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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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ebooks update....

Despite the promise that the ebooks would be available today, only the East Creek Anagama is ready.  There's a glitch with the others right now and I'm awaiting a reply from tech support. Will keep you updated.

Three nights of frost are gradually eating away at all the plants, but some echinacea still look vibrant.  We'll enjoy every last moment of them!.

Had some studio time, and will post pictures of two new pieces as soon as they are finished.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Firing over...and ebooks!

Twice a year when we fire the big anagama kiln (a wood-fired, 8th century kiln replica), I think it really won't take up most of the month....but pretty much it does.  Saturday we had massive amounts of wood to stack for future firings besides the unloading.

(You gotta love the green moss on this guy's head)
We've hired someone to thin out our forests a little and open it up giving us more light, and lots of that wood was bucked up, split and awaiting stacking in the shed by the kiln.  Thank goodness there were lots of people there...but even so, the unloading, stacking and clean up took us 6 hours.  By that time, we were just tired out.

Oh yes!...Recent news is that where I have created the books you see on the left sidebar is now making all the books available as ebooks!   So if you have an iPad or such, you can download these books for a fraction of the cost of the print version.  Please note:  Only the East Creek Anagama book is available today.  After tomorrow, all should be.  Just click on the photo on the left which will take you to the site, then look for the ebook option to download your book.

The sun looks like it might shine today which would be lovely.  We've had tastes of the gray and wet of winter already, but I am just not quite ready for it to settle in permanently yet (am I ever?)

Time to clean out most of the garden beds, except carrots, which will stay in the ground until they are needed for fresh juice.  I did plant some mixed greens both outdoors and in the greenhouse as they thrive in the cool days of fall and winter and provide us with fresh salads almost year around.

This Saturday night is the gala/fundraiser at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg OR where my Day of the Dead pieces, along with those of a few other artists, are shown with the work of other artists. The silent auction ends that night, and hopefully supporters of the new Cultural Center will show up en masse to bid and raise money for this vibrant facility for the arts.

Ah, yes, the sun is shining, so it is time to seize the day!  Enjoy.... One of these days some more will get done.  It seems that after a big burst of creativity some clean up and reorganization are just what are needed to restart the creative spark which is what I will do today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bins stuff and another anagama firing

Last night the warming fire was started in our 8th century Korean anagama kiln, and the next 3 days will be consumed with the firing.  We'll have about 30 or more people here off and on doing their shifts, day and night, of stoking the kiln.  By Saturday we should have reached the requisite 2400 degrees, and we will close it up tight, sealing the ports and the door for it to simmer and then cool for the next week.  The following Saturday will reveal what we have.

There is no art process quite like ceramics where it is the final step that either makes or breaks the piece (no pun intended), and that final step has so many variables, especially in woodfire.  The type of wood, whether it is wet or green or dry, the weather, how the kiln is stacked, how the firing is conducted, how fast the temperature get the picture.  The best piece in the world can be destroyed in this final step...a crack can develop, the pot can tip into a another piece sticking them together forever, the glaze may not mature, a piece from an exploding pot may stick to the perfect piece...or as happened once, a series of kiln shelves may fall, starting a domino effect within the kiln.  The artist must truly "let go" of the piece once it enters the kiln.

Anyway, for our second topic, I was able to make a bins trip on Tuesday, and found a bunch of small items that interested me...a whole $25 worth (which also included some Christmas tree decorations, a book, and some other things).  Here are a few photos of what I picked up:
I love the 2 round wooden pieces (no idea from what) and one is already set out to be used in a new piece. The little wooden trivet (red and natural circles) has already been cut apart to yield a bunch of little circles that will be used as accents. Beneath everything is a handmade, crocheted piece on old natural linen.
 Old gauges (upper right), white vintage drawer pulls (very neat), finials, sepia ink, a clamp. old sewing notions, wooden blocks, tweezers, and more.
 Some more odds and ends.  I'm sure the section of glass tiles will be used in bit and pieces in some art.
I really love this big clock dial, and even though it is a reproduction, it will look fabulous in some pieces (because I will probably cut it apart, and maybe even try to get a large copy of the front of it done before I do).  The little scary Halloween tree to the left of it is much more interesting when you cover up the face part.  A couple old frames, one handmade, sort of tramp-art-like are good.  And I like the tasseled cord too.  And so does Jasper (Jazzie), our studio cat.  He's a big old guy who is loving spending his final years in the studio with lots of little round things to bat around on the radiant heated floor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another little find...

Last week when I was at the bins, I found this great guy draped across the bins of clothing.  Sadly his arms were missing, but still, his primitive, rustic look really appealed to me.  Here he is in Nils's studio chair.  Perfect for Day of the Dead season.
Speaking of that, Nils delivered the following pieces to the Chehalem Cultural Center's DOTD show for me today. Seeing everyone else's submissions will be fun!
 Drawer 280 (In the New York show, A Book about Death)

 Offering to the Oracle



Went to the bins again today, so will post pictures of some of the goodies I picked up.  There were quite a few little goodies for "bottom feeders" like me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Drawing winner, and Day of the Dead

September's winner is Tabor!  I think I have your address here, but better email me at dianelou at earthlink dot net with your mailing info.  Congratulations!

Above you'll see a new piece I created for the Chehalem Cultural Center's Day of the Dead show this month (See dates on show section on sidebar). I have a fascination with the DOTD pieces...something so sad, yet so appealing about them. This one is very tall and skinny, but I love how it turned out.
 Below is a detail of the section right below the faux tintype.  Yes, that is a real hummingbird (who sadly died in my neighbor's garage) sitting atop the red-string-wrapped bone.
 And here is a closer look at the top section.  Some coppery strips flank the tintype along with metal wings.  The top is one of those great black plastic finials that blog reader Su sent me (perfect, Su!), and some ancient holiday spires I found in the bins one day.  The white turned wood pieces along the side came from that yard sale where I bought a ton of stuff for $40 (about a month ago), and these peeling pieces were from the sides of an old crib.
Tomorrow I'll deliver to my new gallery in Portland.  More pieces out the door.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Amazing show!

Here I am back home after the Local 14 show in Portland, and it was great!  I sold 10 pieces, got a new gallery, was invited into a ReUse show in spring, met amazing people who "got" my art and what I do, have an opportunity to be filmed and interviewed, and well, all in all, it was validating and inspiring.  And it's always fun to connect with new women artists, and since this is a women-only show, there was lots of that too.

Penumbra, pictured below, was the first piece to sell.

Whoa, September is gone already!  So that means it is once again time to draw a name and send out some "goodie" to a reader who has posted a comment during the month.  I'll try to do that by tomorrow.  And remember each month there is a giveaway of a free item....a print or a piece of someone who posts a comment.  Your name is entered every time you post a comment.

On the 11th, I'll deliver 4 or 5 pieces to the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) show at the new Chehalem Arts Center in Newberg.  Since my work is often a little "dark" anyway, it is easy for a lot of my pieces to fit into that category.

Fall is definitely here.  Time to plant some fall greens in the garden.