Saturday, November 29, 2014

More Parrots

I'm posting a little early, because I'll be barricaded in the studio tomorrow trying to finish this for a deadline...
30 x 30" - like the 6 x 6" "Excerpts from the Magical Land of No,"  this is 'life scale,' only now the frame of reference is a human instead of a bird, and so it's bigger...having trouble deciding about the shirt...
I inherited those pink flowers in the bottom of the tub
 I've been working toward this for a while, but got held up on the marbling and the hand. the 30th is the deadline, so I figured it's now or never and I started off the week with marbling (check). I've been having trouble getting metallic pigments dense enough to show up in the marbling process, so I gave up and added them by hand with a metallic watercolor pencil, and I'm happy with the results.

drawing in ballpoint on the block 
carving on the block,
Then, on to the main reason I've been dragging my feet on this - I'd been putting off carving the hand, because I knew it would be difficult (it was, but then, waiting wasn't making it easier, so... ;) )

two thumbs up - a good likeness!
new helicopter block - about 10% smaller
and facing the opposite direction
from the "bunny with helicopter" one.
came across this - Goltzius's Right Hand, 1588
Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, 1558–1617)
Pen and brown ink; 9 x 12 5/8 in. (23 x 32.2 cm)
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
In a round about way this brings me back to Goltzius - I saw his amazing ink painting in Philadelphia in June (- I'd never seen anything like it and would like to see more/again - that first time, all I could really take in was the hand and the wings (yum); but I digress...) So, one of the things I liked about the ink painting was the added light tones. I didn't think they were showing up well enough in the I dunked the whole thing in the gray marbling ( :o - this is part of why it's an excellent thing that it's a print and one of several and not a drawing ;) ) I was a little nervous about dipping it in the tub, but I think it worked out well - the marbling connects the raptor and the space around it and adds a layer of organic patterning like in real feathers and the white ink shows up better.

While I was marbling, I also set to work on three pieces for the show "Art & Politics" opening at 46 Green Street, Dec. 6th.

together they make a sort of "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" triangle
I have mixed feelings about the theme because I don't think of my work as political (except maybe in the sense that all artwork that rejects efficient adequacy as its goal might be read as defiant). I don't really engage with politics because, to me, it's like standing on the deck of a sinking ship arguing about which theoretical model lifeboat would be the best. (Or, put another way - it's like I'm being asked:"which do you prefer, apples or oranges?" and my response is "purple.") But I gave it my best shot - I used common, publicly available forms as a starting point and marbled them and added gold. Using their content to provide context, I chose quotations and wrote them by hand in the speech scrolls and put them in the mouths of the parrots. My hope is that, though they're ominously funny, maybe a little obnoxious, and still somehow beautiful rather than bitter.

Out patient encounter form with Freud: "Life as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains." from Civilization and its Discontents

Pre-nuptial agreement with Anais Nin: "Anxiety is love's greatest killer."

tax form with Pericles: "Where the rewards for merit are greatest, there are found the best citizens." 
from  his funeral oration in Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War.

Para-art - trying (realllly hard) to see the snow as 'picturesque'...

It kind of looks like (cold, wet) Pollock painting, right?

Sunday, November 23, 2014


polyester plate lithograph, 18 x 14" pronto plate on grey stonehenge paper. I drew the raptor on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, off to the printmaking studio and printed 12 (whew!)

I started adding some ink and acrylic to some - excited to try finishing these in different ways

 I also printed the plants, flowers, and parrots on the marbelized paper I made last week

The fine marks held up well in the prints (thumbs up!)

I couldn't decide on a color for the flowers (...and, and, and)

I drew this before the workshop and learning
more about handling the plates
(hence the background "noise" that is in the plate
- oops!Good thing I have scissors to help
make that go away ;) )
Just starting to mess with these to see
how they might go together
All in all, I pulled 47 prints on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, I stripped wallpaper, sanded and painted the hallway and made no art. None.

Because I like learning new techniques, I sometimes worry that it seems like I just gather up techniques for techniques sake, but I don't think that's really true. I'm not able to explain it very well with words, but I feel like I need this technique as the complement to relief printing so that I can work in both positive and negative directions at the same time (which I see as a fundamental characteristic of what I want my work to do/be.) 

[I'm about to nerd-out - fair warning :) ] I've mentioned before that I love (love) the Nuremberg Chronicle - one thing I really admire about it is how in a single scene, an object, like tree trunk or roof line will be carved in both the positive and the negative within the same plate. (To illustrate better than I'd ever be able to explain (and a lot prettier too), I've taken a picture and added the circles:)
a detail of "Saltzburg," from the Nuremberg Chronicle, - in the upper right - tree trunk is dark on light background;
then just inches below in the lower left  - tree trunks light
bound by line surrounded by dark background.
This brings me back to my conclusion from Tempus Fugit 1 - that everything takes longer than I think it will. I made the skull plant for the "Forest of And, And, And" exhibition last July by scanning a found card of a plant, digitally modifying and printing it, then drawing and collaging on top. It worked as a place holder, but I wanted to be able to make my own plant images on a bigger scale/quantity.

The location of this (as we can see by the tank and tissue roll in the
lower left) ensures that I have been looking at it
every day, several times a day for the last 16 months.
It's taken me over a year to: determine, what it is (a reproduction of a late 15th - early 17th century N. European woodcut); find good examples (I heart Gerard's herbal!); get an economic/accessible version to spent lots of time with (for less than 3 fancy cups of coffee - a version with the image disc from Dover ). Then evaluate what's the best way to go about making this type of image now (polyester plate lithography didn't exist back then - yay technology ;)). Learn this technique, and finally practice it (on-going - Eep!) 

My desire for this technique is not random, but I feel like I still have so (so) far to go before I can use it the way that I imagined.

It was a good time for an art-time-out, and this  weekend I visited with my family in New York and we went to see exhibitions together at the Morgan Library and the Met. I loved the Crusader Bible at the Morgan, and "Death Becomes Her" show of Victorian mourning clothes at the Met costume center. We also saw "Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry" which I'd been looking forward to! (and I don't think I was tormenting my parents with wanting to look at tapestries for hours - I think it's more a case of the apple doesn't fall far from the tree).

I was impressed with the scale of the tapestries, and it was an informative to see preparatory drawings and even pieces of the cartoons close to the finished textile pieces. Naturally, one of my favorite parts was seeing the parrots and birds in the decorative borders, but the scenes themselves were ambitious in their scale and complexity too. Another favorite part was a multi-part woodcut that Coecke made based on his travels and a panel painting of Lovers Surprised by a Fool and Death which I was interested in for the content and association of the Fool with Death.  On the one hand, I like seeing what's possible, on the other hand, it sort of makes me feel lame and under-ambitious (how can I make room scale pieces on fabric too? Hmmmmm (and uh oh)).

I also went to the Museum of Natural History with my dad which was lots of fun. It's a little funny because even though it's not an art museum, it's like art is a google glass that overlays everything I see... 
posed just like Durer's
I'd been thinking that the parrots in Master P.W. of Cologne's 
cards must be African Grey's because of the date of the artwork.
(They look like they're drawn from life and what types of parrots would the
 artist have had that much access to at that time )
After looking at the markings and beak shape closely, I think that they are
(- which means the colors in the hand painted versions may have been added later - hmmmmm.).
Azurite - used to make blue paint in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (so pretty!)
and an owl, just because :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Phase 5 - Again, again, again...

I know, in my enthusiasm, I just posted the "Bunny and Helicopter" on Friday, but it's been a busy weekend, so going ahead with the Monday post as usual :)
Not quite done - still a little gluing left and work around the birds feet, but I made this over the weekend, trying a new technique on the same rose print in Bunny. Usually, I cut things out, but on this one, I tried to do the opposite by marbelizing the paper and painted it in by adding (unbleached titanium) white to the area around the plant. I like that it setts off the plant, but is transparent enough that there is still some continuity between the plant and the background.
a new little snail block - so cute :)

pictured at an angle so that the web, drawn in silver, shows u p for the camera
 There was a collage party for the closing of Rock, Paper, Scissor. I had a fun time and made two little collages on origami paper

Most of the weekend was devoted to drawing on polyester plates - On Tuesday, I'm headed to Zea Mays to try printing polyester plates on my own for the first time (fingers crossed - wish me luck :))

I had ambitions to try something "really big," - then I started drawing, and, it's amazing how within 24 hours, this 12" plate started to feel  "gigantic-enough for the first go round" hahaha  

Not sure this will be ready in time, but I couldn't quite let go of the idea of "big" (- Him who strives, we save ;) )
and, yes, that is a paw holding down the upper corner of the drawing board for me - what would I do without
my feline assistants :) 
New mascot creature from my last visit to Northampton. (birds, birds, birds)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bonus! Bunny and Helicopter

I got it done in time for my submission and just hit 'send' !

30 x 20" (for now I'm calling it 'Bunny with helicopter')
A plane was almost but not quite right for this, so I carved this fun new helicopter

the rose bush is from the polyester plate I printed 2 weeks ago.
Some of the flowers didn't turn out in the original prints, so I decided to
try something new - I marbelized the print (in the bath tub again) and made
the roses by cutting out and layering a block print and collaging it on top (thumbs up :)) 

Once the bath tub is a total mess, there's no reason to stop there (at least that's what I tell myself ;) ); so, I marbelized more paper for the background and to use next week testing out a new paint.