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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, November 23, 2011

The bins shall provide...

During a two-day stay this week in Portland, I took some time Tuesday to go to the bins.  Pickings have not been that good on Mondays recently, so I decided to try going on Tuesday.  Much least this Tuesday was much better.
 Above is part of my stash...hard to see in such a tiny photo, I know, but there are the little white cherubs, eight of them, the weird glass bottle shape, the scary skull, the metal curlique, the elephant, Dutch shoe, interesting frame (for needlework, I think, but I can certainly envision something in there), the little Chinese pot, and a couple other things.
And here, the dark, tall carved Indonesian box, a rain stick, the 3 cats, a decorative box, a toy cash register (just like one I had as a child...very broken but with good pieces inside as you will see), and the ray shape at the top.
 After about an hour of trying to disassemble the toy cash register (they definitely made toys to last long ago...everything out of metal, securely riveted together), I got the nice little pile of keys which you can barely see lower left), and those great pop-up metal numbers...and the red metal pieces.  I often use a little red in my pieces in my mostly dark art, so I am sure these will get used at some point.

As I was leaving the bins, one of the "regulars" that I see
there all the time came over to me and offered me this.
He said it was an Indonesian egg box, but actually I
think it is that game that I can't remember the name of
(see interior photo).  Obviously, it is all hand carved.

Then there was the elephant....   The "regular" who gave me the box above said he had had this in his cart but then put it back, which explained me finding it on a return visit to a bin I had already been through.  He/she needs a little work, but I find it quite appealing in its own right.  The elephant will hang from the crossbar, and there is a little wooden "clanger" which will fit inside the elephant to make a wooden bell.
As I was putting things away, I couldn't resist playing with a few of my new pieces.  No matter what I come across, I always find new inspiration in all the disparate pieces of detritus I bring home.  I loved the 3-cat base this is sitting on as well as the broken but very interesting glass shape (broken off top and bottom from whatever it used to be) as well as the scary skull.  They are all just sitting together to pose for the photo.

I'm going to add a photo of tonight's sunset for you. The photo doesn't really show how brilliant the colors were though...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving week...

(Me with our driftwood pterodactyl on the treehouse.)
Thanksgiving week begins and most will be spent with my grandchildren, children and my it should be.

There is much to be thankful for...a loving husband, 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren nearby, good friends.  But truly most of all, I am thankful that my health is holding and I feel great and have good energy.  I have goals for months and years ahead, and I plan to be here to fulfill them.

Grandson Jake and I planted 120 spring-blooming bulbs exercise in optimism, is it not?  And if you ever want an 11-year-old to help you get lots of bulbs planted in short order, get an bulb-planting attachment for an cordless electric drill.  It is like an auger and makes quick work of dozens of holes while fulfilling a boy's joys of using tools, digging holes and getting messy.

We also cleaned out the guest room closet which tends to be the catch-all in the house.  I can actually walk into it now!  There we found boxes of photos which need sorted and something done well as many years' worth of my diaries, from the years when I lived in the backwoods of MT, homeschooling the kids, growing the food, hauling the water, tending the fires, cooking on a woodstove.  I think there is another book in there.  Also years' worth of saved letters to review.  Good work for some wintery day when little else holds appeal.

May your holiday be filled with gratefulness and joy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A couple finishes...

I'm just back from the studio where this a.m. I finished up these two pieces.  You've seen their earlier iterations on the blog a week or so ago.
 At this moment, I don't have a title yet for this one (possibly Bits and Pieces).  Above, a couple of the pieces are from one of those decorative bird houses one sees...the archways, which used to have wire "bars" on them, and the top roofline portion.  There is a dial on the right side, as well as the handle, which came from the vintage gas pump.

The detail below shows the interior gears (once aqua plastic but now rusted) and the red string manipulating the woman.

Here's the second piece,  currently untitled (that part of my brain seems to be on vacation).  It's a very simple composition, but it feels right to leave it this way.
 Without a flash on it, the silvery shapes on top cast intriguing shadows that sort of fill in the composition.  Those, you might remember, were part of a metal lamp (painted reddish-purple) that I acquired at that farm sale where I got a huge pile of stuff for $40.  I'll look forward to using the rest of it in future pieces.
The beadboard on the inside of the white box also came from the same farm sale.  The ancient pitchfork from friend Ray.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Winter rains...

As we near the middle of November, some days are filled with treasured sunshine  (like Thursday), and then it is dreary, overcast, foggy, rainy much of the rest of the time.  Here's the view I am seeing right now out our dining room window.
The maples in the foreground are losing the last of their leaves in the winds and rain.  Right before I took this photo, big drifting sheets of fog moved between us and the mountainside...which made me wish I could send you a video (if I knew how).

Grandson Jake and I spent Thursday hauling loads of huge branches (many 20' long) from the woods where we had some thinning done.  He drove the 4-wheeler, we bundled the large branches, pulled two chains around them and off they went to an area where they can be reached when we rent a chipper.  Hard work...but the sun was shining, it was perfectly still and about 55 degrees with a blue sky.

Every couple loads we would lie back to rest in the beds of small branches still covered with needles,  look up at the sky and talk.  It was exquisite.

Wednesday I celebrated granddaughter Gigi's first birthday with her.  Her mommy had bought a mylar balloon for her and we need not have bought other presents. She spent about 30 minutes bouncing the balloon up and down, giggling hysterically the entire time.  There is nothing like a baby's laugh, is there?
                                                       (Daughter Kolya and Gigi)
So, simple pleasures...but the very best kind.

I did some more studio work today, so in a few days, I have some more photos of what is finishing up and what is getting started.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

10,000 and counting...

When I started this blog, I watched the little counter go up 4 or 5 a week...and now, we have surpassed 10,000 views.  I know many blogs have hundreds of thousands of hits, but I consider this a landmark. In viewing my stats, it's interesting to see how many views are from Russia, Korea, Venezuela, Denmark and other far-away places.

A big thank you to those who read often as well as those who peek in occasionally.  You give me a reason to keep working and a reason to document the progression of creation, which I am glad to have....especially now when some of my older pieces hold so little appeal for me.

I hope my work inspires, encourages, and motivates you to create whatever it is you chose to do.  We all need creative outlets in our lives, whether it is through teaching, singing, acting, writing, motivating, designing, decorating or creating art.  It's good for the soul.....

Friday, November 4, 2011

New starts...

The relatively empty walls in the studio have encouraged some new work which I snapped a few photos of yesterday.  The above piece once again uses a couple of those black finials (which I like so much!) that Su sent me in the goody box.  The entire piece measures about 18" tall and the black box is screwed into a wooden checkers/chess board that I cut down to a smaller size with the tabletop band saw.  The round wooden piece was from a recent bins trip, as was the old rusty compass.  No name yet for this one, but I think it is probably done.

 Though I seldom work in white, this one seemed to want that kind of a backdrop to show off the very simple, old, rusty pitchfork that friend Ray found for me.  While it is not done (I don't think), it will probably only have one addition, something hanging from the bent light socket.
This one is still very much in a state of flux with nothing but the background fabric glued down.  The picture is a little inadequate since it was sitting on the toolbench, not hanging on the wall, when I photographed it.

If you look at the lower left, you'll see a little system of gears which used to be a bright aqua plastic toy piece which I used the rusting materials on.  The little silver circular items hanging from the center of each arch are part of an old window-locking mechanism which I screwed into the top of the box.  On the right is an old black faucet handle (and oh, I should have taken a photo of that from the side) sitting on top of one of those great dials from the vintage gas pump I took apart a month or so ago.
What will go on the top and bottom of the piece remains to be discovered.

The sun is trying to come out and it looks like another beautiful fall day despite a forecast that did not sound so cheery.    Since we had some of our overgrown forest thinned a bit recently (see the wood stacking photos from the firing), the brightness is even more evident.  Wonderful...and the view is much improved too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ebooks are ready....and monthly drawing

Finally!  The ebook versions of all 3 of my books (those on the left sidebar) are now available.  Just click on the book and it will take you to where the ebooks are $8.99 each.

And my, how did this happen?  The end of the month is now past and I've got a give-a-way for Dayna, our monthly winner.  Dayna, if you'll send me your address at dianelou at earthlink dot net I'll send it out.

Saturday night we attended the big gala at the Chehalem Cultural Center and the Day of the Dead show.
In a time of limited funding for the arts, it was refreshing to see them raise $160,000 in one night!  Lots of generous donors willing to make a wonderful community arts facility a reality.

I have 3 new pieces in the works which I hope to finish up this week, so I'll photograph them and post them when I get home on Wednesday.