Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Holidays!

In process - The Penitent Otter
Why penitent? Because in preparing to go out of town last week, my entry ended up being a little lame - I will try to make up for it this week (and look, my apology comes with an otter - visual bribery ;) ).
I spent most of this week traveling, and realized that in preparing to head out last week, I didn't write about my visit to NYC the week before (oops!) To recap - I traveled to NYC to see friend Matthew Addison's MFA thesis show (two big thumbs up!!)
While in the city, I visited MoMA. I didn't understand some of the exhibitions, but there were other things that were amazing:

David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896–1974)
Collective Suicide, Lacquer on wood with applied sections,
49" x 6', MoMA Number:208.193
(I think "Applied sections" means collage [:)!] and look how
it almost looks like marbling,[!!] and the lacquer unifies the
surface and keeps the parts from warping [hmmmm..]
I saw a painting by Siqueiros for my friend Tammy; a great show on Toulousse-Lautrec's lithography; an incredible piece by Benny Andrews; and a favorite by James Ensor - who doesn't love Death surrounded by masks? *

*On a side note, spreading the art-love - There's a big James Ensor show at the Art Institute of Chicago right now: Temptation: The Demons of James Ensor," including the massive, 51 piece  drawing, "The Temptation of St. Anthony" which hasn't left it's home in Belgium since the 1950's (fragile). If, like me, a mid-winter trip to Chicago is not in the cards, have no fear, the interactive catalogue is online for free (Free!)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901),
 Cover for Old Stories (Les Vieilles Histoires),
1893, Lithograph, 13 3/8 × 21 7/16," MoMA Number:140.1946
Benny Andrews (American, 1930–2006), No More Games, 1970, 
Oil on canvas with collage of cloth and canvas, 
Diptych, 8' 4 7/8" x 49 7/8"and 8' 4 7/8" x 51", 
MoMA Number:35.1971.a-b
I love the way he uses the fabric collage and the plants. I hadn't known/
remembered that this is a diptych [hmmmm]

James Ensor (Belgian, 1860–1949),
 Masks Confronting Death, 1888, oil on canvas,
32 x 39 1/2", MoMA Number:505.1951

This isn't a DiChirico, but it looks like one, right?
(haha, I was excited that I even got the plane with vapor trail
in the photo as the train zoomed by
[pats, self on back])
Now on to last week :)

Because TSA frowns on putting carving tools in one's carry-on (and I refuse to check luggage), I decided that I'd work on polyester plates while I was away. This worked out well since the plates fit in page protectors just like a sheet of paper and the only drawing materials I needed were pens. I got inspired by the Toulousse-Lautrec show to try lithography crayon (and, looking at the photos, the idea of the bear might have come from there too.) But I wouldn't want the bear to be lonely, so I divided the sheet into quadrants and drew, lion, tiger, bear, (+ pony/unicorn with a lovely collaged horn because i wouldn't want any of the plate to go to waste).

Also, I tried another plant

I like the crayon in the  animals, but not sure  what I think about it
in the leaves...

 Also, I took advantage of the nice weather to photograph. I know, they aren't all exactly cheery, but I had a great time listening to an audiobook and photographing (in a t-shirt on Christmas day too!).

fruit aesthetically arranged by Mom :)

Along with the habit of "still lifing" my fruit, it seems
that I may have inherited my love of black and white stripes :) 
I wore a black dress and a locket from
a flea market as my own version of
Victorian mourning wear after the
"Death Becomes Her" exhibitionat the Met,
 but I cheeried it up with happy shoes
(from the second hand store -for less than a
cup of fancy coffee - unworn - gold star!))

I had a wonderful time visiting with my family and friends. When I got home, I was happy to be reunited with the feline assistants, plants, and blocks and carving tools. I drew the otter right away directly on the block.
drawing on block.
In process

 The paper at the bottom is reserved on purpose so that I can cut a slit in the water and slide the otter in. This gives a second attachment of surface for glue (the back of the otter is glued down on top and the flap is glued from the back to front) Also, the paper can be cut so that it holds the otter in place, so that it's not stressing the glue as much (or if the glue fails... ) Also,the otter would actually emerging from the water not sitting on top, so I try to get the collage structure as close reality as possible.

This is a good example from Queen of Blue  Birds - the plant
in continuous and goes through the hand so that it's actually holding it.
 I've been churning over some "adhesive issues" lately [OY.] I'm frustrated because they aren't due to my being lazy or careless (which would be a bummer, but easier to resolve). I'm not sure if trying again is the right thing to do here - It sort of feels like trying to light a candle with a blow torch, and when it doesn't work out, turning the heat up higher and higher. Then feeling mystified when it all dissolves into a shapeless pile of goo (haha.) At least I'm developing better "paper engineering" skills with making the slits??  I'm tempted to just sew everything down (or coat it with lacquer, Siqueiros-style) [dramatic sigh - whoa wist me!]

But I don't want to end the year with my "adhesive issues," so I present - kitty in a box :)

Happy 2015 and Thank you for following! Cheers to a year filled with much art and happiness!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert! I was a busy little elf this week....

I think I'm getting better at capturing light in the eyes with different metallics :)

I drew gray around the leaves and flowers to make them "sit" on the paper.
I was trying to see if I could suggest "landscape" without lots of changes to the marbelized paper
I added a horizon line, shadows (and ants) to show the direction of the ground and airplane and cloud trail to show sky. 

Also printed the the new elephant block, added grey, black and white ink and collaged it

I tried to print the blocks I thought family and friends would most enjoy, individualized each one, then packed them up for the sleigh (or the post office).

And - let there be parrots!

And more parrots

Friday, December 12, 2014

raptor collage and elephant

*updated 12/14/14
New Collage :)!

I'm so excited about this week's collage!

After "Self-portrait as Queen of Blue Birds," (the big collage from two weeks ago, which is 30 x 30" using two pieces of paper), I feel like I'm ready to hone in on working with full sheets of stonehenge paper - 30 x 22." 
carving the tentacles with all those little circles in perspective - oy!
And Goldilocks says:
This plane is toooo light.
This plane is toooo dark.
This plane is juuuuust right

The paper arrived Monday, and I marbelized a few sheets right away. The raptor is from last week's block, but reprinted by hand (gotta love that wooden spoon) in a dark brown on fawn color paper with added accents in black, grey, white and gold ink. 

At first, the boats were tranquil, but it needed "just a little something more" - and so, the giant squid (finished Thursday - my first cephalopod!). 

I also tried to print my first polyester plate at home:

try again
...and again, and again, and again
This could have gone better - by the time I got the press pressure adjusted, the plate was starting to wear out. It was a nice drawing, and it would have been nice to have gotten better/more consistent prints from it; but then, for me, there's no way to figure out the press set up except by printing a plate (next time, will hopefully be easier). Also, if the drawing had been directly on the relief block, I wouldn't have gotten any copies of it (so anything that I got from printing the polyester plate is a bonus.)  I did manage to get it on a relief block (which I then carved).
print on relief block
relief print proof - happy with the subtle gradation that came from varying the pressure of the marks

And I went back to figure drawing:

5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes

20 minutes

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Relief Print Raptor

While I care for all my blocks like house plants, I'm not gonna lie, I really really like this one (which is actually 3- more on that below)! I think it may be the best relief print I've made so far.*
[*also partial to the squirrel ;).]

"giant" new relief print collage on gray paper, 22 x 15" 
[possibly excess technical nitty gritty:] issue that's come up in making the blocks is that as I carve, I obliterate the guide drawing. Sometimes (like with the hand from last week), that's a bummer. While I was drawing the polyester plate raptor a two weeks ago, I got to thinking how drawing on the polyester plate is almost the same as making the guide drawing on the block  - same medium (ball point pen) and similar level of detail.

I had an idea - what if instead of making the guide drawing directly on the block, I drew on the polyester plate and printed onto the block? It's the same amount of drawing, but because the pen work is on its own plate, it doesn't get carved away and can be printed on its own too (Captain Obvious saves the day again!) It has the added benefit that when using multiple blocks for a single thing (which I'm just starting to do, like with the big fish), printing the same drawing on multiple blocks ensures that they fit together perfectly (like puzzle pieces).

Because I suspect that this explanation may be confusing/boring (and not very pretty besides) -pictures!

 Step 1
start by drawing with sharpie and ball point on polyester plate

Side step - bonus!
print polyester plate on paper

Step 2
print polyester plate on blocks (and draw division lines - here, in blue)

Step 3
carve (no way around that ;) )
carved blocks

Step 4 - proof

proofs of each section
Step 5
cut out and assemble
I spent a lot of time this week on the floor carving (when I close my eyes, I see feathers), so I undertook cleaning/organizing project when I needed a break. I've been starting to feel overwhelmed - like there are blocks and paper everywhere, so I'm trying to set up my space better.

wall cabinet for ink, peg boards for
tools and brayers
I made this paper rack with boards, cup
hooks and dowels
cost - less that 2 fancy
 cups of coffee  (thumbs up!)

Sorted paper into scrap booking bags
(maps, cut scraps, uncut scraps,
printed things, etc)
then used those rings that hold up
curtains to clip the bag and
 hang over peg
less than a cup of coffee

using the walls for storage/organization 

Cleaning and organizing inside made me feel a little better and also, even though it was cold, I tried to get outside

with discrete patches of purple and red
(Lorax forest moment)
weird complementary color experience -  the ground is
red instead of  green
I try to see the color, but mostly, it feels pretty bleak to me
(at least it's a bleak that can be captured with marbelized paper? ;) )

Saturday was the opening of "Art and Politics" at 46 Green Street in Hudson - I enjoyed the show and a lovely opening - the parrots are lookin' good :) 

 In non-art kitty update - I put up and decorated the "kitty toy tree," and am therefor a popular human (or at least, I think I would be if attention could be redirected away from the tree ;) )

Feline Assistant 1, aka Sunny,
aka my elegant Princess
20 minutes later...Feline Assistant 2, aka Mini,
Aka Junior

apparently, guarding the tree is exhausting
(I feel you :) )