Saturday, November 27, 2010

From my pocket notebook:

These pages may not look like much yet, but they are full of promise. I'll have panels from my carpenter in hand on Monday, gessoing will be done in the days to follow, and barring the unexpected, I'll be working on new paintings by this time next weekend.
In my satisfied exhaustion I pulled out the camera late last night and snapped this in our darkened living room: documentation of the second spread, an imagined scene from some point in the Miocene.

I'll pull it out again and look at it critically in a couple of weeks. Once I've finished all the illustrations, I'll have a clearer head to assess which improvements are necessary, and which problems resolve themselves once I've separated myself from their creation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but I have the world's most beautiful studio. No, I really do.

(This photo and the next courtesy of Tim Tracz)

And I got a chance to show it off a bit last night at our Open Studios event!

I love my space, and I like seeing other peoples' spaces, too, so Open Studios is pretty much my favorite campus event of the year.

Here's my friend Leslie Ayers and some of her work: friend Julia Blitch and some of her work (and her incomprehensibly adorable mutt Pikah):

...and my friend Luanne Redeye and some of her work:

(Is that painting just incredible, or what? The answer is yes. It is incredible. The shifty camera doesn't do it justice--hopefully anyone in the area will go see it in person when she has her thesis show this spring.)

So many beautiful, strange work spaces and so many cool, weird, nice artists. Can't wait for next year!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I went out to do a plein air gouache study late this evening near the tennis courts, and ended up working in the dark under a campus vapor light, finally coming home with numb hands, and this:

...which isn't finished, but when I enjoyed working on for lots of reasons, not least among them that I got to spend a lot of time in thoughts of my friend Karen Cleveland and her work. I can't do what she does--her forms are so evocative, moving, suggestive--her use of negative space so brilliant and sparing--her marks and subjects so distinctively personal and iconic--her palettes so gorgeous.

But I'm also inspired and inspirited by her faith in intuition, and that's something I can emulate, when I'm feeling brave enough! I like it when I can let grass and leaves look like this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From this Sunday's Arts Section of the Albuquerque Journal. Interviews are always funny...I definitely don't remember saying half that stuff. But I can't argue, since it was recorded.

Thanks to my students for letting me know it had been published!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perfection for the Ages
By Aurelio Sanchez
Of the Journal

          University of New Mexico fine-arts graduate student Cedra Wood said an "aura of mystery" fascinates her whenever she helps craft a reproduction of a vintage violin made by 16th- and 17th-century violin-making masters like Italians Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari.
        "I think the fascination lies in why we try to make exact replicas of these instruments, right down to the sound," she said.
        "It comes from trying to find out where Amati and Stradivari were coming from, and from striving for the greatness that was theirs and other violin makers during an era when music from a violin was the most beautiful."
    Wood and UNM professor Peter White recently were recognized for their work in reproducing a replica of a period violin by Amati, one of a group of violin makers from Cremona, Italy, whose instruments are the most prized in classical music.
        Wood and White are part of the New Mexico Musical Heritage Project at UNM, which teaches students the art of violin making and how to play folk music of New Mexico.
        The medal bestowed on the pair during the international competition in Italy is particularly prestigious, White said, because their work was recognized by a jury composed of the most famous violin makers and players of Europe.
        "What was most impressive was the perfection of her (Cedra) artwork, done originally (by Amati) on commission for King Charles IX of France and King Phillip II of Spain," White said.
        "All of the jurors were very impressed with her outstanding work," he said, adding that he attended the competition. Wood said she couldn't attend, but was excited when White sent a cryptic e-mail informing her of the medal.
        "I was tremendously excited," said Wood, who became part of the project when White recruited her after seeing one of her paintings that contained violins.
        "I figured if she could paint a violin in a painting, then she can do a wonderful job in painting a real violin," White said.
        A laborious, intricate and time-consuming process, the making of the medal-winning violin took more than a year, Wood said.
        "There's something really attractive about learning skills that are so specific, precise and lovely," she added.
        The process involves first cutting wood from a forest, delicately shaping and carving the instrument body with a variety of tools, gluing, sanding, preparing varnish and applying multiple coats of varnish, painting, attaching fingerboard, soundpost and bridge, and installing strings.
        "They seem like small treasures when they're finally done," Wood said of the violins. "It felt like I was connecting to another era, another world."
        White said the images on the backs of the violins made by Andrea Amati are either religious or courtly images to please the kings and queens and musicians in the courts of France and Spain.
        Reproduction violins and violas generally begin at $10,000 and go up, "especially if they are awarded a medal for workmanship or antique work."
        White describes "another world" in 17th-century New Mexico, when Franciscan friars arriving with the Spanish explorers brought Italian-made violins and instrument-making skills.
        "One of the things that Franciscans did to try to convert the indigenous peoples of what is now Mexico and New Mexico was to teach them to make and to play violins," White said.
        Evidence of that is reflected in the traditional re-enactments of the matachines, an ancient dance drama staged in the Southwest for centuries.
        "To this day, the matachines drama is performed, but today they're playing factory-made violins made in Germany, when they could be making and playing the same instruments that belonged to the early settlers, adventurers and priests of New Mexico," White said.
        White said he hopes that winning a medal at the international competition will raise awareness of the work done by the New Mexico Musical Heritage Project. "It's important for New Mexicans to know that long before anybody made or played violins in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, people were making and playing them in New Mexico."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is what as known as "getting back on that horse," I think. Or is it back in the saddle? Anyway, I guess the main point is that it's equine-related. Having neglected everything but my thesis for the last couple of months, I'm shifting focus back to fulfilling my illustration contract for Evolution of the Horse.

The last push will be a big one, as it involves three spreads containing scenes from the early Eocene, the Miocene, and the Pleistocene. I've been glomming the hundreds of illustrations that Zdenek Burian created for Life Before Man, and I'm not deluding myself that I compete in his sphere--but I'm making peace with what I can do given my limited time frame and limited knowledge.

So here's my first epoch. Still wants a bit of work to harmonize everything in the landscape, maybe some more subtleties in coats/skins of the larger animals--especially some higher contrast on that big guy by the water, the Coryphodon. My biggest concern is that the proportion of the animals to one another reads roughly accurately. Sort of tough, as they're densely compressed into a single landscape.

Looking forward to getting the tape off, seeing it clean and finished.