1999 Sketch Book, tan hard back, spiral bound, 9" x 12"—on the
front: postcard of Millet's "Gleaners," National Trust for
historic preservation, and "VietNow."
In 1999 I continued to
live at 901 Maplecrest Road, in Edison, NJ, with my husband,
Barry. I maintained a studio in an office space in south
Metuchen with Joan Arbieter.
Once when I was home to North Carolina, visiting my parents,
my mother asked me to demonstrate something she had purchased at
Wal-mart. It was a block of sculpy clay. I looked at the clay
with some contempt since it seemed so "artsy-craftsy" to me. It
was to be shaped and then hardened by baking it in the oven for
thirty minutes at 275 degrees. An acrylic based clay just did
not seem to me a legitimate substitute for the clay used in the
making of pottery or sculpture. Nonetheless, I began to knead
the sculpy clay, to warm it up, to make it pliable. At that
point, I could not have cared what the source or substance of
the clay might have been, it felt good in my hands. Within a
short time, I sculpted a bust of an old mountain woman, hair
drawn up in a bun on the top of her head, a look of concern on
her face, a hand drawn up as if in a bit of surprise. It was a
very nice piece of work.
When I returned to New Jersey, I decided to invest in some
sculpy clay. It was surprising to me to find it used mostly for
decorative jewelry. I saw it as ideal for small pieces of
sculpture. And, as I began to work with it (in all colors, as
well), if I wanted to build larger pieces, I found soft armature
wire for sale. In the long run, it was very expensive. As I
eventually returned to my home in Western North Carolina, I
abandoned the sculpy clay, but not the love of it. I made and
sold many pieces of the little pieces of sculpture—but it was
never enough to bring in enough money for further investment.
In this sketch book are some drawings that would turn into
sculpy pieces, or something similar. Drawings of note:
Page 3: I suppose that every artist, when they paint or draw
an imaginary figure, it is, to some degree, a self-portrait.
Here, a middle-aged woman sits on a bench, in front of a window
or perhaps a painting. The youthful figure looking in mirrors,
down into caves, through open doorways that is seen in earlier
sketch books makes a much rarer appearance in this book and
Pages 7, 8, and 10: These are plans for an installation I
hoped to someday complete.
Page 25: Here she is again, heavier, less exuberant,
continuing to stand and contemplate that dark doorway.
Page 29: This is an observation of water; a stream. I love
the making of marks. The simplest of arrangements can suggest a
great variety of things.
Pages 32 - 42: This ancient Greek goddess meshes wonderfully
with the monumental shapes I find in women. On these pages are
playful ideas for a piece made of the acrylic clay; otherwise,
they are forms that I have always loved. How they can be
arranged and reformed seems endless.
Pages 44 - 48: These are more ideas for the acrylic clay. The
drawback of the clay is its limitations in supporting itself,
thus, an armature is required for a piece of any height. Too, if
the standard oven is used, there are also limitations at to
Pages 49 - 55: A trip made to Puerto Vallerta, which became
an annual event around the time of my birthday, was always
visually inspirational. The birding, too, was wonderful. On the
first page of this series, I have tried to quickly capture the
antics of one of the millions of local grackles. I kept them
well fed with scraps of bread or chips so that they would come
Page 57: Having just recently read "The Goddess Within," I
find myself a very strong Artemis with just a dash of
Persephone. Artemis was the goddess and/or guardian of the
innocent. Here, then, another self-portrait: a large floating
figure with a babe in hand.
Dianne Cable, August 16, 2011