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A Little Ode to Calder

Went to see the last showing of the Calder Exhibit today at the National Portrait Gallery.  (I have included the link at the bottom of the page). It was amazing.  I had never seen his wire portraits before.  There was a mobile or two but overall it was more about his sketches for the portraits and the stunning shadow work that poetically moved with such gentle motion that it left me standing there for minutes waiting for a full rotation. Really lovely.  I took veracious notes.  Not on what he did that made his work his… I have no interested in becoming Calder, but in the secondary effects of shadow, light and play in line itself that could only be seen in the shadow work.  His work really made me think about changing up my line to what could be possible… more lively, even more gentle… softer perhaps… more moving in its delivery.  I do need more soul in my work.  I tend to be a bit austere with my designs.  They are done with certainty and for posterity.   I think that mindset brings a certain rigidity  to the designs.  So, I will play with things over the next few months.  I do like my style, don’t get me wrong – I intend on continuing with the status quo for the painted version, I just think I need to simultaneously open up a little within a new series or two.

Today’s drawing is my ode to Calder.  A thank you of sorts for a lovely day.  I’ve mixed in both our pet shapes which should be fairly easy to distinguish from one another. Figuring out how to balance from the top took a bit of mental energy, as did figuring out the counter weights on the individual wires.  I deal with shape and its weight in space all the time within my work, but my space is set up with a firm foundation at the base of the paper from which the entire design is firmly anchored.  My structural weight is much like that of a building.  Gravity is presumed.  Working with mobiles is antithetical to that.  Weight is hung and spinable and must remain light and airy and yet have shapes sized perfectly to hold the positional weight required to counter balance the arc of the Wire scaffolding.  Really interesting and fun project.  I found it rather enjoyable.  Great exhibit… really a nice break from all that has been happening with my life of late.

A Little Ode to Calder © Britt Conley

Britt : )

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