Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tau Cross

Franciscan (Tau) Cross
 by Bro. Jason Moore, OFM Cap. 
Carved, stained, and painted oak wood with nails, approx. 11" x 13 x 2".
This past year, the Capuchin friars were asked to create crosses for auction at the Brown Robe Benefit http://www.brownrobe.com/. This dramatic and moving artwork--a rugged and raw beauty--caught my eye immediately.

The description of the cross in Bro. Jason's words follows:
"This cross is in the shape of the Tau, known by many as the Franciscan cross.
The cross is decorated with thorns representing the crown Jesus wore on the cross and the nails as the instruments to affix Him to the cross. The skull represents both the bones of Adam, used at the base of ancient crosses, and is a reminder of the Capuchin Saints who would preach or contemplate with a skull; reminding us of our own mortality. The cross is crafted from oak grown at San Lorenzo Novitiate, and carved with hand tools and a Dremel."
The cross viewed from below.

I contacted Bro. Jason for more information about his artwork and vocation, and he graciously
responded to my questions.

Regarding your artwork:
Have you received formal training or are you self taught?  
I had art classes from elementary through high school, and a sculpture class in college. Otherwise I am self-taught.

Is carving and sculpture your main outlet in art, or do you make two-dimensional work as well?
I think my best work is sculpture, but most of my work is in drawing. The Tau cross is my first experience with wood, and I was experimenting as I went.

Do you get much time to work on art in your present occupation?
As a Novice for the Capuchins, there is much quiet time for prayer and reflection. In that time, I find that art helps me to express myself in ways that words just can't. It is a prayer in itself.

By what kinds of art are you most influenced?
Visiting the Vatican was a powerful experience, seeing so many pieces of art devoted to the praise and worship of God. I was moved by the Pieta, and the drama of the Sistine Chapel, but  I'm also influenced by street art, where pieces are created in minutes. Finally, I draw some of the style in my art from stained glass windows.

Do you have a favorite artist or artists who most thrills and influences your own work?
That's a hard question. I think Dali and Michelangelo were the biggest influences, but recently I was able to work with Lynn Kirchner, a sculptor who did two commissions for a church in Evergreen, CO. At that time I was able to do some of the patina work on the first of the pieces, and my ears were the model for the second piece--a St. Francis.

Regarding your formation:
In what year of formation are you?
I am a Novice, so it is my second year. Next year I will take temporary vows.

What in particular drew you to the Capuchin Franciscans?
The Capuchins were brought to my attention by the life of St. Francis. Their work in and around Denver caused me to look closer. They are down-to-earth guys who love Jesus and act on that.

Which saint or saints are most influential in your life, and why?
St. Francis, since I am a Franciscan.  At 18, I took my first trip to Europe, which included a visit to Assisi. There I learned that Francis was a man who rejected that which the world said was important. He humbled himself to grow closer to Christ, letting go of wealth and position. St. Francis was able to bring so many to God even as he struggled with his own will vs. God's will.
Also, I was fourteen when Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Denver for World Youth Day, so he too is an influence. At that time, the experience of so many Catholics, from all over the world, coming together in one faith really moved me. I felt the Holy Spirit moving in a way I'd not experienced before. One of the four more World Youth Days in which I participated led me to my aforementioned experience in Assisi.

How are your faith and creative life linked most strongly?
Our creativity leads us to be more fully who we are, being created in the image of God.  God created the beauty of the world, and we take part in that by creating something new.  I express myself in a different dimension that words or formulas can't.  This draws me closer to God--even more so as I see that Jesus humbled himself to become our creation in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

Bro. Jason's Franciscan Cross has brought my studio space art, creative spirit, and a valued reminder of my mortality.

Many thanks to Bro. Jason for his work and contribution to this blog!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Goofing Around

Robot sketch. India ink and watercolor. Done as a prelim for a painting; to be a goofy robot for a cool , brand new baby.

Mechanical beings occupied some of the past week. I get a charge out of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells novels, and recently finished Journey to the Center of the Earth. How that played into this week's foray into robots is pretty indirect, but connected.

The first sketch.

The full color sketch. Watercolor and india ink.
For this fellow I used a human skeleton, an old photo of a Victorian gentleman, and a bottle of clock parts as resources.

Another sketch, a little less steam-punky. Resources: An antique engraving of a locomotive and one of a diving suit and the bottle of clock parts.

The Victorian robot won the right to be the final painting.

Nico's Robot. Acrylic on canvas, 4" x 12". Private collection.
The first non-landscape I've done using greyed colors and a gamut range. A little steampunk gloom is always good for a newborn's nursery, right?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thinking Aloud

 A yet-to-be-finished, or titled, work (detail)

I think I'm getting there--wherever "there" is.

February Snow. Acrylic on wood, 4" x 4". Private collection.

The exploration continues. Applying the Yurmby color wheel and gamut ranges to small paintings has been fun and I'm terrifically excited. These three works were done using printers primaries--cyan, yellow, and magenta, along with cadmium red, green, and ultramarine.

The Big Farm. Acrylic on wood, 4" x 4". Private collection.

But had to fudge a bit on this one, as the yellows and greens initially came out acidy and the reds were a nasty purply-pink. (James Gurney gave a kindly warning about the strength of magenta in a grey mixture, but did I listen?) Luckily, yellow ochre and cad red washes came to the rescue.

Early Spring. Acrylic on wood, 4" x 4". Private collection.
There's that magenta--this time it seems to be working well. A tiny variation on Spring Runoff on the Eagle http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2013/02/painting-with-grey.html

So now what's next?
Sarmo! Go for rich black, fat outlines, and big, round, delicious color! (That only makes sense to me I know, but it's what pulls at my brain and wakes me up at 3 a.m. And greyed colors can look more toothsome than pure hues. Sometimes.)

I'm getting there. I hope I'm always getting there. Wish me luck, and
 thanks for reading my thoughts.

Next post: A Robot Vacation!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

English Village, Smugglers, and Secret Passages

The Sawmill. Acrylic on cradled hardboard, 5" x 5".
(Continuing my exploration of grey.)

Years ago, in a junk store, I found a sheaf of small papers obviously cut from an old book. 
Among the papers was the inscription:
Sgt. Vernon J. _ _ _ _
Hdqs. 401st Bomb Group (H)
A.P.O. 557 c/o Postmaster
New York, N.Y.

Also among the papers were a few photographs of places in England, one marked Robin Hood's Bay;
an intriguing place that I will visit someday, especially after finding this link:

This little painting is my interpretation of the old photo. Best I could tell, the main building was once a sawmill. Hence my title.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting with Grey

 Spring Run-Off on the Eagle (detail).

Continuing the exploration of greys and color gamuts resulted in this new work. Sorry, my fascination with process may not be shared by everyone, but the method/progression follows:

 First, I chose this photo, snapped with my pathetic cell phone during a heavy spring snowmelt. 

Next, I chose the initial gamut range, using the Yurmby wheel. 
I was curious as to whether my beloved, heavy black line could be used with uncustomary (for me) greys and still be pleasing. Was also interested in plumbing the depths of somber--if I was going to do grey, I wanted to do it to the hilt.

Above is my first stab at the composition. Ugh--shoulda done a preliminary sketch. Foolishly got sucked into replicating the photo. That seems to happen when I'm not having fun or unsure of the process. That day it was both.

I backed up--a preliminary sketch is often a good idea. 
This was a composition I could have some fun with.

Spring Run-off on the Eagle. Acrylic on board, 10" x 8".
The final work--something very different, but still feels like me for the most part.
The journey with greys and gamuts will continue in future posts.
 Thanks for letting me think out loud, and thanks for the visit!

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