Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tracery, Snow Leopard, Birds

12 x 22" new tracery block
 sitting on the press bed
 A busy week in Artlandia! I finished the tracery block and proofed it - thumbs up!  This is a pretty subtle block with lots of very tiny cuts, so I was worried they wouldn't show up in the print. 

detail of first proof
The good news is I did get most of the detail to show up in a proof; the bad news is that it seemed like each time I printed it, some of the detail "filled in." I don't think the block healed over, but I may have to clean it and let it dry between prints and/or try proofing it with a slightly stiffer ink.

For now, I was just excited that the detail showed up in the proof, and I got to see it with the turrets. I'm relieved that they seem to co-ordinate well.

new tracery block proof with proofs of the turrets
Once the tracery block was proofed, I wanted to carve a new block.  It was the first block I've ever carved in my home studio without Sunny by my side.  I miss her very much and since carving was something we always did together, at first, it was just too sad working without my faithful feline assistant. One of my friends had the good idea to carve a block that in some way reminded me of Sunny, so that I could be thinking of her in a happy way while working and making something to honor her.  Sunny had beautiful, fluffy fur - I loved brushing her and she was very proud of her long silky coat and thick mane. I decided to carve a snow leopard. 

Having this block material in a roll allows me to carve larger. (The minimum is 12" for the width of the roll instead of  9" for the 9 x 12" pre-cut blocks). So, this is a slightly larger scale than the previous animal I've carved from this material.  It didn't feel that different to me, but I'm glad for the extra size/ greater detail because I'm thinking that I will follow the same process that I used with the fox - scan the print and blow it up to use as a template for a life-scale block. 

proof of 12 x 15" new block of snow leopard
I'm very happy that the detail from the block showed in the proof, but I had almost the exact same problem I had with the tracery block - the detail "filled in" with each subsequent print. Between this block and the tracery block, I quickly ran through the end of my paper roll before I was able to work out this issue (which may be for the best because I was getting pretty frustrated.)  Sometimes I find an issue can be fixed just by completely cleaning everything and starting again from the beginning. So I cleaned the block and my work area and will try again when the new roll of paper arrives.

Since I'm out of the large grey paper that I usually use,  I went ahead and finished an experiment I'd started a few weeks ago that was intended for black paper. I had scanned one the prints from one of my bird blocks, inverted it, drew on a print out, re-scanned it. I combined the new image with the scan of the winding key block I made 2 weeks ago to make a polyester lithography plate to print in gold on black paper of new automata bids. I think it worked pretty well and am in the process of printing more of these to use in upcoming collages. 

I also re-proofed some recent bird blocks on letter sized paper.  I liked these, but thought the first state was a little too dark, so I carved away a little more to make them brighter and try to get the heads to really come forward over the bodies.  Seeing them with the automata, which is based on a bird block from 2014, I can see how I started with poses with limited foreshortening and am gradually working toward more complex (and lively) poses. 

 "Endless Forms - Most Beautiful" at Scarlet Seven Gallery 
In other art news - I got to see two great shows in Troy - "Endless Forms - Most Beautiful" at Scarlet Seven Gallery and "Please Exit: Doors are Closing" at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.  

Tatana Keller, "Please Exit: Doors are Closing
"at The Arts Center of the Capital Region

In creature news, I know poor Junior misses her big sister (how can she be Feline Assistant Junior without Feline Assistant Senior?) I've been giving her lots of snuggles, and she's been sticking close.  One thing I changed in the studio was the carving pillow - it was just too sad for me seeing the carving pillow without Sunny on it. As we can see, Jr. has taken to the replacement pillow immediately and is ready and eager to assist. 

Honey has had an exciting week - she got a beautiful new harness from her Grandma (size XL - she's all grown up now :) ). It's nice and orange and we got to test it out on our first trip to the conservation area for 2018. 

Miscellaneous nature shots: 
A no-filter sunrise in Hudson
A no-filter sunset...from the parking lot of the big box store.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sunny - Much-Loved Feline Assistant

Sunny and my mom at the thesis show - the very first blog entry.
It's been a very sad few days in Artlandia.  Sunny, my Princess, Feline Assistant, Sr. died Saturday night after a long struggle with a chronic health condition that had recently taken a turn for the worse.

For the last 12 years - Sunny was my constant companion and helper in the studio.  She was there assisting from the very first blog entry to the launch of the most recent project.

She took her role as Feline Assistant, Sr. seriously. She was there with me from my first explorations into printmaking. She was there while I gradually acquired the tools of the trade and practiced, practiced, practiced, relief carving skills.

She sat next to me or sphinx-like on my back while I worked.

 She could frequently be found keeping the carving pillow warm, 

or guarding the blocks.

She was always ready to print - day or night...

...and then help keep the prints and collage parts in place

She was happy to pose with artwork to help provide a sense of scale.

...and was never caught napping on the job (ok, she was often found napping on the job - after all, she was a kitty.)  Sleeping many hours a day and keeping the human company for many hours at a time in the studio seemed to be enjoyably compatible activities for her.

Looking back at the photo of Sunny and Junior 2 weeks ago - now I wonder if my Princess allowing Junior to take the middle of the carving pillow (not typical) while she sat beside her, and Junior, ever-doting, gave Sunny a kiss on the head was Sunny's way of passing the studio assistant torch.
 She was my cuddly companion outside the studio too, and I want to end with these, because "kitty-toy-tree season" was her favorite time of year - from first Christmas to last and all the days in between, Sunny brought great joy to her human. She was a loving, loyal, and fabulous feline assistant and very, very loved by her human, little sister, and pup. Artlandia won't be the same without Sunny - she will be greatly missed.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Executive Decision! - Weekly Blog date changing to Tuesday

After the difficulties posting last week, I got to thinking that it might be better to post the blog on Tuesdays/Wednesdays instead of Monday, so I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes - back tomorrow :)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Swallows opening, Michelangelo exhibit, Gothic arches

...and we're back!  Back at my home away from home (i.e. the library O:) ) after holiday and snow closings.  Lots to report from Artlandia.

First - 10 Artists/ 10 Pieces opened at the Hotchkiss School.  I was so excited to see the whole show and that my installation piece, "Swallows," looked just like I had imagined it :) ! Even though I planned and planned, I didn't get to test it all together due to space constraints, so it's a relief to see it installed and working just like it should - no birds were tangled or down - whew!

It was also very nice that my parents were able to come to the opening!  They got in and out during the brief thaw :).

Me with my Mom and Dad and a pseudo-sky full or swallows.
Look at that relieved face!
- I think making the different size birds
to extend the space (like faux-perspective)
really worked.

Now that the "Swallows," have officially flown from nest...it was time to break into my new roll of block material. Even though it arrived in late October, I had promised myself I would break into it until the swallows project was completely finished - it was time. 

new 12 x 22" block with template from older block on the left
 and a print out of the template on the right 
The new roll of material is 12" wide and yards long, so it's a good fit for a new tracery block that's taller than it is wide. This is a larger block based on the central portion of the 12 x 18" tracery block I carved about a year ago when I thought my favorite block material was discontinued forever.  The thing about it is, the block material was so soft and thick that it was difficult to get it to hold as much detail as I wanted and then, it was very, very difficult to print - it was so soft that the cuts sort of healed back together (which it why for the next Gothic element I carved, the turret, I switched to MDF, which holds lots of detail. but has it's own set of issues.) One of my favorite Gothic blocks is still the finial I carved in 2014 - one of my early blocks (I took it out for inspiration and it's in the picture on the left).  So, while I like some things about the older tracery block, I've never been completely satisfied with it, and having renewed access to my favorite block material seems like a good reason to try again.  I scanned the best proof and changed some of the things that bothered me (I elongated the proportions, evened up the symmetry, and made it about 40% bigger), then transferred it to the new, toned, block as a template.  Then I carved and carved and carved...

block in progress with toes for scale and a proof of the older block in the background.
I also used the block scraps that I cut off from along the roof line. I carved and proofed this winding key (I have plans for this (steeples fingers :) )

There was also an art-adventure to New York City to see the Michelangelo exhibition at the Met!
from a visit to "Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer,"
at the the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Oooooo - it was wonderful!  I had been wanting to see this very badly, but was worried that it was going to be too crowded for me.  Luckily, it was all good. I was extra (extra!) excited to see the large scale cartoons - the preparatory drawings which I feel help reveal the process, and because they are rare and super fragile, are not often displayed. Almost impossible to choose a favorite, but I particularly liked this drawing - and I think it's funny that he let the feet trail off like that which, academically, is a no-no. 

I also liked the non-Michelangelo pieces that were included in the exhibition for comparison and/or to show his designs executed by other artist. One of my favorite was this Hellenistic sleeping Hypnos - ahhhhh those wings!

Tom checking out part of Nene Humphrey's Transmission
It was perfect timing because Tom McGill and I also got to go to some openings, including seeing Nene Humphrey, Ken Buhler, and Ellen Driscoll's work at Lesley Helller Workspace.  

It's been a very busy week!  And outside of art there was snow, lots and lots of snow. 

This made a particular Wonder-pup very happy.

She also seems pretty happy recharging inside while the Human drinks coffee to warm up.