Friday, February 24, 2012

Painting with Marilyn

My wife's grandmother, Marilyn, was a painter. A good one. She loved to watch Bob Ross and paint beautiful scenes. You can see the joy she had for painting come through in her work. There was a room on the second floor of the Minnesota farm house she shared with her husband Ed that she used as her studio, full of paints, brushes, canvases, drawings and frames. I remember marvelling at it when I visited the family there in the mid 1990's. It was inspirational that, among all the everyday stuff that comprises farm life, Marilyn carved a space and time for her painting. I knew that if I wanted to paint, draw, sculpt, play music, I would have to create my own time and space as well. That idea imprinted itself in my mind and has gently nudged me ever since. Opportunity may not present itself unless you have a hand or mind to help create it. A lesson that didn't fully sink in until I had the privilege of helping to preserve one of her last paintings.

A few years back (perhaps closer to 7 or 8) Marilyn's daughter Cathy, my mother-in-law, asked me to help find a way to preserve a painting that went unfinished due to her passing from cancer. The image was completely drawn out in pencil on the canvas and several areas had already been painted in full color. Cathy asked if I could retrace the pencil lines in black paint so that they would be more permanent and more visible. I set out right away, and soon the painting was set aside to work on other projects. Four moves (one to another state) and several years later, I unpacked the painting and set it on my easel. It was time to finish it and I needed to create my time and space in order to see it through. It was a long journey, but I completed my tasks. I never forgot what Marilyn unknowingly taught me. I created my working space. I carved out my time to work and create. I made more permanent the lines Marilyn drew on that canvas. I brightened up the yellowing canvas by applying titanium white between those lines; what became our lines. Not in the sense of ownership, mind you as they were still her lines I was retracing, but in the sense of a shared experience: painting. She taught me (as with everyone she came in contact with) that life is indeed what you make it to be. Draw the lines out. Erase them if they don't please you, or darken them if they do. Paint in those areas to finish up the experience, then move on to a new and exciting one.

Thank you, Marilyn.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm Standing At The Crossroads...

It has been a long time since the last post.

It's not that I don't have anything to write here- it's just making the time to do it. My pal Joe has been pestering me for a new entry for some time, so I am obliging...even if it means writing about nothing.

Actually there is something to ponder: the direction of my work. I have been going over in my head all the possible directions I could take and trying to find one that stirs my need to create. The band is a great fix for my need to create, but there are down times with it as we work on the other, non-playing aspects of the music such as building it into a (hopefully) sustaining business. So that leaves me with my art, and the big question of: "What's next?"

I have dabbled in many things that interest me, but I can't seem to narrow down what my next course of action should be. I have ideas, but I am not sure if I should start and work on all ideas, or place them in an order (most important to least important). Or perhaps I should step back, try to finish any unfinished projects, or even take a break. I want to make sure that the path I choose isn't the easiest or safest one- in case I may be blocking myself out of fear of moving forward. Perhaps writing everyday might clear the channels or the noise, so I can see more clearly.

I wish to say something- share something with anyone that cares to look.

Now I need to find what that something is.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Beauty of Decisions and More Fun Collaborations

'Free Form & Bubbles' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.30.11

Creating art is about decisions. They are being made regardless of what we are creating: music, art, choreography, writing, film, etc. I recently found that is what I love about creating art and music. It came to me while drawing with my 19 month old daughter Lillian. Watching her choose her color crayon, then where she places it on the paper and even what kind of marks she makes with it. Following that with which color she chooses next- perhaps in response (or not) to the marks I make, with the colors I use. Her decisions made were perfect for that moment of creation- a snapshot of that perfect moment, if you will. Are all her decisions correct? Yes. Which led me to ask myself, "Are all of my decisions correct?" Well...
As an artist I tend to question if every decision I make is a good one and I am not the only one. I have seen this with my sister, brother, friends, family and all artists I have come in contact with, from my college days to the present. So why do we make this so difficult for ourselves? Why not just say that every decision we make is perfect when we make it- even if we don't agree later? No amount of discussion or philosophy, theory or rhetoric can ever change that which we have already made. Sure we can use our past decisions to fuel if (and how) we continue with a particular vein of thought or whether we end it and start another, but we cannot change that which is already passed. So does this mean that the past means little, and the future means nothing? I don't know (go ask your mother). All I know is that the past is passed, and the future isn't here yet. As for the present? Well, the present is where all the beautiful things happen. I hope you enjoy these beautiful images. They were fun collaborations with my daughter Lil. Every decision made was a perfect one (of course, I am biased).

'Silly Snail' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.22.11

'Whale in a Brown Sea' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.26.11

'Technicolor Caterpillar' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.25.11

'Purple Bear at Sunset' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.26.11

'Desert Sun & Wildflowers' by L.G. Parzych & C.W. Parzych III crayon on paper 07.25.11

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project Echo

In October 2010, I had the fortune of participating in a group art show called Project Echo. The show was put together by local writer Shea Boresi, who had the idea that an ongoing art dialogue could be created using a photograph her grandfather Rodney Rieken had taken in Korea, 1953. She asked for artists to give their response to the photograph, in any medium they desired, and held a showcase at the Ragtag Cinema. Shea even provided a poem, which you can view, along with Rodney Rieken's photo, here:

I chose this opportunity to try a new approach; to stretch my creative wings a bit, move out of my comfort zone into less familiar territory and see what happens. Here is a written piece that accompanies my sculpture/diorama, 'Sojourn 2010':

When I think of innocence, I think of my childhood and all my naivety about everything. Rodney Rieken's photograph triggers in me the feeling of innocence and its subsequent loss, as well as the loss of youth. My own life journey has happened around where my innocence has been encountered, embraced and/or dispatched. In my created world, 'Sojourn 2010', a lone male elephant proceeds past a dead or dying tree, toward the edge of a reality that has been constructed in the present tense, with only a distant cityscape as a hint (or a distraction) of a past to guide him. Only the elephant isn't merely an elephant, but a void into 'space', which takes the shape of the travelling beast. This 'space' represents the infinite; our experience and all that comprise and compose our life journeys. I can't help feeling part of Rieken's journey through his photograph; of his innocence evaporating in a world and culture very different than his own, as mine surely would have in his stead. 'Sojourn 2010' is indicative of me in a stage of my life where the only place I have ever lived and known was left, for a new adventure or chapter. The tree signifies that family (or my meaning thereof, as defined using setting) would be all that is left for me if I stayed, and the antiquated or romantic view of the city I was born in (and love dearly) isn't what it appears to be (here is referenced Detroit, circa 1940's). The elephant is traveling alone, which doesn't occur in reality as they always travel in groups, and this signifies that the journey must physically be taken alone while family will always be carried with me in the non-physical way. My own innocence is left behind me in my journey forward- left behind with items that become symbols of my childhood: burlap (such as from sacks I used to keep toys in), an elephant (a favorite childhood animal), (portions of) an Erector set, tree branches (a reminder of favorite childhood play spots) and the diorama itself (a reminder of museum visits and play sets).

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of my sculpture/diorama. It has given me the confidence to pursue the medium further, if I wish, and has allowed me to grow as an artist.

Most of the materials used on this piece were 'found'; meaning not purchased. The exceptions were the Paperclay (which makes up the elephant and part of the tree), and the Spanish moss on the tree (which is actually lichen used normally for model railroad projects).

Later this year Shea plans on having a Round 2 of Project Echo, where artists can create pieces in response to Round 1 works continuing the dialogue in an interesting and meaningful way. I look forward to participating further with Project Echo.

Further info on Project Echo can be found here:

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Greatest Collaboration (part II)

As collaborations go, this next one is definitely awesome. While planning out the nursery in the months leading up to Lillian's birth, both Jen and I became increasingly unhappy about the state of commercial baby furniture. We found the stuff being made was cheap, ugly and quite possibly dangerous. I say "quite possibly" because there are still things being found out about the adverse effects that the materials used in manufacturing have on us and our children: such as formaldehyde in glues and v.o.c.'s in paints and finishes. While there is debate on this matter (to me, there is no debate; We are too careless in our quest to make stuff "cheap and affordable"), no changes are being made to the manufacturing processes that we -and those we contract- are using. Aren't our children worth the extra research needed to insure their safety and health? But this post isn't going to discuss all that, as much as it will discuss one possible solution: to make your own furniture. This may seem time consuming, difficult or impossible in some ways and quite scary, yet it can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. You can control all the materials that go into the making of the furniture and you end up with something beautiful that can be used for many years...maybe even generations. Lillian's project started out with my love of wood (and concerns for her health and welfare) and I expressed my desire to build her crib to my father. Of course, I also wanted all the work we would be doing to not end after she outgrew her crib so I located plans for a convertible one. This particular model will convert to a daybed for Lillian when she outgrows the crib, and finally to a full size twin bed for when she outgrows the daybed. I felt the design was pure genius and I became a bit inspired with this project. Plans were ordered from Rockler and sources were located for our wood (maple). It was then realized that I had less than 1/3 of the equipment needed to carry out this project. Thankfully, my dad had the rest. The only catch was that he (and Mom) are in Michigan and we are here in Missouri. Sometimes with ambitious projects, we call in others to help- this time was no different. Since I live in MO and not MI, my dad enlisted the help of his brother, my Uncle Ray and also my brother Joe and dear friend Brett. Brett helped Dad get some of the wood and trim it down for him. Uncle Ray helped with building of the jigs and also cutting, shaping and sanding of the crib slats, sides, gate and railings- and later with final gluing and assembly here in MO. Joe helped with the slats and sanding (LOTS of it- both in MI and out here in MO) and final assembly.

Uncle Ray working on the crib slats (MI).

Uncle Ray again working on a crib slat. All the crib parts were cut and shaped at Dad's in MI.

Dad (foreground) and Uncle Ray sanding crib slats in my garage during the hot Missouri summer. The garage became known as 'The Sweatshop' during the 100+ degree days.

My brother Joe rough sanding a slat. Dad is in the background doing final sanding. Each slat, as well as all other crib parts received a rough sanding, followed by a secondary sanding-a third and final one will be completed before the finish is applied. Hands were sore and fingers were stiff and achy afterwards.

Sanding away in 'The Sweatshop'. On the floor behind Joe is the crib back waiting for the rest of the slats so it can be glued and assembled.

The back of the crib waiting for its last few slats. This piece also becomes the headboard of the twin bed.

Dad and Uncle Ray checking the distance between the slats to ensure the height is even.

A light tap with a rubber mallet closes the gap on the other side.

The crib gate prior to gluing and clamping...

...and after.

Here the back has had the legs glued on and is receiving the first of two strips glued to the top, forming a finishing cap.

The final mock-up of the crib to make sure all parts fit properly. Next will come a final sanding and application of two coats of sealer to the wood.

The crib finished. Dad and I ended up replacing the two front legs with thicker pieces than the plans called for. There was a discrepancy with measurements for the mounting of the gate hardware and the width of the original legs. Both of us feel the thicker legs not only function better with the hardware, but are visually more appealing as well. Dad and I applied the first coat sealer and Jen helped me with the second. We went with a cold pressed, organic flax seed oil purchased from Bioshield Paint, which specializes in making solvent free and zero v.o.c. paints, stains and finishes. The smell of the finish was WAY more pleasant than a traditional finish and it brought out the grain and markings of the wood beautifully.

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The gate in the down or open position.

The wonderful grain stripes accentuated by the herbal oil.

Maple is a wood that shows great character and durability. It is also one of my favorites.

Because of all who sweated (and fretted) for this project, Lillian will have a wonderful bed which she will be able to share with her children, should she choose. It was extremely hard work, but I think all that were involved would agree with me when I say it was also extremely satisfying...and amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Greatest Collaboration (part I)

One thing I have grown aware of as I march down the streets of life, is that I have always enjoyed collaborations. Working together with other people, artists and musicians has always been enjoyable to me. I loved making cartoons and t shirt designs with my best friend in high school; playing ideas off each other and sharing inside jokes that find their way into the art. I love playing in bands and orchestras, with each member adding a unique flavor to the beautiful end results. And recently- well nearly 12 months ago- I joined my wife in working on what I believe will be my greatest collaboration: our daughter Lillian Grace. Lil was born December 8th, 2009, a bit later than her November 29th due date but still healthy and beautiful.

Parenthood is the ultimate collaboration, in my mind. Every movement must be choreographed, all things learned be shared and support continuously given when needed. Lillian has been a dream baby: flexible, happy, healthy, seemingly adventurous and wonderfully curious. These months have flown by with surprising ease, and watching her grow is both amazing and incredible. Granted there have been times when it feels like a gigantic whirlwind, with possibilities and answers flying in all directions. Difficult to chose at some times, hard to reach at others, these possibilities have only served as ways for us to learn and grow as parents. It has been fun so far...and I'm told, by many, that it only gets better.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Few Favorite Photos...

Blog, oh blog- how I've neglected you...

Cantalouper has been keeping me pretty busy, as well as preparing for a new baby- two things that I'm glad are keeping me busy! As Jen & I get ready to create a space for our little one, I contemplate some photographs I might like to use as reference for drawings or paintings- or to just hang as they already are. Here are my favorites:

Sunset on Edisto Island II, 10/02/08 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

Sunset on Edisto Island, 10/02/08 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

These two were taken during a trip last year with Jen's dad Pat to Edisto Island, SC. We had just been "crabbing" during late afternoon, off of one of the docks. As the sun set, I felt a need to try and preserve the beauty and serenity.

Sunset on Edisto Beach I, 09/30/08 Photo: Jennifer L. Parzych

Sunset on Edisto Beach II, 09/30/08 Photo: Jennifer L. Parzych

Sunset on Edisto Beach III, 09/30/08 Photo: Jennifer L. Parzych

These last three were taken by Jen, as we walked on the beach. While I was trying to take it all in physically & emotionally, Jen had the idea to take it in digitally as well. I'm glad she did.

Carp 10/22/2008 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

Carp II, 10/22/2008 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

Carp III, 10/22/2008 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

Carp IV, 10/22/2008 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

Carp & Duck, 10/22/2008 Photo: Charles W. Parzych III

These last few were taken at the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. We had the idea to feed the carp/goldfish, as there was a dispenser nearby where you could purchase food. I liked the way they seemed to materialize from the depths through the ever-changing patterns and textures the water provided. Little did we realize that the local ducks also like the food. I managed to get a few shots of carp before the ducks took over.