Mike Peyton: The Simplicity of Geometric Expressionism
"In The Rut"
Art, in some way, shape or form, has always been a part of Mike's life. His mother was an extremely talented artist, his father an accomplished multi-instrument musician. His grandmother was a 2-D artist and his grandfather, a successful metal sculptor. When it comes to Mike, he has been an art collector (Southwest and modern primitive) for
the better part of 30 years. He didn't realize his own artistic capabilities until 8-9 years ago.
Mike is a single father of 2 teenage boys and like many artists has a regular day job. He describes his art as a "therapeutic hobby." It was just by chance that he discovered gourds while looking on E-Bay for supplies for his then artistic path, decorated wooden snakes and lizards. The gourd he bought, interestingly enough, was a snake gourd. Mike had no idea what he was going to do with it but since he had been doing work using Sharpies on his wood creations he thought he would start there.
With a vision of an Anasazi snake in mind he set out free-handing his first gourd. It took about a week to complete and when done was amazed that what he had envisioned in his mind's eye had been, almost perfectly, translated to his first gourd creation. From there it was game-on. Today Mike is still intrigued and inspired by the natural, one of a kind shapes of snake gourds. His art cannot help but be an original, never to be replicated creation.
Gathering of the Council of Elders
Mike has a long history with snakes and reptiles. As a kid he raised them and had quite an extensive collection. He always has some kind of reptile in the house and has tried to pass this on to his sons. Currently they have a corn snake (Buck) and a bearded dragon (Beaudreaux) residing with them. In light of this, the snake gourd fascinates and Mike has found that putting snake gourds together into a sculpture is like putting a puzzle together.
The main source of Mike's inspiration is his own personal art collection. He is surrounded by art on a daily basis and the impact on his work is readily obvious. The "geometric" influence definitely comes from several Anasazi pottery pieces that he owns and it has been indelible.
When constructing sculpture Mike is inspired with the knowledge that anything is possible with gourds. Power tools, glue, a bagful of gourds and a vivid imagination are a powerful combination. Being a Texan boy he is definitely inspired by the mottos, "Bigger is better" and "Everything is bigger in Texas". Many of Mike's pieces are 3 feet or taller; his largest piece (to date) was 6 feet tall.
The most challenging aspect of Mike's work is getting his sculptures to stand on their own and to remain together without too much mechanical intervention. It entails a fair amount of "garage engineering" but as you can see, Mike has found success with these challenges!
When speaking about creativity Mike states that he is convinced that everyone has a creative talent within them and in many cases it just needs to be discovered. Creation, whether it be artistic or non-artistic, is very liberating and an important skill that everybody should be encouraged to practice and hone.
He believes that artists and their work plays an essential role in today's society, much as they always have. Art provides a window into the creativity, beauty and thought provocation that is in all of us. Mike is constantly amazed by the sheer volume of art that is available and is awed by the quantity of the people creating that art.
On a personal note Mike has a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. He spent 10-plus years in the Navy as a Special Operations Officer (diving, bomb disposal and mine warfare) and while working for an aquarium, hosted (for two seasons) his own 2 minute segment, Creature Feature, an educational program. He is a sports fanatic; more watching than playing these days but he still plays softball once a week. Oh yeah, Mike also likes sunsets and walks on the beach...(oh, this isn't for Match is it?):)
To view more of Mike's incredible art click here:
While travelling in Amsterdam Anna Shaftoe spotted these gourds used as display models for beautiful jewellery. Thank you Anna for sending this in. We love to see gourds in every shape and form and function from around the world, Carolyn
Out Of the Mailbag
Hi Carolyn and Linda,
I am glad I made the drive; it was great meeting both of you. I spend Friday as a gourd cleaning day...the gourds you chose for me are perfect for what I want to try next.
I have sent three photos of some of the work I have done. I hope you like them. Thank you both for your time.
It was great meeting you too and we are glad you are happy with the gourds. We are publishing your photos in the newsletter as it is very beautiful gourd art. Perhaps you would like to be our featured artist one month? See you again soon,
Carolyn and Linda
Hello Northern Dipper,
This year I decided that I would stay away from the malls and instead take in all of the local craft shows. It was so much fun for a few reasons.
One was that most of what I saw was original and well crafted. I saw items ranging from low-priced stocking stuffers to art I could only afford to admire from a distance. Another reason is that it was very interesting meeting the people who actually created the art.
I just wanted you to know that I loved your booth. It was so festive and you are warm and charming women. I have attached a photo for your scrap-book. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Suzi Avery - Gray, Guelph, Ontario
Thanks for the photo. We had a good time at the Christmas shows and in Ottawa a bonus was there were no ice storms! How lucky was that. Carolyn
Looking Ahead: March 2015
Before we know it this wintery scene will be lost in our memories and we will be thinking about our gardens and warm weather activities.
Until that time the nights will seem long but our March featured artist will be here to help us light the way into spring. Tami Redding saw her first gourd light in Mexico and the image always remained with her. Years later she discovered
gourds and since that time has created many lovely designs of gourd lanterns. It will be an honour to feature Tami Redding and her art.
In March we will have the complete schedule of our upcoming workshops so remember to sign up and get on our "Priority List." Just send us your email and you will get a full listing of classes along with photos and details.
Until that time we wish you a happy and joyous New Year's. May it be a glorious one!
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond