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The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Improbable Nest...

Perhaps this piece is a little hard to see at this size, but the improbable nest rests on a large pointed, rusty metal piece which is attached to the old tape measure hanging from the twig.  All are enclosed in the drawer of an old treadle sewing machine with on old fence finial on top.  The image of a  grimacing mother holding a child as well as part of a child on the right side creates the story. The detail is pictured below.

(Improbable Nest copyright by Diane Lou 2010.  20"x5"x5")

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Magical Kingdom

This piece is titled Magical Kingdom.  A few weeks ago a long-ago friend of Nils's showed up, and we ended up all going to the Goodwill bins the next day.  Mary pulled the lovely background wood piece out of the bins and my heart sank for a moment that I had missed out on it, then she came over and handed it to me.  I kept trying to use it horizontally and finally took it off the wall and set on down in front of some other things...on end.  A couple days later I walked by and realized that I needed to use it vertically and from there it all fell into place.  Old post office box dials are in the lower right, an old wooden box houses the vintage photos, and a rusted plastic castle tops it off.  The stained glass piece at the top was from a disassembled glass lamp from the bins.  

Back in Portland with my grandkids after a busy weekend with grandson Jake at our place starting to build a treehouse.  I'm not sure who is having more fun...Nils and I or Jake (or friend Jim who stopped by today).  Why do treehouses hold such magic?  All you do is mention treehouse, and people show up at the door with a hammer in hand.  Did we all wish for a truly wonderful treehouse when we were kids when what we actually had (if anything) was a tiny platform in a forked tree?

This treehouse has a 10x14 platform, so will have a little deck around the actual house.  We got the platform frame done, and the floor joists put up.  Now for decking.  Jake below "meditating" on the started platform.  Did I mention he is quite theatrical?  Ommmmm......
(Magical Kingdom.... 24x10x4  Copyright by Diane Lou 2010)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Constructing a spiral...

Here's a new piece ...well, actually a piece I thought was done a while ago, but its incompleteness nagged at me.  Then I took a couple pieces off and added the black ball and the red tin in the top center, and now it is finished.
It's about 20" tall in all, and the piece it was created on (the pointed wood background with a shelf-like front) was part of what I got in a $1 bag at the end of a church rummage sale.  The smaller picture frames were actually made from one picture frame cut in half and separated.  The black turned pieces were just made from one that had split in half down the grain, and the black ball was a peeling, freebie ball I painted black.

I get as much joy from reclaiming discards as I do from the act of putting them all together. Looking at things for their shape, their texture, their dimension and looking beyond the dirt, the rust, the chips and broken bits...that is really the key.  Everything I use was once destined for a landfill, and I love nothing better than making art out of all the things I rescue.

The days are full of getting ready to teach and sell at Art and Soul October 5-11. And this weekend grandson Jake will be here and we'll start building a treehouse!  I can't wait. I envision a forest full of treehouses with rope bridges and zip lines connecting them.  Sounds like great fun!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall preparations....

While for us, this time of year means making sure we are prepared for winter with wood for the stove, gasoline for the generator, and some extra food on hand, for the pack rats who share our forest, it means finding a place to settle in for the winter.  One quickly seized the opportunity by settling into our wood elevator that takes wood from the garage to the upstairs deck beside the living room.

I love nests of all kinds and am entranced by pack rats' collections and their adorable appearance (but am repelled by their smell).  The bulk of this nest was made from twine which had obviously been nibbled from a large spool in the garage.  Each piece was approximately 6" long and had been carried up the elevator shaft, probably one by one, then shredded for extra softness.  Further enhancements were twigs, moss and lichens.

All of this happened in a very short time, as one day I went to get wood to bring into the house and was startled to be face-to-face with a pack rat, cozy in her nest and obviously none too eager to abandon her new beautifully crafted home.

When my daughters were young, my former husband and I lived in the backwoods of MT with no power, no running water, phone or anything else.  When my daughters tired of the large dollhouse their dad had built for them,  we put it in the woodshed for the winter with the plastic furniture inside in a box.  When spring came and the woodshed emptied, there was a large packrat nest in one corner filled with plastic dollhouse furniture. They had couches, beds, sinks and toilets...all of it.  It is a memory that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ordering glitch...and repeating arms

It was pointed out to me yesterday that the link to my earlier book, Diane Lou Assemblage, was not working. Because I had revised it a bit after the initial printing, the link changed. It is now fixed if you want to order. You can just click on the image on the left sidebar for any of the books. Thanks...

When I bought an old mannikin (female child), her arm kept falling off, so I took that as a sign that I needed to use it separately (and that means the rest of her will be used in parts too).  I had also just purchased the end of an old wooden box that said Repeating Arms Co.  Couldn't resist putting the two together.

Another beautiful day here, so after yoga this a.m., I am off to the studio. Getting ready for some fun visitors, doing art, taking care of the garden, and getting ready for Art and Soul in a couple weeks is keeping me busy. Love this time of year...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hot off the press...Transfers and Transparencies

It's ready! 78 pages of fully-illustrated techniques. To view bigger, click on the little box with the 4 arrows. Thanks for looking!

Artful home...

Yesterday Nils and I were invited to be a part of an art discussion group hosted by friend Monica. The gathering was held at the home and studio built by her father, a noted woodcarver. The house, built decades ago, was built entirely of hand-hewn logs,
including the floor boards and the long dining table. It is said the house was built without a nail...just dovetailed joints and hand-carved dowels holding it together. The artist's mark was everywhere.

One room caught my eye...the spectacular wall you see pictured here. This is an interior wall, carved by the artist, right into the logs. You'll see the backside of this wall in the following photo of Nils.

Here's what greets visitors by the front door....another massive carving right into the logs of the building. The whole place overlooks the beautiful valley, features a gazebo, koi pond, garden and carvings around every corner. Lovely!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book finished...mural up

Actually the mural we put together a year ago this summer has been installed for quite a while, but it took a friend visiting to finally get a picture of it for us. It was fired in the spring firing of East Creek Anagama, here on our property. All the color comes from the wood ash of the firing which creates its own glazes.

Beyond that, I finished my book on Transfers and Transparencies and should have copy #1 next week to do a final proof before ordering lots of copies. They'll be available from me or at Art and Soul or from I'll post when it is ready.

Fall's cooler, damper, shorter days are upon us (even though it isn't fall) and it has put me in housecleaning mode, wood stove mode, and getting ready for fall workshops mode. The calendar is filling and I can see Xmas here before I realize what hit me.
Oh, and a new granddaughter is due on Halloween, so that is an extra-special fall thing to look forward to.

There is always that bittersweet quality when the weather starts to change. I love the weather, but there is the reality that a rainy winter lies ahead, with short, dark days. If I stay as busy this winter as I have the rest of the year, I'm not sure I'll notice.