Monday, December 5, 2016

An experiment with (fancy) garbage

 Work on the installation continues, and I started putting up landscape elements from the unicorn installation to get a feel for what it might look like with a landscape...but something is not quite right.

Over the printing table is a dry erase board, and each current project or element has a column, and in the column are bullet points of the steps (for example: "Arch" - carve, - print, - refine, -scan, - larger?). Under the heading, "Landscape," there is only one bullet point  "- ???".  It's been that way for over a month.

I know I want the figure to be surrounded by a garden landscape that uses my plant blocks, and I've been researching historic examples and taking photos of any elements I may still need (lots of random photos of grass and pebbles, haha). still wasn't adding up - something is missing. [doh.]

I think the reason has more to do with "why" than "how."  Even if I knew exactly how to build this landscape and had all the necessary blocks and supplies, there would still be a question of what it means.

One thing I would change about the unicorn landscape is that I think it's too simply pretty and doesn't reflect reality enough to connect with the viewer's likely experience of their environment. There is one contemporary element, a discarded lottery ticket I scanned, modified, and turned into a polyester lithography print, but I don't think it goes far enough to have much impact on the content of the piece.

To try to explain with a picture, I think there is a continuum for each artwork between it's relevance and excellence of form, and right now,  it's been aiming for where the X is, but, loving ambiguity and "between-ness," I want it to shoot for the star is, at the point where the question: "is this swatch blue or green?" leads to a mixed result.
This is a round about way of saying that with so much focus on how to make this, it was time for a pause to ask what/why? Conclusion: it needs more garbage.  But not just any garbage, fancy garbage.

I decided it's going to have seven pieces of garbage, all based on things I encounter in my walks, and each representing one of the seven deadly sins.  First up "Superbia," from "super," "above/beyond," and bia," "life" - thinking one's own life is beyond the lives of others in importance (sometimes translated "arrogance," but I think a more contemporary take on this might be narcissism.)  Iconographically, I settled on the Tower of Babel (based on a medieval manuscript version MS Hunter 371 (vol. 1): fol. 5r [Book 1]) and carved a small relief print.

Then I scanned it and turned it into the graphic for a fictional cigarette brand and designed a pack. I turned it into a polyester plate and printed it.

 I want it to have a few points of entrance - on the ground floor, the fact that there is (faux-)commercial garbage in the garden, and then beyond that the graphic, the text, and lastly, on the side I added a slogan in friendly-looking text in English: "Because if will never happen to me!"

I admit to enjoying this, a lot O:) .

With (finally!) some progress on the lower part of the scene, work also continues on the material for the upper part. I'm trying to build a system of modular blocks that can be combined to make different architectural forms (so, for example, with the addition of capitals and columns on the sides it could be an aedicule, or three of them could be placed side by side with pendant bosses between to make an upper frieze.) This 12 x 18" block has been, um, "challenging," [wrist to forehead - dramatic sigh], but it's coming along, bit by bit.

 In other news, "Winter Birds," is printed, framed, and up on the wall as part of the winter show at Gallery 46 until January - thumbs up!

As part of my mission to develop a series of square digital collages to accompany the installation, a new piece this week, "Ring around the Rosie" (which is the first to include the scan of the new initials block - thumbs up. Also, I didn't realize until seeing the photos together for this post, but it uses the exact same color palette as the figure, haha.)
"Ring around the Rosie," digital collage, 11.25 x 11.25" 
And last, but certainly not least, I feel like it's been too long since we had a puppy update! It's gotten harder to photograph her while we're out and about (both hands on the leash!), but I managed to get a good shot of her smile while we were in the conservation area (heart!).
My beautiful little bear is growing up!

Monday, November 28, 2016


We have wings!

(Still working on  how best to photograph them.)
(Also, a second wall covered in cork boards...)

...which the wings, at about 82," exceed by about 4 inches ( - doh).
 I still have half a third wall to work with, and I predict that it also will quickly be put to use. 
work continues on the figure - almost there.
I started at the head, and this week,
I reached the boots. decided to attach
 the laces by just mimicking the way
an actual boot is laced (when in doubt,
build it like what it is ;) ).
 I just happened to be
wearing the boots that
were the models for
the prints, haha.

It's not as exciting to look at, but most of the work on this this week is only really visible on the back - I was glueing, ironing, sewing the parts together, then covering the seems by glueing and ironing a piece of thin but strong mulberry paper (I want to make extra, super, sure that the parts stay together even if one form of attachment fails).  
work continues on the tracery block...sloooooowly 

My feline assistants were both extremely helpful this week...(and now you know why I need walls covered in cork to get things pinned up on the wall whenever I'm not there to watch them.)

my Princess (aka Feline Assistant #1)
and her mini me. (aka Feline Assistant, Jr.) 

We also had "tree day," possibly the kitties
favorite day of the year (Good Human ;) )

Monday, November 21, 2016

marbling, wing, and initials (o my!)

with a can for scale
A busy week in Artlandia!  Picking back up with the second human-scale wing, this week started off with marbling, lots of marbling...  Then printing the 18 x 24" blocks of feathers.
full sheets of stonehenge paper (22 x 30")

new block on left, earlier wing on right -
a very good match (whew!)
I don't love the slight texture on this, which comes
from the surface of the block, but I'm going to wait and
see if it's less pronounced after I cut the feathers out (hmm..)

I'm happy to say that all the feathers are now printed and the second wing is starting to come together! (Also, I finished mounting the cork panels to the wall...and proceeded to immediately fill them. Apparently, one corkboard wall is not quite enough - time to do the adjacent wall O:)?

Other missions this week - I decided I needed a block with my initials so that an identifier could be integral to the work.  I came up with a design, then got to carve it - twice.  The first block turned out great, but for an unknown reason, the surface crumbled when I inked the block for the first time (sadness).  Because printing block to block would have flipped the text, it was back to square one to map out and recarve (on a different surface this time - a precious scrap from one of my favorite, no-longer-manufactured blocks.) Luckily, the second go round, it's looking good (- thumbs up!).
The mysterious surface
damage visible on the left edge.

second times a charm :)

Other projects - I continued working on the tracery block and started mapping out a new block of a firebird. For the bird, I'm trying to combine the sensitivity I admire in Japanese woodblocks of birds with the brutality/decisive edges I see in early Germanic woodblocks. (- We'll see...I feel like the firebird is a good subject, since it seems to have an ambiguous meaning in mythology as a harbinger of destruction and/or rebirth.)   

Speaking of marbling and birds...I also made these lovely ornaments to decorate a wreathe for the upcoming charity auction hosted by the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts to benefit the Pittsfield Food Banks on Dec. 2nd - art for a good cause :).

Last (but not least!), En Masse III opened at Thompson Giroux Gallery - lots of lovely work :).

 Closing with a creature story - Junior loves (loooooves) Lucille, our press. Having claimed the press bed as her special napping spot, she's helped her human establish the good habits of rolling the blankets and covering the press immediately after each use (good Helper? :p )

Monday, November 14, 2016

Assembling the figure

 A busy week in Artlandia!  Continuing to assemble the parts of the figure:

It's slow going - I'm incorporating the stitching so that it either adds on to the contours (like the red stitches in the flower petals), or follows an existing path (for example, the stitches along the edges of the fingers).  Doing it this way, the sewing has to be done by hand, and I'm changing the thread frequently (oy.)  But it is coming together (slooooowly - dramatic sigh!) 

 - I think we have officially exceeded kitty-scale (!)
I also painted and marbled the first 2 rounds of paper and printed parts of the second wing.  I'm working my way up to doing full 22 x 30" sheets of marbling this week and trying to print the 18" MDF blocks (fingers crossed!) 

 The template from last week (polyester lithography plates from one of my small relief  prints, scanned and expanded) made it onto this 12 x 18" block. Chipping away at it (thumbs up!)

I also continued working with the scan of the songbirds and tried two them out in a digital collage. (I enjoy parts of this, but think it still needs just a little something more... [hmmmm]).

Longer term, my goal is to build up to a body of work made up of square digital collages (adding to the 3 that are on exhibition, opening this week at Thompson Giroux Gallery); Installed as set of consistent material, size, and framing, but with a flexible number and arrangement, they could be viewed independently or in conjunction with a large installation piece. They would act like stills from the universe of the installation, and, being edition-able, I could have more than one print of each [ - steeples fingers].

So...I've been wondering - how many would I need (minimum) to make up a good set?  Honestly, I have no idea - 12? If I have (almost) 4, and made 2 a month...[hmmmmm]...