May

22

“WHO IS NUMBER ONE?” well, i don’t expect many people to get that obscure referrence, but i have so very few times in which to use it, so i grab it when i can.

diving a lot this week, full of sharks and turtles and green moray eels, all very good stuff. had one day off with a meltdown, too many days in a row of diving and not sleeping well, so sat and watched four movies while sitting on the couch all day long. anybody who knows me well will have difficulty in believing that, but it is true.

today i had another rare day off and so was able to get out into the studio and work on my sculpture once more. did yet more work on the matrix area of the lowest figure, made some good progress, but then alluva sudden i was working on the upper figure, cutting the detailing on the back of the neck and shoulders, where the head connects up with the body. really, i had no intentions of working there, but it just happened, and perhaps this is a good omen, that i am fulling my energy up with the “big spark”, where i really go to town on things for a while. i have been doing the lower matrix area, as i have been searching for some inspiration on where exactly to go from here. everything is at such a point now that i have to be extremely careful not to make a mistake, and even the ordering of what i do becomes of more than trifling importance. it would be good to get back onto the upper figure once more and make a good run there, as it is the most fragile part of the whole rube goldmanesque structure, so best if it gets finished up first and i can move on to the more stable and supported elements. anyhow, my judgement felt sharp and almost molecular there for a while, boding good things for the near future when i will have a little extra time.

and then there is “the painting”. last december i was contracted to paint the wall in the newly renovated garden area of guidos, a very important local eaterie. i wanted to open up the area by giving it a lot of space and roominess, and so chose a “view” of the island’s captainia, the port captain’s building. i say a “view”, as i have chosen certain elements of it and i also reversed the image to put the ocean on the side of the painting that would most open up the space. i worked on it every extra minute i had, and achieved in a couple of months something that was approacing greatness.

then some disasters hit. a hard vertical rain that caused some areas of recently applied paint to blister up somewhat, so i suspended work on it until a small protective overhang could be built. it has still to be done, as they are still doing the renovation of the other parts of the upper story. albaniles– masonry workers– plastered the wall above it and dripped the cement water all over it, the water containing lime, a weak acid, that put streaks all through the piece, and since i have been unable to finish the work the sun has also been brutalising it. i have a sealant for when it is all over, but that seems a little far away up til now. now. this may sound like major whineage– however it is not intended as such, but rather as preface for what comes next in the story.

while i was walking by the ocean this morning, as i am wont to do on non-diving days, i saw that the construction looks close to finished, and so i am slowly getting wound up again on what i shall have to do. there will be what is known in the trade as “a buttload” of work to be done on it, repainting all around i suppose, but i am determined that it will not only approach what it once was, but it shall surpass it

i did the same thing once with a painting i had hanging somewhere. along came hurricane wilma and it was the one piece of art they forgot on the wall. ripped badly, sprayed by filthy water and left in the floodwater. it took months to bring back to life, but such things can be done if the feeling is there.

but wish me luck just the same, i may be of need of it!!

May

13

lately i have been seeing a lot of tank time– leaving the house extra early to get out to the marina and get the boat in shape to go diving, guiding clients, and it has been seriously reducing my time for doing my stuff. i hear you saying to yourself– “big hairy bum fuzz, he gets to go out diving– don’t throw ME into that briar patch, bre’er wolf!!”– and indeed i do love to dive, love it bunches, but i get to miss doing what it is that i do.

so, it was with great joy that this morning i found that, due to some miscalculation on my part with the scheduling, that i didn’t have to go out and get wet– i mean, the water looked tre’s inviting when i went for a long walk, just to make sure that it was still there, but the prospect of getting to work on my sculpture was one great sensation, and i was excited about filling my eyes with stone dust.

and really, it wasn’t one of those days in which i get to break new ground and do something dramatic, cut some marvellous detailing into the stone or anything, really it was one of those days when i had to be a little machine-like to get what i wanted. once more i was working in the area between the body and the big stone that supports the leg of the upper figure. the open upper surface of the matrix area that composes the “base” of the work is cramped and difficult to reach in many places, but it needs to be given a somewhat even finish if i want to apply the texture it will end up having. at the same time it is not a flat surface, but gently modulated and rolling, with some more prominent “ripples” where it interfaces with certain parts of the piece– the big stone itself, or the body perhaps. i ended up going all the way around the right foot of the lower figure, between the feet, and emerging with the surface treatment all the way past the right side of the lower figure. it’s pretty painstaking and needs a lot of concentration, at times with my arm around one thing and my head thrust between a couple of other things, looking somewhat interesting to the neighbors and people wandering by in the street. i have lost count of how many times passers-by have inquired– “es orgia?”– basically– “is it an orgy?” well, no, i answer, it’s more the battle between the two natures of the artist, the long-suffering one and the one full of joy, and between them is the spirit of art, being formed by their hands manipulating the plastic substance that is the marble– all this in spanish of course. there is a silence usually, and then they grin like i have told them some sort of a joke, one they won’t be easily fooled by. sometimes over so many years even i have wondered if it is all a joke, my skin bloody and scraped, my eyes irritated with so much stone dust. there’s a great book by joyce carey, “the horse’s mouth”, about an artist called gulley jimson, who takes over an apartment while some people he knows have gone on vacation, and another sculptor moves a huge chunk of marble in and proceeds to cut it away to smaller and smaller pieces and ends up with almost nothing, and there are moments when i wonder if i am such a person– i have doubts at times. but i am still here, so far in the future now, and the end of this particular road is no longer the point, it is merely another stop along the way– i’m not worried about getting there, but enjoying the countryside as i amble along.

May

10

it had been a week since i had worked on my sculpture, as i had been diving every day, and a head full of nitrogen is not too condusive to working on such a fragile piece– just like a doctor, my motto is– “first, do no harm….”

and so it was with some anticipation that i got out into the carport yesterday and addressed the chunk of marble i have out there. as the days progress towards summer the sun comes at it from a different direction, and there was one small band of light that made the crystals in the stone sparkle, very nice.

put some bob dylan on the boom box– “the basement tapes”– something nice and mellow to give me a chance to regain my feel for the piece– and i continued along with cutting on what i call the “matrix area”, the part that forms the base for the piece, but which i envision as a plastic non-linear substance upon which the lowest figure is resting. once more i cut stone on the membrane– the surface that the body is laying upon, which i want to seem to be somewhat modulated and vaguely puddled, a sticky substance that supports and cushions the figure. lots of fine work in there, where there is not much room to get the chisels, so at times it is slow indeed, with much skin scraped. this time i was on the front side of the “big stone”, upon which the foot of the upper figure rests, and bringing my galleries of chisel cuttings in towards the waist area of the lower. long cuts, and needing to have one pretty much blend in to the next. where the body separates from this membrane in here i want it to look very sticky and adhering to the undercutting, the back muscles occulted by the matrix as it attempts to escape and break free. listening to some jeff beck by this time– “flash”– the energy of his playing causing my chisels to jump and spray stone dust all over the place, including my eyes. cutting now on the front of the membrane, between the lower figure’s legs, and giving the buttock area some extra depth, forming some small depressions where the buns push down, puddling out the matrix.

finally, there is an area between the almost vertical sides of the matrix and the upper surface– an undulant band that follows the contours of the piece, forming a sortuv frame for the piece. in the end i think it will be one of the most polished parts of the piece. most of the matrix will have some sort of texture to it, but this will be an ever changing and flickering shininess, and here i had the chance to do some real hard cutting, the chips really flying as i took off quite a bit of stone. for this i selected some social distortion– “live at the roxy”– and proceeded to put my heart into it, losing some skin and blood in the process, the face covered with stone dust and my eyes rimmed with crystals– i played “ring of fire” three times over to complete what i had to do out there, totally spending myself.

still no pix, sorry, but will soon remedy this situation– til later rance

May

6

diving day– had some marvellous tankage yesterday. only two clients and easy divers, we went out and did a part of colombia reef known as “la piedra grande”– the big stone. this refers to a large scale seamount, huge areas of wall, rivers of sand in between. the water was very clear and the current mellow, and the big old sun was shining down through the water. dropped in and did some wonderful deep swim-throughs, cathedral-like, the light shining through the cracks in the reef resembling stained glass in all the profusion of colors. exiting one of the last tunnels we dropped down below a ledge around 110 feet to check out a large green moray in the overhang. large schools of fish inhabit this little point, moseying around and jockeying for position one against the other.

we slowly came up alongside some creases in the reef, inspecting some large turtles as we went along, big elongated puffer fish trying to look innocent, and groupers on their way to somewhere else. the reef really brilliant with all the colors giving out their best. more turtles, this time smaller ones, almost lost in the corals, munching away on their favorite sponges.

there would be more turtles again, but first we had to cross the sand into the area known as “tortugas”– turtles, another site along colombia, but under a rock and deep beneath the reef we first saw two sharks, nurse sharks, laying next to one another.

second tank was on a place we know as “the mountains of dalilah”– one finds this site by dropping in on the last part of the reef called “dalilah”, and making a turn to go in between some rolling hills, full of life and often full of current as well, but it was mellower than usual yesterday. absolute turtle city, this time, we may have seen fourteen or so during the dive– all types, the usual hawksbills but also a small loggerhead, a real treat. bunches of large parrotfish as well, both the midnight variety and also the stoplight. there were a lot of schooling fish as well, and we came across another pufferfish, smaller than the one we saw on the first dive. and another shark as well, lazy in the lee of a little ridge, but the best sight we found was a thumbtack-sized juvenile drumfish diaphagnous and etherial. with the help of some wonderful light and such a lot of color we all had smiles upon our faces when we exited the water.

as we say in cozumel– “it was just another day at the office!!”