Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the whole day casting hot molten metal (aluminum) at a workshop I took at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, with about 8 or 9 other people. That’s me with my hot-out-of-the-mold sculpture of an african mask medallion. I had a blast, and so did all the other sculptors there. Some of them had some prior experience (as I do), and for some this was their very first attempt at sculpture (way to go, public relations-specialist Colleen!) Darla at PSG says they’ll run this course frequently (monthly?), but if you’re the type who’s bothered by working all day in an unheated space in January, you might want to wait for warmer weather.

 

Untitled Drawing #1 (1998)

 

Untitled drawing #1, 1998 © J. Thomson Here is another untitled “automatic” drawing I made when I lived in Scotland in 1998 that I found today while organizing my studio. It’s approximately 5″ x 7″, and I probably intended it to be a postcard, but I never sent it to anyone.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can buy high-quality reproductions.

Untitled Drawing #2 (1998)

 

Untitled drawing #2 (1998) © J. Thomson I found this drawing (and one other, shown in the next post) today in my archives while organizing the studio. It’s one of a small series of drawings I made the year I lived in Scotland. I remember making this drawing sitting in my studio at the top of the tower at Hospitalfield, around April I think. The sky was bright but overcast, and evidence of spring was all around.

These abstract drawings were made in the same manner as automatic writing… I just started drawing without any pre-conceived notion (except for colors, of course) of what form would appear. It was a very meditative thing to do, and doing it seemed to calm me down from some of the frustrations I had while living there.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can purchase high-quality reproductions of it.

How to listen to what a fish is trying to tell you

Last Friday, at approximately 4:27 am, my water heater decided to commit suicide. As luck would have it, I suffer from occasional insomnia and I happened to be wide awake at my desk which is next to the water heater in my loft. So I heard the telltale dripping and investigated before the deluge got to biblical proportions.

Zoe Strauss: 10 Years So, instead of spending a relaxing day immersed in artwork and a visit to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the new Zoe Strauss exhibit, I toiled away at plumbing. This of course is much harder than it sounds… I had to make room to do the work by removing a huge metal legal-size filing cabinet that weighs about the same as a small Volkswagen even when it is emptied of all the files and drawers. Of course, I had help too. I hired some friends of a neighbor to make the connections, but I had to go and buy the replacement water heater, and somehow get it up to my loft by myself. You should’ve seen me trying to wrestle a 40-gallon water heater up the spiral stairs to my loft.  But I did it. Never underestimate the will of a poor artist who really likes a long soak in a hot tub.

And now, the weekend is over and I can finally take a hot shower again. I still have to dispose of the body, by which I mean the now superfluous old water heater tank. Which again, is much easier said than done. First, there’s the task of lowering the hulking beast to the ground level. The old one is much too big to go down the spiral stairs. I’ve bought some rope and pulleys and I’m going to construct some sort of rudimentary dumb-waiter for the task. But for now, the carcass is sitting between my desk and the new water heater, in place of my filing cabinet. Like a warning to the new recruit: the proverbial head on a spike. Or like the carcass of a giant dead whale…

But that’s not what this post is about… Continue reading

The first word

NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts documenting my process of creating an installation entitled “Lorem ipsum…”. You can see all the posts about this project using the navigation buttons above. Look under Fine Art > Installation Art > Lorem Ipsum.

"a" from "Lorem Ipsum..." © 2012 J. Thomson, all rights reserved I received the test print on fabric on Saturday, much sooner than I expected. These were printed on 100% cotton “quilting weight” fabric, which is the cheapest Spoonflower offers. It looks okay, but I think in the end I might go with something heavier and tighter, something like the organic cotton sateen or linen-cotton canvas.

Since this is just a test, I only ordered a single fat quarter (which is 18″ x 21″). The largest size hoop I can fit on that is a 16″ word, so I chose “indignation”. Continue reading

Lorem Ipsum… (Part 1: Genesis of an idea)

NOTE: This is the first part in a series of posts documenting the progress of an Art installation I am working on with the working title “Lorem Ipsum…”. Look for other posts about it under the heading Fine Art/Installation Art/Lorem Ipsum in the navigation header above.

"man" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 by J. Thomson, all rights reserved Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet… is a standardized passage of dummy text used since the 16th century by printers and graphic designers in place of actual text, when creating a layout or typeface for example.

As a fine artist and graphic designer, I often use text in my artwork. I like the additional layers of meaning pieces of text can contribute to a painting or collage, but the whole content of the piece never relies on the text alone. Although the line between graphic design and art is sometimes blurred, for me it is a question of what takes precedence in a piece: the text/typography, or the art/graphics. It is the marriage of both that creates the visual content of the pieces I create.
"blame" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 J. Thomson All rights reserved Last week, I was brainstorming for some ideas for a new series of artwork I wanted to create. Continue reading

Text in Art (or, What an unwelcome horse taught me about art)

Horse painting © 1997 J. Thomson, all rights reserved

Ever since my early painting classes as an undergraduate in art school, I have been interested in incorporating text in my work. Using text in contemporary artwork is nothing new, and some artists use text exclusively. I’ve been inspired by the works of Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cy Twombly, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and the Dada collages of Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, to name a few artists who used text in some of their artworks. I am intrigued by the possibility of adding additional layers of meaning to a piece through the use of text. Such uses have the potential to support the main idea of a piece, or contradict it; either usage is valid. The use of text in visual artwork can also serve to make the piece more accessible to the general public.  I think of it as a way of giving the viewer another handle to hold onto when grappling with the piece.

One of my early painting professors, Erin Palmer, offered a critique of a text painting I made as an undergraduate by asking whether the painting could be successful if the text wasn’t readable (ie, if it were in another language, or if it were illegible text). Continue reading

Thinking big. Adding zeroes.

"blame" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 J. Thomson All rights reserved On the (f)utility of labels in my studio practice

My studio practice differs from that of most artists I know in that I don’t simply go into my studio every day (or even every week) and just paint. And when people I’ve just met ask me what I do, the exchange typically goes like this: “I’m an artist.” “Oh really? What kind of pictures do you paint?” “Well, I do paint sometimes, but not exclusively, and when I do, it’s not usually pictures of anything, because I approach a painting as a three-dimensional object, not an illusion of space…” By this point, the person’s eyes are usually glazing over and darting around the room looking for an excuse to get away. Sometimes to save us both the embarrassment, I’ll simply say that I make abstract paintings (which isn’t really true). The typical response is “oh, that’s nice.” Or maybe, “My aunt was an abstract painter. She killed herself though.” Continue reading