Sometimes I work on a piece and when I'm done...and it's gone...I go through a little bit of a mourning period. I think what makes this mask special and different from other masks is that it represents an actual living dog named Marley. Being a dog lover myself I know how these furry souls can hold a special place in our hearts.
I had the pleasure of meeting Marley's owner, Joe, at last June's Gourd Festival. He was looking at a Tiger Mask and asked if I could make a Bulldog. Sounded like a fun challenge and sure enough about a month later I received two pages of images of Marley the Bulldog. Joe even brought Marley to my house so I could meet him...nice doggie...a curious and easy going guy.
I will miss Marley but I know he is going to a great home!
(By the way, I did a little bit of research on Bulldogs and learned quite a bit of their history. At one time they were bred specifically for Bull Baiting. I'm glad all of that aggressiveness was bred out of them and they are the sweet, lovable creatures that they are today.)
Most of the time I go along making things and I'll find inspiration from all sorts of things, usually something from nature. As I'm in the process I'm enjoying myself but I never know if anyone else will appreciate what I'm doing (and for some pieces it seems I can't even give them away!). Sometimes it's a one-sided dialogue.
Then someone comes along, like my friend Helen, and challenges me to create something new. When two like intentions come together, special things happen! First she wanted a Moose...then a Giraffe...a Monkey...Tiger...and now a Turkey.
As I was working on Chuck and trying to figure out how to put this guy together, I was suddenly grateful to Helen for giving me this challenge. I guess I sort of felt like a surrogate mother; Helen's idea and my "body," so to speak, and it probably did take about nine months from finding the right gourds to putting on the last coat of varnish.
Chuck posed some interesting challenges and at times was a real turkey. He will be safely hanging around her son's room just in time for Thanksgiving.
The Gourd Festival has come and gone and I'm slowly cleaning and reorganizing my work space to combat the pre-show tornado that always seems to happen. There were less artists/vendors/live entertainment this year and also less people, but it was still a great venue with a very kind and supportive crowd. I already signed up for next year where in addition to the festival, there will also be a Polynesian dance competition.
Although there were less artists the quality was still high. When I did a quick walk around, two booths caught my eye. One artist was Vanessa Hughes. I liked the graphic quality of her work. Each piece was different yet everything was cohesive. I didn't get a chance to speak with her but I did grab her card: http://www.nessysnest.webs.com/
There was also a booth of Peruvian gourds--neat to see how another culture approaches the gourd. It would be cool to have artists from Africa, China, or ?, at the festival as well. The vendors were fun to chat with and while they didn't have a business card, he said the website was easy to remember, Inkagourd.com. Well, I tried all sorts of spellings and combinations but could not find them out in the vastness of cyberspace. Perhaps I will see them next year?
Sunday Dean came by with his didgeridoo. I also received a didgeridoo healing. He said his didgeridoo is a low "B"--the tone determined by the length (size does matter in this case!). He aimed it at my back and I definitely felt it in my lower "B"! If you are interested in didgeridoos or vibrational sound healing, contact Dean at: DeansDidge@sbcglobal.net All in all it was an exhausting weekend but good times were definitely had at the gourd farm whether it was camping with my family on the peaceful grounds, talking "gourd" with friendly folk, or having burgers&beans with friends who made the long trek to the show and stayed for supper. Hasta el proximo!
There are three things that always come to mind right before a show: "I coulda...I shoulda...I woulda...." However, at this point and time it just doesn't matter! Here are some of the gourds that will travel with me to Fallbrook, California for the 14th Annual Gourd Festival this weekend http://www.gourdfestival.com/ .
I'm happy to report that I've just given birth to a nine song CD (in your face Octomom!). Most of the songs were written years ago with just a couple finished up in the last year. One of the most recent songs is Oh Gourd.
If you have some time, check out the CD on CD Baby http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/barbaramhallman or iTunes and have a listen. If you have more time, troll around CD Baby. There are so many independent artists out there making great music you will probably never hear on the radio. As I write this, a song by Mama Cass comes to mind:
"Make your own kind of music...sing your own special song...make your own kind of music...even if nobody else sings along..."
Springtime is always an inspiring and motivating time for me. Yes I know that I am in Southern California where a change of season isn't that dramatic as in other places, but I think of it more as an internal thing.
I realize that I don't "blog" very often and perhaps it isn't the most exciting of reads, but for those few who happen to find me, here is an update of what I've been working on. The next show my gourds and I will be is The 14th Annual Gourd Festival in Fallbrook, California this June: http://www.gourdfestival.com/
Last year was the first time I participated in this show and found the atmosphere to be very pleasant, down to earth, and I felt surrounded by kindred spirits. I met Dean at that show (I mentioned him in an earlier post) and he suggested that I do a Passion Flower, so that is what I'm working on now in addition to my usual Trumpet Vine carved gourd.
I'm also working on some masks. Since I did Brown Beauty, the subject of my last entry, I thought I might do some more equids. There is also an Aztec/Mayan inspired mask that I'm debating what colors (or not) to use. I'm almost finished with an African antelope called a Gemsbok. I included a picture of all of the masks...some completed last fall and some I've had for a while.
Don't get me wrong, I love gourds, but one can not live on gourds alone. Every time I go into my garage I usually see a pile of stacked trays next to the water heater. About a year ago a friend told me about some food trays that were for the taking in the workroom of my kids' school. She took some and I took a bunch and I thought I could paint something (anything) on them. Well, there they've sat until recently...could it be the Spring wind blowing my creative self off the couch?
For inspiration I looked no further than my vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. I have more ideas and will get going on these trays. I've gotten so used to painting on a curved surface than working on a flat space seems odd.
One more thing...you've probably noticed that my blog includes music in the title. So far all I've had representing music is a goofy song called The Bunco Song, but I hope to put out a 9 or 10 song CD next month called Perfect Moment. It will probably be distributed through CD Baby and eventually be available on iTunes. One song on the CD (I almost said album...have I dated myself?) is called Oh Gourd.
Well, I'm all blogged out...happy Spring everybody.
I recently completed a gourd horse mask for someone who has had a passion for horses since childhood. She had seen a zebra mask I created a year or so ago and asked if I could make a horse. I love doing special pieces for people because it forces me to do new things, however, it all depends on having the right gourds.
You can create illusions (the texture of fur for example) with two-dimensional media like paint, but that only goes so far on a three-dimensional shape. It reminds me of that Steve Martin movie based on Cyrano de Bergerac called Roxanne. He goes into a drugstore to purchase some makeup and the clerk tries to show him how to shade his nose to make it appear smaller, but of course it is so long it doesn't make any difference.
The stars aligned and I found the gourds for the head and muzzle. Those two pieces were attached and then I started searching for the all important eyes. Once the eyes were cut and secured, for me, it started having a real life force. I know they are just gourds and maybe my imagination can go into overdrive, but this mask had a peaceful presence in my art room...a real gentle soul.
The new owner came by to pick it up and said she would call her "Brown Beauty" after a brown Bay horse she played with as a child. We spoke about different kinds of horses and I learned quite a bit, but I mostly I sensed the love she had for equids. It also got me thinking about my own childhood interests and what has carried through to adulthood.
I stumbled upon an envelope with old papers and projects from elementary school that my mom had sent a while ago. I found a "Pupil Interest Inventory" from the fifth grade. It was a questionnaire (on a lovely ditto copy--remember that purple/blue ink?) where you had to fill in the blanks. My first reaction was to cringe because I went by "Barbie," but as I continued reading I realized I am not much different than that little ten year old.
I was surprised that I wanted to be an artist. I knew that I liked art but I didn't think I wanted to be an artist until I was much older. I also smiled when I read what things I would like to be doing as an adult. I'm pretty much the same. I draw and paint, we have a dog, guinea pig, and two mice, we go camping and hiking, I learned how to ski and enjoyed doing that for many years, and I did take piano lessons, but later found a passion for the guitar which I still enjoy today. How much do we really change?
I'm a native of Denver, Colorado and grew up with a constant view of the massive Rocky Mountains (which I took for granted). Right after college I joined the Peace Corps and lived in Huehuetenango, Guatemala where the lofty green Cuchumatanes Mountains looked over me. Now I live in Southern California where the San Gabriel Mountains aren't usually visible (except on clear and crisp winter days), but nonetheless it is an inspiring place to live!
I'm a painter currently using gourds as my canvas. Their odd and quirky organic shapes make me smile and their warmth and visual texture are reminiscent of woodgrain.
I only do a few shows a year and spend the rest of my time making special gourd commissions and teaching Art to jr. high students in Orange County.