Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy (belated) Summer Solstice

 Yes, I know I am 2 days behind, but if you had any idea what I've been through to create this post...
Lago di Fimon
             I arrived in Italy 4 years and 2 weeks ago, with a 3 year old boy and a 2 month old baby girl.  My first outing in Italy, with both children was on Summer Solstice 2007.  I packed the kids in the station wagon and headed out to find a lago di Fimon.  I knew the general direction was South.  What should have been a 20 minute drive turned into a 2 hour, "Where in the hell am I?"  4 years later I still have no idea how I found the lake, and every once in awhile while exploring some back road I realize, "Hey, I've been here before!"  The actual road to the lake is very well marked and very easy to find, if you know what you are looking for, don't have jet lag, nursing brain, a screaming baby, and a whining 3 year old.   After a couple of nursing breaks we finally found the lake.  I wrapped baby girl up in her wrap, grabbed the picnic lunch in one hand and the hand of the boy in the other and headed out.  There is a lovely walking trail around the lake, it takes about 45 minutes for an adult (without children) to walk around the entire takes a lot longer with a 3 year old.  We got about a quarter of the way around that day.  We ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the hot Italian sun and fell in love with our little lake, which turns out is literally just down the hill from our house.   I've spent countless hours at the lake in the last four years, walking with friends, walking with kids, walking with visitors, and walking with the camera.  I have enjoyed the lake in every season, and I doubt there will be another Summer Solstice that passes where I don't recall our first trip to Lago di Fimon. 
After viewing literally a thousand pictures of the lake I finally decided on a little photo "show"  I've decided to call "Reflections on Lago di Fimon."  Four years with Four seasons have been whittled down to a photo for each month where "reflection" plays an important role in the composition.  

June 2010 "Never to Be Mistaken for Ugly"

July 2008 "Fisherman in Red"

August 2009 "Sailboat and Lilly Pads"

September 2010 " Here Come the Swans"

October 2009 "'O' What a Lovely Reflection!"

November 2010 "Fall Reflected"
December 2009 "Yellow House in the Snow"

January 2011 "Winter Sky"

February 2009 "Flooded Fields"

March 2011 "The Boat Dock"

April 2009 "The Encounter" 

May 2011 "Reflecting on the Lake" 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Interview with Fellow Creative Compulsive Gary Kanel

            The numbers of ways to express creativity are endless, and though the end products are all uniquely different, there is a commonality in the creative process itself.  Regardless of the medium, regardless of the technique every project begins with an inspiration and a dream.  Throughout the creative process inspirations will be expanded, lessons learned, and dreams modified.  I am very fortunate to know so many wonderfully creative people, some work in clay, wood, textiles, photography, metal, or paint, others are musicians, writers or actors, and some do a little of everything.  The following is the first in a series of interviews with fellow Creative Compulsives. 

            Gary Kanel expresses his creativity in metal, more specifically in creating custom car designs.  In his free time Gary, a.k.a. Kanel Kustoms, designs and builds custom cars.  Though Gary and I grew up in the same part of rural Missouri it was not until the wonders of Facebook that I began to learn about his creative process.  From half way around the world I have watched the process unfold, and have gained an expanded appreciation for the work that Gary does.  Gary was kind and patient enough to share part of his creative process in the premiere Creative Compulsive interview.

              Would you diagnose yourself with Creative compulsive Disorder?

Yes. Most defiantly. If time and money were no object I could keep busy the rest of my life. Everyday I work toward that goal/ situation in life.

            When did you first start designing custom cars?

I started drawing cars before school age, mostly from imagination. I still have many of them somewhere. I started with model cars, probably about age 6-7. I would cut and restyle them for hours.

            What project or projects are you currently obsessed with?

I'm obsessed with this 1961 Falcon Ranchero, and a 1/5th scale Piper Cub airplane. Volumes could be wrote on each.     

            Tell me a little about the process you are going through to customize the 1961 Falcon Ranchero.
To start to understand the "why," a person should understand the history of custom cars. In a nutshell, originally guys took a lower model of a car they could afford to buy and added items from a higher end car to make it look like it was worth more. Grille changes were popular. It would be the same today if I were to adapt a 2010 BMW grille and tail lights to my Mitsubishi.

The Falcon Ranchero was a low budget utilitarian car. The economy was suffering a little in the late 50's early 60's and economical cars were attractive. The VW Beetle was killing sales numbers. The Falcon was Ford's answer. 

The original designers I'm sure wanted a much fancier car. Thru the bean counters and production designers it had to be brought down in scope to mass produce a car at a reasonable price.

I'm using similar design aspects from GM's higher budget cars to try and compliment Ford's designers if they could have done what they wanted to without production restraints.
Here is a link to the Automotive Designer's Guild. Its kind of hidden within another website. Its retired designers sharing original artwork.

I try and get into the designer's head and make it happen.

            Do you know what the Ranchero will look like when it is complete?

I have an "idea" what the Ranchero will look like. There are many variations floating in my head. To me color, stance, and tire and wheel choice make or break a car. Daydreaming of all the different combinations is half the fun.

                 What inspires or feeds your creative compulsions?

Inspiration is everywhere you look. Everything has been created either by God, Man, Mother Nature, or a combination thereof. Being creations they all were once a vision.
(Kustom cars have always had a sex appeal to them. The female form has always been a big influence.  Most every vintage car was designed by men. Men have women in their mind all the time. So to me, its a natural thing for the passion of design to be mixed with passion for the female form.  The flying lady hood ornaments many makers used, 1957 Cadillac is a fine example also:
               I remember seeing a picture where you used a stainless steel bowl for behind a headlight.  Have there been other household items you have recreated into parts for a project?

Household items: Not exclusive to cars exactly. A friend of mine wanted a HUGE charcoal starter for his grill. So I made him one from a large stock pot. 
I guess its more about the form than function. The mixing bowls fit what I needed.

            When you look back across your creative endeavors, what are you most proud of?

I'm proud to have met, interacted, and expanded my mind with other artists.

            Have you ever done any collaborative projects with other artists? 

Yes. My first job after leaving the Air Force was at Bass Pro Shop's blacksmith shop. This was 1998 and they were adding onto Bass Pro. I helped to build many individual pieces there. I also helped to build the fireplace doors just inside the grand entrance.

I did not make the framework, the handles or the owl, or the painted details, but everything else is my work. Thousands of people see this every year and I'm kind of proud of it. Its representing a man with his dog (Lacey is stamped on the collar-she was stray that showed up at the shop) sitting at his campsite beside the fire with a creek nearby complete with cat tails, rocks, a coffee pot, and swirling water.

            Tell me about this picture.

That is the valve cover from my Ranchero. The valve cover (if you don't know) sits on the very top of the engine. I took this one off, sandblasted it, primed, painted silver with extra metal flake (glitter kind of), and then painted it kandy organic green. The wheels were done in like manner.

Candy paints are transparent and need to be shot in several thin coats to achieve the desired color shade. They got their name by resembling hard candy when applied. Kandy organic green is made by House of Kolor (starting to see the tie in? its a kustom thing.....).

I then boxed it up and sent it to California to have a young man named Jowee Ramirez aka "Mr. Rhythm" pinstripe it. I don't personally know him. He is a friend of a friend on FB that I also don't know personally. I had seen his work, liked it, and feel he has much promise in pin striping. It could have been done locally but its just not the same. I now own a piece of this up and coming artist's work

Pin striping is truly a dying art. It is done by hand, with a short handled, long bristle brush. It is very, very difficult. I've tried it myself. The origins of pin striping dates back to horse drawn carriage days when the were decorated by hand. It has evolved to where it is today.

If you would like to see more cars and styles, I'm giving you this link:  Rik Hiving has the most comprehensive photo archive and knowledge of anyone.

Well, I've probably given you all the info you need and then some-lol. I can go on for hours actually.

              Do you get to use your creative side in your day job?

Yes, I do get to be creative at my day job most of the time. Its in different forms though.   As a machinist you literally carve things from solid pieces of metal. The machines used do the cutting and with a series of actions there is a useable part in your hand when its done. A machinist prides themselves on accuracy, part finish, and fit.  A section of the machinists' world is CNC machines. Computer Numerical Control. This uses a series of code using numbers and letters to control a machine by computer rather than by hand. The accuracy is as incredible as the repeatability. The code is written by humans so it is open to some artistic form. Proper feed rates, rpm, tool selection and setup order. 
                What car do you drive to your day job?

For my daily transportation I drive a boring 2003 Mitsubishi VRX.

            Recently I tried to explain to my 7 year old about "Happy Accidents," where you plan for a project to go one way, it takes a turn, seemingly for the worse, but ends up creating something new and wonderful. Have you ever experienced any Happy Accidents in your work?

I truly believe art comes from the soul. Sometimes the soul takes over and guides the hands for eyes to watch. The brain is along for the ride. Its a beautiful thing. ---Except when you are trying to make something symmetrical and the second side is better than the first and it forces rework.

           Gary, Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.  I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about your creative process.  I look forward to seeing your future projects.   Happy Creating!

Kanel Kustoms

I have included just a few more pictures of some of Gary's other projects. 

"Made for a fellow Bob (Tim Rogers) in honor of his marriage and first born. Thats a steel rose, a copper rose, and a rose in the middle made of both metals. Fellow Bob JB (John Zerr) made the roses in the fashion that I taught him. The overall idea was mine. Cross came from Hobby Lobby. Stems overlap the cross and are tied together at the bottom with copper coated steel wire. I wept when this was finished. Dont know why, and still do."
1966 Chevy Biscanye

"Sunset at low tide is the best. The sun reflects off the water like a mirror. This day the sky was all purple. Reminded me of a Prince song..."
Beautiful colors, it actually reminds me a bit of the colors you used on the 1966 Chevy Biscanye.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Lego Birthday...

         I like birthday parties.  I like the planning.  I like the creating.  I like the yard full of happy children.  I have a son who loves birthday parties too, but as it turns out the anticipation created by the planning and the creating and the waiting for the yard full of kids is just too much for him to handle.  His actual day of birth fell on a Wednesday this year.  I made him his favorite dinner, and by special request a chocolate cake with chocolate pudding on top.  We had a lovely evening with the family, but the air was thick with anticipation for the Lego Party on Sunday. 

          In all the fun I had this year with my daughter's party, I forgot my son does not deal well with anticipation.  After weeks of planning and preparing it was just too much for him to handle when rain clouds rolled in the day of the party. Please let me remember that next year he needs a very small surprise party!
           When he told me he wanted a Lego party the wheels immediately went to spinnin'.  In my Google search of Lego parties I found a woman who made chocolate Lego candies for her children's Valentine's Day cards...yes I started looking in February. (As a side note she just published a blog post about how to make the candies: ordered a silicon Lego mold, but opted out of the chocolate and decided to make Lego crayons instead.  Over the years I have accumulated a giant bag of broken crayons.  My daughter and Mother helped peel and sort crayons in to color groups.  

        I made a makeshift double broiler out of a tin can and a pan of water to melt the crayons.  Before melting the crayons I pinched one side of the top of the tin can to make a pouring spout.  When the crayons were melted I poured them into the mold.  It took about 20 minutes for the new crayons to cool, and then I just popped them out of the mold.  I started with yellow and worked my way through the rainbow and then on to brown and black.  I used the same tin can for all the colors and just melted the new color into what little was left of the old.  Very, very little clean up involved in the project...always a plus.  The only draw back is the mold now seems to have wax embedded in it so it has become a permanent crayon mold. 

          When the Lego crayons were complete they went in the party favor bag along with coloring sheets I downloaded from the Lego site.  I also downloaded "stickers" from Lego and used them to decorate the outside of a brown paper bag for the party favors.  For the older children I added a Lego Minifigures to each bag, a small package with one Lego guy and accessories. For the under 5 crowd at the party I found a box of Lego Duplo with lots of different Duplo animals and put one in each of their bags.  The bags also had a jar of bubbles and some balloons.

         My son brainstormed with my husband to plan a Lego adventure game, but the rain damped their plans.  This is where the anticipation and excitement vs. the reality of the weather really started to take a toll on my son.  The game they had planned was really fun and creative, but the weather just did not cooperate.  We had other games planned, including Pin-the-Party-Hat-on-the-Lego-Guy, but after the melt down with the adventure game, we went straight to the cake. 

           Lego Guy Cake started out as a chocolate strawberry cake, but had an unfortunate burning accident involving an unheard timer.   However, all was not lost and I was able to use the bottom half of the cake.  I made a vanilla cake to layer in with the chocolate and the in product was quite yummy.  Having lots of different layers actually helped make the Lego Guy more 3-D than I had originally planned.

           Two weeks later my son remembers it all as a fun party and a chance to play with his friends.  For me, it was more a reminder to cater to the individual child, which doesn't always mean following every creative whim. 

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