Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DoubleParlour Interview and Self Portrait Inspriation

Recently, I mentioned that I am teaching a class at a local art center. The class is called Art Lounge and it is geared towards high school students. 

One requirement of the class is to create art using a variety of traditional goal is to keep things as current as possible. 

The next nine weeks is devoted to creating self-portraits. I directed students to look at a Missouri art teacher who is on a quest to create 365 self-portraits...or a self-portrait-a-day. Wow! What a task! You can follow him here. The fact that he has the stamina to create such varied and interesting self-portraits every day, AND write a blog post about each one is so impressive!

I had my students look at Jim's artwork and then create a drawn portrait. (I will share their images later)

As I continued to research artists creating interesting, modern and wonderful self-portraits, I found  DoubleParlour on Etsy and I was immediately intrigued. 

Their artwork reminded me of a couple of books in our school library.

I decided it would be necessary for my students to see the images in the books...and images by the artists in order to design a clay self-portrait. I encouraged them to plan their portrait to be about 12" tall, similar to an action figure. You can see more of DoubleParlour's artwork on Flickr.
Here are a few of my favorites: 

1. Amia, 2. maiya, 3. leona, 4. group, 5. lydie no.1, 6. birthday ghost no.2, 7. Carrieanne, 8. Sabelle, 9. Fletcher #1

In order to get a bit of insight into their creative process, I sent the artists a little list of questions and they were happy to oblige! Thank goodness for sweet internet artists!

Doubleparlour Cassandra and Ernie Velasco San Francisco, CA

1. Where do you find inspiration for your sculptures? Are they based on real people, self portraits or aspects of your personality? Do you take commissions?

We find inspiration for our sculptures from all sort of places....including natural science, architecture, music, decay, humor, social norms and deviance. Some of our characters are based on aspects of real people from photos in news clippings, movies, acquaintances, and strangers. There is always something unique about every person, even if that person appears to be dull, normal, or blends in with the crowd. However, more often then not, our characters come directly from our imaginations...probably a kaleidoscope of images and thoughts we have throughout the day.

We sell our artwork online, in galleries and at local craft fairs. We do commissioned work, primarily requests from on-line collectors. Some commissions are requests to make a sculpture similar to a piece that has sold. Once in a while we receive requests to create a sculpture of a loved one based on photos with particular elements such a favorite animal or dress. Those pieces are difficult as it is hard to know what the requester has pictured as the final outcome.

2. Tell us a little bit about your process, do you draw the characters before you make them? Do all of the drawings become sculptures or paintings?

Although we collaborate on a few of our sculptures, generally we work separately, creating most of our pieces individually from start to finish. I would say each sculpture starts with an idea and sometimes a quick sketch. We prefer to do little planning and to let each piece evolve. We do more detailed drawings for paintings or illustrations...some of which become prints. A sculpture begins with an armature of aluminum foil and wire. The armature is then skinned with polymer clay for small parts with delicate details (i.e. faces), baked, and then skinned with an air dry two-part resin. The majority of the sculpture is usually formed with resin, as it is less fragile.

3. It is awesome that you collaborate on some of the characters. Most of them appear to be ambivalent, sad or they have forced smiles. Is that some thing you do intentionally or do they take on a life of their own? What do you want your audience to feel when they look at one of your sculptures?

Our characters generally have a contemplative look, like they are lost in thought or hiding something. I suppose we want our audience to feel curious or sympathetic to the character's personality or perceived emotional state.

4. My favorite sculpture is Doreeh.

What is your favorite?

Cassandra's favorite piece is "Can't see the forest for the trees" was one of my most difficult pieces to make, I love it! 

 Ernie's favorite is Bezz and Dezz.

5. Where do you live? Do you have another job or do you get to make art full time?

We live in San Francisco, we have live here for about 16 years now in the BEST neighborhood...Lower Haight. Cassandra works full-time at a hospital and creates art part-time. Ernie quit his job as a pastry chef about 2 years ago to do art full-time.

I am so grateful to Ernie and Cassandra, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!! Watch for an updated post soon, with student work!

1 comment:

jim norris said...

Wow!! Yes, wow!! Thanks a lot for the kind words Nellie - and I appreciate the shout about my art. It's taken some stamina, yes, but also a lot of very late nights and sleepy mornings the next day! I will also look forward to seeing what your students come up with...