Here's a fun one that I also completed this summer. Feed Me Cats Hugging #4. The whiskers are made from recycled pieces of electrical wire left over after a renovation to my house. Like the Yes Rise Above #2 piece below, I've cut out some dead space so the piece has an opening through to the back, something new for me to do. Do you like this new idea?
While I'm on the theme of eating and hunger and waiting, here's another painted woodcarving of two cats completed this summer and immediately sold. In it two cats wait patiently/impatiently while their one food bowl sits empty with the words "Feed Me" written on its side. If only animals could talk. On the other hand, they can't talk, but they can communicate their basic needs. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com.
Themes related to hunger and needs and waiting keep coming back in my work. What's this about, you might ask? As well I also have asked. I didn't know how to explain it at first when people questioned what one of my folk art pictures was about. I knew a picture might be filled with emotion for me, but I couldn't explain why. Why was I always picturing cows waiting to be milked, farmers waiting to be done with the chores, waitresses waiting to get off their feet at the end of their shift, animals waiting to be fed?
Over many years of struggling to explain it, it became more clear to me as well. I'm a woman, a mother and I work as a therapist. I'm tuned into other people's needs in many of the hats that I wear. Other peoples needs are complex, you think you should solve them but you cannot. Needs are related to hopes, and without them we do not strive. Needs are also related to suffering, and we all suffer no matter how hard we try not to. Waiting is about acceptance - having patience, accepting we may not get our needs met, struggling with having to wait, being in the present moment. You'd think as a carver I'd be good at patience and waiting, but I'm not. I have to keep reminding myself that waiting, and hunger and needs is something that I can do.
I could go on and on about this but enough for today. Does any of this speak to the readers of this blog as well?
Last but not least, here's a picture of the back of the piece. I like to write a little something on most of the larger pieces describing what the image is about - what place, event or feeling inspired the picture.
By the way, a little bit of technical trivia, the cross battens are screwed into the back of the piece to keep it from warping, and I use a slotted hole in this batten to allow the piece to move without cracking. At the bottom you can see two color swatches, one green and the other rusty red. This lets me know what colors I mixed to make the frame color. That way, should I need to, I can touch up the paint on the the frame easily. The frames on my carvings occasionally get "dings" from going to the Ithaca Farmers' Market every week. But that's what a frame is for, to protect the artwork, and my frames do a perfect job at this. I intentionally have an overhang of the frame at top and bottom so that, if the carving falls on its face, the hand carved detail is protected. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com
Closer, closer to being done. The cats' faces are coming into focus. I've done some outlining to bring out the shapes. I find it disturbing until I paint their eyes, and I like to leave painting their eyes until the very last, like the dot at the end of a sentence. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com
Here's the first layer of paint. It sets the tone for this piece leaning towards yellow olives, a color I think of as going with 1950's kitchens. I don't plan this out in advance but just paint what colors call out to me as I look at the piece. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com
Now I'm bringing out more of the cats' faces as well as the table. My animals are always hungry, waiting to be fed, dependant on their people, begging but also a little bit annoyed. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com
The light is better on this second picture of the cat carving in process. The first picture was taken in the dark light of my home studio workbench. This picture was taken at my summer studio at the Ithaca Farmers' Market, on the carving table I use there. To take the picture I had to stand on a stool and look down on the piece, so forgive the framing. A lot of the marks of the original drawing are still there. I like to use a crayon type pencil that makes dark lines so I can remember to not carve off important details. The cats, the table and the window are in different stages of being complete. It's been a while since I've done a cat piece, and I'm enjoying this one. www.maryshelleyfolkart.com
Folk Art Mary is back at the keyboard again. Superman had his cloak, I have my paint smeared smock. Despite my best intentions, it's been a while since my last post. It's summer and I've been outdoors as much as I can, demonstration carving at the Ithaca Farmers' Market, sailing on Cayuga lake, working in my garden, doing home repairs. The computer will have to wait...
What have I been doing as an artist? I've finished up some pieces to get ready for the Ithaca Artist Market that will take place on Friday July 31st. This year I've been carving up a storm both Saturday and Sunday at the Farmer's Market, most years I'm only there on Saturdays.
I just began a commissioned piece on a family theme that a husband is giving his wife as a surprise so I can't talk more about it than that. I've recently completed painting a cat piece that I'll try to show as it's being made, starting with the picture below.