Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Friday, 21 February 2014

3 territories: more than an art contest

Hello, hello. I haven't fallen off the face of the earth yet, I'm holding on to its edge with my nails and teeth. And if you think the earth has no edges, you are quite mistaken. It has way too many. It's an edgy affair, it is. Or is that life?

Well, in the middle of this edgy love/hate affair with life that I will not write about today, art is churning out events and opportunities. That's very nice of her (I can't imagine art to be anything but a 'she', probably because the noun is feminine in Greek and I'm Greek, remember?) So, after our un-meeting with the gallerist at the beginning of the month and while I was trying to create a layout of sorts for my Personal Histories book due in August, art threw a contest our way. 'Our' as in 'our local group of artists'.

wip - the Iberians, wine and olive oil

The Iberians were the people that lived in the Iberian peninsula from the Neolithic period up to the 2nd century B.C You can find more information through the link, that will take you to a Wikipedia article on them. They occupied different parts of the peninsula and one of those parts was Northeastern Spain, the area where I live now. Their culture was not sophisticated and they were greatly influenced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Romans when they successively colonized the peninsula. Among other things, they learned how to make wine and olive oil.

One of the very simple decorative patterns they used was a jagged line, coarsly engraved on their urns and other ceramic vessels.

They used archaic characters to write with but the meaning of their writings has not been deciphered yet. There are not enough bilingual documents - Iberian/Greek or Iberian/Roman - to help interpret their texts. The Iberian letters were mostly drawn with straight lines, I haven't been able to find any curved letters among them.

The art event that has been organized on this subject brings together artists from 3 neighbouring territories: the Matarranya (that's where I live), the Terra Alta and Morella. And we all have to create works inspired on the Iberians and the cultivation of vines and olive trees, that are still two of the main products of this area. Any type and number of works can be presented by each artist and what you see here is a mixed media piece that is still in progress.

Or maybe it's finished. It's still too soon to know, I need to let it breathe for a couple of days and see what it says to me.

The elements are obvious, I think. Branches of what could be a vine or an olive tree (no realistic intent here), the black beads can easily be seen as olives, fragments of Iberian writing partly covered by acrylic gesso and a ragged line beneath, deliberately embossed by hand to look rather coarse.

I would like to create two more works of a very different kind. A tall paper and fabric urn, reminiscent of the ceramic urns they used to keep in the ashes of their dead, and an artist's book that is still very undefined in my mind but will probably include collage, fragments of Iberian writing and... I'll let you know as soon as I do!

There will be a quite tempting prize for the winner, who will also need to create 4 smaller works that, in their turn, will be the prizes for the winners and runner-ups of a literary contest to be held in August. Not bad at all, right?

And a very important footnote: one of the members of the jury is... drumroll... the Un-gallerist!

No further comments.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

paper bowls - how I make them

Here I am again, only two days after my previous post. Not feeling upset anymore about the un-meeting with the gallerist, since I vented my anger here the other day and I felt very supported by your comments. Thank you, my friends.

Today I'm here to show you a couple more of the paper bowls I made for the Art Market. I haven't made any new ones since then but I will, soon I hope. To me, they are small paper sculptures that may or may not be put to practical use.

strips of tissue and craft paper / broken twigs

I had to force myself to work with materials other than white but the results were rewarding. I enjoyed discovering how the different types of paper reacted to the pasting and how each one of them stretched or crumpled in a different way. The tissue paper here is white and very thin, so the warm earthy colour of the craft paper shows through.

I used a very easy, crafty technique to make my bowls. I simply glued multiple layers of paper strips on an inflated balloon. Once the paste is dry (it takes several hours to a day to dry completely) you simply burst the balloon and remove the shreds from the inside of the bowl. You can then continue working on it in any old way. In this case, I added a few twigs I picked up during one of my walks.

It's funny but the major difficulty while pasting the paper was to keep the balloon still. You need to place it bottom (round) side up and find a way to avoid it moving. I stack the lower side into a tightly-fitting jar but still had trouble keeping it in place. As a result, this particular bowl came out rather tilted and I placed a pebble inside so it would stay upright.

The truth is that I like the tilted bowl much better, it comes through less like a utility object and more like a piece of sculpture -decorative as it may be. The pebble was my concession to the commercial side of the Art Market.

strips of kozo paper / chiffon gossamer ribbon

Yet another non-white bowl. The strips of fabric are from an olive-coloured chiffon gossamer ribbon. I like its semi-transparency and the way it frays at the ends.

Kozo paper is a delight to work with, either pasting it or painting on it. I am running out of stock and need to buy some soon. I do have a large stock of silk sari ribbons, I bought them just because I liked them but had never quite found a use for them till now. Expect more paper and fabric bowls/sculptures from me in the near future!

Since this blog entry is dedicated to my paper bowls, I hope you won't mind if I include a couple of pictures of the white ones, that I already posted in my previous entry. Just so that they can be all together.

strips of Kozo paper / shreds of scrim

I'd like to be more specific about the kind of glue I used. Just plain acid-free PVA glue mixted with some water, about 50% of each. I applied it with a flat brush, about 2 inches wide, the kind that you can get at any paint shop.

strips of Kozo paper / shreds of scrim

So there is really no mystery to it. Paper bowls are easy to make though the process requires some patience. What makes them special are the decisions each one of us makes about the materials to use, the way we combine them, the additional work on the object once it's dried, etc. That's what can turn a nice crafty object into something more personal and -artistic?

As I mentioned in my previous entry, these bowls are quite sturdier than they look. They can hold small items like keys, jewellery, beads, pebbles, nuts, etc. Or they can stand alone, small pieces of sculpture on a tabletop or shelf. Of course, if anyone is bent on breaking them, they will.

Handle with care but I assure you that if they fall on the floor they won't break. They won't even dent.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

the un-meeting with the gallerist

I've been procrastinating (definitely need to look up the etymology of this word) for several days but now the time has come to tell you about the meeting with the gallerist last Sunday, 2 February. It's yet another dark day, not too cold but quite wintery, so opening my blog's window to the world is like a flash of warm light in my attic workspace.

strips of Kozo paper and shreds of scrim
14 cms wide x 10 cms high ( 5.6" x 4") approx.

Since the meeting was strange enough to be called an un-meeting (Alice in Wonderland-style) I don't mind illustrating this entry with some of my work that has nothing to do with painting. Or doesn't it? Anyway, what you will see here are some of the paper bowls I made last December for the Art Market. Taking nice photographs has been a challenge in this endless series of dark days and lots of editing was necessary to compensate light, texture, definition, etc.

So. A few artists of the area were going to meet with the gallerist last Sunday morning. We were all looking forward to it. I spent the entire morning/noon waiting for her to appear. I skipped lunch so I could fully dedicate myself to waiting. At three o'clock in the afternoon I finally had a couple of toasts with butter and fig marmelade, mmm, delicious. A second breakfast of sorts. And then went on waiting.

At five o'clock I got a phone call from one of the other artists asking me if I could take my work to their house, a short 6 km drive from home, by around seven. No problem, I said. I put everything in a folder and off I went.

inside crudely painted with acrylic gesso

The gallerist finally showed up at half past seven. We were all very curious and a bit tired by then. To make up for the delay, the gallerist arrived accompanied by her son. The new gallerist! A twenty-something young man with a very serious countenance and a very low-waist pair of blue jeans. I confess that their dénouement had me intrigued for quite a while.

different bowl, same materials: strips of Kozo paper and shreds of scrim
16 cms wide x 8 cms high ( 6.4" x 3.2") approx.

As it turned out, the Gallerist Mother is turning over the business to the Gallerist Heir. We took turns in showing them our work. Rafa's photography, Silvia's paintings and installations, and my watercolours and mixed media pieces. The Heir looked long and hard, he studied the array of artworks and photographs thereof and reached a decision. 'Off with their heads!' he cried.

Then he solemnly stated that he was looking for higher quality art. He straightened his back and stretched his neck so high that I thought those pants were definitely going down. They didn't. They were high quality jeans.

I felt quite frustrated, because the Gallerist Mother did like many of the artworks she saw and most of mine. 'I wouldn't dismiss this one', she whispered again and again. So, if she weren't retiring, us poor artists would stand a chance. But she is retiring. And the Gallerist Heir only appreciates realistic, representational art. Traditional landscapes, portraits and still lifes. He proudly informed us that he was planning to visit ARCO, the most important contemporary art event in Spain, celebrated annually in February.

I'd love to go with him. His pants will definitely go down there.

P.S. I have more paper bowls but I'll leave them for a future entry. These two are probably my favourites. White on white, right? And they are quite strong, considering that they are made of paper and scrim. They can hold keys, jewellery, little decorative stones or beads, walnuts, etc. You can clean them with a soft, wet cloth.

P.P.S. I hope you'll forgive my sarcasm in this entry. No names are mentioned, no identities disclosed. Only statuses and heights.

P.P.P.S. There is nothing wrong with representational art and there are many realistic artists whose work I admire. The conceit though, I don't.

Monday, 3 February 2014

pay it forward art-making project for 2014

Good afternoon everyone. Today I was going to post about our meeting with the gallerist yesterday but I decided to wait for a while, so I can write about this fun project that I read about in Jack Oudyn's blog

Copying and pasting from there, this is what it's about:

Step 1 Copy&Paste this (see below) as your latest entry on your favourite social website (in your case, it would be on your blog).
* Pay It Forward Art-making Project for 2014 *

I promise to make a small work of art for the first five people who comment on this post and say "YES, I want in". A 'like' alone is not enough of a commitment, nor is a comment about thinking Pay It Forward is a great idea.

You must in turn post this as your status update and make something for the first five who comment on your status.

The rules are simple:
– It has to be your work, made by you, and the recipient must receive it before 2014 ends.
– It can be anything art-based: a drawing/illustration or a conceptual work of art, a photograph, a knitted item, cross-stitch, paper maché – or anything in between.

I'm paying this forward thanks to Jack Oudyn. Yes, you can be on each other's pay it forward lists.

First five, GO!

PS. It doesn't matter if you aren't an artist, try something out, google/ YouTube how to make stuff, step out of those boundaries.
Step 2 For the first five people who comment on your blog entry saying they want to participate, you will do an art trade with them that must be completed by December 31st 2014. I would count as the first person, so technically you only need another four. If you find your friends are keen, you can do as many as you want.
Step 3 All forms of art count including creative writing , photography, digital, anything goes!

Since I am notorious for falling behind on projects, the 31 December deadline suits me just fine. And all those papers I've been doodling / painting on lately may well become small artworks for the exchange. I need fun in my life right now.

I have the same problem as Lisa, not enough natural light to take good photographs. The days are dark and constantly threatening with rain, though we don't get much of that. It's cold and windy, and home is the best place to be. My cats agree.

P.S. The meeting with the gallerist also belongs in the Alice in Wonderland sequence. I think I'll call it an un-meeting. More about it soon.
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