Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest Clive

Its looks lovely and old..

Recommended Posts

I think we're blurring the definition of patina... Are we talking about the artificial ageing of a piece of art to look older, more worn, etc, or are we talking about creating a piece of art that references natural decay processes? I think these are two very different things.

 

Jim- you've got a profound connection to the cycle of growth and decay in your local woods, and that inspires your work... Your choice of subject matter appears to comment on natural decay (ie. patination) mechanisms in the physical world. That lovely smell of humus.

The Japanese, particularily with botanical subject matter, tend to show decayed or insect eaten foliage. I interpret this as being not only a visual accent, to add varitey to a depiction of what could just be many identical leaves, but also a device to show a broader sense of the subject. It's almost like the artist can show the passage of time, though he only captures a single instant.

 

... I see this being aped sometimes to the extent that it becomes almost a check list item as in "I've carved this mushroom, now I have to add the requisite mouse bite, bruise, and rotten part." I'm not pointing to anyone in particular... I'm just saying that we have to watch getting carried away with this to the point where it looses original meaning and becomes habitual.

 

Now, the Japanese (I'm generalizing) also tend to appreciate the aesthetics and beauty of decay- whether it's in the slow darkening of wood used on a house exterior, or the tarnish that silver attains through use. This runs counter to the prevailing Western idea of keeping things clean and new. Read Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows for more about this.

 

My point is, what are we talking about Clive?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Clive

making the decisions as to how and what goes where not by my own personal inclinations of taste but which the evolving creation demands it

 

Thanks, Clive; that's clear now. I'm curious about how you know what the evolving creation demands. Is that to do with letting the material/overall design dictate the way it's subsequently shaped? If so, how are you sure it's still not a perception of yours?

 

I'm not 100 % sure Freda.. But what I'm realising that that after more than 20 years of making such decisions one gets to know a little about their source.. of course that recognition still requires a faculty of perception, but each has its own distinct note.. to use a musical analogy. There is also secondary supportive suggestions to go on.. I feel more passionate about my own "tastes" and perhaps because of that they tend to be much more defined.. I can test this by trying to brain-storm related alternatives and find its much harder to do. Its like my sense of myself doesn't like being messed around with. The choices I feel that are outside of this self are much easier to manipulate.. although they are less defined they are also much more flexible... its like they aren't owned they part of an endless contingency.. I'm not suggesting that all this could be absolute in any way.. more just general tendencies that can be directed to some degree.

.

 

our creative acts are fundamentally different in character than the acts that create nature

 

Are they, Clive? How are we sure that we don't follow nature in its creation? For me, the act of creation has four steps; the concept, the plan, the making, the result. What comes before the concept is our interaction with the world, natural and unnatural. Taking that one step further back, aren't the forces of nature a result of being born out of stardust at a particular place and time in the universe - they're necessary prerequisites for the formation of Earth and the forces of nature in it and on it. And before that came the Big Bang, out of which came the conditions for setting up the universe. And before the Big Bang?

 

I'm aware we could be drifting into metaphysics here and, perhaps, the concept of Intelligent Design, God and creation, creation ex nihilo, etc., but without even going there, it seems to me, Nature by itself is an act of creation that is not random - witness the regularity of seeds in a sunflower head, or the turning of the constellations above us - that somewhere within Nature itself resides its notion of a concept, plan, making and product. In that case, and not even going as far as the argument that nature may be conscious/aware on some level we know nothing about, isn't the human act of creation following that of nature?

 

I'm not being picky here, but am genuinely interested in the topic.

 

I suppose it really depends on your deciding how large a concept of nature one is going to use.. mine is essentially limited to the planet I live on.. I believe the laws that govern how life evolves on our planet are now sufficiently understood to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there has been no designer/god at work here at least. The regularity of the seeds in a sunflower head is caused by chemicals acting within cells , enzymes and hormones that are determined by the plants genetic blueprint. I do not know how our natural laws came into being, our cosmological understanding stops dead in its tracks before the big bang because the entire model is based on a set of laws that rules out anything before said bang.. there simply is no time, there is no space and therefore no nature before that... but that limitation in our understanding does not however preclude my building a creative methodology out of the laws that explain 99% of the natural world I live in.

 

I wholeheartedly recommend the book SEED TO SEED by Nicholas Harberb for a fascinating insight into how plants work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Clive
My point is, what are we talking about Clive?

 

Dunno yet.. But think it sometimes best to only ask that question when we done talking. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its like my sense of myself doesn't like being messed around with.

 

I can understand this, but the question still arises about what is involved. Is it involved with your ego and learned, is it part of your core self that seems complete in itself, is unfathomable to some degree and just 'knows' what feels right, etc.? I go through this kind of self-questioning all the time; the more I do it, the more things become clear and the more I see it as aligned with stripping back to an essence of some kind - in the case we're discussing, an artistic essence. We seem to have moved a good deal from your original point about what constitutes our fascination with old things, but I don't really think we have. In order to know, we need to be conscious of our own processes and inclinations.

 

The regularity of the seeds in a sunflower head is caused by chemicals acting within cells , enzymes and hormones that are determined by the plants genetic blueprint.

 

Aye, but even the processes involved in those chemical formations, including enzymes and hormones, are traceable back to the Big Bang, but what's caused those early atoms to resolve themselves into atoms of such complexities that we find in the formation of galaxies and in the formation of our Earth and what's on it? There have to be laws of Nature at work here, too, even if only evolutionary ones.

 

mine is essentially limited to the planet I live on..

 

I suppose mine aren't. I see Nature and its laws as traceable back to the Big Bang, too. Beyond that, who knows, though CERN is now doing good work in studying it and religionists of all persuasions say they have the answer. I suppose because I see the laws of nature in the universe as being similar in essence I can't help wondering why our own creative processes should be any different. I suppose I was born too curious to leave things at their surface value, too: that's sometimes a blessing and, less frequently, a curse if I miss a spontaneous, in-the-moment reaction, and capturing even that in art is a difficult process sometimes.

 

Blimey, I didn't think that in taking up netsuke I'd be hitting up against philosophical questioning again! Talk about always meeting up with your fate, even if you avoid it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but what's caused those early atoms to resolve themselves into atoms of such complexities that we find in the formation of galaxies and in the formation of our Earth and what's on it? There have to be laws of Nature at work here, too, even if only evolutionary ones.

 

The polarity of the atoms of a particular element dictate that, not evolution. Elements and compounds do not evolve.

 

It's not that on a scientific level the discussion is not worth having, it is just that so much of it as Clive has explained is already there but you have to know where to find it.

 

I would also like to thank Clive for bringing this topic up. I have been for long pondering about the same things and a large tract of the things you have said resonate with the conclusions I have reached so far (for myself). Your points about finding the right means of expression to communicate your own relationship with nature are things that concern me but I also dread the path taken by some who claim too easily to allow the material to dictate and speak... I suppose ideally one's understanding of the material would be so, that unveiling it in a way that the material itself cooperates with ones contemplations still looks like no coercion has taken place but rather more like a mountain would look over time through its stages since it first appeared as one... it has always been a mountain, it will never be anything else regardless of how you look at it... either as a grain of sand of its eroded rock or from looking at its full vastness and diversity... In that, am afraid is where I am lost (and what I am in awe or admire or wish could find a way to mimic [to use terms already used here]. It is in a way a totally different way of creation for there nature does not create from zero but it sculpts with what is there, even if we talk down to the minutiae of atoms of elements (both organic and inorganic).

 

I wish I could elaborate further but I lack the time right now... maybe some other time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cursed time zones, I always seem to arrive about 6-8 hours late for these discussions.

 

Although I see myself as a part of nature as well, and resonate very strongly with the sentiments already expressed on this subject, I believe that art should be as much about depicting natural forms in their are, as how they could or should be, or as they are imagined to be. This is true for all natural forms, foliage as well as figurative work. For me, finishes, either patinas and/or other surface finishes are a way of adding to, or achieving an illusion, as well as intruducing a psychological effect that would not otherwise be there.

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will try to avoid getting involved in the ethereal discussion above, and get back to the core issue.

In my view, patina is not about trying to imitate Father Time's ravages. It's more to do with what you see and what you don't. Try to imagine a line drawing. That is a drawing made up entirely of thin lines outlining the , well, outlines of what is there. No shading, or anything, just outlines. I'm sure all of you have seen things like this. There has been a time when this sort of thing was "in". Now, take the same and add shading. there is an enormous difference. To put it in a nutshell, that's what patination means to me. (By the way, the earliest Japanese netsukes already used "patination" as a tool to do just this very effect.) It's the difference betwen the totally black-and-white , no greys, sort of photo print versus the really finely graded tones type.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Ford

hmmm....this place looks familiar :) This current discussion caught my attention and I had a sudden urge to add my own point of view too.

 

I take Clive's point with regard to ourselves and nature. While in a literal sense we are part of IT we are also demonstrably very separate. The essential reason for this rests with ourselves, or rather our consciousness. We are self aware whereas nature simply is. It is precisely this separation that I believe the greatest artists manage to transcend and produce work that does appear to have been born of natural processes.

 

I may be wrong but if I understand you right, Clive, it's in that intimate interaction between the maker, the medium and the process that we stand a chance of letting go of our preconceptions ( and desires for a specific outcome) and allowing the true nature of the activity to inform us. If we proceed with a light enough touch we may find ourselves evolving our expression in unexpected and genuinely honest ( or open) ways.

 

Of course, this "lightness of touch", the willingness to surrender to the process and to allow our responses to remain unedited can cause a great deal of anxiety in the overly self-concious maker. Herein lies the crux of the matter...are we honest enough to work from a place that doesn't insist on projecting an expression that we want to world to see but rather to allow ourselves to find a way of simply being, and thereby expressing something far more authentic....and natural?.

 

To bring the discussion back to the issue of the appearance of age in new work I feel that this is a perfectly legitimate expression as long as it doesn't become a default setting. Doug referred to the way certain Japanese works almost seem to follow set rules to achieve certain effects. Art that relies on conventions and formulae may be pretty etc but as an honest and individual expression it fails because it's utterly contrived and thus fake. It should be obvious, also then, that by consciously adopting a style of sorts ( whether our own concoction or that of another cultures ) we run a very serious risk of compounding that contrivedness (sic) and further removing ourselves from our core responses and expression.

 

Great thread by the way...certainly helped me clarify some thoughts that have been simmering away for some time now.

 

Namaste all,

 

ford

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Clive
I take Clive's point with regard to ourselves and nature. While in a literal sense we are part of IT we are also demonstrably very separate. The essential reason for this rests with ourselves, or rather our consciousness. We are self aware whereas nature simply is. It is precisely this separation that I believe the greatest artists manage to transcend and produce work that does appear to have been born of natural processes.

 

Yes.. It is possible to bridge the divide but its very difficult because the way seems so counter-intuitive... not by trying to be less self conscious but by becoming more... albeit in a slightly different way. In my opening post of this thread I asked the question why we find a rich patina so appealing... I had hoped at some point to link the two strand of this thread.. for I think the core of both issues reveals and it directly influenced by the same surprisingly self conscious way we see things. We assume we are studying nature but often we merely seeing in nature those things that appeal to us. I'm hoping to suggest in this thread that only by a very specific conscious effort can we teach ourselves to see nature in a less judgemental way... which ultimately leads to work that is more reflective of natures true character.

 

Welcome Bro.. glad to see you here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Ford

Cheers Bro,

 

the conversation seemed worth joining...so here I am ;)

 

What you're saying about seeing only what appeals to us ( with relation to nature ) also applies more generally. In this I maintain one of our most useful tools is an awareness of aesthetics ( as a way of allowing at least a degree of objectivity) but what you say about being even more self-conscious ( I'd prefer self-aware or self reflective ) is spot on in my opinion. In eastern philosophical terms it would relate to the state of mushin, that is, completely aware but operating without overtly concious direction, a sort of self reflective state of auto-pilot. Being in the flow.

 

only by a very specific conscious effort can we teach ourselves to see nature in a less judgemental way... which ultimately leads to work that is more reflective of natures true character.

 

...and of our own true character and our intimate interaction with our world and very existence. Whoa...heavy dude! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to have you back Ford.

 

As for this discussion. In my mind the art of "seeing" is more of a meditation devoid of intellectual interference. By this I mean that you observe the object or scene, taking in all the subtle nuances and forms without the critical analaysis...a deep meditation and study to find the essence of the object and how it relates to its environment. When you deviate from this and start to bring critical thought into it you start to project your own personal preconceptions or baggage to your observations. Things such as previous processes from observations made in books, other artworks, and personal desires are the baggage of which I speak. These things start to color what you see.

 

When the creative process starts it should also be a meditative process. My personal observation is that when I start to work it is best to follow my gut, instincts, intuition or heart depending on how you want to describe it. If I allow my intellect to become to involved then the work suffers and proportionately so in relation to how much I allow thinking to become involved. The work becomes over worked, over analyzed and "heartless". I may be wrong here but I think this art of contemplation is the key to the success in a great deal of Japanese and Chinese artwork and the lack of contemplation the failure of alot of Western art.

 

The use of patina I think is also part of this process. I use stain, toning solutions etc. to take the new and crisp look from my work in an effort to make my work appear more natural. Natural as in nature and as in aged naturally, I do not like the shiny new coin look. Skillfully done this enhances the work. As long as the approach is honest with no intention of deception (presenting the work as something it is not) then I see no problem with any type of artificial aging etc.

 

After years of work and finally gaining a certain degree of skill with my tools, my approach has finally become one of trying to trust my eye, my studies and my intuition. My younger years were spent thinking to much, working to hard and worrying to much. I try not to fully develop a design but start with a concept, leaving room for the design to evolve. I feel and hope that my work has become better due to the contemplation and meditation involved. To my way of thinking this is a more natural and organic approach, not contrived or intellectualized.

 

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably I've missed out on all the fun arguing but here goes anyway,

As for the question of patinas and their value on newer works of art or craft, I'll leave that for others to decide. Essentially everything I know about them I learned from you all here and in my professional life (bench jeweler) the closest we come to any sort of specialized finish is a bead blast. So like I say, I'm just learning about all that. However the larger questions presented in this thread(and let me say right here that I find it incredibly fun that we can take a post about patination and turn it into a discussion about whether sunflowers et all were designed or just occurred randomly), are what I've been thinking about all morning.

I like what Clive has been saying about trying to learn how to better communicate to us the conversation which he has with nature. I like that idea, that our interaction with the world around us should be thought of as a conversation, or some form of communication at any rate. A decidedly animistic approach to materialism. Also I think I understand the idea of our seperation from nature as influencing our ability to portray or render it. Although I think this is a construct and to me an obviously cultural one.

 

"I take Clive's point with regard to ourselves and nature. While in a literal sense we are part of IT we are also demonstrably very separate. The essential reason for this rests with ourselves, or rather our consciousness. We are self aware whereas nature simply is. It is precisely this separation that I believe the greatest artists manage to transcend and produce work that does appear to have been born of natural processes."

 

Its here especially that I have to disagree with the brothers Hallam. I'm not so sure that I agree with the limited definition of consciousness, although thats probably a discussion for a different time. So, assuming that Ford is right and consciousness is limited to people, what about that attribute seperates us from the rest of the natural community? To me it seems a bit like saying birds are separate from nature as indicated by their ability to fly. Consciousness or self awareness is just another trait which has allowed us to survive and thrive. In our modern global culture for all the science and knowledge we possess , we still tend to cling to the rather archaic (and for that matter religious) assumption that there is something different (special :) ) about mankind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Clive
So, assuming that Ford is right and consciousness is limited to people, what about that attribute seperates us from the rest of the natural community?

 

Consciousness is not limited to people and I don't believe Ford or I have suggested that it was .. but rather that our consciousness is unique.. for one, it is gives us the ability to have conversations like these.

 

Also try to bear in mind the context of this conversation.. one about how we make art.. it by itself another unique attribute that seperates us from the rest of the natural comminity and we are struggling to understand each other because we are using abstract concepts.. in itself another attritube that separtes just from 99.9% of the rest of the natural community.

 

I agree as I did earlier with Jim that we are OBVIOUSLY part of nature but we are also seperated from it.. simply put.. because we have the ability to imagine that we are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Ford

Hi Dustin,

 

when I referenced conciousness as I did I wasn't suggesting it was the preserve of us humans but merely a reference to our very specific, egocentric conciousness. Clive pointed this out also ;) ...he and I frequently approach matters from very different angles but occasionally arrive at the same conclusions :D

 

In fact conciousness is something of a conundrum for evolutionary psychologists precisely because we don't fully understand how this trait is all that beneficial in relation to the survival of our DNA.

 

My own hypothesis, with regard to aesthetic awarenes goes like this,

 

We ( early humanoids) got quite good at catching animals and eating them. This surplus input of protein allowed for the development of bigger brains ( with all sorts of intriguing extra functions) and this in turn allowed for the emergence of non vital/ non survival tenancies. The arty aspects of our conciousness, while initially apparently a bit "irrelevant" in terms of pure survival, clearly appealed to " the ladies" and so those of us with this " genetic aberration" tended to get just a little more lucky with the fairer sex. Natural selection ( based on an appreciation of the finer things in life....clearly ;)) did the rest. It's all so obvious when you reconsider the appearance and posturing of "the new romantics" in music in the '80's, there's no accounting for taste :)

 

f :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Dustin,

 

when I referenced conciousness as I did I wasn't suggesting it was the preserve of us humans but merely a reference to our very specific, egocentric conciousness. Clive pointed this out also ;) ...he and I frequently approach matters from very different angles but occasionally arrive at the same conclusions :D

 

In fact conciousness is something of a conundrum for evolutionary psychologists precisely because we don't fully understand how this trait is all that beneficial in relation to the survival of our DNA.

 

My own hypothesis, with regard to aesthetic awarenes goes like this,

 

We ( early humanoids) got quite good at catching animals and eating them. This surplus input of protein allowed for the development of bigger brains ( with all sorts of intriguing extra functions) and this in turn allowed for the emergence of non vital/ non survival tenancies. The arty aspects of our conciousness, while initially apparently a bit "irrelevant" in terms of pure survival, clearly appealed to " the ladies" and so those of us with this " genetic aberration" tended to get just a little more lucky with the fairer sex. Natural selection ( based on an appreciation of the finer things in life....clearly ;)) did the rest. It's all so obvious when you reconsider the appearance and posturing of "the new romantics" in music in the '80's, there's no accounting for taste :lol:

 

f :)

 

 

Probably not far off Ford.

 

The ability to trap, use fire to cook what is caught (a means of primary digestion to break down nutrients... imagine how boring it would be to have to ruminate... also not very impressive when it comes to charming people with culinary skills) and therefore allow the brain to use glucose in higher doses did go a long way to make us what we are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×