Wolves in the Shadows

Today in studio I was experimenting with large, shadow like drawings of wolves. I quite like the idea of drawing these directly on the wall of the exhibition space. I would ideally like to project them as shadows on the wall but given the fact that it will be a joint exhibition this could be difficult. I talked about this with my tutor, Will, and we discussed creating an enclosed space which would eliminate ambient light. It would involve having a viewing gap though which would create more of a voyeur effect which I don;t really want.

I think this vague shadow drawing is actually quite effective and can imagine it larger on a wall. I believe it would look pretty neat with the tree branches around it. I will have to experiment in the studio. I am running out of space with all my trees and branch antlers!




Stopping by woods…

We set up for Light Nelson today… the real thing. I added new branches, and adjusted some old ones. Rebuilt the polystyrene bases and fixed them together with very clever ‘staples’ made from naturally forked twigs.

It looks great… all of the installations at NMIT look fabulous, an awful lot of work went into them. I waited until well after 8.00 pm , but no one came from the opening committee or the press, which was a shame. Anyway Phoebe and I sneaked a look around Queens gardens as the weekend is supposed to be wet, and to be honest, it is much more fun when you can see stuff, and breathe without being squished in the crowds. Sneaky, but necessary imho.

There is some very cool stuff out there… lots of bells and whistles. I will post pics tomorrow, but to be honest I would still rate my forest as one of my favourites, and am not usually one for self applause. I like its simplicity, that few resources and materials were used and the fact that it was all recycled except the bulb. I especially like that it looks beautiful in the daytime too.

So here it is, sadly as facilities did not get the sound fixed in the gallery, so my creepy sounds were only there when I was hiding in the cupboard with my iPad!! It is such a busy time for the staff that I am not sure if it is a great idea to have it as an actual part of the course, but I loved doing it, so maybe it is! It was a slog getting this effect just right, I wish the sound had been working, I could have maybe bought a cheap CD player or something had I thought it wouldn’t get fixed. Still, I will know next time.

Phoebe and her shadow walking in the wintery woods…

Phoebe Forest

It is difficult to photograph the halogen light with my iPhone, the pics look better desaturated!

Forest Room

I was so happy how the shadows filled the whole room, including the ceilings!

Forest Ceiling

I love images of things that are not really there… holes in the light…

Forest Wall

Beyond Expectations…

No matter that I woke feeling very low, tired, my kitten was missing and it was Friday 13th!

All came right in the end… as I knew it would! Pookie came back and had a visit to the vets, he is now home and feeling a bit better. I spent the morning playing with my gorgeous wee boy Blue, and then headed to college to install the Light Nelson project.

Van Van and I were blessed by a huge bundle of black polystyrene strips which were perfect for building my twig shadow making structure. The stuff I had acquired before was too small. Amazing that these just appeared today of all days!!

We worked hard from 3.30 and 5.00pm. One of the precious bulbs broke during lighting tests, but luckily I bought two! We played around and decided the bulb was better hanging from the wire grid above the gallery, so we covered the orange cable with masking tape to disguise it against the white background. The hanging bulb also gives some movement, which eliminates the need for a turntable. I like the slight movement although some complained of motion sickness when it was moving too much!

So we built our structure, installed the light and held our collective breath as we switched on…



The night rolled from there and the gallery was never empty… so many people wanted to play!

A man came out of the woods


Little people visited…


Wood faeries danced…


and best of all, Blue and Polly came to play too!


The speakers were not working but even on my iPad we got an idea of how the soundtrack would make it even more ethereal!

There are things I want to play with before the event, but I am basking in the warm and kindly shadow of satisfaction right now!


Cat among the shadows…

I went out early this morning to collect branches before first light. I wanted to catch the kitchen before full daylight for my tests. Well it took forever to wire up my branches to make the *shade* thingy, and by then it was full albeit murky, daylight. I tried covering the windows for a few experiments, and worked out that I needed smaller branches further from the light source.

This was the first set up of the day:


Looks like nothing eh? But it is about 6 foot tall and those branches would not stay up… lots of cursing, it’s really a two man job. Still one woman sufficed. I couldn’t get an image of the shadows in the workshop but you are not missing much. The workshop it too big and the roof too high.


Of course Pookie thought it was all for him..


My next experiment involved smaller twigs, polystyrene and a larger space between the bulb and the twigs. I did it in the kitchen as I was able to make it darker. I only used a few twigs just to see if it would work, after all the hours spent wiring the large branches together!




I was so happy to see them, this bulb rocks those twigs!


Look at this gnarly bugger…


I am happy now…. I didn’t sleep hardly last night for worrying about it, even though I was dog tired. Then I got up long before dawn to get the branches sorted. It is all about experiment after experiment to find out what works. Once I have it set up I can refine things and decide if I want to add a turntable or not. At the moment I am thinking we don’t need it but I will see.

I now have a boot full of the gnarliest twigs I could find ready to take in and play on Thursday. Now back to my seminar research…



In Gombrich’s Art & Illusion, he talks about a process he calls schemata. This process is where the artist compares what he has drawn or painted with what he is trying to draw/paint, and by trial and error, comparing his drawing to his source, the artist gradually corrects the drawing/painting to look more like what he is seeing.  I am using this process to create the effect I want.

I looked at the previous posts and research, and worked out a way to combine the crowd caster lamp, that I mentioned here, with our twig and bark ball in the previous post. I had a walk around my property and collected willow, twigs, some old resistors, and a lump of polystyrene.



Using these things I made this:


Then I dismantled my Himalayan salt lamp (excellent for fighting those positive ions given out by computers etc…), and removed the bulb and fitting. I cut the hole in the polystyrene base of my twig sculpture and inserted the light fitting:


Woohoo… shadows, that look like trees! I created the white walls with two sketchbooks.


Here is a photo with my mug of tea for size comparison:


Actually that’s a little misleading, the mug looks smaller here than IRL, but you get the picture. The lamp is off here by the way.  So… the bulb I used here is a teeny 7 watt bulb. The bulbs I purchased yesterday are 9 times that brightness and they are halogen which gives much sharper shadows.

I think I now have a positive enough result from this model to warrant making a larger version, which will take a lot longer. I may just try a quick demo in the gallery on Thursday using my bulb and just a very basic setup before constructing the actual large shade with twigs. if that works then I am away!!! Everything is one hundred percent recycled except the light bulb. Polystyrene is icky, but at least it is better in use than in the landfill.

Excitement abounds…!!!

A light trip…

None of my group turned up today so I decided to get with it on my own, and try and get this thing nailed. We have a week left, and I have a lot of other college commitments during that week too.

I went to a lighting place in town but they were of no help, and so I drove to meet a guy at Lighting Direct in Tahuna (thanks for the link up Morgan!). Scooterm the manager of Lighting Direct, was extremely helpful. I took my small *ball* of twigs as a demo to see what bulb would work best. After looking at a few bulbs, I purchased two of these beauties… Scooter calls them Dollies.



Aren’t they gorgeous? They are 42 watt halogen points, which gives the equivalent of 60 watts. They are fairly economical, and they are exactly what I need, with a very small pinpoint of light and a clear glass bulb. The large bulb means that the lap doesn;t give out too much heat which is perfect.

Now I need to make my shade. I did some tests in the gallery but couldn’t do it properly or photograph them as an exhibition was in progress. I did work out hat the shade needs to be much bigger that this baby.


I am planning a new shape too, a new approach, influenced by this earlier post, just to compare the effects. I may do some card cutting today… I did some iPad sketches, (see Sundays post), which I thought about printing onto acetate and making a lamp like the crowd lamp, but then the materials wouldn’t be recycled. Mind you, Symen has lots of acetate printouts from making screens… maybe I could grab, and recycle some of those!


Just doodling…

I can’t believe it is already June… geez, it’s almost the end of the semester.

I needed to get away from brain work, reading, and theorising and writing, for half an hour, so I picked up my iPad and started doodling… I made trees…. (thinking of the shadow forest I guess, for Light Nelson)…


I drew trees, and erased bits of trees


and turned them inside out… it’s fun doodling…


I may try using these, if the other thing doesn’t work out, the outlines may need to be less messy but I will do a wee experiment with a tea-light maybe see if they make shadows, if I can find some acetate to print on before Tuesday. No college tomorrow as it is a bank holiday. Queens birthday. We never celebrated that in England… odd, not that I am ungrateful for a day off of course…

Embracing the shadows with Jung…

I have long been  interested in the writings of Carl Gustav Jung, and am trying to find time to read more. But recently I have been focusing on his thoughts concerning the shadow aspect of human beings. Jung said:

Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.

From Psychology and Religion by C.G. Jung (1938)

I like Jung because he always holds hope for the individual. He believes we can heal ourselves by contacting our unconscious through symbols such as archetypes and myths and facing our darker side. My long relationship with the Tarot started partly because of learning about Jung and archetypes as a teenager. Bt umostly I think it came about from my love of the darker side of life. oddly I no longer consider The Tarot as at all “dark”, on the contrary it can be a journey to enlightenment.

Here is another quote from Jung:

To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.

“Good and Evil in Analytical Psychology” (1959)


A Mad Hatter?

I have just discovered this totally sane, contemporary philosopher, who a few people label as crazy. No way is he crazy… This guy thinks like I do, and about the same kind of stuff, and I like that in a man…

Meet Roy Sorensen


Image stolen from: 3am Magazine

Check the link, check out the interview, and while you are at it check out the rest of the magazine. It has a lot of good stuff, and the title is very apt. It keeps you awake until the small hours…

And if you like this dude, then check out this book that I am currently reading, all about light and shadow, which I have been obsessed with for much of my life.  Roy is one of the thinkers behind my Light Nelson project, and possibly future art.

I am very interested in all aspects of shadows, including the darker side of human nature.


Shadow Research

I have done a lot of research the past couple of days on making shadows and the best bulbs to use. I worked out last week that a clear bulb would be best, but  yesterday I found a great web page here. The diagram below is from the page, and it confirms my theory. Diffused light (which is the effect of frosting a bulb) is absolutely no good.


Also found some more interesting information on wikipedia.

Of course candles make the best shadows, but these are not really viable for this project. Although, tea lights made ultra safe are both eco friendly and atmospheric, they may just do the trick!

I have some fabulous cut glass saucers that I found in junk shops, and if you stand a tealight in the centre the shadows it throws around are fabulous. I also used to have a beautiful Moroccan candle lantern like the one below… again fantastic shadows…


We will get there. Meanwhile I have been researching theorists, fascinating stuff.

I am seriously thinking of becoming a shadow artist.