Sunday, June 30, 2013

Phase 8 - not all time is the same (find focus) - Colorado 2

Voila! - It made it home in my carry-on in one piece! Plaster, 6" diameter
first stage
from the Money Museum
show at Coburn Gallery

Gothic style fun
I'm back from Colorado where I was  learning  medallic engraving from micro-metals expert, Laura Stocklin with the American Numismatic Association, thanks to a scholarship from the Gilroy Roberts Foundation. My interest in leaning this technique grows out of my quest to understand the gap between mechanical vs. human copying and love of all things miniature. All students exhibited at the Coburn Gallery, and because I was traveling with my work, I opted to bring 33 minis (which fit in my carry-on, along with all my clothes and tech for the week. (and it wasn't a big size carry-on either, since I had to be able to lift it above my head - yay for minis and portable art!)) It was fun re-visiting work from the Power in Precision Project and the mini-prints. I never thought about it much before, but one constant during the project was that I photographed each mini with a coin. Initially, my thought was to include the coin to provide a sense of scale, but in a way, it's also a juxtaposition of reproduced vs unique art because the coin is a relief sculpture which has been copied by machine millions of times while most of the minis are one off pieces. Lately, I've been wondering whether a work of art looses it's 'aura'/human-ness when it's reproduced and, if so, why/how? One art adventure of the week was visiting the Money Museum and seeing plaster casts from which coins were made (and there was even one with a parrot!) I really enjoyed seeing the designs and plasters for coins, because it reminded me that as many times a coin may be copied, it still needed a human to think, design, and create it. (hmmmmmm.)
fantastical creature 
ceiling full of patterning
wings, lots of wings
Apart from learning a new technique (and my heart does go pitter-patter for new art techniques), I also came across this lovely Romanesque-style (with some Gothic elements) chapel, friendly campus creatures, and beautiful landscape views.

In terms of phase 8 - not all time is the same (find focus), there were a few opportunities to think about this during my travels. I had been to Colorado once before. As a high school student, I visited the same campus, at the same time of year, also on a scholarship to study art (from the Marie Walsh Sharpe  foundation :)). While many things about the setting were the same, time has changed my focus. I'm still "art, art, art, art..." but this time, I concentrated on a specific, specialized technique that reflects my interests. Some things I focus on are the same (I drew cathedral architecture and campus creatures as a high school student too), but I'm better able to capture and express them with a variety of means now (such as photography - I never really liked to take pictures until about a year ago when I received a shock resistant, water/freeze/dust proof, orange camera with rubberized edges, big memory, and a beeping finder tag (love, love)).  

friendly campus creatures
Learning to lead the camera -
 framing and taking the picture before I see the action
I also thought about phase 8 while I was traveling.  Recently, I took the train to Chicago. It was a slightly longer trip than coming back from Colorado (door to door about 16 hours vs. 15 hours) but the way the time felt was very different. Even though the transportation to Chicago was slower, it required less thought and energy from me - all I had to do was walk to the train station and get on. The travel home from Colorado involved a shuttle, a cab, a plane, a tram, a subway, a train, and then a walk. The point is not so much "my travel was stressful" (O Whaaaa!, haha :P), but that time under stress may not be as productive because it requires a longer "recovery" period before I can focus on art. 
Conclusion: technology is not the enemy, distraction is.

 the intrepid explorer of Artlandia ;)

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Just because I'm away from my computer (and photo software) with spotty internet, doesn't mean I'm giving up ;) A busy art week - installed 33 minis for a show at Coburn Gallery earlier this week in Colorado Springs, and now am enjoying the beautiful setting and learning a brand new technique - medallic engraving. More yet to come, but for now...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Phase 8 - not all time is the same - find focus

second try at photographing the most recent collage (28 x 40")

Life imitating Art?
Me last weekend at the Art Institute of Chicago
though my hair has grown out some, I happen to be wearing the same shirt as I was for the collage
 and am posing in front of (my heart be still)
a miniature, Gothic cathedral interior, complete with stained glass (!!!)
Chimeras are everywhere
more Minis!
miniature Gothic Ivory
abstraction at its finest 
Some of my personal favorites from the Art Institute:

Martin Schongauer etching - of a Chimera!
I heart Chagall
I was only in Chicago for one full day, but it was one amazing day of seeing family, eating good food, and taking in lots and lots of art. I got so overwhelmed by all the tiny rooms in the basement that I started to cry and then when I saw the Chagall window, Gothic ivory, masks, and chimeras on top of it, I actually started to feel like I was going to pass out (while this was an extreme-happy reaction, I wasn't able to visit the famous Impressionism galleries or the modern wing this time due to art-shock-overload - motivation to go back!)

Remember the "Parrot Experiment" from February (where I took one of my zoo photos and drew it over and over in a grid)? This week I went back to Zea Mays, (green printmaking studio - I heart) and printed the etching I've been working on since May. I am so happy with how this turned out.

I like this because - I feel the composition is better than the parrot experiment, and I added tiny ants, a spider and web, a fly (little surprises for those who look carefully).  Best of all - now I can make lots of them! (So, I won't feel badly when I cut some up for collages ;)). For the parrot, I used a hard ground etching technique.  I also tried the falcon from April using a soft ground technique which is more sensitive to pressure. While I'm always happy to learn new techniques, I think the hard ground lends itself to my repetitive line making style better.

5 x 7, hard ground etching

I've been thinking about the role and relationship of manual vs mechanical processes used to produce the parrot print and the chain activities goes something like this:

digital print
re-draw (x 10)
re-digital print
transfer drawing to plate
draw on plate

Mini print (October 2012)
Vanitas (May 2013)
And that's not counting other iterations:
Lacrimae Rerum (March 2013)
(including Miniature #43)
(May 2012)

the decision, 14 x 42," oil on canvas, 2009 (my student work - o my)
Miniature #2 (August 2011)

Mini Salon (March 2013)

On the one hand, it's maybe "not the most convenient" decision to make work that's about inefficiency; however, moving forward from process-heavy/time-consuming/focus-demanding as a starting point, learning etching is a way to address "scalability."

Last week, I mentioned Timothy Ferriss's The 4 Hour Workweek, and one issue Ferriss brings up is that entrepreneurs (my read: artists) focus on product creation to the exclusion of planning how to scale up their business (art-making) model in a way that makes their use of time not just efficient, but effective. I feel like I've chosen to work in this particular (inefficient) way, but I still want to try to work effectively within that model (cutting up originals for collages is not effective, no, no, no). Etching could allow me to use all the labor that goes into creating a piece like the parrot more than once (so not streamlining the process, just making sure it results in a batch instead of a single piece). Hmmmmm, I think I like it.

My feline assistants cannot help with printmaking; however, they are hard at work providing comic relief:

Sitting at my desk, I hear purring, but see no kitten on my lap -
O wait, there's a kitty inside my desk - ha!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Phase 8 - not all time is the same - find focus

You know when I said last week that I wasn't going to focus on making more new things?...
cough-self-deception-cough, cough)) ;)
The theme for phase 8 - "Not all time is the same - find focus" grows out of my musings on things taking longer than I anticipate.  In shifting my focus from space to time management for the Tempus Fugit project, I decided to do some research to get started. (Funny pattern that emerged in phase 7 - All the books that have influenced me the most recently (by Thoreau, Gretchen Rubin, Charles Duhigg, and Daniel Kahneman) have been audio books that I listened to while walking and cleaning (plus, they were all free - from the library or librivox - so no fancy cups of coffee were sacrificed - double smiley face)).

I got the ball rolling by listening to The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. The book assumes a separation between income-producing activity and vocation that I'm still undecided on, but I found it interesting in terms of managing a business that adds abstract value (Ferriss focuses on nutritional supplements and IT, but I think art-making could also fall under this heading.) One idea I found interesting and decided to test - Ferriss asserts that attention is more valuable than time because meaningful action requires focus which, in turn, depends on minimizing distractions. (A favorite quote of mine from Thoreau puts it this way “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” - as a picture person, I "talk about" this by including ants in almost every art piece I make ;)). Ferriss recommends a few strategies to minimize "busy work" (distractions) and increase the amount of attention available self-selected priorities: automation, batching, and task elimination. I'm taking a step toward this by eliminating some things from my "life to do" list.

I'm super-excited about this week's work!

A break down of the parts:
The  overall technique developed out of Miniature #33 of March 2012. The portrait portion is a second pass at a drawing from September that I wasn't happy with (and has been  on the studio wall since then, waiting to become something more than "adequate.")  I finally included the city photo I was so excited about in January. The designs in the circles at the top are the tiny prints from the fall and winter. The column bases and Medieval cities and rocks are from photos I took at the Art Institute of Chicago over the weekend (more about that later - my heart be still!). The gold stamps are the same that appear in The Framed (black scroll work) and The Open-hearted, and the repeating birds take the place of the figures in The Refrain (all on view at: The landscape was inspired by Italy. I reused some of the plants from "Neo-Gothic" of two weeks ago and the map pieces were scraps from the recent Fortuna and some of the pattern fabric and columns are left over from Lacrimae Rerum (big collage).

That's a break down of where the stuff comes from (probably more than anyone ever wanted to know ;)) - but what is it?  The whole thing is adhered to a foam core poster display board (like the kind used for science fair displays!) The sides fold over the front (the pieces in the photo are a little wonky because I haven't permanently adhered them yet). It's self-protecting and super light-weight to move and ship. It can either stand on a table or be mounted to a wall. (Plus I get to decorate the back :)). The edges will be finished off with fabric tape like the edges of a board game.

To me, the whole thing feels like an idiosyncratic conglomeration of  school project + board game + Medieval Italian triptych/Cosmateque work.

On the one hand, occupying a space with enough continuity to bring the elements together (not just conceptually, but literally - having all the materials at hand and organized enough to find quickly and easily) has been critically important for me; but (but...) it seems like having distraction-free time is also essential. Hmmmmm- I'm rambling (I know I do) but to summarize:

I made something new this week that builds on past work, and I'm over-the-moon happy, because I feel like I'm starting to make the work I most want to make. (Thumbs up :D !!!)

I love to photograph "repetition with variations" 
and couldn't resist this - 
purring and dozing in harmony on "their" bed.

Kitty update - Mini had her first vet visit (she's healthy and was very brave.) (Warning:  proud-kitty-parent-gush ahead -) I'm amazed that 2 lbs of mass can contain all the tiny, perfect pieces that work together to propel this rambunctious, soft, little creature ( She's already a "helper," and she and Sunny are "adjusting" to one another.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Space/time management decision: I'm going to try posting Wednesday night/Thursday mornings instead of Sunday night/Monday mornings (since I'm no longer on an academic schedule and Wednesday, the library is open until 8 pm (a key factor to working on the blog without feline "help" keeping the keyboard warm ;))

Who me?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Between Phases

Big News! - look who came into my life this week. (:D!!)

sooo smart - she has already figured out that Mom's favorite chair is an excellent napping spot

Looks like I will have a second adorable feline assistant (who I am thinking of naming "Mini")!

(Ok, gush, completed, haha, back to art ;)). This week I refined some existent pieces:

"The Forest of And, And, And"
 - filled in all the spaces between the letters with tiny, red parallel lines

- added a layer of transparent black to the whole piece

-added white tiny parallel lines to the figure to connect the figure and background stylistically

-added the back layer of black (it's textured wallpaper, spray painted and mounted to cardboard) to both frame the central portion and close the edges so that no open space comes into contact with the picture plane (making it even more "airless")

"Neo-Gothic" (below) will be on display this summer as part of the exhibition "Clothing Optional" at the National Association of Women Artists Gallery in New York ( :)! ). I thought some more about emphasis by reduction and decided to try again on the back panel (one of the things I like about collage it allows me to wait longer and test out different things before making a commitment - it's a very "flexible" medium in that sense (love).) This time, I wanted to make the back panel using a single color so that the orange and blue in the main panel stand out more. Making this was painful (I desperately wanted to add gold, black, blue and neon yellow at various times during the process), but I'm glad I stuck it out because I think it works(?!?)
Neo-Gothic (Iris)

I hadn't realized how similar in concept the scalped edges of the paper in "the forest of and, and, and" (above) are to the shaped and mitered edges of the panels in "Neo-Gothic" (right). Still thinking that through, but it looks like going back into these may have been a good idea...

speaking of "and, and, and"...
I couldn't help myself from making new things too ( ;)).
A very exciting opportunity arose  to make a larger scale installation piece for DownStreet Art this summer! I've started on another giant collage, except this time, I'll mount the parts directly to the wall. Picture this - an entire menagerie of Chimeras (!!!!!) These are the "first batch":

Mini is already learning to be a good little studio helper by establishing scale and 
acting as my "fur model" (while napping, naturally)
It was a full week, and in a para-art, life adventure - I traded a drawing for some help identifying the plants in the yard (and then did lots of weeding). It may take a while, but now I know what's poisonous (always a good thing to know!), and can work towards reducing down to what's colorful and/or smells nice - Beautiousness!