Monday, June 30, 2014

Phase 3 redux - Colorado round up

my coin!!!

Last week, I promised to reveal the results of a fellowship studying the art of engraving as part of the American Numismatic Association's summer seminar... (drumroll) :)

I am so proud of my coin! And (and, and!) it has the buffalo from an actual buffalo nickel on the back (which I find very funny - something I made says "United States of America/ E Pluribus Unum" on it - as if I have an official stamp of approval for my artwork - lol!).

steel die

[sidenote: The edge identifies it as a novelty coin printed at the money museum, so no worries - it can't accidentally go into circulation.]

A little more about the process: I engraved a steel die with sharp steel tools in the negative
My thumb post-engraving
 (Don't try this at home, kids!)

Me at the screw press
disclosure - I didn't press most of the coins
.(safer that way - I am pretty clumsy - 
see previous shot of thumb :p )
 Thanks goes to Joe Paonessa of Badger Mint
One steel die is placed in the top of a screw press and the other near the base. A disc of pewter is placed on top of the lower die. Handle turns, top die descends - boom - pewter becomes the peanut butter between two slices of steel bread. Because it's softer, the pewter "fills in" the negative space left by carving out the steel die, creating a positive image.
More Colorado loveliness
I'm humbled by the dedication and knowledge of the numismatists I met in Colorado.
I love learning about new materials, techniques, and tools, but I was thinking that I'm an outlier at the summer seminar because I don't know much about coins. As I thought about this some more (it's a long plane ride ;) ), the more I think that it's both true and not exactly true.  

I appreciate coins in a particular way. I relate to coins as something to look at, instead of as something to know about. Because I'm not as interested in their history or facts about them (yet), I think it might seem like I'm enthusiastic but clueless because knowing to look at comes out in pictures, where as knowing about comes out in words.

It's hard for me to articulate, but I have been paying close attention to the way certain coins look. As with other things I like to look at (Greek vases, tapestries, manuscripts, architectural sculpture) when I see coins that show a balance of living things and patterning, I think they are beautiful, and I remember them.  

A few weeks ago, I noticed the similarity of my bird tiny print to an image from a Greek coin, so I decided to do a little scavenger hunt of pieces from the last year...

The eerie thing is - I don't know when/where I saw these coins. Most of them aren't in the coin book I got in Colorado last summer, but there are weird similarities - like the the water line matching the narrowing of the ankles on the elephant or the shape of the horses tail. Going back to Colorado and learning more about engraving had been on my mind as something I was looking forward too, but I didn't realize how much "coin-ness" had seeped into my artwork and my mind.

I find it a little creepy - not bad exactly, but it feels like opening the fridge to find a plate of cookies that I can't remember baking or buying - I like cookies, and it would be nice to come across something delicious, but it would still be weird to find a plate of cookies in the fridge without knowing how they got there. (big hmmmm.)

Look Mom, Red Dot!!!
framed and on the wall (whew!)
Once back home, I visited the Still life with Sculpture show at Thompson Giroux, which opened while I was away.

Picking back up with the skull theme from 2 weeks ago, my art-reaction to coming home was: "Quick, I should carve something big and complicated immediately, because anything in linoleum will seem easy after working on a tiny piece of steel."


I carved, printed, cut out this 9 x 11" skull block on Sunday...I may not become an expert engraver, but the experience has already sped up my relief printing :).
hand printed on gray paper
drawing on block

print with drawing, cut out and mounted on blue paper

close up of the drawing on print
In non-art news - my plants are doing well, and I celebrated the arrival of summer by making this little patio near the herb garden, planted in April.

Now that there's been art, (simile) cookies, and a home project, the only thing missing from this post is a picture of the beloved feline assistants
As we can see, my absence was a source of much distress ;)
This is a long entry (whew!), but I haven't forgotten the theme of phase 3. An "algorithm based mini-project" is in the works ... more to come next week :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Phase 3 - develop thoughtful algorithms

The still lifes are complete! I got them all framed and delivered to Thompson Giroux Gallery where they are a part of the current exhibition Still Life with Sculpture, up until August 10th

Mini seems to particularly like this one :)

After finishing these early in the week, I got sick and lost a few days. Fortunately, relief carving is a pretty stationary activity. I made and printed 7 new Pegasi.

6" relief print on gray paper with hand drawn accents in black and white ink, collaged onto red background.
Then, it was off on an adventure. I returned to Colorado to complete the second half of a Fellowship from them American Numismatic Association in medallic engraving.

It journeys through the sky
It wakes up surrounded by sunshine
and arrives in the land of big mountains and clouds.

and very friendly creatures.
It visits a mini Gothic cathedral

Then it learns lots of new things amidst friendly and patient people (more on the visual results next week :) .)

some of my prints and collages from the past year at Coburn Gallery
at Colorado College, June 22 - 26

and after the opening and delicious soft serve ice cream - there are still
two more hours of daylight to go for a walk

Monday, June 16, 2014

still lifes - (almost) complete!

We have still lifes!
All 20 x 16." They are mounted to board and the varnish is drying this very moment.  Frames arrived and standing by (whew!)

It was a busy week pushing to get these ready! By Thursday night they were assembled and sitting under weights while the glue dried.

Over the weekend, I saw my family for Father's Day and a very special birthday celebration in Philadelphia. I completed the first bunny collage for my Dad a few weeks ago, but have been waiting to post it so that I wouldn't spoil the surprise.

After wrapping the bunny for transport, I (finally!) worked up the courage to hand print the owl block. (Also, this kept me occupied so that  I wasn't tempted to remove the still lifes too early.)
24 x 20" relief print on gray paper and found book pages, collage

As a permanant resident in the Forest of And, And, And, I, naturally, couldn't just print the owl. I wanted to bring together aspects of the owl drawing from September and the small prints that make up the owl animation from December - specifically, I like the scale and use of text in the tree in the drawing and the palette and use of pattern in the small prints. So, I cut two new blocks for the leaves, but instead of writing all the text, I printed them on pages of a found book. The printed text becomes a varied sort of pattern like veins in the leaves. The owl is printed on gray paper and then heightened with white and gold ink and the branches are drawn on book pages.

I finished the owl just before heading to Philadelphia. Sometimes, I wonder if my love of art is, in part, biological. We made family field trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Mutter Museum. I tried to head toward the Philadelphia Museum's famous American collection, but got distracted by playing "skull-scavenger hunt" in the the Medieval and Northern European Renaissance sections along the way...
 (and these are only the ones that I got pictures of...;))
There were other fun things too - a few of my favorites:
a relief sculpture of a helmet with wings, a still life with a squirrel, stained glass,
a parrot(!), tracery, winged figures
Now you may be wondering - were there any owls?
Yes! The building has an owl sculpture perched in the pediment
(I took spotting an owl before entering as
a sign that it was going to be a very fun visit.)

I saw lots of unexpected things,
such as this lovely kelpy mermaid

But the best may have been this - an "ink painting" by Hendrick Goltzius: 
[nerd alert:] "Who are you Mr. Goltzius and where have you been all my life?"
"I love you as much as I love Master P.W. of Cologne"
 (and that really is saying something, haha ;))

I thought this was fantastic! It's ink on gray canvas heightened with oil paint. Having just finished the owl that morning, this palette and technique really struck a chord with me. I think some more research is needed, but it gives me some technical ideas... (hmmmmmm.)

I got some beautiful views of the city:

A wonderful Father's Day with my Dad!
a photo of  Mom and Dad by me :)