Latest Newsletter: Be Mine

Latest newsletter sent out on Valentine’s Day. Hit me up if you’d like to subscribe.

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Happy Valentine's Day!

So, it turns out that there is a whole raft of myth and legend associated with what we think of as Saint Valentine’s Day. Have a gander at the Wikipedia page for an idea of just how convoluted (and mostly apocryphal) the whole sordid business really is. I find it fascinating that our primary association of the holiday with romantic love comes to us courtesy of that scamp Geoffrey Chaucer in his Parlement of Foules way back in 1382, wherein he was referencing the beginning of mating season for English birds. Dead sexy! As Chaucer was using the Julian calendar, and due to the precession of the equinoxes among other timekeeping foibles, the date he was referencing was almost certainly not the 14th of February on our Gregorian calendar.

So, what has all this to do with art, you don’t ask? I was thinking about all the greeting cards and other gifts that get exchanged for this particular holiday, and all the artists whose toil and sweat goes into the making of this oft-mocked occasion. At least some portion of the $18.2 billion that gets spent on Valentine’s Day goes to support art and artists. It’d be even better if hand-crafted, personalized work was better represented, but given the difficulty of the artist’s life in 21st century Merka, it’s a start. I’ll only mention in passing how great it would be if all these artful transactions didn’t involve the corporate behemoth, the offshore slave labor, or the support of a Cis-gendered, heterocentric view of romance. A human can dream, though, right?

 

Yours,

Mark

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Speaking of art, I’d like to offer a big thanks to my friend Anne Bossert, whose insights into her work through her newsletter inspired me to produce one of my own. Not only that, but having the privilege of living every day with her artwork reminds me why the struggle is worth it. That's her Longstocking table below. Just. Wow.
Anne's Table
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Mark Leichliter
2018.

Looking back at 2018 and feeling a bit wistful. If all goes according to plan, “Interwoven” will most likely be the last major sculpture project of my career. It was the only big piece I created this year, and, to me, probably my best. A look back:

The original concept as a rendering in Rhino3d.

The original concept as a rendering in Rhino3d.

Illustration showing the scheme I came up with for dividing the form up into panels for fabrication.

Illustration showing the scheme I came up with for dividing the form up into panels for fabrication.

Assembling the panels.

Assembling the panels.

Finishing up the assembly.

Finishing up the assembly.

Showing it off before hauling it off to its new home in Little Rock.

Showing it off before hauling it off to its new home in Little Rock.

Done!

Done!

I have a whole bunch more “making of” posts over on the Exocubic Studio blog.

"Mnemonics" Tetraptych (Quadriptych?)

A little insight into the working process behind creating a set of images; this is a series of four that explores memory and recall. References both the concept of memory as a quality of the mind, and a metaphor for the imagery of memory itself.

This is the raw vector geometry that began this project (believe it or not). This was created in the Assembly App in about 5 minutes. I often begin with very simple shapes and let the iterating process introduce complexity as I go.

This is the raw vector geometry that began this project (believe it or not). This was created in the Assembly App in about 5 minutes. I often begin with very simple shapes and let the iterating process introduce complexity as I go.

This is an early iteration, using Watrlogue app to introduce some painterly randomness. The transition from solid black to a more ephemeral blue spawned the idea of memory as motif. From here, I start adding layers and masks using the Union app. Texture variations come in from Stackables and Mextures apps.

This is an early iteration, using Watrlogue app to introduce some painterly randomness. The transition from solid black to a more ephemeral blue spawned the idea of memory as motif. From here, I start adding layers and masks using the Union app. Texture variations come in from Stackables and Mextures apps.

A version with no circles in the background. I like this, but it doesn't fit the concept as nicely, so it got yanked from the group. The circle packing additions come via the Percolator app, which has become a central pivot in all my 2d work.

A version with no circles in the background. I like this, but it doesn't fit the concept as nicely, so it got yanked from the group. The circle packing additions come via the Percolator app, which has become a central pivot in all my 2d work.

"Memory." Overlapping masks and textures, some Percolated and some not, produces an almost lacy effect; this reinforces the diaphanous nature of memory. This is the seed design that drove the remainder of the iterations. Accident and randomness help to not just infuse meaning, but keep the starkness of digital at bay.

"Memory." Overlapping masks and textures, some Percolated and some not, produces an almost lacy effect; this reinforces the diaphanous nature of memory. This is the seed design that drove the remainder of the iterations. Accident and randomness help to not just infuse meaning, but keep the starkness of digital at bay.

"Amnesia." Second in the “Mnemonics” series; exploring the way our perception of history and memory is malleable and subject to influence by emotions and other factors. Repressed memories; searching through the darkness.

"Amnesia." Second in the “Mnemonics” series; exploring the way our perception of history and memory is malleable and subject to influence by emotions and other factors. Repressed memories; searching through the darkness.

"Elegy." Number 3 in the “Mnemonics” series.  A remembrance of that which has gone.

"Elegy." Number 3 in the “Mnemonics” series.  A remembrance of that which has gone.

"Reminiscence." Final member of the “Mnemonics” tetraptych (or Quadriptych). This one shows the embellishments we add to our recollections.

"Reminiscence." Final member of the “Mnemonics” tetraptych (or Quadriptych). This one shows the embellishments we add to our recollections.

Reinvention, the Newsletter.

Thought I’d add this email newsletter that I sent out before the holidays. Pertinent.

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Reinvention.

Hi Friends!

I hope this finds everyone well and dealing appropriately (for any and all meanings of the word) with the onrushing holidays and new year.

I wanted to reach out not just with well-wishes, but also with some capital-N News.

After nearly 30 years of making things in metal, stone, and wood, I’ve decided it’s time to reconfigure my artistic practice and transition to working solely in two dimensions. The primary driver of this decision is my physical well-being: I’ve been dealing with chronic pain and dexterity issues basically since starting down this path, and these problems have only escalated as I wander into my fifth decade. It seems that wrestling and grinding and cursing metal into sculptural shapes can be less than therapeutic for one’s genetic predisposition to joint problems. Go figure.

My initial explorations into using the computer as a creative tool were prompted by this desire to experience less pain, and I’ve slowly developed a methodology that I can exploit for 2D work as a replacement for the three dimensional stuff. Probably most importantly, I’m massively excited and proud of the work I’ve been able to produce this way, and feel a joy while working that has been in short supply while building big sculptural pieces. There is nothing more valuable to me as an artist than that sense of joy in the process, and I hope it’s as infectious and exciting to you as it is to me. Of course, as with any big change, there is also a sense of trepidation for what the future may hold, and a newfound need for the support of my friends, colleagues, and patrons. Feel free to get in touch and don’t hesitate to offer advice or opportunity. Hit me up!

So, as I stride/stumble boldly into this new chapter of my creative life, I invite you to come along. Watch your step, check your laces, and stay hydrated!

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

— J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Yours,

Mark

PS -- click on the BIG BLUE links below to see more of what I'm talking about.

Main Site
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Reinvention.

I was 20 years old in 1986 when I walked into Dan Ostermiller’s studio and asked for a job. Up to then, I'd been helping my Dad build houses. I was young and naive and had no idea what it meant to be a professional artist, let alone understanding the much more specialized realm of the sculptor. I ground bronze and learned to weld it; we painted rubber and slung plaster to make molds; I learned pointing up and roughing in from maquette to monument. I put all this newfound knowledge to work, sculpting my own pieces and casting them in bronze.

The Crew at Ostermiller Studios, circa 1987.

Somehow, the artist in me that had previously enjoyed drawing and painting fell in love with form and space and shadow, and I spent every free penny I made turning my ideas into cast metal. Casting bronze is expensive, even with the discounts the foundries gave us “rats,” the green-tinged, bleary-eyed artisans who did the dirty work on the shop floor. I discovered Brancusi and stone carving, doubly excited by the cheap, plentiful medium and the thrill of turning an ugly rock into a work of art. Somewhere around this point in the timeline, Mr. Ostermiller and I had a falling out (I pissed him off) and I found myself once again walking into a sculptor’s studio to ask for a job. Kent Ullberg wasn't just the second sculptor I worked for, he became like a second father to me. The Swede opened my eyes to a more European view of the world and of art. He also entrusted me to manage his production at the foundry, as well as handling the enlargement of some of his most impressively-scaled works.

Serpentine carving.

There are a many more details and people and crazy happenings to recount, but that gets too far afield from my point. The stone carving and the metal grinding and the construction work, not to mention a detour to make a few thousand Chipotle chairs for my friend Bruce, took a serious toll on my physical health. Couple that with the inevitable diminishing of aging eyesight and a restlessness to move away from committee-driven public art, and you have the perfect recipe for a personal reinvention. And so it is with a bittersweet heart that I formally end my career as a sculptor, moving forward with excitement and trepidation into a future of greater creative freedom and less physical pain. Stay tuned to see what happens on the next episode!

NewsMark Leichlitermemoirs
9 to 5 Mac.

Michael Steeber at 9to5mac wrote a fantastic piece about using the iPad as a creative tool. My work was a part of it!

Mark’s artistic workflow is now exclusive to the iPad and involves what he calls accidental imagination. “I start with very simple vector shapes, arranging them into a composition that just ‘feels’ right,” Mark says. “Then I add filters and effects in a host of different apps, all the while establishing a kind of call-and-response interplay with what’s happening on the screen. Usually, something bubbles up randomly that sparks my imagination and I run with that idea.”

Click Here!

Mark Leichliter
New.

Well, hello there!

Welcome to my new presence here on the Intertubes.

I’ve spent the last 25 years crafting artwork in metal, primarily for large-scale public art projects. There’s quite a bit of documentation for that aspect of my work here:

The most obvious hallmark of my sculpture practice was the need for a massive and cantankerous toolset— including welders, grinders, worktables, clamps, hoists—as well as space to use them.

Underpinning my creative process was another layer of yet more stuff: desktop computer and a host of software tools for modeling, documenting, and fabricating the sculptures. Arriving at a toolset that is both capable and rigorous enough to ensure a successful project took years and many thousands of dollars, not to mention the brain space taken up by learning and managing all of it.

Dealing with all that stuff becomes a way of life, and a way of operating in the world that carries with it a heavy environmental cost. I am no longer willing to blindly continue contributing to the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Enter the iPad.

I’ve be a fan and avid user of Apple products since I was a teenager. The benefits of a digital workflow were self-evident at this point, and the seamless experience when enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem had been simplifying my life since I got my first iPhone. Watching videos of artists drawing directly on their iPads opened my eyes to new possibilities. Being able to sit down with this simple rectangle in my lap and just let my imagination roam was a revelation. After much trial and error, I arrived at a method for making that hinged on what I ended up thinking of as “accidental imagination.” I start with very simple vector shapes, arranging them into a composition that just “feels” right. Then I add filters and effects in a host of different apps, all the while establishing a kind of call-and-response interplay with what’s happening on the screen. Usually, something bubbles up randomly that sparks my imagination and I run with that idea. It feels like a way of producing the kind of unexpected imagery that occurs when using traditional media, but in digital form. I love the variety and playfulness of this method, and have enjoyed all the feedback I’m getting from friends and followers on social media and in meatspace, too.