Environmental Matters

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Ozone
change, journey, large-scale artwork, metal, permanence, impermanence,rusting, drawing, mark-making, spray paint, deteriorating artwork, deterioration, night sky, Neil Young, influence of art,communication, postage stamp, rust, messages, postage, force of nature, natural environment, responsibility, owe-zone, decay, life, the future, taking care of the earth, air, water, land, one planet, getting it right, ozone layer, mixed media, large scale artwork, sheet metal, artwork decay, lucky accidents, memories, gifts of art, giving art, rust, postage stamps, environment, care, nature, ozone, artwork series
description

James sees problems as opportunities to learn, and he loves to learn. Ozone was part of a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of works where he set a goal and challenged himself to work on a large  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  using a variety of  mediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  such as plywood,  gypsumA mineral consisting of the hydrous sulphate of lime (calcium). When calcined, it forms plaster of Paris. Selenite is a transparent, crystalline variety; alabaster, a fine, white, massive variety. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  and metal. He wanted to discover the essence of each of his materials through this process.

start quoteIt's amazing how many stars that you can see out in the country that you can't see in the city. It gets me every time.end quote
-- Brian James

Once he faced the large piece of heavy black metal that eventually became Ozone, he started to experiment. He ground into the surface, scratched, drew and sprayed some paint; at one point he lambasted the metal with a baseball bat. He felt engrossed by the size and  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. (artlex.com) See also texture.  of the work and kept his mind open to changes and lucky accidents as the work developed. For James, making art is like a journey; the physical artwork is the exhaustion from the journey and when he finishes he has the memories, and likes to give the work away!

The surface of Ozone is covered with non-representational marks, colours and pattern. Drawings of holes of various sizes are apparent, and through them we are able to see some luminous coloured orbs. James’ marks are made on the metal surface using traditional artist  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  tools such as pencil crayons and  oilSlow-drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness of the colours is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. To look at examples of works in oil paints, see the articles under the names of every period from the Renaissance onward. (Artlex.com)  pastels. They are applied with an energy that gives the work a vibrant appearance - a curious combination of permanence and impermanence. Ironically, it appears that the less permanent drawings remain intact while the metal is rusting away.

James thinks this idea of decay is not such a bad thing. He says that everything - including our own bodies - is destined for the garbage heap. He believes that nature should take its course. Ozone, while protected with clear acrylic, is still deteriorating. Nature has a force of its own, as James quotes (in an interview with the author) from the Neil Young album Rust Never Sleeps.  Artworks also have lives of their own - the artist breathes life into the material, like Frankenstein does to his monster, and then they are set free to have an influence on those who experience them.

As James was working, Ozone drew him in and reminded him of looking out the window into the dark night sky and seeing the stars in the prairie sky. James, being a music lover, probably also thought about the words to the song Into the Black (from the Neil Young album Rust Never Sleeps),

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.

The scalloped edges around James’ image suggest an oversized postage stamp. He used the stamp/frame reference because, like popular music, the work needs somewhere to go and a receptive audience. The stamp  motifRepeated unit to create visual rhythm.  indicates communication, sending a message from one to another. The inferred message could be that we can make a difference by taking care of the world, air, water, land, and every thing that is in our environment.

At the time Ozone was made, James was writing poems, enjoying word plays and spending lots of time with poets. The words he uses on his work are Oz-own and Owe Zone, wordplays related to the protective covering for the earth. James suggests it is our problem and we may ‘owe’ future generations for our inability to change and act responsibly toward the natural environment. He places the number one in the corner where the monetary  valueThe lightness or darkness of a colour.  of the stamp usually appears perhaps referencing the fact that we have only one planet, and we better hope we get it right.

additional resources Environment
Duration: 2:04 min
Size: 8625kb
Ozone Part 1
Duration: 1:59 min
Size: 8548kb
Ozone Part 2
Duration: 2:30 min
Size: 10886kb
Ozone Part 3
Duration: 1:59 min
Size: 8469kb
Understanding Your Craft
Duration: 1:43 min
Size: 7172kb
Things to Think About
  • How has stamp presentation and purchasing changed in the past few years? Is James’ stamp edge and the stamp itself becoming obsolete?
  • Does the mass media promote ideas related to consumption? Does fear of not being accepted, loved, safe, or included have an influence on purchasing choices for you and your family?  What other things influence your decisions to purchase and consume?
  • James sets goals and works toward achieving them. He believes in picking a task to do and seeing it through to the end. If he encounters difficulties, as everyone does, he stops and comes back to the problem at another time with fresh ideas and resolutions for his problem. What do you do when you encounter a problem? Why would James not want to destroy what he had started?
  • James rarely watches television. He believes there is so little time in life that he does not want to waste any time watching television. What are your television viewing habits? What do you like to do for relaxation?
  • Wordplays/puzzles are challenging and fun. How can they add to the meaning in works of art? Can you think of a wordplay or puzzle for another environmental issue?
Advanced Activity

Stamp collecting resources:

Wilkinson microwave anisotropy probe (WMAP)

Find out more about NASA’s WMAP five-year update map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation from the Big Bang and the WMAP observational timeline with annotations.  http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Online Activity
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Go to the website ‘Planet Earth’ and discover the ‘Edu-tainment’ there (Captain Planet Energy  ConservationPreservation from loss, damage, or neglect, stabilizing chemically and structurally, sustaining the survival of objects as long as possible in what is closest to their original form. The application of science to the examination and treatment of objects, and to the study of the environments in which they are placed — used, transported, and stored. What differentiates art conservation from art restoration is the conservator's avoidance of adding anything to an object that cannot be easily removed or identified. Some also address restoration and other issues involving museology. (Artlex.com)  game at: http://sodaplay.com/ and play with the many examples of geometric shapes given there. The website designers have designed the objects so they move with different degrees of success depending on the gravity, the kind of surface, and the flexibility of the body. See how well you can make them move. Some good examples where a geometric  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  comes to life are:

James enjoys the challenge of working with a geometric shape. Go to the New Sodaplay at: http://sodaplay.com and play with the many examples of geometric shapes given there. The website designers have designed the objects to move with different degrees of success depending on the gravity, the kind of surface, and the flexibility of the body. See how well you can make them move. Some good websites where a geometric  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  comes to life are:

Try working with the astronomy game at this site at http://sodaplay.com/creators/lectvay/items/astronomy_tk. Experiment to see how you can keep the  patternRepeating lines, colours or shapes within a design.  going while making small changes in the settings. Do you think this could be the same in our universe? Can even small changes have destructive results?

Studio Activity

Polyhedrons

Brian James is currently fascinated by polyhedrons, and is exploring and building a variety of shapes in his art practice now.  Check out the following web links and learn how to build these kinds of forms for yourself. Build them using paper or wood and glass as James is currently doing.

Postage stamps

Look at postage stamps and discover how important events, people and times are commemorated using postage stamps.  Why do you think some stamps are very valuable?  Here are some website links to help get you started:

Design a postage stamp to  commemorateTo honour or to serve as a memorial or monument to.  (Artlex.com)  an important person, event, etc. in your community.

  • Most regular stamps are 2 cm x 2.5 cm but some special issue stamps can be larger, at 2 x 4 cm. Pick the size that you would like to use and draw your stamp proportionally larger. For example, if you decide to make a 2 x 4 cm stamp, to make it proportionally larger you could multiply each number by 10 and work on a page that’s 20 x 40 cm large. If you want to work on an even larger  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  you could choose a  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  like James’ 122 x 244 cm.

For some examples of stamp art, go to the artwork from Art of the Stamp exhibit:  http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/artofthestamp/SubPage table images/artwork/artwork.html

Grid <span><span style= patternRepeating lines, colours or shapes within a design.  art" class="contextual" src="/assets/images/contextual/t7_james_grid1.jpg" style="float: right;" />


Use a  grid patternA framework or pattern of criss-crossed or parallel lines. A lattice. When criss-crossed, lines are conventionally horizontal and vertical; and when lines are diagonal, they are usually at right angles to each other. Typically graph paper is a grid of lines. Things which are often gridded: tiles, tessellations, wire screens, chess boards, maps, graphs, charts, calendars, and modern street plans.  (Artlex.com)  in your art-making

James says Ozone was like a large drawing, and when he draws he often uses a  gridA framework or pattern of criss-crossed or parallel lines. A lattice. When criss-crossed, lines are conventionally horizontal and vertical; and when lines are diagonal, they are usually at right angles to each other. Typically graph paper is a grid of lines. Things which are often gridded: tiles, tessellations, wire screens, chess boards, maps, graphs, charts, calendars, and modern street plans. (Artlex.com)  pattern. Look for the grid pattern in his work. Do you think the grid pattern could be referencing scientific study?

Work on a large scale

Working on a large scale can be an exciting experience. A work like this has a  monumentalIn art criticism, any work of art of grandeur and simplicity, regardless of its size, although it often connotes great size. (Artlex.com)  size and the artist can experience the work as if he/she could walk into the image.  Try your hand at creating a large-scale work of art.

  • Plywood, cardboard, foam core or even large rolls of paper can used for this purpose, but try obtain the largest size you can find.
  • Make preliminary sketches of your artwork to explore how you want to proceed.
  • Enjoy the freedom of movement and the impact of the large format as you work.

Build a scale model

James played baseball as a kid and still loves to watch the baseball playoffs. In an exhibit at the Rosemont Art Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Regina) in 2000, James drew upon his  draftingDrawing sketches and plans of buildings, machinery, and manufactured products. Most contemporary drafting is done digitally, using computers, but for generations, draftsmen drew upon drafting tables, using such analog tools as rulers, T square, triangles, compasses, and French curves. (Artlex.com)  training and built a  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  model of Oakland’s Baseball Stadium.

  • Do some research to learn the dimensions of a building in your community, or of a building that has particular significance to you
  • Consider building a scale model of your own home or that of a friend or neighbour. 

Drawing and printmaking

Thunder Heart with Graham Greene and Val Kilmer is a favourite movie of Brian James’. While viewing the movie he noticed a small Brownie  cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  in the trailer/home of the grandfather in the movie. He saw it as a mask-like image and used the image in many drawings and prints.

  • Watch a favourite movie and look for images of objects that appeal to you.
  • Pick your favourite drawing from the group of drawings you have made and create a monoprint of it.

monoprint 1 monoprint 2 monoprint 3 monoprint 4 monoprint 5

step 1 step 2 step 3

References

Anderson, Jack. Generation Next. Exhibition catalogue. Rosemont Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 2000.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning