Monday, March 20, 2017


A busy week here in Artlandia...though in a different way that usual.

Image may contain: tree, plant, snow, table, outdoor and nature
My back gate
This week, I went to my first international printmaking conference, the Southern Graphics Conference International (SGCI) in Atlanta.  I've been looking forward to this conference for months and so when we got close to 30" of snow and the airport closed the day before, I was worried that I wouldn't make it.  But! I dug out and made it to the airport and miraculously, took flight.

There was no snow in Atlanta
The conference was awesome - I got to see lots of interesting demos, listen to panel discussions, and talk to printmakers about their work.  I didn't take tons of photos (Oops! - I didn't have free hands/ spare attention) But I learned a lot.

Gerhard Richter, "11 panes," High Museum 
part of Daniel Arsham, "Hourglass" High Musuem
I also got to visit the High Museum, and went to their late hours Friday night, which was awesome because I felt like I had the place to myself.

Apart from that - I also got to photograph "industrial - "
Tammy - this one's for you!

 In addition, I got to have some nice visits with friends and family
sharing my selfie expertise with Mom and Dad
Honey did great for her first time at the boarder
- like pup sleep away camp.
We were happily reunited and once we got home,
she took all her toys out of the basket
 (just making sure they're all still there ;) ).

And then, I made it back home to the creatures, who all did just fine in my absence. 

I woke up this morning to this beautiful face (sitting on my
stomach - "Human, I do hope you remember the
meaning of "breakfast."")
and this one, "Oh, you're back - excellent!"

And now - on a mission to clean the studio, put things away, and get back to work (thumbs up!)

Monday, March 13, 2017

pseudo-tapestry, rocks, minis

 The unicorn has a landscape [thumbs up!]

It was an adventure making the ground...I tried something new.  Last week, I made a collagraph plate, and this week, I added to that plate and reprinted it.  Then, I used a gel plate to add viscosity monotypes on top of it. This was sort of like flipping paper marbling in a way, because instead of putting the paper onto the water's surface, the paper was fixed, and the gel plate went on top of it.  It was still somewhat dependent on natural phenomena for the pattern, but gave me more control in terms of where I placed the plates and where I wanted the densest ink.  I then added a wash of gray-green to help unify it.

Then...I decided it really needed some rocks (doh.) So I went out to the driveway, scooped up some gravel, and carved some rocks.

Then...I decided it really needed a band of foliage between the ground layer and the mesh background. And, naturally, none of the dozen plant blocks I have were quiiiiite right. (doh, again).  While it may just seem like me being picky, in this case, I think it is really necessary - I have single plants, and while I could print them multiple times, I really want a horizontal band that can be a bridge between the randomness of the ground and the mesh, which is a repeating pattern. I think multiples of the same plant would be too repetitive; so, I planned a 12 x 18" block to work in very structured repeating lines between the scattered leaves - the block will create a horizontal band with few repetitions and will contain both organic and repeating pattern elements [thumbs up].

It sounds good, and I'm excited to see how it will work...but execution is challenging.  I used one of my existing blocks as the foundation, by printing it on the new block multiple times at different angles and then editing to make sure each iteration is unique and that they flow together. I've been working hard on it, and it is moving forward, but it's slow going at the moment.

 In addition to carving new blocks for the tapestry, I also put together a submission for the Center for Contemporary Printmaking's Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition. I picked my favorite minis from the last year and pulled new prints just for the show and ironed them so they are nice and crisp and flat - fingerscrossed!

I also had a chance to do some figure drawing.  It's been a little while - I was a little rusty, but it's coming back, and I had a good time and got in some good practice adjusting to a variety of pose lengths - 5, 10, 15, 25 minute poses.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Unicorn (pseudo-)tapestry, in process

 A busy week in Artlandia! We're well on our way to a new unicorn (pseudo-)tapestry [thumbs up!] 
it's 48" across and about 5' tall,
with me for scale 
The new unicorn, with it's older sibling.
Though, naturally, it didn't spring forth fully formed... first I worked on the body, adding acrylic, ink and color pencil and then joined the head and body.  I decided to put a collar over the seem between the body and the head:

New block for collar

 Then I got the pet screening up on the wall by pinning it straight through the gaps in the netting into the cork wall.  Then I decided that the collar "really needed" a new block for it's pattern (doh.) This seemed like it might be a bit of a diversion at the time, but admittedly, I really like the new collar...Then I decided it "needed" (fake)pearls hand sewn on with silver thread (twice). It is reeeeeally pretty.

I cut out and added the tree - the segments of the roots are working just like I wanted them too - extending the base of the tree and looking like they're poking up from the ground. I also find the new squirrel really funny.

Now for the ground... I'm not exactly sure what to do about the ground.  I want something that looks sort of like marbling, but that gives me more control.  And I want it not to be a million little pieces (since I plan to put a million little piece on top of it ;) ). On that note - look what came this week!! New paper! And it just happens to be wide enough to cover the screen (wha ha ha).
leg with marbled paper as ground

printed paper 18 x 50" and the corner of the plate 

I made a collagraph plate and tried it with mixed results. The result is big enough, and it's close to being what I want, but not quiet it (yet), It's also not quite the right color - I think I want to keep the printing elements in black, but not this dark (maybe adding transparent base?) and then maybe a wash of green to the paper...and gold splatters? (hmmmmm.)  In any case, it's moving along (and it's big! :D )

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tiny print and Phoenix

New Tiny Print :) - 2.5 x 1.5" relief print  
This week was all about the tiny print.  I wanted to take a step back from the larger blocks after proofing the unicorn block last week went so badly, and I had a sample piece of a new material that I've been wanting to test out. The block material is Gomuban - it's a Japanese rubber block distributed in the US by McClain's Printmaking, who very generously sent a sample.  I've been searching for a new relief material for my smaller blocks. I'm looking for something thin enough to be stored vertically in binders, hard enough to hold fine detail, and soft enough to take curved cuts easily and not be as hard on my hands and wrists as wood (so, you know, not much really :P ).  I think this material which has a slightly harder surface layer and softer, dark core fits the bill, and bonus! the two tones make it easier to tell if the cuts are deep enough - awesome! 

A visual timeline:

I printed an earlier block, scanned it, shrunk it. (*I thought about keeping it the same size so it would be a tight comparison, but I didn't really want to push the new material by making it smaller and keep it within the size limitations for an upcoming juried show application. Also, I didn't really want to carve the same thing twice without a little variation.)
One of my earlier relief prints on the discontinued block material.  about 3 x 2.25"
Printed polyester lithography plate onto the block as a template. (*This was a little tricky, since the block is slick, but I sanded the surface first with 1500 sand paper, then hit the print with a hairdryer and dusted it with baby powder, to ensure that it was dry.  It held up just fine without smearing. ((This technique of transferring images using polyester plates as templates is one I've really honed, and it's something I'll be leading a workshop on it at Women's Studio Workshop this summer O:) ). 


Wipe the template off and check the carving - the color difference between the surface material and the core material made it easier to check the depth of the really fine cuts [thumbs up!]


Carve some more.

Final print:
Here's a comparison of prints from the two blocks side by side:  

with quarter for scale 

 I still like the older one (right), and I'm not sure I would take this composition quite this small again - I was having some trouble with the smallest cuts filling in, but then again, this is really, really, really small for a relief block, so I feel like I did push the limits of the new material, and I think I may have prioritized the cuts a little better this go round so that it has more of a sense of a light source. For a first attempt at a new material, I'll take it.

I also reprinted the bunny, one of my favorite tinies from the past year as my entries for a tiny print  exhibition.
lots and lots of proofs.
I find it a little bit funny that it took me about 6 days to make this 2.5" block, and only 4 days longer to carve the unicorn body block, which is more than 100 times larger in area.  (But then again, I did work on the unicorn body 24/7, and with the tiny block, I took it all the way to the finished print with lots and lots (and (lots) of proofs along the way.)  Still, kind of funny.

 I'm not sure if I'm any closer to figuring out what exactly went wrong or how to print the unicorn body.  I know that my paper choice is probably not ideal - I chose a thick paper which makes hand printing very challenging, but since I know I want to cut it out and sew it into a collage, I feel like I really do need the weight in the paper.  I looked at trying to use a barren instead of a spoon to get the prints more even (.... hmmmmmm).

In the meantime, I moved the phoenix print forward, hand coloring it with watercolor and color pencil and cutting it out. I think this is a good one to try some new collage ideas with because it's bigger than the individual element in the first 3 seven deadly sins prints, but still smaller than the unicorn and the fox (, by the time I get the unicorn printed, hopefully I'll have some ideas about how to use it in a whole composition? Maybe? O:) ).
I admit, I really like this one - 18 x 24" woodblock print with watercolor, color pencil, ink and acrylic.
Feline Assistant #1 - supervising

Monday, February 20, 2017

unicorn body and trays

 A busy week in Artlandia.  I finished the 24 x 30" block of the unicorn body [thumbs up]!
new block with can for scale 
This block is too big for Lovely Lucille (press) I tried to print it by hand.  And it went very, very badly.  Now, on the one hand, printing something this large by hand is difficult, but on the other, I've printed other blocks of the same material  this size  recently, and it went fine, so I'm starting to think it may not entirely be me.  The thing I printed by hand last month, (part of the Gothic Tree for Greed) was gold, not black. I've also had much more success with the gold than black for polyester plates, so I think it might be the ink (which I have tried with a variety of mediums). If that's the case, it's good timing in a sense because I've almost used up all of it I have and was looking to switch from the process black, which is cool, to a warmer black anyway.  It will take a little bit to track down a new ink and get it shipped, but that's ok, since I'm also out of paper (again - doh.)

Running out of paper also presents an opportunity, picking up on what I was saying last week about wanting to work with larger paper, I researched and found a similar paper to what I use now on a roll.   It's much bigger and cheaper per square inch and would give me more control over the sizes, so I think that's the direction I want to go in (hmmmmmm). It's a slightly different color though (and backordered anyway) so I may order a few sheets in the meantime just to be totally, absolutely sure about the color and texture before committing to a roll. By then, hopefully I'll have solved the ink question...   
shamefully bad proof :( (sadness) - the good news is that the detail in the fur printed and it is the right size for the head.  

 Since that didn't go splendiferously, I changed gears and re-printed one of my favorite tiny blocks - this 3 x 2.25" linocut of Justice.

 In addition to making paper and ink decisions, I've also been looking at some block decisions.  Since my small default blocks were discontinued last year, I've been searching for and testing possible replacements.  McClain's printmaking graciously sent samples of some of their relief blocks, and I'm looking forward to re-carving this same composition for comparison.

On the topic of supplies and blocks, this week I assembled a new tray rack for the studio. I thought this would be a good way to store the blocks.. the up side is it looks like it's going to work great, on the down side, I may have needed a bigger rack (doh! haha).

Loading the new rack with help from both feline assistants
I love how it looks like it's always been there.

 In para-art news, I saw this lovely drawing of a wing.

I also spent some time working my magic to try to reverse some of the puppy wear 'n tear.  
Pup is testing my restoration skills (still need to repaint the darker color and possibly another layer of wood filler and sanding on the outer door jamb, but still, a big improvement -  now let's just hope it stays that way - eep!)
And last, but never least, I think it's time for a feline creature feature, or "what the kitties do while the pup is frolicking in the snow."