Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

As an artisan and creative person I believe that the only way to truly allow yourself to create is to immerse yourself in experiences. Learn to step outside your normal routine, do something new, something you wouldn't normally find yourself attempting. We also need time to share with other like minded people and get out of the, sometimes, isolating studio. So for the holiday weekend I decided to take a couple of "De-Mented" sculpting classes. (woo hoo!!!)

If you're not familiar with the assemblage artist Michael DeMeng you should take a peek at his art and world. He creates all manner of mixed media shrines, wall pieces, mobile toys and sculptures, small, large, medium, all through the art of assemblage (repeat after me, "ahhh-sahm-blajjjj). Or as Michael himself defines it, "we're gonna stick crap together!" He's fabulously talented and it was a pleasure to be able to spend two full days soaking up his details and tips.

Saturday myself and eight others made Pez shrines. We were all tasked to bring a myriad of found objects. Everything from old nails, watch crystals, rebar, wire, and everything in between was on the table. The largest type of common object were all of the outcast dolls and various plastic doll parts. Everyone had some. As you can see by the first couple of pictures I also had a stash of dolls...! I think I maimed at least a dozen Kelly dolls on Saturday. Many arms were cut loose plus the front of my creation is someones face (was). And yes, we all had Pez dispensers and mine was that cute pink little Easter bunny. Bye, bye bunny! After all the pieces are arranged, glued, wired or otherwise combined we moved into paint techniques. Washes of Golden art paints in rust shades, gorgeous blues and purples, even "serial killer red" which really looks like blood! Michael is a master of paint finishes that make new items transform into seemingly old, antiqued treasures. This was great fun. (I have to add that the Pez dispenser still works...! You tip back the head to get at the candy.)

Sunday there were 18 participants for a Monster Mobile or "De-Mented" toy class. Now things really get interesting! The size of your piece is completely up to you. Work huge, work decide. All the found objects from the day before showed up again (but the dolls were noticably larger) plus everyone had to bring something with wheels to use as your base object. Wow! My base pieces...? On a whim I grabbed a wheeled tray that used to contain baby blocks, two old wooden coaster thingeys in different sizes, and an old round box from a bottle of bourbon. (and of course I had more baby dolls...) As you can see my creation evolve in the pictures I stuck the coasters inside the wheeled tray with E6000 and screwed them down so they'd stay in place. Then I started to play with the liquor box and thought, "how fun would it be to hide the focal point inside the box...?!" So the box was mounted onto the coaster and out came the tin snips...! Yes, I cut the head off the doll. And the arms...and the legs...also the Kelly dolls I de-armed the day before...? Well, they lost their legs too. It's obvious in pics three and four that the outcrop of growth between the baby blocks is, well...feet! A few nails in it's head, a crown of staples for embellishment. Top it off with a finial, more fantastic paint treatments and washes... and Voila'! You have a monster toy sculpture that you can wheel through the house!

Here we all are! (Saturdays Pez class)

It's difficult to express just how much fun this is to create. It is soooo not something that I do daily in my studio and not even close to how my thought processes flow. But something happens to you in the presence of Michael DeMeng. His art is in the room, he starts to reveal his processes to you along with a primer on power tools, and all of a sudden you just feel...different! Each person interpreted what they heard or felt during the class in completely different ways and yet everyone created an art sculpture that was unique and truly "art".

What did I take away from my weekend with Michael? (besides toys that scare my children?) Well, that anything you believe in and create from your passions can be art! That the exchange of ideas, meeting new people, and jumping outside your norm can re-vitalize your outlook inside (and outside) your own studio. Add that to great assemblage and paint techniques, some laughs, and two whole days to play! It's a great way to spend a weekend!

A quick note: If you live in the San Diego area and you think about taking a class of some kind please check out Stamping Details on Midland Road in Poway. DiAnn, the owner, has a list of classes the length of my arm (and longer) on her website for you to peruse and there's always a famous name artist in there somewhere. This is, of course, where Michael taught over Labor Day weekend. Do yourself a favor and GO! Run, don't walk, and check it out!

1 comment:

BellaLunaArts said...

Susan! How did I miss this post????Fantastically inspiring! You lucky girl, getting to create with the Master DeMeng!Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience, sounds like it was a truely amazing class. I'd luuuuuve to get a chance like that someday! Take care, loved your post! :) Hugs, Bridgette