December 20, 2016

The Christmas Tree - Art and Photography by Sarah Myers

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Christmas Tree, 2016
Photography and paper ornaments by Sarah Myers
“Here in a little crib lies He whose reign is without end,” sings an old carol, and in keeping with the Christmas spirit of the birth, the childhood of God, we often decorate with cheerful, toy-like ornaments. This year I have brought out these again, a smiling star at the top of the tree, a smug sheep, a toy soldier, a camel. But the great amount of the decoration is a snowstorm of cut-paper flakes – each a different pattern, fragile artwork taking time and concentration in spite of its simple technique. Many of these snowflakes have been adorning the tree every Christmastime for years, but an avalanche on the north side of the fir is made up of flakes or medallions created this winter. The tree beneath is real – a six-and-a-half foot Noble Fir, smelling of evergreen needles and resin.

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Christmas Snowfall
Photography, cut paper ornaments and tiny gift-bearer by Sarah Myers
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A Christmas tree covered in whirling snow...
Sarah Myers
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Caught in a Snowstorm
Sandro, the little glass soldier from Italy, and an angel smile amid the huge flakes and starry lights
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Christmas tree and ornamental screen
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North Side of the Christmas Tree
The side facing our kitchen holds the snowflakes I cut this year
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The Christmas Fir
Although the tree is visible through three doorways, this view is essentially its front.
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A Snowy Christmas Tree
In front, my sculpture carries flowers from the still-blooming desert garden.  In the background, a painting I created, and which I bring out for the Christmas Season, hangs on the wall.
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Ornaments on the Tree
Details of the cut paper medallions we call snowflakes - some in patterns of flowers, leaves, fruit and palms.
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East Side of the Tree
Snowflakes, glass baubles, a toy orange
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The Small Angel
An announcing angel I created last year
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Christmas Atmosphere
Christmas 2016, Sarah Myers

December 5, 2016

Still-life with Pineapple - Painting by Sarah Myers

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Still-life with Pineapple, Sarah Myers

In this large still-life are combined a handsome pineapple, an exuberant vase of red clay, a pair of early oranges from our own orange tree, and two solemn red pears. Shape echoes shape and colours mirror colours in smaller and larger forms. The spheres of the oranges imitate the rotund base of the pottery; the outline of the more prominent pear reflects the upright body of the pineapple, though its colour – apart from the brown tones that describe its softer, natural substance - is very similar to the earthenware pot.
This painting is in acrylics. The vase is a rendering of a hand-built ceramic by my sister Amy Myers.

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Still-life with Pineapple, Sarah Myers.  Detail.
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Still-life with Pineapple, detail.
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Still-life with Pineapple, Sarah Myers
Detail

December 4, 2016

Looking Upward - Sculpture by Sarah Myers

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Head Looking Upward, Sarah Myers
Sculpture in terracotta

She stares upward, head tilted back to look intently. What is she watching for? Who? What is she hoping as she gazes?
Made from a strong red terracotta, this sculpture was completed rapidly and carries the spontaneity of its quick creation. Nevertheless the image had been in my mind for months if not years, and the simple and even somewhat rough form is the outcome of a thought being suddenly imposed on malleable clay. The kiln-firing that turned it into hard earthenware made the thought a permanent image.


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Head Looking Upward, Sarah Myers

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Head, Sarah Myers
Terracotta

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Head in terracotta.  Sarah Myers

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Head Looking Upward, Sarah Myers

November 18, 2016

Lady with a Ruff - Art by Sarah Myers

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Lady with a Ruff, Sarah Myers
Drawing in charcoal and conte on grey paper

She gazes down quietly at the gauzy frill running across her shoulder. The ornate ruff is only faintly outlined, but the turn of her neck and her gently lowered eyelids show her concentration on the elaborate fashion we can barely see. Our attention is not there, but on her, on the shadow that covers much of her face and the light that touches it abruptly, directly - a bright glow.


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Lady with a Ruff, detail.  Sarah Myers

November 6, 2016

Abundance - Sculpture by Sarah Myers

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Abundance, Sarah Myers
Sculpture in terracotta

    Leaning lightly forward, she wraps her arms around her cornucopia brimful with fruits of harvest. A late summer wind stirs in her hair and in the bowing grain.
    This sculpture was created very quickly and spontaneously from my favourite earthenware clay, a terracotta whose formula was originated by my sister and which I make from the dry minerals. The warmth of the clay's tone matches the tumbling fruits and gentle, reaching arms of the figure.


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Abundance, Sarah Myers
Sculpture from slightly above

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Abundance, Sarah Myers

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Abundance, Detail
Sarah Myers

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Abundance, sculpture in terracotta.
Side

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Abundance, detail.
Sarah Myers

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Abundance, Sarah Myers
Sculpture

November 3, 2016

Horse on Silver - Painting by Sarah Myers

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Horse on Silver, Sarah Myers

A horse - alert glance and backward tilted ears showing its liveliness - arches its neck, looming against a background of reflective silver. This is a large canvas and makes a very strong impact on the wall. It was painted in acrylic and metallic acrylic.

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Horse on Silver, Sarah Myers
Detail

October 27, 2016

A Sculpture - with some flowers - Art by Sarah Myers

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Lady holding a Bowl, Sarah Myers
Terracotta


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Lady holding a Bowl, back


      A lady in red terracotta offers a bowl-full of early autumn blooms. She came successfully through the kiln; her ringlets, the gathered folds of her dress, and the shell-like bowl she holds were all perfect after the fire. She was simply waiting for someone to fill her dish or bowl with a few treasures – and so my first marigolds, a few zinnias, and a delicious rose from my sister's garden were tumbled into her outstretched hands.




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Lady holding a Bowl, Sarah Myers 

October 21, 2016

Rabbit - Art by Sarah Myers

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Rabbit, Sarah Myers
Charcoal and Conte



Some mornings back this small rabbit appeared near my window, eagerly nibbling stems of tumbleweed. From a snapshot I took, this charcoal drawing was drafted later in the evening – a picture larger than the young animal it was created from. Natural black charcoal, white conte on grayscale paper, it was a gift for my Mother's birthday.



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Rabbit, Detail.  Sarah Myers

October 11, 2016

Woman with a Water Pitcher - Sculpture by Sarah Myers

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Woman with a Water Pitcher, Sarah Myers
Sculpture in Terracotta

    Carrying a flask of perfume in her hand and poising a bouyant water pitcher on her head, she walks toward us. Her face is radiant and serene. Her long skirts flow around her.

     In deep, bright terracotta, this sculpture was completed within two or three days. The red clay, now firm and permanent, carries both the spontanaeity of its rapid creation, the care of detail (from the sway of the body and tilted head to the ornate handle of the pitcher or the flask's pointed stopper) and a sense of history from being formed out of the world's most ancient sculpture-medium.   

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Woman with Water Pitcher, Sarah Myers
Detail of face

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Woman with a Water Pitcher, Sarah Myers
Close-up from side

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Woman with Water Pitcher, Sarah Myers
Back


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Woman with a Water Pitcher, Sarah Myers

August 28, 2016

The Ethics of Plagiarism - writing by Sarah Myers


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Creating Hands, Sarah Myers


THE ETHICS OF PLAGIARISM

The history of human creative effort is that of humanity itself; and any discussion of the matter of authorship, originality and plagiarism must understand that we are not looking at a mere two hundred year question of copyright and commercial uses. It is fortunate, with so much time to account for, that the three major drives of the creative human, sharing his work with a larger public, are the same now as they always have been. At this moment I am not discussing the elemental drive to create, or the basic desire of man to provide for his own individual needs and that of his family. I am speaking of those goals which induce him to share what he has made with a larger group of people not directly tied to him by personal interest.
The three incentives are these - money/wealth, name/recognition, and the attempt to build for a higher purpose. Not rightly placed in that order, from an ethical standpoint, but in our familiarity. To each one of these drives could be appended an image: the starving composer dashing off a great piece of music to buy food for the table; the artist, finishing his work and signing it proudly with his name; a craftsman anonymously carving angels on a cathedral with the conviction that he is bringing glory to God and that heaven will reward him. Whether or not any of these pictures is good or bad, sad or happy, is not the question; what they represent is an eternal reality.
We are so familiar with the first drive, that of obtaining money or wealth, that it is on this basis that most of copyright and legal rights of authorship are based. This leads to great disproportion in understanding the creative world - but cannot completely be decried in the sense that it was an effort to prevent the starving composer (for instance) from starving. And most members of the First World are very clear that if the inventor, or artist, or author, made something to bring himself a living, to steal his ability to make that living - by plagiarizing or stealing his work or his credit for the work - is a crime. Copyright laws were enacted for just this reason. It is on this basis, and no other, that any current legal argument over creative rights are based.
But this leaves out - and in our current age, tends to deny or denigrate - the other two great incentives that make people build a culture with all the skill at their command. And gross advantage is being taken of this "overlooking". "Because," say the plagiarists, "if the creator couldn't get any money out of his creation, his creation belongs to those who can!" And the credit, the name/recognition, the control of the work, goes to those who have an idea for cashing out on it. This is not only unethical - it is a sordid, stinking wrong. Because there are still those two other motives, in their own way, perhaps, better and certainly more remaining motives, for sharing one's work with others.
The second is that of name/recognition. By this, I do not for a moment mean celebrity. Celebrity is actually a position of very temporary power in a basically hostile environment, it is artificial and has nothing to do with creativity. I am talking of something quite different. I am speaking of a very general but lasting form of human gratitude, being distinctly attached to a name and to a man. It is our thankfulness to Galileo for his new conception of the world; to Da Vinci for his paintings, to the Wright brothers for the conquest of the air, to Beethoven for the Ninth Symphony, to Rumi for his poems. We not only know the name, we take care to preserve and revere the name. Many, many creators have worked for this memory, for this gratitude, and some almost solely for this, with little or no monetary reward accompanying. In fact, this due of name and recognition is often the only reward worth the exhausting effort of original creation. This is something almost impossible to explain to the non-creative: both the unusual amount of mental travail that goes into original creation, and the fact that your name being on it - and remaining on it, because of men acknowledging the benefit you have given them - can be a thorough reward for the effort. Good indeed that it's so - considering that we have no other way to now pay Homer for his ballads, or even the Wrights for giving us wings. And the fact remains that Galileo's physical reward for his work was imprisonment; Mozart died without enough money to provide for a proper tomb, although he had just written one of the greatest requiems in history for an importunate nobleman; the Wright brothers' main patent had only to do with ways to flex the airplane's wings, a development that was quickly outmoded; and there is a rumour that the painting of the Mona Lisa remained with Leonardo because it was refused by the client who commissioned it.
To take this reward of name and recognition away from the creator can be more devastating than merely taking away whatever monetary result he might obtain from his work. Few true originators can easily bear the idea of being a Cyrano - the poet who allows his best poems to be ascribed to someone else. It is usually only in the face of existential difficulty, maintaining your own life or that of those you love, that you could easily stomach seeing another individual's name across your original work. But because the current infrastructure is based solely on monetary outcome, and laid out by non-creators, this instinct is often looked down upon as a ridiculous possessiveness. Why, they say, cling to anything that cannot bring you money?
There is the third drive - that of building something for a higher purpose. It is because of this that anonymity is often accepted among creators. The greater structure of benefit and usefulness is enough reward for its authors. This was not so common in ancient times as it was, for instance, in the Middle Ages, when men working on church commissions often hoped for reward from God; it has been common also in the East. But it is by no means solely restricted to the service of religion. Men simply working to benefit humanity by building some large mental, social or physical structure have also laid aside their claims to wealth or direct recognition. They feel they are labouring to design a better, more fit and more inspiring world, and that this result is all that matters . Some have worked for the glory even of oppressive regimes or comparatively worthless infrastructures, but it is to be hoped that this was under the deception that they were, in fact, building something of usefulness and benefit for all. In any case, this one drive, in its most unadulterated form, is much more of a factor now than it was two hundred or three hundred years ago - perhaps than it has been since the Medieval Era - and we must look at its effects in its contemporary form.
Some of our best creators and inventors in the current age are working on beneficial structures, and for greater ease and reach (as well as in the goodness of their motives) are laying aside financial reward and recognition of authorship. Into their new structure for the world they are pouring content - instructional, functional, educational, inspirational - a great sweeping cataract of mental, creative, and even physical material. But it is going into their new structure, to build and to fill it. It is absolutely necessary to recognize that, although all this material is being contributed for an altruistic purpose, it is being contributed for a purpose. It is not creative work launched absent-mindedly into the void, without expectation of return or result. And no creator should be expected to thus give. Definite results are being expected from this flood of effort, just as a cathedral and the glory of the Catholic church was expected from the craftsmen labouring on a stained-glass window. This is far from attributing underhanded motives to these originators; there is no use in sitting out in the middle of a field making bricks without any purpose for the effort. For everyone's benefit, those bricks must go into constructing a weather-proof house, or a library, or a bridge, or a dam-wall. The bricks need not be signed; and if the result is good enough, payment may come not in the form of money but in the form of being able to use a library or bridge or being protected by a dam. And to the best minds, being able to see that the village is now protected from floodwater or is provided with a library, is a satisfactory reward for the effort.
This too, however, has been misunderstood and taken advantage of. Since so many top creators are working "for free" and without attribution, there are individuals and institutions who choose to ignore that the originators are busily building a larger structure with their work. Instead, these plagiarizing entities reason from the new flood of anonymous creative activity that all creative labour should now be without monetary reward or recognition of authorship, that it can be relegated to any use and used for any advantage to those who grab it. They even go so far as to claim that the material is worthless until it is stolen. Under this excuse parts, or even whole bodies of creative work, are taken without remuneration to the originators, without correct attribution, and without respect to the maker's original intent. The creations are used to build different, and much less beneficial structures, to bring credibility or popularity to other names, to amass wealth to the appropriators. This indeed is theft.
So what is plagiarism? What is theft? At the very least:
If the original work was created by its author to bring him money, it is a crime to preempt his ability to effectively use it so - a crime to take it over in order to bring wealth to someone else who did not originate it.
If the original creation was made by its author to bring him a name and recognition, it is plagiarism to take away that type of credit and lay it on someone else who did not originate the work.
If the original work was created by its author to build up some greater structure, it is plagiarism to take it and subvert its use to some other goal.


As narrow and restricted as these definitions are, they would cut nine-tenths of current idea-fraud; an area where there is at present no recourse and very little understanding or formulation. Respect must be given to those who create to gain the friendship and goodwill of humanity, to create a name. Value must be acknowledged in the work of those who give their efforts to build and benefit their kind. In such an era as we are entering now, it is not legal or governmental protection that is asked for. It is a culture and an accepted code that will give the creator liberty and the assurance to create; to share what he has among his fellow men, freely, readily, and with joy, for the reward that is his chosen due.

July 24, 2016

Woman's head, sketch in charcoal - Art by Sarah Myers

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Woman's Head, Sketch.  Sarah Myers

A sketch in charcoal and white conte on toned paper.  I have used a technique here atypical of my recent work - in this drawing I have rubbed the charcoal across the surfaces to create a softer and more diffuse shading on cheeks, neck and forehead.


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Woman's Head, Sketch.  Sarah Myers.  Detail.


July 19, 2016

David with his Harp - Sculpture by Sarah Myers

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David with his Harp, Sarah Myers
Sculpture in terracotta

This ornate sculpture is a mingling of various times. It was inspired by a sixteenth century painting of King David, where the painter dressed the ancient monarch in a rich and peculiar costume of the artist's own time and perched him on a tree with other ancestors in the line of the Christ-child – a symbolic subject coming from earlier medieval days. In my sculpture the King is alone, barely laying his fingers to the invisible harp-strings; pensive, wrapped perhaps in the reflections brought by his own prophetic music. I have rendered the rich embroidered clothes with lines directly drawn into the clay – a technique called sgraffito – and roughly hatched with a sharp tool to paradoxically create the deep fur collar of his cloak. His large harp rears in front of him like the prow of a ship; a few leaves from the tree cluster at his back.

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David with his Harp, Sarah Myers.  Detail of face.

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David with his Harp, Sarah Myers

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David with his Harp, Sarah Myers.  Side view.

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David with Harp, Sarah Myers
Details.

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David with his Harp, Sarah Myers.  Detail of back.

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David with his Harp.  Sculpture by Sarah Myers.

June 26, 2016

Still-life with Sculpture and Pot of Flowers - Photography by Sarah Myers


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Photographic Still-life with Sculpture and Pot of Flowers, Sarah Myers
Ceramic Pottery by Amy Myers
Sculpture by Sarah Myers


A small post – a photographic still-life with a sculpture in terracotta, a pot filled with garden flowers, and a few books on an antique gilded table. The ceramic pot is hand-built by my sister Amy Myers, and is in the same red earthenware as my figure of a woman with windblown cloak.

June 20, 2016

Lady with a Small Dog - Drawing by Sarah Myers

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Lady with a Small Dog
Line drawing in charcoal, Sarah Myers


      This line-drawing is inspired by my sister holding my small schnauzer. The gentle hands and eyes, the little dog's pleased face, everything turned into simple lines drawn in charcoal...



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Lady with a Small Dog, detail
Sarah Myers

June 5, 2016

Still-life with Sculpture and Lemons - Painting by Sarah Myers

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Still-life with Sculpture and Lemons




     This still-life is a painting of one of my sculptures in red clay (terracotta) and a bowl of the same material, made by my sister Amy Myers – the vessel contains a heap of fresh lemons from our lemon tree. The intense orange surrounding these objects was a real backdrop of painted canvas. The fiery colour of summer light is held by the fire-baked clay and the glowing yellow fruit, the strong hues are at once sober and happy...  



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Still-life with Sculpture and Lemons, Sarah Myers
Detail, bowl of lemons

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Still-life with Sculpture and Lemons, Sarah Myers
Detail of sculpture

May 10, 2016

Summer - Art in cut paper and charcoal by Sarah Myers

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Summer, Sarah Myers
Charcoal, cut paper

Pomegranates, palm-fronds, jasmine stars, grapes and various flowers wreathe around the head of a personification of Summer. A charcoal drawing with cut paper ornamentation of brown, black and white.

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Summer, detail
Sarah Myers

April 29, 2016

A Favourite Sculpture - Art by Sarah Myers

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Minerva in Pearls, Sarah Myers


With her gentle smile, lowered eyes, pearl necklace and tall helmet, this sculpture remains one of my favourites I have made, and my largest. She is life-scale or perhaps a little more.

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Minerva in Pearls, Sarah Myers
Close-up
She was inspired from a sixteenth-century portrait of a young Dutch woman, Margarita Trip. The artist Ferdinand Bol dressed her in costume as Minerva and portrayed Margarita teaching her younger sister Maria Trip. I think in my sculpture I have used the mythological reference slightly more seriously and as a more intregal part - not indeed as homage to the Greek deity Athena (Minerva), but abstractly in praise of wisdom and the wisdom of elder sisters in particular.

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Minerva in Pearls, Sarah Myers
Sculpture in stoneware

A sculpture this size takes a huge amount of clay. In this case, she consists of stoneware I mixed by hand and kneaded carefully to remove air pockets. The recipe was designed by my sister Amy Myers - it is a clay of some resistance and strength even in its raw form. The sculpture was then built over a period of three days. I work directly into the clay with a rapidity which is partly to avoid the damage that too-early drying can create, but also to preserve the spontaneity and immediacy of the human touch.
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Minerva in Pearls, side view

    All art and photography by Sarah Myers
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Minerva in Pearls, Sarah Myers
Detail of face and helmet
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Minerva in Pearls, Sarah Myers