Spring Newsletter 2022 – Using Both Sides of My Brain

Dust to Dust Diptych – 17.25” x 16”, 2022
Metasomatite, sandstone, marble, limestone, slate, sodalite syenite, lepidolite; tumbled: rhodonite, vesuvianite, petrified coral, agate, serpentinite, tiger’s eye, calcite, sodalite, carnelian, amazonite, charoite, amethyst, lapis lazuli, jasper, prehnite, orbicular rhyolite, bloodstone; colored mortar

In The Studio

Although the theories about being right-brained or left-brained have evolved since Roger Sperry developed it in 1981, there are still very simplified tests you can take on the internet that help you determine your brain dominance. I find that I am typically right in the middle when I take these tests: in the 50% left/50% right category. I’m not really a split personality ;-), but I can feel when I move from one to the other.  I could certainly feel the jump from left to right when I finished my taxes last month! All that intense left brain activity made me want to leap into my right brain and do some creative work. Aaaah, it felt like a relief to do a couple of new designs, especially some of which are out of my comfort zone. But after the initial work creating a design and choosing the materials, I have to switch back to the detail-oriented, analytical side of my brain to produce the work.

Recently I finished reading Stephen Ornes, “Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations,” in which the art is based on mathematical ideas and expressed in sculpture, painting, and other media.  I was surprised how many mathematicians create art based on mathematical equations, and they are not just mathematical representations, but aesthetic works of art as well.  Many of the artists feel that they are giving form to ideas and connections that existed before they even thought of them.  These people are clearly using both sides of their brains!

Jackson Pollock is said to have used sophisticated fractals in his art without even realizing it.  Fractals are mathematical ratios considered to be perfect and are some of the most beautiful sights in nature. I was fascinated to learn that twenty years ago scientists at the University of New South Wales studied Pollock’s work and say they were able to chart the evolution of his drip technique over 12 years.  They scanned photographs of his art into a computer programmed to identify fractal patterns, and now believe they can authenticate and date his work based on the mathematics hidden within. I’d be curious if their authentications would hold up in court!

In my own work I have unconscious threads at play even when I am very deliberate in my theme.  Ideas evolve and take on a life of their own.  My latest diptych, “Dust to Dust” was originally a triptych named Rebirth.  But as I started adding the tumbled pebbles, I realized that they were both eroding and compacting. It is a cycle of life and death, not just rebirth.  It is the metamorphosis from solid rock to broken boulders to pebbles to sand to dust, and then back again as dust, sand and pebbles are compacted and rejoined to become a new whole.  It is unlike any stone that has come before.  Different conditions and different environments create totally unique rocks and people…

The piece became more complicated than I originally envisioned. The sorting and fitting of hundreds of tumbled stones was a new challenge.  And after playing with colored mortar the last couple of years, of course I had to mix the exact shade to go with each color of stone!  When the left side of my brain goes into overdrive on some detail it can almost push me over the edge.  But fortunately I know it is only a matter of time before I can dive over to my right brain and get lost in the creative process!

           1.Sorting & placing tumbled                                             2.Mortar color tests gone mad

Out of the Studio

After the wonderful success of the trunk show – thank you everyone who came to Tucson and joined us!!!- most of my traveling this spring has been to Baltimore for my daughter-in-law’s bridal shower, and  the wedding a month later.  What a glorious wedding it was – on the water at Fort McHenry National Monument on the southeast edge of Baltimore’s inner harbor.

A few weeks ago Stu and I slipped away for a short trip to Saratoga Hot Springs on a very blustery May day and hiked the Encampment River Trail.  The week after we returned we had a freak 17-inch show storm!  Is this really the spring newsletter??

Susan looks on after her son and daughter-in-law tie the knot!

1.Encampment River Trail                                               2. May 21st snow!

Canary Islands Artist in Residency

My Canary Islands Artist in Residency that was postposed two years ago is on for October!  I am looking forward to learning about their geologic history, collecting some material, and making some art on location. It will be a lot humbler art than I can make here in my studio, but the rustic aspect will engender some innovation and creative solutions.  My right brain will be on fire!

If anyone has any personal experience in the Canaries, or knows anyone who does, I would love to hear from you!  Thank you!!

Reverberations  – 15.75” x 12.75”, 2022
Banded barite with marcasite; pyrite, limestone

All the best,

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