The Happiest Little Star

The Happiest Little Star

This contented cutie, Sidewalk Face 1000, is my second print offering. Click here for purchase information.

I walk by them almost every day, nod and say hello. It’s nice to see friends. I’ve photographed them several times. However, after a rare morning rain, the evaporating water made their halo more pronounced and it was time to do another portrait! I knew right away this one was special, such joie de vivre*! 

They are a personal favorite, radiating kind-heartedness and embodying what I value most in my art: 

Pavement

The classic medium of my genre!

Seeing Potential

I like noticing things and examining closely so I turned that into an art practice. That’s how I entertain myself on endless dog walks, traversing the same streets year after year, I look for what is unusual or has changed. It’s my modern urban way of scratching the ancient hunter-gatherer itch. I got excited by the rusted metal pipe remains of his nose. It’s the small things that make my day.

Minimal Interference

My personal goal is to do the least to get the most. I try to make them feel as if they emerged on their own from what was naturally there. Sometimes my contribution is artificial and obvious, it’s more important to make a good expression than be austere but it’s part of my ethos to not overwork the image. This one is very minimal and that makes me happy.

Availablism

Wanting a little more detail than the curved sticks were providing, I added additional eye features with spit. That’s availablism**. Use what you have.

Emotional Expression

As you all know I post as many miserable faces as happy ones. I am always pushing to find greater emotional nuance in cement, sticks, stains and detritus. I am looking for something I recognize, a feeling I have felt. Sometimes a face is compositionally good but has no emotional authenticity. I don’t like that. I have to feel it.


*French for joy of living

**Term coined by the ever awesome Kembra Pfahler of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.

Collaborating with Nature

Collaborating with Nature

I’ve been making leaf faces for several years. Initially it was a lark. Everything starts as a lark, a lark being a carefree episode, something of no importance that is surprisingly enjoyable. The thought crossed my mind to make a face in a leaf and I acted on it. I get a kick out of visiting the leaf and watching it change over time. It takes a while for the cuts I make to scar over. Other alterations occur as well, things I can’t anticipate,like shifts in color and spider webs. Living things are always in flux. I dig that my initial creative contribution is just the starting point. The “art” would not be complete until nature had a pass.

I do it pretty regularly and now have quite a collection of leaves. At some point in the process I press them flat between paper in a big book and put some heavy weight on it. There really is no finish point as they are fragile and evolving towards dust, no matter what I do to slow that process. When I get around to selling prints, which I hope to be doing soon, I am going to include a leaf face with every purchase.

Laurel Sumac

I was hiking in Runyon Canyon, noticed these beautiful reddish stripped dried leaves, picked some, soaked them in water, scratched in faces and pressed em. Fun!

Magnolia Petals

These are delightful to play with as you can make a face just by pressing them with objects. They bruise up almost instantaneously. Very satisfying. I wish there were more magnolia petals laying around. I am not going to pluck them off the trees. But they don’t dry out well. The whole petal turns brown and you can barely see the face.

Orchid Leaves

I have several orchid plants, my kid and husband like to buy them for me for Mother’s Day or my birthday. So lovely! The flowers last for at least a month. They are wonderful gifts. I am not an ace green thumb but I do keep everything watered and I’ve had several orchids bloom more than once. The second bloom feels like a miracle, like a victory of the forces of good against evil. How I love it! But I’ve never managed three blooms and eventually most of them die. Who knows why, the leaves just start to yellow and one day you see a leaf no longer attached, lying beside the sad plant. Oh dear!

This happened recently. The orchid had no more blooms to give. Its leaves are very plump with water, much thicker than most plant leaves. They take more than 24 hours for the bruised part to start darkening. But they do change eventually and it’s enjoyable to watch.

I think these are sort of the opposite of painting in oil. They don’t preserve well, deteriorating almost instantly, they’re impossible to control and too delicate to hang on a wall. But they are appealing enough to entice theft! Just as art museums have cat burglars, I have had leaf faces plucked from ivy bushes before I took my final photos. Now I try to keep them hidden. They may be ephemeral, but they have power, an ode to the transmuting mysteries of life force.