Our world is moving at lightening speed. The 2019 way of being no longer exists and adaptation is imperative. Now is the time for searching out new answers to old problems, evolving the way we perform and re-evaluating goals. Humans are creative beings and that is not a talent belonging solely to artists. The most challenging times hold the seeds for transformation, amazing growth and answers to our most perplexing questions. We can meet the test of our time, but not with old solutions that no longer work. Governments can and should be more responsive to the needs of its citizens. With creative solutions it is also possible for corporations to make profits for shareholders while addressing the plight of ordinary citizens and the environment. Our times can no longer afford shareholder interests to outweigh all others. Answer the call to create a new world.
And to artists the world over, don’t forget in this time of crisis that as a creative you have an obligation to communicate to the world through your art. Yes we are going to suffer in various ways. Use your time now to expand your mind, honor your visions and sing your wisdom. This hour too shall pass and then you will be prepared for the new world, its challenges and gifts.
As I continue work on my memoir, Robin is fast at work in the metal studio. Unfortunately some shows are being cancelled, check our web-site for the latest on the schedule. Some of his new work, with descriptions below each:
“A Time Piece I” 18″ sq. copper clad over bentwood form, hammered, chemical patina, pocket watch gears. $950
12″ Sq Fold formed copper & stainless steel w/ multiple chemical patinas $350
The quality that makes Robin L. Washburn’s work exceptional is his masterful patina on metal. Rarely can you see patina with the variety of color and patterns as his. Those luscious surfaces are the result of his years of experimenting. Recently he’s added hammering techniques to his repertoire to enhance the effects of the chemical oxidation. Cladding copper and brass over wood has enabled the hammering of the surfaces and also the ability to create three dimensional forms. His sculpture for the wall is truly unique and worthy of a closer look.
Unfortunately, back in 2010 I sidelined his career temporarily with a poor business decision for us to collaborate. We created some nice work together, but the metalwork aspect of it was minor and it stifled his ability to shine. 2018 was our last year of collaboration and since then Robin has grown his work considerably. The new metalwork takes up where he left off and moves into new territory. This winter he has experimented with new chemical formulas to grow his art and the results are beautiful. I am working on my memoir and standing back just watching him grow!
Following along as I post photos of both his work in progress and completed pieces on our facebook page, his Instagram page, our webpage and in our newsletter.
In the depths of Winter Robin and I are each pursuing our own goals. Robin is showing solo, a decision we made jointly last year. He has come to like cladding copper over wooden supports–it is much lighter weight than his previous work. Before we began collaborating 6 or 7 years ago, his sculpture was a much heavier copper, brass or steel sheet that he mounted onto bronze or steel angle framework. He still intends to do some of that, but most of his new work will be copper cladding. We had to stop showing his former work because I had three accidents, one surgery and one broken bone all in one year and could no longer safely help him load and unload the van, set up the booth, etc. So, yes I wrecked his career, just when he was creating marvelous work, getting into all of the top shows and winning important awards. As I type I can hear him in his studio, tap.tap.tap In two weeks he’ll be headed for Winter Park, FL for their wonderful show. He will be taking new work that you can see here in progress:
2′ x 5′ Bentwood, copper clad
Several new 12″ Expressions undergoing patination
Meanwhile I’m having a bit of a second childhood playing in clay. My latest sculpture is one with the working title “Tree Woman”. She’s small, only just over a foot tall, without a pedestal. Haven’t decided how she will be finished after firing.
Making art is what I do to cope with life… to maintain balance. I’ve been an artist since I was a child, making music on the piano and organ and spending hours each week in the ballet studio. At the age of 22 I began painting in earnest and later finished a BFA in painting and drawing. While in art school I spent a year hand-building clay sculpture. They were organic, abstract raku pieces. I began my first series of clay torsos in 2009. They were all headless and obviously hollow. The viewer could peer inside their bodies through arm, leg and neck holes. I called these sculptures body vessels because the body is a vessel for our soul, our emotions, our hopes and desires but also because the term implies an inside and outside. Our body becomes the reflection of where we’ve been. At the time, I wrote that “The series had been birthed from a lifetime of both pain and ecstasy as a daughter, sister, lover, wife, mother and friend. All the roles I’ve lived are the source for these hand-built clay sculptures. My struggle is the struggle of ‘woman’….I understand that for some the contemplation of these forms is unpleasant, however I would say that they reflect the ephemeral nature of life, they call into question the importance we place on our bodily image and they are a powerful metaphor for the difficulty of the journey through life for each of us, body and spirit.”
All of those thoughts still apply to the latest sculpture I’m working on, however the latest one has grown a head. I’m thinking along the line of divisions. Divisions in society, family, country. Those divisions of family, race and economic status all inflict scars. Ones hands can hold you up or down and in her case she has no way of grasping or defending herself. Her shoulder caps lift upwards as though they are mini wings. She’s without lower legs and feet and so has lost her mobility. Unlike “Lady Liberty” who strides forth, undeterred.
Here’s a preview while she’s a work in progress.
For all of our adult lives, Robin and I have been interested in mythology, symbolism, nature and meditation. From the I Ching to the Tarot Cards, the poetry of Rumi, the way of the Samurai, Mother Earth Spirituality, and the teachings of Jesus we glean wisdom to live by. Our collaborative art has I suppose been more than anything else, about making meditative icons. We seek to make art of quiet contemplation to enhance living and working spaces. Our newest sculpture places Robin’s patina work on center stage. Making bentwood frames which he clads in copper or brass he’s been exploring wrapped patinas with hammered surfaces. The result has been remarkable. We’ve added found objects, enamel on copper and some painted wood elements to his designs. Our new work can be seen Sept 7-9th in Clayton, MO at the highly esteemed St. Louis Art Fair and the following weekend, Sept 15-16 in Naperville, Il at the Riverwalk Art Fair, as well as on our web-site http://www.WolfCreekStudio.com
A Study in Texture 24″ x 60″
Some sculptures have a history and one of our newest ones is a perfect example. We made “New Beginnings” and finished and signed it New Year’s Day 2014. I never quite felt satisfied with it. We rarely showed it in the several years since. But just recently we did and someone liked the concept, but in different colors and with the “waves” horizontally positioned. Se we removed the orb, the stainless, brass and copper. I’m using those elements on another backplate, in a different color palette for them. In the meantime, I’ve used this backplate and made a new square and added an enamel on copper orb. The old version is here and the new version is below it. The new one will be shown this weekend in Highland Park at the Port Clinton Art Fair. It’s called “New Beginnings/Solar Flare”.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by visitors to our booth is how we come up with our ideas. I can tell you they aren’t forced. When an artist sits down to create something new, it doesn’t come out of thin air and it cannot be forcibly willed into being. Rather, several things must come together simultaneously and that creates the magic. For success, the groundwork must be laid and that means many hours and years of simply making—making work, utilizing tools, experimenting with mediums, drawing, painting, sculpting endlessly. Whether the end result each time is good or poor or great doesn’t matter as much as putting in the time. With that experience comes priceless abilities, obtainable in no other way. It is a growth that builds upon itself endlessly. In that process the artist develops the mental and physical tools necessary to bring ideas into the physical realm. It makes possible the transfer of something ethereal in the mind into an object in the “real” world.
Secondly, every person is a result of their own unique physiology and life experience. As an artist, everything you produce is a result of these two entities. All of your life experiences come together to produce the current you. There is no way around that, for good or bad. Every decision, every occurrence changes the person that you are. And your own unique physiology reacts to every decision and experience further evolving your mind and body. Therefore the art you create is a direct result of that life experience. And it is a reflection of your philosophy, whether you consciously realize it or not.
All of that process is necessary, but it’s not enough. Creating is not copying an idea you’ve already executed, or copying someone else’s idea. Creating is stirring the pot and dipping out something fresh. Of course you’re influenced by other artists. That’s not only inevitable, but actually a good thing. The key is to keep it as an influence not a replication.
There is a wellspring that is bottomless and it is within every person’s reach. Tapping into it is necessary for creative growth, but the connection can be fugitive. When it happens its magic. This is what I mean when I say it cannot be forced. It flows into your thoughts when you prepare the mind. You have to allow it to come forth into the “light”. This usually occurs in a relaxed state of mind—often when the eyes are closed and you allow unimpeded wandering. Day dreaming is not a waste of time as some would have you think. And often images come into my mind just before falling asleep. Sometimes it’s erratic, with a quick flash and then it’s gone. Other times when conditions are more perfect one can tap into a flowing stream of images and ideas. Getting those down afterwards in sketches and notes is crucial to remembering the gist of the idea as well as the specifics. And then you have the start of a series and more ideas will flow from that, if you return to that elusive universal flow of energy. We are blessed and it is important to remind ourselves of that.
Books are the physical embodiment of knowledge and enlightenment, the teller of stories, the keeper of secrets, and ultimately the record of our history. These sculptural icons are our interpretation of this important cultural symbol.
Our little copper books are fun to make and delightful to many patrons. Each book is a 12″square of wood, clad with copper and then hand-hammered or embossed with texture. On each we make little books with copper pages that are bound together with silver wire and have a colorful backing. The pages are hammered on the edges and then usually embossed with an elusive script to add mystery. In the case of our newest ones, the pages are embossed with readable messages. The first new set is a Cosmos Series and shown here is the first.Other little books that go with this one say Moon, Star, Sun, Venus, Comets.
Many years ago, I began making bentwood frames for sculpture. The process involves making a framework over which a specialty laminated wood can be bent over the frame, clamped together and left overnight for the glue to cure. Shown here are a couple of the bentwood sculptures I did in the past.
More recently we’ve made some bentwood sculptures like these: