Begin with the End in Mind—First Things First! If you have read more than a few of my posts, you know I take a logical, keep it real approach to creating success and getting things done. While that path serves a purpose, it leaves some artists who follow me needing help on the other side […]
The groundbreaking exhibition at the Renwick features more than 80 works from antiquity to the present
I have ended up doing something unexpected with my life! I always enjoyed working with my hands. I made silver and gold jewelry in high school and tried stained glass in college, but I never considered that I would become a professional artist with art in galleries across the country and on a world tour that included Japan, Monaco, Italy, France, England, and Colombia. But that is what happened.
In 1981, I completed my education in healthcare administration and relocated from Philadelphia to south Florida to begin my career as a hospital administrator. I met my future husband and worked for several years in a number of different hospitals. Then we moved into a new home which needed art. I began searching for contemporary art but could not find what I wanted. So, I made it myself!
I began using fabric on wood frames. Then I made 3D paper shapes mounted on canvas. When I added wood accents to those paper creations, I realized that I had found my medium. Paint just responds differently on wood than on canvas or paper. I was hooked and have never looked back.
For the past almost 30 years, I have developed a technique using acrylics on wood with a high gloss resin top coating. I hand mix and hand pour it, then use a blow torch to remove the bubbles. Using resin is a very technically challenging process, but when everything works as planned the resulting finish is very, very beautiful. My finished pieces, which do not appear to be made of wood, are unique and distinctly identifiable as being my art.
I use 3D accent pieces mounted at different angles or heights to create a strong sense of dimension and movement. I describe my art as geometric abstractions, but I also consider it three-dimensional wall art, or as one viewer proclaimed, “Pop art which really pops!” To fully appreciate the beauty and vibrancy of my art, the original needs to be seen, not just a photograph.
I do most of my own woodworking, although I purchase wood discs and have someone now who laser cuts my puzzle pieces. I build my own panel box frames so that my art is complete without the need of additional framing. I create in several different design styles (Black & White color studies; Geometrics; Puzzles; Fish; Flowers; and Just Having Fun). No matter the style, each piece is created using the same technique.
My late mother-in-law once asked me why I have chosen to do art which is so technically demanding. She suggested I find something easier to create. I had difficulty responding to her because I’m doing what I love, despite the technical challenges.
I am so fortunate to be doing what I love. When viewers smile upon seeing my art, that’s the icing on the cake!!
My story is almost as unique as the digital expressionistic fractal art I create. I am an artistic savant (one of 350 registered in the world). My artistic expression often leaves me feeling a deep sense of awe and gratitude for an amazing gift that emerged from the most unlikely of circumstances.
My artistic ability came suddenly and dramatically in 2017, after a relapse from Multiple Sclerosis and worsening traumatic brain injury. I had a TBI from a motorcycle accident that happened while I was in the Army in 1984. My helmet cracked in half and I was unconscious for a while. I have retrograde amnesia and do not remember some of the years prior to my accident.
It’s very strange. Lose one thing, gain another.
Along with Sudden Acquired Savant Syndrome, I also have synesthesia. Colors have distinct shapes and I tend to see my digital art as 3D and in layers.
Since my art came so suddenly to me, I moved through several transitional periods as I worked fervently to discover my artistic voice. I use a series of various applications and processes to create unique pieces that have always utilized experimental methods.
Just as physical materials are mixed and used in novel ways to create unique works of art, I use digital methods and assets to create my unique works. I am always looking to push the technological envelope and continue to learn more processes and applications as I go.
The art and visual ideas flow constantly and it’s difficult to turn them off at times. Some of my current art uses hundreds of thousands of Bezier curves and primitive shapes to create photorealistic pieces. I love the mind-blowing complexity hidden behind an already complex fractal.
Art is a very spiritual journey for me. My “awakening” felt like coming back from a near death experience. I feel a similar fervor to share my art and story.
Strangely, I can do this all without inhibition. That’s part of the gift because it certainly is not a normal attribute for me! It’s as if inhibition has been torn away and replaced with courage and otherworldly skills that emanate from somewhere outside me – or deep within my subconscious.
Illness and trauma gave birth to something in me I never could have imagined. My desire is to share my art and positivity and to encourage people to discover their own islands of creative genius. Just as it has saved and provided so much healing to me, I think art can save many others too.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase one of the Crucible curved card scrapers, you can make your own with a dry grinder and an existing card scraper. It takes about 30 minutes.
Download and print out the following template. It’s a hand-drawn version of Chris Williams’s scraper, which is where our design started.
Cut it out and affix it to your card scraper with the help of spray adhesive. Or make a cardboard template and trace its shape on your scraper with a permanent marker.
At your grinder, set the tool rest to 0° – parallel to the floor. Dress the wheel of your grinder (we use an #80-grit wheel, but a #60 or #100 will also do) so it has a slight convex shape. This convexity in the wheel makes the scraper easier to shape.
Get a bucket of water and put it by the grinder.
(Hey wait, where are the step photos? I’m in a hotel room that’s 400 miles from my shop. You are going to have to use your imagination.)
Place the scraper on the tool rest and start grinding the excess metal away. Don’t work on one part of the scraper for more than a few seconds. Keep moving around the perimeter. After 10 or 15 seconds, try to pinch the scraper with a finger and thumb. If….
… you can pinch the scraper with no pain, continue to grind.
… your fingers reflexively jump away, cool the scraper in your water bucket.
… you smell bacon, also cool the scraper in the water bucket.
Once you have ground down to your line, you will have become pretty good at grinding flat shapes – congrats. Now you need to remove the grinder marks from the edges.
Use a block of wood to hold the scraper at 90° on a coarse diamond stone and stone the edges. Remove all the scratches from the grinder. Then move up to a #1,000-grit waterstone (or soft Arkansas) and then up to a polishing stone. Then you can proceed with normal scraper-sharpening procedures.
This is exactly how I made all of our prototypes. I promise that you will become emotionally involved with your scraper after putting all the work into it, and you might not ever want to buy one of ours.
So be it.
— Christopher Schwarz