Friday, 4 April 2014

Leviathan Love ~ Part 2

Just as the sea and the song of the whale called to me recently, so has the yearning to get back to sculpting. To have my hands forming in 3D again.
And, it somehow felt right that the gentle, giant denizens of the deep be my first subjects.

A few weeks ago, I briefly sketched a simple guide to refer to.

Then my journey began.

The first whale came to life in my hands pretty quickly. Then, one after the other was born.

 whale without a tail

Once completed, they were tucked under a blanket of plastic to ensure slow, even drying. The flippers are very fragile at this “green” stage and required careful handling as the sculpts dried.
The plastic was removed in the last few days before going into the kiln.

 a curious onlooker

Once bisque fired, my pod await glazing, belly up safely in a sea of foam and padding.

Last weekend, whilst the glaze kiln was cooling down, hubby and I visited a salvage yard. It was like they used to be - before rustic, or rather “vintage”, became trendy and ridiculously expensive.
This wonderfully cobwebbed, dusty Aladdin's cave was filled with old furniture and (once familiar every day) bric-a-brac, that propelled me back to my childhood.
And, out back had odd assortments of gems that might mean nothing to one, but would appeal greatly to another.  One man's junk, as they say.
I came out with a few short lengths of old wood and some rusted objects that were once part of an industrial or mechanical workshop.

As much as I can, I would like to incorporate the element of found objects, along with salvaged/reclaimed wood, with my sculpts.
And I’m always on the lookout for old/vintage books about the sea, birds, animals and related poetry, to include in my work if and when it seems fitting.

May objects and words inspire me to create a story around them.

Having painted animal portraits years ago, I was very tempted to spend more time than I should in creating realistic pieces.
Trying to keep them simple and stylised, rather than real, and knowing when to say “done”, was the trick for me.
And, to remind myself that there is a certain price point that people are willing to spend at a market – even if it is an art & craft market.

My "stylised" whales were created with that in mind.

Here are two that I’ve mounted and finished. The others are still waiting patiently.

I used glazes, or rather, underglazes, with a chalk/matte finish, and chose not to overglaze with a gloss finish.

I really like the tiny rainbow that fell across the base here – an echo of my past, living on the “Rainbow Coast” of W.A.
It also highlights the "Head of the Bight" Whale Sanctuary :)

And so, I hope to be able to juggle my requirements to keep my usual market wares in stock, while finding time to sculpt.
As winter approaches, and markets become scarce, it will hopefully be a good opportunity to do just that.
Perhaps, it would be nice also, to approach a few galleries to see if they’d be interested.
But, I know it’s a tough and competitive art world, and I’m wary of high hopes and ambitions in these uncertain economic times.
So, I hope I’m not getting my ambition mixed up with my aptitude :)

There are times I feel very daunted and doubtful in my ability. But, that I have to overcome.
My artistic ventures were never supported when I was growing up, being told that I was "never good enough". And after all these years, doubt still gnaws at the edges of my sometimes fragile art-ego.

But, to sculpt. To feed my creative soul. It has been good - very good to do so. And I’m cautiously pleased with myself, and my muse.
For now.


  1. Oh. And oh again. My fingers itch to run over your creations, to stroke them, and appreciate their beauty with my hands as well as my eyes.
    Thank you.
    And in case I wasn't clear - I love them.

    1. Thank you EC. Your appreciation means a lot :)

  2. Oh, they're gorgeous, gorgeous. I love them swimming in their sea of foam and padding :)

    I think that there is always an element of doubt around creating and it would probably be strange and disturbing if you didn't have any. But some growing-up-encouragement would have been nice to counter that now, then, wouldn't it?

    I find doing creative things is so difficult because I feel like I'm waiting for permission from society, somehow. Society loves you if you're suddenly the it thing and you're raking in the bucks. Before that, you're on your own, in a way.

    I love that you sculpt. It inspires me to break out the clay one of these days as well and continue on with my own journey in that regard.

    Oh, and PS: I am as daft as a couple of house bricks, seriously - I've been meaning to send you a pic of some wood we've had laying outside forever. Duh. Mind like a sieve.

    1. Thanks Sue! :)

      I to-ed and fro-ed about putting them up. I never feel worthy in (literally) an ocean of talent that's out there.
      But then, the other part of me says, "what the hell, do it anyway".
      And, I don't believe one should ever feel like they need permission from society. Who is "society" to tell you what/when to create?
      If the flame burns inside, no one and nothing has a right to dampen it and stop you from creating.
      Artists have to be brave, for they're putting themselves out there.

      The latest "it" in art, like fashion and everything else, usually amounts to not what you know/do, but who you know.
      Even so, that shouldn't stop people from creating. It'd be an empty world otherwise.
      Don't be worried about "flavour of the month". Just get creating. Especially in your liminal phase - what comes from it might surprise you ;)

      If I listened to my parents, and never honoured my muse, I'd be a walking husk... and miserable.

      Please do send the pic. I'm always on the lookout for interesting wood - as long as it's not old treated pine.

  3. They are very very beautiful, as beautiful as the real whales.
    And I love the poem you wrote and stuck onto the base of that first one.
    Just to satisfy my curiosity how much could I expect to pay for that?
    *shakes piggy bank...*

    1. Thanks so much River.
      The poem was from an old vintage book of narrative poems. It was written by E.V. Rieu.

      I'm hoping to incorporate lines or paragraphs from old poetry books and novels (and, sometimes old maps) that relate to what I've sculpted.
      Glad you like :)
      I'm selling the whales at markets for $60 to begin with.

    2. A very reasonable price. If my home was "ocean" themed I'd certainly buy one.
      Instead I have stuffed chimpanzees....

    3. It's best they sell at markets or galleries, as the price of packing and postage would be pretty steep. So, I wouldn't want to sell them online.
      They'd have to be double packaged very well to protect the vulnerable bits like the flippers and tails, plus the weight of the wood plinths alone would be costly.
      Postal prices are pretty astronomical these days, sadly.

  4. I miss living by the ocean too Vicki, I'm surprised sea themes aren't in my work. I love your whales, I was thinking when I saw the green ware, how great it would be to raku fire them black and white. I think using found objects is perfect for these sea creatures! Just beautiful

    1. Hi Tracey, thank you.
      I think once you live near the sea, it never leaves you, no matter where you go.
      A strong connection that pulls us back to it. Magical I think.

      I thought about raku, and how my whales would look, as I love the glazed effects. Wish I knew someone nearby who raku fired. One day maybe.

  5. i'm without proper words.
    you are most definitely ' good enough. '
    you must silence those old voices once and for all. good lord.
    these are
    to use your own word in a comment ... about the sea inside you . . . "magical." they are to me. and they will be to all who see them in the galleries.
    you have captured them v. so perfectly.
    i mean you have captured the very spirit of the whale.
    love dearest heart ... across that sea. where the whales live.
    ♥ ... furever.

    1. Tam, my biggest supporter. Thank you dear heart, always :)

      Silencing the old voices isn't so easy.
      Like old memories, good and bad, they are a part of who we are, and they can never be completely erased.
      They have to be somehow acknowledged and lived with in a way that won't destroy any self esteem one has.
      It can be done, but it is often tiresome, and takes constant strength of mind, for they can arise when we least expect them.
      Ghosts of the past.

      But, these kind words from my wonderful readers, and friends, give me heart and encouragement - and that means so much to me.
      Furever ♥

  6. I'm sitting here nodding my head.
    Can you hear the marbles rattling around?
    My mom was supportive of me as a child in my creative efforts but after she was gone, my father just told me not to waste paper.
    Funny, isn't it. How it's so easy for a creative person to be stomped on and made to feel not worthy.
    and sad that we are letting those insults still hold us back.
    I've actually written a post that is still in my drafts about this subject. I still have more I want to add to it and to try to explain what is hard to convey.
    How the struggle to to create with abandon is met with the struggle to make money.
    Hmmm, yes, those words are in my post.
    But I will finish it up and post it soon because this reminds me that I am not alone.
    I love your whales.
    I love how you captured the movement, the flow.
    I love that they are not shiny.
    I love the wood.
    I love the paper with the words.
    I love that they were created from your heart.

    1. Thanks for your lovely words, Cynthia.

      As I said in my reply to Tam, we can't erase what has been said (or done) to any of us in childhood.
      That it was done to us by parents, is nothing short of criminal. The very people who should support us, can end up leaving scars (physically and/or mentally) that will never heal, and will haunt us to the end.
      It's up to us as individuals, and adults, to handle it as best and competently as we can.

      Many artists of course, had encouragement in their childhood. But, I'm sure even they have self doubt at times.
      We must face up to, and fight, the demons of doubt that torment us when we least want them, it's a challenge than can whittle away our confidence and self esteem if we're not careful.

      But, the fire that burns within, needs feeding, or the spark will go out. And that is devastating to an artist.
      So, we need to make, to create. To feed the fire and keep it stoked.
      We're an odd lot, us artists. But, we understand eachother. And, should support eachother.
      What I don't understand, and really dislike, is that there are too many art snobs and so much competition between artists, when there should be community.
      I could go on about this, but that's a post for another time :)

  7. Vicki, I'm so impressed by your talent...I don't think that there is anything you can't do! Your whales are so beautiful and soulful-looking. If galleries don't leap at the chance to put your work in them it will be because the owners are either crazy, stupid or have very poor taste. Or, maybe a combination of all three. The light spots on top of the second whale look just like sun sparkles as they come down through the water. I used to dive quite a bit and once had the enormous good fortune to see a grey whale underwater when my brother and I were diving off the coast of Mexico. An experience I'll never forget...

    I miss the days when it was possible to find great things at reasonable prices at salvage yards. I wish I could find one like you found!

    And, dear friend...your artistic ability is MORE than good enough.



    1. Thank you so much for your lovely words, Victoria.

      To think, you swam with a whale! Truly a memorable experience. How absolutely wonderful. A dream come true.

      There are so few "old fashioned" salvage places around these days. Such a shame. Most are now "vintage shops", and really are so overpriced.
      I hope the one we found, doesn't go the way of all the rest.

      Have a wonderful week on your magical mountain xx
      Kisses to Mrs. Rose too.

  8. Oh, Vicki... This is AMAZING!! To see your sketch alone (beautiful!) and then it come to life... What joy! It is very exciting to hear/see about your creative process. I love your vision for these pieces--creating stories with the clay and found objects. I love the chalky glazing!! Such wonderful colors. These have a great tactile quality--want to pick it up, touch it, be with it! ...*sigh*... I'm in awe... Really, I am. These have such a wonderful vibe! I wish you all the VERY BEST with this new adventure--or re-adventure--with sculpture. I hope you can add this more to your market stock. And yes, do try some galleries... One never knows! ;o) I can empathize so well with what you say about doubts in relation to one's creative work. It's a weekly thing here... But we just keep trying, keep forging ahead. All positive feedback keeps us going in the meantime. :o) Look forward to seeing more of your sculpture creations, and how all of this goes for you. Happy Sculpting!! ((HUGS)) P.S. LOVE those little rainbows...

    1. Thank you so much Tracy. I was pleased how the glazes worked out, they are very tactile and make the sculpts lovely to hold.

      I know you can relate - we share our thoughts.
      We artists need to create. This burning desire to make, in spite of our doubts.
      So, we continue, because it's what we do, and who we are :)
      And yes, positive feedback from those whose opinions we value is precious indeed.
      :) xx

  9. how you used found objects that relate so wonderfully. I live by the sea and couldn't go away from it too long. Even in winter even in have captured the blue so beautifully.
    Your sketches are stunning in themselves...thank you for showing and writing about your process...

    1. Yes, your heart belongs to the sea, Charlene.
      Swimming in a fog blanketed sea. Surreal and deliciously dreamy.

      Thank you for your kind praise :)


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