Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Labor of Art

Picture 1: Reclaimed wood from a futon bedrame

The unspoken truth about art is that it can be quite labor intensive from putting an idea together to the installation of the completed project. I happen to savor every sweaty moment. Take oil painting for example: one essential piece of material is the canvass or some surface to brush paint on. As a purist whose first choice is to paint on canvasses, it requires that I always have canvasses on hand. Purchasing them is one way to obtain them but it can cut deep into the pocketbook, especially if custom sizes are needed or if one does a lot of painting. 

Another alternative is to make them, which requires tools, materials, and a little bit of know-how. 

In this day and age of "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle," I gladly report that I am constantly reminded to be resourceful and use reclaimed materials. Take for example Picture 1 above: a broken futon could have been thrown out to the dump but instead I decided to saw the wood into 3/4"x1"x 8" strips and mitering the ends at 45 degree angles to make the square frame. After assembling the frame a canvass is stretched over the frame with a pair of pliers and stapled to the back of the frame (Picture 2 below).

Picture 2: Staple the canvass to the frame with a staple gun

The benefits of making your own frames is cost savings and being able to customize sizes and shapes. The downside is the labor for those who don't find it enjoyable, and time must also be taken into consideration. The upside, however, is a finished canvass ready for painting whenever you want or need it. 

Picture 3: Finished canvass 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Profile Picture

Photographing children and getting natural poses from them can be challenging especially if they feel the need to move around and be active. Activity, curiosity, desire to learn, attention, and fun is what every child seek. In a recent photo-shoot, I taught Laney how to shoot a 35mm film camera which relaxed her for other natural poses and shots. We faced off and I caught a profile photograph of her catching a profile photograph of me catching a profile photograph of her. Both photographs will be framed and placed together as a set. I also have to admit that she took a better picture of my profile than I did of hers with a 1980s Yashica point-and-shoot over my 1960s Canon FT with a 50mm lens.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lobster Soup

An excellent meal can be most inspiring especially when there is no expectation. My lifelong friends and I got together at a place called Mitch's Sushi. We entered this hole-in-the-wall that was carved out of a building set in the heart of Honolulu's industrial district. If I wasn't mistaken, I thought that I was being taken to a warehouse to get "whacked" having watched too many mafia flicks. Snapping back to reality, we entered the sushi bar which sat no more than 15 people. We were led through a garage passing a giant boat trailer and into a private tatami room which had the appearance of a giant wooden box on the outside. On the inside, the ambiance was very simple and clean with a Japanese style dining area with a few fish paintings hung on the wooden finished walls. The maple-colored wooden floors glowed with a finish emanating a new yet traditional feeling.

On the menu: Abalone, salmon, scallop, lobster, toro, saba, sashimi; Abalone and abalone liver sauteed; Baked lobster; Toro, Chutoro, salmon, scorpionfish, sea urchin, salmon egg, sushi and etc... To make this meal one that is over the top we were served a bowl of lobster miso soup.

So where does all this lead to? Well, ask the lobster if he was still alive. His spirit would say it was death for some and a delicacy for others. Luckily my friends and I sit at the pinnacle of the food chain along with all of you reading this. I thank my friend Kevin for suggesting Mitch' Sushi and also for paying. I also thank my other friends for the fine company. But my deepest thanks goes to the lobster for giving its life and for giving me the energy and inspiration to paint him at his finest moment. I proudly display his 8x8 oil portrait in my kitchen.

See more pics here

Study #1 with Graphite Pencil
                                               Study #2 with watercolor and colored pencil
Final version in my kitchen

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mango Analog Camera

Film cameras have been thrown out to the curbside or orphaned in local thrift shops because digital technology is the wave of the present. As a good samaritan of elderly cameras, I have rescued a number of them with less than a $1 a day or less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day. By the time I get to them, they have been used up, banged up, and abused. With a little TLC and a roll of film, 90% of these film cameras are fully functional and they all work to earn a spot for boarding on my shelf. Some of them produce photographs that digital cameras cannot without photoshop merely by having a few light leaks and some uncertain blurring (lomography). Look at what the above Mango camera did by yielded that wonderful 8x10 photograph below that sits in my bathroom which I enjoy everyday. So yes, digital cameras can create images so crisp sharp that my eyeballs could shatter if I look at them too long, but old school film cameras are perfect for taking photos to what my eyes are meant to perceive and capturing the moment and a feeling just as well. 
Get lomo equipment: http://usa.shop.lomography.com
Check out Photobox photos: http://photo.box.sk/about.php3?id=100

Mango Brand Film Camera

Holiday Palm Tree

It was two years ago that I was challenged to make a Christmas tree using existing materials that would cost me nothing out of pocket. Observing various palms trees in Hawaii, an inspirational thought of making a Christmas palm tree transpired. Having no idea how this tree would materialize and where to start, I was unattached and open-minded. The only thing that was a must was the fresh scent of pine. The process was self guided and it would become a freestyle art project. Limited by space of a tiny apartment, size did matter. By gathering free Christmas tree trimmings from a local Home Depot for starters, the design was clear, the branches would serve as palm leaves. As for the tree's trunk, there was string, there was glue, and there was a mess. There was a vase, a pvc pipe, and a Christmas tree stand. This magnificent tree was assembled top down on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in 2008 and it continues to be the Christmas palm tree that we enjoy in 2010.

To see more images, click here.