Monday, September 30, 2013

phase 1 redux - appreciate and develop expertise

"Tinyland" at New River Community College in Dublin, VA
through December
So many art-adventures last week that I couldn’t write about everything all at once. In addition to the opening of "Tinyland" in Virginia and trip to Luray Caverns, there were two other art-relevant time/space events:

1)   the dark half of the year has commenced

2)  the feline assistant and I celebrated the one year anniversary of our move to Hudson (!)

The first one is not so good. Even though it’s still nice outside– I sort of feel like foliage is a conspiratorial form of beauty to distract from the fact that each day is a little bit darker than the one before it. (“Light” is on the “things I like” list – top 3). One of the first things I did when I moved was add lamps and start adjusting the color and brightness of all the bulbs. It’s kind of a weird and foolish thing to spend energy on, but it matters to me, and it bothers me that I haven't gotten it right yet (a “space” mission for the coming months.)

Reception n Virginia -
thanks to the fabulous and amazing Tammy!
It starts with an owl with a candle inside,
progresses to cookies in the middle, and ends
with diet soda with lots of ice. (Mmmmm).All on
an orange tablecloth with intricate, open-cut
leaves.and tiny transparent fall-themed baubbles
(and that's The Scream  in the background)
(Perfection !!!)
The happier thing is that I'll have a chance to work on this - the feline assistants and I have now been living in Hudson for a year! (Well not Mini, because she hadn’t been born yet, but she’s part of the family now J). I can’t believe it - 10 years, 3 countries, 5 states, 12 cities - and I'm here, living in the same place for a year with lots of nice people and no impending move hanging over me(!) I'm looking forward to seeing things for a second time. I'll be like: “well, last winter…[blah, blah, blah]” haha!

But on to the concrete aspects of the project (enough of this “reflecting,” onward to the art!) In Virginia, I gave a workshop on tiny printmaking. I loooove tiny prints and was super happy to share. In terms of expertise, I'm not sure I'm there yet - my total knowledge could easily be condensed into about 45 minutes of lecture and demonstration. On the other hand, it’s quick to say: “put your guide hand behind the carving hand so you don’t stab yourself,” but it is pretty helpful to have it explained (because sometimes, learning by doing hurts ;)). The printmaking 1 class and guests did a fantastic job! I hope everyone had fun and that (besides ways to avoid getting hurt) I was able to show that everyone can make things with devotion of time and attention - the tools and materials for tiny prints are about the cost of two fancy cups of coffee, and they fit easily in a sandwich container. Yay for tiny-art-making!

Prints from the demo used
in Viriginia
Trying to follow my own advice...I’ve had awesome opportunities to study and learn about engraving from experts, have obtained the tools and materials, and researched historic examples.

That whole "kitty-free-zone" idea -
good in concept...
(how's that working out?) haha
For me, learning a new technique feels like starting over, and this one may take a very long time to master (if I ever do), but then, that's not really an excuse for delaying (meep.)

 I’m using what I already know – I made this tiny print as the demo in Virginia. Engraving is a similar technique, but more difficult because the material provides more resistance (which is also what allows it to hold more intricate detail). The action of carving is similar, and it gave me a chance to practice with this image. I printed it directly onto the toned resin block so the resulting print will be a mirror image of the initial tiny print. It's pretty complicated iconography to start with (tiny horse with wings!), but even though I may be kind of setting myself up for failure, I'm going to go for it anyway (because it's not that big a deal if I mess up and better to have a bad image of something I want than a good image of something I don’t want, no?).
As-yet uncarved, toned resingrave block with transfer print

hmmmm - I’m can feel myself getting distracted haha - less talk, talk, talk, and more carve, carve, carve ;)

Friday, September 27, 2013


I turned the gallery into a wonder cabinet  with mini wonder cabinets inside - fractal-like expansion of art!
I stopped along the way at Luray Caverns 

 I was expecting to see a mermaid emerge,  any minute

the intrepid explorer of Artlandia - very happy. Seeing the all-over
surface detail in the caverns was like looking at a Gothic Cathedral
(patterns within patterns within patterns - my heart be still!)

I framed this piece for the SECAC show in October (and straightened it before mailing - yay for digital photos ;)).

I'm liking the mixture of painted
elements and 3D collage :)
I added the ants right before heading to Virginia,
forgot, and tried to brush them off when I got home - success 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

phase 1 redux - appreciate and develop expertise, update

This time, I think it’s really done (and framed J!)
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"– so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
One thing I realized during Tempus Fugit is that part of the reasons I like minis is that unless an artwork is tiny, I really can’t see it as a unit. Looking at larger work as a picture on screen is a way of getting around this. It's "a triumph of technology," but also, kind of a pain, because now that I also feel obligated to fix things. Case and point, I was all excited thinking the owl was done Monday - then I looked at the photos (dramatic sign ;)). (I thought the blue needed to reach up into the center, the red needed to expand down, and the white background of the horizontal bar was too harsh.) Luckily, these things could all be addressed by...(you guessed it ;)) yet another layer of patterning within patterning. 
blue lines between lines added with a .005 micron pen
(Now I'm really done, because that's the smallest size pen I have!)
In the Forest of And, And, And, the new year starts in early September, so for the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and considering how to move forward with Redux. When in doubt – research! Since my focus is on time management and appreciating expertise I decided to read about the habits of art experts. I read "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey (love, love - not only is it well researched, but also there's a beautiful fluidity to the logic connecting each segment with the next – two thumbs up). I also liked how eccentric a lot of the artists in the book are.
Reading about the routines of artists, it occurred to me that I don't know much about the lives of many of the artists whose work I admire. Because I'm gearing up for woodblock engraving, I decided to read a book about Albrecht Durer - The World of Durer: 1471 – 1528 by Francis Russell. It had nice pictures, and I did learn some things – like that Durer made an entire monument out of paper? (Oooooo, right?!)
When it comes to the “developing expertise” part of this mission, I’ve been thinking that because I'm making "between" places, they should be populated with living things created with a variety of media.  I love learning about (creature-friendly) materials and techniques, but there are so so many, and new things are being developed all the time. I used a new kind of paint for the owl piece - Golden high flow acrylics (I only have a little bit to test out, but my impression so far: it’s the viscosity of ink, but with the opacity, matte finish, and drying time of acrylic.) I’ve been thinking I may not mix colors for a while and work mostly in black, white, grey, and pure, straight-out-of-the tube colors. Maybe limiting my materials will help me find focus? (hmmmmm.)
In other art news and adventures – I went to the opening of the 124th Annual Members Exhibition  for the National Association of Women Artists at the Sylvia Wald and Kim Po Gallery. I had a great time visiting with family and friends and seeing so much artwork being created here and now. 

Before the opening, I got to appreciate some art-gems of the past. I made a visit to one of my happy places – the Met, to see a special exhibition of Medieval art from Hildesheim Cathedral, as well as textiles, (and works from the permanent collections - always - my heart goes pitter-patter).
Who me?
 While my focus is on time, I’m continuing to “refine” space-issues. This past week I had a studio visit (two thumbs up!), and so I had some extra incentive to get things organized - it was a bright day when the last piece of 70's shag carpeting finally left the building! With the floor cleared, I have more space to assemble collages in a newly established "kitty-free" zone. In general, I accept that letting my feline assistants in the studio means I have less pristine work, but a happier life, but my little Mini is soooo mischievous. She was carrying off and hoarding pieces of the owl collage (kitty logic: my human spends so much time fixated on these - they must be tasty). This wouldn't be so much of a problem except that she left teeth marks in them (at least the ones that I could find - ha!). So, I now have a separate area for things with as-yet-unattached pieces (and the feline assistants get extra-consolation-attention (and treats) to make up for the crime of a closed door.) Everyone is happy. :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

phase 1 redux - appreciate and develop expertise

looking closer
and closer

I made the owl a home in "The Forest of And, And, And" (where I have set up camp indefinitely.) There's lots going on, and I've spent so much energy on pictures (patterns, within patterns, within patterns) that I'm not sure I can make more words right now (at least not good ones ;p. I'll come back and try again before Wednesday though). 

Luckily, this picture has words built in to it (lovely ones). I made the bark of the tree out of poems (some of my favorites, if you want to check them out  (two thumbs up), I've provided some links to English versions for the non-Classics nerds out there ;)): 

Elizabeth Bishop, One Art;  Tennessee Williams, Covenant; Marina Tsvetaeva, excerpt from An Attempt at Jealousy ;  Catullus #5  and Catullus #85, and last, but never least, an excerpt from the Odyssey (the opening passage).
Who who, whooo's a big nerd? Hahaha

Monday, September 9, 2013

phase 1 redux - appreciate and develop expertise

So...even though it hasn't been a full week since my last post, I decided to change to the Sunday/Monday schedule immediately (wouldn't want to deprive anyone of new-art-fun :)!)

The good news - I made this owl today

The bad news - I made this owl today (I started at 5 am, and it's after 11 pm, um, hope there wasn't any non-owl-related-matters requiring my attention today (? oops.)

Saying goodbye (for now)
It's all good - I de-installed (with excellent assistance :)) the North Adams show Saturday, but there was still time for peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkles - life is good.
rainbow sprinkles are on my list of favorite (non-art) things (and, naturally, cookies are too)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

phase 1 redux - develop and appreciate expertise

In July I described art as being like a hydra, and August in relation to the red-crested serpent of mythology. Since I also described art-making as a fractal-ar I tried to build a hybrid of the concept of art as a hydra/red-crested serpent like a fractal - hybrid idea + hybrid materials + hybrid technique = crazy chimera thing.  The eyes open vs closed is my way of showing the fusion of observed reality and fantasy in art.  

An Allegory of Art

(The heads are life-sized, charcoal and color pencil on grey paper - I'm loving my new grey paper :))

From the sidewalk in North Adams
Other art activities of the week - I've been back and forth from North Adams (twice), speaking with students at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and wrapping up the show. It's been fun and time has really flown by (Tempus Fugit!).
I especially enjoyed this - like an art-version of
the rocks in the "Garden of the Gods" in Colorado;
 plus, I think it looks like my eyes are regurgitating
liquid color (and who doesn't enjoy that?! ;p)

Adding to the art-happiness, there is a (free!) outdoor sculpture park at Omi International Art Center between home and North Adams!

I also went aboard this lovely vessel for an excellent guided tour. Forms of transportation are a motif in my work, but while I've studied what planes, boats, and trains, look like, I know very little about what the parts actually do, so it was fun to learn more. I got to thinking - when I start to learn how to draw a creature, I study diagrams of their anatomy. I'm wondering if at some point, I should take a look at the schematics of machines to be able to draw them in the same way (...)
 In terms of appreciating expertise - one question I have is what is an expert? What makes a person an expert and how does one recognize expertise (ok, so maybe  more than one question ;)). Being on the boat with someone who knows and loves it got me thinking that, even without being able to answer those questions in words, I know who I'd want to be standing next to if the ship hit an iceberg (forbid). So maybe expertise becomes most visible when things go wrong? That it's not only knowing a thing or subject, but knowing it well enough to manage creatively when conditions are not ideal? Hmmmmm.

cute photo of my tiny giant - just because :)
On a side note - I'm returning to posting on Sunday night/Monday morning (because my Wednesday nights will soon be dedicated to figure drawing (yay!)).