Tuesday, February 20, 2018

snow leopard, automata, marbling

A busy week in Artlandia. I'm very excited to be preparing for a new animation. In preparation, I marbled a round of paper that, hopefully, will make up a sky - thumbs up.

I also printed new swallows for the same project.  This was funny to me because I feel like I printed so many swallows, but because I used them all in the swallows installation, I actually didn't have any for the animation. Also, I wanted to try printing them in a color. 

Another project in the works is trying to finish the seven deadly sins series now that the first three in that series have returned home after a stint proudly representing in the Zea Mays Flat File.  I cut out the recent polyester lithography prints of the new automata birds that may (or may not) find their way into new work.

As part of the same series, I also started on the life-scale snow leopard. Right now the plan is to carve the head and tail in linoleum and the body into MDF.  I did the tail first and then the head. 

in process 12 x 26" block

in process - 12 x 12" block

3 hours later
This is interesting because one questions I sometimes get is "how long did that take?" Even though I can anticipate the question, I never really know the answer. The preparation time before carving varies widely depending on factors such as, how much research I feel I need to do and whether I've ever carved a similar block before. The actual carving time also varies, making it hard to estimate, but this case was helpful because I took the first photo after one sitting, about 3 - 4 hours, got up, got a snack and took Honey out, posted the photo, then decided to resume working. When I was done for the night, I photographed and posted the second state. Because of the time stamps, I know this was a single day session with about 3 hours between the photos, so this is a single day of 7-8 hours of carving (with breaks for human and pet bio-needs). I'll probably do one more carving session before proofing, then, depending how the proof looks, possibly one more quick round.

Speaking of the creature family - Mini was a big help on this.  At one point I was questioning the direction of the fur on the nose, and she happily sat and purred while I petted her head and stared at her nose - what a helper :). She's taking her role as sole Feline Assistant very seriously and has been sticking close to me in the studio. I love having her with me and at the same time I miss Sunny. It helps knowing Mini misses her too - here are some of my favorite pictures of them doing "synchronized napping."

Outside the studio, but still art-related - my Muse seems to approve of the snow leopard/ sphinx project. I know because look what just went into the windows of the local auction house - haha.

And our nature shots for the week:

tree cloaked in sky

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

pseudo-tapestry in process

A busy week in Artlandia - work continues on the pseudo-tapestry. 

This week I started sewing the parts into their final locations.  This was a multi-step process of sewing parts together, then sewing them onto layers, then sewing the layers together - for example, sewing the bird to the tree branch, sewing the tree branch with bird to the the tree, sewing the tree into the layer, then sewing the layer to the one above and beneath it.

To summarize - lots and lots of hand stitching.  The good news is that is seems to be working. 

One issues is the scale - it's composed in layers, in part, so I can handle it alone.  As the parts come together, it's becoming more physically difficult for me to move and reach sections without wrinkling or damaging the paper. Also, it's close to the width of the room, so walking around it is also challenging now. I'll be excited to get this off the floor and onto the wall. 

 I used a multi-pronged approach to attach the layers - I used (archival) double sided adhesive film in thin strips to hold it in place while I position it, then acid free glue along the edge, then sewing.  I had to be pretty careful about the order I was sewing things down to try to get the maximum amount of adhesion (so that the final round of sewing is sewing together the most layers). It's heavy. 
All laid out.
looking at it at an angle to check the seams between the layers.
This is a view of the back of the tree trunk
This is as far as I got this week - all the layers except the background layer, which will be attached to a large piece of paper
that will cover as much as possible of the back to protect all the stitching and provide support.
Here it is at a raking angle from above.
Once all the parts are together, I'll trim and finish the edge and attach it to the mesh that will hang on the wall.  I'll be very happy to get this off the floor and have the space back.   

Landscape shots from this week - the whole gamut from snowy to sunny. 

Just me and my 75 lb lap dog.
Naturally, my creatures have been keeping me company and lightening the mood - here's Honey (or as much of Honey as I can fit in the frame) sitting on my lap, and Mini who has decided that the pseudo-tapestry is the best napping spot in the entire house ("Look, Human, I'm helping keep all the parts in place. :)" She knows I can't be mad at that face (or resist petting that fluffy tummy), but it's still a (mostly) kitty-free-zone until I can get this on the wall.  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

a sphinx in the making

Honey was so cute - she doesn't know what's in the box, but if it makes
her human so excited, it must be something worth guarding - such a good dog!
A very busy week in Artlandia!  My paper roll came! I got back to printing - after experiencing some frustration with printing the snow leopard, I did some research and adjusted the press blankets (taking out the pusher), changed to my larger brayer, and got better results printing the second state (thumbs up!)
Second state proof of new 12 x 15 relief block
detail of proof of second state

 I think the block has enough detail to work well as a template for a life scale block, and I scanned it this week.  I'm excited about making a life scale one, but also decided to work with it at this scale - I'd like to make a sphinx.

...Of course, none of the 5 sets of wing blocks I have are quiiiiite the right size.  So I used the next closest size blocks (from August 2015 ) as templates and made a new block.  It was a little weird, because at one point, I began doubting that they were really that much bigger (they're almost twice the length of the older ones, 5.5 vs about 10 inches). I re-measured to be sure, and they are indeed larger.

Then I reprinted this head block (from May 2015) that I think may be a good fit. Next, I cut the parts out and put them up on the white board together to get a sense of what they might look like 

Also, in excellent supply news - my new marbling tray arrived this week (it's actually a replacement tray for a pet kennel 0:) ). One thing that needs adjustment is that because the tray is so dark, I had a little trouble seeing the marbling patterns this go round, but I think I can fix that by adding a white mat or contact paper along the bottom for next time (and the important thing is - it fits a 48" piece of paper perfectly :) ).

I haven't decided yet what size I want to work with the sphinx yet, but having a full sheet allows for lots of possibilities.

I also carved a block that can be used to make a modular pattern because I have been thinking that I may want a pattern behind the unicorn in the pseudo-tapestry (not sure yet - hmmmmmm.)

Speaking of the pseudo-tapestry...now that the swallows have taken flight, I'm getting back to the pseudo-tapestry.  This week I cut out and toned a branch for the tree and am testing some birds for it.  One reason it's not finished is that I wasn't quite sure how to assemble it, but after trying some things on the Zea Mays flat file pieces (which are similarly structured but on a smaller scale) I think I'm ready to start putting it together (or at least, I don't think I'll become more ready by waiting/ researching).

Jr. helping establish scale.  (Usually, she is not allowed in this space, and since it's the only "kitty-free-zone" in the house,
naturally, she's eager to take full advantage any time she sneaks in. (doh.)

In other art news, I went to a lovely opening for Giovanni di Mola's new book, Kindred  at Leslie-Lohman Project Space in New York.

In creature news - we continue to miss Sunny very much. The house and studio and life in general are not the same without her. It's been hard on Mini losing her synchronized napping buddy. The heated blanket was one of Sunny's very favorite things (and she could not infrequently be seen with her blanket on the blog, for example here and here and here). It felt wrong sleeping with her blanket without her, and, like the carving pillow, I had to put it away for now.  My parents very thoughtfully sent Mini and me a new blanket - Mini approves - thank you!

Last, but not least, this week's nature shots, from the train:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tracery, Snow Leopard, Birds

12 x 22" new tracery block
 sitting on the press bed
 A busy week in Artlandia! I finished the tracery block and proofed it - thumbs up!  This is a pretty subtle block with lots of very tiny cuts, so I was worried they wouldn't show up in the print. 

detail of first proof
The good news is I did get most of the detail to show up in a proof; the bad news is that it seemed like each time I printed it, some of the detail "filled in." I don't think the block healed over, but I may have to clean it and let it dry between prints and/or try proofing it with a slightly stiffer ink.

For now, I was just excited that the detail showed up in the proof, and I got to see it with the turrets. I'm relieved that they seem to co-ordinate well.

new tracery block proof with proofs of the turrets
Once the tracery block was proofed, I wanted to carve a new block.  It was the first block I've ever carved in my home studio without Sunny by my side.  I miss her very much and since carving was something we always did together, at first, it was just too sad working without my faithful feline assistant. One of my friends had the good idea to carve a block that in some way reminded me of Sunny, so that I could be thinking of her in a happy way while working and making something to honor her.  Sunny had beautiful, fluffy fur - I loved brushing her and she was very proud of her long silky coat and thick mane. I decided to carve a snow leopard. 

Having this block material in a roll allows me to carve larger. (The minimum is 12" for the width of the roll instead of  9" for the 9 x 12" pre-cut blocks). So, this is a slightly larger scale than the previous animal I've carved from this material.  It didn't feel that different to me, but I'm glad for the extra size/ greater detail because I'm thinking that I will follow the same process that I used with the fox - scan the print and blow it up to use as a template for a life-scale block. 

proof of 12 x 15" new block of snow leopard
I'm very happy that the detail from the block showed in the proof, but I had almost the exact same problem I had with the tracery block - the detail "filled in" with each subsequent print. Between this block and the tracery block, I quickly ran through the end of my paper roll before I was able to work out this issue (which may be for the best because I was getting pretty frustrated.)  Sometimes I find an issue can be fixed just by completely cleaning everything and starting again from the beginning. So I cleaned the block and my work area and will try again when the new roll of paper arrives.

Since I'm out of the large grey paper that I usually use,  I went ahead and finished an experiment I'd started a few weeks ago that was intended for black paper. I had scanned one the prints from one of my bird blocks, inverted it, drew on a print out, re-scanned it. I combined the new image with the scan of the winding key block I made 2 weeks ago to make a polyester lithography plate to print in gold on black paper of new automata bids. I think it worked pretty well and am in the process of printing more of these to use in upcoming collages. 

I also re-proofed some recent bird blocks on letter sized paper.  I liked these, but thought the first state was a little too dark, so I carved away a little more to make them brighter and try to get the heads to really come forward over the bodies.  Seeing them with the automata, which is based on a bird block from 2014, I can see how I started with poses with limited foreshortening and am gradually working toward more complex (and lively) poses. 

 "Endless Forms - Most Beautiful" at Scarlet Seven Gallery 
In other art news - I got to see two great shows in Troy - "Endless Forms - Most Beautiful" at Scarlet Seven Gallery and "Please Exit: Doors are Closing" at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.  

Tatana Keller, "Please Exit: Doors are Closing
"at The Arts Center of the Capital Region

In creature news, I know poor Junior misses her big sister (how can she be Feline Assistant Junior without Feline Assistant Senior?) I've been giving her lots of snuggles, and she's been sticking close.  One thing I changed in the studio was the carving pillow - it was just too sad for me seeing the carving pillow without Sunny on it. As we can see, Jr. has taken to the replacement pillow immediately and is ready and eager to assist. 

Honey has had an exciting week - she got a beautiful new harness from her Grandma (size XL - she's all grown up now :) ). It's nice and orange and we got to test it out on our first trip to the conservation area for 2018. 

Miscellaneous nature shots: 
A no-filter sunrise in Hudson
A no-filter sunset...from the parking lot of the big box store.