Monday, September 21, 2015

phase 8 - make the right choice easy(er), more more

A busy week in Artlandia!

Work continued on the 5 blocks a week mini-project, but first...

I don't regret trying to squeeze in a mini-project, but one reason I was initially hesitant is that it's not the only iron in the fire right now. I love mini-projects, but also want to make sure to follow through with other, the first things I did this week weren't mini-project related, but more fledermaus(es) [ or "fledermice" ? :p ] - Preparing for the upcoming exhibition En Masse II  at Thompson Giroux Gallery later this fall:

Fledermaus 2 and 3, 12 x 12," collage on marbled paper 

 Though maybe not entirely disconnected from the mini-project, because I used the digger block from last week and reprinted the flowers with a more transparent ink.

This think this shot with the non-transparent ink in the center left and
transparent ink on the right side does a great job to showing the difference
between the two - I find the flowers printed in the more transparent a much better
density for collage (the earlier ones always felt too heavy to me) - thumbs up!

One aspect that I'm especially proud of with these is the trompe l'oeil effect in the background that I used to merge the pieces - the stems of the flowers are printed on a mustard color paper, and I used watercolor and ink to match the negative spaces with the surrounding green marbled paper (and a picture is worth a 1000 words on this as well...)

with a paper behind to show the division between the pieces
On the one hand, the elements coordinate well (and I think that's part of what makes the piece feel sort of uncanny); on the other hand, success at this is measure by how invisible the technique is, by how easily it can be screened off, so in a sense it feels a little like a pyrrhic victory - I'm getting so good at erasing myself! [- haha] I enjoy these, but at the same time worry that they read as just some funny little things I put together - that the light tone an bright colors may make the thought and skill that goes into them too easy to overlook/discount [hmmmm...will have to think more on this....].

Onward to the mini-project! Blocks/Plates #6 - 10

plate #6 - the Fool 

#7 - Justice 
a view of the plate - printing these  didn't go as smoothly as one might like
(my first time using these plates, which are slightly thicker than the earlier tiny tarot plates
 - will need to bevel down the front edge further on the next round of plates).
This just highlighted for me the fact that the aspect I most enjoy isn't the prints, but the metal itself.
Not sure what it is, but I polished and burnished different areas, and there's
something so satisfying about the differing levels of shininess :)  
In terms of phase 8 - make the right choice easy(er), I knew it was going to be an art-challenging week to try to make 5 new blocks/plates in addition to the fledermice (...and a residency application, and an exhibition proposal - eep!) I decided that the easiest plates to attempt would be the Fool and Justice for the tiny tarot this week. Because I'd done the research and prep work for similar pieces in copper on a larger scale in July, it felt like I had a head start.

For blocks #8 and 9 I tried another multi block repeating pattern:

blocks #8 and 9 

Workshop of Master of the Cologne Arms
German 15th Century
Master of the Cologne Arms
German, active c. 1470/1480
in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The pattern is based on the type of patterns seen in Byzantine textiles (which made their way into Italian and Northern European prints as well - to the left is a good example of the use of repeating patterns in Northern European block prints)  

 I made it modular so that I could change out the content of the roundel,  and I made some modifications to the pattern to account for the change in material- adding the small notches around the roundel both help equalize the pressure on the block so that it will print clearly and help me register the roundel.  

The circular symbol is the "biohazard" sign - attempting to use an old technique/form in a way that is relevant to the present.

Here is what it looks like in the proof all together: (This is 24 rounds of printing - 9 for the square and 15 of the roundels - O my :o ) 

8.5 x 11" - blocks #8 and 9
By the time I got to block #10, the week was drawing to a close.  It was (very) tempting to do a less ambitious block, but I really wouldn't want to use the quantitative aspect of the project as an excuse to avoid making the blocks I most need. And the block I most needed was going to be a challenge now or later.

The main focus of last week's trip to the Cloisters was studying/ photographing drapery folds on a raised right arm. The research was there, the tools were ready, the block was prepared. Of course, none of the views I photographed were exactly what I was looking for, and I started to get caught up trying to figure out what would be the best way to merge and transfer the views. Ultimately, I decided that the best "tool" for merging different views and filling in the gaps with something plausible to make up a new image - is the human mind, haha.  I ended up not transferring anything and just drawing directly on the block: 

...and this was the moment when I realized it was going to be the
wrong sleeve (doh!), but then I decided "I really wanted to
carve a mirror image of the hand and reverse the gesture."
(this is actually true - I had been considering rearranging the composition,
but this  made that decision easier ;) )
drawing on block - not the prettiest,
but very functional

proof of block #10, 8.5 x 11," I think it turned out pretty well - a good first attempt [thumbs up! :) ]
Para-art activity was somewhat limited this week (something had to give to get that last block made ;) ) - but there are always (always) cute kitty moments - like when Feline Assistant #1 used the step ladder Mom left out to paint the walls to jump to the top shelf. I heard her bell and knew she was in the room, but didn't see her right away...until I looked up just in time to save the bird mobile from becoming a kitty toy (and take a photo, haha). Also, time spent in the conservation area - I'm usually pretty good at spotting creatures, but now that the leaves are starting to fall I almost missed this little frog.