrave pebble designs in the chair’s plaster surface, but since the circumference patterns turn out so interesting, I decided to continue the pebbles all over, front and back/underneath. They will be sanded down to almost flat, so the finished chair will still be comfortable to sit in.
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Oak Leaf bedside tables, 24H x 12W inches with a 20 inch glass top, crinkled paper mache over heavy cardboard tubes. The tubes are available in a variety of dimensions, sold in hardware stores as use for cement pouring re: fence building.
I’ve had this idea to make bedside tables for a few years now, and selling the house, prepping it for viewing has motivated me to finally make them. Faux suede effects were the intention here, and I’m pleased with the results. A brown circular woven mat covers the glass and hides the space looking into the tube.
Cycad Fossil Chair, Salish NW Pacific culture wooden whorl replica Chair, and Ancient Mayan bowl replica refurbished vintage chair, 29 x 29 x 29 inches mixed media. Read the feature article.
On exhibit and available for purchase February 11th – 27th at Visual Image Fine Art Puiblishing and Gallery Juried Show, 14320 Midway Road, Suite 300, Dallas, Texas. Come and meet all the Artists at the Opening Reception this coming Saturday, Feb. 13th, 3 – 9 p.m.
Good Artist Pals also come in threes
Some friendships will last forever, and how fortunate that three of mine also happen to be artists! Listed in no particular order of favoritism, each are miles apart geographically speaking and personality-wise, but they all have one thing in common: they’ll tell it like it is if you ever need a good critique, and on the flip side of the coin: a smile, a boost of energy; encouragement. I’ve posted my favorite works created by each, and highly recommend browsing each of their websites..
a) Chris Bolmeier: Happy Pigs, Oil on canvas I met Chris on the internet three years ago through Robert Genn’s Painter’s Keys newsletters. Formerly an actress and professional singer, she’s not through yet with entertaining you through humour, song and paint. She often posts mini-videos of herself singing, and her artwork is pure, straight from the gut, and some of the funniest, most original material ever. I chose this piece to share as an absolute favorite, portraying fanatically goofy pigs because it makes me laugh…not just smile, but laugh Christerically every time I look at it. In my opinion her best work is of childhood memories, and some of the baffling stuff that originates from who knows where in the infinite canvas of her mind!
b) Karen Xarchos: Restaurant mural in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Karen and I were neighbors many years ago. We designed and painted murals together in the Ottawa area for a couple of years. Thank goodness for the internet, we’re able to keep in touch when either of us needs a good eye and some honest advice. Karen’s style and mine are vastly different; our pace, the style, the manner and we continue to learn so much from each other. She reminds me to slow down and smell the paint; her blending techniques are amazing.
Karen accepts commissions for canvas pieces like wall borders painted at home, then cleverly installs them with wallpaper paste so home owners can remove the work and take it with them when they relocate. My favorite work of Karen’s are the murals depicting work of the Masters, which are enjoyed by customers dining in many of the Greek and Italian restaurants in the Ottawa area.
c) Virginia Wieringa: Prayer, mixed media collage Virginia and I met about four years ago on an Artists’ interactive website, wetcanvas.com, and I think she still participates there under the avatar name “Veedubya”. I’m positive she’d love to meet you there too. Virginia has well-developed drawing and painting abilities and currently experiments intuitively with mixed media collage. Her work, no matter what the media, reflects her open-mindedness and strong sense of spirituality. Formerly an Art teacher, she’s fun to write to because she puts up with my inner-most silly self and doesn’t hold back her own. My favorite work of Virginia’s are the subtly symbolic collages, and some of the more vivid, energetic paintings that are about two phases pre-Realism.
The Tree of Life, 29H x 29W x 29D inches mixed media; refurbished vintage plastic lawn chair, woven canvas strips and white glue, thin layers of drywall compound: cured, sanded, carved, acrylics paint, varnish. Durable, completely functional.
There was an interesting buildup of colors after a lot of changing colors and repainting the design many times, so the impressions of this chair are created like the other chairs in this series; ancient artifact replicas. The other chairs are listed on the Art, Prices page.
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