Residency at the Vermont Studio Center

I’m day dreaming about my residency at the Vermont Studio Center  at the end of the month.  I’ll join other Vermont artists for a week of self guided work up north in Johnson, VT.  I’ve never visited the center but everyone who has spent time there has rave reviews of their experience so I’m looking forward to it.  I was actually meant to attend last year, but had to defer for a year.  Now that the date for departure is approaching I’m wondering how to spend my time.  Should I spend time in their well equipped shop

experimenting with metals and tools that  I don’t often use?  Should I keep my time there unstructured and simply experiment with different materials I’ve had on the back burner?  Or should I have a project and goal in mind?  I’ve been thinking of making some “stabiles”, mobiles with an armature that sit on a flat surface.  Or another idea I’ve wanted to work on is a large kinetic wall piece.  Well, hopefully I’ll have some sort of game plan by the time I get there and it may just include a little of all these ideas.  For now I’ll just keep daydreaming….

Latest mobile installations

Studio shot of Branches

Studio shot of Branches

Four more mobiles were installed this week in playrooms in Children’s Hospital.  Yay!  I haven’t been present to watch the installations but my gallerist, took a few pics to share. (Getting professional photos is on my list!)  The spaces that I’m working with at the hospital are quite unusual. Branches installation As you can see a beam causes these octagonal ceiling recesses to be more rectangular than round.  Our solution has been to create two mobiles that hang on either side of the beam, creating one large sculpture.  Every room has a different theme.  Here is the Branch mobile installation.  You can see the true colors in my studio shot.  I have 3 more mobiles to finish before this project is complete.  Back to the studio…….

Art Mobiles for Children’s Hospital

Acrylic butterflies

Butterflies after heat forming.

I am very excited about my new commission of mobiles for Children’s Hospital in Boston.   I am working with gallery owner Betty Bothereau of L’Attitude Gallery where I show, to complete 12 mobiles for play rooms in the hospital.  I visited the hospital for the first time last week.  It is sad to think of a 10 floor hospital dedicated just to children, but these colorful mobiles will hopefully brighten their spirits during their stay.  One of the challenges of the hospital setting is that the art has to be washable and fire proof.   Even on the ceiling!   So I am using acrylic and wire for most of the sculptures and soaking any wood or paper I use with fireproofing liquid.   This product is commonly used in theaters it turns out.   Here you can see butterfly shapes after heat forming.  These shapes were laser cut by a “fab lab” from Cambridge.  What a time saver!  They will be incorporated into a garden themed mobile after some detail is added using a sand blasting type technique.

I am picking up with this post after the installation.  There was no time for good photography but here you can see some of the textured elements that were incorporated into the mobile.  I hope to visit the hospital to get installation shots sometime this summer.  In the mean time, I’m back to work on the next groups which have a forest and ocean theme.

Butterflies for the Garden Mobile

Butterflies for the Garden Mobile

Learning to Photograph Fine Art and Craft

Cosmic detail - week 1

Cosmic detail – week 1

I just finished a 4 week on line class: Photographing Fine Art and Craft with Brit Hammer.  Photographing my art is something I hadn’t really attempted before this class.  My camera is always set to automatic and I just barely know my way around Photoshop.  I’ve always used professional photos when representing my work because photos create the first impression when applying to shows and competitions.  They have to be great!   My kinetic sculptures are hard to shoot- they are large, they move and I want angles that look up at the ceiling- not the norm.  I have paid some wonderful photographers to take pics of my work, but it takes a lot of time to set up and get just the right shot, and time means money!  I felt it was time I learned how to work a camera myself to get exactly what I want.  Brit Hammer’s online class did just that.  It is broken down into 4 topics spread over 4 weeks: story, product, lighting and post processing.

High lights of what I learned:

Rock what you got!  (One of Brit’s favorite sayings.) Don’t worry if you don’t have the fanciest equipment.  I’m using clamp lights from the hardware store and a roll of no seam paper for the backdrop.

Discovering shadows

Discovering shadows

Lighting: Sometimes one light is enough.  Shadows create interest.  Check out this photo of my Cosmic Carnival mobile.  Although I’ve always thought of this as a calligraphy piece, I  never saw this shadow until I started experimenting with lighting from different directions. (This is from week 2 and I can now see ways I want to improve on this image.)

Who’s Kelvin?   Kelvin rates the color of light- from warm to cool.  Most bulbs state their Kelvin rating on the package.  (Even the ones from Loews.)  Learn what color light works best for your story.

It takes time!  Try all sorts of angles and all kinds of lighting to get the pic that tells your story.

Try to take your best shots in camera because fixing things in Photoshop takes time and talent.  Frame exactly what you want.  When you crop you lose data.

Use depth of field (some parts in focus and some parts fuzzy) to create depth.

Each week we posted our homework images to a private Facebook group where Brit, who lives in the Netherlands, ( Isn’t the internet great!? ) commented on each image.  She asked questions and gave suggestions to help us get what we wanted.  And I really had to think about what I wanted.  What mood was I trying to create?  What angle best tells my story for this piece?  I was also able to see other classmate’s work and the questions and comments about their photos.  After “graduating” I opted into the graduates’ Facebook group to continue to share images, questions and ideas with current and previous class members.  This class was well worth the money and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to gain confidence in photographing their own art work.  You will download the 4 week class syllabus and have it forever, complete with instructional videos.  With this class you will learn how to take artful shots of your art!

Brit has graciously offered those who enroll from my blog a discount off the class prices.  I took the guided-study + mentorship package because my work is very challenging to photograph.  I can now say I probably didn’t need that extra one-on-one because Brit is so attentive and answers all your questions on line.  To get your discount:

Dusk detail, week 4

Dusk detail, week 4

Use promo code PATTY at checkout.

Photographing Fine Art & Craft  (www.brithammer.com/photographing-art)

$120 (instead of $125) Self-Study course

$475 (instead of $499) Guided-Study course
$575 (instead of $599) Guided-Study course + Mentorship package
DSLR Photography for Beginners (www.brithammer.com/photography-for-artists)

$120 (instead of $125) Self-Study tutorial
Happy Shooting!

 

Kinetic art in Woodstock, VT

If you’ve never been to Vermont, the village of Woodstock is the quintessential small New England town complete with a town green,  towering church steeples and lots of small shops and inns.  IMG_0322Here at 46 Central St is the Collective Gallery, an artisan owned and cooperatively run art gallery.  I have the pleasure of showing my kinetic sculptures at Collective for the 2013 spring and summer seasons as a guest artist.   The gallery is housed in an historic building where flax was milled into linseed in the 19th Century.  It overlooks the Kendron river which flows through town and was probably a source of water power in those early days.  The gallery opened in 2006 with 12 artist members who share the running of the business.  IMG_0323

 

They have a high ceiling which is perfect for displaying my mobiles.  Here a a few photos of the art you can find there.

 

Autumn Balance mobile

Autumn Balance mobile

Autumn Shower mobile hanging in the back of the gallery

Autumn Shower mobile hanging in the back of the gallery

Honree mobile pays homage to Henri Matisse

Honree mobile pays homage to Henri Matisse

Fall Flurry and Dusk hang above the other art

Fall Flurry and Dusk hang above the other art

Cleaning up in 2013

With the new year beginning it was time to clean up my studio from the chaos that I created in my rush to finish special Christmas orders.  As you can see in my before photo, there really wasn’t any room on my bench to work.  And while sometimes the serendipity of disparate items resting near each other leads to inspiration, at some point you just have to clean up so you have a place to work again.  I even went out and bought another set of shelves.  You can now walk through my studio without watching your step.  That’s the thing about creating in mixed media.  There’s a lot of “stuff” that just might find its way into your next piece.  In the mean time….you need to find a place to store it.

So now that I’m organized I can set my sights on the projects ahead.  I will be a featured artist in  the Collective gallery in Woodstock, VT from April till September.  I’ll be showing in Craft Boston April 19-21 and I’ll be part of a two person show at The Brandon Artists Guild in May and June.  So there’s lots to do!  Stay tuned for progress reports.  I just wonder how long my studio will stay clean?

Kinetic Art – Fall Show Line Up

Today I head to Northampton, MA for the Paradise City Arts Fest.  This year the fair falls on Columbus Day weekend, so it’s a great time to take a drive to see the foliage and discover some great art.  Here’s a piece I just finished in time for the show.

Kinetic wall sculpture

I started it months ago, but couldn’t resolve how to finish it until I printed the colorful paper that I incorporated.  Some how it all fell into place then.  This kinetic wall piece is approximately 54″ H x 16″ W x 9″ D and is made of foam board, wood, reed and hand painted papers.  I’m still pondering what title to give it.  Suggestions?  Come see me in booth #808 this weekend to see this and other sculptures.  If you can’t make it I’ll also be showing in NYC at the American Craft Show in the Jacob Javits Center, October 19, 20 & 21, booth # 142 and the Paradise City Arts Fest in Marlborough, MA,  November 16,17,18, booth #352. See you at the show!

Kinetic artist is a Material Girl

 

 

Natural and painted paper.

The fun part of being a mixed media artist is the materials!  There are such a wide variety of materials that can be used and combined to create a sculpture.   Paper is a central element in my mobiles and sculptures.  I love its texture and translucency and of course it’s lightweight- perfect for mobiles.  Although I have created hand made paper in the past, for my current work I buy fine papers from Thailand and Japan in whites and off whites and then paint them with high quality Golden acrylic paints so they are fade resistant.

Paper with monoprints.

Monoprints are created from the residual paint left after painting a solid sheet, creating wonderful patterns and overlapping colors.

Next I sandwich two pieces of paper together with a polypropylene sheet in between.  This triple ply paper is super strong yet still translucent.  You can see the kozo fibers floating within the pulp even after it’s painted.  Light illuminates these fibers adding texture to the sculpture.   The next step is stitching or gluing the papers into forms.  This stitching adds another bit of detail allowing light to peak through the stitch holes in the paper.  The trick is always finding the right balance- in the design and the mobile.

Balls play an integral part in my kinetic designs too.  I think of them as adding the punctuation to a mobile or sculpture. I use everything from paper mache to wood and lead balls in my sculptures.  I’m always trying different set ups for painting them.  Tiny balls are sometimes hard to hang on to to.  Skewers come in handy for this job.  Another solution is to hang them on a wire to paint.                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other materials I like to work with are translucent vinyl, acrylic, wire and wood.  I’ve just purchased a sheet of perforated steel that I will be incorporating into a new design.  It has a light, see through quality even though it’s metal.  I hope to have photos to show you soon.

American Craft Show NYC – Here I Come

I just received notice that I was accepted into the American Craft Show NYC at the Jacob Javits Center

Blue Hole ©Patty Sgrecci, 22′ x 16″ x 6″

in NYC this fall.  Yippee! This is exciting news as I’ve never done a NY show and I’m eager to see what the response to my kinetic sculptures will be.  There are two other shows simultaneously running at the Javits: the Contemporary Art Fair NYC and Art Off the Main, a show of African, Caribbean and Latin American art.  This will be an art destination October 19, 20, & 21!   There’s lots to do between now and then as I work on new designs to unveil there.  Stay tuned for that.  In the mean time here is one of my recent kinetic wall pieces: “Blue Hole” made from foam board, wood, papers and fiber.  NYC, here I come!

Mobiles Installed for Emergence Show

Installing “Spin Dr” in The Great Hall

Two of my largest mobiles are now hanging in The Great Hall at One Hundred River Street, Springfield, VT as part of their Great Hall grand opening “Emergence” show.   Formerly known as the Gear Shaper building this factory  was the site where gears were machined from the late 1800s until 1960 when the company moved.  The building remained empty and deteriorating until 2008 when John Meekin and Rick Genderson bought the building with plans to transform it into a downtown hub.  They totally renovated it, turning it into a community health center with The Great Hall reserved for large public art works.  With 25′ ceilings this is a dream space for a kinetic artist.  The show is up until November 1st, so if you’re in the area stop in to see my two mobiles: Spin Dr and Jubilation.  Other artists exhibiting are: Rick Hearn, Scot Borofsky, Robert Carsten, Robert O’Brien, Oliver Schemm, Carolyn Enz Hack, Stephen Procter and Tapestry Weavers in New England (TWiNE): Suzanne Pretty, Betsy Wing, Sarah Robbins, Priscilla May Alden, and Eve S.Pearce.