Saturday, February 14, 2015

Art Prop Pests or Found Object Funk

Ugh, so I'm moving my studio around and cleaning - yes it happens to an artist too - when I discovered a little mound of "dust" on the table under a set of old antelope antlers that I have for still life reference. That's not good. That's in effect... cooties! I'm grateful to myself that I store items and supplies crafted for sale in sealed containers, but I worry for items such as my bear skull that were displayed very near those antlers that MUST be infected with a carpet beetle of some sort. Thankfully they seemed to prefer my specimens that still hold fur. This experience is something to keep in mind if you're prone to taking into your studio found objects and gifts from Nature. Personally I am mindful of the possibility of pests already, but it still happened to me! I've learned that even dried insects that one might be tempted to add to a collage or assemblage can hold tiny parasites that would be happy to munch away on your artwork unseen until damage is done! So now the battle has begun and my kitchen freezer is filled with baggies of bone, antler & fur as I hope to remove this invader and preserve props that have become special to me. The set of antlers came from a taxidermist years ago so I felt no need to take the same preventative measures that I would with an item gathered from the wild. But with arsenic having become illegal to use in taxidermy preparation every specimen added to your collection of oddities should be treated as a wild card.


When I collect a dried insect or reptile from the wild, which I often use in my artwork, I first seal the specimen into a plastic zip bag and place it in the freezer for at least a month. Freezing should kill off pests on items that can't be treated with heat such as fragile insect wings that are commonly used in jewelry making these days. Before using it I will often spray it with a careful mist of rubbing alcohol or a cotton swab of the same if it won't damage the specimen, and though I don't know for sure if it helps with pests it does clean any remaining blood or residue well. Old fur coats and pelts can be dry-cleaned and that will take care of any parasites that they might hold. Woody items such as branches and leaves can be heat treated in the oven; times and temps will vary based upon the individual item. Bones can be boiled or baked. Metal items should be washed because they can hold some cooties too, but don't use a dish soap because it will kill a beloved rusty patina... boil and/or just use a gentle hand soap with really hot water (being careful not to get a tetanus tempting cut). IF you do find little piles of dust or tiny little worms on animal based products that you've brought into the house removing the offending article, cleaning the area, and putting the thing sealed into a deep freeze should do the trick.

Hopefully this blog post will help some of you. It certainly made me feel better to know that there are things that I can do and that discovering a few cooties isn't the end of the world, or the end of my antlers!

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Flash of Fiction

I had a fun little experience with words the other evening, and the result turned into 'Flash Fiction'. Flash Fiction is just what it sounds like, but for most writers it's more complicated than it seems because the entire story has to be word-painted in a very small space. The fun thing about it is that the limited space forces some of the traditional story elements to get pushed aside - unwritten. Those elements must then be insinuated or implied within the written storyline, and the ending is often open or questioning, leaving individual readers to create different interpretations.
 I didn't set out to write at all that night, especially not knowing much about Flash Fiction. My goal was to fill a need for written words to add to a visual collage. It didn't really matter what the words meant as I didn't think they'd be read-able in the art anyway. Because I'd removed all restrictions it seems that creativity flowed, and before I knew it I'd written a little 'something'. I never did add written words to that collage project, but in the next few days I did move with a succession of creative ideas and art related problem solving, so I can't help but feel that I patted the Muse's back by letting the writing out and She patted mine by zooping up my projects with fresh energy.

Read my mysterious Flash Fiction foray titled, What Now. 

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rusty the Cycloptic Rabbit Minimalist Assemblage Sculpture

Ah the inspiration of Spring! With the melting of the snow, and Easter just a hop around the corner, I was inspired to create an assemblage sculpture bunny that's turned out rather Minimalist in style. Being comprised of found objects ol' Rusty here nearly made himself! I found a bit of rusted and twisted metal that had been flattened in the road by a huge bulldozer and couldn't help but notice that it looked like a rabbit, thus Rusty the Cycloptic Rabbit was born! I scrubbed him down with rubbing alcohol and a wire brush to clean him up a bit -- cleaning rust sounds crazy, I know, but with all the rust he WAS a bit of a flake. Then I hand cut a groove into a cylinder of wood so that the metal fit snugly and glued the parts together with a strong adhesive.

The base is an object I wish I hadn't found, but is an example of making the best of a situation. That very same huge bulldozer at one point had shaken my house with such a boom as to cause a glass shelf to bounce out of its holding mount and crash to the floor! No worries (once the cursing faded) because destruction facilitates creation and I was hoppy to have the glass shards to add to my creation.

 Though I encourage textural art work to be touched this is a piece of art to be explored with care because this bunny can bite with some sharp edges! I like the broken edges of the glass showing because the green color reminds me of grass. The wood body piece attaches to the glass base with a clear silicone adhesive. Quality rubber bumpers act as feet for the sculpture to both lift it and protect display surfaces.

"Rusty the Cycloptic Rabbit Minimalist Assemblage Sculpture", by Tree Pruitt (T. E. Pruitt)

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cradled Birch Painting Panel

An old favorite paint brush sits ready to gesso a birch panel.
I began a new journey with an old friend tonight by pulling out a favorite paint brush to get started working on my first cradled birch panel. I've painted on birch in the past and really enjoyed the surface, but the cradled panels sturdiness is an exciting new experience! The brush I used is from Baker's Secret and was actually intended for basting food, but I discovered that it held other secrets! I've been using it since it was new for water media so much that the handle has developed patina over the years. The bristles are similar to hog bristle but offer a smoother toothy texture in base coats.

 I began with the panel right from the package. Without sanding I brushed a thin smooth coat of acrylic gesso over the top and sides of the panel, following the wood grain. As much as I want to do this painting it was a tough choice to cover that lovely even birch grain! There are so very many things that could be done with these boards, and I'm looking forward to using pyrography in a future project! The gesso sucked into the raw wood and dried quickly. The second layer that I applied was lain thicker and with random brush strokes to create texture. Once that dried I pulled out a jar of old white acrylic paint. Being towards the bottom of the jar the paint has thickened to a tacky paste that, when applied, brushes further texture out onto the surface. When that dried I was left with a wonderful mildly slick bright surface begging to be marked... I WAS left with it, but that quickly changed as color found its way onto my brush and painting has now begun in earnest!

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Soldier Assemblage Sculpture

" old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty."
The last soldiers of the First World War have left us now. The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of that war will be in August this year, and with that in mind a few recent finds called my imagination to create assemblage art. A modern television set color cap became a helmet, an old light bulb fixture from a now demolished building became the form of a soldier, his eyes staring with dazed rings created from antique Parcheesi game pieces -- glue and etched markings on the light bulb glass resemble gently falling tears. With a plastic toy gun the soldier stands at the ready in a field of daisy like upholstery tacks which, though surrounded by fencing made of metal nails representing the dangers of barbed wire in the field, has not yet turned to become the life sucking mud of the First World War trenches. There is hope. He will fight. He will win the battles that life sets before him and thus always remain a soldier.

 Though from a different war, the light bulb and theme of a soldier then called to my mind a famous phrase used by General Douglas McArthur in his farewell speech, "old soldiers never die". Around the wood base of the assemblage sculpture are those words pieced together from magazine cut-out letters pasted into place.

"I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

 And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty."

-- General Douglas McArthur in his farewell speech to Congress

►First World War Centenary

►Check availability of this artwork by clicking HERE.

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Falling Together

It's been a stressful past couple of years, to say the least, but my art survives the artist folly, and I am regenerating. There'd been a terribly complicated matter that led to the loss of my inventory catalog of paintings... and most ALL of my collection of actual unsold paintings ... my personal collection. Many where rescued by the general public from tragic fate by those who just happened to see art that they liked -- that is the biggest honor an artist can receive, and I am thankful to those people!! Some works of my art have sadly met fates unknown to me still. What can I say now other than the modern phrase that "*it happens"; Floods and financial disaster have plagued many an artist in the past and they still persevered through the trauma -- as I intend to do. Not that I equate myself with a Master by any means, but Picasso said something to the effect that once an artwork leaves the artists' studio it has a life of its own -- independent of the creator whether sought or sold. May my creations life well! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pink Japanese Magnolia Tree in Bloom

Rather than "on" my easel this canvas has just come off of my easel... "Pink Japanese Magnolia Tree in Bloom" is a water-colour pencil painting on canvas of a very large old tree that I'm blessed to share space with in this life. I really enjoyed drawing the tree onto the canvas and moving the flow of water from my paint brushes to enhance the forms! I look forward to the possibility of painting another version of this tree in (albeit exaggerated color) full bloom, as I've enjoyed observing it's growth over a few years now -- a twinkle in its growth span! Due to the diameter of this trees sprouting trunks I can only imagine that it must be 100 years or more in age -- an early example of a hybrid species of flowering trees in America! Add in the fact that this tree is left to chances in a semi-urban environment and it is truly an amazing example of survival, beauty, and luck (or Divine intervention). I've enjoyed this tree a great deal, and consider sharing life space with it as one of the high points of my time living in Indiana.

I began with a double primed cotton canvas. The image was drawn free hand with only 3 colors of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer water-colour pencils -- Walnut Brown, Wine Red, Phthalo Blue -- then very few black accents were added. The background was enhanced with additional Light and Emerald Green pigment pencils with the Walnut Brown. A Burnt Ochre was then added in areas of the tree for highlight shadow. All of the white highlights (darkened here due to photograph lighting) are the white of the canvas showing through. Once dried for several days after painting I sprayed several coats of a fixative over the water-colour pencil paint, then carefully brushed over layers of acrylic varnish to seal the painting to a finish.

At this point the original painting is not for sale because my dear husband has requested that it remain hanging in our home for personal enjoyment... the BEST payment that an artist can hope for is to have a painting enjoyed!

*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt T. E. Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use please.