Artist in Motion

April 28th, 2016

Yes, this is me. A Dancer always.

Dancing with the Stars in Motion Yet Not

Three things that let you know you are moving even when you are standing still;

  1. It’s late. And dark. The night is clear. Go outside and wait. After an hour or so, note how the stars seem to have moved. They have not really moved. Rather, the Earth has continued in its perpetual rotation about its axis.
  2. Are you in a car, plane, train, or boat? Look out away from your mode of transport. That landscape is not traveling, you are.
  3. You breathed! At least I hope you did. Which means, of course, you moved. Just try taking a photo in a dark room while you breathe.

and 1 that fools you.

  1. Vertigo. Feel like you are falling even when laying flat on your bed.

Are you constantly in motion? Do you feel exhilerated or exhausted? Please use the comments to tell your story.

How Fine They Are

March 17th, 2016

Fine Art Bead weaving, three necklaces

Can three necklaces convince you that bead weaving is art?

The work, “On the Beach,” upper right in the collage, is an abstraction of a beach. There is representation of a sea or ocean, sand, shells and, in the carving on the focal piece, the tropics as well as the grass that abuts many beaches. At the same time, if you are a lover of beaches this could also be a work that ignites positive emotions.

“Lace Me Up,” the work on the bottom of the collage, is important for its demonstration of skill used in a unique manner to create beauty for its own sake. That the piece is wearable adds to its value, I believe. This work is also a study in limiting my palette.

“Overnight Success,” the third piece featured in the collage, is another abstraction. In this case it is the abstraction of a story that can be told by me but is open to some interpretation or embellishment by all observers, depending on their own imaginations. The one defining parameter is the sun that has just set and the sun that is just coming to the horizon.

For another example, go back to my post,Red Sky Warning, where I tell a story and weave a landscape in a pair of earrings.

Shades of White

February 25th, 2016

Different white beads

Different white beads

White, as the eye sees it, is the color with the least amount of pigment. So what looked like a white painted wall might be pink, or blue, or beige when you bring in a set of curtains with even less pigment then the paint used on the wall. The eye in conjunction with the brain defines white as a comparison with surrounding colors and ambient light. I recall a Color Theory class where we had to create a white on white scene using torn scraps of Pantone papers. It was both revealing as well as fun!

There are two ways to make white. One is by mixing of all colors of light (red, green, blue). The other is by removing pigment (cyan, magenta, yellow). (Although to produce most white paints, the manufacturers use mostly minerals that, when ground up, seem whitish. Zinc oxide is one example.)

For glass beads, whiteness depends on finish as well as the white pigment used to color the glass. The angle of incident light (light hitting a surface) also plays a role, but it is more transient. For the whitest seed beads, I prefer a shiny luster – the shinier the better! Matte beads tend to seem kind of greyish to me.

If you’ve never paid attention to the variety of white, try it now. And tell me what you have discovered for yourself in the comments below.

7 Obstacles Creative People Overcome

January 28th, 2016
Discarded Armature Concept for "Goddess with a Boa"

One of the concepts I started working before deciding the idea was not what I want “Goddess with a Boa.”

1. I thought I had more of that. White lined green beads in size 11/0. Translucent ab finished beads in a pale peach sort of color. These colors feature in the goddess and her boa so using them in what I think of as her frame (her situ?) seems a great way to tie the piece together, given that I want the sides and back to be in shades of purple. Unfortunately, I am almost out if these both. Simple solution: buy just a little bit more. Maybe 20 grams of each.

2. Ooooh shiny! Yes, we artists are easily distracted by new materials, new ideas, new tools, new (at least to us) almost anything. Right now, there are some intriguing new shapes of beads to be used for bead weaving. Some of these have multiple holes! While colors and finishes have long been variable, bead shapes were slow to have entirely new shapes designed. What a marvelous distraction! I am interested in trying a few of these, but I still have a lot to say (and many experiments to make) with the bead types I already use.

3. Ok, that’s a lot more tedious than I anticipated. No matter how much I love creating works of art, there’s still the cleaning up that has to be done. The worst? Tiny little seed beads that fall into the worn nap of the carpet in my studio. I go after them on a semi-regular basis. On my hands and knees. There is another method using a hand held vaccuum but that method kind of grosses me out.

4. Living in the now. True, this is often a good habit, but unless we also remember to plan, we are led to the trap of…

5. The deadline is when?! Some people claim that they work best when the deadline is close. Yeah, I have been one of them. I’m no longer convinced it’s true. I am finding that giving myself time results in better works of art (however one defines better).

6. Just five more minutes. Also known as sleep deprivation. Who hasn’t had to overcome this one? Either we’re on a roll and can’t stop working or modern living has screwed up our sleep habits. Either way, a tired brain will not be as creative as a well rested brain.

7. My work speaks for itself. A picture may be worth a thousand words but without some kind of sharing the message is going to get lost. And people always want to delve further into something that interests them. I do, don’t you?

Summer Now, South of the Equator

December 24th, 2015

Cold Fusion ©Patricia C Vener Extra long draping fringe dark blue and green

Cold Fusion ©Patricia C Vener

It’s Summer in the southern hemisphere. Hot in the southern temperate zone while the northern temperate zone shivers. Of course six months ago things were reversed, so it’s fair, I think. Once, I was in Chile in February. Instead of a snow storm I got sun poisoning for my birthday.

When I was very young I decided to dig a hole to the other side of the world. I didn’t get very far. On the other hand, strip and pit mines do get pretty far but it takes time, work, and a desire to scar the Earth in order to glean the minerals you want. Chuquicamata is the largest working open pit copper mine in the world (though not the largest of all open pit mines. That distinction belongs to the now closed Bingham Canyon Copper Mine in Utah in the USA). Copper is an element that is part of the chemical make up of both minerals, Azurite and Malachite. These soft stones have been used in jewelry for a long time and their colors are distinctively rich.

Malachite is unique for its green banding, light then dark in graceful alternating swirls of varying widths. Azurite is a blue of such depth you could fall into the color and forget to emerge. My necklace, “Cold Fusion,” uses these colors but instead of soft minerals, I used silverlined bugle and seed beads to create a slippery wash of these colors with contrasts of texture. This is a single fringe bib style with a long draping bib that curves around the shoulders, distributing the weight of the piece for a more comfortable wear. There is a mathematical precision to the textural work that is softened by the wearer’s motion. Thus, the wearer becomes part of the piece.

Top 10 Largest Open Pit Mines in the World

Forests Are for Dancing

November 26th, 2015

Beadwoven Art to be worn by Patricia C Vener, "Autumn Goddess"

“Autumn Goddess”
©Patricia C Vener

“Autumn Goddess” flitted through the woods easing green foliage to the warm colors of her namesake season. After her passing, the changed leaves fluttered to the forest floor, a carpet of randomly scattered browns, reds, oranges, and yellows. She whistled to the forest birds reminding the migrators of their long trips to warmer climes; reminding those that stay behind to start getting their winter nests in shape. For now, the days were still warm, but the nights were crisp and quickly becoming cold. It would not be very long before the days would also become cool.

Winter demanded entry even as Summer refused to let up her hold.

They came to a compromise leaving Autumn rushing about a much curtailed region.

I love trees and have done for as long as I can remember. Their structure, especially, fascinates me. They reach up so high in the sky and spread out so wide – at least they do when you are a small child. The word, “forest” for me evokes images of lush foliage especially that of a temperate forest, but I have a friend for whom “forest” and “tree” means conifer. Having seen only photos of these, I can’t fault him. Their leaves are needle-like but their height and structure are nothing if not majestic. And they wear their Winter cloaks of snow with breathtaking grandeur.

According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology there are three main classes of forest defined by global latitude: tropical, temperate, taiga. Tropical forests are further divided into subtypes based on rainfall (UCM of P):

  • evergreen rainforest: no dry season.
  • seasonal rainforest: short dry period in a very wet tropical region (the forest exhibits definite seasonal changes as trees undergo developmental changes simultaneously, but the general character of vegetation remains the same as in evergreen rainforests).
  • semievergreen forest: longer dry season (the upper tree story consists of deciduous trees, while the lower story is still evergreen).
  • moist/dry deciduous forest (monsoon): the length of the dry season increases further as rainfall decreases (all trees are deciduous).

Sadly, over half our planet’s tropical forests no longer exist (UCM of P).

Temperate forests exist in Earth’s temperate zones (both northern an southern hemispheres have these). These are regions with both Winter and Summer, (and the transitional seasons of Sprjng and Autumn) and between four and six months of no frost which encourages a lengthy growing season. The climate is generally considered mild. These forests, too, are further subdivided by rainfall characteristics (UCM of P):

  • moist conifer and evergreen broad-leaved forests: wet winters and dry summers (rainfall is concentrated in the winter months and winters are relatively mild).
  • dry conifer forests: dominate higher elevation zones; low precipitation.
  • mediterranean forests: precipitation is concentrated in winter, less than 100 cm per year.
  • temperate coniferous: mild winters, high annual precipitation (greater than 200 cm).
  • temperate broad-leaved rainforests: mild, frost-free winters, high precipitation (more than 150 cm) evenly distributed throughout the year.

These are rare with only scattered remnants of these once extensive forests left on Earth.

The last class, Taiga or Boreal forests actually represents the largest biome. These forests have the shortest growing period as they are all located at much colder latitudes of the northern hemisphere (50º to 60º). There are no further subdivisions. These forests, as well, are disappearing, mostly due to logging.

So that’s 10 different kinds of forests and all are in danger of disappearing. Not a good thing for life on Earth.

The Forest Biome, University of California Museum of Paleontology,
The Taiga or Boreal Rainforest, Marietta College,

The Balance of Chaos and Harmony

October 24th, 2015

Bead Weaving fine art necklace, The Balance of Chaos and Harmony

The Balance of Chaos and Harmony, ©Patricia C Vener
$627.00 USD

Chaos is associated with an emotional sense of frenzy while harmony seems to evoke tranquility and quietude. People often ascribe the former with negative and the latter with positive connotations. I don’t know why. Chaos is bees, hummingbirds, flowers, and the shape of a coastline close up. Harmony is a close relationship of musical notes, a well planned garden. (Maxwell Smart’s Control is a lot more chaotic than his nemesis group’s Chaos.)

Chaos is also oten confused with random, but these are not synonymous. Chaos Theory explains how a seemingly random result may arise from distant miniscule causes that may not be readily seen to be connected to the observed result. The theory is only about 30 years old but it has had great impact on many fields of study both in and out of physics. In art it can be seen expressed through fractals – one of those intersections where art and math collide and collude!

Sadly, there does not appear to be a Harmony Theory in mathematics or physics. I suppose the closest would be the fundamental Laws of Thermodynamics. (Ask me about these, please.) Or the topic of harmonics in wave theory – except harmonics is an observable behavior rather than a set of principles. Harmony in art, now, that’s a value judgement and completely subject to the observer and probably influenced by the observer’s cultural experiences.

The necklace, The Balance of Chaos and Harmony, earned its name while I was working on it. It was created in response to a competition challenge. The participants were supplied with a focal bead (in my case, the beautiful flower made by lampworker Brea Moser) and a set of translucent white and silverlined seed beads, larger black shaped beads, a strange silver ring and told to create. We were allowed to add our own beads and other components.

My mantra for this project was “push through that envelope.” So where is the chaos and the harmony? The center part of the piece is free form netting. (As far as I know I’m the only artist who does this). Free form is chaos. The two vintage shoe clips are different but share the same basic fan shape – harmony and chaos. The narrow “straps” mirror each other – harmony.

Greyed Out, Contrast without Color

September 25th, 2015

Intergalactic Fugue, copyright, Patricia C Vener

Intergalactic Fugue, copyright, Patricia C Vener

What if you couldn’t see color? Would your world be boring? Without color there would be only the many varied nuances of every possible shade of gray from black to white. Only? Indeed not, as any aficianado of film noire or Ansel Adams photography would likely insist.

Some fine art painters today, like their 1500s and 1600s counterparts use some kind of monochromatic underpainting to work out illumination and shading before applying final layers of more colorful paint. This technique acts like a template to help define a consistant lighting effect without the artist being lead astray by paint hue. As an example, we tend to interpret yellow as being lighter and brighter than other colors even when this is not so.

In photography, black and white images seek to derive interest from composition and tonal contrast instead of color contrast. Ansel Adams, for example, made great use of darkroom techniques to enhance the effects of light and dark areas in his film photography before making his final prints.

In film, working in black and white encouaged such cinematographers as Orson Wells and, earlier in 1920, the German creators (apparently several had a hand in the design) of Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to experiment with light, shadow, and angles in ways that working in color does not inspire. In fact, it is my opinion that working in color has detracted from artistic cinematography with the contemporary prediliction for straight on views, panoramas and flat juxtapositions of color. Although there is the notable exception of now standard time travel effects simulating forced perspective (see for example the childrens television program, Dinosaur Train).

Vermeer’s Painting Technique: Drawing

The Modernism Lab at Yale University

Mystery of the Missing Dark Skies

August 27th, 2015

Art necklace, bead woven in black, rose, and aurora. Timeless as the dark night skies.

© Patricia C Vener
$400.00 USD

How bright the night,
(Give me a night that’s dark.
A night that’s clear.
A sky that is full of glittering stars.
A sky looking back in time.
Give me a sky that’s clean.
A sky of the darkest hue.
A night full of happy dreams.
A night looking back in time.)

The farthest light we detect is the farthest time in the past that we can see. Human eyes are limited and any light added to the atmosphere limits the dimness of the stars we can see.

When did we lose the dark night skies? I’m sure the first man-made fires made a difference, but not much. Certainly less than the full moon – which totally ruins any good meteor shower. Nowadays we are plagued by night skies that are anything but truly dark. Part of the problem is our atmosphere. We have one and it scatters light everywhere. The moon has essentially no atmosphere and so has a daytime of dark skies.

Well, we need our atmosphere because we breathe. But if we had a clean atmosphere with no light pollution, we would have dark skies and a clearer vision of the past. Almost everyone understands how unhealthy smog is even if many don’t know that smog hides the stars. Sadly, most people don’t understand the how light pollution also curtails our enjoyment of the dark night skies.

Light pollution is the bane of astronomers everywhere. I’m not sure even Antarctica is safe! Astronomers are not the only people directly affected, though. Consider people in the arts or who care about the arts. Everything changes when the night sky becomes dull and murky. What poet will compare anything to the number of stars in the sky when there are only about six anyone can make out! Imagine it:
Poet: “My love is endless as the number of stars in the sky”
Reader: “Wow, that sucks. Someone’s hedging their bets”

And what about the well known metaphor of “shining like diamonds in the sky?” Imagine “Starry Night” painted nowadays.

Is there a remedy? Of course there is. Turn off the lights if we don’t need them and if we do, make sure the light is directed only toward where it needs to be.


Look Past the Shoreline

July 25th, 2015
On the Beach, © 2009, Patricia C Vener, $1,000 USD

On the Beach, © 2009, Patricia C Vener, $1,000 USD

Humans like water. I looked it up: almost 40 percent of the population of the USA lives near a coastline. Many other people live near the shoreline of a large lake (Lake Superior, for example). As for me, I can’t recall a time I did not live near any large body of water, but I have friends who did grow up landlocked and at least one friend that I know has lived most of her adult life landlocked. I sometimes take for granted the easy ability to see the undiminished horizon of water meeting air. I was born near Lake Onterio and, except for one year near Lake Michigan, have since lived where the Atlantic Ocean influences my weather.

Water is a basic necessity if life. It is – or should be – a basic human right to have clean potable water readily accessible. In fact, all life on Earth depends on water. Perhaps it’s instinctual, but it seems to me that all humans share an almost universal agreement that bodies of clean water, moving or still, are beautiful to view and uplifting to the soul. We are, after all, mostly water.

It’s the beach that comes first to mind when someone talks about living by the water. “On the Beach” is my impression of a beach that starts with grass encroached upon by sand, maybe rocks, shells, seaweed – anything natural washed up and left behind by high tides. It finishes with clean blue water that honestly, is nowadays rare to find. My necklace represents a healthy beach. One where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. One where garbage is nowhere to be found. One where the water is unpolluted.

“On the Beach” is Abstraction art. Or perhaps Symbolic. The large carved slice of mother-of-pearl shell stands for all shells we might gather from a sandy shore. The blue beads are a healthy body of water, while the green beads are grasses. The fresh water pearls represent a healthy ecosystem undecorated by the detritus of human made trash. The necklace, a wearable work of art, is a symbol of hope for a future when clean water healthy environments are the norm and all people can enjoy them.